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learned to fight like a tank. Surprises and paradoxes of evolution combat vehicles

Итальянские танкетки CV-35 на манёврах

For decades, if not centuries, many countries war dreamed of armored all-terrain vehicles. But the emergence of a real tanks on the battlefield caught by surprise even their own troops. The tactics they use competent military theorists had thought before the appearance of tanks in the metal, but they went into battle against all instructions. The first tanks in September 1916 plunged the enemy into a panic, but the war, which they should have won, lasted more than two years. At the same time they played in it, if not decisive, then certainly one of the main roles. However, some high-ranking officials still called the tanks “quackery.”

So it was confusing at the very beginning of the life path of tanks. But there was easier then?

difficult childhood

expected that the tanks will be invulnerable, but these hopes were dashed. Moreover, some machines do not get to the enemy, breaking down on the way to the front, or getting stuck in the field.

Tanks were supposed to protect his crew, but both were for him dangerous. Closely steel box without a hint of depreciation tossed tank when moving, as if in a rough sea. High, 70 & deg ;, temperature and exhaust brought people to faint. Even a simple starting of the engine could be fatal: a huge crank twitched three or four people, and when the motor is started to work, we get a strong return stroke it, which could cripple or even kill those who do not have time to rebound.

Application of the first tank was dangerous not only for the enemy, but also for the crew. Even a simple starting of the engine could be fatal

Within a few months of use in combat staffs seriously thinking: Do not give up on the tanks at all? But do not give up, because after the first fights it became clear that the tanks “save” their own infantry. Wrecked tanks can be repaired, the crew is small, so the loss is not too dangerous, but the “repair” wounded or killed infantrymen difficult. Cynical arithmetic of war: thousands of tankers, several hundred tanks, the value of which is equal to one artillery training in World War I, several hundred dead – and a turning point in the war, and the style of warfare changed forever.

This did not prevent more several times to ‘bury’ tanks throughout their subsequent career. And at the same time quickly forget about what the troops are well learned in the last years of the First World War: the interaction between tanks and infantry, artillery and aircraft.

Growing Pains

There is almost nichegoobschego between modern and classic British tank “diamond” with the tracks on the perimeter of the body, arms in the side sponsons, without towers and with strange tails behind. But how rapidly developing tanks: about a year has passed since their combat debut, and has already been built, “Reno” FT -17, whose design has become a classic for the vast majority of future machines.

[1,999,016] «Могучий» Т-37 — плавающий танк, вооружённый пулемётом Species armored tracked vehicles, a host – from multi-ton monsters to tiny tankettes. The tanks are equipped with steel coils with a radio or telephone cable. They installed cranes to repair the wrecked “brothers” and trawls for clearing passages in minefields.

Tanks were able to overcome the huge craters, crawling through thick mud during the day and even at night, to transport soldiers to the armor and under armor, tow critical loads. To experiment to create the tank capable of flying through the air (more precisely – to plan a special winged structure). Engineers with a particularly violent fantasy even tried to teach tanks jump like a kangaroo. In general, the old low-speed machine quickly became not needed. What no one realized at the time – what should be the new tanks?

Between the two world wars, tanks to new grounds. In the forests and steppes of Russia and Poland, in the jungles of Paraguay, the mountains of Afghanistan, to the deserts of Ethiopia, Mongolia and Turkestan, on the streets of the Irish and American cities – everywhere clanking tracks. Tanks have been a decisive argument in many conflicts. However, often it turns out that the machines conceived for deep penetrations to the rear of the defenseless, instead stormed the frontline villages or fortresses.

КВ-1, советский тяжёлый танк In the interwar period improved not only tanks, but also their opponents. Large-caliber machine guns and rapid-fire anti-tank guns, armor-piercing bullets, mines and Molotov cocktails, it would seem, again put on the tanks cross: who needs a fighting machine that will destroy on sight? So it was, for example, Khalkhin- where armored units in just a half hour battle deprived of half of the members, or at the first stage of the Soviet-Finnish war.

However, the tanks “grow” thick armor, increased caliber of the gun – and Karelian isthmus just a couple of severe HF provided the final breakthrough of the Mannerheim Line. Almost at the same time, with the competent intelligence support sappers, artillery and infantry, with Polish pillboxes easily handled “mighty” T-37, armed with only a machine gun, and outdated T-26. Such are the paradoxes of the war.

World War II. “Graduation Class” armored forces

If the symbol of World steel tanks, slowly creeping forward and slowly gnaw through the defense, the typical image of the Second World War – huge armored column panzer groups and armies, rapidly stretching forward for hundreds of kilometers and hundreds of surrounding thousands of enemies. Now tanks fought the icy Arctic to the scorching deserts of the Sahara, from the swamps of Belarus and hedges of Normandy to the atolls of the Pacific Ocean and the streets of Berlin.

T-34 Soviet or American “Sherman” was never meant to be “the best tanks of the war” – but they have become [1,999,008]

[1,999,016] In these years, the tank troops learned the bitter lessons of your major. Irrevocably became clear that neglect of intelligence, reaction arms, supply and repair rapidly “zeroes” virtually any tank capacity. I hope only on the thick armor and powerful gun over and over again not justified. French Char 2C and B1, the Soviet KV, German “Panther”, “Ferdinands” and “King Tiger” who did not know unparalleled “on paper”, the reality turned out to be vulnerable. Therefore, trucks with infantry, ammunition, fuel, repair parts, tractors with guns, radios have become invisible against the backdrop of menacing tanks, but vital elements of moving parts.

future winners of the Second World had to realize that war is necessary that is at hand here and now. Only need to do it wisely. For example, the Soviet T-34 or American “Sherman” was never meant to be “the best tanks of the war” – but they have become. They have come a long way from the imperfect and the “raw” machine breaks down at every turn to reliable and formidable “workhorses”, passing through the war, thousands of kilometers of roads. And let the IS-2 was not so formidable as in millimeters of armor and weapons, non-incarnate as a 90-ton KV-5, but he successfully fought against any opponent, who met when used wisely.

[1,999,016] No wonder one veteran tanker, when asked what the best tank, said: “The one that is at hand at the right time and the right place.” You can only add, “and used as intended.” With an understanding of these truths out of time, when the tanks have learned to fight.


[1,999,031] See also: [1,999,018]

Lyricist – Eugene Belas.


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