Age of Tanks

Age of Tanks

The history of the 20th century, as seen through its tanks.

The dawn of the 20th century was an age of enlightenment, of progress – and of peace. Telephones and telegraphs, cars, railways and ironclad ships connected people all across the world. The possibility of war in Europe seemed like a thing from a distant past – it had been 30 years since armies had clashed here, at the heart of modern civilization – and to the average person, there was no indication that they ever would again.

But the world that was crumbled in the summer of 1914. War had come again – and more terrifying than ever before. For beneath the veil of peace and progress, other forms of technology had evolved, more deadly than anything humanity had ever had before. By the end of that year, a million men lay dead. War had ground to a halt in Flanders blood-stained fields. Machine guns, barbed wire, trenches and artillery formed a gargantuan killing machine that devoured men by the thousands.

In its desperation, humanity turned to technology once more. Inventors and engineers strove to find a way out – a way to victory, and, through victory, a way to end the killing. Of the many weapons conceived at that time, one stands out. Over the course of the next century, it would stand like no other for dehumanized warfare and oppression, and yet would fascinate boys and men, and even star in big Hollywood movies. This weapon – is the tank.

In this series, we re-trace the history of what is perhaps the most iconic and terrifying weapon of the 20th century over the course of four episodes. We discover what it was like to design, build, operate, and suffer from these war machines – by telling the stories of the people behind the tanks.