Starting out in 1915, we learn of the first effort, inspired by the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, and the “Land-ships Committee”. Receiving a set of tracks from the Bullock Creeping Grip Tractor Company, delivered to Liverpool, and then shipped out to Lincoln. It became known as the Number One Lincoln Machine. Overcoming several problems, and after a few design changes, this became known as Little Willie.
Little Willie trials, and the appearance of His Majesty’s Land ship Centipede, which the Admiralty also called Big Willie, but became better know in history as Mother.
on to building the tanks
This section covers the males from 701 to 775, and the females from 501 to 575. An interesting titbit is that the tracks lasted an average of 25 to 30 miles, and you were lucky to get 20 miles on the drive sprockets.
crew duties come next
These guys worked, not an easy job here. It took 4 men just to start the engine. Good descriptions of trying to drive it, steer it, and still be able to breath, and fight. Packing the crew, sometimes including a ninth man to cover the rear, all their gear, the extra oil, grease, food, fuel, etc., was indeed quite an accomplishment.
training for war
Before going into combat, each crew needed to be trained. This is briefly covered.
off to war!
As with any new weapon, confusion and misuse, then mistakes lead to failures. Poor workmanship, and the inexperience of their crews lead to other problems.
Tanks at gaza
This section covers the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.
conversions & experiments
A short section covering some conversions, and experiments done on the Mark I, and Mark II Models, as later models were fielded.
The Mark II Males 776 to 800, females 576 to 600 are covered next. Since these were distended for training, they were made from mild steel or boilerplate.
the battle of arras
Twenty-six of the previously mentioned mild steel Mark II’s were rushed to France to take part in this battle (and some rather unlucky crews). This section covers the battle.
The Mark III Males 801 to 825, females 601 to 625 are covered next. The last section is as usual a description of the excellent trademark Osprey colour plates, including a cut away centrefold of a Mark I Male, number 742.
Once again, I enjoyed reading this book, and once again it has failed to make me into an expert on the “Rolling British Trapezoid Behemoths" of WWI. Hopefully there’s a volume on the horizon covering the later marks. Although I am unaware of any Mark I kits, this volume would surely help those building the Mark VI and V kits available.
I would like to thank Osprey, and Armorama for the review sample. I would recommend it to anybody with even the slightest interest in this period, or in WWI armour.
PO Box 140
Northants, NN8 2FA
(01933) 443 863
Thank you to Osprey Publishing for kindly supplying the review sample.