Anti-tank Guns - Second World War

Second World War

Two aspects of how the Second World War commenced helped to delay development of anti-tank warfare: resignation and surprise. After Poland was attacked, its allies in the West were resigned to its defeat by a numerically superior Wehrmacht. The little information that was brought out about the conduct of combat during that campaign did nothing to convince either France, Britain or the USSR of the need for improved anti-tank technology and tactics. The reliance on the Maginot Line, and the subsequent surprise of the German offensive left no time to develop existing capabilities and tactics in the West. The British were preparing the stop lines and the anti-tank islands to slow enemy progress and restrict the route of an attack. The Red Army however was fortunate in having several excellent designs for anti-tank warfare that were either in final stages of development for production, or had been rejected earlier as unnecessary and could now be rushed into production. The relative ease with which the older models of Red Army's tank fleet were destroyed by German anti-tank weapons, using tactics already seen in Spain, once and for all focused Stavka attention on anti-tank warfare as Soviet armies were repeatedly encircled by panzer-led strategic pincer maneuvers. Of the three iconic Soviet weapons of the Second World War, two were made exclusively for anti-tank warfare, the T-34 and the Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik. The former was one of the most manufactured tanks in history, and the latter, itself dubbed the 'flying tank', was one of the most manufactured aircraft. The war also saw the creation and almost immediate abandonment of the self-propelled tank destroyer which would be replaced post war by the anti tank guided missile.

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