Portal:Tanks

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The Tanks Portal

A British Sherman tank in Italy during World War Two
An M4 Sherman tank in Italy in 1943 during WW II.

A tank is an armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat. Tanks have heavy firepower, strong armour, and good battlefield manoeuvrability provided by tracks and a powerful engine; usually their main armament is mounted in a turret. They are a mainstay of modern 20th and 21st century ground forces and a key part of combined arms combat.

Modern tanks are versatile mobile land weapon system platforms that have a mounted large-calibre cannon called tank gun in a rotating gun turret supplemented by mounted machine guns or other weapons such as anti-tank guided missiles or rockets. They have heavy vehicle armour which provides protection for the crew, the vehicle's weapons, and propulsion systems as well as provide operational mobility due to its use of tracks rather than wheels which allows the tank to move over rugged terrain and adverse conditions such as mud (and be positioned on the battlefield in advantageous locations). These features enable the tank to perform well in a variety of intense combat situations, simultaneously both offensively (with fire from their powerful tank gun) and defensively (due to their near invulnerability to common firearms and good resistance to heavier weapons, all while maintaining the mobility needed to exploit changing tactical situations). Fully integrating tanks into modern military forces spawned a new era of combat: armoured warfare.

There are classes of tanks: some being larger and very heavily armoured and with high calibre guns, while others are smaller, lightly armoured, and equipped with a smaller calibre and lighter gun. These smaller tanks move over terrain with speed and agility and can perform a reconnaissance role in addition to engaging enemy targets. The smaller faster tank would not normally engage in battle with a larger, heavily armoured tank, except during a surprise flanking manoeuvre. Read more...-

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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)

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Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-021-2081-31A, General Friedrich Paulus.jpg

Operation Uranus was the operational codename of the Soviet encirclement of the German Sixth Army, Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced as early as September 1942, and was developed simultaneously with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and German forces in the Caucasus. The Red Army took advantage of the fact that German forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched, using weaker Romanian and Italian armies to guard their flanks; the offensives' starting points were established along the section of the front directly opposite Romanian forces. These allied Axis armies lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor, and their weapons were mostly obsolete. Given the length of front created by the German summer offensive, aimed at taking the Caucasus oil fields and the city of Stalingrad, German and allied forces were forced to guard sectors beyond the length they were meant to occupy. The situation was not improved by the decision to reorient several mechanized divisions from the Soviet Union to Western Europe. Furthermore, units in the area were depleted after months of fighting, especially those which took part in the fighting in Stalingrad. The Germans could only count on the 48th Panzer Corps, which had the strength of a single panzer division, and the 29th Panzergrenadier Division as reserves to bolster their Romanian allies on the German Sixth Army's flanks. In comparison, the Red Army deployed over one million personnel for the purpose of beginning the offensive in and around Stalingrad. Soviet troop movements were not without problems, as they found it difficult to masquerade the build up to avoid startling the Germans and provide a sense of surprise. Commonly, Soviet units arrived late due to transportation issues. Operation Uranus was originally postponed from 8 to 17 November, and later moved back to 19 November. At 07:20 (Moscow time) on 19 November Soviet forces on the northern flank of the Axis forces at Stalingrad began their offensive; forces in the south began on 20 November. Although Romanian units were able to repel the first attacks, by the end of 20 November the Third and Fourth Romanian armies were in headlong retreat, as the Red Army bypassed several German infantry divisions. German mobile reserves were not strong enough to parry the Soviet mechanized spearheads, while the Sixth Army did not react quickly enough to disengage German armored forces in Stalingrad and reorient them to defeat the impending threat. By late 22 November Soviet forces linked up at the town of Kalach, encircling over 200,000 men east of the Don River. Instead of attempting a breakout operation, German dictator Adolf Hitler instead decided to keep Axis forces in Stalingrad and resupply them by air. In the meantime, Soviet and German commanders began to plan their next movements... (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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Otto Moritz Walter Model ([ˈmoːdəl]) (24 January 1891 – 21 April 1945) was a German general and later field marshal during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician. Although he was a hard-driving, aggressive panzer commander early in the war, Model became best known as a practitioner of attrition warfare—his associate, General Erhard Raus, called it "zone defence". It emphasised strong fortifications, a reluctance to give ground (although not an absolute refusal to withdraw), and the importance of not allowing major enemy breakthroughs. This approach brought him much success, but his death in 1945 meant he would later be overshadowed by his rivals who advocated manoeuvre warfare. Model first came to Hitler's attention before World War II, but their relationship did not become especially close until 1942. His tenacious style of fighting and aggressive personality won him plaudits from Hitler, who considered him his best commander and repeatedly tasked him with retrieving desperate situations. However, the relationship had broken down by the end of the war, after Model was defeated at the Battle of the Bulge. In personal terms, Model was considered a thorough and competent leader, but was known to "demand too much, and that too quickly", accepting no excuses for failure from both his own men and those who outranked him. His troops were said to have "suffered under his too-frequent absences and erratic, inconsistent demands", and that he frequently lost sight of what was or wasn't practically possible. On the other hand, his dislike of bureaucracy and his crude speech often made him well-liked by some under his command... (more)

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Diagram of a tank based on the M1 Abrams

Diagram of a tank based on the M1 Abrams. Diagram showing the major parts of a modern main battle tank, including the turret, glacis plate and main gun.
Photo credit: Dhatfield

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