The Mark V tank was a rhomboid vehicle with a low centre of gravity and long track length, able to negotiate broken ground and cross trenches. Main armament was carried in sponsors on the hull sides. The British Mark V tank was an upgraded version of the Mark IV tank, deployed in 1918 and used in action in the closing months of World War I.
Mark V Tank History :
Thanks to Walter Wilson’s epicyclic gear steering system, it was the first British heavy tank that required only one man to steer it; the gears men needed in earlier Marks were thus released to man the armament. Mark V tank was born of the need to break the domination of trenches and machine guns over the battlefields of the Western Front, it was the first vehicle to be named “tank”, a name chosen as an expedient to maintain secrecy and to disguise its true purpose.It was developed to be able to cross trenches, resist small-arms fire, travel over difficult terrain, carry supplies, and to capture fortified enemy positions. It is regarded as successful in many respects, but suffered from many problems owing to its primitive nature.
The Mark V tank hull was undivided internally; the crew shared the same space as the engine. The environment inside was extremely unpleasant; since ventilation was inadequate, the atmosphere was contaminated with poisonous carbon monoxide, fuel and oil vapors from the engine, and cordite fumes from the weapons. Temperatures inside could reach 50 °C (122 °F). Entire crews lost consciousness inside the tank or, sometimes, collapsed when again exposed to fresh air.
A direct hit by an artillery or mortar shell could cause the fuel tanks on the Mark V tank (which were placed high in the front horns of the track frames either side of the drivers’ area, to allow gravity feed) to burst open. Incinerated crews were removed by special Salvage Companies, who also salvaged damaged tanks.
Mark V Tank Production :
The Mark IV was built by six manufacturers: Metropolitan (the majority builder), Fosters of Lincoln, Armstrong-Whitworth, Coventry Ordnance Works, William Beardmore and Company and Mirrlees, Watson & Co., with the main production being in 1917. The first order was placed for 1,000 tanks with Metropolitan in August 1916. It was then cancelled, reinstated and then modified between August and December 1916. The other manufacturers, contracted for no more than 100 tanks each, were largely immune to the conflict between Stern and the War Office
Mark V Tank Variants :
The first tanks were known as the Mark I after the subsequent designs were introduced. Mark Is armed with two 6 ponder guns and three 8 mm Hotchkiss machine guns were called “Male” tanks, and those with four Vicker’s machine guns and one Hotchkiss, were called “Female”. To aid steering, a pair of large wheels were added behind the tank. These were not as effective as hoped and were subsequently dropped. The subsequent Mark II, III, IV, and V, and later tanks, all bear a strong resemblance to their “Mother”.
- Crew: 8 (commander, driver, and six gunners)
- Weight: 29 tons
- Length: 26 ft 5 in (8.5 m)
- Width: 12 ft 10 inch
- Armour: 16 mm Front / 12 mm Sides / 8 mm Roof
- Main armament: Two 6-pounder (57-mm)
- Engine: 19 litre 150 hp six cylinder in-line Ricardo petrol engine
- Range: 45 mi (72 km)
- Speed: 5 mph (8.0 km/h)