10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history

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The tank is one of the most devastating, yet adaptable weapons available in the arsenal of a modern army. From their original conception in the early 1900s to the first use by the French and British during World War I the tank was a constant and powerful symbol of modern warfare.

Throughout the twentieth century, this weapon was one of the most powerful tools available that an army could use, with great mobility and devastating force. From the Battle of the Ardennes at the end of the Second World War, when over 3,000 tanks were involved in the fight, until the Battle of Dezful in 1981 between Iran and Iraq, the tank played a major role in maneuvering offensives all around the world. Here is  a list of the most famous tank battles in history:

10. Battle of Cambrai, 20 November to 8 December 1917

Battle of Cambrai between the British Empire and the German Empire is the first great battle tanks in history. It is often wrongly called the first battle tanks in history. This can be justified by the fact that the French had sent the first tanks on the battlefield earlier in 1917, as the British had done in the third battle of Ypres. Cambrai did, however, see a larger number of tanks used than before. British plan of attack was to use tanks to strike at the heart of the German defense line. German defenses in this sector were formidable, but Major General Henry Tudor has found an innovative solution to this problem. He proposed the use of a new weapon, the tank, in order to break through the Hindenburg Line.

10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history
British tank at the Battle of Cambrai

Around 476 tanks were used. On the first day of the offensive, British forces breached the Hindenburg line 7 km inside the German lines thanks to the tank support. Although the Germans forces counterattacked and recovered lost ground this battle where the tank had the most important role was marked the beginning of a new era on the battlefield.

9. The Second Battle of El Alamein, October 23 to November 11, 1942

“This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill.

Second Battle of El Alamein marked the turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the time of the Second World War. After the first battle of El Alamein, which stopped the advance of the Axis troops, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery took command of the British 8th Army from General Claude Auchinleck in the August 1942.

With over 1,000 tanks of the Allies against the Axis 574 aligned( 298 Italian tanks of low quality), the battle has ended in victory for the former.

10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history
A German tank is captured by British soldier at El Alamein

Why is this battle so important? If Axis troops managed to occupy the Suez Canal, Middle East, and British possessions they were directly threatened. If Rommel’s offensive ends with a great victory, Axis troops were to occupy important oil reserves, resources that would help the German war machine. Battle of El Alamein ended these ambitious plans and marked an important turning point in the Second World War

8. Battle of Raseiniai, 23 to 27 June 1941

10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history
Soviet KV-2 tank at the Battle of Raseiniai

One of the great battles of tanks on the Eastern Front of World War II meant virtually complete destruction of mechanized units U.R.S.S. the front northwest. 749 Soviet tanks vs 245 German tanks. Soviet tanks that were technically superior to those of German counterparts, were handled systematically and neutralized. It is true that German forces were aided by an air force major. Luftwaffe, creating difficulties for the Soviet command situation. A major battle of Operation Barbarossa, Battle of Raseiniai, left the German army in a state of supreme confidence in themselves and undoubtedly proved once again the importance of tank in modern warfare.

7. Battle of the Valley of Tears, 6 to 9 October 1973

Yom Kippur War (October 6 to October 26, 1973) is the war in which Israel fought an Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria. The war broke out on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, the most important day of fasting Hebrew) through a surprise attack Egyptian-Syrian attacking forces have crossed the ceasefire line, Sinai, respectively, from the Golan Heights, territories conquered by Israel in the Six-Day War (1967). The tanks were in the center of attack. 10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of historyThe number of Syrian tanks was estimated at about 1,260 while Israeli forces had an estimated 100 tanks. The Israelis had various reasons to justify such a massive disadvantage in terms of the number of tanks on the battlefield: the superiority of air power and the threat of use of nuclear weapons.

6. Battle of Brody, 23 to 30 June 1941

Battle of Brody has been called “the greatest battle tanks of World War II” until the Battle of Kursk took place two years later. 800 tanks of the Axis forces, against 2,500 Soviet tanks. The victory of the Nazi forces is partly due to the support provided by the Luftwaffe destroyed during the battle. German planes destroyed 201 Soviet tanks.10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history However, the fight between tanks was extremely fierce, German forces found that the new Soviet tank T- 34 were virtually impenetrable to firepower, thanks to the thicker and sloped armor.

5. Battle of Hannut, 12 to 14 May 1940

10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history
German troops inspecting destroyed French tanks

Armored forces involved in total: 1500. The French have succeeded in destroying 160 German tanks and lost 91 Hotchkiss H-35 and S-35 30 Somua, destroyed or captured. After the French withdrew voluntarily, from the battlefield, the Germans recovered and repaired some of armored so irrecoverable losses amounted to only 49 tanks. As Gen. Adolphe Jacques René Prioux has fulfilled the task of slowing the advance of German armor, for the French, the battle was a tactical victory. Although the German commander Erich Hoepner has managed to fulfill the main goal, the removal of the French 1st Army from Sedan, it didn’t manage to neutralize it completely. The French forces who escaped from the encirclement will provide vital support to the British Army in Dunkirk, two weeks later.

4. Operation Goodwood, July 18 to 20, 1944

Operation Goodwood was a British attack on German forces near the northern French town of Caen. It is known as the largest tank battle in which the British army participated. Over 1,100 British tanks took part, offering a number of sources some 1,300 tanks. In the fight against 377 German tanks, the British were aimed at gaining control of Caen, which could then release the rest of the country occupied. Not everything went according to plan for the British, although they advanced 11 km east of the city. British force attack confirmed fears that Germans are they most feared opponent on the Western Front War.

3. Battle of 73 Easting, 26 to 27 February 1991

10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history
American Abrams at the battle of 73 Easting

A decisive victory for American and British armies in Operation “Desert Storm” in Iraq, the Battle of 73 Easting refers to the conflict that took place on the north-south line of coordinated military map. In a show truly devastating power of the Coalition, Iraqi forces were overwhelmed and overcome. Most of the fighting involved the US the second armored regiment, which attacked and destroyed Iraqi’s 18th Mechanized Brigade and 37th Armored Brigade. During the tank battle, one of the most studied in the history of armor warfare, the Iraqis have lost over 160 tanks before US and British forces. Why have Iraqis lost so many tanks? Iraqi armored forces relied heavily on Soviet-made tanks: T-55, T-72 that were inferior in all aspects to the American M1 Abrams tanks and posed no serious threat.

2. Battle of Chawinda, 17 to 22 September 196510 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history

Chawinda battle was part of the Indo-Pakistani War from 1965. He was known as one of the greatest battles in history after tanks Battle of Kursk from the World War II. Forces were fairly evenly matched, featuring 225 Indian army tanks while Pakistan has 282 army units (including reinforcements). Indian army wanted to take control of the  Sialkot-Pasrur railway in order to cut off  the supply routes for Pakistan . Things did not go as planned for Indians because the Pakistanis have received reinforcements from Kashmir, which has improved their situation. Pakistani forces had lost 40 tanks. Indian losses were higher: 120 tanks. At the end of hostilities, India has occupied about 200 square kilometers from the Pakistani territory.The battle of Chawinda remains in history as one of the greatest tank battles since Kursk.

1. Battle of Prokhorovka (part of the Battle of Kursk) 12 July 1943

Battle of Prokhorovka (July 12, 1943) was given on the Eastern Front in World War II as part of the Battle of Kursk in the Soviet Union (about 435 km south of Moscow). Mainly the 4th Panzer Army collided with the 5th Guards Tank Army of the Red Army. It was the greatest tank battle in the history of armor warfare.

10 Biggest tank battles that changed the course of history
Soviet army attacks at Prokhorovka

The battle brought face to face about 456 German tanks against the Soviet tanks 800-850. While Soviet sources claim that the Germans had between 500-700 tanks, German sources are not complete in the number of tanks on 12 July.

German forces involved came mainly from three Waffen-SS divisions, which all suffered losses in previous days. The 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf started the offensive with 456 tanks and 137 assault guns, including 35 tanks Tiger I. It is possible that another brigade has been involved in fights, namely 10 Panzer Brigade, founded on 23 June 1943. This brigade has available 45 Tiger tanks. There is a possibility that these tanks to have joined the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich , which would be raised to 70 the number of Tiger tanks.

On the other side, the main party involved was 5th Guards Tank Army. Total number of Soviet tanks: 800-850 tanks, but most of them were T-70 light tanks. 5th Guards Army had about 409 tanks T-34, 188 T-70 , 31 Churchill tanks, 48 self-propelled guns of the type SU-122 and SU-76, and a small number of heavy tanks KV-1.

Although losses the two sides can not be determined precisely, the strategic outcome is clear. Even if the loss of Soviet tanks were higher than the Germans, the battle marked the permanent loss of the German initiative on the Eastern Front.

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