, Between 1931 and 1945, Japan produced 6450 tanks. So read on, to see the 10 best tanks of WWII, and what made them so good. Another tank design, the Fiat M16/43, was developed to match the British cruiser tanks but work on it was stopped when the Axis was pushed out of North Africa in May 1943. What Devers had in mind was the T26E1, America’s first heavy armored fighting vehicle. Its sloped armor could withstand most German weapons, and its 76.2 mm gun could penetrate the armor of all German tanks. In late 1943, the British found a way to mount the QF 17-pounder anti-tank gun in the Sherman to create the Firefly, a tank with a more capable gun than the 75mm or 76mm gun normally fitted. The Sherman suffered from poor ammunition storage. If the vehicle became immobilized due to engine failure or track damage, it could not rotate its gun to counter opposing tanks, making it highly vulnerable to counterfire. The medium M3 tank was intended to quickly get a 75 mm gun into the field, pending the design of a tank with a 75 mm gun in a fully rotating turret. In 1939, most tanks had maximum armor of 30 mm (1.2 in) or less, with guns with no larger caliber than 37–47 mm. Manufacturer ZVEZDA. Known as the "Panther", the Panzer V was the mightiest of them all, with incredibly thick and sloped armor to ricochet most enemy shots, as well as a 75mm cannon that packed almost as much of a punch as the legendary Tiger tank's 88mm cannon.  By the time of the Normandy campaign, the M4 had become the workhorse tank of the Allied forces. The 2-pounder gun was better than comparable 37 mm weapons of Germany and the US, and lethal against tanks encountered during the North African campaign. After discussing terms and possible var… A few captured M11, M13 and M14s were pressed into service by British and Australian forces to fill the serious shortage of allied tanks in 1941. (image source: WikiCommons) The T-28 (see picture at the top), designated the Super-Heavy Tank in 1946, was originally planned to plow through fixed German defences like the Siegfried Line, while also making short work of the King Tiger. Most tanks still retained a hull machine gun, and usually one or more machine guns in the turret, to protect them from infantry at short range. For example, the Soviet T-34 could mount an 85 mm gun in the turret, but the same chassis could carry the much more effective 100 mm gun in a fixed casemate as the SU-100, the successor of the SU-85. The Soviets accomplished this through standardization on a few designs, generally forgoing minor qualitative improvements and changing designs only when upgrades would result in a major improvement. One of the final Sherman upgrades to be carried out during WWII that addressed this shortcoming was the fearsome "Easy 8" M4A3E8 Sherman. , British tank crews were trained to fire on the move and the armament was mounted for optimum balance such that the gunner could aim with his body rather than use geared elevation. , Fully enclosed casemates on the Germans' Sturmgeschütz assault guns, from the beginning of the war, set a pattern used later by the similarly fully enclosed Jagdpanzer casemate-style tank destroyers, with the Soviets' similar Samokhodnaya ustanovka (SU) assault guns being used for the same dual-purpose roles. Similarly to the Soviet Union, the United States selected a few good basic designs and standardized on those models. , Pre-war plans called for two main tanks: the main tank was to be the Panzer III medium tank, supported by smaller numbers of the howitzer-armed Panzer IV. However, before 1944/45, the naval fleet and the air force had priority of steel allocation and construction. M1A1 flamethrower; Anti-tank weapons. Like the British and the Soviets, the French operated two classes of tank: cavalry tanks and infantry tanks.. For example, the Scorpion flail tank (a modified Matilda II) had already been used during the North African campaign to clear paths through German minefields. RELATED: 10 Tanks That Revolutionized The Battlefield (5 That Were Dead Weight). Crude, built with minimal attention to detail in a rushed manner, and with mostly outdated technology, the T-34 miraculously overcame its shaky birth and became a legendary and feared machine. The T-34 eventually took on the roles of many other Soviet tanks. Therefore, a new role was formed to counter this threat, the Assault Tank, a vehicle with the purpose of bre… Type 23 grenade; Chinese Stielhandgranate; Flamethrowers. 61 built – 1934-38, Soviet main heavy tank until 1939. All major combatant powers also developed tank destroyers and assault guns, as armored vehicles carrying large-caliber guns, but often no turrets. The M3 Light Tank was an improvement of the M2 Light Tank, with heavier armor and a 37 mm gun. , A trend towards heavier tanks was unmistakable as the war proceeded.  This proved fatal later when they faced the new generation of Allied tanks, as the great majority of the Japanese models were lightly armored, and not heavily gunned. Remarkably, the IS-3 had thicker armor but actually weighed slightly less than the IS-2, remaining under 50 tons (as compared to the Tiger II's 68). By 1945, typical medium tanks had maximum armor over 60 mm thick, with guns in the 75–85 mm (3.0–3.3-inch) range and weights of 30 to 45 t (30 to 44 long tons). The M4 Medium became the second-most-produced tank of World War II, and was the only tank to be used by virtually all Allied forces (thanks to the American lend-lease program); approximately 40,000 M4 Mediums were produced during the war. , The A9 Cruiser Mk I was an effective tank in the French, Greek and early North African campaigns. French tanks generally outclassed German tanks in firepower and armor in the 1940 campaign, but their poor command and control doctrine negated these advantages. 1921. Oct 1, 2017 - Production German heavy tank “Tiger” Oct 1, 2017 - Production German heavy tank “Tiger”.. This new suspension provided a fast, highly maneuverable design that became the basis for the rapid evolution of the Cruiser tank such as the Mk IV (A13 Mk II) a British cruiser tank derived from the original A13. PM M1910; Browning M1917 (American Lend Lease and locally produced) Type 3 heavy machine gun (Captured) Type 24 machine gun; Grenades. The M13/40 was not used on the Eastern Front; Italian forces there were equipped only with Fiat L6/40s and Semovente 47/32 tank destroyers. , The next in the series was the M15/42, a 15 tonne tank first built in January 1943. In American and British service the M3 Medium was phased out at the end of the North African campaign. , The appearance of the M3 "Lee" medium tank in the summer of 1942 finally gave the British a larger supply of medium tanks than they could otherwise have hoped for. Hence the P26/40, designated as "heavy" by the Italians with its 26 tonne weight, was more similar in weight to the medium M4 Sherman tank (30 tonne weight). The KV-2 close-support version was armed with a 152 mm (6.0-inch) howitzer. The other type were "Cruiser Tanks" which were intended for independent maneuvering, rapid breakouts and flanking attacks. Even the largest and most powerful of German tank destroyers were found abandoned on the field after a battle, having been immobilized by one or more hits by high explosive (HE) or armor-piercing (AP) shells to the track or front drive sprocket. Played correctly, they are the shield for their teammates, and due to their armor and big health pools, they can soak large amounts of incoming damage. Only a few saw combat, on Guadalcanal. Upgrading just about every aspect of the already monstrous Tiger I, the Tiger II received more advanced sloped armor, a bigger and more powerful cannon, as well as a more powerful engine. Because of limited budgets for tank development in the interwar years, at the outbreak of World War II the US Army possessed few tanks, though it had been keeping track of the use of tanks in Europe and Asia.Successful employment of armored units in 1939–40, mostly by the Germans, gave momentum to a number of US tank programs, including a heavy tank. Another Hitler “Wunderwaffe” was a super-heavy tank named at first “Mammuth”, but then, by derision, “Maus”.  A new infantry-support tank was introduced in 1941: the T-50. , The Panzer III was intended to fight other tanks; in the initial design stage a 50 mm (2 inch) gun was specified. Prior to World War II, the U.S. had a very low budget for tanks. Soviet T-34 tanks had been modified with mine-rollers, fascines and flamethrowers. While early models proved a force to be feared, attacking in waves that overwhelmed enemy forces, they lacked a certain heavy-hitting punch. It had a fully traversable turret with a 37 mm cannon as well, but the turret combined with a hull gun gave it a very tall profile. However, this changed in 1939, with some German assistance. They suffered heavy losses during the Invasion of Poland. The design was mechanically sound although incapable of further development. 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