The Biggest Yank of WWI
Len Dyer of the National Armor and Cavalry Restoration Center discusses the World War I era Mark VIII Tank, of which just two are still in existence, both in the possession of the U.S. Army.
The Mark VIII was more advanced than the planned British Mark VI, though it was larger, male only (as in gun mounts, with 6-pounder 57 mm gun on each side), had a central crew compartment, and used a Liberty V12 aircraft engine for power. Designed as a joint Anglo-American project, the French were in on it as well. As such, it was called the Liberty or International at the time and some 1,500 were planned to swamp the German lines and tweak the Kaiser’s mustache in 1919.
A beast with a 10 man crew, the two aforementioned Hotchkiss 6-pounders (with 208 shells) and five Browning M1917 water-cooled machine guns (with 13,848 machine gun rounds), it weighed 38 tons, a figure not soon seen again in a main battle tank.
In comparison, the WWI British “Flying Elephant” super heavy tank weighed 100 tons but never left the drawing board while the German’s Großkampfwagen or “K-Wagen” 120-ton leviathan was only a non working prototype when the war ended. Only 10 experimental French Char 2Cs, at 75-tons each were built in 1921, leaving the Mark VIII as the heaviest production tank in the world until the Soviets put the 45-ton T-35 into regular production in 1935)
In the end, just 100~ Mark VIIIs were made by Rock Island before production was halted, and they never saw combat. The Army did, however, maintain them for training use until WWII.