Engineering recognition for Little Willie tank

The Tank Museum John Wood (l) from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers presents the award to museum curator David Willey

Related Stories

The vehicle credited with being the world's first military tank has been recognised with an engineering award.

The 18-tonne Little Willie prototype tank, built in 1915, received the heritage award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The E-Type Jaguar and Tower Bridge have previously been honoured as similar British engineering successes.

A special ceremony was held at Little Willie's current home, the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset.

Start Quote

It really did change the face of modern warfare”

End Quote John Wood Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Weighing 18 tonnes, with an intended crew of two plus four gunners, it was built by William Foster and Co in Lincoln as the Army's first completed tank prototype.

However, although the completed vehicle was running by the end of 1915, a new design was already under construction, meaning Little Willie never saw combat.

John Wood, chairman of the institution's Engineering Heritage Committee, described it as "an example of British engineering at its finest".

Little Willie Little Willie is on display at Bovington Tank Museum

"Despite it never seeing combat, Little Willie's design was hugely innovative and designers and engineers used it as a starting point for many of the tanks which followed later.

"It really did change the face of modern warfare," he said.

The Engineering Heritage Awards were established by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1984 with the aim of promoting artefacts or landmarks of significant engineering importance.

David Willey, curator of the Bovington Tank Museum, said the lessons learned from developing Little Willie proved very influential.

"Little Willie was designed to save British lives on the battlefield by helping our soldiers break into the German trench systems and not get held up on barbed wire and caught by machine-gun fire."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Dorset


[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.