Jun 22, 2011

World War Axis Tanks

World War Axis Tanks

By the end of World War I the tank was a familiar sight on the battlefield; it took the power of the German Blitzkrieg to convince conventional military strategists that the tank, and more importantly its method of use, can have a profound effect upon the outcome of a battle.
Although Italy and Japan produced significant numbers of tanks before and during World War II, it is the German tanks which are best known. At the outbreak
of the war the Panzer kampf  wagen (PzKpfw) I and PzKpfw II were the most common models, but within a few years these had been phased out of service and replaced by the PzKpfw III and PzKpfw IV. The latter had the distinction of remaining in production throughout the war. It was an excellent design that proved to be capable of being up gunned and up-armoured to meet the changing battlefield threat.

The Panther and Tiger arrived on the scene towards the end of the war, but these could not be produced in anything like the required numbers as a result of shortages in materials and manpower and of the effectiveness of Allied bombing on German plants, even though many of these had been dispersed early in the war. The Panther and Tiger were rushed into production without proper trials, however, and many were lost during their initial deployments as a result of mechanical breakdown rather than direct enemy action. The Tiger was, in particular, a very heavy tank and lacked mobility on the battlefield.
Its armour protection and guns were first class, and this tank proved a difficult one to destroy on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. Often four Shermans would be required to neutralize just one Tiger: two would try to draw its fire, often being knocked out in the process, while the others worked round its flanks and attacked it from its more vulnerable sides. To wards the end of World War II Germany turned its attention to producing more and more tank destroyers as by that time the German army was on the defensive, and these vehicles were quicker, easier and cheaper to produce than tanks, such as the Panther and Tiger.
While some of the Italian tanks were fairly modern in 1939, by the early part of Italy's war they had become completely obsolete.
The better armed and armoured P 40 heavy tank never entered service with the Italian army, although a few were taken over by the Germans.
Japan used tanks during the invasion of China before World War II as well as during the Far Eastern campaigns from 1941.
As few Allied AFVs were available at that time the Japanese vehicles were quite adequate, the more so as their primary role was infantry fire support rather than tank against-tank operations.
Czech tanks are included, as many were subsequently taken over by the Germans during the invasion of France in 1940 and remained in production in
Czechoslovakia after that country's occupation.

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