Sunday, 26 February 2012

WW1 British Tanks Part 1

The project  was an  Admiralty scheme inspired by the first Lord Winston Churchill, with the creation of the Landship Committee in February 1915 (Land-ships was the name used before the word Tank).

The idea of Caterpillar Tracks came from America as they were used on farming tractors. The Company that
supplied the first tracks system was from the Bullock Creeping Grip Tractor of Chicago. the tracks arrived
at Liverpool Docks on August 1915 and then sent on to the city of a Company called
William Foster & Company of Lincoln. The managing director was William Tritton and his colleague Walter Wilson a Naval officer with a engineering background sent by the Admiralty to co-operate and oversee the work on behalf  of the Admiralty.

Within six months the team had a crude prototype called the Lincoln machine it was powered by Daimler engines Daimler was already being used by the Royal marine Artillery for there Tractors supplied By Tritton.

The Lincoln Machine Prototype

The tracks proved a problem because they were extended they were hard to steer and they were not very robust.
A army officer Colonel Ernest Swinton (Royal Engineer) was sent on behalf of the War office, The Colonel was depressed by the poor performance Tritton and Wilson sensed this and took the Colonel to a shed where a mock up design was. The problem was the tracks so Tritton & Wilson went on a mad one on inventions and Tritton came up with the final track design and was announce on the 22 September 1915.

The new track design was rapidly fitted to the Lincoln machine and was then called Little Willie.which was still the prototype

Little Willie



  1. Little Willie is on display at the Tank Museum in Bovington. If you get a chance to visit the museum its in the new(ish)Tank Story hall which documents the genesis of the tank and its evolution to the present day.

    Its amazing this prototype even survived to be displayed as it was marked for scrap several times in its life.

  2. yes I have been to Bovington a few times and yes I had to be dragged out of the WW1 tank section I know they have spent a few million on a new hall etc I hope to go again soon. the amazing thing about Little Willie is its the Birth of the Tank