Old aunt Elfriede

a7v1skf0

While the Germans during WWII became some of the best tank makers in the world (ever heard of the Tiger, Panther and King Tiger?), the Kaiser’s armor game in the Great War really kinda sucked. The only tank they ever fielded in quantity, and then only in the last six months or so of the conflict and in pitiful numbers, was the Sturmpanzerwagen A7V.

This 33-ton elephant had upto 30mm of armor, carried a captured Russian 57mm Maxim-Nordenfelt gun field gun and a full half-dozen MG08 Spandaus with a pallet of ammo for each. They needed a 18-24 man crew and their twin Daimler-Benz 4-cylinders could lurch them along at about 4 mph for a few hours.

a7v layout

The crew needed to staff one of these landships was staggering…

Just 20 were made and a few of those were famously captured by the Brits and their allies in April 1918 after the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.

Australian soldiers of the 26th Battalion AIF inspecting their war trophy; 1 of the 20 German A7V tanks ever made. August 1918

Australian soldiers of the 26th Battalion AIF inspecting their war trophy, Mephisto; 1 of the 20 German A7V tanks ever made. August 1918. Note the 57mm hood ornament.

French and British officers by the German A7V tank “Elfriede”, captured near Villers

French and British officers by the German A7V tank “Elfriede”, captured near Villers

Elfriedle

Elfriedle

Elfredle!

Elfredle! (From behind)

Interior of the captured German tank A7V 542 "Elfriede" showing the position of one of the 7.92-mm MG.08 machine guns. It was captured by 'A' Coy 1st Battalion Royal Tank Corps, at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, 24th April 1918 (Photo source - © IWM Q 29585) Colorised by Doug

Interior of the captured German tank A7V 542 “Elfriede” showing the position of one of the 7.92-mm MG.08 machine guns. Note the “Jung” chalk mark on the bulkhead. It was captured by ‘A’ Coy 1st Battalion Royal Tank Corps, at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, 24th April 1918 (Photo source – © IWM Q 29585) Colorised by Doug

A7V interior plan elfriedle, with the gunner above marked

A7V interior plan Elfriedle, with the gunner above marked

Why am I so keyed up about Elfriedle? Well, that’s the name of my great aunt, born in Wernigerode in the 1930s, and she was every bit as tough as a tank.

Tragically, Elfriede, like most of the A7Vs met the scrappers sometime after 1919. One even made it to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, but was scrapped in the 1940s. For shame.

The only one still intact is Mephisto (shown above with the ANZAC troops) which is currently and rightfully at the Australian War Museum in Canberra, though the 57mm cannon from Schnuck is at the IWM.

Mephisto_A7V_in_AWM_front_view
The replica Wotan, made in the 1980s largely from Mephisto‘s plans, is on display at Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster, Germany.

A7Va

 

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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