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Germany's Panzerkampfwagen A7V heavy tank

Design

After the British first used tanks in combat on September 15, 1916, the German Army wanted a similar vehicle. The Allgemeine Kriegsdepartement 7, Abteilung Verkehrswesen (General War Department 7, Traffic Section) obtained an American Holt tractor to study the feasibility of making it into a weapon.

Engines

There were two Daimler 4 cylinder engines installed.

Armament

The 5.7 cm Sokol was a captured Russian gun. It was mounted in the central front of the tank.

Armor

The armor was poorly constructed and joints poorly made to where bullet splash would sometimes get through the joints.

Superstructure

The superstructure was a large steel box.

Chassis

The chassis was a tractor's.

Crew

The six machine guns were manned by 2 crewman each.

Prototype

A wooden mockup of a vehicle was constructed and demonstrated to the General Staff on May 14, 1917. There were some modifications that were asked for and it was approved for production. In December 1917 the first armored tanks was finished.

Production

Production did not have priority for scarce materials. One hundred chassis were ordered in December 1917.

  • A7V: 20, ~20
  • Cargo carrier and Geländewagen: 80
  • A7V/U: 1 prototype

Variants

  • A7V:
  • A7V/U: The U stood for umlaufende ketten (overhead tracks). The tracks ran on the outside of the hull, similar to the British Mark IV. Had side sponsons for the main armament.
  • Uberlandwagen: Cargo carrier.
  • Geländewagen: Tractor.

Usage

On March 21, 1918, the A7Vs were first used in combat at St. Quentin.

Due to the layout of the armor the A7V couldn't cross trenches very well.

Training was inadequate for the crews and they didn't perform as well as they might have.

Tank vs Tank

On April 24, 1918, the first tank vs. tank battle occurred at Villers Bretonneux. Three British tanks went up against two A7Vs. Two of the British tanks were driven off by fire from the A7Vs. One A7V was destroyed when it overturned on a steep bank, and it was considered a tank kill.

After World War I

The Polish military used the A7Vs after the end of World War I.

Specifications

  Panzerkampfwagen A7V
Crew 18
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 73,700 lb
29.5 tons, 30 tons
30,480 kg, 33,500 kg
Length 24', 26' 3"
8 m
Height 10' 10", 11' 2"
3.3 m
Height over turret 11' 2"
3.4 m
Width 10' , 10' 0.5", 10' 6"
3.06 m, 3.2 m
Ground clearance 1.57"
40 mm
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 1: 5.7 cm KwK
1: 57 mm
Secondary  
MG 6: Maxim pattern '08 MG
6: MG
6: 7.92 mm Maxim-Spandau MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 10 - 30, 30
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Engine (Make / Model) 2: Daimler
2: Daimler-Benz
Cylinders 4
Net HP 100 each
Transmission  
Fuel (type) Gasoline
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 8 mph, 9 mph
12 kph, 15 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 25 miles, 37 - 44 miles, 50 miles
40 km, 60 - 70 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  
  Panzerkampfwagen A7V/U
Crew 7
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 39.29 tons
Length 27' 6"
Height 10' 6"
Width 15' 5"
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 2: 5.7 cm KwK
Secondary  
MG 4: MG
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 45
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Engine (Make / Model) 2: Daimler
Cylinders  
Net HP 150 each
Transmission  
Fuel (type)  
Octane  
Capacity  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 7.5 mph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Track length  
Tires  
Track width  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. German Tanks and Armoured Vehicles 1914 - 1945, B. T. White, 1966
  2. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  3. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site