UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Mark VIII Liberty Tank

The Mark VIII, sometimes called the Liberty Tank, was the first production-model tank of the US Army. By the time the first unit came off the assembly line, World War I had ended. The Mark VIII tank was sometimes referred to as the Liberty Tank due to its 12-cylinder Liberty engine. The tank, a joint venture of the United States and Great Britain, was based on the British rhomboid landship line of tanks. The Mark VIII was designed to be an "anti-machinegun" weapon capable of traversing a battlefield scarred by trenches, shell holes, and debris while clearing a path for the infantry to follow.

One new innovation was the separation of the engine from the crew compartment. This reduced the fire risk and helped stop fumes and heat from the engine entering the area where the crew worked. Armed with two 6-pounder and five .30-caliber machine guns, it was operated by an 11-man crew, had a maximum speed of 6.5 miles per hour, and a range of 50 miles. The armor protection was improved and the length increased to combat Germany's decision to construct wider trenches on the Western Front. Weighing 37 tons, the 34 ft. Mark VIII tank could cross a gap of 15 ft.

By the time the first of these tanks came off the assembly line the war had ended. One hundred were made and used in training exercises throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s.

The French Renault light tank and the British Mark VIII heavy tank used by the AEF Tank Corps and by the Experimental Mechanized Force contained severe technical limitations. With maximum speeds of only 6 mph, these tanks were hardly able to keep up with the infantry when crossing a shell-holed battlefield. When separated from the infantry, the tanks were vulnerable to energy heavy weapons and could not communicate with supporting artillery. These technical limitations, as well as numerous mechanical problems, justifiably confined the World War I tank to an infantry support role. Although the War Department supported and budgeted for the construction of replacement tanks in 1922, little beyond design work was done until 1926.

A new insignia for the Armored Forces was authorized by War Department Circular 56, dated 25 February 1942. This insignia was the side-view of the Mark VIII Tank used in World War I. The insignia was continued in use until the Armor Branch was established in Feb 51. The new insignia was the result of the Army Reorganization Act of 1950 as announced in Army Bulletin No. 9. The Armored Forces and Cavalry were combined into a single branch called Armor. The Armored Forces insignia was no longer used; however, the Cavalry was continued in use as a collar insignia for personnel assigned to Cavalry Units.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list