The Tank in History

One of the greatest tank battles in history took place on July 5th 1943 in Kursk, Russia. As the sun rose, the initial push of German Panzer tanks roared their way through the fields towards the city. The week that followed saw an incredible 3,000 German tanks locked in battle with almost 7,000 Russian tanks.

The fighting was intense and while the German tanks were superior, the Russians dug in with extreme perseverance and defended fiercely. The Germans tired and thanks to Stalin’s effective and often suicidal counteroffensives, the Germans lost the battle. It is the date of 5th July 1943 that signalled the end of the staggering Blitzkrieg that had stormed across Europe and for many, the last great tank battle. Air superiority became the new mechanism of war, with tanks having to shelter in forests during the day to avoid being a sitting duck for fighter planes.

Tanks were used again in force during the Cold War, which saw thousands lined up ready for use in East and West Germany. Hundreds of tanks were sent in by the Russians to quash the Hungarian uprising of 1956. Also, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 saw more than 3,000 tanks involved in an offensive against Israeli forces by Syria and Egypt. Tanks had an important role to play in Kuwait in 1991 and Iraq in 2003, used by both the UK and US. For your own roleplay and unique tank paintball experience, try Tank Driving Days at

Tanks are only truly effective when used in flat regions such as plains or deserts. Their limitations became obvious when deployed in the Vietnam jungles and mountainous regions of Afghanistan for example. Increasingly, helicopters were chosen instead thanks to their speed and manoeuvrability.

However, modern tanks have much more power and agility than they did in 1943. They now have massive advantages such as both day and night vision, cutting-edge technology, weaponry and are much more light-weight. The tanks of future battles will be all but unrecognisable from those beasts who battled at Kursk, the German Tiger and the Russian T34. Tanks will most likely be unmanned land drones for example.

There appears to be no lack of business for those companies who produce modern day tanks. Whatever your position on the moral and ethical use of such weaponry, tanks still represent the ultimate in heavy firepower in conflicts around the globe, including the most recent use of tanks by the Syrian Army against rebel forces.

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