The Landship Committee, also known as the Director of Naval Construction's Committee, was a small British committee formed during the First World War to develop armoured fighting vehicles for use on the Western Front. The eventual outcome was the creation of what is now called the tank. Established in February 1915 by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, the Committee was composed mainly of naval officers, politicians and engineers. It was chaired by Eustace Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Director of Naval Construction at the Admiralty.
The committee was formed at Churchill's instruction in February 1915. It started with only three members: d’Eyncourt, as chairman; Flight Commander Thomas Hetherington of the Royal Naval Air Service Armoured Car Squadron; and Colonel Wilfred Dumble of the Naval Brigade. Hetherington had proposed a large wheeled landship, estimated to weigh some 300 tons. A former Royal Engineer, Dumble had managed the London Omnibus Co. and been brought back to service in response to the urgent need for transport by the Royal Naval Division in Antwerp - he had been an adjutant to Colonel R.E.B. Crompton, who was trying to develop cross-country vehicles for the Army. Dumble recommended Crompton to the committee as an expert on heavy traction. The committee's activities were concealed from Kitchener at the War Office, the Board of the Admiralty, and the Treasury, all of whom were expected to block the project.
The Committee conducted a number of trials with various wheeled and tracked vehicles, and work was in progress on a prototype vehicle (later to become Little Willie) when in July 1915 the Committee's existence came to the attention of the War Office. This led to its operations being taken over by the Army and a number of its members transferring from the Navy. From December, 1915 the word "tank" was adopted as a codename for the vehicles in development, and the Landship Committee became known officially as the Tank Supply Committee.
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