In this 25th Tank Chat David Fletcher explores the First World War Mark VIII tank.

The Anglo-American ‘International’. When the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, the US Army started to look at tanks. They favored the American Renault as their light tank but used British Mark V and Mark V* tanks for their heavy battalion. However, they had their own ideas on tank design and, in co-operation with the British Tank Corps came up with a new heavy tank design for 1919.

It was known as The International, because it was also to be used by the French, whose contribution would be to build, equip and operate a large new factory on a greenfield site near Chateauroux, south of Orleans, which in the event was never completed. This huge machine was the first in which the engine was kept separate from the crew. Also for the first time there would be no male and female version, every tank carried six-pounder guns and extra machine-guns in the superstructure. There were slight differences between the American and British versions and by 1918 massive orders had been placed.

Most of these were canceled at the time of the Armistice, but six Mark VIII tanks were completed for Britain, of which this is the sole survivor, and 100 for the U S Army which used them for training well into the thirties. The Mark VIII represents the high point of heavy tank design in the First World War, showing how much progress had been made in little more than two years.

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