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Brooke Ager

Mr. K- Block 1B
AP World History
5 April 2011
Unit 13 Research Paper- World War II Tanks

World War II Tanks

In World War II, weapons were considered essential in
winning, or even just fighting in, the war. I believe that the most
overpowering weapon of World War II was the tank. The tank was
invented during World War I, but great changes had been made
on it since then. In World War I, tanks were not very
technologically advanced; their maximum speed was 4 miles per
hour, they were only able to climb up something 5 feet tall, and
were only able to cross an 8-foot gap. They were highly
unreliable, but that was expected considering it was a new piece
of machinery. The tanks of World War II changed everything with
their revolutionary speed and sense of protection. Also, they were
able to put much larger guns on top of the tanks, which was very
effective in the war they were fighting.
Although in World War II, Italy and Japan played a significant
role in the number of tanks produced, Germany is truly best
known for its tanks. German made tanks were, in the beginning
of the war, lower-grade technology-wise than many of their
opponent’s tanks. This was especially noticeable in the firepower
and protection areas. Its military operations set them to be first in
line of the best tank producers and allowed them to dominate
any rivals in the war. This strategy included not only using their
tanks and other mobile warfare, but their air support as well. This
plan lead them to their victory over France, although this victory
would not have been made possible without the addition of radios
to their tanks. The French lacked radios and because of this their
approach was much slower paced and they simply could not
compete with the Germans. This is surprising because French
tanks had much better firepower and armor on their tanks
compared to the Germans, but due to their poor command and
slow-paced fighting, all of these advantages were almost
cancelled out.
There was much experimentation involved with the building
of new tanks. The United States and Germany both tried out a
heavier tank, but after testing, neither of them entered the war.
After word got out about the heavier tanks, you can begin to see
a trend of the tanks getting larger with much bigger guns and
protection. For example, in 1939, most tanks were covered in
armor of about 30 mm and had guns no heavier than 47 mm. By
1945, on the other hand, typical tanks had about 100 mm of
protection on then and their guns were in the 85 mm range. After
this, you began to see light tanks, which had originally been
leading the way in the war, fade out and they were only used for
very specific and limited roles.
As you can see, World War II was a changing time for
everything, including tanks. They changed drastically and without
the race to be the best, who knows where we would be with our
warfare today.