The Mark V was first intended to be a completely new design of tank. When however in December 1917 the desired new engine and transmission became available, this design was abandoned and the designation switched to an improved version of the Mark IV, in fact a Mark IV as it was originally intended. The Mark V had more power (150 bhp) from a new Ricardo engine. Use of Wilson’s epicyclic steering gear meant that only a single driver was needed. On the roof towards the back of the tank behind the engine was a second raised cabin for a machine-gunner and the tank commander. The machine guns now fired through ball mounts rather than loopholes, giving better protection and a wider field of fire.
Four hundred were built, 200 each of Males and Females. Several were converted to Hermaphrodites by swapping sponsons to give a single 6-pounder gun for each. These are also sometimes known as “Mark V Composite”.
The Mark V was a late participant in the First World War. It was first used in the Battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918 when 60 tanks contributed to a successful assault by Australian units on the German lines. A number saw service in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War on the White Russian side. They participated in the British North Russia Campaign. Some saw service with the Estonian forces after Russian forces had to retreat into Estonia and be disarmed and were used until 1941. Mark Vs were also delivered to the French, Canadian and American armies.
Two Mark V tanks, one male, one female, can be seen in several photographs taken in Berlin in 1945 in front of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral). It has been suggested[by whom?] this was a museum piece that had been previously displayed at the Lustgarten and it had been used as a static pillbox to help bolster the city’s defences during Nazi Germany’s final days. However, there is no evidence this was the case and it is not clear what role (if any) it played in the Battle of Berlin.