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Tanks of World War I

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         After seeing how effective the British tanks were in battle it was no surprise that the German military began to develop their own.
 
The German High Command created a committee made up of several experts from various leading engineering companies.  A man  named Josef Vollmer was eventually chosen to design the Schwerer Kampfwagen A7V, a German tank that was powered by two Daimler engines.  It also had 6 water cooled machine guns and a 5.7c, and "Sokol guns" in the front and back.  It was first tested during the Spring Offensive of 1917. 
 
By October 1917 over a hundred of these tanks were made and ready to be deployed.  On March 21, 1918 the Schwerer Kampfwagen A7V was first used in combat at St Quentin.  Although some of it's features, such as the sprung tracks and the thicker armour, made it better than British tanks of that time. Surprisingly  the A7V was less successfull.  It's main problems were it's mechanical reliability and the difficulty it took to cross enemy trenches.
 
 Sturmpanzerwagen A7V Specs.

Crew

18

Weight

73,700 lbs
Length 26' 3"
Width 10' .5"
Height 10' 10"
Range 25 miles
Armor 0.39 - 1.18"
Armament 57mm, 6 x MG
Engine 2 x 100hp
Speed 8 mph
 
 

Sturmpanzerwagen A7V

     In an effort to keep secrecy this tank was to becalled A7V.  This stands for Allgemeine Kriegsdepartment 7 Abteilung Vehkerwesen (which translated to War Department General Division 7 Transport).

The specs. created by the War Ministry called for a tank that had a weight of  30 tons, was able to traverse cross-country, span a ditch 1.5 meters wide, and finally reach a road speed of 12kph.  It was armed with two cannons, one at the front of the tank, one in the back, and several machine guns.  A motor developing between 80 to 100 horsepower was to be sufficient.

The lead designer for the vehicle was Reserve Hauptmann und Oberingeneur Joseph Vollmer. He was the head of commission, along with the VPK,  which was comprised of several army and business officials for the purpose of conducting  the efforts of creating a design.  During the desiging  stage of development, great demands were made but most were simply ignored.  For instance, efforts to make the tank artillery proof and using it only as an overland tractor were put forth but mostly ignored.  Under pressure to finish the tank effectivly and faster, Vollmer  called on the help of Herr Steiner of Holt-Caterpillar Company. Initially Vollmer's first tank prototype failed beacause of it's weak tracks. The Holt tractor chassis, which previously hadn't been used for an extremly long period of time was brought in from Austria and lengthened.  By the time plans of this tank were released to the  public in December 22, 1916, it now had two engines instead of one.  By April and May of 1917 the very first A7V chassis was tested  in Berlin-Marienfelde. The wooden body was constructed at the Daimler works. Later that year in June, it was even displayed for the Kaiser.

Although the VPK's chairman, General Friedrich, wasn't really pleased with the tank's mediocre preformance, he authorized more work. There was also a desire to put the A7V as the top priority for war vechicles, thoguh it was rejected by the OHL. Despite this, an order for 100 Holt chassis was placed.  Initially, 38  (some sources say 35) were to be built using the Holt

       The  completed A7V was basically an armored box on a track.  By some, it was even called the "moving land fortress."  The design was similar to the one that the Kaiser devised in 1900.  This was a steam-driven, wheeled box with a cannon and ferocious through it metallic "slab sides".  The chassis was from a lengthened Holt tractor with the dual Daimler engines situated in the center of the chassis. 

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