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Mark IV vs A7V: Villers-Bretonneux 1918

Mark IV vs A7V: Villers-Bretonneux 1918 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2013 Title Mark IV vs A7V: Villers-Bretonneux 1918
Author David R. Higgins Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2013 ISBN 9781780960050
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


El Alamein.  Kursk.  Sinai.  Valley of Tears.  73 Easting.

Bloody brawls between opposing armor pepper the pages of military history.  But tank-vs-tank clashes began somewhere.  And the first showdown occurred at a small French town during World War I's final months.

David R. Higgins recounts the action in Mark IV vs A7V: Villers-Bretonneux 1918 – 49th entry in Osprey's in acclaimed "Duel" series.

After a brief introduction with chronology, contents course through design & development and technical specifications of both vehicles.  Coverage then shifts to analyses of "combatants" and the "strategic situation" before cresting with Higgins' absorbing account of history's first tank-vs-tank duel near Villers-Bretonneux, 24 April 1918.

That's when British 2nd Lt Frank Mitchell's Mk IV "male" (4086) met German Lt Wilhelm E Biltz's A7V "Nixe" (561).  "Nixe" had just damaged and dispersed two Mk IV "females".  And in the ensuing fight, Mitchell's mount forced Biltz and crew to abandon "Nixe" – which German forces salvaged later that evening.

Period photos, informative color drawings and action illustrations season this superb study.  Sidebars, biographies, statistics, "analysis", list of primary and secondary sources, and index complete contents.

In the end, Allied forces fielded 320 tanks for each Imperial German counterpart committed.  And at war's end, the Kaiser's high command partially attributed defeat to that disastrous deficit.

Fighting at Villers-Bretonneux proved the viability of tank-vs-tank combat.  Make Osprey's illuminating effort your introduction to this seminal skirmish.


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!