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The FReeper Foxhole's TreadHead Tuesday - Sturmpanzerwagen A7V - Jan. 4th, 2005 ^ | Edwin Dyer

Posted on 01/03/2005 10:19:01 PM PST by SAMWolf


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Sturmpanzerwagen A7V

German tank development can be traced back to 1911, when Austrian Oberleutenant Gunther Burstyn proposed a design for "motor vehicle gun" ("Motorgeschutz") with a turret. He patented his design in 1912 in Germany but it never progressed beyond paper. In 1916, development of tracked armored vehicles started again with Marienwagen I and II (also known as Bremer-Wagen), followed by Duer-Wagen and in 1917, Treffas-Wagen

The success of British tanks in 1916 did not worry the German General Staff. They felt their troops could defeat the tank threat and that the overall condition of the various theaters did not warrant the efforts in producing a tank. Despite this, the War Ministry, on November 13, 1916, issued a contract to the Motor Vehicle Technical Testing Commission (VPK) to develop a tank. As a ploy to maintain secrecy, this tank was to have the name A7V, which stood for Allgemeine Kriegsdepartment 7 Abteilung Vehkerwesen (which translated to War Department General Division 7 Transport).

The specifications issued by the War Ministry called for a vehicle with a gross weight of 30 tons, able to traverse cross-country, span a ditch 1.5 meters wide, and reach a road speed of 12kph. It was to be armed with two cannon, one at the front of the tank, one in the back, plus several machine guns. A motor developing between 80 to 100 horsepower was to be sufficient.

With contract in hand, the lead designer for the project was Reserve Hauptmann und Oberingeneur Joseph Vollmer. He headed up a commission, along with the VPK, comprised of military and business officials with whom to conduct the efforts of putting a design together. During the design phase, demands such as making the tank proof against artillery to using is only as a overland tractor were put forth but mostly ignored. Having nothing to truly draw upon in terms of tank and fully tracked vehicle production and also due to the pressures of time and the lack of strong support and backing, Vollmer contacted Herr Steiner of Holt-Caterpillar Company after Vollmer's first prototype tank failed because of weak tracks. The Holt tractor chassis was brought out of mothballs in Austria and lengthened. When the plans of this tank were made public in December 22, 1916, it sported two engines instead of one. By April and May of 1917, the first A7V chassis was under test at Berlin-Marienfelde. The wooden mock-up body had been made at the Daimler works and was mated to the chassis. This prototype (which had ballast to simulate the armament and armor) was displayed before VPK officials and OHL (Army High Command) officials in the months of April and May. Later, in June, it was displayed before the Kaiser himself.

Though the chairman of the VPK, General Friedrich, wasn't too pleased with the performance of the tank, he nevertheless authorized more work. Also, the desire to put the A7V at the top of the priority list for war materials was soundly rejected by the OHL. Despite this, an order for 100 Holt chassis was placed. Initially, 38 A7Vs (some sources say 35) were to be built using the Holt chassis...but, this was cut down to between 20 to 23.

During the testing months, many of the faults of the A7V appeared. Things such as engine overheating, low ground clearance, being underpowered, finding a suitable cannon to mount, constant running gear troubles, armor plating, lack of climbing ability, and a high center of gravity leading to maneuverability woes all worked against the A7V. But the German general staff couldn't wait for anything better and ordered that the A7V be ready for operations for the 1918 spring offensives, months after the initial acceptance date of July, 1917.

The A7V was, to put it bluntly, an armored box on tracks. Uninspired to say the least and almost seeming to pander to the "land fortress" design the Kaiser dreamt up in 1900, his being a steam-driven, wheeled box with cannon and spikes protruding from its slab sides. The chassis was a lengthened Holt tractor (as a side note, both the French M.16 CA1 Schneider and the M.16 St. Chamond used the Holt tracked chassis) with the dual Daimler engines situated in the center of the chassis. Each of the in-line engines were four cylinder and watercooled and produced 100hp at 1,600rpm. A large radiator was situated in front of the engines. These engines were tied into a Adler gearbox thru dual transmission shafts. Drive was transferred by shafts to the sprockets, the shafts going thru the steering brakes. The exhaust muffler (one for each engine) was located inside the tank, the exhaust pipe coming thru the armor plate to the outside. The sprocket and drive train was at the rear of the vehicle, driving two, approximately 60 link, tracks. The tracks were made of pressed steel plates bolted to cast steel links. There were three sets of bogies, each consisting of five road wheels and two return rollers. The suspension consisted of two springs, arranged much like a rail car. These bogies were all connected to each other and the chassis thru tie-rods. To contend with the tracks slipping off the rollers (a problem which occurred on several occasions with the prototypes), grousers were added to the bogies to help keep the tracks in place. Track tension adjustments were made with the mechanism at the idler wheel at the front of the vehicle.

Situated over the engines, on a raised platform, was the driver and commander compartment. The driver was surrounded by the controls needed to drive the tank. They were:

  1. Engine speed control wheel (when going into wide turns)
  2. Two clutch pedals
  3. Speed control selector (set for 3, 6, and 12kph)
  4. Two brake levers (one per track)
  5. Two drive levers (for forward or reverse drive; one per track)
  6. Starter handwheel
  7. Steering wheel
The first prototype had two driver stations, one to operate the tank in forward motion, the other in reverse. This was dropped from all subsequent A7Vs.

The question of the armament was not finally resolved until the spring of 1918. Initially, it was to be the 2cm Becker cannon which would provide the heavy firepower. Looking much like an oversize, clip fed, machine gun, the Becker proved to be both a unreliable weapon and also one which proved to be lacking in hitting power. Also, it was initially stated that four machine guns would compliment the Beckers, with all weapons being able to be interchangeable within their mountings.

With the poor showing of the Becker, it was decided to utilize weapons from the stock of old Belgian 5.7cm Maxim-Nordenfelt casemate cannons (also identified as Sokol cannons; manufactured c.1888). These weapon had been utilized in open mountings on trucks by the Germans following Cambrai as anti-tank artillery. They were quite capable of penetrating all known armor out to 2,000 meters (recall that the greatest armor thickness fielded by the Allies was between 16mm to 19.5mm; this could be defeated even by the 13mm Mauser Tank-Gewehr M1918 anti-tank rifle!). Another asset of the cannon was its low recoil, only 150mm. The original request for two cannons was dropped to one, the 5.7cm cannon being mounted in the front of the A7V. Two different mounting styles for the cannon were to be seen on production A7Vs. The first was the trestle mounting, developed by the Artillery Testing Commission. The cannon was set into the mantlet, with a balance weight, and two hand wheels were used for traverse and elevation aiming. Aiming was done via two sights, one inside the tank, the other on the end of the barrel. The slit to allow for aiming exposed the gunner to small arms fire. The second, and more common mounting, was the socket mantlet, produced by Spandau's artillery shops. This mount was, in fact, designed for the A7V-U project (discussed later). It was found, however, to be perfectly suited for the A7V and even for use in captured British tanks. The gunner sat on a seat which was connected to the cannon so that, were his cannon went, so did he. He used a dual handwheel combination which elevated and traversed the cannon. Over this handwheel was the sight. A slit in the mantlet allowed for aiming. To the right of the cannon was the firing lever. In action, though, this mount had the potential to disorientate the gunner as the tank moved. The gunner was provided with a direction indicator thru which the commander could give a rough direction of targets. This was located over the recoil brakes of the cannon. To the right of the mount was a series of lights that the commander would use for cannon fire control. A white light ment attention, a red light ment fire the cannon, and no lights ment load the cannon.

Secondary armament of the A7V consisted of six Maxim MG08 machine guns. This was two more than initially called for. Two machine guns were located on the sides of the A7V and two were located in the rear of the tank. No machine guns were mounted up front. The gunner sat in a seat which was attached to the mantlet port thus when he turned the weapon, he went with it. Under his seat were stored the ammunition to feed his weapon. Each of the six machine gun stations had the same white/red indicator lights as the cannon gunner.

Should the tank be involved in shock-troop operations, it would carry the Maxim 08/15 light machine gun, several rifles (typically the M1898), and hand grenades to supplement its already large firepower.

One A7V, Tank 501, mounted two flamethrowers during its trials but these were not retained. However, for shock-troop missions, flamethrowers were listed as planned equipment though they were not used in action.

Ammunition carried varied. The book standard was 180 rounds of 5.7cm rounds. In practice, between 300 to 500 were carried. These were stored in a box in front of the radiator. The usual mix of 5.7cm ammunition was the following: 50% canister rounds, 30% anti-tank rounds, and 20% impact fused HE rounds. For the machine guns, between 10,000 to 15,000 rounds were carried, broken down into 250 round belts. These belts were kept in Type 15 cartridge-belt cases and distributed to machine gun stations for storage under the gunners seat.

The armor for the A7V was one which generated some variation in appearances. Krupp and Rochling both produced five of the armored hulls. The Krupp plating was held up when it had to be cut to fit onto the A7V chassis' skeletal box frame. What resulted was a five sectioned hull, a two sectioned front, and a two sectioned rear. You can see this in the rivet patterns as compared to the single sectioned sides of other A7V tanks. In any event, each of the A7Vs, in both chassis and armor, were mostly handmade and thus differences in external rivet and bolt order, dimensions, and segments vary. Armor skirting was dipped to just above the bogies. A7Vs in the field removed this skirting since it inhibited the self-cleaning of the tracks and running gear.

The armor thickness of the A7V was as follows: Front= 30mm, sides=20mm, rear=20mm, top=7.5mm, "turret"=15mm.

As can be seen, this armor was far superior to any Allied tank fielded. In fact, it might very well have been proof to the British 6pdr. which typically armed British "Male" rhomboids. However, most of the armor supplied to protect the A7V was unhardened, thus lowering the effective value of the armor thickness. As in all World War One tanks, "splash" and "spray" (both terms for the results of hits to the armor and the affects on the interior; "splash" is molten metal played about the interior after a penetration and "spray" is metal flakes sent around the interior after a non-penetrating strike to the outside armor) were common hazards.

Two towing hooks were to be found on the front and rear of the A7V. To protect them and prevent snagging, a flap of armor plate hung down over them. A access door into the A7V was found on the front, left hand side of the tank and the rear, right hand side of the tank. An armored panel could be removed to give access to the idler wheel and the sprocket. Two pistol ports were to be found on each side of the A7V. On the top deck, both in front and behind the "turret", were ventilation louvers. At the rear of the A7V, below the stern armor, was a round escape hatch. Vision slits, protected by armored shutters, were to be found on the front (two), the sides (one per side), and the "turret" (two on the front face and rear, and one on each side face).

A feature to help protect the unarmored underbody consisted of armored plates which hung down from the front and rear sections of the A7V, much like the neck guard of baseball catchers.

The "turret", and I use quotes since it really isn't a turret in the true sense, was situated in the middle of the armored body, over the driver/commander compartment. Asides from the vision slits, it had two hatches in the top and the entire "turret" could be laid flat for transport by rail.

The majority of the A7V crew rides atop their vehicle at the railhead near Villers-Bretonneux , April 1918. This 32 ton monster required twin Daimler engines (105 h.p. each) and a crew of 16 for operation. It was armed with one 57mm cannon and six Maxim machine guns.

Here is a listing of statistics concerning the A7V:

  • Crew: 18 (Driver, commander, mechanic, signaler, 12 machine gunners [6 gunners, 6 loaders], 2 cannon gunners [gunner and loader])
  • Length: 24ft.1in. (7.34m)*
  • Width: 10ft.05in. (3.07m)*
  • Height: 10ft.10in. (3.3m)*
  • Weight: 30 to 33 tons*
  • Power To Weight Ratio: 6.8hp/ton
  • Speed: 6mph (9kph)
  • Tankage: 500 liters
  • Range: 20-50 miles
  • Trench: 7ft. (2.3m)
  • Ground Clearance: 15.75in. (40cm, sometimes as low as 20cm)
* These statistics can vary ( though not by much ) due to the variations in production of the A7V

KEYWORDS: a7v; armor; freeperfoxhole; germany; sturmpanzer; tanks; treadhead; veterans; wwi
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Production of the A7V

The A7V units were first formed on September 20, 1917. The War Ministry ordered that Assault Tank Units 1 and 2 be created. Unit 3 was ordered to form on November 6, 1917. Each unit consisted of five officers, 109 non-coms and enlisted, five A7Vs, nine trucks, two cars, one field kitchen trailer, and one motorcycle. The first A7V wasn't ready until October 1917. Unit 1 reported to Berlin on January 5, 1918 and was transferred to the training/driving school at Sedan. It was during this training time that many of the faults of the A7V were to come to light. It should be pointed out that the crews for the A7V were drawn from no less than three branches of the German army. The driver and the mechanic were enlisted from the engineer corps., the cannon operators from the artillery branch, and the machine gunners from the infantry. This often led to factions within the tank which, given the harsh conditions inside the tank during battle (heat, noise, and the like), did not make for good team work and coordination, so important in a tank's crew and their ultimate survival. So with a new military arm learning how to use a new machine, the War Ministry made things that much more difficult.

March 21, 1918 saw Unit 1 in the field and in action, making it the first action involving the German-born tank. Under the command of Hauptmann Greiff, Unit 1 went into battle south of St. Quentin as part of the "Michael Offensive". Of the five tanks Greiff had, one A7V went down and shortly two more went down with problems. This left him two tanks, Tank 501 "Gretchen" and Tank 506 "Mephisto", with which to carry on the battle to the British. The tanks, which were supported by five captured British Mark IVs, routed the British. Shortly after the battle, "Gretchen" and "Mephisto" were retired to the rear for overhauling at Charleroi. Tank 507 "Cyklop" joined up with Unit 1 after the St. Quentin battle.

April was to prove to be one of the firsts of World War One, tank versus tank. On April 24, 1918, all three German tank units joined with the 2nd. Army in an attack on British and French forces at Villers-Bretonneux and the surrounding area. Two A7Vs failed to even make it to the assembly points. Tank 540 "Heiland" of Unit 2 broke down prior to their loading onto the train. Tank 503 of Unit 3 went down with a cracked cylinder head, taking it out of the coming action. The remaining thirteen A7Vs were split up among the participating forces as follows:

Group 1 (3 of Unit 1's tanks), under the command of Oberleutnant Skopnik, were assigned to the 228th. Infantry Division and would attack at Villers-Bretonneux.

Group 2 (4 tanks of Unit 3, 2 of Unit 1), commanded by Oberleutnant Uihlein, were to attack against the south edge of Villers-Bretonneux and the Bois d'Aquenne.

Group 3 (4 tanks of Unit 2), commanded by Oberleutnant Steinhardt, were assigned to the 77th. Reserve Division, attacking at Cachy.

The morning of the attack found a thick fog which helped mask the tanks from British field artillery. Group 1 (fielding Tank 526, Tank 527 "Lotti" [commanded by Lt. Vietze], and Tank 560 "Alter Fritz" [commanded by Lt. Ernst Volckheim]) helped the 228th. clear Villers-Bretonneux by noon, the British unable to stop the German infantry and their armored support. This tactic of infantry following the tanks and rolling up the line to the flanks was one which would be commonplace in the coming war, World War Two.

Elsewhere, Group 2 was split into two troops to support the 4th. Guard Infantry Division. Troop 1 (with Tank 505 "Baden I" [commanded by Lt. Hennecke], Tank 506 "Mephisto", and Tank 507 "Cyklop") advanced around the south edge of Villers-Bretonneux. "Mephisto" ran into difficulty with plugged jets. This was cleared up only to be put out of action for good when it fell into a shell crater and tipped over. Troop 2 (with Tank 541, Tank 562 "Herkules", and Tank 501 "Gretchen") moved against the enemy at Bois d'Aquenne. "Gretchen" went down with a overheated motor and pulled back. Tank 562 fell when the driver was wounded which caused the brakes to seize and the gearbox to suffer damage as a result. An attack by enemy infantry caused the loss of some of the crew. Tank 562 did manage to resume the advance after fending off the attack. "Baden I" had found itself in possession of defective ammunition for its cannon, rendering it useless. But it still rolled into action with a machine gun jutting out of the right front vision port, thus remaining capable of bringing fire to bear in the front arc.

Tank 541 dealt with a fortified farmyard south of Villers-Bretonneux then joined up with "Baden I" and "Cyklop", covering the advance of infantry into Bois d'Aquenne.

Toppled German A7V, Elfriede, at Villers-Bretonneux, 24-Apr-1918.

Group 3, meanwhile, had to detour past a badly torn up woodland area. Tank 542 "Elfriede" (commanded by Lt. Stein) strayed too far to the north and ended up as "Mephisto" had, tipped over, "Elfriede" in a sand pit as opposed to a shell hole. Lt. Stein was killed in action defending the tank. Tank 561 "Nixe" also strayed too far north. As the tank neared Cachy thru the fog, it came face to face with three British tanks, two Mark IV "Females" and one Mark IV "Male" belonging to the 1st. Section, 1st. Battalion. In the fire fight which resulted, the "Females" were heavily damaged and were forced to leave the field, their machine gun armament useless against the A7V. "Nixe" scored a hit against the "Male", disabling it. The crew of "Nixe" thought they had silenced the "Male" when, with its 25th. round, penetrated the A7V's armor at the right, front port, taking out the gun crew. "Nixe's" commander ordered the evacuation of the tank after which, it took two more hits to the right flank. As it would have it, the engines of "Nixe" were still running and, after the "Male" had been silenced by a mine thrower (a small trench mortar), the crew boarded "Nixe" and moved out again, only to have the engines seize after 2 klicks of travel.

Elsewhere, Tank 525 "Siegfried" (commanded by Lt. Bitter) and Tank 504 "Schnuck" made it to Cachy as planned and ordered. However, the 77th. Reserve Division faltered and crumbled when seven Medium A "Whippet" tanks from the 1st. and 3rd. Tank Battalions tore thru them, causing chaos and many casualties among the Germans. "Siegfried" rolled into action against the "Whippets" as did a shocktroop from the 4th. Guard Infantry Division. When all was said and done, one "Whippet" was knocked out, three were disabled, the rest fled. Whether or not "Siegfried" scored a victory against the "Whippets" in a tank-on-tank duel cannot be verified.

After the gains made by the Germans, the Australian 15th. Brigade and 13th. Brigade, with support from British units, took to a counterattack which ultimately swept the Germans back. In so doing, three A7Vs were in danger of being captured. "Nixe" was to have been recovered before the Australians got to it and a German demolition team sent into to destroy "Elfriede" ended up destroying "Mephisto". As it would have it, "Mephisto" was still behind the German lines, useless, while "Elfriede" was towed away by the French and British and examined and tested with great relish. It finally ended up in France, had plates cut from it for armor penetration testing, displayed in Paris until 1919, then junked. As the lines shifted, the abandoned "Mephisto" ended up in Australian hands, taken to Australia where is remains to this day, the last surviving A7V. "Nixe", with its seized engines, could not be repaired by the Allies and was scrapped.

As a side note, after the action at Villers-Bretonneux, some of the A7Vs went around to various armies to be demonstrated. One such tank which made the rounds was Tank 543 "Adalbert".

Unit 2 saw action near Reims on May 31, 1918. Right away, two tanks went down with problems. As the remaining tanks entered the combat zone, Tank 529 "Nixe II" (commanded by Lt. Biltz), was shot up by French artillery and put out of action for good. The other two tanks in the attack gave up and retreated. The Americans went in and recovered "Nixe II" and brought her to the U.S. where she ended up on the scrap heap in 1942.

June 1, 1918 saw Unit 1 take to the field in a battle northwest of the Fort de la Pompelle. Again, like what happened to Unit 2 earlier, two tanks went down with mechanical trouble. Tank 527 "Lotti" (commanded by Lt. Bergemann) became stuck in the mud and received a direct artillery hit to the "turret". "Lotti" had already been abandoned before the hit. Tank 526 also ended up bogged down and was shot up so badly it was written off. The last tank, Tank 560 "Alter Fritz", disengaged from the attack and retreated. Both Tank 526 and "Lotti" were left where they were stopped until 1921, when they were finally removed from the battlefield and scrapped.

The remains of Unit 1 and Unit 3 were assigned to the 18th. Army which was operating south of Noyon. In these actions, which took place beginning on June 9, 1918, Unit 1 lost Tank 560 "Alter Fritz" to artillery fire. Oberleutnant Skopnik and Lt. Bartens lost their lives in this artillery attack. Tank 562 "Herkules" ended up falling into a shell hole and wasn't recovered until days later. Tank 541 went down after its engine and gearbox acted up. Unit 3, however, fared much, much better, having achieved all of its objectives. Only Tank 564 came to grief after is was stuck in a village and put out of action.

Units 1 and 2 were later shifted to the 7th. Army on July 15, 1918. In the actions they participated in, no losses were incurred. This was not to be the case come August 31, 1918. A German counterattack was to be staged near Fremicourt. Unit 1 failed to make it to the combat assembly point in time and was left behind. The forces Unit 1 was to have supported were soundly defeated. Unit 2 ran right into the grinder. The fog of war claimed Tank 504 "Schnuck", German artillery putting it out action with two hits to the frontal armor. The crew abandoned the tank. Tank 526 became stuck as it tried to retreat while Tank 562 "Herkules" was put out of action by air bombs. Tank 563 "Wotan" limped back to the German lines after suffering mechanical difficulties. The New Zealanders claimed "Schnuck" and Tank 528 "Hagen" ("Hagen", commanded by Lt. von Jamrowski, became stuck and was abandoned). Both were taken to Britain and junked in 1919. Following the misfortune and folly at Fremicourt, Unit 2 was disbanded and what remained was absorbed into Unit 1.

Unit 3's successful showing during the action around Noyon was followed up some months later in support of the 3rd. Army during their counterattack at St. Etienne on October 7, 1918. In this battle, all of Unit 3's tanks suffered damage of one sort or another. In the end, the attack had to be broken off when it was found that the bridges over the Arne River had been destroyed.

The last and final action undertook by German A7Vs took place on October 11, 1918. Unit 1, reinforced and having six tanks on roster, went into action near Iwuy. Tank 562 "Herkules", though on roster, ended up abandoned and written off (recall it had broken down earlier). It was decided to use "Herkules" for spare parts. The British later captured "Herkules" and it ended up on the scrap heap in France.

The remaining tanks, Tank 525 "Siegfried" (commanded by Lt. Wagner), Tank 563 "Wotan" (commanded by Lt. Goldmann), Tank 501 "Gretchen" (commanded by VzFw. Lommen), Tank 540 "Heiland" (commanded by Lt. Schuck), and Tank 560 "Alter Fritz" (commanded by Lt. Volckheim), were successful in putting down and plugging a British breakthrough. It was not without loss, however. "Alter Fritz" shed a track and ended up being spiked.

And so it came to a close with Germany's fledgling panzer force. Those tanks which remained and their crew were transferred to Erbenheim, near Wiesbaden where they were disbanded after November 11, 1918.

So how did the A7V stack up against its opponents? The main predator of the A7V was the British Mark IV "Male" (incidentally, the suffering the Mk. IV "Females" endured from the A7V led to the British to equip them with one sponson mounting the 6pdr., leading to the "Hermaphrodite"). Note that I've not included the French tanks since there was no evidence of A7Vs engaging French armor.

In size and weight, both the A7V and the Mk. IV were fairly close. In armor, the A7V was clearly superior with 20mm-30mm of armor to the maximum 16mm of the Mk. IV. The main enemy to both tanks was artillery which easily put them out of action (in fact, Rheinmetall developed a purpose-built 3.7cm anti-tank gun). In terms of weapons, the Mk. IV sported two 6pdr. QF cannons to the A7Vs one 5.7cm gun. In the conflict in which the Mk. IV battled the A7V, it would appear that the 6pdr. was not adequate in dealing with the armor of the A7V, the penetration occurring at the weak spot of the port. The A7Vs gun was more than capable of putting down the British tanks as it did with the Mk. IV "Male" in the first tank duel. It was crew error that they did not follow up the kill (which the Americans would often do in World War Two). Also keep in mind that, though the British tank had two cannon, depending on the direction of attack, it might only be able to bring one to bear due to the positioning of the weapon in the sponson. As far as secondary arms is concerned, the A7V had double the machine guns the Mk. IV "Male" had (and equal in number to the "Female"). The A7V could lay down a withering fire in all of its arc save the front where only the cannon was to be found (The Mk. IV did have a frontal machine gun). However, the shape of the A7V made for a number of blind spots, one of which was to the detriment of the driver. To the front of the tank, the cannon could only cover a 90 degree angle outwards as could the first machine gun on the sides. This left a large gap in coverage to the front left and right. A smaller gap was to be found in the rear left and right. To combat this, the driver would use a zig-zag motion to prevent exploitation of these gaps. Other than this, the A7V could cover itself very well unlike the British Mk. IV which had no coverage to the rear itself.

The driver's problem with the A7V came from the fact that, because of his location at the top of the tank, he could not see the first nine meters of ground in front of the tank. In terms of cross-country performance, the British rhomboids were the clear winner. Their shape allowed them to climb obstacles (something the A7V couldn't do as Allied tests showed it could not even climb a 1.2 meter bank), traverse trenches (at least 9ft. to the A7Vs barely 7ft.), and handle rough ground due to its high ground clearance. Neither tank offered the crew any sort of comfort but the British crews already had experience under their belt by the time the German tanks entered the fray and thus, by extension, had crew unity, something the German tank crews did not have. The crew size for the Mk. IV was less than half that of the A7V at seven. The A7V, with a crew of eighteen, needed not only the signal light arrangement, but a signaler, a man who moves thru the tank, relaying orders of the commander to the gunners. The British used a simple code method involving a series of bangs on the engine cover. In this way, the British gunners had only to hear for the commands and didn't need to take their sight away from the outside. The A7V gunners had to look momentarily away to the lights and/or have their attention drawn away by the signal man as he passed on the orders. These seconds could make the difference between victory of defeat.

One of the great problems which plagued the A7V was the engines. Prone to overheating (since airflow to cool the radiator was about nonexistent) and having to cope with the mass of the A7V, the Daimlers broke down often which was why a mechanic was carried on-board. Granted, engine trouble also was the bane of the early British tanks but by the time the A7Vs went into action, the British had made strides to solve the problem in their later Marks. Yet another engine related comparison was this; the A7Vs were lucky to get spare parts (as was seen, some tanks were reduced to parts tanks) to maintain them in the field, something the British didn't have to worry about. One thing the A7V had which the British tanks didn't was the fact that the armor of the A7V protected the tracks to a degree whereas the rhomboid's tracks were fully exposed to hostile fire. As far as speed went, the A7V and the Mk. IV were about equals in road speed...but overland, the A7V suffered in comparison to the Mk. IV. Deployment, on the other hand, was clearly in favor of the British who learned some lessons in 1916 and 1917. The Germans had nothing to learn from and deployed their tanks in penny packets and as mobile pill boxes, the effects achieving success only on the local level and not in the overall scheme of maneuver. In a sense, though, both the British and the Germans at first thought of their tanks as infantry support vehicles, not elements of attack unto themselves. By the time the Germans might have considered this, it was too late for the British already had and the war was over for Germany.
1 posted on 01/03/2005 10:19:01 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo; Johnny Gage; Victoria Delsoul; The Mayor; Darksheare; Valin; ...
The A7V Mystery

The Austrian book, "Heigl's Taschenbuch der Tanks" by von Zezschwitz printed 1938 started it all...

Did a Polish A7V ever exist? I doubt it. One source in Austria sites that A7V units were transferred to Poland via France after the Great War. Historical writer after writer quotes the same Austrian source*. The problem is, nobody has ever seen a picture of a Polish A7V tank. Did any Polish A7V tanks take part in the war with the Soviet Union just following the Great War? Written combat records have never surfaced, nor has any historian in Poland or France ever documented any information on this tank. The Soviets did not record an encounter with an A7V specifically. Were the tanks immediately scrapped by Poland? Did France ever really transfer these units? Did Germany "hide" these tanks? Was it a clerical mistake? Perhaps it is simply a myth - just like Polish cavalry charging German tanks.

Current re-milled information that western authors state...

An example:

AFV 1914'19 (Profile, England 1970) edited by Duncan Crow (again) has:

German A7V; used captured 57 mm Russian Sokol gun as this was better than the 50 mm infantry or naval guns tried. "After the war some surplus A7Vs were acquired by Poland, and these played a brief and undecisive role in the Russo-Polish war of 1920. Five are reported to have taken part in the Battle of Warsaw. The A7V remained officially in Polish service until 1921." (page 64)

The last surviving A7V, residing in a museum in Queensland

And now the truth: "I carefully read the page from the Heigl book, which you have on Internet. It states that Poland had some A7V tanks as well as British Mark V and Mark V* tanks and that is nonsense. Such a story goes against the credibility of the author. I am beginning to think that Heigl did not have good information, rather some rumors. I will ask again: which A7V did Poland get? I can account for each and every tank, hence where are they coming from? Few words on the unending story of German A7V in Polish army during the war of 1920. I hope to put the whole issue to rest. Based on the available information all A7V tanks were destroyed during or after the end of the First World War. Walther Nehring made the first mention of A7V in literature, afterwards writers just keep rewriting it. No Polish source mentions use of A7V by Polish troops. Sources to Battle of Warsaw, which is particularly well described in literature, does not mention use of A7V in any of the encounters. Until proven wrong I will unequivocally state that Poland did not use or own A7V at all. None of Polish publications on tanks and specifically on A7V claims any of these tanks in Polish army. There is no documentation to support Nehrings claim. The total production was 20 tanks. I can account for each and every of these tanks:

There was one more A7V tank, probably completed after the war from existing parts. It belonged to Kampfwagenabteilung Vetter and later participated infighting Communists in Lipsk in first half on 1919. Later scraped. This account should put an end to the on going saga of A7V in Polish army. Heigl who mentioned that rumor was clearly wrong.


Witold J. Lawrynowicz

Mr. Lawrynowicz is an expert on Polish armor.

Additional Sources:

2 posted on 01/03/2005 10:20:13 PM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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To: All
Percival Phillips, The Daily Express (26th April 1918)

The Mark IV Tank of Lt. F. Mitchell MC, 1st battalion, Tank Corps engages German A7V tanks at Villers-Bretonneaux, 24th April 1918.

For the first time British and German tanks have met in battle, and the victory is ours. They fought yesterday in the open fields round Villers-Brettonneux, east of Amiens, where the enemy made a determined and, for the moment, a successful attack on that town and high ground round it.

The German tanks led the attack, swinging on the town from the north-east and from the south, and in their wake came infantry with their machine guns and heavy mortars and light artillery.

Although there were four or five tanks. They were bulky, ungainly creatures, quite unlike the British tank in appearance, with a broad, squat turret containing quick-firing guns. Hidden in the thick mist until very close to our trenches, they crawled up in the wake of an intense barrage about six o'clock in the morning.

They concentrated their guns on one British tank, but others came to the rescue, and in the brief duel that followed one enemy tank was put out of action by an opponent of less bulk and lighter armament and the others scuttled away.

The lesson of this first engagement between German and British tanks seems to be that we have nothing to fear from the enemy despite the greater size and armament of his machine. The crews plainly showed their unwillingness to stand when invited to fight out to a finish.

3 posted on 01/03/2005 10:21:06 PM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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To: All

Veterans for Constitution Restoration is a non-profit, non-partisan educational and grassroots activist organization. The primary area of concern to all VetsCoR members is that our national and local educational systems fall short in teaching students and all American citizens the history and underlying principles on which our Constitutional republic-based system of self-government was founded. VetsCoR members are also very concerned that the Federal government long ago over-stepped its limited authority as clearly specified in the United States Constitution, as well as the Founding Fathers' supporting letters, essays, and other public documents.

Actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families.


The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul

Click on Hagar for
"The FReeper Foxhole Compiled List of Daily Threads"

4 posted on 01/03/2005 10:21:24 PM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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To: SZonian; soldierette; shield; A Jovial Cad; Diva Betsy Ross; Americanwolf; CarolinaScout; ...

"FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!

It's TreadHead Tuesday!

Good Morning Everyone

If you would like added to our ping list let us know.
If you'd like to drop us a note you can write to:

The Foxhole
19093 S. Beavercreek Rd. #188
Oregon City, OR 97045

5 posted on 01/03/2005 10:43:15 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: mostly cajun; archy; Gringo1; Matthew James; Fred Mertz; Squantos; colorado tanker; The Shrew; ...
Free Republic Treadhead Ping

mostly cajun ;archy; Gringo1; Matthew James; Fred Mertz; Squantos; colorado tanker; The Shrew; SLB; Darksheare; BCR #226; IDontLikeToPayTaxes; Imacatfish; Tailback; DCBryan1; Eaker; Archangelsk; gatorbait; river rat; Lee'sGhost; Dionysius; BlueLancer; Frohickey; GregB; leadpenny; skepsel; Proud Legions; King Prout; Professional Engineer; alfa6; bluelancer; Cannoneer No.4; An Old Man; hookman; DMZFrank; in the Arena; Bethbg79; neverdem; NWU Army ROTC; ma bell; MoJo2001; The Sailor; dcwusmc; dts32041; spectr17; Rockpile; Theophilus;

Snippy, I bequeath to you the FR TH PL.

148 posted on 08/24/2004 11:39:45 AM PDT by Cannoneer No. 4 (I've lost turret power; I have my nods and my .50. Hooah. I will stay until relieved. White 2 out.)

Good morning Cannoneer, things dry up out your way yet? :-)
6 posted on 01/03/2005 10:44:36 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it

Good Night, Snippy.

7 posted on 01/03/2005 11:04:50 PM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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To: SAMWolf

I have found the A7V interesting since I was in high school.

It is remarkable that the A7V was fielded with unhardened armor. Surely there must have been some heat treatment, even if the armor was found to be surprisingly soft by the Allies.

The German economy was in rough shape in 1916, much worse in 1918. The Germans simply could not build tanks en masse by 1917. The British tank production was a major effort but at least Britain was well fed by American (and Argentine) farmers.

8 posted on 01/03/2005 11:36:54 PM PST by Iris7 ( protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Same bunch, anyway.)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: snippy_about_it
Good morning Snippy.

10 posted on 01/04/2005 1:46:50 AM PST by Aeronaut (Proud to be a monthly donor.)
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To: snippy_about_it

Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Foxhole.

11 posted on 01/04/2005 3:02:51 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: snippy_about_it; All

Good morning ALL, looks like another day we might get rain. Still haven't heard about my van yet.

12 posted on 01/04/2005 3:20:50 AM PST by GailA (Happy New Year)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

A Treafhead Tuesday bump for the Freeper Foxhole

Kansas City is under an Ice Storm Warning for this afternoon, accumulation of up to an inch and a half are expected. As an added bonus temps are suppose to get down into the single digits Wensday and Thursday night.

Like bummer, dude and dudettes, I am glad that the "Weekend Home Improvement" project included a wood burning stove.

As this is TreadHead Tuesday I am reminded of the movie clip of the Sherman Tank that was sliding around during the Battle of the Bulge.

Hopefully will be back later


alfa6 ;>}

13 posted on 01/04/2005 4:26:59 AM PST by alfa6
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

January 4, 2005

Deep Water

Read: Psalm 69:13-18

Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up. —Psalm 69:15

Bible In One Year: Genesis 10-11

The builders of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) like to show us their products in mind-boggling situations. High on a mountain crag, where no truck could seemingly go. Or in a swamp so impassable you'd need a hovercraft to negotiate it. We're supposed to think that SUVs are invincible.

That's why I found unintended humor in the disclaimer in a recent ad for a four-wheel-drive SUV. A photo showed the vehicle up to its headlights in water as it forged across a foreboding river. The ad said: "Traversing deep water can cause damage, which voids the vehicle warranty."

Deep water is a problem not only for cars but also for us. As we travel the roadways of life, we often find ourselves surrounded with oceans of grief or crashing waves of broken relationships. We need help.

The writers of the Psalms told of that needed assistance. They said God is "a refuge in times of trouble" (9:9), and that "in the time of trouble He shall . . . set me high upon a rock" (27:5). No disclaimers here. Traversing deep water won't affect our spiritual warranty. God will always be there to guarantee His support.

Are you in deep water? Reach up and grab God's hand of mercy. —Dave Branon

When you're passing through the waters
Of deep sorrow and despair
And you get no help from others,
Just remember, Christ is there. —Elliott

When trouble overtakes you, let God take over.

14 posted on 01/04/2005 4:31:12 AM PST by The Mayor (When trouble overtakes you, let God take over)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; Professional Engineer; Samwise; alfa6; PhilDragoo; Matthew Paul; ...

Good morning FOXHOLE!!
wOO hOO Threadhead Tuesday!!
PE, we have to get Bitty Girl a tank!

15 posted on 01/04/2005 5:38:04 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: SAMWolf

On This Day In History

Birthdates which occurred on January 14:
1451 Franchinus Gaffurius composer
1592 Sjihab al-Din Sultan Choerram Sjah Djahan leader of India
1730 William Whipple merchant/judge/patriot (Declaration of Independence signer)
1741 Benedict Arnold US General turned traitor (Revolutionary War)
1791 Calvin Phillips became shortest known adult male (67cm; 2'2")
1806 Matthew Fontaine Maury Naval Commander (Confederacy)
1819 Frederick Steele Major General (Union volunteers), died in 1868
1831 John Bullock Clark Jr Brigadier General (Confederate Army), died in 1903
1836 [Hugh] Judson Kilpatrick Major General (Union volunteers), died in 1881
1861 Mehmed VI last sultan of Ottoman Empire (1918-22)
1874 Thornton Waldo Burgess author (Peter Rabbit)
1875 Albert Schweitzer doctor/humanitarian/organist (Nobel 1952)
1886 Hugh Lofting English/American writer & illustrator (Dr Dolittle)
1892 Hal Roach early film director/producer (1 Million BC)
1892 Martin Niemöller clergyman (German Protestant); imprisoned by Hitler
1899 Fritz Bayerlein German Lieutenant-General (WWI, Poland, Libya,)
1906 William Bendix New York City NY, actor (Lifeboat, Babe Ruth Story, Life of Riley)
1907 Derek Richter British neuro chemist (Aspects of learning & memory)
1914 Harold Russell actor (Best Years of Our Life)
1919 Andy Rooney Albany NY, CBS news correspondent (60 Minutes)
1919 Giulio Andreotti 7 x premier (Italy)
1938 Jack Jones Los Angeles CA, singer (Love Boat Theme)
1940 Julian Bond Nashville TN, (D-GA) civil rights leader
1941 [Dorothy] Faye Dunaway Bascom FL, actress (Chinatown, Bonnie & Clyde)
1948 Carl Weathers New Orleans LA, actor (Apollo Creed-Rocky)
1948 T-Bone Burnett musician/producer
1951 Gil Pak Jong Korea, judo (Olympics-1976)
1958 Colin Ferguson murderer (6 people on the Long Island Railroad on Dec 7, 1993)
1968 L L Cool J [James Todd Smith], St Albans NY, rapper (Bigger & Deffer)

Deaths which occurred on January 14:
0973 Ekkehard I monk of St Gallen (Vita Waltharii manu fortis), dies
1163 Ladislaus I Arpad king of Hungary (1162-63), dies
1237 St Sava son of Serbia's king, dies
1742 Edmund Halley genius eclipsed by Newton, dies at 86
1766 Frederik V king of Denmark/Norway (1746-66), dies at 42
1822 Franz Innocenz Joseph Kobell German landscape painter, dies at 72
1830 Johann G Repsold German instrument maker, dies at 59
1898 Reverend Charles L Dodgson better known as Lewis Carroll, dies at 66
1905 Ernst Abbe German physicist (Carl Zeiss Optics Company), dies at 64
1948 Anna "Ans" van Dike Dutch Jewish Nazi-collaborator, executed at 42
1957 Humphrey Bogart actor (Casablanca, Caine Mutiny), dies at 57
1977 Abdul Razak bin Hussain premier of Malaysia (1970-77), dies at 53
1978 Blossom Rock actress (Grandmamma-Addams Family), dies at 81
1984 Ray Kroc founder of MacDonalds/owner San Diego Padres, dies at 82
1986 Donna Reed actress (Donna Reed Show, Dallas), dies of cancer at 64
1991 Sallah Kharaf [Abu Iyad], co-founder (Al-Fatah), assassinated (and that's a good thing)


[REMAINS RETURNED 4/08/90, I.D. 11/14/90]
[03/14/73 RELEASED BY DRV, DECEASED 02/26/95]

POW / MIA Data & Bios supplied by
the P.O.W. NETWORK. Skidmore, MO. USA.

On this day...
1236 English king Henry III marries Eleonora of Provence
1526 Charles V & Francis I sign Treaty of Madrid; Francis I forced to give up claims in Burgundy, Italy & Flanders
1601 Church authorities burn Hebrew books in Rome
1639 1st Connecticut constitution (Fundamental Orders) adopted in Hartford
1641 United East Indian Company conquerors city of Malakka, 7,000 killed
1659 Battle at Elvas Portuguese beat Spanish
1690 Clarinet is invented, in Nüremberg, Germany
1699 Massachusetts holds day of fasting for wrongly persecuting "witches"
1724 Spanish King Philip V abdicates throne

1784 Revolutionary War ends; Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris

1785 Mozart completes "Dissonantenkwartet" (opus 10)
1794 Dr Jessee Bennet of Edom VA, performs 1st successful Cesarean section operation on his wife
1799 Eli Whitney receives government contract for 10,000 muskets
1814 King of Denmark cedes Norway to King of Sweden by treaty of Kiel
1863 Battle between gunboats at Bayou Teched LA
1864 Battle of Cosby Creek TN
1864 General Sherman begins his march to the South
1868 South Carolina constitutional convention, meets with a black majority
1873 "Celluloid" registered as a trademark
1878 US Supreme court rules race separation on trains unconstitutional
1900 Giacomo Puccini's opera "Tosca" premieres in Rome
1914 Henry Ford introduces assembly line, for T-Fords
1918 Finland & USSR adopts New Style (Gregorian) calendar
1927 Toronto Maple Leafs 1st hat trick (Hap Day) vs New York Rangers
1929 Afghan King Amanullah forced to resign
1932 1st totalisator (to record racetrack bets) in US installed, Hialeah
1932 Horse racing legend Eddie Arcaro won his 1st race
1935 Oil pipeline Iraq-Mediterranean goes into use
1938 National Society for the Legalization of Euthanasia formed (NY)
1940 NFL Pro Bowl Green Bay beats NFL All-Stars 16-7
1942 Japanese troops land at oil center Balikpapan in Borneo
1943 FDR & Winston Churchill confer in Casablanca concerning WWII
1944 Soviet army begins offensive at Oranienbaum/Wolchow
1949 Black/Indian race rebellion in Durban, South Africa; 142 die
1950 US recalls all consular officials from China
1952 "Today Show" premieres with Dave Garroway & Jack Lescoulie on NBC-TV
1953 Yugoslavia elects its 1st president (Marshal Tito)
1954 Marilyn Monroe marries baseball star, New York Yankee, Joe DiMaggio
1956 Little Richard releases "Tutti Frutti"
1960 US Army promoted Elvis Presley to Sergeant
1963 George C Wallace sworn in as Governor of Alabama, his address states "segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!"
1967 20,000 attend the Human Be-In, San Francisco
1967 Sonny & Cher release "The Beat Goes On"
1967 Earthquake in Sicily kills 231
1968 Super Bowl II Green Bay Packers beat Oakland Raiders, 1969 25 members of US aircraft carrier Enterprise die during maneuvers
1972 "Sanford & Son" starring Redd Foxx premieres on NBC TV
1973 Tap dancer Ray Castle measured at 1440 taps/minutes on BBC TV
1975 USSR breaks trade agreement with US (SHOCK!)
1976 Ted Turner becomes CEO of Atlanta Braves
1979 President Carter proposes Martin Luther King's birthday be a holiday
1980 "Blues Brothers" movie with Dan Akroyd & John Belushi opens(How much for your women?)
1981 FCC frees stations to air as many commercials an hour as they wish
1985 16 indicted by US for granting sanctuary to Central American refugees
1987 Catfish Hunter & Billy Williams are elected to Baseball Hall of Fame
1989 29 year old French woman gives birth to sextuplets in Paris
1989 1,000 muslims burn Rushdies' "Satanic Verses" in Bradford England
1990 "Simpsons" premiered on Fox-TV
1993 David Letterman announces his show is moving from NBC to CBS

Note: Some Holidays are only applicable on a given "day of the week"
Julian calendar : New Year's Day in 20th, 21st centuries
Bulgaria : Vinegrower's Day
Maryland : Ratification Day (1784)
US : Make Your Dreams Come True Day
US : Man Watcher's Week (Day 4)
National Oatmeal Month

Religious Observances
Orthodox : Circumcision of Jesus
Roman Catholic : Commemoration of St Felix of Nola, priest/martyr
Greek Orthodox : St Basil's Day
old Roman Catholic : Feast of St Hilary, bishop/doctor (now 1/13)
Christian : Feast of St Sava
Lutheran : Commemoration of Eivind Berggrav, bishop of Oslo

Religious History
1529 Spanish reformer Juan de Valdes, 29, published his "Dialogue on Christian Doctrine," which paved the way in Spain for Protestant ideas. But his treatise was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition, and Valdes was forced to flee Spain, never to return
1604 The Hampton Court Conference opened in London, during which Puritan representatives met with their monarch, King James I, to discuss reform within the Church of England.
1893 Pope Leo XIII appointed Archbishop Francesco Satolli as the Vatican's first Apostolic Delegate to the United States.
1966 French-born American trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote in a letter: 'The best way to solve the problem of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's is to have nothing that is Caesar's.'
1972 American Presbyterian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote in a letter: 'I have come to the conclusion that none of us in our generation feels as guilty about sin as we should or as our forefathers did.'

Source: William D. Blake. ALMANAC OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1987.

Thought for the day :
"Journalism largely consists of saying 'Lord Jones is Dead' to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive."

16 posted on 01/04/2005 5:43:40 AM PST by Valin (Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield)
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To: E.G.C.
Folks, I just posted an observation of a bill on Internet activity pendin in Congress.

Be sure to click on my screename and then "In Forum" to read it.

17 posted on 01/04/2005 6:22:55 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: Iris7

Morning Iris7.

The A7V was more like a mobile pillbox than a tank. It's funny that the Germans ended WWII working on the Maus, basically a mobile pillbox again.

18 posted on 01/04/2005 7:37:18 AM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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To: Matthew Paul

Morning Matt.

Mr. Lawrynowicz accounts for all the A7V's produced. Looks like the A7V in Polish service is of those stories that gets perpetuated because no one bothers to check the validity of the original source.

19 posted on 01/04/2005 7:40:12 AM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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To: Aeronaut

Morning Aeronaut.

20 posted on 01/04/2005 7:40:30 AM PST by SAMWolf (AAAAAA - American Association Against Acronym Abuse Anonymous)
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