Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Tank Mark VIM 'Liberty': British design of 1917 for Inter-Allied use by terms of Anglo-American Tank Treaty. America was to build 1,500 vehicles of this type in the USA during 1918-19 and was to use a proportion of the vehicles that were to be built at a new Allied tank factory being erected in France at Neuvy- Pailloux. Production plans were delayed by material shortages and other factors and only the prototype was running at the time of the Armistice. Plans for full scale production were then cancelled, but it was decided to complete 100 vehicles using available components from the original production programme, and these were built at the Rock Island Arsenal during 1919-20. These vehicles differed from the British version only in the use of Browning machine-guns instead of the Hotchkiss, and in the use of the Liberty instead of the Rolls Royce engine. These machines remained in service until 1932. When withdrawn they were stored until the outbreak of the war in 1939; many of them were then handed over to Canada for training. One vehicle was modified during 1929 with a new cooling system by Heat Controlled Motor Co, with external power ventilator on hull side. Another Mark VIII was modified in 1925 by replacing the commander's box cupola with a stroboscope cupola similar to that of the French 2C.


America declared war on Germany in April 1917, and it was then that official interest in tanks began. An expeditionary force was sent to France and the Army Command decided that it should include tank forces. In July 1917 it was officially decided to form a tank corps with light and heavy tanks. Staff considerations of requirements and procurement took until October 1917, when it was planned to order the British Tank Mk VI for American service, a total of 600 being needed. The Mk VI, an improvement on the Mk V, was still in the project stage at this time.

After analysing the effect of the Cambrai tank battle however, the staff officers on the tank corps project decided that a longer, more powerful vehicle was desirable.

This led to the adoption of the British Mk VIII Tank, then in the design stage, as an 'International' tank for Britain, America and France. A tank production treaty was drawn up in January 1918, with over 1,000 vehicles planned for each nation with a special factory in France to build them. There was a delay in implementing the programme, due to shortage of materials and only 100 vehicles (plus prototypes) were completed since the project was dropped when the war ended. It was 1919-20 before these vehicles were in service and they formed the backbone of the US Army's tank strength until the early 1930s. Mk IV, Mk V and Mk V* Tanks were supplied by Britain to the US Army in France as an interim measure for the heavy tank battalions. For the standard light tank the US Tank Corps adopted the Renault FT which was already in French service.

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