How the events unfolded
- Three German A7Vs and same number of British Mark IV units(Two females and one male) were supporting their respective infantry units in operations. Females had only machine guns while male was armed with 6 pounder gun.
- By happenstance, the two detachments came face to face.
- Female Mk. IV's were forced to retreat after taking damage as their armaments were useless against German armor.
- Male MK. IV took the initiative and knocked out the leading German A7V, scoring multiple hits on the enemy even after the tank was disabled and was being evacuated, resulting in death of 5 German soldiers.
- Remaining A7Vs retreat.
- Male Mk IV turns to German infantry, reinforced by 7 Whippet tanks.
- Four of the 7 Whippets get destroyed by German infantry.
- A German mortar team scored a hit on the sole Male Mk IV., causing it to lose a track, thereby forcing it to be abandoned.
- Germans successfully recover the abandoned AV7 of Wilhelm Blitz.
This page mentions and I quote:
The A7V would be involved in the first tank vs. tank battle of the war
on April 24, 1918 at the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux — a
battle in which there was no clear winner.
Then if we look at operational History of the A7V tank, we get a brief overview of the Battle:
The first tank against tank combat in history took place on 24 April
1918 when three A7Vs (including chassis number 561, known as "Nixe")
taking part in an attack with infantry incidentally met three Mark IVs
(two female machine gun-armed tanks and one male with two 6-pounder
guns) near Villers-Bretonneux.
During the battle, tanks on both sides were damaged.
According to the lead tank commander, Second Lieutenant Frank
Mitchell, the female Mk IVs fell back after being damaged by
armour-piercing bullets. They were unable to damage the A7Vs with
their own machine guns.
Mitchell then attacked the lead German tank, commanded by Second Lieutenant Wilhelm Biltz, with the 6-pounders of his own tank and
knocked it out.
He hit it three times, and killed five of the crew when they bailed
out. He then went on to rout some infantry with case shot. The two
remaining A7Vs in turn withdrew.
The page for German commander in the Battle gives a little more information:
During the battle his tank encountered a group of three British Mark
IV tanks – two "female tanks", armed only with machine guns and a
single "male tank", armed with 6-pound guns.
Both the British female tanks were damaged and retreated, as their machine guns had no effect on Blitz's A7V. In a running battle that
followed, both tanks manoeuvred to avoid the other's fire while lining
up on their opponent. Biltz's tank lost the duel – it was hit
three times by the British tank and heeled over on its side. The
crew abandoned their A7V but five were killed by continued fire from the Mark IV, which went on to engage two more A7V tanks that
had appeared on the scene.
Biltz's men were able to recover their damaged tank later.
The battle itself didn't end after this duel.
As Mitchell's tank withdrew from action (To engage German infantry),
seven Whippet tanks also engaged the infantry. Four of these were
knocked out in the battle, and it is unclear if any of them engaged
the retreating German tanks. Mitchell's tank lost a track towards the
end of the battle from a mortar shell and was abandoned.
The engagement would be called indecisive because:
- Two of the British tanks had to retreat due to their inability to pierce armor of German A7Vs.
- One of the German tanks was knocked out but was successfully retrieved back by the Germans. British however failed to recover their abandoned tank.
- Both sides suffered damages
- Two of the surviving A7Vs also had to retreat.
- British tanks were also forced to retreat by the German infantry and mortar units.
Neither side decisively defeated the other side. However one could give slight advantage to the British purely on the ground that theirs was the last Tank standing on the field, when one of the A7Vs was knocked out and two were forced to retreat.