Tanks have certainly cemented their place in the military history books, but back in World War I no one knew quite what to make of them.
A great example of this comes in this newspaper clipping from The Evening Herald (now defunct) in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The headline on Sep. 21, 1916 reads: “U.S. Army to Have Land Dreadnought Tank Cars,” a story which announces the Army’s intention to start building 27 Caterpillar tractors similar to the British D1, the first tank which was used in battle for the first time just one week prior.
The $4,775-a-piece “tractors,” according to The Herald, were to be used primarily to haul guns and maintain a defensive role. With nearly 9,000 tanks in the U.S. arsenal these days, it might be time for The Herald to issue a correction.
Besides getting caught up on an absolute steal of a price-tag — roughly $105,000 in today’s dollars — for a tank, our new favorite phrase is Land Dreadnought. Here’s the clip and the full page below: