Tanks in the battles of the Great War

We want to talk about the most interesting aspects of the application. tanks in the first world war. The cycle is based on materials from the Soviet military periodical devoted to armored forces, as well as special works by military specialists.

Combat debut

So, the debut of the British tanks on the margins of the First World War took place on September 15 1916 on the Somme - at Fleury, south of Bapoma. Of the total number of 49 machines assigned to the first in stories tank attack, 17 did not arrive at the starting line due to faults.

Tank of Company D on Fleury Street, 15 September 1916

The use of armored vehicles was conceived as follows: tanks, being moved in groups of 2 - 3 units against the strongest enemy strongholds, were to reach the German lines in 5 minutes before the approach of their infantry. Of the 32-x operating tanks 14 left on the battlefield. Despite the achieved technical surprise (the effect caused by the technical novelty of the appearance of a new weapons), success was local. And this is despite the fact that technical surprise was accompanied by tactical surprise - the arrival of tanks in the theater remained shrouded in an impenetrable cover of secrecy.

Mk-1 female after Fleury fight

In 1917 campaigns - 1918's. tanks were actively used by the British and French - accompanying almost all more or less serious military operations.

Arras and Flanders

Thus, at the beginning of the spring battle of Arras, 9 on April 1917, a heavy blow struck the German 6 Army after a brief but very strong artillery preparation - on both sides of Scarpa. A tank strike knocked out several German divisions - and the British penetrated deep into the defense right up to artillery positions and won about 6 km in depth on the 12-15 km front. But the operational breakthrough could not be achieved.

In Flanders, with the help of tanks, the British also managed to bend the German positional front - in a number of points. Cavalry divisions were to follow the tanks. A more modest result was influenced by the transformation of the plan - in the direction of reducing the scale of development of the intended operation. But in this case, besides the loss of space depth of 2 - 4 km, the German 4 army suffered heavy losses by prisoners and military property.

Tanks in the battles of the Great War

Mk-4 in the mud of Flanders, September 1917

Tanks in the Nivelle Battle and at Chemin de Dame

The French Schneider tanks of the system first appeared on the battlefield of 16 on April 1917 of the year on p. En - after the 10-day artillery preparation during the Kraon Battle. Since the German trenches were too wide for this type of tank, it was decided to move the infantry first (which took possession of the first two enemy lines), and then with the help of working teams tanks were introduced. In this case, the task of tanks is to support the infantry when attacking the 3 line.

Schneider CA-1

In total, an 82 tank, built in columns, moved east of Craon Juventureur. The armored vehicles had to go 3-4-km distance in broad daylight, in full view of the enemy artillery and in open areas. The infantry didn’t be able to break through the 2 line alone - and began to wait for the tanks. Tank columns managed to reach the 3 line, and several tanks fought throughout the day - being on 2 - 2,5 km ahead of their weary infantry.

Schneider destroyed by 16 on April 1917 during the "Nivelle Carnage"

Then 50 tanks were introduced, and the total number of vehicles involved reached 132 units. Of the 132 machines, 76 remained on the battlefield (including 57 units were shot by artillery fire; 25% of crews were out of action killed or wounded).

23 October 1917 type tanks Schneider and Saint-Chamond took part in the battle of Malmaison (Chemin de Dame) - and after bad weather and six-day artillery preparation made the terrain difficult for them. Of the 63-x tanks moved into battle, only 21 actually entered into business, facilitating the advancement of infantry. At this time, the tank batteries were directly subordinated to the infantry battalions (and already after the latter, to assist the tanks in overcoming difficult-to-reach areas, there were working teams).

Saint-Chamond, named "Fantômas" and its crew

Historical Battle of Cambrai

And only then the “tank” battle of Cambrai was fought. Under cover of the dark and extensive forests of Avrankur, the British pulled together for several nights powerful tank forces and a large number of cavalry — on November 20, 1917 fell upon the German position, which was poorly equipped in artillery.

Due to the convenient terrain and complete surprise for the Germans, the tanks had a great success. We wrote in detail about this operation, focusing on the fact that a significant number of auxiliary (including communications tanks) and tractors helped the battle tanks, and the artillery tracking of the operation was distinguished by its size gauges.

Attack of British tankers at Cambrai

The tank attack, with the loss of 107 machines, yielded space gains in 8 km in depth, 8000 prisoners and 100 guns. The battle of Cambrai proved the possibility of transforming a tank breakthrough from tactical to operational (all the necessary prerequisites for this were formed), the vital importance of active interaction of tanks with cavalry and infantry and the fact that with the help of tanks it is possible to break through the fortified position of the enemy without traditional long artillery preparation.

British troopers with trophies

22 - 23 November 1917, the Germans stopped a tank attack - and by means of a counterattack, which was successful without tanks, they neutralize the result of the British operation. During the counterattack many tanks fell into the hands of the Germans. In the battles of Burlon and in the Burlon Forest, there were instances of the loss of tanks by infantry - with the help of hand grenades and other means. Even the steel-core machine-gun bullets coped with tank armor. But the main enemy of armor was artillery fire.

But nerves, discipline and courage of people turned out to be the best weapons against tanks. They helped many brave warriors to climb enemy tanks or shoot them point-blank.

Missed time

Accordingly, the opinion of the German High Command on the tanks at first was calm. The initial “tank fear” also subsided in the troops. The tanks were dangerous, but still were put out of action, and the German attacks succeeded without tanks.

The decline of discipline and the weakening of the fighting power of the German army in 1918 led to the fact that the allied tanks, used by large masses under the cover of smoke screens, played a very important role in subsequent military events.

The Germans tried to answer the call - but time was lost. And when in the spring of 1918 the German troops advancing in the direction of Amiens repeatedly used their heavy tanks, the small number of the latter nullified the entire effect of such an application, excluding the possibility of any decisive action.

The bout of British and German tanks, 24 April 1918

At the end of May 1918, during the German offensive at Soissons-Reims, the German troops showed their superiority over the French and the British — even numerous tanks did not help the latter.

Beat at Mondidier

11 June, 1918 of the year, southeast of Mondidier, launched a counter-attack of S. Mangin - trying to delay O. von Gutier’s advance on Compiens. The counterstrike was made with the support of 144 tanks operating at the front width of 12 km (and some tanks had to go 10 - 14 km to the starting point of attack). The infantry was supposed to attack first, but with the support of the tanks. The last to catch up with the infantry was to strike the main blow. Since after that the infantry fell behind, the tanks continued to fight alone, being on average 1,5-km distance in front of the infantry - under the fire of the German field guns. The latter shot tanks with 2 - 3-kilometer distance and less (small calibers - even with 1,8 thousand m).

Artillery support for the tanks was poorly placed, and the losses of the tanks were significant: almost half of the vehicles remained on the battlefield. But the result of introducing them into battle was that the German offensive in this sector was stopped.

To be continued ...
Our news channels

Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. +9
    27 July 2019 05: 35
    As a tank commander in my, still Soviet, military specialty, it is always very interesting for me to learn something new about the origins and nuances of the formation of tank troops, tactics and examples of their combat use (starting from the very first known to every tanker, September 15, 1916 on the Somme).
    After all, knowledge, like trenches, does not happen much — live a century, learn a century! wink
    1. +9
      27 July 2019 12: 04
      Why is tanker's day not celebrated on September 15, in honor of Fleury on the Somme?)
      Do foreigners have it at all?
      1. +1
        27 July 2019 17: 26
        Quote: XII legion
        Why is tanker's day not celebrated on September 15, in honor of Fleury on the Somme?)
        Do foreigners have it at all?

        I think that this is due to the fact that the former RI- "Soviet Russia" -USSR for a long time fell out of the pan-European "information space" and everything connected with our pre-revolutionary, imperial, army and navy, after all, was also hushed up ...?!
        But I. Stalin was a rather erudite person and, I think, had a grateful memory in his head about the month of the first in the history of the combat use of tanks, when in 1946 he set a date for celebrating Tanker’s Day also in September, although it was 11th in honor of the significant date of the Carpathian operation of victory in 1945 , in which our tank and mechanized troops also excelled ?!
        Well, now, our festive "second Sunday of September" certainly cannot be September 15, alas. winked
        I don’t know anything about the up-and-coming Tanker Days nationwide, except in the post-Soviet republics. Probably in other countries, it is celebrated on a garrison scale, like a regimental holiday ?!
        Somehow I didn’t even think about it and it would be interesting to read about it on VO.
        Now I thought that maybe tank competitions, crews and tanks from NATO countries, "for the prize of the Canadian army" are somehow connected with the Canadian "Day of the Tankman"?
  2. +3
    27 July 2019 08: 16
    In principle, very good books Fedoseyev tanks of the First World War. Fit and ellustrated.
    1. +9
      27 July 2019 11: 10
      Yes, there are so many. And okromya Fedoseeva
      But what is especially valuable (for me) in this article - I saw not the techno, but the nuances of tactics and RAM. With an informative squeeze, often little known
      1. +5
        27 July 2019 11: 48
        In detail often all the salt!
  3. +7
    27 July 2019 11: 02
    Thank you for starting the cycle devoted to the use, namely the use (which is valuable and very important) of tanks in the battles of the First World War.
    Interesting details and nuances!
  4. +4
    27 July 2019 11: 47
    September 16, the British, April 17, the French.
    But dispersed well. And all the cult operations have their own.
    Even with amers near Saint-Miel
    1. +6
      27 July 2019 12: 01
      The era of the formation of tank troops, the release of not yet always boxing boxes into the operational space.
      We look forward to continuing
  5. +1
    27 July 2019 13: 12
    It seems that the author is "rooting" for the Germans. smile
    But in articles about the Eastern Front, his sympathies change diametrically.
    And he is patriotic, of course, against the Germans.
    1. +6
      27 July 2019 13: 49
      the author is "rooting" for the Germans.

      why not for Israel? lol
      enlighten on the basis of such a thoughtful conclusion
      And he is patriotic, of course, against the Germans.
      and of course you are, too, understandable)
      1. +1
        27 July 2019 13: 53
        The article mentions German heroism several times.
        soldiers fighting tanks. But never said
        about the heroism of the British tankers. And many such cases are described.
        in the history of the Great War.
        "and of course you are in favor, also understandable)"
        Pretty cheap trick ... negative
        A monarchist does not have to be anti-Semite.
        You can just be a normal monarchist. smile
        1. +8
          27 July 2019 14: 05
          As far as I understand, this is a tactical nuance in relation to the answer to the question: why the Germans were late with tank construction. Indeed, one of the reasons is that their infantry successfully fought against the Allied tanks at that time, moreover, they threw off these tanks with counterattacks and even seized them (for example, dozens of Cambrai).
          Further (in my opinion) heroism among infantrymen who, without special anti-tank weapons, and even in conditions of technical surprise, repelled an attack of armored monsters (you must admit that the situation when an unprotected man with a grenade confronts a group of people armed with guns and machine guns and covered in armor is still unequal!) nevertheless, more than tankers needed it.
          And many such cases are described.
          in the history of the Great War.

          on both sides naturally
          1. +5
            27 July 2019 14: 12
            A monarchist does not have to be anti-Semite.
            You can be just a normal monarchist

            And this is a warrior for what ?? Again personal attacks?
            Why did they take that monarchist and why did anti-Semitism drag in?
            Because of the phrase
            why not for Israel?
            The question was asked solely because you were supposedly an Israeli before the cancellation of national flags. At least you had an Israeli flag.
            how cleverly you delete comments without a trace is very revealing wink
      2. +2
        27 July 2019 17: 31
        Svyatoslav, sorry you can’t put more plus. cheered up :)
  6. +1
    27 July 2019 13: 25
    "The attack of British tankers at Cambrai" makes an impression, and at the time when the era of tanks was just beginning, I can imagine what those who were attacked by this armada felt.
    "On November 22 - 23, 1917, the Germans stopped a tank attack - and by means of a counterattack, which was successful even without tanks, they neutralize the result of the British operation. During the counterattack, many tanks fell into the hands of the Germans."
    "The best weapon against tanks was the nerves, discipline and courage of the people. They helped many brave soldiers climb onto enemy tanks or shoot them point-blank."
    Let's omit in this case what they fought including against us and what they did. But one must admit courage and training.

    "Duel between British and German tanks, April 24, 1918" and from this drawing goosebumps run down the wall. Two huge iron monsters full of strength and energy entered the battle.

    By the way, you can see how the chassis of the French tanks is more modern in concept. Although not the fact that in those days it was a plus.
    1. +3
      27 July 2019 15: 57
      Quote: Red_Baron
      By the way, you can see how the chassis of the French tanks is more modern in concept. Although not the fact that in those days it was a plus.

      Yes, in terms of their driving performance, the French were far behind the British, but everything changed when the FT-17 joined the ranks of the French.
  7. +2
    27 July 2019 18: 06
    I wanted to note something else, not quite according to the article. Personally, I really love the first tanks. Such clumsy at first glance, conceptual rhombuses and other geometric excesses. But they show engineering solutions for various tasks. In modern technology, everything is much more complicated, more technologically advanced, miniature and many moments are available only to specialists. And on these ancestors everything is in sight. And it’s interesting to look at some details.
    Look at the first photo a whole greenhouse from above :)
  8. +2
    27 July 2019 20: 46
    Good review. Tube such. Pictures are successful :) Thanks to the author!
  9. The comment was deleted.

"Right Sector" (banned in Russia), "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" (UPA) (banned in Russia), ISIS (banned in Russia), "Jabhat Fatah al-Sham" formerly "Jabhat al-Nusra" (banned in Russia) , Taliban (banned in Russia), Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia), Anti-Corruption Foundation (banned in Russia), Navalny Headquarters (banned in Russia), Facebook (banned in Russia), Instagram (banned in Russia), Meta (banned in Russia), Misanthropic Division (banned in Russia), Azov (banned in Russia), Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Russia), Aum Shinrikyo (banned in Russia), AUE (banned in Russia), UNA-UNSO (banned in Russia), Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (banned in Russia), Legion “Freedom of Russia” (armed formation, recognized as terrorist in the Russian Federation and banned)

“Non-profit organizations, unregistered public associations or individuals performing the functions of a foreign agent,” as well as media outlets performing the functions of a foreign agent: “Medusa”; "Voice of America"; "Realities"; "Present time"; "Radio Freedom"; Ponomarev Lev; Ponomarev Ilya; Savitskaya; Markelov; Kamalyagin; Apakhonchich; Makarevich; Dud; Gordon; Zhdanov; Medvedev; Fedorov; Mikhail Kasyanov; "Owl"; "Alliance of Doctors"; "RKK" "Levada Center"; "Memorial"; "Voice"; "Person and law"; "Rain"; "Mediazone"; "Deutsche Welle"; QMS "Caucasian Knot"; "Insider"; "New Newspaper"