We were invited by Wargaming to come to the Bovington Tank Museum to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the tank. The first tank that moved on to the battlefield was the British Mark I also know as the Little Willie and it changed the battlefield forever. Today we talk to Richard Cutland, Wargaming’s Military Expert about the history and the future of the tank.
Richard: Well, If we look at the British tanks I always compare it to when we had the Centurion and got the Chieftain. The Mk 1 ‘Little Willie’ was a benchmark for a lot of tank designers, especially for the Americans of course. It was incredibly important as far as the development of any kind of armoured vehicle. That’s why it appearing in this museum, that’s why it is here.
British prototype tank Mark I “Little Willie
I mean, when you talk to anyone about tanks, even though they know nothing about tanks, when you talk about a German and you let them name a tank, they know about the Tiger tank, everybody knows about that tank. When you talk about the English, the Centurion is there most know tank and the Americans would probably say the Sherman of the M1. For them, that’s the epitome of tanks. But still, it all started with the Little Willie, and that’s makes this tank very important.
Richard: Fundamentally the tank is still the same. But I think 100 is not a whole lot of time. But the fundamental design has changed, especially when you compare it to the Mark 1. If you compare the Mark 1 to the tanks who followed on that, that didn’t change a lot. But when you look at the tanks these days the technology got upped so much over the past 100 years.
But even from the days at the Somme, even the tactics have changed very little. That is because the tank is designed for a few basic things; Support infantry, crossing obstacles and holding ground, things a tank is very good at. And even these days, in 2016, it’s still about holding ground, support infantry and cross obstacles and that sort of things. It’s all about the technology that changed everything. Look at me and my short time in the army, I started off in the Chieftain, then the Challenger I and finished on the Challenger II, well even those tanks where the world apart as far as technology was concerned.
British battle tank: Centurion
Richard: It’s all a big question. I mean, for the past 10 years people have been talking about this with the new technology like the drones and such. But we also had the Gulf war which was tank orientated. We already have seen a change in multi-purpose vehicle, vehicles that can carry infantry and have fire-power. Maybe not as powerful as a tank, but still have good firepower. So if I had to make a prediction, I would say the future will hold more emphasis on these multi-purpose vehicles as opposed to the traditional main battle tanks. But even now every army hold tanks, to a certain degree, but why? Because they must be important. There must be a need for it.
What is the future of the tank?
Also, you can now control a drone from 20.000 miles away to take an obstacle, and do what you want, but you don’t control that piece of ground, you still can’t hold that position, you only neutralize it. It will still be the job of the infantry to hold it, or it will be up to the tanks. to hold it or keep it. So, until this day, you need to set foot on the ground. So I personally feel the tanks will be there a lot longer. But I love to say no so we can save the money and use it for health care or something.
Richard: I don’t really know. Amphibious tanks are something completely different. But why not? I think it will just be something like a lighter tank, more portable. Maybe like a cross over apache with more fire power. The Apache was a great helicopter, but still, it’s nothing like a real tank. But something like the Ratte is way to big for these days, I personally think it will be more a tank which can hold infantry. Because you we also need infantry on the battlefield. Nothing can replace infantry
I know people are also talking about cyborgs and things like that at the battlefield. We know people are talking about that as well, maybe within 100 years we will see something like that. But that’s not a thing I want to think about now.
Richard: That’s easy. It’s the Tiger 131. I love that tank! It was the very first video I made with Wargaming. It was all completely new to me. They told me to get in the tank and film something about the tank. I’m fascinated by the history of the tank. Not about this particular one, but it was a groundbreaking tank. There was so much technology crammed into one space, a little too much perhaps.
But there is something amazing about the tank. It looks like a tank, it was feared, it had a fantastic gun. For me, there has been always something the Tiger tank. They told me, what would you like to talk about? So I thought; I’ve never been inside the Tiger and not a lot of people get the chance to get inside it. And when you looked into it, and research it, the thoughts and the preparation that went into designing that was absolutely incredible. Maybe it was a bit over-engineered, but the idea behind it was fantastic.
German Tiger I Heavy tank: Tiger 131
Talking about over engineered, look at the Mauser. It’s crazy but also, very fascinating. Obviously, I love the British army, but they did it the British way, which was carefully planned. They had a good vehicle, but nothing like the Germans with their crazy idea’s. That’s why I love the Tiger tank.
Thank you for your time Richard and we hope to see a lot of new video’s of you and some amazing tanks!