The Tank Museum’s tank is the only surviving example of a Mark I Tank.
150 were built, divided into 75 male and 75 female machines. 23 built by Fosters, the rest by Metropolitan. This example was presented to Lord Salisbury in 1919 for display on his Hatfield Park estate in Hertfordshire to commemorate the use of his grounds for some of the earliest tank demonstrations in 1916.
It was equipped with the short six-pounder guns and small diameter gun shields from a later type of tank, was damaged at the rear and lacked the steering tail assembly and hydraulic apparatus. When it arrived at the Tank Museum it received the hydraulics and tail from the Mark II tank and had the appearance of the guns restored cosmetically with wood.
Originally displayed in grey, with the ‘Russian’ inscription, it was later repainted to represent the tank ‘Clan Leslie’ as it appeared during the Somme battle on 15 September 1916, complete with a replica of the ‘bomb-proof’ roof.
See David Fletcher on the Mark I in his Tank Chat here. Find out more about tank development and First World War tanks in the books below.