Medium A Whippet Light Tank, 1918
Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945
The second of the principal tanks used by the British in the First World War, it was designed by William Tritton to fulfil a requirement for a faster tank capable of operating with the cavalry. Weighing only fourteen tons and powered by two Tylor lorry engines giving a total of 90-hp, the Whippet was nearly twice as fast as the heavy tanks and much more mobile with a separate engine and transmission for each track, final drive shafts being tied together by a dog-clutch to drive straight ahead. Due to a hold-up in the supply of gearboxes Whippets were not used in action until 26th March 1918, when they took part in a small engagement near Colincamps. On that day twelve tanks of the Third Tank Battalion put to flight two enemy battalions trying to exploit a large gap in the Third Army front. Although designed to act as spearheads for the cavalry the new tanks never really fulfilled their earlier promise in this objective. The idea was when defences were breached, the cavalry, supported by Whippets, would pour through the gap to cut the enemy lines of communication. In practice the method rarely worked since on good going the horsemen outstripped the tanks. The fact that there was no means of communication between the two did not help matters. However. some successes were achieved, though usually this was when the tanks broke away from the horsemen, as with the exploits of the ‘˜Musical Boz’ – a Whippet of 6th Tank Battalion behind the German lines during the Battle of Amiens in August 1918. The achievements of the Whippet battalions in 1918 did much to bury the bogey of trench warfare.
|Dimensions||47.5 × 35.6 cm|