Fact List Military

Top Ten Military Tanks

10. M4 Sherman

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The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most numerous battle tank used by the United States and some of the other Western Allies in World War II. In spite of being surpassed by German medium and heavy tanks late in the war, the M4 Sherman proved to be very reliable, cheaper to produce and available in greater numbers.Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman.

When the M4 tank went into combat in North Africa with the British Army at El Alamein in the autumn of 1942, it increased the advantage of Allied armor over German armor and was superior to the lighter German long-barrel 50 mm-gunned Panzer III and the short-barrel 75 mm-gunned Panzer IV then in service.For this reason, the US Army believed the M4 would be adequate to win the war, and no pressure was exerted for further tank development. Logistical and transport restrictions, such as limitations imposed by roads, ports, and bridges, also complicated the introduction of a more capable but heavier tank

9. Merkava

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The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1973 and entered official service in 1978. Four main variants of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War.

Design criteria include rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located closer to the rear than in most main battle tanks. With the engine in front, this layout is intended to grant additional protection against a frontal attack, especially for the personnel in the main hull, such as the driver. It also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity and a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an infantry fighting vehicle. The rear entrance’s clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.

8. T-54/55

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The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tanks introduced just as the Second World War ended. The first T-54 prototype appeared in March 1945 and entered full production in 1947. It became the main tank for armored units of the Soviet Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and many others. T-54s and T-55s were involved in many of the world’s armed conflicts during the late 20th century.

The T-54/55 series eventually became one of the most-produced tank in military history. Estimated production numbers for the series range from 86,000 to 100,000. They were replaced by the T-62, T-64, T-72, T-80, and T-90 in the Soviet and Russian armies, but remain in use by up to 50 other armies worldwide, some having received sophisticated retrofitting.

During the Cold War, Soviet tanks never directly faced their NATO adversaries in Europe. However, the T-54/55’s first appearance in the West in the 1950s spurred the United Kingdom to develop a new tank gun, the Royal Ordnance L7, and the United States to develop the M60 Patton

7. Challenger 1

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The British FV4030/4 Challenger 1, was the main battle tank (MBT) of the British Army from 1983 to the mid-1990s, when it was superseded by the Challenger 2. It is also currently used by the Royal Jordanian Army as its main battle tank after heavy modifications. The variants for the Jordanian military are to be upgraded using the unmanned Falcon turret.

The most revolutionary aspect of the Challenger 1 design was its Chobham armor which gave protection far superior to any monolithic Rolled Homogeneous Armor (RHA), which was the then standard of tank armor material. This armor has been adopted by others, most notably the American M1 Abrams. Additionally the Hydrogas suspension fitted provided outstanding cross-country performance through the long suspension arm travel and controlled bump and rebound behavior offered.

6. Panzer IV

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The Panzerkampfwagen IV, commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a German medium tank developed in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 161.

The Panzer IV was not originally intended to engage enemy armor—that role being allocated to the Panzer III. However, with the inadequacy of the Panzer III becoming apparent and in the face of Soviet T-34 tanks, the Panzer IV soon assumed the original role of its increasingly vulnerable cousin. The most widely manufactured and deployed fully turreted German tank of the Second World War, at some 8,500 examples, the Panzer IV was used as the base for many other fighting vehicles, including the Sturmgeschütz IV assault gun, Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer, the Wirbelwind self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, and the Brummbär self-propelled gun.

The Panzer IV saw service in all combat theaters involving Germany and was the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war. Upgrades and design modifications, intended to counter new threats, extended its service life. Generally, these involved increasing the Panzer IV’s armor protection or upgrading its weapons, although during the last months of the war, with Germany’s pressing need for rapid replacement of losses, design changes also included simplifications to speed up the manufacturing process.

5. Centurion tank

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The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. It is widely considered to be one of the most successful post-war tank designs, remaining in production into the 1960s, and seeing combat in the front lines into the 1980s. The chassis was also adapted for several other roles, and these have remained in service to this day.

Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and during the 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. Centurions modified as armored personnel carriers were used in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Lebanese border. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurions, first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973. South Africa deployed its Centurions in Angola during the South African Border War.

It became one of the most widely used tank designs, equipping armies around the world, with some still in service until the 1990s.As recently as the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as armored personnel carriers and combat engineering vehicles. The South African National Defense Force still employs over 200 Centurions, which were modernized in the 1980s and 2000s as the Olifant.

Between 1946 and 1962, 4,423 Centurions were produced,consisting of 13 basic marks and numerous variants. In British Army use it was replaced by the Chieftain.

4. Mark I

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Mark I marked both the dawn of armored warfare and the start of the whole tank lineage that would soon find its treasured place in almost all armies of the world. It is important to remember that, although a weapon of war, perfected in the art of death and destruction on land, the tank also saved lives, thousands of them. This started right in 1916, when the first Mark Is helped restore the confidence of the exhausted and depressed fighting men, after facing years of being treated like meat for the butcher. This was the weapon that would unlock the stalemate and put an end to trench warfare.

The Gun Carrier Mark I was intended to carry a field gun or howitzer that could be fired from the vehicle. In service, it was mostly used for carrying supplies and ammunition. Forty-eight were built.

Initial production of the Mark I was to be by Fosters and Metropolitan: 25 from Fosters and 75 from Metropolitan, which had greater capacity in Wednesbury at the Old Park site of the Patent Shaft Company, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan. Metropolitan also received an order for a further 50 so that the Army would be able to raise 6 tank companies of 25 tanks each and set up further production under their Oldbury Wagon and Carriage Company. As there were not enough 6-pounder guns available for all 150 tanks, it was decided to equip half of them with just machine guns. A new sponson design with two Vickers machine guns in rotating shields was produced

3. Tiger I

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Tiger I was a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe usually in independent heavy tank battalions. Its final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E often shortened to Tiger. The Tiger I gave the Wehrmacht its first armored fighting vehicle that mounted the KwK 36 88-mm gun (not to be confused with the 8.8 cm Flak 36). Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944.Production was phased out in favor of the Tiger II.

While the Tiger I has been called an outstanding design for its time, it was over-engineered,using expensive materials and labor-intensive production methods. The Tiger was prone to certain types of track failures and breakdowns, and was limited in range by its high fuel consumption. It was expensive to maintain, but generally mechanically reliable. It was also difficult to transport, and vulnerable to immobilization when mud, ice and snow froze between its overlapping and interleaved Schachtellaufwerk-pattern road wheels, often jamming them solid. This was a problem on the Eastern Front in the muddy rasputitsa season and during extreme periods of cold.

The tank was given its nickname “Tiger” by Ferdinand Porsche, and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II entered production. The initial designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘‘Panzer VI version H’’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H) where ‘H’ denoted Henschel as the designer/manufacturer. It was classed with ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 182. The tank was later re designated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943, with ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 181.

Today, only a handful of Tigers survive in museums and exhibitions worldwide. The Bovington Tank Museum’s Tiger 131 is currently the only one restored to running order.

2. M1 Abrams

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The M1 Abrams is an American third-generation main battle tank. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army chief of staff and commander of United States military forces in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972. Highly mobile, designed for modern armored ground warfare, the M1 is well armed and heavily armored. Notable features include the use of a powerful multi fuel turbine engine, the adoption of sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety. Weighing nearly 68 short tons (almost 62 metric tons), it is one of the heaviest main battle tanks in service.

The M1 Abrams entered U.S. service in 1980, replacing the M60 tank. It served for over a decade alongside the improved M60A3. The M1 remains the principal main battle tank of the United States Army and Marine Corps, and the armies of Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Iraq.

Three main versions of the M1 Abrams have been deployed, the M1, M1A1, and M1A2, incorporating improved armament, protection, and electronics. These improvements and other upgrades to in-service tanks have allowed this long-serving vehicle to remain in front-line service. In addition, development for the improved M1A3 version has been known since 2009.

1. T-34

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The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank that had a profound and lasting effect on the field of tank design. Although its armor and armament were surpassed later in the war, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential tank design of the Second World War. At its introduction, the T-34 possessed an unprecedented combination of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness. Its 76.2 mm (3 in) high-velocity tank gun provided a substantial increase in firepower over any of its contemporaries; its heavy sloped armor was difficult to penetrate by most contemporary anti-tank weapons. When first encountered in 1941, the German tank general von Kleist called it “the finest tank in the world” and Heinz Guderian confirmed the T-34’s “vast superiority” over existing German armor of the period.

The T-34 was the mainstay of Soviet armored forces throughout the Second World War. Its design allowed it to be continuously refined to meet the constantly evolving needs of the Eastern Front: as the war went on it became more capable, but also quicker and cheaper to produce. Soviet industry would eventually produce over 80,000 T-34s of all variants, allowing steadily greater numbers to be fielded as the war progressed despite the loss of thousands in combat against the German Wehrmacht.Replacing many light and medium tanks in Red Army service, it was the most-produced tank of the war, as well as the second-most-produced tank of all time (after its successor, the T-54/55 series). Its evolutionary development led directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, and from there to the T-62, T-72, and T-90 tanks that, along with several Chinese tanks based on the T-55, form the backbone of many armies even today. Widely exported following the war, in 1996, T-34 variants were still in service in at least 27 countries.

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