Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source6
Images relating to the development of tanks, 1916-18
(Catalogue ref: a. & c. The National Archives MUN 5/394, b. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, ART 3539)
  • The tank got its name in order to disguise its purpose. It was called a tank because it was supposedly a water tank.
  • Ideas for an armoured vehicle were put forward early in the war, but they had little support. However, Winston Churchill, head of the Navy, liked the idea and supported research.
  • They were first used at the Somme in 1916, but were too unreliable to be effective.
  • By late 1917 they were much more reliable and effective and helped to achieve an important breakthrough at Cambrai.
  • However, they still broke down a lot. Also, tanks were very slow and almost impossible to miss. By 1918, German machine guns had armour-piercing bullets. The Germans also adapted field guns to knock out tanks.
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