Medium Mark A Whippet British Tank

The Medium Mark A Whippet Tank of World War 1

The Medium Mark A Whippet was a British tank of the First World War. 

It was intended to complement the slower British heavy tanks by using its relative mobility and speed in exploiting any break in the enemy lines

his armoured fighting vehicle was intended for fast mobile assaults. Although the track design appears more “modern” than the British Tanks Mark I to V, it was directly derived from Little Willie, the first tank prototype, and was un-sprung

The crew compartment was a fixed, polygonal turret at the rear of the vehicle, and two engines of the type used in contemporary double-decker buses were in a forward compartment, driving one track each.

Whippets arrived late in the First World War, at a time when the entire British Army, recovering from the offensives in Flanders, was quite inactive. 

They first went into action in March 1918, and proved very useful to cover the fighting withdrawal of the infantry divisions recoiling from the German onslaught during the Spring Offensive

Whippets were then assigned to the normal Tank Battalions as extra “X-companies”. In one incident near Cachy, a single Whippet company of seven tanks wiped out two entire German infantry battalions caught in the open, killing over 400.

That same day, 24 April, one Whippet was destroyed by a German A7V in the world’s second tank battle, the only time a Whippet fought an enemy tank.



Little Willie

Little Willie British Tank of World War 1

Little Willie was a prototype in the development of the British Mark I tank.

Constructed in the autumn of 1915 at the behest of the Landship Committee, it was the first completed tank prototype in history.

Little Willie is the oldest surviving individual tank and is preserved as one of the most famous pieces in the collection of The Tank Museum, Bovington, England. ork on Little Willie’s predecessor was begun in July 1915 by the Landship Committee to meet The United Kingdom’s requirement in World War I for an armoured combat vehicle able to cross an 8-foot (2.4 m) trench.

After several other projects where single and triple tracks had failed, on 22 July William Ashbee Tritton, director of the agricultural machinery company William Foster & Company of Lincoln, was given the contract to develop a “Tritton Machine” with two tracks.

It had to make use of the track assemblies – lengthened tracks and suspension elements (seven road wheels instead of four) – purchased as fully built units from the Bullock Creeping Grip Tractor Company in Chicago.

On 11 August actual construction began; on 16 August Tritton decided to fit a wheeled tail to assist in steering. On 9 September the Number 1 Lincoln Machine, as the prototype was then known, made its first test run in the yard of the Wellington Foundry.

It soon became clear that the track profiles were so flat that ground resistance during a turn was excessive. 

To solve this, the suspension was changed so that the bottom profile was more curved.

Then the next problem showed up: when crossing a trench the track sagged and then would not fit the wheels again and jammed. The tracks were also not up to carrying the weight of the vehicle (about 16 tons).

Tritton and Lieutenant Walter Gordon Wilson tried several types of alternative track design, including balatá belting and flat wire ropes. 

Tritton, on 22 September, devised a robust but outwardly crude system using pressed steel plates riveted to cast links and incorporated guides to engage on the inside of the track frame.

The track frames as a whole were connected to the main body by large spindles.

This system was unsprung, as the tracks were held firmly in place, able to move in only one plane. This was a successful design and was used on all First World War British tanks up to the Mark VIII, although it limited speed.