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All the books I read discount the A7V as a total blunder. But, as I understand it, both the early MK's of British tanks, and the A7V, were prone to breaking down. So there are definitive pro's and cons in both designs...
Faster. Comparitively easy to drive. More machine guns. Roomier interior. Better ventilation and environment for crew. Heavy armor.
Terrible handling on rough ground and in most off road conditions. Very unstable center of gravity.
British Heavy Tanks:
Pros: Good handling on rough ground. Very stable. More heavy guns.
Cons: Terrible ventilation. Terrible environment for crew. Incredibly slow. Hard to maneuver.
So... While A7Vs engaging British tanks in open ground may lose, I bet that if the A7Vs were used mainly in urban environments, like the Heidi varient, they would have worked quite adequately. I think that the A7V, is actually a superior machine to the British tanks in many respects. Its just that, it didnt fulfill the duties the British tanks could.
One is great in one environment. One is great in another. But neither is outright bad. Why do so many books say the A7V is a flat out inferior design?
For a more positive view of the A7V, try Hundleby and Strassheim's book (if you can find it). The tremendous all-around fire-power of the A7V made it a very effective assault weapon, and one that could keep up with the assault infantry, which the British heavies just could not.
On the other hand it needed help to cross trenches and obstacles as its was hampered by it's very rapid development. British heavy tanks were designed to cross bad ground and trenches and maybe support the infantry, while the A7V was designed to work with Sturmtruppen.
Probably the fact that Germany only made like 14 tanks didn't help the A7V much. One tank here or there would not do alot to establish any great reputation. Plus, I think the fact that since the Allies ultimately won, British, in particular, writers and historians have played up the UK tanks and denegrated the A7V. The same thing is true with W.W. II. You see current book after book describe German tanks as clumsy, clunky brutes easily outmatched by the nimble Sherman, while, on the other hand, during the war itself, the US government had conducted hearings into the reasons behind the total failure of the Sherman to counter new German designs.
The A7V, seen in the context of 99% of the battlefields it was supposed to fight in was a failure. Even combat in an urban environment (a horrible place for tanks, of course) means climbing over rubble and the A7V was a horrible climber. All the armour and reliability in the world doesn't mean squat if you can't actually get to the fight.
The A7V was really lame across open country and, as such was bound to be at a tactical disadvantage more often than the Mk V. Certainly the first tank vs tank battle was inconclusive bordering on an German win, but it wouldn't ahve gone that way often. Couple that with the Mk VIII and Medium As in 1919 and the A7V would have been toast. There was no growth cabability in the concept as shown by the second german design which was a slightly more rounded copy of the lozenge design (looking a lot like a Mk VIII).
The victors write the histories, but a dog is still a dog...
(Login tankmodeler) Missing-Lynx members 126.96.36.199
Yeah, but 2 years out of date
March 16 2004, 9:37 AM
True, it bears a lot of similarities with Little Willie (more with the St Chamond) and if the Germans really were starting from scratch, it would be a noble effort, however they had been presented with the more developed Mk I in 1916 as an example and there really wasn't any excuse for not starting from there and working up. Starting back at the Little Willie stage makes no sense except when coupled with the High Command's continuing dismissal of tanks as a weapon and their subsequent lack of support for any real development work.