How do you tell the gender of a tank?

So, tell me gang.  When you read the title of this post/article did it make you think that a joke of some sort was on it’s way?   Well, if so, I am sorry to disappoint you.  Because there really isn’t going to be one.  Let me explain what happened.

Yesterday I wrote a post entitled “What to do with a Little Willie.”  It was all part of a (fairly) regular feature that I am running called ‘Tanks for the Memories’ in which I am going to be looking at both tanks throughout history and also the history of tanks.

As always, I chose a basic image and added text in order to create a header image for the feature.  And whilst you only got to see part of that image the full image I used was this one…

tftm And whilst adapting the image I noticed that in the top left hand corner of the image the label “MARK I (MALE) TANK” was written.  And the ‘MALE’ part of that label intrigued me.

So I did a little research and learned an interesting fact which I thought I would share with you.

Did you know that in World War I, tanks were assigned genders?  Now I have known for a good many years that ships – being the son of a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy and coming from a Naval family – that ships were nearly always called ‘she’ and thus assigned a female gender,  But I never knew that tanks had a gender.

For those who are interested it is said (among the US Navy boardrooms particularly) that ships are called ‘she’ and assigned a female gender because “A ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hiders her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.”

But how to you tell the gender of a tank?

Well, it seems that it is (or rather it was) very simple.  A ‘male’ tank is fitted with a cannon, whilst a ‘Female’ tank is only fitted with machine guns.  Such an example of a ‘female’ tank would be this Mark IV (Female) tank…


And you can clearly see the machine guns fitted rather than the cannons as seen in the Mark I (Male) Tank picture I used for the Header image…

184a So there you have it.  How to tell the gender of a tank.  Something I never knew before now.  You can always learn new things I say. And you thought being part of a clan was just about playing a game and having mates to play it with 🙂

Nowadays of course tanks are more complex and are often fitted with both cannons and machine guns.  Hm. Are they classified as bisexual?  Gender confused?

Now there’s a whole hornet’s nest I should perhaps avoid. Just I should avoid comparing each tank gender’s rate ‘shots fired in anger’ with human speech and pointing out that ‘Male’ tanks have cannons and thus fire things of slowly and with great impact whilst ‘Female’ tanks repetitively fire things off and with rapid succession.

Yes I really should avoid that comparison huh 🙂



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