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The Mark V was first intended to be a completely new design of tank, of which a wooden mock-up had been finished. However, when the new engine and transmission originally destined for the Mark IV became available in December 1917, the first, more advanced Mark V design was abandoned for fear of disrupting the production run. The designation "Mark V" was switched to an improved version of the Mark IV, equipped with the new systems. The original design of the Mark IV was to be a large improvement on the Mark III but had been scaled back to be a mild improvement because of technical delays. The Mark V thus turned out very similar to the original design of the Mark IV – i.e. a greatly modified Mark III.

Four hundred were built, 200 each of Males and Females. Several were converted to Hermaphrodites (also known as "Composites") by fitting one male and one female sponson so that each tank had a 6-pounder. This measure was intended to ensure that female tanks would not be outgunned when faced with captured British male tanks in German use or the Germans' own A7V.