This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme—a battle that saw the first-ever appearance of tanks on a battlefield. A century ago the legendary Mark I opened a whole new world to us: a world of tanks. The tank has now been rolling for 100 years, and the time has come to thank the 1st steel giant who gave us the golden age of tankbuilding and inspired many generations of engineers to create armored military vehicles. The iconic Mark I returns this September. The first tank will be featured in in-game specials across Wargaming titles: World of Tanks on PC, Xbox and PS4, and World of Tanks Blitz. Get your hands on this famed vehicle and celebrate 100 Years of Tanks on the battlefield! Thank you, Mark I!
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On September 15, 1916, the Mark I was first tested in combat during the Battle of the Somme. Learn more about the world’s 1st tank.
In honour of the very first tank, Wargaming has revived the legendary Mark I in an augmented reality app for smartphones and tablets. Rediscover the vehicle in all its glory with “Tank 100” and watch new 360º videos from Wargaming to delve into tank-building history.
On September 15, 1916, the Mark I made its explosive battlefield debut.
18 huge steel monsters crawled slowly across German defensive lines, crushing everything in their path and instilling fear in the bravest of soldiers.
The British wanted these new vehicles to remain a secret from the German Army. To keep the project a secret, British counterintelligence spread a rumor that the British government had ordered a batch of water tanks. So, the 1st batch of these heavily armored combat vehicles was developed under the guise of building water tanks and shipped to the front in crates marked “tanks”, and the name stuck.
Mark I had two modifications: one with guns and machineguns mounted in sponsons and colloquially known as “Mother”, and the one equipped with a cannon. Its design left much to be desired. The tank had modest speed: it could accelerate to a maximum of 6 km/h, which could be compared to that of a walking man. It was unreliable: out of 49 tanks that were to mount an offensive against German forces in the Battle of the Somme, only 18 made their way to the battlefield. In addition, the vehicle design was quite peculiar and had a few elements would seem comical today. For example, there was no communication equipment and crews used pigeon posts mounted atop the tank. There was no fuel pump. Fuel was supplied to the carburetor right from the tank and the vehicle would cut out every time it climbed a hill.
Despite all its flaws, the Mark I went down in history as the world’s first tank. Its powerful tracks paved the way for many generations of famed armored military weapons and birthed a new warfare lineage that would soon find its treasured place in almost all of the armies of the world.