Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tanks Overview

The tanks ,(german Panzer short for Panzerkampfwagen (abbreviated PzKpfw )) or armored vehicle is a motorized, mostly on crawlers rolling and often armed military vehicle , through the armor is protected from fire. The public perception of this category of military vehicles is usually the main battle tank , ie one with a rotating gun turret equipped tracked vehicle associated. However, there are armored vehicles in very different designs, including the armored personnel count.
Until the 1930s the term was still tank usually used in English-speaking further. In the Scandinavian countries lead the armored vehicles designation Stridsvagn , literally means "chariot", so that gives a reference to chariots of the ancient world, at least in terms of deployment and use. Even the standard tanks of the Israeli army Merkava means literally "chariot". In French tanks is 'le blindé' or 'le char'. 
The armor usually consists of steel alloys , sometimes in combination with ceramic - and FRP layers . Tanks are now predominantly driven by diesel engines , some with gas turbines , which in combination with the wheel or chain drive an excellent off-road capability.
The characteristics of an armored vehicle are high road mobility, the armor protection and depending on the role great firepower . Between them, the designers of a tank model include a job-fair compromise.  It is possible that a large sensor for reconnaissance or other technical devices of importance.

Armored vehicles can be categorized according to various criteria. Commonly used are intended use, weight and type of drive.
Until after World War II, many armies categorized according to weight in light, medium, heavy tanks. The weight classes in the armies differed and were not comparable. Later they went on to categorize the tanks according to their purpose, which persisted for some categories do not, such as assault guns, heavy tanks and armored infantry. In addition, a mapping is sometimes difficult, because tanks were modified or repeated successfully in functions were not originally intended. So you could, the StuG III of the German Wehrmacht in World War II, probably as Jagdpanzer categorize, although it was designed as an artillery shell.
Strategies can be distinguished here fighting tanks and armored support. The tanks have support mobility and armor, but the armament is, if at all, only from machine guns for self-defense.


Armored vehicles are developed for different purposes and modified. Common uses are or were:

Artillery Tank : support of artillery as a mortar or howitzer .

Amphibious Tank : specifically designed for landing operations on beaches armored vehicles that can move well on water as well as on land. (Eg AAV7 )

Armoured recovery vehicle (Bergepanzer) : mostly unarmed vehicles with cranes and high winds for retrieval of damaged tanks from areas to be reckoned with where enemy fire needs (eg Büffel ).

Armoured-vehicle-launched-bridge (Brückenlegepanzer) : mostly unarmed vehicles, making it possible to make rivers and ditches under enemy fire passable (eg beaver ).

Anti-aircraft tank with anti-aircraft guns as antiaircraft cannon tank (eg: Cheetah ) or-flight bodies as air defense missile tank (eg Roland equipped) against low-flying objects

Lead tank : equipped with sensor and communications technology vehicles, usually based on an armored transport vehicle (eg Lynx ).

Infantry Tank : Tank with a slow on ground combat, in direct support of infantry, designed weapons (such as Mark I ). Since the Second World War, the role of combat, infantry and artillery shells was taken.

Tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer) : optimized to combat other armored tanks, mostly with low silhouette (without tower) and strong gun or missile weapons. Occur during and after the Second World War. (Eg, Jagdpanzer 38 (t) ) Since then, the role of light anti-tank vehicles, armored personnel carriers and is gunships taken.

Battle tanks : optimized for a wide range of applications to support the infantry and other armored fighting

Airborne tanks : from small and light weapons carrier vehicles to main battle tanks, with correspondingly weak protection and weaponry (such as weasels , M551 Sheridan , BMD (Panzer) ). The compact dimensions and low weight, these luftverladen or luftverlastet be.

Mine Clearing : mostly unarmed vehicles for clearing land mines , often refitting obsolete battle tanks (eg boar )

Armoured Car : A lightly armored vehicle based on passenger car technology. Is generally regarded as not armored.

Pionierpanzer : mostly unarmed vehicles to run bulldozers - and dredging under enemy fire. They serve the areas and creating obstacles and coverage (eg roof ).

IFV : well-protected armored to transport a combat infantry squad to the battlefield immediately, mostly armed only with a light gun (eg. Marder )

Scout car : fast, small lightly armed vehicles today are usually designed as armored personnel carriers (such as lynx )

APC : most lightly armed vehicles with space for eg infantry, wounded, or ammunition and armor only against infantry weapons, now mostly run as armored personnel carriers (eg Fox )

Fire Tank: Armoured vehicle for fore foghting.

Similar vehicles also have civilian applications, for example as
armored vehicles for the transport of valuables or personal protection,
Armored personnel carriers and other armored to the special car to the police,
Quenching tank .
The fighting weight (also combat weight) refers to the weight of a military vehicle when it is fully combat capable. To combat weight is therefore beside the curb weight , etc. yet the weight of the ammunition, the propellant added. The term is mainly used in connection with tanks, where moving the combat weight dimensions of 50 to 60 t.


Early in the history of warfare was attempted to use armored vehicles for military purposes. In ancient warfare was the chariot used for both Ranged by archers as well as for close to overrun the enemy lines. At siege of fortresses covered, was wheeled battering ram used. This allowed the attacker to the battering ram, protected from arrows of defenders to bring the fortress wall.

Any further designs and tests, among others Leonardo da Vinci failed on the issue of the drive. muscle power of humans or animals was not intended. Only in the 19th Century developed steam engine and the internal combustion engine made ​​possible an efficient drive. James Cowan in 1855 was the first to propose a military vehicle with a steam engine in the form of turtles. [3]
In 1903 appeared HG Wells story The Land Ironclads (about "The Land Ironclads") in the beach magazines . In the story, set in any particular country, it's about a war of position in which no movement seems possible - until the enemy bike cavalry uses and agricultural common armored war machines that the enemy infantry and destroy even able to have wide trenches to overcome. Wells developed thus, years before the tank was invented, already the concept of this modern war machine. His war machines are considerably larger than the tanks were then, and are more reminiscent of small, rural common battleship . It is notable that the shooters in Wells tanks already with a kind of joystick work and vision with automatic target feature.
Already at the turn of the century had at Skoda in Pilsen active engineer Franz Klotz developed an "armored bell" and patented. On a chassis should the armor be built vertically. This vehicle was involved in a fight, should the armor lowered to ground level and the enemy must be fought with machine guns. Then the armor was again raised to a height of about 30 inches above the ground, and continue the journey. These "armored bell system block" but found no acceptance with the military authorities.

The world's first armored car was in Austria-Hungary by Paul Daimler produced. The company Austro-Daimler in Wiener Neustadt developed in three years of secret work the first armored personnel carriers. [4] In March 1906, this vehicle was part of a the Austrian automobile club in the premises of the Imperial Horticultural Society in Vienna organized, International Motor Show for the first time presented to the public and then the autumn maneuvers of the Army Forces in action presents. The armored car had a four-wheel drive with solid rubber tires and road ratio in order to overcome steep slopes. He was fully armored and equipped with a manually rotatable dome with two machine guns. For the presentation of the performance was, among other things, a reconnaissance trip. In just one day completed the armored personnel carriers for a distance of about 160 kilometers in mostly poor road conditions.
After the end of the maneuver in Teschen emperor wanted Franz Joseph I view the car itself. After a detailed explanation of the road tank again, the performance of the car will be presented. When starting the engine due to the unfamiliar noise of the horses shied officers. In the confusion following the emperor moaned from a useless invention. Ready for signature of the contract was subsequently placed on the file. After long efforts, the company Austro-Daimler acquired by the War Office finally authorized to sell the vehicle abroad. It was purchased from France .

The concept engine gun in 1911 ahead of its time
Already in 1911 was designed by the Austrian Lieutenant Gunther Burstyn plan for a motor gun , which had the characteristics of a modern main battle tank: an armor, the chain drive and a rotating gun turret. Burstyn was ahead of his time, and knew that it would be in a coming war the biggest obstacle, the enemy trenches overcome healing. Be technically ambitious draft also contained four movable boom to happen wider trenches. Burstyn submitted its plan to the Military Technical Committee of Austria-Hungary before, but this classified gun the engine as a worthless fantasy. All that remained of it was a patent . In the German Empire they responded similarly arrogant on Burstyns draft. The revolutionary idea was thus schubladisiert, a prototype was never built. Only in the Military History Museum in Vienna is a contemporary model of "Burstyn-tank". [5]
The first track vehicles, which had a benefit, were the tractors of the company Holt Caterpillar . A simple circular chain saw to it that the purely civilian units were able to move better on uneven ground or difficult as the vehicles with tires or wheels. To military use was thinking here about the 1880s, no one. 1912 put the French engineer and inventor Lancelot de Mole the French Ministry of War before plans for an armored full-tracked vehicle. At this time the plans were completely ignored.
All proposals of civilian specialists to introduce an armored fighting machine were rejected before the First World War.

World War
In autumn 1914, when the First World War on the French front to a solidified in stalled fronts trench warfare developed, were on the Allied side first consideration given to how, with the help of a powerful motorized weapon in the grave war could put solidified fronts moving again.

The first tanks were used in World War in September 1916 by the British forces. They were simply armored vehicles, armed with either guns or cannons. The project helped the defense deliberately misleading camouflage tank , with the construction of mobile water tanks should be faked.

1914 (?) Itself, the British officer Ernest Dunlop Swinton working to develop an armored fighting machine. His plans were in the first instance by the General Staff and the Minister of War Lord Kitchener refused. Swinton made ​​his political influence and was able to push through a test of a sample vehicle combination. This failed. In this situation, took the then Navy Minister Winston Churchill 's initiative: he described the armor design (see Mark I unceremoniously as land ship falling and therefore the Navy Department Churchill trained naval officers and. civilians the Committee for Land Ships From 17 September 1915 built lieutenant. Walter Gordon Wilson, the final prototype , later Mother named as the project took shape, the committee received in December 1915, the code name. Committee for deploying tanks , hence the English word use today tank .

The first tank attack the British army led on 15 September 1916 with moderate success in the Battle of the Somme by. On 20 November 1917, the British Army attacked the daunting for those times number of 375 tanks to the German positions (" Battle of Cambrai "). Her a surprise attack succeeded (there was only a short artillery preparation) that succeeded a deep penetration into the German front. The German army had to bring up all available resources. A few days after the battle, the Germans counterattacked, taking the first time on a large scale assault troops inserting on the Western Front. On 3 December ended the battle with almost unchanged fronts. In tactical terms, the battle had great influence on the further war. After a short gunfire speedy charge with tanks and assault troops seemed a breakthrough in the completely static grave war to make it happen.

The first tanks arrived in the box low speeds so that the infantry could follow. Your benefits consisted primarily to the infantry way through extensive barbed wire could pave. Only the faster, known as cavalry armored vehicles such as the Whippet were able to break through a gap in the enemy's defenses and attack the backcountry. The armor was against guns , grenades and flamethrowers vulnerable. Deep shell hole and wide trenches have already constitute an insurmountable obstacle for the tanks. Many tanks fell out because of technical defects. Showing the way for the further development of armor was then the French Renault FT-17 , which comprises a central, rotating gun turret had. The FT-17 had 35 horsepower and weighed 7 tons.

The High Command was first thought that the tank is at best a "shock weapon" that would indeed be in a position to your own site to gain a psychological advantage, which could, however, achieve the long run no resounding successes. This assessment was based not least on the shortcomings of the former tank. Late recognition of the value of the armored force. At that time, there was a lack of the German war economy to the necessary resources. By German tanks A7V therefore only about 20 copies were produced. Many of the captured Allied tanks were re-used by the Germans in their own ranks.

Between the World Wars

 Between the world wars, the engineers experimented in many countries with different approaches to the development of the tank. Often oriented to the development of the previously known species troops: slow infantry tanks, fast cavalry tanks, heavy artillery and tanks on large "moving fortresses" were the result of these considerations. In particular experiments with multi-turret tanks proven in use, because the most diverse weapons did not confer an advantage in battle.

Finally, put the still common form of the battle tank with one of turret. Increasingly, the independent significance of the weapon recognized and scale of development. Most tank designs interwar remained until the outbreak of World War II in service and had there the first time to prove its functionality. The result was a rapid progress is followed by the development of weapons technology of the tanks.

The Soviet Union led the light reconnaissance tanks T-37 as the first swimming tank.

World War II

The British and French lost the early 1930s, their technological advantage in both the armored vehicles as well as in tactics . There looked to the tanks continue to be primarily as a support weapon for the infantry. Officers, who argued for the massive use of this weapon system (eg, the later French President Charles de Gaulle ) could not prevail with their concepts.

The German Wehrmacht began the rearmament in the time of National Socialism consistently on the tank and put the theories of General Heinz Guderian to that advocated the use of strong, independent of the infantry tank units. In the early years of World War II it was a great success in the so-called Blitzkrieg be won because the enemy had underestimated the tactical and operational capabilities of the carapace. The initial German successes were actually rather weak tanks reached ( Panzer I , Panzer II , Panzer III ). The increasing mechanization of ground forces brought the separation of battle tanks and artillery tanks (eg StuG III ) emerged as the new armor type.

To transport troops and material, or as a weapons carrier, lightly armored, open-topped chain and half tracks were as German armored personnel carriers 250 and 251 , British Universal Carrier and U.S. M2 and M3 development. The Soviet Union were not such vehicles are available, so improvised with infantry to battle tanks. After the war, infantry and armored vehicle developed from this genus.

During the war developed the armor technology continues rapidly. With the appearance of new tanks, especially the Soviet battle tank T34 from 1941 , the Artillerie-/Jagdpanzer SU-76 since 1942, and the changing tactics of the enemy, who learned from their mistakes, was the German operational superiority to lose more and more. Also, due to the significant numerical inferiority could even later with technically superior German armored vehicles such as the "Panther" and "Tiger" the German tank forces achieve no decisive successes more. The technical development was more toward heavy armament and armor. Limiting the lack of availability here seemed correspondingly more powerful engines. The limited availability of rare materials such as molybdenum for the armor, and the scarcity of materials such as rubber put the efficiency of the tank boundaries. Specialized types of tanks such as the Jagdpanzer have now developed.

Towards the end of the war, the tanks of the Western Allies could not keep up with the performance of German tanks, but could because of the large numerical superiority, and almost complete air superiority opted for a different tactic. The armored fighting was mainly of ground combat aircraft out. The tanks were used for infantry support. The M4 Sherman was the most produced and probably most universal battle tank of the war, though he never showed excellent performance. Some of the numerous versions were swimming and flail tank, especially during the invasion of Normandy were used. The first was the British mine clearing but Matilda during the Africa campaign .

Cold War

After the Second World War, the mobile for combined arms combat on even greater importance was attached. Thus the armored who wear the infantry in combat and support then was introduced. Transport tanks and other armored vehicles were developed for support troops. The importance of the artillery shell is still growing.

The spread of anti-tank guided weapon with shaped charge warheads led to a further development of the armor technology. Increasing use of electronic sensors were used (infrared, laser) in order to increase accuracy and night fighting capability. The threat of nuclear war made ​​it necessary to the armored vehicles with NBC protection equip.

According to different operational doctrine of NATO and the Warsaw Pact , the development of tanks was mixed. The Soviet Union and its allies vehicles developed with ease of use and long range. These requirements had but partially paid with poor armor protection and weaker main weapons. On the other hand, this could be achieved very high production numbers. NATO, however, put themselves in a very complex system, which should be the high demands both on armor protection, firepower, as well as mobility. It would not have been difficult to achieve similar production figures, as the Soviet Union about the T-72 succeeded, but the cost would have been much higher.

To date, form battle tanks that were developed during the Cold War, the offensive backbone of any modern land forces, though their tactical value by asymmetric warfare and the increased availability of cheap world of Russian anti-tank weapons was greatly reduced. Even in the conventional symmetrical battlefield management of the combat value of battle tanks without adequate air defense and air force with a superior opponent is severely limited. War History examples provide North Africa, Normandy and Second Gulf War . Increasingly, states set due to the changing threat to airmobile, lighter armored units or armored personnel carriers , which have many components in common. Particularly among the Western forces rely on the modular design to adapt vehicles depending on the task (eg, New Armoured platform ). To optimize the value of combat battle tanks for combat in an urban environment, are testing conversions as the Leopard 2 PSO . He not only has a well optimized mine protection through improved visibility, motion to restrain the blind spot at close range, and a controllable from the tank interior secondary weapon on the tower.


Since the first days of the tank's armor was made ​​of various steel alloys , with different curing methods have been processed. In light armor vehicles can also aluminum are used. It is not enough to make the alloy as hard as possible, because then the armor of an impacting projectile to shatter like glass bring. hardness and ductility should be in equilibrium. However also be surface hardened steels come (eg nitriding ) is used, in which the surface is harder than the rest.

The design can contribute significantly to the effectiveness of armor. A projectile made ​​the most kinetic energy when it is in a right angle impinges upon the armor. The shallower the angle, the less energy is applied to the armor. Thus the design of the tank is optimized so that the armor to the expected projectiles preferably not at a right angle. (See: armor # Inclined arrangement )

Shaped charge ammunition ( HEAT ) and missiles presented after 1942 (by Bazooka , Faustpatrone , PIAT ) is an enormous threat to tanks, as they armor made ​​of steel could penetrate into strengths that made ​​it no longer feasible to build a contrast secure tanks. Progress as the composite armor , armor bulkhead or reactive armor made ​​the tank again competitive.

When reactive armor are additionally mounted on the tank surface plates, which are designed as a small explosive charges. Prevent this in the case of impact of a projectile by their detonation, such as the development of the armor-piercing metal spine of the hollow charge or to the force floor distracted.

Woven mats (Spall liners) of high strength fibers such as aramid (Kevlar) to protect the crew from splinters and shrapnel inside. The penetration of the liner itself, the opening angle of the fragment cone is influenced. They can be found in many (mainly western) tanks.

The armor is amplified to a more acceptable level in weight. Although about half a meter in depth armor on the front today is not unusual, a tank of weight and other obvious reasons (mobility, portability) is not everywhere have such armor thickness. The armor is in most cases sufficient capacity to dismiss the respective preceding generation anti tank weapons. Still, the armor thickness is in RHA ( rolled homogeneous armor specified), but this is only a rough comparison value, because the armor reacts to the different types of bullets in different ways.

The subsequent amplification of the armor was practiced during World War II and still finds the application. First, there are temporary such as sandbags, reinforced chain links or tree trunks. Secondly the subsequently grown armor plates (also armor skirts ), and usually at a certain distance to the original armor. Since the advent of shaped charge projectiles are also cages - the 21st Century as Slat Armour known - attached to the projectile to ignite before impacting the armor. Was once even used chicken wire, so are modern designs today are made ​​of steel and match more a grid. It provides effective protection and are a simple, lightweight alternative that not only finds application in tanks. The reactive armor is relatively easy to increase by modernization measures the value of a tank battle. All these subsequent measures have in common the disadvantage that in the weight is increased, and thus the mobility suffers.

More and more, there is an arms race between the armor and anti-tank weapons of various kinds, which were often evolve to attack weaker armored parts as the top, the back, the bottom or the chains.

Since the end of the Cold War to meet new requirements. The asymmetric warfare in countries of the Third World ( Iraq , Chechnya , Afghanistan ) show less use of heavy armor-piercing weapons rather than simple weapons. This is the aim to improve the protection of tanks against landmines and an improved all-round protection from strong frontal armor instead.

Information on the composition and thickness of the armor often subject to confidentiality. Some examples in which modern Western battle tanks were destroyed by its own effect weapons (" Friendly Fire "), can provide useful data on their armor. It became evident in the second Gulf War in 1991 , that an American Hellfire missile one M1 Abrams could destroy. In the third Gulf War in 2003 , a British attacked Challenger 2 tanks at a British mistake of the same type, and put him out of action, the crew this incident to the surprise of most experts survived.

Active safety measures distance

Distance as active protection or active armor is any active systems against attacking projectiles consist not only of passive armor materials. Examples include systems that automatically warn the crew from enemy forces, especially against oncoming projectiles. In part because they are also taken independently counter-measures, such as the tower, with its heavily armored front and the gun counter turn automatically the attacker to operate the smoke grenade dischargers, the incoming missiles with a seeker to take the view, and electronic countermeasures against radar-guided missiles and to take against laser-based systems. Besides approaching projectiles can also be attacked directly. This happens with some undirected shot loads of smoke pots or cups with directional shotgun loads from rotary launchers.

The armament is depending on the type and purpose vary and is subject to the advancement of technology. They range from machine guns, machine guns across different guns to rocket. As the most common tanks have machine guns against attacking infantry. Even for close defense against enemy infantry, they can also use up cups from smoke grenades fragmentation grenades undirected.

The first English -tank Mark were both considered as a male version with cannon plus machine guns and a female version configured only with machine guns. Devices equipped with artillery guns tanks were attacking fortified positions, equipped with machine guns, the armored infantry should cover their own advancing infantry. Then it became for battle tanks generally necessary to carry weapons for a tank stand.

In the further development of ever larger calibers were used to penetrate the armor is also becoming more complex designed the enemy tank can. Since the 1970s, battle tanks use smoothbore guns . The most common caliber for the main gun of a tank today is 120 mm (west) and 125 mm (east).

The tank destroyer of the Second War had the same armament as the main battle tank. After the war, the fundamental change. After not so successful mission with recoilless guns (eg, M50 Ontos ) Panzerabwehraketen be used.

IFV have mostly caliber machine guns to 40mm for infantry support. The quick-firing guns can also be used against air targets. Since this weapon but ineffective against heavily armored battle tanks is some armored personnel also have anti-tank missiles (such as M2 Bradley , BMP-1 ). Some models are equipped with devices ( ball bezel ) allowing the ride-infantry to use their handguns out of the interior.

Artillery Tank carry far-reaching guns (howitzers) for high-angle fire and use it only to defend the direct aiming. Mortar supporting artillery tanks, depending on the design using their weapon limited directly. Systems such as the Scandinavian Artillery Mortar System AMOS (Advanced Mortar System), however, also be able to allow the direct aiming at an elevation of -3 degrees to +85 degrees, a combat range from 150 to 1550 meters.

Anti-aircraft tanks carry machine guns or anti-aircraft missiles against air targets. To increase the practical rate of fire against the fast aircraft machine guns are often bundled as a twin or quad or multi-barreled Gatling gun running. The machine guns can also be used against ground targets. Anti-aircraft tank with mixed armament, including the M6 Linebacker or Tunguska M-1 carry, both machine guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Increasingly come equipped with artillery tanks on loading machines, with battle tanks since the 1960s (for example, T-64 ), with the artillery tanks until later since the 1990s (for example, the howitzer 2S19 ).

By the middle of World War II the gunner was reliant on the tank was brought to a halt before it could leave a targeted shot. The strong pitching of that spilled over on the gun made, otherwise a well-aimed shot impossible. The M4 Sherman was the first tank with a gyro-stabilized main weapon. Later systems can compensate for even the steering movements of the carapace. The tower rotates while, so that the weapon on the intended target is addressed. Also, infantry fighting vehicles (eg Marder 2 ) have this technology, an increasingly.

Initially were gasoline or kerosene engines used as in-line, V-or radial engine. This drive had the disadvantage of a high fire and explosion hazard when under fire. Today, gasoline engines are uncommon.

Diesel Engines

Since World War II, high-speed find four stroke - diesel engines in armored vehicles. They now constitute the dominant and most advanced type of drive, the early, more robust, but not very powerful engines became supercharged developed high-performance diesel engines. These come in practically all variants are used, such as V-type engine , in boxer or as opposed piston engine . The engines were more complex, but can tank diesel engines to be replaced in part in a few minutes. In some cases the engines are multi-fuel engines designed, which is to facilitate the supply of fuel supplies under severe conditions, since they can be operated out of diesel and petrol, vegetable oils or alcohols.

Gas turbines are used as actuators in some armored vehicles such as the M1 Abrams of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Swedish Stridsvagn 103 ( hybrid ), and partly in Soviet-Russian T-80 is used.

The advantage of the gas turbine engine to a piston engine is in the low power to weight ratio , the gas turbine is in comparison to a piston engine with the same power significantly lighter and requires less space. This is offset by an increased fuel consumption, especially in partial load operation , which limits the range of the vehicle and can cause logistical problems in the Treibstoffnachführung. Due to the higher exhaust temperature and the resulting stronger infrared signature of the tank is also easier to locate.

Because of the drawbacks few patterns were developed with turbine power as higher engine weight of piston engines with modern battle tanks with 50 - 60 tons of mass plays a secondary role.

The problems of high fuel consumption and the fact that power without the engine running trying to fix with additional generators and hybrid mixing drive to (diesel and gas turbine additional) when "Stridsvagn 103".

Electric motors

Electric motors as tank track drive or wheel drive were already considered from the beginning ( Holt Gas-Electric Tank ), but only rarely, and then unsatisfactory for mass production (eg Jagdpanzer Elefant ). The use of electric motors would have several advantages, such as would transmission and drive shafts superfluous. The electric motors are supported by generators powered, which are driven by internal combustion engines. Today this form of propulsion is used primarily locomotives and ships and mostly as diesel-electric drive designed. What role they will play in future tank designs, including in relation to the development of hybrid electric vehicles , can not yet be estimated.


One of the requirements for armored vehicles is a very high mobility. In detail this means off-road capability, maneuverability, possible range without refueling, speed, and amphibious capabilities. These sometimes conflicting requirements of Radpanzern and chain mail fulfilled in different ways.

The chain drive system provides a very good off-road capability. Cars with such a drive are at ease with muddy ground and can cross trenches. Some tanks have a special gear, by the choice of contrasting driving the chains allows turning on the spot. The stable chains withstand fire from small arms. With the above advantages this type of drive is not without drawbacks: high weight, high fuel consumption and relatively low speed on paved roads.

The wheel drive allows rapid movement on gentle terrain. Although the off-road capability with improved suspensions could be increased, however, wheel drives reach this point is not the power of pulleys.

Especially in the Second World War, half-track armored used mainly to improve the off-road capability of wheeled vehicles.

Long distances to the destination of heavy armored vehicles are not usually covered under their own power. Transportation is by train on a railroad car or on the street by low loader .

Real floating tanks are designed to land operations and cope with moderate swell. Some other tanks have also beyond amphibious capabilities, but in most cases they need some preparation. Even then, a calm water surface, such as the internal waters, necessary. Many tanks are already airtight due to NBC protection, thus also waterproof. The heavy battle tanks are rarely swim to their weight in the position. But you can with a snorkel and be equipped to wade through shallow waters. Through the snorkel, the motor is supplied with the necessary oxygen. The Leopard 2, a shaft is placed on the turret hatch, so that in addition to the commander during the underwater voyage to the head can remain on the surface. Emergency this shaft is wide enough to be used as emergency exit. Lighter tanks, armored personnel carriers, above all, can be buoyant. The drive runs in the simplest case on wheels or chains that rotate in the water. Advanced vehicles are equipped with underwater propellers or water jet propulsion equipped.

Sensors and vision systems
Looking for an as complete as possible armor leads to limitations in monitoring the environment of the tank. A major problem in tanks until today is the so-called "blind spot", the short range around the tank which can be difficult or impossible to see the crew. Is the immediate environment of the tank is not secured by our own forces, enemy infantry can attack him effectively at close out by, for example, sticky bombs attached to vulnerable points (motor) or explosives raises under the well. Especially critical is confusing situations (eg terrain is rugged, street fight, fight night).

The original slits of tanks offered only a very limited field of vision and also had to be closed yet often under fire. To alleviate these problems, we initially installed special optical system such as angle mirror and periscope . With the development of appropriate technology were added in various active and passive devices, such as thermal imaging devices and passive target and monitoring devices that allow the crew improved visibility.

Despite these improvements must still be weighed, whether the benefits of a better overview of the open hatches of danger such as outweighs by snipers.

The first electronic sensors were infrared night vision equipment for some of the German Panther towards the end of World War II. The technology was based on methods of active-infrared, in which illuminates the target with an infrared illuminator will needed [8] . Since there is an increasing use of electronic sensor and fire control systems such as high-resolution thermal imaging equipment and radars. Here, however, there is a risk of being susceptible to electronic warfare measures, which is why sometimes a parallel design for manual and automatic operation is performed.

In the Second World War the gunner was exclusively dependent on an estimate to determine the target distance. This was done by determining the size of the target in sight. After determination of the distance, the trajectory has been determined, in order to direct the gun accordingly. The first tank with an optical rangefinder was the German Panther in the F version, which was not, however, introduced before the war ended. Since then, based on the advanced range finding triangulation , either passive or active optical devices by using laser light transit time. The laser beam can reveal an impending attack, if the intended target (for example, an armored vehicle) has laser detectors.


The armored operations of World War I were difficult to coordinate, and the cars were literally isolated. The communication could take place only with awkward line of sight through flags, Morse light signals or indicators. But within a very loud armor was very difficult for the commander to instruct the driver and gunner.

A major reason for the initial success of the German tank weapon (lightning war) was to equip all vehicles with radios , which has improved the management capability of organizations strongly. In the opposing forces were the armor at this time are either not equipped with radios (France, UK) or only with radio receivers (Soviet Union), so that a flexible response was much more difficult to changing situations.

Later transceiver also included in these forces as standard. The crew members wear headphones and can thus also by the internal intercom system to communicate. Usually located at the rear an outdoor intercom port through which the infantry can also communicate with closed hatches with the crew.

Networking and computerization

A growing factor in new developments, but also to fight appreciation is the degree of computerization. Which is referred to C3I (Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence) and C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence).

Command and Control : Improved command and control capability, the vehicle itself next position and status (eg, number of existing cartridges, tank level, etc.) his enemy situation may report and vice versa provided the superior enlightened enemy situation gets - along with information about the usefulness of roads and bridges.

Communication : Heavy aufzuklärender, encrypted radio communication with the parent application instances

Computer : use of powerful computer technology. This allows, for example, a map display with plotted their own and other forces, minefields, etc.

Intelligence : Modern software allows the crew, fully automated and therefore very fast to make complex calculations to identify the enemy, and to - for vehicles in combination - the appropriate vehicles and weapons systems to fight the enemy select. In addition, by calculating the best shot timing the hit probability can be increased.

Camouflage and concealment

In alternating, hilly terrain or in areas with heavy vegetation (eg, forest), an armored vehicle is relatively easy with simple tools (such as a camouflage net to) camouflage . Since the advent of thermal imaging cameras that receive the infrared radiation, it has become easier to discover a well-camouflaged tanks because the tanks often have a different temperature than the surrounding landscape. As a countermeasure, an attempt to disguise the plating surface with various materials, the warm up and cool down to varying degrees, in order to reduce the infrared Abstahlung. There are, among other special finishes.

While driving the engine emits hot exhaust gases into the environment that can be perceived with a thermal imaging camera. Thus, even armored vehicles are localized behind obstacles. Selection of engine technology (gas turbines have a higher exhaust temperature than diesel engines) and technology of the exhaust system (exhaust gas cooling through air infiltration) can minimize this risk.

Is an armored vehicle and discovered to be expected with a direct attack, a modern tank with active preventive measures. These are the most armored with pyrotechnic smoke grenade plants or other smoke generators fitted. Fog can also continuously by injecting fuel into the exhaust stream generate. In order to even the thermal image to disguise contain fired smoke grenades small burning particles (such as those from sparklers knows).


Traditional opponents of a tank are warplanes , tanks and infantry with little armor-piercing weapons as held antitank weapons or anti-tank mines . On the modern battlefield come helicopter gunships , artillery with target-seeking ammunition , armed drones and small, from infantrymen used anti-tank missiles ( MILAN , TOW added).

See also Armament Gas turbines

  • Tank division
  • Armored


  • Tank models of World War I.
  • Tank models of World War II
  • American Military Vehicles of World War II
  • Australian military vehicles of World War II
  • Belgian military vehicles of World War II
  • British military vehicles of World War II
  • German military vehicles of World War II
  • French Military Vehicles of World War II
  • Italian military vehicles of World War II
  • Japanese military vehicles of World War II
  • Canadian Military Vehicles of World War II
  • Polish military vehicles of World War II
  • Soviet military vehicles of World War II
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  • Tank models after 1945