In 1915 the British Landship Committee was exploring several possible solutions to the problem of crossing trenches and wire with a bullet-proof machine. Among these was a suggestion from a Colonel Crompton to use the track units of two Bullock Creeping Grip tractors that had been purchased from the United States to make a long, articulated, machine which would be able to span trenches. When these two tractors were delivered to the Works of William Foster of Lincoln, with a demand from the War Office that the company build a working prototype it quickly became apparent to the director, William Tritton, that Crompton’s idea was completely impracticable. Tritton decided instead to dismantle the two tractors and using the track units as components to develop a fresh design of his own.

The first working machine, known as the Bullock Track Machine, was powered by a Daimler engine and armed with a single 2-Pdr gun mounted in a turret above a boiler plate box. Willian Tritton was far from satisfied however with this creation. So Fosters called in the services of a Lieutenant Wilson (a Royal Navy Armoured Car Commander of some experience) to assist them in a complete redesign of the machine. This revised design, which was named Little Willie, would incorporate many alterations including placing the tracks outside of the hull so that it could not become clogged by mud; the turret was removed and the gun mounted in the forward hull; and a system of braking introduced which allowed the vehicle to be steered by locking just one track thus dragging the vehicle around (although after tests a trailed wheel steering was reintroduced to give better control on gentle curves).

Whilst Little Willie would still fail to meet the War Office specifications it would nevertheless provide much of the inspiration from which subsequent development of Armoured Fighting Vehicles would be based.

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