The very first tank ever, Little Willy was assembled in the staggeringly short time of 39 days, between mid-August and mid-September 1915 by Fosters of Lincoln.
This was done in response to a requirement issued by the ‘Landships Committee’ of the British Admiralty! Fosters were able to achieve this rapid progress due to their great experience in constructing agricultural machines, in particular caterpillar tracked vehicles.
‘Little Willy’, so called after the Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany (the Kaiser, also Wilhelm, would have been ‘Big Willy’) was never intended as a production vehicle and indeed, it showed a number of serious shortcomings early in its trials. However, it did prove that the theory – of vehicles capable of moving across trenches and broken ground while protecting its occupants - was viable.
Even while ‘Little Willy’ was being built, a further prototype was under construction. ‘His Majesty’s Landship Centipede’ as it became known successfully addressed the issues revealed by Little Willy, notably trench crossing ability and track design.