|Assault armored car A7V|
The “Wotan” reconstructed by the “Komitee Nachbau Sturmpanzerwagen A7V” in the German Tank Museum in Munster
|crew||16 (commander, 5 NCOs, 10 crews)|
|Armor and armament|
|Main armament||Maxim-Nordenfelt Kasematt rapid fire cannon 5.7 cm|
|Secondary armament||six MG 08
a l MG 08/15
|drive||2 × Daimler 165 204 4-cylinder in-line engines
147 kW (200 PS)
|Top speed||Road = 16 km / h, terrain = 4–8 km / h|
|Power / weight||4.9 kW / t (6.6 HP / t)|
The Sturmpanzerwagen A7V was the only tank that was mass-produced by the German side during the First World War . Developed late in the war, it had very little influence on the war due to the low production number of 20 pieces.
Development and construction
After the first use of British Mark I tanks in September 1916, the Supreme Army Command (OHL) commissioned Department 7 Transport of the General War Department in the Prussian War Ministry on November 13, 1916 with the development and construction of a combat vehicle for the German Army . After six weeks of development, the first plans for the German tracked vehicle were ready.
The prototype of the A7V based on a design by chief engineer Joseph Vollmer (1871–1955) was demonstrated in January 1917 at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) in Berlin-Marienfelde . It was named in reference to the Office of the A EPARTMENT 7 V erkehrswesen . At the end of January 1917, the War Ministry ordered a total of 100 A7Vs to be built: 10 armored “combat vehicles” and 90 unarmored “overland vehicles” for replenishment purposes based on the same chassis and drive. After two test runs of chassis with wooden superstructures, the OHL decided to have another ten armored A7Vs built. With these 20 tanks, two armored car divisions of five tanks each were to be set up and ten to serve as a reserve in the event of a breakdown.
At this time the German Reich was already struggling with major raw material problems, which was often due to the British naval blockade . In addition, there was still no infrastructure for the construction of this new weapon. The automobile and tractor companies supervised with the development, which were mostly not involved in the final assembly and only produced individual assemblies as well as individual and spare parts, sometimes worked with subcontractors, which made coordinated communication difficult. In addition, due to procurement problems, individual orders had to be placed in occupied Belgium, among others. The factories for final assembly were only determined in retrospect. Between June and September 1917 the first examples of the combat and overland wagons were built at Loeb and DMG in Berlin, Heinrich Büssing in Braunschweig and Lanz in Mannheim. The first StPzKrW A7V manufactured in Germany was completed by DMG in Berlin-Marienfelde at the end of October 1917.
Conceptual considerations, benefits and problems
The driving characteristics of the A7V were consistently good on paved and unpaved floors, to which the track drive with its twenty-four spring-loaded rollers contributed. With this development, the A7V was superior to the unsprung drives, especially the British Mark IV tanks. The protected tracks under the vehicle and the lateral protection of the rollers from fire were also groundbreaking for future armor technology. The same applied to the steering, which was much more precise and easier to operate than that of the British and French tanks. In order to improve the ability to cross trenches, a boom equipped with a spring-loaded roller could be attached to the front of the chariot. However, the A7V had problems with extremely poor ground conditions such as trenches, funnel fields and boggy ground - as did its allied counterparts. The most common technical difficulties concerned the engines in the form of starting problems and overheating, as well as gear breakages and derailment of the chains. The mobility of the A7V was also limited by the poor self-cleaning of the chassis and frequent damage from barbed wire trapped in the chains . Due to the high center of gravity, only trenches up to two meters wide could be crossed. However, the requirement to overcome two meter wide trenches without changing the position of the vehicle was already part of the basic concept of the chief designer Joseph Vollmer. The sometimes enormous heat development inside the tank was due, among other things, to another consideration, which provided that the combat area should not be too narrow and as well ventilated as possible, but at the same time had to offer protection against shrapnel and a complete seal of all openings in the event of flame thrower attacks. Another problem with the construction concerned the all-round visibility in the vicinity of the A7V. Although the high structure made it possible to identify threats over long distances, there were clear limits for viewing and wiping through the permanently installed on-board weapons at close targets. The view from the command tower around the car was limited to nine meters, the machine guns could still reach up to four meters in front of the tank. Underneath, the crew was “blind”. Despite many compromises and the disadvantages mentioned, most A7V proved their worth in combat. In the command tower, which could be folded up to the required maximum height for rail transport, for example, two parallel swivel chairs with armrests were mounted next to the control, which enabled the commander and the driver to change direction quickly and to keep an eye out. At the rear and at the front, all A7V had two tow hooks in the lower area, which were concealed by hinged grommets in the form of convex hexagons for protection.
Positioning, training and front deployment
Based on the experience gained in the Battle of Cambrai , not only was the completion of the A7V accelerated by the OHL, but also “booty tank departments” equipped with booty tanks ( Mark IV ) were set up. In addition, a tank workshop was set up with the Bavarian Army Motor Vehicle Park 20 (BAKP 20) in Charleroi . At the beginning of 1918 the training of the first five A7Vs of the Sturm-Panzer-Kraftwagen-Department No. 1 began in Sedan . Among other things, the interaction with the infantry and strike troops was trained . On March 22, 1918, one day after Division 1 had its first frontline deployment as part of the German spring offensive Michael near St. Quentin , the training of Division 2 was also finished. Until the end of the war, only these 20 A7Vs were built, as the German leadership mainly relied on submarines and airplanes and therefore not enough raw materials for tanks were available. The second front-line deployment took place for Departments 1 and 2 together with Department 3 , which was mobile from February 26, 1918 (five A7V each, the remaining five were replacement vehicles) on April 24, 1918 at Villers-Bretonneux , Somme department . It was there that Germans met British tanks for the first time.
The first tank battle
Villers-Bretonneux and a nearby forest were to be wrested from the British. All three A7V divisions of the 2nd Army were used. Even before it was loaded onto the train, car 540 "Heiland" had failed, while car 503 of the 3rd department was ready for use due to a cracked cylinder head. The remaining tanks were deployed in three separate operational groups on April 24, 1918. With the best ground conditions for the tanks and fog, which prevented the use of British artillery, the Germans made rapid progress. Car 506 "Mephisto" was the first to break down with the nozzles clogged and, after it had been made afloat again, tipped into a large shell hole, where it remained. Meanwhile, car 542 "Elfriede" accompanied the attack on Cachy by the first wave of the 77th Reserve Infantry Brigade with the tanks "Schnuck" (504) and "Siegfried" (525), which also belonged to Division 2 . Because of the overheating of the engines, the only German car 501 “Gretchen” armed with machine guns (and therefore designated as “female”, see below ) was lying around 30 meters from the British trenches. After the engine had cooled down, however, it could be made afloat again. Car 562 "Hercules" suffered a gearbox damage after being shot at, but could be repaired under enemy attacks and the attack continued. Car 542 "Elfriede" had drifted a little too far to the north. About a kilometer before Villers-Bretonneux, on the road to Hangard-en-Santerre , the driver apparently overlooked a British command post. The roof of the shelter was unable to cope with the heavy load and collapsed. "Elfriede" fell over and stayed on the right side. The crew then left the armored car and continued the attack with three machine guns as an assault troop, whereby Lieutenant Stein fell, two men were seriously wounded and one was taken prisoner. Car 561 "Nixe" (Dept. 2), also too far north, faced three British Mark IV on the road to Cachy: two tanks each with five machine guns ( female ) and one male tank with two 6-pounder cannons and three machine guns. The British commander of the times tanks Mark IV No. 4066, Lieutenant Frank Mitchell, opened fire on the enemy. Only after his second shot did Commander Lieutenant Biltz open fire. After the two female tanks were badly damaged and a wounded man lay in the remaining British tank, Mitchell shot the German car three times so successfully that the German tank crew abandoned their "mermaid". Five men of the crew died in the enemy machine gun fire. A German aerial bomb hit the Male tank, but did nothing. After the English were shot at by another German car, their tank was completely shut down by German artillery. The entire British team survived.
Lieutenant Biltz and his men were able to drive their 561 car, which was still partially drivable, back around two kilometers, then it broke down with an engine failure and was abandoned. All the other cars reached the target and were able to prove their fighting ability. Only by deploying Panzer Group 1 with cars 526, 527 “Lotti” and 560 “Alter Fritz” was it possible for the 228th Infantry Division to conquer and capture the daily destination of Villers-Bretonneux by noon.
By November 1918, the A7V departments, together with the booty tank departments, completed missions at Reims and Iwuy , which only survived nine A7Vs. Ultimately, the German cars were only in use for 50 days. The use of the few German tanks did not have much of an impact, like that of almost 500 British tanks during the Battle of Cambrai. At its peak, the Allied leadership was able to muster over 6,000 armored vehicles.
After the end of the war
On October 21, just three weeks before the end of the war on November 11, all three tank divisions and the booty tank divisions were moved from Charleroi to Erbenheim and disbanded on November 17.
From the armored vehicles that were still in German hands, in December were 1918 / January 1919, to quell the political unrest, along with volunteers in Berlin-Lankwitz volunteer corps formed. In addition to some armored vehicles, there were only two Mark IV prey tanks and one A7V, which formed the combat vehicle division of the Maercker Freikorps .
The remaining A7V, christened "Hedi", does not seem to have been one of the 20 copies that took part in the war. It had two doors on both sides, a modified turret and machine gun mounts at the corners and at the stern. It was painted with the words Panzer-Kampfwagen -teilung Government Loyalty Troops , the number 54 and a skull .
"Hedi" is probably one of the prototypes or driving school tanks that was armored over, or the radio tank. The tank was used in the occupation of Berlin on January 15, 1919 (and thus the end of the Spartacus uprising ), from April 17 in Braunschweig and from May 11 in Leipzig . The Freikorps also secured the founding assembly of the Weimar Republic from February 6th in Weimar .
From June 28, 1919, the German Reich was no longer allowed to own tanks under Article 171 of the Versailles Treaty. So the last A7V was handed over to the Allies. His whereabouts are not clear.
The last mention of an A7V in Germany can be found on the combat vehicle commemorative badge donated by the then Reichswehr Minister Otto Geßler on July 13, 1921. It shows an A7V in action and was awarded to 99 former members of the combat vehicle departments who were involved in at least three frontline missions or were wounded during one mission. Furthermore, a full-size model was exhibited in the Berlin armory , but it was destroyed in World War II.
The first tank that fell into the hands of the Allies in an almost intact condition was "Elfriede" (542). The vehicle was manufactured by Büssing in Braunschweig and was first sent to the Bavarian Army Motor Vehicle Park No. 20 near Charleroi in March 1918 . There, "Elfriede" was given a camouflage paint job as well as the markings with the iron crosses before the vehicle was handed over to the tank commander, Lieutenant Stein from Sturmpanzer-Kraftwagen-Department No. 2. During the attack on April 24, 1918, “Elfriede” fell over and then remained lying in the no man's land between the fronts. In order to avoid the car being captured by the enemy, it was supposed to be blown up by a German raiding party the following night, but this failed. A unit of the French 37th Moroccan Division, which was relocated to the front section around Cachy in the following days, sent several patrols to "Elfriede" in the nights of early May 1918. On the night of May 4th and 5th, the Moroccans tried unsuccessfully for the first time to recover the vehicle. By scouting the vehicle, the secret service department of the Grand Quartier Général was able to write a French description and a report on the vulnerability of the A7V on May 8, 1918, which was published in English on May 10, 1918. The "Elfriede", tipped on its side, was recovered after twelve days by the French Section de Ravitaillement et de Réparation (SRR) with the help of two British Mark Vs and towed around a kilometer. The German assault car was made roadworthy again and subjected to various fire and driving tests. Both a report and a 16 mm film exist about these attempts . After the war, the tank was exhibited along with other spoils of war on the Place de la Concorde in Paris and probably scrapped in 1920.
This wreck is identified as carriage 561 "Nixe", as found by soldiers of the Entente near Villers-Bretonneux . Apparently he had already been cannibalized by the Germans.
Officers of the Entente pose on May 18, 1918 near Saleux in front of the restored car 542 "Elfriede"
In addition to “Elfriede”, six other A7Vs were abandoned in France: 502/503, 526, “Alter Fritz” (560), “Nixe” (561), “Herkules” (562) and “Lotti” (527). While "Hercules" was probably brought to England, the Germans managed to blow up "Alter Fritz". The rest of the specimens were mostly cannibalized and then scrapped by the French, "Lotti" being the last until 1922.
"Mephisto" (506) is a specialty, as it is the only A7V tank still preserved today. “Mephisto” had problems in the Battle of the Somme when its carburetor jets and fuel line became clogged, and after these mishaps were repaired, it ended up in a shell hole on April 24th . The Germans made several unsuccessful attempts to salvage the tank or, should that not succeed, to blow it up. Although "Mephisto" was temporarily behind the German lines in June, no further attempt at rescue was made. It was only when he got behind the Allied lines that he was rescued by British and Australian troops on July 22, 1918 and brought to Vaux-en-Amiénois. Before and after his extensive investigations, various paintings and lettering were applied to the car. A picture on its side wall showed a crowned lion, the heraldic animal of England, holding an A7V in its paws.
From October to December 1918, "Mephisto" remained for demonstration purposes on the grounds of the Tank Corps Gunnery School in Merlimont, south of Boulogne . Originally “Mephisto” was supposed to be exhibited in the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra . However, the Queensland government managed to have it taken to the Queensland Museum in Brisbane instead . The reason was that "Mephisto" had finally been captured by Queenslanders. On January 25, 1919, the vehicle was shipped as a war trophy from Dunkirk to London and via Tilbury on April 2, 1919 to Australia with the SS Armagh built in 1917 , where the chariot arrived in Brisbane on June 2, 1919 and on June 14, 1919 was unloaded at Norman Wharf. Two steam rollers drag the tank to an outdoor area at the museum, where it stood for more than 60 years from August 22, 1919 to June 1979. Only then did it become apparent that the tank would be destroyed if it continued to be exposed to the elements. Over the years, the original paintwork was also weathered. After sandblasting and renovation, it was given a new color scheme and in 1986 moved to the new Queensland Museum South Bank in a specially built, air-conditioned and fully glazed room in the area of the dinosaur exhibition. He stayed there until the floods in January 2011 . In February 2011, "Mephisto" came from its almost 25-year-old location with a heavy load first to a safe, external depot and then, in October 2011, for comprehensive conservation in a facility north of Brisbane. There it was extensively restored for almost a year by one of the leading metal conservators in Australia, and surprisingly remains of barbed wire from the First World War were still found on the tracks. In addition to the restoration work, there was also an intensive examination of the combat damage to the tank. From March 18, 2013, the vehicle could be viewed temporarily in an open area of The Workshops Rail Museum , Ipswich , which is part of the Queensland Museum and was temporarily brought to the Australian War Memorial Museum in July 2015 on the occasion of the commemoration of the First World War, where it remained until June 2017 . The tank was then exhibited again at The Workshops Rail Museum until February 2018, after which it returned to the Queensland Museum. There he remained hidden from the public for a few months until his new domicile was completed. Today, "Mephisto" is back in the Queensland Museum South Bank and is the showpiece of the Anzac Legacy Gallery, which opened on November 10, 2018 and is dedicated to the First World War.
According to an order, Panzer Departments 1 and 2 advanced in support of a counterattack on August 31, 1918 east of Bapaume against Frémicourt. The three deployed A7V advanced faster than the infantry they accompanied. This broke the connection between the two branches of service. The chariots, including "Schnuck" (504) and "Hagen" (528) therefore tried to reestablish contact. In the subsequent counterattack by British tanks, the German artillery not only fired at them, but also accidentally hit their own two tanks. "Hagen" was only slightly damaged, but got stuck, while "Schnuck" was hit so badly that both tanks had to be abandoned. Both were salvaged by soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and given to the British Army. After an investigation at the Royal Tank Corps depot , they were brought to London in late November. “Hagen” could initially be viewed in Regent's Park , before both booty items were briefly exhibited in Horse Guards Parade in 1919 . It was then planned to store the two vehicles in different museums. Therefore, at the end of 1919, "Schnuck" came to the Imperial War Museum , which was then located in Crystal Place . There the tank was exhibited next to British tanks. According to a declaration of intent by the New Zealand government, “Hagen” was initially to be shipped to New Zealand. However, after it turned out that the British Army had probably gutted the entire tank during their tests and only its shell still existed and apparently no ship with a suitable loading crane could be found with which "Hagen" could be brought to New Zealand the tank in London. It now came to the Royal Artillery Institution where it was allegedly scrapped in 1920. Even "Schnuck" was not guaranteed to survive. When the Imperial War Museum moved in early 1920, there was not enough space at the new location. Therefore the German tank was not used. "Schnuck" was dismantled and scrapped at its previous location. Only the cannon and part of the gun carriage have been preserved and are located in the branch of the museum in Manchester . As the third tank, British units captured "Hercules" (562) at the end of the war, after it had previously been given up unable to maneuver. Its exact whereabouts are not certain; it was probably also transported to England and scrapped there.
In the USA
"Nixe II" (529) had to be given up after a French artillery hit on May 31, 1918 near Reims. Towards the end of the war, the car was given to the American armed forces, checked for interest in further use, and brought to the USA for further research in 1919. After completion, "Mermaid" was given to the US Army Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen , Maryland , where parts of the armor were used for fire tests. Since "Nixe II", like many of the exhibits in the museum, was set up outdoors, the car rusted and fell into disrepair until the early 1940s. In 1942 the museum made the decision to sell "Mermaid" to a local scrap dealer for cannibalization and scrapping.
As described, several German armored cars were captured by the advancing French. This gave rise to a popular legend that several A7Vs were given to Poland by France and were supposedly used during the Polish-Russian War . This myth does not stand up to scientific scrutiny, as the fate of every single A7V that was in service during the First World War is known. In addition, no official records are known, nor can photographic evidence of the existence of these chariots in Polish services.
Exactly uniform marking of the cars did not take place during the First World War, despite certain prescribed guidelines. Therefore, the implementation of these regulations at the front was very different for various reasons on the individual tanks.
The first A7V, which were delivered between January and March 1918, were most likely all gray. Only at the front was a large black iron cross framed in white on the bow and stern. A short time later, at least some of the wagons received another Iron Cross painted on the two flanks. In addition, the name of the tank was affixed in white on the bow to the left of the cannon on almost every A7V . The name was also written on the rear of some cars. The chassis number was also placed on the inside of the doors.
New labeling guidelines were issued before March 21st. From now on, the wagons should have a circle on their flanks in the middle, with the number of the tank in the respective department (1-5) in the middle. This circle should be flanked by two iron crosses. On March 21, 1918 the first combat deployment for the A7V at St. Quentin took place by the Sturmpanzer-Kraftwagen-Department 1 (StPzKrW-Abt. 1). After this successful mission, the wagons of the 1st division received a white skull and crossbones instead of the iron cross on the bow. Some crews like that of “Hercules” also painted an iron cross on their carriages to the left and right of the skull. From September 1918 this skull was painted on the bow of all A7V departments. The circular markings were quickly abolished. According to a new specification, red Roman numerals with a white border were painted in their place . This innovation was not implemented on some cars. In June, for example, car 527 “Lotti” had the round markings and an iron cross on the ventilation grille, probably to make it easier for the aircraft to recognize.
In the summer of 1918 there was another change regarding the Iron Crosses. Instead of these, bar crosses were used. However, the appearance of these crosses differed considerably on some tanks. In addition, there was also individual paintwork by the troops. At "Mephisto" there was a red running devil with a British Mark I under his arm on the right bow.
A series of photos from the late summer of 1918 shows car 501 “Gretchen” with a retrofitted base gun during a combat exercise. "Gretchen" were painted on to mark late versions of the Balkenkreuz, which no longer have a white border on their front sides. The skull, which was generally introduced in September, is also visible.
Colored paint and other camouflage materials
At the latest after the first missions and experiences, the troops at the front provided their cars with freely designed camouflage paints, whereby the large-scale stains blurred into one another. This camouflage scheme with iron crosses shows photos of the captured car 529 “Nixe” from May 1918 and car 528 “Hagen”, which was lost on August 31, 1918. Car 504/544 "Schnuck", which was given up on the same day, also had such a camouflage.
On July 7, 1918, the Chief of the General Staff issued a recommendation regarding a new camouflage finish. This was seen in response to camouflage paints that the English and French had long applied to their tanks. So now, dull, irregular camouflage spots in ocher yellow, green and rusty brown were to be painted, which were separated by wide black frames. Spray paints for vehicles did not appear in the German military until the 1930s. The partially washed-out paintwork of the A7V in the historical photographs was explained in the past as having poorly retained colorants or dirt encrustations. It is not known how many of the A7Vs received the colored paint. Since the standardized RAL color system only existed since 1925, the colors specified by the General Staff may well have varied.
The above-mentioned series of photos of car 501 “Gretchen” shows the new colored paint with crossed crosses during a combat exercise. However, the camouflage is not applied in a sharp angle, as is often the case, but rather wavy. This was introduced similarly to the Reichswehr from 1922. As in photos of other A7Vs, camouflage nets and bushes are used on the vehicle to further obscure the view of the aviator. At least two more A7Vs were repainted in the same camouflage scheme, whereby at least one car did not have the crosses on the flanks and instead painted a skull each.
The following armament applied to all A7Vs. Only "Gretchen" (501) was originally the only car that was built in a version that the English called female . Instead of one gun and six machine guns, Gretchen originally defended herself with eight machine guns. The rapid-fire cannon was retrofitted, however. Originally it was planned to install two flame throwers and four machine guns in car 501 .
The main weapon of the A7V was a Maxim-Nordenfelt Kasematt rapid fire cannon 5.7 cm. These guns, made in Great Britain, had been captured in large numbers during the invasion of Belgium and Russia and could thus be planned for the construction of a sufficient number of tanks. The reason for this choice was primarily the 15 cm short pipe return. This gun also had good experiences in fighting tanks.
In addition to the rapid-fire cannon, the A7V was equipped with six MG 08 machine guns. The machine guns were mounted on a mount , i.e. permanently installed. When the machine gun moved, not only did this move, but also the gunner's seat attached to it and the armored barrel cover. This prevented the enemy from looking into the car and also served as protection against fragments for the crew. The disadvantage of this relatively solid structure was the blind spots that the MG could not cover. These angles resulted mainly in the front area between the front machine guns, on their sides and the cannon. In addition, the zone at a distance of less than 4.5 meters in front of the tank could not be defended with the MG. In the case of more distant targets, targeted zigzag driving could theoretically correct the angles of fire. In practice, this would have been problematic in the sections of the front, which were sometimes badly disrupted by shell fire. In addition, each A7V contained a light machine gun 08/15 with 300 rounds of ammunition, six carbines 98 , hand grenades and one pistol 08 per crew member . The purpose of these weapons was to keep the crew capable of fighting even if the tank was abandoned.
The A7V consisted of a landing gear and an armored housing that was screwed to this in 16 places. The housing was screwed or riveted together in a skeleton construction from different plates. By attaching the side parts and the roof at a slight angle, the armor was improved in contrast to a straight installation. Since the greatest risk of being shot at was in the front area, the armor at this point was 30 mm thicker than the rest. At the rear and on the sides, the armor was only 15 mm. The roof was made of 5 mm thick armor sheet, only the turret was surrounded by 20 mm (front) or 15 mm (rear and sides) armor. Due to the relatively deep side parts and the chassis, the sides of the tank were well protected right down to the ground. Since this was not the case at the front and rear, pendulum 20 mm sheets were hung there. Apart from a 10 mm splinter protection plate below the tanks, the floor was completely unarmoured. There was no armor under the engines, also to allow the air from the radiator to be drawn off easily.
|Manufacturer||Four companies in final assembly: Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, Büssing, Loeb, Lanz|
|engine||Double engine system, Daimler-Benz 165 204 , 4-cylinder in-line engines (water-cooled) with cylinders cast in pairs, two overhead valves per cylinder, under-controlled, double centrifugal cooling water pump|
|Bore, stroke||165/200 mm|
|Displacement||17,000 cm³ each|
|power||100 HP (74 kW) each at 800 to 900 rpm|
|Carburetor||Pallas carburetor, rev limiter|
|ignition||High voltage magneto ignition ( electric arc )|
|lubrication||Pressure circulation lubrication|
|Fuel||Gasoline - benzene mixture|
|consumption||approx. 7.5 l / km (road) or 16 l / km (off-road) for both engines|
|Starter||Electric starter , alternatively: starter crank for three men|
|Fuel supply||2 × 250 l|
|Driving range||60–70 km (road) / 30–35 km (terrain)|
|speed||16 km / h (road) / 4–8 km / h (off-road)|
|chassis||Main frame made of sheet steel and sheet metal rails|
|drive||Full chain drive according to the Caterpillar -Holt system. Three roller carriages each with five rollers and two support rollers, the roller carriages are held together by movable connecting rods in the longitudinal and transverse directions, suspension by two spring units with two spiral springs each and one spring unit with four spiral springs. Chain length 1200 cm, support length 450 cm, chain width 52 cm, track pitch 25.4 cm|
|steering||Steering by changing the engine speed, and additional disengagement and braking of the individual tracks is possible. The smallest steering radius was 2.2 meters, a 360 degree swivel around its own vertical axis was possible.|
|Brakes||One brake was used for each crawler belt, which acted on the motor gearbox shafts.|
|coupling||Leather-covered, balanced double cone coupling|
|steering||by changing the motor speed, additionally disengaging and braking of each individual chain possible|
|transmission||reversible mechanical three-speed gearbox|
|drive||Via transmission on drive wheels|
|Length Width Height||7.35 m / 3.06 m / 3.35 m|
|Ability to exceed||2 m|
|Wading ability||80 cm|
|Climbing ability||40 cm|
|Climbing ability||25 °|
|Ground clearance||20 cm|
|total weight||30 t|
|Weight of the vehicle including fuel||16 t|
|Armor weight||8.5 t|
|Weight of the weapon system including ammunition||3.5 t|
|Weight of crew and equipment||2 t|
|Armor||Front 30 mm, sides 15 mm, top 6 mm, bottom front 10 mm, otherwise unarmoured|
|Armament||1 Cockerill-Nordenfelt-Kasematt rapid fire cannon 5.7 cm L / 26.3
6 MG 08
1 lMG 08/15
|ammunition||180 or later 300 grenades 5.7 cm; 18,000 rounds of machine-gun ammunition|
|Manufacturing costs||250,000 gold marks (corresponds to today's purchasing power and inflation-adjusted 278,000 euros)|
Carrier pigeons (for transmitting messages),
light signal apparatus (for transmitting fire commands)
Use and whereabouts
|k. A.||prototype||Driving school|
|k. A.||prototype||Driving school (GrKrftBtl. 1)|
|k. A.||Radio tanks||Driver (GrKrftBtl. 1)|
|501||" Gretchen "||Dept. 1, Dept. 2, Dept. 3||The only female A7V (no cannon, 8 machine guns). It was not until the summer of 1918 that the car was retrofitted with a base gun. End of war with the troops.|
|502/503||" Faust ", Crown Prince Wilhelm , King Wilhelm , Wilhelm||Dept. 1, Dept. 3||After an irreparable defect in chassis 502 in March 1918, its structure was set on chassis 503 (503 had a cracked cylinder head in April 1918). Abandoned in October 1918 and spoiled by the British who scrapped it on site.|
|504/544||"Schnuck"||Dept. 2||After an irreparable defect in chassis 544, its structure was set on chassis 504. Abandoned at Frémicourt (after two frontal German artillery hits ) on August 31, 1918, then British booty, scrapped in 1919. His main weapon, the Belgian rapid-fire cannon, was preserved and is now on display in the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester (Great Britain).|
|505||" Baden I", " (Prince) August Wilhelm "||Dept. 1, Dept. 3||End of war with the troops.|
|506||" Mephisto "||Dept. 1, Dept. 3||Abandoned at Villers-Bretonneux on April 24, 1918, then Australian booty, now in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane .|
|507||" Cyklop ", " (Prince) Eitel Friedrich "||Dept. 1, Dept. 3||End of war with the troops.|
|525||" Siegfried "||Dept. 2||End of war with the troops.|
|527||"Lotti"||Dept. 1||Got stuck near Reims on June 1, 1918 , later received an artillery hit in the tower. Scrapped in 1922|
|528||" Hagen "||Dept. 2||Got stuck at Fremicourt on August 31, 1918 and abandoned, then British loot, scrapped in 1919|
|529||" Mermaid II"||Dept. 2||Loss at Reims on May 31, 1918, then American spoil, scrapped in the Aberdeen Proving Grounds Museum, Maryland in 1942|
|540||" Savior "||Dept. 3, Dept. 1||End of war with the troops.|
|541||Dept. 1||End of war with the troops|
|542||"Elfriede"||Dept. 2||Loss at Villers-Bretonneux on April 24, 1918, French loot in October 1918, exhibited in Paris, 1919 scrapped.|
|543||"Hagen", "Bulle", " Adalbert ", "King Wilhelm"||Dept. 2, Dept. 3||The car was probably called "Bulle" until April 1918. This name was then painted over and replaced by "Adalbert". End of war with the troops.|
|560||" Old Fritz "||Dept. 1||Received a shell hit, had to be abandoned and was blown up near Iwuy on October 11, 1918 .|
|561||"Mermaid"||Dept. 2||Abandoned after the first tank battle in history due to damage and missing spare parts on April 24, 1918.|
|562||" Hercules "||Dept. 1, Dept. 2||Butchered, later British booty.|
|563||" Wotan "||Dept. 2||End of war with the troops.|
|564||" (Prince) Oskar "||Dept. 3||End of war with the troops.|
The most faithful replica of an A7V, the “Wotan” car, was reconstructed from 1987 onwards following an initiative by the Army Office of the Bundeswehr. Around 20 companies in the defense industry worked together with the University of Hamburg and the Federal Office for Defense Technology and Procurement . "Wotan" is exhibited in the Munster tank museum. A second, roadworthy, replica is in the Bovington Tank Museum . It is supposed to represent the car "Schnuck", but has a paint that is not used for this vehicle. A Fordson agricultural tractor served as the basis.
Crew, uniform and equipment
The crew consisted of a lieutenant commander, five non-commissioned officers and ten men . In use, however, the number often increased to up to 26 soldiers. Ideally, the following crew could be assumed: a commander, a combat orderly , two fitters or mechanics, one of whom had also received training as a driver, a gun leader, a gunner, a loader, twelve machine guns, two detectors, one Blinker and a pigeon keeper. As a result, each machine gun was manned twice. It is also noticeable that roughly a third of the crew was only busy with providing ammunition and contact with the "outside".
Uniforms and equipment
Since there was no separate arm for armored forces at that time, the officers were “borrowed” from the motor vehicle troops and the artillery, among other things. The teams came from the artillery and infantry (gun or machine gun operation) and from the motor vehicle troops (drivers). For this reason, there was no special tank uniform, but each soldier wore the uniform of his original weapon type.
The crew usually wore the tunic M in 1915, the steel helmet M 1916 field cap , pants and boots or shoes that officers the tunic M came in 1910. In addition, due to increased gas hazard at the front a gas mask M 1915. coupling together with bayonet , canteen and other Because of the tightness of the tank, accessories were often only put on during reporting corridors or when the crew had to leave the tank.
Sometimes, mostly by officers, an armored combination made of linen, probably coated with asbestos , was worn over the uniform as well as a modified aviator protection cap. In this case, the ear protection was removed. It only served to protect against sharp edges inside the tank.
Commanders and drivers, more rarely crews, occasionally wore tank masks captured by British tank crews. They were designed to ward off so-called splashes - splinters that detached from the walls when shot at and could cause eye injuries. The masks consisted of a steel plate covered with leather. The eyes were protected by leather slats, the nose and jaw area by a kind of chain mail .
These masks proved to be impractical, especially for the teams, as visibility was restricted and the masks were very uncomfortable to wear in the heat.
In 1918 a special steel helmet for tank crews was planned, but it no longer reached the front. In this model, the screen that was pulled forward should be left out, as this was a hindrance when operating the weapon and observing through the viewing slits.
Combat service in the tank
Even if the A7V looked very large from the outside, the interior space was cramped for most of the crew members. The side passages next to the engines were 1.60 meters high. Therefore, the crew had to move stooped, wearing a steel helmet was mandatory. Only the commander and the driver had enough space and padded seats. The gunner sat on a swiveling seat while the machine-gunmen spread out ammunition boxes. Fitters, detectors and the pigeon keeper had to stand. In order to find at least some support, a total of twelve holding ropes (six each on each side of the fighting compartment) were attached to the ceiling. With the exception of the emergency exit at the stern and under the engines, the floor was covered with checker plates.
The service in the tank was extremely exhausting: the tightness, heat, deafening noise and oil stench were difficult to endure even without combat. In addition, the men inside the car were thrown to and fro on the impassable battlefields, even if the sprung rollers of the German tanks were able to soften some of the shocks there. Technologically, the A7V differed only slightly from British and French designs in these points on very difficult terrain. Whenever possible, the crew mounted outside the tank to escape the adverse conditions inside.
The engine technology of the time and the way it was designed also quickly reached its limits in the event of continuous fluctuations and heavy impacts. However, the A7V was able to demonstrate its advantages over enemy tanks on level ground and in lighter terrain, as the chassis was able to show its smoother, engine-friendly behavior and the steering, which was superior to the Allied vehicles, made maneuvering easier. By dispensing with interior lighting, daylight could only penetrate through the loopholes, viewing slits and hatches. Temperatures of 60 ° C and more had to be tolerated, as the air was sucked out of the interior to cool the engines. Fresh air only came through the ventilation grille in the roof area of the A7V. This in turn had the consequence that the crew - as with British and French constructions too - was at the mercy of (artificial) fog without protection. Every soldier carried a rifle with a gas mask against gas attacks . The tank was equipped with a simple fire control system: electric light signals for the machine-gun gunners and a direction indicator for the on-board cannon. Otherwise, commands and orders were transmitted by a detector in the car. A well-known shortcoming was the very limited view from the vehicle, which made maneuvering difficult and could pose almost unsolvable tasks for the driver and observer in problematic, life-threatening situations. In order to remedy this, the optical institute CP Goerz had developed a telescope. With its optics, the field of vision remained free without restricting the narrow viewing slits. However, the device was no longer used because the required numbers could no longer be delivered by the end of the war.
Comparison with enemy tank models
The A7V is often wrongly described as a faulty design. In contrast to the British and French, the engineers had to struggle with many difficulties and conceptual planning compromises due to the general lack of raw materials, but despite these problems the A7V was clearly superior to the opposing models not only "on paper", but especially on firm ground. No vehicle from the First World War possessed greater firepower and stronger armor at a relatively high speed. An important aspect of the armor was its angled shape, which had proven itself against fire for centuries in fortress construction. Particular emphasis was placed on the suspension and protection of the Caterpillar Holt crawler tracks, as a weak point in Allied designs had been discovered here after initial combat experience. In addition, the German vehicles had improved maneuverability and a functional electrical fire control system in which light signals were given over the machine gun positions in white with the inscription "Caution" and in red with the inscription "Fire". The operation of the bow gun, in turn, could also be controlled by the commander with an electrical signal. The in and for itself precise target optics of the nose gun, however, was unpopular, since the vehicle constantly swayed around when driving in rough terrain and was therefore actually unusable. It only served well in the standing position or in straight passages - otherwise the eyepiece was more likely to be rammed into the eye. The driver engaged with two foot pedals and had a steering wheel, similar to the trams or electric locomotives of the time.
In contrast to the Allied tanks, the 20 German cars delivered were not identical in construction, which makes the almost experimental state of development clear. Nevertheless, the arrangement and bullet protection of the crawler tracks emphasized several times by Vollmer was groundbreaking for tank technology to this day. To what extent Vollmer was also aware of the motorized gun developed by Gunther Burstyn (1879–1945) in 1911 , which Burstyn had unsuccessfully presented to the German War Ministry at the time, is unknown.
|country||model||Armament||Engine power||Weight||Maximum speed||crew||Maximum armor|
|United Kingdom||Mark IV ( Male variant)||2 × 5.7 cm guns
|105 hp||28 t||6 km / h||8 men||12 mm|
|United Kingdom||Mark A "Whippet"||4 MG||90 hp||14.2 t||13.4 km / h||4 men||14 mm|
|France||St. Chamond||1 × 7.5 cm gun
|90 hp||22 t||8 km / h||8 men||17 mm|
|France||Char Schneider CA1||1 × 7.5 cm gun
|55 hp||14.6 t||7.5 km / h||6 men||11.5 mm|
|France||Renault FT||1 × 3.7 cm gun||35 hp||7 t||20 km / h||2 men||22 mm|
|German Empire||Assault armored car A7V||1 × 5.7 cm gun
|200 hp||30 t||16 km / h||16 men||30 mm|
Further vehicles of the A7V family
In September 1918, 20 A7V-U ( U mlauffahrwerk) were ordered, whereby only one prototype was completed. This version had a weight of 40 tons and it was decided to reduce the crew from 16 to 7 men.
A7V tracked truck
In addition to the 22 of the 100 chassis that were used to build the two prototypes and the 20 series vehicles, one chassis was used for the prototype of the A7V-U, three for the A7V anti-aircraft tank, two for radio tanks and one for an artillery tractor. The remaining 71 were to be installed in caterpillar trucks.
Technical data (caterpillar trucks)
The technical data of the crawler truck corresponded to those of the "normal" A7V, with the following differences.
|total weight||26 t|
|Body weight||1 t|
|Weight of the chassis||16 t|
|Manufacturing costs||160,000 marks|
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- This figure was based on the template: Inflation determined, has been rounded to a full 1000 euros and refers to the previous calendar year at most
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