Mark IV vs A7V: Villers-Bretonneux 1918
The German A7V and the British Mark IV were similar in weight, size, and speed, but differed significantly in armour, armament and maneuverability. The A7V had thicker armour, and had nearly double the horsepower per ton. The Mark IV’s pair of side-mounted 6pdr cannons forced the vehicle to present its side arc to an enemy in order to fire one of its main guns. Possessing twice as many machine guns as the Mark IV, the A7V had a frontally mounted 57mm gun that proved capable of defeating the Mark IV’s armour. The Mark IV’s rhomboid design proved superior in crossing trenches, climbing obstacles and moving over rough terrain. As the first tank-versus-tank engagement in history, the fighting around Villers-Bretonneux showcased the British Mark IV and German A7V designs. Although not purpose-built to combat enemy armour, both vehicles proved the viability of such operations, which during the postwar period led to key advances in suspension, armour, gunsights, ammunition, and command and control. While the British continued to develop their armoured forces, German armour development never materialized, and only in the postwar period did they address the issue.