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Osprey New Vanguard No. 100


British Mark I Tank 1916



David Fletcher


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey New Vanguard No. 100
British Mark I Tank 1916 by David Fletcher
ISBN: 1841767298
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 96 pages
Price: GB£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Very readable text, good artwork, interesting photos with informative captions.
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by
Rob Baumgartner

Osprey's British Mark I Tank 1916  may be ordered  online from Squadron.com



This is the first book in a new series, which will cover a range of armoured fighting vehicles used in World War I. Others titles will include the British Mark IV, French Renault and German tanks.

David Fletcher is the historian at the Tank Museum, Bovington, UK and has been studying the development of British armoured vehicles for over 40 years. These credentials make him an ideal candidate for the authorship of this book.

Some of the information on the development and use of the subject matter has been lost or confused with time. Sensibly where there is more than one opinion, this is made clear by the author.

There are 48 printed pages in this edition with 40 black and white photographs and 8 pages of colour artwork. Tony Bryan does a good job of the latter and includes a cutaway of a Mark I Male tank which was tank D7 of No. 2 section, D Company, Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps. The frustrating aspect of this image is that it spreads over two pages with much of the detail being hidden in the spine.

The story begins with the importation of a set of crawler tracks, sprockets, rollers and frames from Chicago in the United States. This was for an Admiralty scheme inspired by the First Lord, Winston Churchill, from the Landships Committee that was created in February 1915.

The reader is then taken through the development process where the Number One Lincoln Machine is tested and later rebuilt as Little Willie. The appearance of Mother (also known as Big Willie by the Admiralty or His Majesty’s Land Ship Centipede) shows off the traditional rhomboid shape that enthusiasts are used to seeing with British WWI tanks. The author describes her and the subsequent production order for 100 machines under the code name “tank”.

David Fletcher’s easy to read style continues with a section on the building of the “Male” and “Female” tanks as well as an entertaining passage on the conditions and duties of the crew members. The types introduction to war is covered with the first tank battle at Flers-Courcelette (the names of the villages that were the objective). This occurred on the 15th September 1916 as part of the Somme campaign.

The book finishes with a section on the conversions done to earlier vehicles as well as experimental tanks. The Mark II, and Mark III tanks are also covered with a brief look at their operations.

An interesting selection of photos has been taken from The Tank Museum, Bovington and these are complemented by very informative captions.


This is an excellent introduction into what should be a very interesting series.

The author’s style has made the text very easy to digest and gives the reader a good grounding in the subject.

It would have been nice to have a five view drawing of a Mark I included in the book but then we can’t have everything….



British Mark I Tank 1916
(New Vanguard 100)
Visit Osprey Publishing
Author:  David Fletcher
Illustrator: Tony Bryan
US Price: $14.95
UK Price: £8.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: June 24, 2004
Details: 48 pages; ISBN: 1841766895
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Review Copyright © 2004 by Rob Baumgartner
Page Created 27 May, 2004
Last updated 25 May, 2004

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