19 ft 3 in (5.87 m) 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m) inc. rear steering wheels
Width 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m)
8 ft 3 in (2.51 m) to top of hull 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m) to top of turret
Crew (Projected) 6
(Projected) Various suggestions of Maxim, Hotchkiss, Lewis, or Madsen machine guns
Engine Foster-Daimler Knight sleeve valve petrol 105 hp (78 kW)
Power/weight 6 hp/tonne
Transmission Two-speed forwards, one reverse final drive by Renolds chains
Speed 2 mph (3.2 km/h)
1 Number 1 Lincoln Machine
Number 1 Lincoln Machine
The No1 Lincoln Machine, with lengthened Bullock tracks and Creeping Grip tractor suspension, September 1915
Work on Little Willie's predecessor was begun in July 1915 by the
Landships Committee to meet Great Britain's requirement in World War I
for an armoured combat vehicle able to cross a 8-foot (2.4 m)
trench. After several other projects with single and triple tracks had
failed, on 22 July William Ashbee Tritton, director of the
agricultural machinery company William Foster & Company of
Lincoln, was given the contract to develop a "Tritton Machine" with
two tracks. It had to make use of the track assemblies - lengthened
tracks and suspension elements (seven road wheels instead of four) -
purchased as fully built units from the Bullock Creeping Grip Tractor
Company in Chicago.
On 11 August actual construction began; on 16 August Tritton decided
to fit a wheeled tail to assist in steering. On 9 September the Number
1 Lincoln Machine, as the prototype was then known, made its first
test run in the yard of the Wellington Foundry. It soon became clear
that the track profiles were so flat that ground resistance during a
turn was excessive. To solve this, the suspension was changed so that
the bottom profile was more curved. Then the next problem showed up:
when crossing a trench the track sagged and then would not fit the
wheels again and jammed. The tracks were also not up to carrying the
weight of the vehicle (about 16 tons). Tritton and Lieutenant Walter
Gordon Wilson tried several types of alternative track design,
including balatá belting and flat wire ropes. Tritton, on 22
September, devised a robust but outwardly crude system using pressed
steel plates riveted to cast links and incorporated guides to engage
on the inside of the track frame. The track frames as a whole were
connected to the main body by large spindles. This system was
unsprung, as the tracks were held firmly in place, able to move in
only one plane. This was a successful design and was used on all First
World War British tanks up to the Mark VIII, although it limited
The vehicle's 13 litre 105 bhp Daimler-Knight engine, gravity fed
by two petrol tanks, was at the back, leaving just enough room
beneath the turret. The prototype was fitted with a non-rotatable
dummy turret mounting a machine gun; a
Wilson was unhappy with the basic concept of the Number 1 Lincoln
Machine, and on 17 August suggested to Tritton the idea of using
tracks that ran all around the vehicle. With d'Eyncourt's approval
construction of an improved prototype began on 17 September. For this
second prototype (later known as "HMLS [His Majesty's Land Ship]
Centipede", and, later still, "Mother"), a rhomboid track frame was
fitted, taking the tracks up and over the top of the vehicle. The rear
steering wheels were retained in an improved form, but the idea of a
turret was abandoned and the main armament placed in side sponsons.
Number 1 Lincoln Machine was rebuilt with an extended (90 centimetres
longer) track up to 6 December 1915, but merely to test the new tracks
in Burton Park, near Lincoln; the second prototype was seen as much
more promising. The first was renamed Little Willie, the scabrous name
then commonly used by the British yellow press to mock the German
Imperial Crown Prince Wilhelm; Mother was for a time known as Big
Willie, after his father Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. That same year
the cartoonist William Kerridge Haselden had made a popular comic
anti-German propaganda movie: The Adventures of Big and Little Willie.
^ The development of the similar French
^ Pullen, Richard (2007), The Landships of Lincoln (2nd ed.), Tucann,
p. 30, ISBN 978-1-873257-79-1, New arrival by Tritton out of
Light in weight but very strong.
All doing well, Thank you.
^ Fletcher, David (2004). British Mark I Tank, 1916. New Vanguard.
100. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 6.
^ Fletcher (2001), p. 43.
^ Fletcher (2001), p. 41.
^ Smithers, A. J. (1 January 1986). A New Excalibur: The Development
Fletcher, David (2001). The British Tanks, 1915–1919. Marlborough: Crowood. ISBN 978-1-86126-400-8.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Little Willie.
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World War I
Little Willie "Female" tank "Male" tank Mks I, II, III Mk IV Mk V Mk VI Mark VII Mk VIII Mk IX Medium Mk A "Whippet" Medium Mk B Medium Mk C Flying Elephant Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor Lancelot de Mole's proposal* (1912)
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Italics—experimental prototypes; * concept only
WWI Interwar WWII Cold W