Flying Elephant

The Flying Elephant was a project for the construction of a heavy tank, which was classified as a tank fighter and German tanks should fight.


Development and use:

In April 1916 the British High Command handed over the last order for 50 Mark I tanks. In contrast to most commanders, the developer of the tank William Tritton was already aware at this time that the Mark I tanks were still too many defects and were not yet mature enough. In addition, the tanks were too weak armored and thus offered no adequate protection against the German artillery. A direct hit, even with medium artillery, could seriously damage or destroy a tank.

Since Tritton at this time had little experience in armor, he was assisted by Lieutenant Kenneth Symes. Symes already worked in the area of ​​the bombardment tests and was familiar with both British and captured German guns. In early June 1916, the program could also be extended, as new armor steel plates of the company William Beardmore and Company arrived for testing.

On 19 June 1916, the official construction of a prototype was approved and approved by the British Tank Supply Committee. Although there were no plans for construction at the end of August, 20 vehicles were ordered and classified as tank destroyers. Background for the classification was the fear that the German Empire would also work on tanks and use them in the near future on the Western Front.

In terms of dimensions, the Flying Elephant would have been similar to those of the Mark I tank. The armor would have consisted of armor steel plates, which would have been 75mm at the front and 50mm at the sides and top. Two Daimler engines with a total of 105 hp were to serve as propulsion systems, which would have meant only a speed of approximately 3 km / h with a total weight of around 100 tons. The main weapon was provided in the front of a 75mm cannon, and two machine guns on the sides. In addition to the outer 61mm wide main chains, two smaller ones were to be mounted under the vehicle so that it could drive faster on the road. Because of the heavy weight, however, it would have been difficult to drive the tank fighter on the battlefield. It would have sunk quickly and deep in the mud and could not have freed itself by itself.

At the end of 1916, the project was surprisingly discontinued by the War Department, as the Ministry put more emphasis on the Mark Panzer and needed the resources it needed.

How far the project as a whole was advanced, can no longer be understood. Today only the original drawings exist in the Albert Stern Archive of King's College in London.



Flying Elephant


Flying Elephant (1:48 model in the Bovington Tank Museum England)



Technical specifications:

Designation: Forster's Battle Tank
( Flying Elephant )
Country: Great Britain
Length: 8,36 meters
Width: 3 meters
Height: 3 meters
Mass: about 100 tons
Maximum speed: 3,4 km/h (valued)
Armor: 50 to 75mm
Main armament: 1 x Hotchkiss QF 6 pdr (75 mm) gun
Other weapons: 4 - 6 x 7,71mm machine guns
Drive: 2 x Daimler engine with a total of 105 hp
Reach: unknown
Crew: 6 man






You can find the right literature here:


British Armoured Car Operations in World War I

British Armoured Car Operations in World War I Hardcover – October 12, 2016

Readers have come to expect a level of detail and critical rigor from the established military historian and author Bryan Perrett. They will not be disappointed at all here by this new publication. Focussing predominantly on the British armored car units of World War One, it also untangles many fascinating strands forming the history of modern warfare. Full of detail, it acquaints the reader with the complete history of the armored car, from invention onwards, setting the history of its Great War service career firmly in context. Well written in an accessible style, this publication serves as an impressive tribute to the armored car, one of the most effective weapons utilized by the allies during the course of the Great War.

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British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939 (General Military)

British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939 (General Military) Hardcover – August 23, 2016

When British soldiers charged across the Somme in September 1916, they were accompanied by a new, revolutionary weapon--the tank. After a stuttering start, armored behemoths such as the Mark IV, Mark V, and Whippet Tank played a crucial role in bringing World War I to an end.

Marking the centenary of their battlefield debut, this comprehensive volume traces the design and development of the famous British weapon system, from the initial concept of a steam-powered tank during the Crimean War, to the role the British military played in creating the infamous German Blitzkrieg tactic of World War II. Bolstered by historic photographs and stunning illustrations, author David Fletcher brings us the thrilling history behind British tanks of the First World War.

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The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (New Vanguard)

The Rolls-Royce Armoured Car (New Vanguard) Paperback – April 17, 2012

The first Rolls-Royce armoured car was a privately owned vehicle fitted with a machine-gun and a limited amount of armour plate at a dockyard in France. It was used by a squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service in Flanders in 1914. Backed by First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill more and better versions followed until, by 1915 there were about 100 of them which were then handed over to the Army. "They searched the world for War" as Sir Albert Stern said of them and before long there were Rolls-Royce armoured cars operating as far apart as German South West Africa, the Western Desert, Gallipoli, all over the Middle East and the north west frontier of India.

All of them used the classic 40/50hp Silver Ghost chassis. They were fast, silent and reliable but above all strong. "A Rolls in the desert is above rubies" said Lawrence of Arabia and the Duke of Westminster would have agreed with him following his famous raid to rescue the kidnapped crew of the steamship HMS Tara. At least one car accompanied the adventurous MP Oliver Locker-Lampson on his adventures in Russia.

After the war, unable to find a better model the War Office simply copied the original Admiralty design with minor improvements. If that was not enough the Royal Air Force also acquired some to support their operations in the Middle East. A new design with a larger body and dome shaped turret also appeared for service in India. They also served in Ireland and even, briefly in Shanghai.

The 11th Hussars still had Rolls-Royces in Egypt when the war against Italy began and the youngest of these was over fifteen years old when they went into action, but after that their numbers dwindled as newer vehicles came along. But then history repeated itself. Britain was threatened with invasion and a new army of veterans was raised to assist with defence. Some battalions built home made armoured cars, on private chassis and at least three of these were based on Rolls-Royces.

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Armoured Warfare in the First World War (Images Of War)

Armoured Warfare in the First World War (Images Of War) Paperback – March 17, 2017

A hundred years ago, on 15 September 1916, on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme, the tank made its debut on the battlefield. The first tanks were crude, unreliable, vulnerable weapons, but they changed the character of land warfare forever, and Anthony Tucker-Jones's photographic history of these pioneering armored vehicles is the ideal introduction to them.

In a selection of over 150 archive photographs he offers a fascinating insight into the difficult early days of this innovative new weapon, describing its technical history and its performance in combat. While the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 is often held up as the first large-scale tank battle, tanks had already served at Flers-Courcelette on the Somme, during the Nivelle offensive and the battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

His book shows that the development of the tank was fraught with technical obstacles and battlefield setbacks. It was invented by the British and the French at almost the same time to help break the deadlock of trench warfare, and the British deployed it first in 1916. Belatedly the Germans followed the British and French example. The initial designs were continuously refined during two years of intense warfare. Finding the right balance between power and weight, getting the armament right, and working out the best tactics for tanks on the battlefield was a tricky, often deadly business.

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