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T-34-85 at Musée des Blindés
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958. It is widely regarded to have been the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered World War II, and although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it is credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design. First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine), it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series. A 1996 publication showed that the T-34 was still in service with twenty-seven countries. The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks, and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service. At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, and protection in existence, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, lack of radios and poor tactical employment. The two-man turret crew arrangement required the commander to also serve as the gunner, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day; this proved to be inferior to the German arrangement of three men (commander, gunner and loader). The design and construction of the tank were continuously refined during the war to improve effectiveness and decrease costs, allowing steadily greater numbers of tanks to be fielded. In early 1944, the improved T-34-85 was introduced, with a more powerful 85 mm gun and a three-man turret design. By the war's end in 1945, the versatile and cost-effective T-34 had replaced many light and heavy tanks in service, and accounted for the majority of Soviet tank production. Its evolutionary development would lead directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, built until 1981 and still operated today... (more)

Verdeja 75 mm self-propelled howitzer, based on the Verdeja 1 prototype chassis
The Verdeja was a series of light tanks developed in Spain between 1938 and 1954 in an attempt to replace German Panzer I and Soviet T-26 tanks in Spanish service. The program was headed by Captain Félix Verdeja Bardales and led to the development of four prototype vehicles, including a self-propelled howitzer armed with a 75 mm gun. It was designed as an advanced light tank and was one of the first development programs which took into account survivability of the crew as opposed to the protection of the tank. The tank was influenced by several of the light tanks which it was intended to replace, including the Panzer I and T-26, both of which were originally used during the Spanish Civil War. The Verdeja was considered a superior tank to the T-26 after a lengthy testing period, yet was never put into mass production. Three light tank prototypes were manufactured between 1938 and 1942, including the Verdeja 1 and the Verdeja 2. Interest in the vehicle's development waned after the end of the Second World War. Despite attempts to fit a new engine in the Verdeja 2 and convert the Verdeja 1 into a self-propelled artillery piece, ultimately the program was unofficially canceled in favor of adopting the US M47 Patton Tank in 1954. A prototype of the 75 millimetre self-propelled howitzer and of the Verdeja 2 were put on display in the early 1990s... (more)

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)

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)

Spanish Leopard 2E in Madrid, October 2006
The Leopard 2E is a variant of the German-made Leopard 2 main battle tank, tailored to the requirements of the Spanish Army, which acquired it as part of an armament modernization program named Programa Coraza, or Program Armor. The acquisition program for the Leopard 2E began in 1994, five years after the cancellation of the Lince tank program that culminated in an agreement to transfer 108 Leopard 2A4s to the Spanish Army in 1998 and started the local production of the Leopard 2E in December 2003. Despite postponement of production due to the 2003 merger between Santa Bárbara Sistemas and General Dynamics and continued fabrication issues between 2006 and 2007, 219 Leopard 2Es have been delivered to the Spanish Army. The Leopard 2E is a major improvement over the M60 Patton tank, which it replaced in Spain's mechanized and armored units. Its development represented a total of 2.6 million hours worth of work, 9,600 of them in Germany, at a total cost of 1.9 billion euros. This makes it one of the most expensive Leopard 2s built. Indigenous production amounted to 60% and the vehicles were assembled locally at Sevilla by Santa Bárbara Sistemas. It has thicker armor on the turret and glacis plate than the German Leopard 2A6, and uses a Spanish-designed tank command and control system, similar to the one fitted in German Leopard 2s. The Leopard 2E is expected to remain in service until 2025... (more)

Panzer I at the El Goloso Museum of Armored Vehicles, in Spain
The Panzer I is a light tank which was produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German Panzerkampfwagen I (armored fighting vehicle mark I), abbreviated PzKpfw I. The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 (special purpose vehicle 101). Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production in 1934. Although intended only as a training tank to introduce the concept of armored warfare to the German Army, the Panzer I saw combat in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, in Poland, France, Russia and North Africa during the Second World War, and even in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Based on experience gathered during the Spanish Civil War, the Panzer I helped shape the German armored corps used to invade Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. By 1941, Panzer I chassis were being reused for production of tank destroyers and assault guns. There were attempts to upgrade the Panzer I throughout its service history, including by foreign nations to increase its lifespan. It continued to serve in the armed forces of Spain until 1954. Ultimately, the Panzer I's performance in combat was limited by its thin armor and light armament, consisting of only two general purpose machine guns. Because it was designed solely for training, the Panzer I was not as capable as other light tanks of the era, such as the T-26. Although weak in combat, it formed a large proportion of Germany's tank strength on paper and was used in all major campaigns between September 1939 and December 1941. Inevitably, the small, vulnerable light tank would be overshadowed in importance by better-known German tanks such as the Panzer IV, Panther, and Tiger, but its contribution to the early victories of Nazi Germany during the Second World War was significant... (more)

An AMX-30E on display at the Museum of Armored Vehicles of El Goloso, in Spain
The AMX-30E (E stands for España, Spanish for Spain) was a main battle tank, based on the French AMX-30. Although originally the Spanish government sought to procure the German Leopard 1, the AMX-30 was ultimately awarded the contract due to its cheaper price and the ability to manufacture it in Spain. It was manufactured by Santa Bárbara Sistemas for the Spanish Army, between 1974 and 1983. First acquired in 1970, the tank was to supplement Spain's fleet of M47 and M48 Patton United States tanks and to reduce Spain's reliance on American equipment in its army. The first 19 AMX-30 tanks were acquired from France in 1970, while another 180 were assembled in Spain. It was Spain's first mass produced tank and developed the country's industry to the point where the government felt it could produce a tank on its own, leading to the development of the Lince tank project in 1985. It also offered Santa Bárbara Sistemas the experience which led to the production of the Leopard 2E in late 2003. Although final assembly was carried out by Santa Bárbara Sistemas, the production of the AMX-30E also included other companies in the country. Total production within Spain amounted to as much as 65% of the tank. Spain's AMX-30E fleet went through two separate modifications in the late 1980s, a modernization program and a reconstruction program. The former, named the AMX-30EM2 (150 tanks), sought to modernize and improve the vehicle's automotive characteristics, while the latter, or the AMX-30EM1 (149 tanks), resulted in a more austere improvement of the tank's power plant by maintaining the existing engine and replacing the transmission. Both programs extended the vehicle's lifetime. Spain's fleet of AMX-30EM1s was replaced in the late 1990s by the German Leopard 2A4, and the AMX-30EM2s were replaced by Centauro wheeled anti-tank vehicles in the early 21st century. Although 19 AMX-30Es were deployed to the Spanish Sahara in 1970, the tank never saw combat. In 1985 Indonesia expressed interest in the AMX-30E, while in 2004 the Spanish and Colombian governments discussed the possible sale of around 40 AMX-30EM2s. Both trade deals fell through. (more)

Argentine Army TAM

The Tanque Argentino Mediano ("Argentine Medium Tank"), or TAM, is the main battle tank in service with the Argentine Army. Lacking the experience and resources to design a tank, The Argentine Ministry of Defense contracted German company Thyssen-Henschel. The vehicle was developed by a German and Argentine team of engineers, and was based on the chassis of the German Marder infantry fighting vehicle. The TAM met the Argentine Army's requirement for a modern light-weight and fast tank with a low silhouette and sufficient firepower to defeat contemporary armored threats. Development began in 1974 and resulted in the construction of three prototypes by early 1977 and full-scale production by 1979. Assembly took place at the local 9,600 meters squared (103,333 ft²) TAMSE plant, founded for the purpose by the Argentine government. Economic difficulties halted to production in 1983, but manufacturing began anew in 1994 until the army's order of 200 tanks was fulfilled. The TAM series includes seven different variants, such as a 155 millimeter (6.1 in) self-propelled howitzer and a self-propelled mortar vehicle. In total, over 280 such vehicles were built, including armored personnel carriers, artillery and mortar pieces. The TAM and VCTP were manufactured for the Peruvian Army, only to be integrated into the Argentine Army when Peru canceled the contract. The TAM also competed for other export orders, but the TAM was ultimately not exported. The TAM has never seen combat, although 17 armored personnel carriers based on the TAM chassis were deployed to the former Yugoslavia for a United Nations peacekeeping mission. (more)

Spanish M47 side corner.jpg

Tanks in the Spanish Army have over 80 years of history, from the French FT-17s first delivered in 1919 to the Leopard 2 and B1 Centauro models of the early 21st century. The FT-17 took part in combat during the Rif War and performing in the first amphibious landing with tanks in history, at Alhucemas. In 1925, the Spanish Army began to undertake a program to develop and produce a Spanish tank, heavily based on the French FT-17, called the Trubia A4. Although the prototype performed well during testing, the tank was never put into mass production. Spain also experimented with the Italian Fiat 3000, acquiring one tank in 1925, and with another indigenous tank program called the Landesa. However, none of these evolved into a major armor program, and as a result the FT-17 remained the most important tank, in numbers, in the Spanish Army until the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Between July 1936 and April 1939, during the Spanish Civil War, the two opposing armies received large quantities of tanks from foreign powers. Spain's Second Republic received tanks from the Soviet Union, many of which were captured by the Nationalists and pressed into service against their former masters, while the Nationalists were aided by the Germans and Italians. The Spanish Civil War, although the testing grounds for the nations which would ultimately take part in World War II, proved inconclusive in regards to the proof of mechanized warfare. Despite attempts by Soviet, German and Italian advisers and soldiers to use newly devised mechanized theories, the lack of quality crews and the tanks, and the insufficient amount of tanks provided bad impressions on the usefulness of tanks on their own. The Spanish Army ended the Spanish Civil War with a fleet of light tanks. Looking to field more modern and capable tanks, the Spanish government and army approved a venture to design and manufacture a better light tank, known as the Verdeja. Although the tank proved extremely capable, a lack of raw materials and incentives proved enough to doom the program to failure. Furthermore, the army's requirements were temporarily satiated by the procurement of Panzer IVs in late 1943. However, the failure to acquire more Panzer IVs led Spain to field a largely antiquated tank park of light tanks and an insufficient amount of medium tanks. In 1953, the United States and Spain signed a military aid program agreement which led to the supply of M47 Patton and M48 Patton tanks. The American decision to not allow Spain to deploy the new equipment during the war with Morocco caused Spain to look elsewhere for a supplement to their fleet of Patton tanks, ending with the procurement of the AMX-30E, based on the French AMX-30. Almost immediately after, the Spanish Army and the Spanish Ministry of Defense began to look for a future Spanish tank. This turned into the Lince tank program. Despite numerous bids the Lince program failed due to financial problems and the decision to instead modernize the existing fleet of AMX-30Es, and to procure a large number of American M60 Patton tanks to replace the fleet of the then upgraded older Patton tanks. Over half of the AMX-30Es were upgraded to a standard known as the AMX-30EM2, while the rest suffered a more finite modification known as the AMX-30EM1. However, the M60s and modernized AMX-30Es did not provide Spain with a sufficiently modern tank for the next century. In 1994, the Spanish Ministry of Defense began to negotiate with the German government over the purchase of the Leopard 2. Ultimately, 108 Leopard 2A4s were procured and integrated into the Spanish Army, while 219 Leopard 2Es were built in Spain, based on the German Leopard 2A6. The Leopard 2E and Leopard 2A4 replaced the fleet of M60 Patton tanks, while Spain's AMX-30EM2s were replaced by Italian B1 Centauro anti-tank cavalry vehicles. Presently, the Spanish Army possesses 108 Leopard 2A4s and 219 Leopard 2Es... (more)

Rheinmetall 120 mm gun-Leoaprd 2E.jpg
The Rheinmetall 120-millimeter (4.7 in) gun is a smoothbore tank gun designed and produced by the German Rheinmetall-DeTec AG company. It was developed in response to Soviet advances in armor technology and development of new armored threats. With production beginning in 1974, the first version of the gun, known as the L/44, was used on the German Leopard 2, and was soon exported to be used on tanks such as the American M1 Abrams and the Israeli Merkava tanks. It has also been exported to South Korea and Japan, as well as nations which have procured the Leopard 2 and the M1 Abrams. Rheinmetall's 120-millimeter (4.7 in) L/44 tank gun has a length of 5.28 meters (5.77 yd), while the gun system weighs approximately 3,317 kilograms (7,313 lb). However, by 1990 the L/44 was not considered powerful enough to deal with modernized Soviet armor, such as the T-80B, which stimulated an effort by Rheinmetall to develop a better main armament. This first revolved around a 140-millimeter (5.5 in) tank gun, but later turned into a compromise which led to the development of an advanced 120-millimeter (4.7 in) gun. This gun was the L/55, based on the same internal geometry as the L/44 and installed in the same breech and mount. The L/55 is 1.3 meters (1.4 yd) longer, allowing for an increase in muzzle velocity for ammunition being fired through it. The fact that it retains the same barrel geometry allows the L/55 to fire the same ammunition as the L/44. This gun was retrofitted into German and Dutch Leopard 2s, and chosen as the main gun of the Spanish Leopard 2E and Greek Leopard 2HEL. The L/55 was chosen as the armament of the new South Korean K2 main battle tank, and has been tested on the British Challenger 2, as a potential replacement to the existing 120-millimeter (4.7 in) rifled gun. A variety of ammunition has been developed for use by tanks armed with Rheinmetall's tank gun. This includes a series of kinetic energy penetrators, such as the American M829 series, and chemical energy anti-tank warheads. Recent ammunition includes a wide range of new anti-personnel rounds and demolition munitions, giving tanks armed with Rheinmetall's tank gun greater versatility on the modern battlefield. The LAHAT, developed in Israel, is a gun-launched missile which has received interest from Germany and other Leopard 2 users, and is designed to defeat both enemy armor and enemy combat helicopters. The Israelis also introduced a new anti-personnel munition, which limits collateral damage by controlling the fragmentation of the projectile when fired... (more)

French AMX-30 Desert Storm.jpg
The AMX-30 is a main battle tank designed by GIAT, first delivered to the French Army in 1966. The first five tanks were issued to the 501st Régiment de Chars de Combat (Tank Regiment) in August of that year. The production version of the AMX-30 weighed 36 metric tons (40 short tons), and sacrificed protection for increased mobility. The French believed that it would have required too much armor to protect against the latest anti-tank threats, thereby reducing the tank's maneuverability. Protection, instead, was allotted in terms of speed and the compact dimensions of the vehicle, including a height of 2.28 meters (7.5 ft). The tank's firepower was manifested through its 105-millimeter (4.1 in) cannon, firing an advanced high explosive anti-tank warhead known as the Obus G. The Obus G used an outer shell, separated from the main charge by ball bearings, to allow the round to be spin stabilized by the gun without affecting the warhead inside. Speed was provided by the 720 horsepower (540 kW) HS-110 diesel engine, although the troublesome transmission adversely affected the tank's performance. Due to the issues caused by the transmission, in 1979 the French Army began to modernize its fleet of tanks to AMX-30B2 standards, which included a new transmission, an improved engine and the introduction of a new fin-stabilized kinetic energy penetrator, amongst other improvements. Production of the AMX-30 also extended to a number of variants, including the AMX-30D armored recovery vehicle, the AMX-30R anti-aircraft gun system, a bridgelayer, the Pluton tactical nuclear missile launcher and a surface to air missile launcher. It was preceded by two prior post-war French medium tank designs, including the ARL 44. Although the ARL 44 was an interim tank, its replacement tank, the AMX 50, was canceled in the mid-1950s in favor of adopting the M47 Patton tank. In 1956 the French government entered a cooperative development program with Germany and Italy in an effort to design a standardized tank. Although the three nations agreed to a series of specific characteristics that the new tank should have, and both France and Germany began work on distinctive prototypes with the intentions of testing them and combining the best of both, the program failed as Germany decided not to adopt the new French 105-millimeter (4.1 in) tank gun and France declared that it would postpone production until 1965. As a result, both nations decided to adopt tanks based on their own prototypes. The German tank became known as the Leopard 1, while the French prototype became the AMX-30. As early as 1969, the AMX-30 and variants were ordered by Greece, soon followed by Spain. In the coming years, the AMX-30 would be exported to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Cyprus and Chile. By the end of production, 3,571 units of AMX-30s and its variants had been manufactured. Both Spain and Venezuela later began extensive modernization programs to extend the life of their vehicles and to bring their tanks up to more modern standards. In the 1991 Gulf War, AMX-30s were deployed by both the French and Qatari armies, and Qatari AMX-30s saw action against Iraqi forces at the Battle of Khafji. However, France and most other nations replaced their AMX-30s with more up-to-date equipment by the end of the 20th century... (more)

Arena system.svg
The Arena Active Protection System (Russian: Арена активная система защиты) (APS) is an active countermeasure system developed at Russia's Kolomna-based Engineering Design Bureau for the purpose of protecting armored fighting vehicles from destruction by light anti-tank weapons, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), and missiles with top attack warheads. It uses a Doppler radar to detect incoming warheads. Upon detection, a defensive rocket is fired that detonates near the inbound threat, destroying it before it hits the vehicle. Arena is the successor to Drozd, a Soviet active protection system from the late 1970s, and was installed on several T-55s during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The system improved the vehicle's survivability rate, increasing it by up to 80%. Drozd was followed by Shtora in the late 1980s, which used an electro-magnetic jammer to confuse inbound enemy anti-tank missiles and rockets. Despite these developments, Russia's deployment of fighting vehicles was limited. In late 1994 the Russian Army deployed a large number of armored fighting vehicles to Chechnya, where they were ambushed and suffered heavy casualties. The successful use by the Chechnyans of the rocket propelled grenade against the Russian fighting vehicles prompted the Kolomenskoye machine-building design bureau to devise the Arena active protection system in the early and mid-1990s. An export variant, Arena-E, was also developed. The system has been tested on the T-80UM-1, demonstrated at Omsk in 1997, and was considered for use on the South Korean K2 Black Panther main battle tank... (more)

Tetrarch - Light Tank Mark VII.jpg
The Light Tank Mk VII, also known as the Tetrarch, was a British light tank produced by Vickers-Armstrong in the late 1930s and deployed during World War II. The Tetrarch was originally designed as the latest in the line of light tanks built by the company for the British Army. It improved upon its predecessor, the Mk VIB Light Tank, by introducing the extra fire-power of a 2 pounder gun. The War Office ordered 70 tanks, an order that eventually increased to 220. Production was delayed by several factors, and as a consequence, only 100 to 177 of the tanks were produced. The tank's design flaws, combined with the decision by the War Office not to use light tanks in British armoured divisions, ruled out the use of Tetrarchs in the North African campaign. As a result, the majority of the tanks remained in Britain, although 20 were sent to the USSR as part of the Lend-Lease program. In early 1941, the Royal Armoured Corps formed three squadrons for use in overseas amphibious operations; one of which was equipped with Tetrarchs. In May 1942, a small number of Tetrarchs formed part of the British force which participated in the invasion of Madagascar, and, in June 1942, Tetrarchs were attached to the 1st Airborne Division after it was decided that the design allowed its use as an air-portable light tank to support British airborne forces. The Tetrarchs were transported and landed in specially designed General Aircraft Hamilcar gliders. A lack of gliders prevented their participation in the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943; instead they were attached to the new 6th Airborne Division and became part of the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment. The division used approximately 20 Tetrarchs during the British airborne landings in Normandy in June 1944. The tanks were successfully landed by glider, but they did not perform well. Several were lost in accidents, and those that did see action proved to be inferior in fire-power and armour to the armoured fighting vehicles of the German forces. A few days after the beginning of the operation, the tanks were removed from direct engagement with German armour and used only to provide fire support. By August 1944, most of the Tetrarchs in action were replaced with Cromwell cruiser tanks, and the remainder were replaced by the M22 Locust in December 1944. Tetrarchs did not see any further combat and were deemed obsolete by 1946; the last was retired in 1950. There were several variations on the Tetrarch design, including the Alecto self-propelled gun and the Light Tank Mk VIII, but none of these were ever used in active service with the British Army... (more)