Mark A

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Mark A
Cavalry tanks

Cavalry tanks

General properties
crew 3-4
length 6.1 m
width 2.6 m
height 2.7 m
Dimensions 14.2 t
Armor and armament
Armor 14 mm
Main armament 3–4 Hotchkiss machine guns
drive 2 × 45 PS Tylor four-cylinder engines
66 kW (90 PS)
Top speed 13.4 km / h
Power / weight 4.6 kW / t (6.3 PS / t)
Range 130 km

The medium tank Mark A , also Whippet , was an early tank model the time of the First World War from a British production. It was the very first cavalry tank and was fundamentally different from the other tanks of its time. It reached a high speed for the time (13 km / h), which was achieved by two separately running 45 HP Tylor four-cylinder engines, and was rather lightly armored. Each of the two engines had its own clutch and gearbox and each drove a chain. The steering wheel was directly connected to the throttle, so that when you turned one engine more, the other less accelerated. He also had an unsprung track drive that was made very flat, which saved weight and made him relatively manoeuvrable. The fighting compartment was at the rear of the vehicle, in which the driver, the commander and two machine guns were accommodated. Above it was a solid faceted structure with a Hotchkiss machine gun on each side. Since the space in the Mark A was very cramped, a shooter was usually left out.

Even before the first Mark I was used in combat, it became clear to many experts what would become a certainty in the period that followed. The large and relatively clumsy Mark I tanks were well suited to tearing gaps in the enemy's defense, but not to penetrate further into the enemy rear or to hold positions that had been captured. The area occupied by tank attacks was often lost shortly afterwards by counter attacks. From this knowledge arose the need to build a fast and manoeuvrable tank in order to compensate for these gaps in the tactical use of the Mark I. In December 1916, Sir William Tritton , who had already designed the Little Willie , submitted the plans for a vehicle to the Munitions Ministry, which he called the 'Tritton Chaser' or 'Tritton No. 2 Light Machine 'and the design of which he had already started in mid-1916. This tank was thoroughly tested and went into production in June 1917 under the name Medium Tank Mark A (first order 200 pieces). The first two copies were delivered in December 1917.

The Whippet's first combat mission took place in March 1918 against the German spring offensive . In the following missions he was to establish himself as an indispensable part of Allied warfare. So z. B. Mark A in the battle of Amiens on August 8, 1918 in a combination with cavalry units 16 km behind the German lines. The tactic of the Allies was to tear gaps in the enemy's defense with the heavy Mark V and to keep the infantry occupied. At the same time, the French tanks with their long-range 75 mm cannons ( Schneider CA1 or St. Chamond ) were to attack bunkers and artillery positions, whereupon the Whippets advanced into the enemy hinterland and tried to cause as much damage as possible.

In addition to great advantages for tactical combat, the Whippet also had disadvantages: The controls were quite complicated, which is why the Mark A (e.g. when the drivers tried to make particularly tight turns by letting one chain run backwards and the other forwards ) was easily stalled. In the worst case, the chains could even break.

The armor could also be penetrated easily - but it was no different with the heavy relatives. The Whippet's performance could also have been better, as the Tank Corps Central Workshop demonstrated in the summer of 1918. There, a Mark A was equipped with a 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engine, the gearbox of a Mark V tank and suspension, which allowed it to travel at speeds of up to 50 km / h. This version never went into production.

Mark A in Japanese service

After the First World War, six A marks were exported to Japan . They remained in service until around 1930.

The successor to the Mark A was the rather unsuccessful Medium Mark B .

Technical specifications

  • Weight: 14.2 t
  • Width: 2.6 m
  • Length: 6.1 m
  • Height: 2.7 m
  • Armament: three to four Hotchkiss machine guns
  • Crew: 3–4 men
  • Max. Armor: 14 mm
  • Action radius: 130 km
  • Engine power: a total of 90 hp
  • Speed: 13.4 km / h

Web links

Commons : Mark A  - album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Ellis, Chris; Chamberlain, Peter (1972). Medium Tanks Marks A to D. Great Bookham: Profile Publications Ltd ,.