Sturmpanzerwagen – the Imperial Crawler



In a weak moment, Ewan stooped to imitating the style of a certain popular movie series in order to point out that truth is stranger than fiction.  This vehicle, which Ewan discovered in his research for the Mark I tank t-shirt, was not manned by small beings in brown hooded robes who kidnap droids.  It held 18 Germans in World War I, and might have been pretty good at moving across a flat sandy planet, but wasn’t so good going across European countryside. It really was an imperial crawler, in that it was a tracked tank under the command of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II.  Its name was much more fun to say than vehicle names in a certain movie series – this was the feared Sturmpanzerwagen!

The Sturmpanzerwagen A7V was Germany’s somewhat belated (1918) answer to the Mark series of tanks, and only 20 were ever built.  The Germans stuffed 18 men inside this tank, along with engine fumes, noise, fuel, ammunition, and any other supplies.  Since Sturmpanzerwagens were hand-built, standardization was not one of their benefits, and their best off-road speed was 3 miles per hour. With a relatively high center of gravity and relatively low ground clearance, this could happen

But it is easy to laugh in hindsight, forgetting that at this point it was not even clear what tanks were useful for; tank tactics would not be sorted out until the following war. Meanwhile, the Sturmpanzerwagen was actually the most powerful tank of WWI, powered by a double engine and armed with either a 57mm gun or two machine guns. It functioned as a movable fortress, with armor far superior to the shirt that was all most infantrymen had to protect themselves with.  Read more about the Sturmpanzerwagen here.

WWI and WWII could reasonably be said to be Episode I and II of the World Wars; they were both fought across many continents, with many of the same players though not always on the same side. They were fought for some of the same reasons, and many captains from WWI were generals of WWII, and many soldiers of WWII were sons of WWI soldiers.

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