The development of tanks in World War I was a response to the stalemate created by trench warfare on the western front. An initial vehicle, nicknamed Little Willie, was constructed at William Foster & Co. (Great Britain) during August and September 1915. They demonstrated the prototype of what would become the Mark I to the British Army on February 2, 1916. Although initially termed "land ships" by the Landships Committee, 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 Britain took the lead in tank development, France was not far behind, fielding their first tanks in April, 1917 and going on to produce more tanks than all the other combatants combined. Germany, on the other hand, concentrated on anti-tank weapons, producing only 20 of their own A7V. The first tanks were highly mechanically unreliable. The heavily shelled terrain was impassable to conventional vehicles, and only highly mobile tanks such as the Mark and FTs performed reasonably well. This slide is part of a collection of lantern slides depicting scenes of Australian YMCA war work during World War I.
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