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Friday, August 2, 2013

Military History Photo Friday: the A7V, Germany's only tank in World War One

This cumbersome beast is the A7V, a German tank from World War One. It looks like something my seven-year-old son would design. "Look Papa, it's got a cannon on the front and machine guns sticking out the windows here and I made it from a cardboard box!"

While the Germans had the most advanced tanks in the world during WWII, this was not the case in WWI. They got into tank building in 1917, well after the UK and France already had large numbers of tanks. By then German industry was starved of raw material and only twenty ever got made.

The A7V had 30mm thick armor at the front and thinner armor on the sides and top. It weighed 33 tons and had a low undercarriage. It was so unwieldy it often lagged so far behind the infantry that it never got into the fighting. It also had the bad habit of getting stuck in trenches and shell holes.

Despite these shortcomings, its cannon and six machine guns made it effective in a fight. The few times these tanks were deployed they often took Allied forces by surprise. The Allies weren't expecting the Germans to have tanks. An even nastier surprise was when the Germans used captured British Mark IVs, like the one shown below with German markings!


  1. It doesn't look very mobile. No wonder it got stuck often.

  2. A lot of designs in weaponry start out rather crude, then modification takes over. Some of the earlier tanks were considered dangerous, with a low chance of those inside surviving. How many guys would fit in one of these?

    1. It had a standard crew of 18, although sometimes they crammed in more. It was horribly hot and noisy inside. The radiators were actually inside, so when not in combat the whole crew except for the drive actually sat on top.

  3. Wow, a crew of 18. That must have been horrendous inside. Not to mention the mayhem if a shell landed on or nearby.


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