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100 years ago in September, tanks changed warfare forever

By Kyle Mizokami
via Popular Mechanics

One hundred years ago on September 15th 1916, German soldiers looked out over the tops of their trenches and got a tremendous shock. Giant metal-covered vehicles, as large as a barn, were slowly advancing towards their position, moving forward in a caterpillar-like motion and spitting cannon and machine gun fire as they came. It was like nothing they'd ever seen before. This was the battle of Flers-Courcelette, and the age of the tank had arrived.Tank

The tank was invented to break the stalemate of trench warfare on World War I's European battlefields. Artillery and machine guns, plentiful on both sides, were particularly effective against the main form of offense—the infantryman. As a result the defense was stronger than just about anything that could be thrown against it, so much so that infantrymen spent most of their time cowering in trenches and bunkers. When the infantry did attack, they would often outstrip their supporting machine gun fire, leaving them vulnerable to counterattacks.

Enter the tank. Designed to swing the pendulum back, the tank was destined to make the offense stronger than the defense and accompany the infantry in the attack, bringing along protected machine guns and cannons that would later be used to beat back the inevitable enemy counterattack.

 Read the entire article on the Popular Mechanics web site here:

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