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Dominating the battlefield for 100 years, the tank was initially designed to break the stalemate of trench warfare and provide infantry units with a mobile, armoured base of fire that would give them a significant tactical advantage. Since that time, the tank has developed into an essential component of any integrated military force, whilst always challenging designers to find new ways of combining effective fire-power with greater speed and mobility – in the world of tank warfare, bigger is not always better.
First introduced by the British during the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916, the tank was developed under the utmost secrecy for fear of alerting the Germans to these decisive new weapons. Originally known as Landships, workers involved in their production were told that the vehicles were nothing more than mobile water tanks for use in the desert war. As military planners looked for a suitable code word for the new machines, the word tank was adopted.
As the tank developed, it would become a crucial component of German Blitzkrieg during WWII, as they perfected the use of fast moving armoured vehicles to back up infantry assaults, following devastating aerial bombardment. Today's tanks can trace their lineage back to the first British Mark I machines of the Somme Offensive and will still be found at the spearhead of any ground based military operation.