Portal:Tank

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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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Finnish T-26 at the Parola Tank Museum

The T-26 was a light tank used by the Soviet Union from the 1930s until World War II. It was based on the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and widely considered one of the most successful designs of the 1930s. The T-26 made-up the majority of the Red Army's armour force until late 1941, and saw a long history in the armed forces of various nations around the world. For almost a decade the T-26 proved to be one of the best tanks in production, with a total of around 12,000 units produced. Success and failure in the Spanish Civil War, where it served as the most widely used tank, ultimately played a major role in influencing the Soviet doctrine of tank warfare in the late 1930s. The T-26 participated in German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 as one of the most numerous tanks in service, contributing to the defense of the Soviet Union. Although the T-26's reputation was marred by its abysmal performance during World War II, it was nevertheless the most important tank of the Spanish Civil War and played major roles during the Winter War and the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939. Between its introduction and its retirement, the T-26 saw a great deal of modernization efforts between 1932 and 1941...(more)

Featured battle

Operationepsom.jpg

Operation Epsom was a World War II British offensive that took place between 26–30 June 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German occupied city of Caen, which was a major Allied objective in the early stages of the invasion of northwest Europe. Preceded by attacks intended to secure the lines of advance, Operation Epsom was launched early on the 26 June, with units of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division advancing behind a creeping artillery barrage. Additional bomber support had been expected, but poor weather led to this being cancelled; air cover would be sporadic for much of the operation. Supported by the tanks of the 31st Tank Brigade, the 15th Scottish made steady progress, and by the end of the first day had largely overrun the German outpost line, although there remained some difficulties in securing the flanks of the advance. In heavy fighting over the following two days, a foothold was secured across the River Odon, and efforts were made to expand this by capturing strategic points around the salient and moving up the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. However, in response to powerful German counterattacks, by 30 June some of the British positions across the river were withdrawn, bringing the operation to a close. Military historians have widely differed in their interpretations of the intention and conduct of Operation Epsom, but there is general agreement concerning its effect on the balance of forces in Normandy. Although the Germans had managed to contain the offensive, to do so they had been obliged to commit all their available strength, including two panzer divisions newly arrived in Normandy and earmarked for a planned offensive against British and American positions around Bayeux. Casualties were heavy on both sides, but unlike General Bernard Montgomery, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was unable to withdraw units into reserve after the battle, as they were needed to hold the front line. The British retained the initiative, and were able to launch further operations over the following weeks, eventually capturing Caen towards the end of July...(more)

Selected quote

"No, our panzers!"Heinz Guderian, when asked by Adolf Hitler if it had been the dive bombers who had destroyed the Polish artillery regiment.

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