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As learned to fight tanks. Mazes World

Рисунок Фортунио Матания «Ярость против танка». Немецкая пехота штурмует британский танк

European strategists planned to end the war that erupted in August 1914, just a few weeks. Many young officers were afraid that will not have time to show courage at the front. Unfortunately, both are wrong. It was not long, and inflames World War II came to a dead end position. All offensive now ended the same way: the promotion of a few hundred or even tens of meters from the massive loss of life.

Both sides were looking for a way out of the situation, inventing new types of weapons. And that September morning in 1916 for the first time in the history of the battlefield came rumble of tank engines clang and caterpillars.

coherent theory and “bad practice”

English military theorist Ernest Swinton and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Etienne argued the need tanks on the battlefield and describes in detail how to use them correctly. They said that the tanks should be applied at once, large masses and only on the relevant areas. In this case, Swinton, expounding his views, immediately made a reservation that between theory and reality often lies an abyss.

bravura Press wrote notes about how the tankers laughed at opponents, to no avail trying to get under the armor. Reality had nothing to do with the newspaper euphoria

And so it happened in the first tank operations. Army emaciated in the battle of the Somme, was needed hope for victory, and not a year or two, but right now. About any accumulation tanks, refining their design, the full crew training and testing interaction with the infantry and speech could not be. Procrastination is the danger that the Germans seized the initiative in the battle. So instead of armored armadas to fight Sept. 15, 1916 went to just 32 of the tank. Five of them are stuck in the mud and craters, nine failed engine – it is easy to calculate how much in the end took part in combat.

Британский полковник Эрнест Данлоп Суинтон Of course, the first tank attack shocked the Germans. But the meager number of cars could dramatically impact the front-line situation. And the Germans quickly recovered and never rushed to get away from the “devil” who appeared on the battlefield. They fought against tanks – and not without success. Bravura notes allies in the press about the runaway success of tanks had nothing to do with reality.

Swinton fears were confirmed in the first battle, and in the future the situation was repeated with depressing regularity. Tanks went into battle by moats and pitted with craters ground, stuck in it without the help of sappers – and died under enemy fire. The infantry was behind the tanks clumsily, the German machine guns quickly mow those who find themselves between the machines, besides many soldiers perished in contact with the projectile in the tank itself – they knocked splinters. And tanks without infantry became easy prey for the enemy. The Allies were expecting a miracle weapon, and got frustrated and subject to criticism.

“Non-priority” helpers Corps

In spite of everything, the tanks were recognized as a useful invention. By the end of World War I in 1918, even managed to emerge armored forces. But due to technical imperfections then-armored vehicles could not decide how something independent tasks. Tanks operating in close relationship with the infantry, with clear regulations has been developed, as in what order should do.

Типичный ландшафт Западного фронта Первой мировой войны. Район Соммы, Франция Tank offensive was to begin at dawn, so that drivers can see the road. Should avoid unnecessary noise. Cars were moving in groups of three: best tank suppressed the enemy, and two more were advancing with the infantry through the barbed wire and trenches. Each tank was supposed to not more than one infantry platoon (25-30 people). The tank was doing fairly narrow passages in the wire, so that too many soldiers would create unnecessary pandemonium and risked much to suffer from enemy fire.

The infantry was divided into a group of “cleaners”, a group of software and support group. The first group, along with tanks to destroy the enemy in the trenches. The second group are labeled passages in the minefields and keeps them from enemy counterattacks. Support Group helped the first two, and the next attack squads.

The main thing was that the infantry did not lose connection with the tanks. Armor covered her and forced the enemy to take cover, or simply distract from the advancing soldiers. Some of the tanks when attacking a village or forest trying to send in the flank or rear of the enemy. Maneuvers techniques were covered smokescreen. A few more tanks defended their flanks.

If there is a delay, the tanks should find shelter. After that, their commanders and arrows had to leave the car and discuss with infantry commanders further action.

Victory at Hamel – a textbook success

A classic example of a competent tank attack – battle of Hamel 4 July 1918. With its preparation was worked out very carefully the interaction of infantry and tanks. In order to “make friends” with soldiers yet quite exotic technique on each machine has been written in chalk name. This simplifies communication and a positive effect on morale. When joint exercises tanks and infantry passed through these trenches and wire. Soldiers not only went to the tanks or in tanks, but also they tried to drive them.


minutes it took the Allies at Hamel, to destroy enemy defenses

Allies conducted a thorough reconnaissance of enemy positions. Aviation constantly flying over the front, and in the morning artillery and machine guns opened fire flash. So gradually blunted the vigilance of the Germans, who did not know whether it will be a powerful offensive or next day routine of trench warfare.

When the real attack, drone aircraft allies drown out the noise from advancing tanks. This trick has been used many times in the future, such as the attack on Amiens in August 1918, or the Red Army in Operation “Bagration” in 1944.

The advent of new tanks were 60 Mark V. Machines clung to fire artillery shaft. Every three or four minutes shaft shifted forward by about one hundred meters. The tanks had a tremendous help in the fight against Gunners. As a result, the Allies captured about fifteen hundred prisoners and captured many weapons, including a novelty – anti-tank guns.

Войны без потерь не бывает. Подбитый британский танк Well it was worked out to ensure the fight. Battle tanks were carrying two boxes of ammunition stores to curb machine guns Lewis and drinking water. They were supported by tanks supply, converted into belts. Four such machines in just half an hour after the capture of enemy positions taken more than 20 tons of cargo: ammunition, grenades, water, barbed wire and stakes. For the first time in the history of aviation is not only conducted reconnaissance and infantry fire support from the air, but also dumped by parachute cartridges for the Gunners.

Australian General John Monash, who commanded the operation, later wrote: “Everything was decided for the 93 minutes. “

So, two years of World War I tanks have gone from a dubious technical curiosities to full combat arms. In this ongoing development of tank tactics and strategies interrupted: Europe too tired of war. Although until 1939 happened much more conflict, but all of them were local. Their experience has been limited and unique. And in the new large-scale war, which began in 1939, Panzer science again began to develop from scratch.

Also read:

Lyricist – Eugene Belas

Eugene Belas – historian author of books and articles about the First and Second World War. The most famous work – “Myths of the World.” Author of the book “Tanks of the interwar period” on the participation of armored vehicles in military conflicts 20s – 30s of the last century.


  • Fletcher David. Tanks and Trenches: first hand accounts of tank warfare in the First World War. History Press, 2009. P. 116-120.
  • Infantry and tank co-operation and training. War department, 1918.
  • List, Single, Major. The battle of Booby’s Bluffs. United States Infantry Association, 1922.
  • Monash, John. The Australian victories in France in 1918. London Hutchinson, 1920. P. 48-60. [1,999,108]
  • Mitchell F. tanks in the war. History of the development of tanks in World War of 1914-1918. M .: Gosvoenizdat, 1935. pp 24-26, 66-69. [1,999,108]

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