Tanks are Armored Fighting Vehicles characterized by thick armor and heavy weapons. They are designed as mobile weapon platforms, so they have no space to carry troops other than their required crews (although their have been instances in which soldiers have ridden on the outside of a tank). A typical crew consists of a driver, one or two gun crew, and a commander. All armored vehicles have to balance the attributes of firepower, protection, and speed. An integral part of tank design is working out how best to balance these attributes.
Modern tanks are tracked vehicles used primarily for line-of-sight combat, armed with cannons and machine guns. The first tanks were built during the Great War by the British as a means of overcoming German trench lines. While they did have some success, they were slow, cumbersome, temperamental, difficult to produce, and inefficiently used. Proper design and strategy for using tanks would not develop until World War II. Several subclasses of tanks have been employed, including light tanks, amphibious tanks, and main battle tanks (MBTs). Several defunct classes have been used but are no longer in service, including Tankettes, Cruiser Tanks, Infantry Tanks, and Heavy Tanks.
Tanks got their name from a ploy to avoid German intelligence discovering their first deployment; the British described them as "mobile water tanks" when shipping them to the front. The name stuck everywhere (with some local corruptions) except Germany (were they are refered to as panzers) and France (where they are known as char de combat).
A tank destroyer is a type of armored vehicle that is a blend between self-propelled artillery and a tank. A tank destroyer usually carries a large anti-tank weapon while at the same time having limited armor protection.
List of Real Life Tanks
- British Mark V tank (United Kingdom)
- Renaunt FT 17 (Republic of France)
- T-34 (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
- Panzer-V Panther (Nazi Germany)
- Leopard-II (Federal Republic of Germany)
- Type 99 (People's Republic of China)
- M1 Abrams (United States of America)
Tanks in Science Fiction
In addition to conventional tanks that move along on caterpillar tracks, science fiction often includes hover-tanks: tanks that levitate above the ground to better traverse terrain. In other instances in science fiction, tanks are completely automated robots. Tanks larger than real life armored fighting vehicles also appear in science fiction, some rivalling battleships in their scale.