The first tank to engage in battle, the British Mark I tank (pictured in 1916) with the Solomon camouflage scheme
A British Sherman tank in Italy during World War Two
An M4 Sherman tank in Italy in 1943 during WW II.
A Leopard 2A7 tank in Germany.

A tank is an armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat. Tanks have heavy firepower, strong armour, and good battlefield manoeuvrability provided by tracks and a powerful engine; usually their main armament is mounted in a turret. They are a mainstay of modern 20th and 21st century ground forces and a key part of combined arms combat.

Modern tanks are versatile mobile land weapon system platforms that have a mounted large-calibre cannon in a rotating gun turret supplemented by mounted machine guns or other weapons such as ATGMs or rockets. They have heavy vehicle armour which provides protection for the crew, the vehicle's weapons, and propulsion systems as well as provide and operational mobility due to its use of tracks rather than wheels which allows the tank to move over rugged terrain and adverse conditions such as mud (and be positioned on the battlefield in advantageous locations). These features enable the tank to perform well in a variety of intense combat situations, simultaneously both offensively (with fire from their powerful tank gun) and defensively (due to their near invulnerability to common firearms and good resistance to heavier weapons, all while maintaining the mobility needed to exploit changing tactical situations).[1] Fully integrating tanks into modern military forces spawned a new era of combat: armoured warfare.

There are classes of tanks: some being larger and very heavily armoured and with high calibre guns, while others are smaller, lightly armoured, and equipped with a smaller calibre and lighter gun. These smaller tanks move over terrain with speed and agility and can perform a reconnaissance role in addition to engaging enemy targets. The smaller faster tank would not normally engage in battle with a larger, heavily armoured tank, except during a surprise flanking manoeuvre.

Development overview

The modern tank is the result of a century of development from the first primitive armoured vehicles, due to improvements in technology such as the internal combustion engine, which allowed the rapid movement of heavy armoured vehicles. As a result of these advances, tanks underwent tremendous shifts in capability in the years since their first appearance. Tanks in World War I were developed separately and simultaneously by Great Britain and France as a means to break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front. The first British prototype, nicknamed Little Willie, was constructed at William Foster & Co. in Lincoln, England in 1915, with leading roles played by Major Walter Gordon Wilson who designed the gearbox and hull, and by William Tritton of William Foster and Co., who designed the track plates.[2] This was a prototype of a new design that would become the British Army's Mark I tank, the first tank used in combat in September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.[2] The name "tank" was adopted by the British during the early stages of their development, as a security measure to conceal their purpose (see etymology). While the British and French built thousands of tanks in World War I, Germany was unconvinced of the tank's potential, and built only twenty.

Tanks of the interwar period evolved into the much larger and more powerful designs of World War II. Important new concepts of armoured warfare were developed; the Soviet Union launched the first mass tank/air attack at Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in August 1939,[3] and later developed the T-34, one of the predecessors of the main battle tank. Less than two weeks later, Germany began their large-scale armoured campaigns that would become known as blitzkrieg ("lightning war") – massed concentrations of tanks combined with motorised and mechanised infantry, artillery and air power designed to break through the enemy front and collapse enemy resistance.

The widespread introduction of high-explosive anti-tank warheads during the second half of World War II led to lightweight infantry-carried anti-tank weapons such as the Panzerfaust, which could destroy some types of tanks. Tanks in the Cold War were designed with these weapons in mind, and led to greatly improved armour types during the 1960s, especially composite armour. Improved engines, transmissions and suspensions allowed tanks of this period to grow larger. Aspects of gun technology changed significantly as well, with advances in shell design and aiming technology.

During the Cold War, the main battle tank concept arose and became a key component of modern armies.[4] In the 21st century, with the increasing role of asymmetrical warfare and the end of the Cold War, that also contributed to the increase of cost-effective anti-tank rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) worldwide and its successors, the ability of tanks to operate independently has declined. Modern tanks are more frequently organized into combined arms units which involve the support of infantry, who may accompany the tanks in infantry fighting vehicles, and supported by reconnaissance or ground-attack aircraft.[5]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Tenk
Alemannisch: Panzer
Ænglisc: Campwægn
العربية: دبابة
aragonés: Tanque
asturianu: Carru de combate
azərbaycanca: Tank
تۆرکجه: تانک
Bân-lâm-gú: Tank
башҡортса: Танк
беларуская: Танк
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Танк
български: Танк
bosanski: Tenk
brezhoneg: Tank
буряад: Танк
català: Tanc
Чӑвашла: Танк
čeština: Tank
Cymraeg: Tanc
dansk: Kampvogn
Deutsch: Panzer
eesti: Tank
Ελληνικά: Άρμα μάχης
Esperanto: Tanko
euskara: Tanke
فارسی: تانک
français: Char de combat
Frysk: Tank
Gaeilge: Tanc
贛語: 坦克車
한국어: 전차
հայերեն: Տանկ
हिन्दी: टैंक
hrvatski: Tenk
Ilokano: Tangke
Bahasa Indonesia: Tank
interlingua: Tank
íslenska: Skriðdreki
italiano: Carro armato
עברית: טנק
Jawa: Tank
қазақша: Танк
Kiswahili: Kifaru (jeshi)
Kreyòl ayisyen: Tank
kurdî: Tank
Кыргызча: Танк
latviešu: Tanks
Lëtzebuergesch: Tanks
лезги: Танк
lietuvių: Tankas
Ligure: Caro armao
lumbaart: Carr armaa
magyar: Harckocsi
македонски: Тенк
मराठी: रणगाडा
مصرى: دبابه
Bahasa Melayu: Kereta kebal
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Tāng-káik
монгол: Танк
မြန်မာဘာသာ: တင့်ကားများ
Nederlands: Tank (voertuig)
नेपाल भाषा: त्याङ्क
日本語: 戦車
нохчийн: Танк
norsk: Stridsvogn
norsk nynorsk: Stridsvogn
олык марий: Танк
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Tank
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਟੈਂਕ
پنجابی: ٹینک
پښتو: شوبله
Patois: Tangk
Piemontèis: Car armà
polski: Czołg
português: Carro de combate
română: Tanc
Runa Simi: Tanki
русиньскый: Танк
русский: Танк
саха тыла: Тааҥка
Scots: Tank
shqip: Tanku
Simple English: Tank
slovenčina: Tank (vozidlo)
slovenščina: Tank
ślůnski: Tank
کوردی: تانک
српски / srpski: Тенк
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Tenk
svenska: Stridsvagn
Tagalog: Tangke
татарча/tatarça: Танк
ไทย: รถถัง
тоҷикӣ: Тонк
Türkçe: Tank
українська: Танк
اردو: دبابہ
Tiếng Việt: Xe tăng
walon: Tank
文言: 坦克
Winaray: Tangke
吴语: 坦克
ייִדיש: טאנק
粵語: 坦克車
žemaitėška: Tanks
中文: 坦克