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The Dawn of the Armored Fighting Vehicle

Sep 15, 2016 | 08:00 GMT
The Dawn of the Armored Fighting Vehicle
A British Mark I "male" tank pictured in September 1916, likely in reserve for the Battle of Thiepval Ridge.
(Wikimedia Commons)

On the morning of Sept. 15, 1916, soldiers of the German 1st Army rushed to their defensive positions between Flers and Courcelette, on the Western Front. The lifting of the Allied artillery barrage typically presaged an infantry charge, and the defenders made their machine guns ready to cut down advancing British and French troops. But this time, instead of rushing infantry, from the smoke and mist emerged grinding mechanical contraptions, spewing bullets and shells. The Germans poured machine-gun fire onto the strange, new vehicles lumbering across the ragged mud and wire of no man's land, but the bullets had little effect. The day of the tank -- a concept that would go on to define land warfare in the 20th century -- had arrived....

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