Various tanks of the Great War, introduced in 1916 and used until 1918.
The development of tanks in World War I was a response to the stalemate that trench warfare had created on the western front. Although initially termed “land ships” production vehicles were named “tanks”, to preserve secrecy. The term was chosen when it became known that the factory workers at William Foster referred to the first prototype as “the tank” because of its resemblance to a steel water tank.
While the British took the lead in tank development, the French were not far behind, fielding their first tanks in April, 1917 and going on to produce more tanks than all the other combatants combined. The Germans, on the other hand, were slower to develop tanks, concentrating on anti-tank weapons to use against British and French tanks, and producing only 20 of their own A7V.
The first tanks were highly mechanically unreliable. There were problems that caused considerable attrition rates during combat deployment and transit. The heavily shelled terrain was impassable to conventional vehicles, and only highly mobile tanks such as the Mark and FTs performed reasonably well.