Old aunt Elfriede
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.
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.
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.