"It was effectively ironclad against bullets, and could at a pinch cross a thirty-foot trench..."
H.G. Wells, The Land Ironclads, 1908
In the early 1900s, the stalemate of trench warfare sparked military powers to look for alternative methods of breaking through enemy lines. Before World War I, motorized vehicles were still uncommon, and the current designs were unsuitable for combat. It was the British military, in 1914, that created the first tanks. They included tracks to make moving over muddy terrain easy and were fitted with internal- combustion engine, bulletproof casing, and mounted, revolving machine guns. Surprisingly it was the navy rather than the army that oversaw the deployment of the new war vehicles during World War I.
Before being put into service, the first tanks were demonstrated to two future British prime ministers— David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. Amazed at the machines' ability to mow through barbed wire more...