As anyone who follows my work knows, I'm quite keen on Great War subjects, having already built a Medium Mark A Whippet and a Krupp 21cm Mörser 10. With those under my belt, I felt that it was time to move on to the family of vehicles that spawned the modern tank: the British Mark I.
In the autumn of 1915, at behest of the Landships Committee, Little Willie, the first prototype of what would become known as "tanks" was built. There are varying stories as to why these lumbering beasts were called "tanks," but it most likely appears to stem from a code name used to deceive the Germans and it ended up sticking. Soon after, in December of 1915, the prototype of the Mark I, Mother, was completed and the first order for 75 "male" tanks armed 6 pounder guns and 75 "female" tanks armed with .303 Vickers machine gun were placed in late-February, early-April of 1916. The distinctive rhomboid shape was designed to help the vehicle cross the ubiquitous trenches that characterized the fight on the Western Front. The armor was relatively thin, ranging from 6 to 12mm, but it was enough to keep out rifle and machine gun fire. The Mark I made its combat debut at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 (as part of the larger Somme Offensive).
Though the kit parts can build up a pretty decent representation of a Vickers machine gun, I thought the addition of some aftermarket brass parts would be nice touch. After a quick search, I found that Aber makes a nice set that has the four Vickers and one Hotchkiss machine guns. I'm not entirely sure the extra effort is worth it, especially for the cooling jacket armor, but the fine details on the muzzle are a huge upgrade compared to the rather chunky kit muzzles.
With a majority of the vehicle completed, the only things left to build are the weapon sponsons and the anti-grenade screen for the top of the tank. I probably won't use the screen because this tank will be painted as D11 "Die Hard," which was damaged just outside of Flers on September 16, 1916. The first Mark I tanks were part of D Company and C Company of the Machine Gun Corps and only tanks of C Company were outfitted with screens.
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