10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II

The tank was first invented by the British as an attempt to break the stalemate of World War I. Although it was initially slow, bulky, and unreliable the tank’s potential was quickly recognized and its features greatly developed and improved. By World War II, tanks were already a key tool in warfare, as they remain to this day. Tanks were a significant factor in most of the main fighting theatres, from North Africa to Russia and northern France.

They were featured in some of the critical battles of the war, and consequently are an inseparable part of its history. These are some of the most prominent tanks used by the Allies and the Germans during World War II.

1. British Matilda10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, British Matilda

The Brtish Matilda was a well-armored vehicle, but it had a few considerable downsides. Firstly, the 40mm gun was inadequate in comparison to those of the German tanks. Moreover, the Matilda was terribly slow and was often out of action by German artillery before even reaching during range. And yet, British tank crews held affection for the Matilda, thanks to the reliability and protection it provided. 

2. Vickers Light Tank10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, Vickers Light Tank

The Vickers Light Tank, Mark VI was the sixth in the line of light tanks built by Vickers Armstrong for the British army during the interwar period. Compared to other models, it was the speedier option - the MK V, for example, was capable of reaching 32 mph, making it an adequate reconnaissance vehicle.

Although it carried machine guns, the Vickers proved to be less practical in some areas - it lacked real offensive power and was poorly protected by its light armor. 

3. Cromwell10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, Cromwell

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Cromwell was introduced in 1943 and proved to be an adequate rival to the German tanks. Named after the English Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell, this tank was the first one that combined high speed from a powerful engine and reasonable armor. The Cromwell saw its first action in the Battle of Normandy in June 1944 and was widely employed after the D-Day landings.

Related: 14 Rather Large WWI and WWII Tanks

4. Char B1-bis10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II,  Char B1-bis

The French Char B1-bis boasted a superficially impressive 75mm gun. While this made the tank seem well equipped for offense, on the battlefield this proved difficult to use effectively due to issues of reliability, tactics, and personnel.

The Char-B1-bis did, however, prove very effective in 1940, during the Battle of France. After the defeat of France, captured Char B1 (bis) would be used by Germany, with some rebuilt as flamethrowers, munitionspanzer, or mechanized artillery.

Related: Life at Fort Knox in 1942 Captured In Full Color

5. Panzer III10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, Panzer III

Panzerkampfwagens were central to the Nazi conquests over much of Europe during the first part of the war. The Panzer III was a medium tank, developed in the 1930s in Germany. The efficiency of this vehicle highlighted Germany’s technological and tactical superiority and instilled a great sense of confidence in the soldiers. 

The Panzer III could reach 25 mph, had a 37 mm gun that grew to 50 mm, and a 19 mm armor. It’s no wonder then that Rommel’s success in North Africa is owed to this tank, according to History Hit. 

6. T-3410 Significant Tanks Used in World War II,  T-34

The Soviet T-34 Medium was developed from 1937-1939 and went into full production from June 1940. About 40,000 units of this tank entered combat by the end of the war. 

Its simple design allowed the T-34 to be produced in very high volume. The reliability and sheer volume of T-34s proved decisive in opposition to the German tanks on the Eastern front - in fact, this very tank model was vital in preventing Nazi conquest over Moscow in 1941. 

Related: The 10 Most Modern Tanks in the World

7. King Tiger10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, King Tiger

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The King Tiger was a German tank, which was essentially a new form of an earlier model called the Penzar VI. It was introduced in Tunisia in February 1943, although primarily intended for use in the east. 

King Tiger boasted an 88mm gun which had a greater range than any rival, and it wore so much armor that it weighed 68 tonnes. 

8. M4 – Sherman10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, M4 – Sherman

This American tank was highly maneuverable, it could reach 29 mph despite weighing 30 tonnes and its 75mm gun fired both armor-piercing and high-exploding shells. 

However, the Sherman had one fatal weakness -  it used petrol rather than diesel and had a propensity to burst into flames. The Germans even had a nickname for those tanks - Tommy cookers. Despite that, it was produced in huge numbers, with about 50,000 built by the end of the war. 

9. Panzer IV10 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, Panzer IV

Image Source: Wikipedia

The Panzer IV was the most widely manufactured and deployed German tank in World War II, with some 8,500 units built between 1936 and 1945. The Panzer IV was originally designed for infantry support while the similar Panzer III would fight armored fighting vehicles. However, the Germans had to face formidable T-34, and the Penzar VI ended up receiving various upgrades and modifications to extend its service life. 

10. T-7010 Significant Tanks Used in World War II, T-70

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This light Soviet tank was operated by a driver and a commander who loaded and fired the gun. It was armed with a 45mm L/46 gun Model 38 with forty-five rounds carried, and a coaxial 7.62mm DT machine gun.

The T-70 remained in service until 1948 and was used as a basis for two later models: the T-80, which was more advanced and had a two-man turret, and the T-90, a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.

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