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Recent Development Of Tanks
'Tanks' as known today have gone through many evolutions in their history. They are deployed on ground offensive as an infantry support, for killing other tanks; as portable artillery reserve in emergencies, for knocking down stuff; and for fortification busting among others. In infantry support, a tank's job is to provide suppressive fire to reduce enemy strong points and protect the retreating or advancing infantry from enemy tanks and armored vehicles.
The British developed the tanks with a view that they would cross trenches, crush barbed wire and dominate machine guns. The first tank was operated when a Mark I was put into action at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme. The British designed the most advanced tanks between the World Wars. Since then, the tanks have come a long way!
World War II saw many firsts in the making of tanks. Germany, for example, built up light armored tanks, such as the Panzer I. All forces in war had dramatically increased their tanks' firepower and armor by the end of First World War.
All major combatant powers also developed specialized self-propelled guns: artillery, tank destroyers, and assault guns (armored vehicles carrying large-caliber guns). Turrets, not a universal feature on tanks earlier, were recognized as the way forward. However, multiple-turreted tank designs like the Soviet T-35 were abandoned by World War II. Post World War II, most tanks retained at least one hull machine gun.
Despite all the advancements and innovations, the tanks still suffer from many shortcomings. They are extremely large, heavy and in most cases relatively slow-moving thus limiting the places where they can travel. Modern tanks are extremely complex machines requiring enormous amount of routine maintenance in order to remain operational and need a constant logistical support.
Most battle tanks after World War II have been designed with a view to overcome these flaws. One such tank is the Soviet built T-54 Main Battle tank. T- 54 is a greatly improved version of the T-44 that was developed post World War II. The Chinese Type 59 was a direct copy of the Russian T54, with minor differences resulting from differing manufacturing techniques.
In response to the threat of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), the focus in development shifted away from armor thickness to armor technology. But, gun technology still remains the same, with manual loading.
A modern MBT can weigh as much as 75 tons and measure 8 meters by 5 meters. Two modern MBTs are, M-21 and the M1 Abrams MBT. The M-21 was adopted by the UNDF in 2004. This tank though in later years was eclipsed by the Centaur and VHT. The M1 Abrams is the MBT made by USA. It has two new variants M1A1 and M1A2 with further improvements.
The basic roles and traits of tanks have almost been the same since years but, the performance of the 21st century counterparts has increased by miles. They have been redesigned, remade and refined to face changing threats and requirements.
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