World War II

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World War II Empty World War II

Post  meodingu on Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:52 am

World War II
Main article: Tanks in World War II
Heinz Guderian, 1941

World War II was the first conflict where armoured vehicles were critical to success on the battlefield and in this period the tank developed rapidly as a weapon system. It showed how an armoured force was capable of achieving a tactical victory in an unprecedentedly short amount of time. At the same time however, the development of effective anti-tank weaponry demonstrated that the tank was not invulnerable.

Prior to World War II the tactics and strategy of deploying tank forces underwent a revolution. Heinz Guderian, a tactical theoretician who was heavily involved in the formation of the first independent German tank force, said "Where tanks are, the front is", and this concept became a reality in World War II.[19] Following the Invasion of Poland where tanks performed in a more traditional role in close cooperation with infantry units, in the Battle of France deep independent armoured strategic penetrations were executed by the Germans, a tactic later called blitzkrieg or 'lightning war'. Blitzkrieg made use of innovative combined arms tactics and radios in all of the tanks to provide a level of tactical flexibility and power that surpassed that of the Allied armour. The French Army, with tanks equal or superior to the German tanks in both quality and quantity, employed a linear defensive strategy in which the armoured cavalry units were made subservient to infantry as "support weapons".[17] In addition, they lacked radios in many of their tanks and headquarters,[20] which limited their ability to respond to German attacks.

In accordance with blitzkrieg tactics, German tanks bypassed enemy strongpoints and could radio for close air support to destroy them, or leave them to the infantry. A related development, motorized infantry, allowed some of the troops to keep up with the tanks and create highly mobile combined arms forces.[17] The defeat of a major military power within weeks shocked the rest of the world, resulting in an increased focus on tank and anti-tank weapon development.

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