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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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A Wehrmacht Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf. A light tank on display at the Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster in Munster, Germany.

The Panzer I was a light tank 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 Sd.Kfz. 101 ("special purpose vehicle 101").

Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production began in 1934. 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, the Soviet Union and North Africa during the Second World War, and in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Experiences with the Panzer I during the Spanish Civil War helped shape the German Panzerwaffe's invasion of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. By 1941, the Panzer I chassis design was used as the basis of tank destroyers and assault guns. There were attempts to upgrade the Panzer I throughout its service history, including by foreign nations, to extend the design's lifespan. It continued to serve in the Spanish Armed Forces until 1954. Read more...

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Canadian soldiers under fire near Fleury-sur-Orne in the early hours of 25 July 1944

The Battle of Verrières Ridge was a series of engagements fought as part of the Battle of Normandy, in Calvados, during the Second World War. The main combatants were two Canadian infantry divisions—with additional support from the Canadian 2nd Armoured Brigade—against elements of three German SS Panzer divisions. The battle was part of the British and Canadian attempts to break out of Caen, and took place from 19 to 25 July 1944, being part of both Operation Atlantic (18–21 July) and Operation Spring (25–27 July).

The immediate Allied objective was Verrières Ridge, a belt of high ground which dominates the route from Caen to Falaise. The ridge was occupied by battle-hardened German veterans, who had fallen back from Caen and entrenched to form a strong defensive position. Over the course of six days, substantial Canadian and British forces made repeated attempts to capture the ridge. Strict German adherence to defensive doctrine, as well as strong and effective counterattacks by Panzer formations, resulted in heavy Allied casualties for little strategic gain. Read more...

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"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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Sources

  1. ^ Kenneth W. Estes, 2014, Super-heavy Tanks of World War II, Osprey Publishing 48 pp