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The Tank Portal

German Tiger tank.

A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat and combines strong strategic and tactical offensive and defensive capabilities. Firepower is normally provided by a large-calibre main gun in a rotating turret and secondary machine guns, while heavy armour and all-terrain mobility provide protection for the tank and its crew, allowing it to perform all primary tasks of the armoured troops on the battlefield.

Tanks were first manufactured during World War I in an effort to break the bloody deadlock of trench warfare. The British Army was the first to field a vehicle that combined three key characteristics: mobility over barbed wire and rough terrain, armour to withstand small arms fire and shrapnel and the firepower required to suppress or destroy machine gun nests and pillboxes. Despite some success and a significant psychological effect on the German infantry, "the tank in 1918 was not a war-winning weapon."

Interwar developments culminated in the blitzkrieg employed by the German Wehrmacht during World War II and the contribution of the panzers to this doctrine. Hard lessons learned by the Allies during WWII cemented the reputation of the tank, appropriately employed in combined arms forces, as "indispensable to success in both tactical and strategic terms." Today, tanks seldom operate alone, being organized into armoured units and operating in combined-arms formations. Despite their apparent invulnerability, without support tanks are vulnerable to anti-tank artillery, helicopters and aircraft, enemy tanks, anti-tank and improvised mines, and (at close range or in urban environments) infantry.

Due to its formidable capabilities and versatility the battle tank is generally considered a key component of modern armies, but recent thinking has challenged the need for such powerful and expensive weaponry in a period characterized by unconventional and asymmetric warfare. Ongoing research and development attempts to equip the tank to meet the challenges of the 21st century... (more)

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The Lince (Spanish pronunciation: [linˈθe], meaning "Lynx") was a Spanish main battle tank development program during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was intended to replace the Spanish Army's M47 and M48 Patton tanks which it received through a military assistance program between 1954 and 1975. The Lince was also intended to complement the AMX-30E tanks manufactured for the Army during the 1970s. Companies from several nations, such as German Krauss-Maffei, Spanish Santa Bárbara, and French GIAT, bid for the development contract. Focusing on mobility and firepower, the program put secondary priority on protection and aimed for a tank lighter and faster than its competitors. The vehicle's size was also restricted by the Spanish railroad and highway network. To achieve a sufficient level of firepower and protection, given the size requirements, the Lince was to use Rheinmetall's 120 mm L/44 tank-gun and German composite armor from the Leopard 2A4. The Spanish government decided to upgrade its AMX-30Es in the late 1980s, which distracted attention from the program. The Lince was eventually cancelled in 1990 when Spain adopted a large number of North American M60 Patton tanks retired from Europe in accordance with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. These tanks replaced the M47s and M48s, and fulfilled Spain's need to modernize its tank forces in the short term. Prototypes were not manufactured and no announcements were made on who would receive the contract. Four years later, the Spanish government managed to procure and locally manufacture the Leopard 2, fulfilling the long term modernization goal established in the Lince program...(more)

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Operation Tractable was the final CanadianPolish offensive to take place during the Battle of Normandy. Its aim was to capture the strategically important town of Falaise and subsequently the towns of Trun and Chambois. The operation was undertaken by the First Canadian Army against Germany's Army Group B, and was part of the largest encirclement on the Western Front during World War II. Despite a slow start to the offensive that was marked by limited gains north of Falaise, innovative tactics by Stanisław Maczek's Polish 1st Armoured Division during the drive for Chambois allowed for the Falaise gap to be partially closed by August 19, 1944, trapping close to 300,000 German soldiers in the Falaise Pocket. Although the Falaise Gap had been narrowed to a distance of several hundred yards, a protracted series of fierce engagements between two battlegroups of the Polish 1st Armoured Division and the 2nd SS Panzer Corps on Mont Ormel prevented the gap from being completely closed, allowing thousands of German troops to escape out of Normandy. During two days of nearly continuous fighting, Polish forces utilized artillery barrages and close-quarter fighting managed to hold off counterattacks by elements of seven German divisions. On August 21, 1944, elements of the First Canadian Army relieved Polish survivors of the battle, and were able to finally close the Falaise Pocket, leading to the capture of the remaining elements of the German Seventh Army...(more)

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"Out-gunned, out-manouevred, and hard-pressed, the Spanish had no effective answer to the tank..." —John Weeks, on anti-tank tactics during the Spanish Civil War

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French FT-17s and assorted British tanks aid the Allied advance near Langres, France, in 1918.

Photo credit: United States Federal Government


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