** World War I: weapons systems land warfare motorized vehicles








World War I: Land Weapons Systems -- Motorized Vehicles


Figure 1.--The Americans produced huge numbers of trucks, but did not design any tanks of it own during World War I. The American Expeditionary Force used British and French tanks. Here see see two tanks brought to America for War Bond drives in 1917 or 18. The tank at the Front is the French Renault FT tank. In the rear we see what may be the British Mark IV male tank, although we are not sure of the variant. Note the left sponson has been removed. Notice the name 'Huncrusher' and the slogan 'On to Berlin'. The United States began to produce th Renault FT ith minor changes--the M1917 light tank, but the War ended before American built tanks reached the AEF.

One unexpected development was what was expected to be a war of movement bogged dowwn into trench warfare on the Western Front. Even so, a major innovation in World War I was the introduction of motorized vehicles--including both wheeled and tracked vehicles. The most important wheeled vehicle was the truck. This was the principal American industrial contribution to the War. American trucks arrived in Europe nearly 3 years before American soldiers. General Pershing had learned an important lesson in Mexico--the needed for interchangeable parts. As a result, the AEF brought with it 100,000 trucks--mostly the standard type V Liberty truck. While the Americans had not geared up their own weapons production, they did have trucks in large numbers. The trucks weren't practical in the mud at the front, but were widely used behind the front lines. We also see armored cars. They were importat in the Middle East. Messangers used motorcycles. The British introduced the tank. It strongest proponent was none other than Winston Churchill. The Germans were not impressed with the tank at first and did not have the industrial capcity to produce them. The British developed the tank. The French produced the largest number. The Americans did not produce any tanks, but used British and French tanks. Although there were problems at first, in the final year of the War, the improved tank along with the American infantry delivered a knock out blow the Germans. The Allies broke through the German Siegfried Line on the Western Front and forced the Germans to request an armistice. The German people were shocked, having won the war in the East. The Germany Army unimpressed with the tank at first, finally ully realized their mistake at the end of the War. As a result, Germn military thinking in the intet-War era focused on the tank. It becme a central component in Blitzkrieg. What the Germans did not fully apprecite was the importance of the truck and would launch the War without the capability of producung large numbers of trucks and still dependent on draft animals.

The Western Front Trenches

One unexpected development was what was expected to be a war of movement bogged dowwn into trench warfare on the Western Front. Cavalry units soon proved hoplessly ineffective againt the fire power of moder weapons and the trenches that made calvalry operayions impossible. The calvalry were once effective because they coulkd closre with infantry in a short period of time before the infantry could get many vollies off. With the imnovation of rapid fire weapons, the centuries old battlefield equation was suddenly made obsolete. While calvalry disappeared in the Western front, horses did not. At the beginning of the War, supplies and artillery were still moved by horse power.

Motorized Vehicles

While calvalry dusappeared, the function once played by calvalry continued to be needed. And we continue to have the need to move artillery and supplies. The major change from past wars is that we begin to see motorized vehicles that can perform these functions more efficently than horses. asa result we see introduction of motorized vehicles--including both wheeled and tracked vehicles. There were two basic types of motorized vehicles--wheeled and tracked vehicles. Ultimately Germany's inability to develop tanks like the British would play a major role in its defeat. Only one country at the time of World War I had the industrial capacity to build motorized vehicles in large numbers--the United States. And until late in the war, the United states was neutral. America's principal contribution to the war, however, would be a massive infantry force that would play a major role in cracking open the Siegfried Line. The other major war winning element was the British tanks.

Wheeled vehicles

The most important wheeled vehicle was the truck. This would be as the principal American industrial contribution to the War. American trucks arrived in Europe nearly 3 years before American soldiers, but not in large numbers. Ford began working on trucks, almost a decade before the Model-T (1900). The Model-T Ford began to transform America (1909) and trucks quickly based on the Model-T soon appeared. Ford introduced the Model T One-Ton truck chassis, the first chassis built specifically for trucks (1917). Trucks were still a rarity in Europe but were becoming importnt in America. General Pershing had learned an important lesson in Mexico--the needed for interchangeable parts. As a result, the AEF brought with it 100,000 trucks--mostly the standard type V Liberty truck. As well as plenty of replacement parts. It was the major American industrial contribution to the War. While the Americans had not geared up their own weapons production, they did have trucks and the industrial caoacity to oriduce them in lrge numbers. The trucks weren't practical in the mud at the front, but were widely used behind the front lines sugnificntly improving the Allied logistical capability. We also see armored cars. They were important in the Middle East where mud was rarely a problem. World War I was the first war in which motorcyles were used to any significant extent. There became extensiveky used for messengers because radio communications were just beginning to be developed.

Tracked vehicles

The British introduced the tank. It strongest proponent was none other than Winston Churchill. The Germans were not impressed with the tank at first and did not have the industrial capcity to produce them. The British developed the tank. The French produced the largest number. The Americans did not produce any tanks, but used British and French tanks. There were problems at first. Winston Chuchill was a major proponent. The Battle of Cambrai (November 20-December 7. 1917) was the first tank against tank battle. The British tanks were so lightly armored on top that German machine guns in higher positions like roof tops or upper windows could use armor piercing rounds to penetrate the tank and blow the fuel tank or the ammo. Even a hand grenade exploding on the top could destroy the tank. The first tanls also got stuck in the mud. The British worked on both tank design and tactics. In the final year of the War, the improved tank along with the American infantry delivered a knock out blow the Germans. The Allies broke through the German Siegfried Line on the Western Front and forced the Germans to request an armistice. The German people were shocked, having won the war in the East. The Germany Army unimpressed with the tank at first, finally realized their mistake at the end of the War. As a result, German military thinking in the intet-War era focused on the tank. It becme a central component in Blitzkrieg. What the Germans did not fully apprecite in World War I was the importance of the truck and would launch the War without the capability of producung large numbers of trucks and still dependent on draft animals. America's industrial might was not a factor in the War, largely becuase The Germans asked for an armistice before American industry could be geared for War. The United States began to build the M1917 light tank, but the War ended before it could reach the AEF in France.








CIH








Navigate the CIH World War I Section:
[Return to the Main World War I land warfare weaponry page]
[Return to the Main World War I combat environment weaponry page]
[Return to the Main World War I weaponry page]
[Aftermath] [Alliances] [Animals] [Armistace] [Causes] [Campaigns] [Casualties] [Children] [Countries] [Declaration of war] [Deciding factors] -------[Diplomacy] [Economics] -------[Geo-political crisis] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[Military forces] [Neutrality] [Pacifism] [People] [Peace treaties] [Propaganda] [POWs] [Russian Revolution] [Signals and intelligence] [Terrorism] [Trench warfare] ------[Technology]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War I page]
[Return to Main war essay page]




Created: 5:20 AM 11/20/2014
Last updated: 2:52 AM 8/12/2021