Wikijunior:World War II/Tanks
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Tanks are large, heavily armoured vehicles used for fighting. Tanks move on 'treads' which allow them to travel on almost any surface (except for water) and most tanks have a large cannon which are used to attack other vehicles, buildings and large groups of men. Most tanks also have a smaller machine gun for fighting against troops.
Tanks were first used by the British in World War I by the British, then later in the war by the Germans, French, and the Americans. However, tanks didn't play a big role in combat until World War II.
Tanks were able to cross trench lines quickly, without taking much damage, as usually they were bulletproof. This was very useful as it allowed armies to move forward much more quickly. During the war however anti-tank traps were put in place to make tanks less effective.
Use in Combat
During the beginning of the war tanks would accompany troops, being used solely as weapons to aid the ground troops.
Towards the end of the war many tanks were being fitted with radios, allowing them to communicate with one-another and be able to go off on their own or in groups, without the ground troops to guide them. This allowed tanks to move much faster for they were no longer forced to move at the same speed as the walking troops.
Tanks were adapted to perform a variety of different jobs, from clearing minefields to fortifying/destroying roads and bridges.
World War II firmly cemented the tank in the military, proving that troops alone could no longer win wars.
Most of the large nations involved in the war had tanks. The Germans used several different types of Panzers and Panthers. The Soviets generally used T-34s/T-35s. The British, American, French and Polish forces, along with other nations, also used tanks in combat.
Tanks Used in the War
Mk VI Crusader
Panzer III (also known as Panzerkampfwagen III) was developed in the 1930s by Germany. Production of the Panzer III ended in 1943. Until 1942, the Panzer III was the first German tank armed with a weapon that could penetrate the armor of the main British and Soviet tanks.
The Panzer IV (also known as the Panzerkampfwagen IV) was a tank developed by Germany in the late 1930s.
Panther ( Panzer V )
The Panther was the best known German tank in the war. It was first produced in 1942.
Tiger ( Panzer VI )
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank which was developed in 1942. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E.
The T-34 was a Soviet tank produced from 1940 to 1958 at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov. It was the most produced tank of the war.