Anti-tank warfare arose as a result of the need to develop technology
and tactics to destroy tanks during World War I. Since the first tanks
were developed by the
Triple Entente in 1916 but not operated in
battle until 1917, the first anti-tank weapons were developed by the
German Empire. The first developed anti-tank weapon was a scaled-up
bolt-action rifle, the
Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr
Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr that fired a 13mm
cartridge with a solid bullet that could penetrate the thin armor of
tanks of the time and destroy the engine or ricochet inside killing
occupants. Because tanks represent an enemy's greatest force
projection on land, anti-tank warfare has been incorporated into the
doctrine of nearly every combat service since. Most predominant
anti-tank weapons at the start of
World War II
World War II were the tank-mounted
gun, anti-tank guns and anti-tank grenades used by the infantry as
well as ground-attack aircraft.
Anti-tank warfare evolved rapidly during World War II, leading to the
inclusion of infantry portable weapon such as the Bazooka, anti-tank
combat engineering, specialized anti-tank aircraft and self-propelled
anti-tank guns (tank destroyers). Both the Soviet
Red Army and the
German Army developed methods of combating tank-led offensives,
including deployment of static anti-tank weapons embedded in in-depth
defensive positions, protected by anti-tank obstacles and minefields,
and supported by mobile anti-tank reserves and ground attack aircraft.
A British 17-pounder anti-tank gun and half-track of the 87th
(Devonshire Regiment) Anti-
Tank Regiment approaches the River Foglia,
Italy, 1 September 1944.
Through the Cold War, the United States,
Soviet Union and other
countries contemplated the possibility of nuclear warfare. While
previous technology was developed to protect crews of armored vehicles
from projectiles and explosive damage; the possibility of radiation
arose. In the
NATO countries little if any development took place on
defining a doctrine of how to use armed forces without the use of
tactical nuclear weapons. In the Soviet sphere of influence the legacy
doctrine of operational maneuver was being theoretically examined to
understand how a tank-led force could be used even with the threat of
limited use of nuclear weapons on the European battlefield. The
solution they arrived at was maneuver warfare while massively
increasing the number of anti-tank weapons. To achieve this, Soviet
military theorists (such as Vasily Sokolovsky) realized that anti-tank
weapons had to assume an offensive role rather than the traditionally
defensive role of the
Great Patriotic War
Great Patriotic War by becoming more mobile.
This led to the development of improved guided anti-tank missiles,
though similar design work was being performed in Western Europe and
the United States.
The utility of the light anti-tank weapon was also recognized by both
sides of the
Cold War and led to further development of man-portable
weapons used by the infantry squad, while heavier missiles were
mounted on dedicated missile tank-destroyers, including dedicated
anti-tank helicopters, and even heavier guided anti-tank missiles
launched from aircraft. Also being developed were new varieties of
artillery munitions in the form of top-attack shells, and shells that
were used to saturate areas with anti-armor bomblets. Helicopters
could be used as well to rapidly deliver scattered anti-tank mines.
Since the end of the
Cold War in 1993, the only major new threats to
tanks and other armored vehicles have been remotely detonated
improvised explosive devices (IED's) used in asymmetric warfare and
weapon systems like the
RPG-29 and FGM-148 Javelin, which can defeat
reactive armor or shell armor. The latter weapon systems use a tandem
warhead where the first stage of the tandem warhead activates the
reactive armor, and the second stage of the tandem warhead defeats the
shell armor by means of a High Explosive Anti
Tank (HEAT) shaped
2 First World War
2.1 Anti-tank weapons
2.2 Anti-tank tactics
3 Development between the world wars
4 Second World War
4.2 Field artillery
4.3 Anti-tank guns
4.4.2 Rockets and shaped charges
4.4.3 Mines and other explosives
4.5.1 Infantry close assault
4.5.2 Suicide bombing
5 Korean War
6 Cold War
7.1 Current trends
8 See also
10 External links
Anti-tank warfare evolved as a countermeasure to the threat of the
tank's appearance on the battlefields of the Western Front of the
First World War. The tank had been developed to negate the German
system of trenches, and allow a return to maneuver against enemy's
flanks and to attack the rear with cavalry.
The use of the tank was primarily based on the assumption that, once
they were able to eliminate the German trench lines with their machine
Infantry support gun positions, the Allied infantry would
follow and secure the breach, and the cavalry would exploit the breach
in the trench lines by attacking into the depth of German-held
territory, eventually capturing the field artillery positions and
interdicting logistics and reserves being brought up from the rear
areas. Naval crews initially used to operate the
installed naval guns and machine guns were replaced with Army
personnel who were more aware of the infantry tactics with which the
tanks were intended to cooperate. However, there was no means of
communication between the tank's crew and the accompanying infantry,
or between the tanks participating in combat. Radios were not yet
portable or robust enough to be mounted in a tank, although Morse Code
transmitters were installed in some Mark IVs at
Cambrai as messaging
vehicles. Attaching a field telephone to the rear would become a
practice only during the next war. With greater use of tanks by both
sides it was realized that the accompanying infantry could be forced
to ground by ambush fire, thus separating them from the tanks, which
would continue to advance, eventually finding themselves exposed to
close-assaults by German infantry and sappers.
The early tanks were mechanically rudimentary. The 0.23-to-0.47-inch
(5.8 to 11.9 mm) thick armor generally prevented penetration by
small arms fire and shell fragments. However, even a near miss from
field artillery or an impact from a mortar HE round easily disabled
the tank, or destroyed if the fuel tank was ruptured,it could
incinerate the tank's crew. A large caliber gun was recognized as a
tactical necessity to attack machine gun positions and defeat any
infantry field pieces found in the trench lines which could easily
disable tank track with the HE ammunition. This was achieved by
QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss
QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss light 57 mm naval gun mounted
in the hull barbettes. Hull and track engineering was largely dictated
by the terrain—the need to cross wide trenches—although the
relationship between ground pressure and soil-vehicle mechanics was
not resolved until the Second World War. Turrets were later introduced
on medium and light tanks to react to ambushes during the
First World War
The tank, when it appeared on the Western Front in September 1916, was
a total surprise to the German troops, though not to the German
General Staff. The French Army Staff was highly critical of the
British Army's early fielding of the Mark I vehicles in small numbers
because the French trials showed the armored vehicles to be highly
unreliable. They judged that large numbers had to be employed to
sustain an offensive despite losses to mechanical failure or vehicles
being foundered in intractable no man's land terrain. These losses,
coupled with those from enemy artillery fire, later amounted to as
high as 70% of the starters during some operations. Deploying small
numbers of tanks would therefore cause the Allies to lose the element
of surprise, allowing Germans to develop countermeasures.
A British heavy tank of World War One
German Army was the only force in need of anti-tank
weapons, it was they that had to develop a viable technology to combat
the tank. These technologies took three ammunition approaches: use of
grenades by infantrymen, including the Geballte Ladung ("Bundled
Charge") of several stick grenades bound together by pioneers; early
attempts at the small-caliber anti-tank rifles like the 13 mm
Mauser bolt-action; and 3.7 cm TaK
Rheinmetall in starrer
Räder-lafette 1916 anti-tank gun on a light carriage which could
destroy a tank using large-caliber armor-piercing ammunition issued
in 1917 to special commands; and the existing 77 mm field guns
(such as the 7.7 cm FK 16) of the infantry division's artillery
regiment were also eventually issued with special armor-piercing (AP)
A disabled Mark IV tank near Cambrai, 1917 - World War I
With the appearance of Allied tanks, the
German Army were quick to
introduce new anti-tank defense detachments within the pioneer
battalions of the infantry divisions. These were initially issued
1.3 cm caliber long barrel rifles firing solid shot. However,
these suffered from fouling after 2–3 rounds and had a recoil that
was unsustainable by the mechanism or the rifleman. Stick grenades
were used to destroy the tracks by individual pioneers, however this
required accompanying machine-gunners to first separate the supporting
Allied infantry line from the tanks, which proved difficult. Another
tactic was to lure the tank beyond the German trench-line,
re-establishing it just as the Allied infantry approached. The tank
would then be engaged by the divisional 7.7 cm guns brought
forward, that would try to disable the tracks with ordinary HE shells
(and later AP ammunition). If the crews of the disabled tanks refused
to surrender, they were engaged with flamethrowers, or a mortar would
be fired on the stricken vehicle until a direct hit was achieved on
the top surface, usually resulting in an internal fire. Finally,
anti-tank obstacles were prepared on the likely approaches by
deepening and widening existing ground cratering, the precursors of
the anti-tank trench. Finally in early 1917 the 3.7 cm TaK from
Rheinmetall was rushed to the frontline, and proved effective in
destroying the tanks despite limited elevation and traverse.
Development between the world wars
Lack of consensus on the design and use of the tank after the First
World War also influenced the development of its anti-tank
countermeasures. However, because Germany was restricted by the Treaty
of Versailles in its military capability, and there were no other
challenges to France and Britain, very little development took place
in anti-tank warfare until the 1930s.
Czechoslovak anti-tank gun
3,7cm KPÚV vz. 37
3,7cm KPÚV vz. 37 .
Interwar period was dominated by the strategic thinking with
fortified borders at its core. These included obstacles consisting of
natural features such as ditches, streams and urban areas, or
constructed obstacles such as anti-tank ditches, minefields, dragon's
teeth, or log barriers. The pinnacle of this strategic thinking was
considered to be the
Maginot Line which replaced infantry-filled
trenches with artillery-filled bunkers, including casemates housing 37
or 47 mm anti-tank guns, and steel turrets armed with a pair of
machine guns and a 25 mm anti-tank gun, although Germany was
forbidden to produce tanks. The construction was partially based on
the Allied experience with the
Hindenburg Line which was breached with
tank support during the battles of
Cambrai and St. Quentin Canal,
although German Command was more impressed by the surprise achieved by
the Canadian troops at the Battle of the Canal du Nord. This came to
influence their planning in 1940.
The Maginot line defenses - up to 25 km (16 mi) deep from
the forward positions to the rear line - were intended to prevent a
surprise attack and delay any attack while the French Army was
mobilized. With the relative numerical inferiority between the France
and Germany, it was a more effective use of manpower. Within the line,
passive anti-tank obstacles were supported by anti-infantry and
anti-tank bunkers. After Belgium declared neutrality in 1936, France
began work on extending the line along the Belgian border.
Improved artillery was seen as the quickest solution to anti-tank
defense, and one of the earliest post-war anti-tank gun designs was
the 25 mm Hotchkiss model from France. It was intended to replace
an Atelier de Puteaux 37 mm weapon designed in 1916 to destroy
machine gun positions.
Rheinmetall commenced design of a 37 mm
anti-tank gun in 1924 and the first guns were produced in 1928 as
3.7 cm Pak L/45, later adopted in
Wehrmacht service as 3.7 cm
Pak 36. It made an appearance during the Spanish Civil War, as did the
Bofors 37 mm
Bofors 37 mm developed in Sweden, and used by many early Second World
War combatants. The
British Army accepted for service the (40 mm)
Ordnance QF 2 pounder, which was developed as a tank gun. The Soviet
Red Army after the Russian Civil War also begun a search for an
anti-tank gun with a French Hotchkiss 37 mm L.33 tank gun, but
soon upgraded this to a higher velocity L.45 Model 1935 while also
making a licensed copy of the German 3.7 cm PaK 36. However, the
Red Army was almost immediately taught a lesson about anti-tank
warfare when a tank battalion sent to aid the Spanish Republicans in
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War was almost entirely destroyed in an engagement.
At this time, the predominant ammunition used against tanks was the
armor-piercing kinetic energy shell that defeated armor by direct
pressure, spiking or punching through it. During the late 1930s shaped
charge ammunition was experimented with that used chemical energy for
armor penetration. The shaped charge concept is officially known as
the "Munroe Effect" and was discovered by accident decades earlier by
Professor Charles E. Munroe at the U.S.
Torpedo Station, Providence,
RI. Professor Munroe was detonating different manufactured blocks of
explosives on a sheet of armor plating and observed the blocks having
the manufacturing letters recessed (vs. raised) cut an imprint of the
manufacturing letters into the armor plate—the birth of the
shaped-charged explosive which focuses the blast energy caused by an
indentation on the surface area of an explosive. Although shaped
charges are somewhat more difficult to manufacture, the advantage is
that the projectile does not require high velocity as typical kinetic
energy shells yet on impact it creates a high-velocity jet of metal
flowing like a liquid due to the immense pressure (though x-ray
diffraction has shown the metal stays solid) which hydrodynamically
penetrates the armor and kills occupants inside. The depth of the
penetration, though proportional to the length of the jet and the
square root of its density, is also dependent on the strength of the
armor. With the development of this new ammunition begun more advanced
research into steel manufacturing, and development of spaced armor
that caused "jet waver" by detonating prematurely or at the wrong
angle to the surface of the main armor.
The only significant attempt to experiment in the use of tanks in the
late 1920s was that of the British Army's Experimental Mechanized
Force that influenced future development of tanks, armored troops and
entire armies of both its future enemies and allies in the next war.
In Spain, the anti-tank defense of the Nationalists was organized by
Wehrmacht officers, and the anti-tank guns were incorporated into
a system of obstacles that were constructed with the intent to stop an
attack by tanks by slowing it down, separating them from supporting
infantry (advancing on foot) with machine-gun and mortar fire, and
forcing tanks to conduct deliberate head-on assaults with engineer
support, or seek a less-defended area to attack. Minefields laid with
purpose-designed mines were used for the first time, destroying tank
tracks, and forcing combat engineers to clear them on foot. Delay
meant that Nationalist field artillery could engage the lightly
armored Soviet tanks. This meant a change in Republican operational
and eventually strategic planning, and a more protracted combat
operations, with more casualties at a greater cost.
The only change to the German anti-tank tactics of the First World War
was that now an effective anti-tank weapon was available to support
the defending infantry. However, the Soviet tanks armed with
45 mm guns easily destroyed the German light tanks.
Ironically, in the early 1930s until the Spanish War, German officers
were conducting secret testing of a new way of employing tanks,
infantry and artillery offensively in the
Soviet Union with the
cooperation of the Red Army. In Germany, these developments eventually
culminated in tactics that later came to be known as Blitzkrieg, while
Soviet Union they formed the core of the deep battle
operational doctrine. The successful test of the latter was during the
Battles of Khalkhin Gol
Battles of Khalkhin Gol although the
Red Army foundered on the
Mannerheim Line in 1940, largely due to the purge in the Officer
Corps, claiming many of the senior proponents of the new doctrine.
Anti-tank artillery would be included in mobile tank-led
Red Army units due to the possibility of encountering enemy tanks in a
The new doctrines of using the tank, were divided into infantry and
cavalry schools of thought. The former regarded the tank as a mobile
artillery system to be used for infantry support. This suggested that
the infantry needed to be armed with integral anti-tank weapons. The
latter advocated use of tanks in the traditional cavalry way of
high-tempo attacks intended to outflank the enemy infantry and sever
its communication lines. This approach suggested that the tank was the
best anti-tank system, and only limited anti-tank troops were required
to accompany them. For this reason the late 30s tank configurations
came in a great diversity, ranging from light tankettes and cavalry
tanks to multi-turreted heavy tanks resembling bunkers, all of which
had to be considered in training by the anti-tank artillery troops.
The development of these doctrines was the most significant influence
on the rapid development in anti-tank technology and tactics in the
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.
Ilyushin Il-2 planes with 23 mm canons attacking a German tank
column during the Battle of Kursk
As tanks were rarely used in conflicts between the two World Wars, no
specific aircraft or tactics were developed to combat them from the
air. One solution adopted by almost all European air forces was to use
bomb loads for conventional bombers that were composed from small
bombs allowing a higher density during bombing. This created a greater
chance of causing a direct impact on the thinner top armor of the tank
while also having the ability to damage track and wheels through
The first aircraft capable of engaging tanks was the Junkers Ju-87
"Stuka" using dive bombing to place the bomb close to the target. Some
French and German fighters fitted with 20 mm cannon were also
able to engage thinner top armor surfaces of the tanks early in the
war. The Stuka was also given cannons for anti-armor role though it
was obsolete by 1942, and was joined by the
Henschel Hs 129
Henschel Hs 129 that
mounted a podded 30 mm (1.2 in)
MK 101 cannon
MK 101 cannon beneath its
fuselage, while the
Red Army Air Force fielded the Soviet Ilyushin
Il-2 armed with a pair of 23 mm cannons and unguided rockets, but
armored to enable the pilots to approach German tanks at very low
altitude, ignoring small arms, machine-gun and even small
anti-aircraft cannon fire that usually provided tanks with protection
against the bombers. Il-2s could also carry large numbers of
2.5 kg shaped-charge anti-tank PTAB bombs.
To give it more firepower against tanks, the RAF mounted two underwing
pod-mounted 40 mm
Vickers S cannon on the
Hawker Hurricane (as
the Mk. IID), which saw service in North Africa in 1942 and the Hawker
Typhoon was given HE rockets though these were more effective against
other ground vehicles. From March 1943 the
Red Army Air Force produced
the more agile Yakovlev Yak-9T (37 mm cannon) and K (45 mm
cannon) bomber interceptor also used for ground attack, with a single
example of either gun in motornaya pushka mounts attached to the
engine's gear reduction unit, that had either one of them firing
through a hollow-center propeller shaft.
Maj. Charles Carpenter and Rosie the Rocketeer
Operation Overlord in 1944, the military version of the
Piper J-3 Cub
Piper J-3 Cub high-wing light civilian monoplane, the L-4
Grasshopper, usually used for liaison and artillery-spotting, began to
be used in a light anti-armor role by a few U.S. Army artillery
spotter units over France; these aircraft were field-outfitted with
either two or four bazooka rocket launchers attached to the lift
struts, against German armored fighting vehicles. During the summer
of 1944, U.S. Army Major Charles Carpenter managed to successfully
take on an anti-armor role with his rocket-armed Piper L-4. His L-4,
named Rosie the Rocketeer, armed with six bazookas, had a notable
anti-armor success during an engagement during the Battle of Arracourt
on September 20, 1944, knocking out at least four German armored
vehicles, as a pioneering example of taking on heavy enemy armor
from a lightweight slow-flying aircraft.
Field artillery were often the first ground combat arm to engage
detected concentration of troops which included tanks through
artillery airborne observers, either in assembly areas (for refueling
and rearming), during approach marches to the combat zone, or as the
tank unit was forming up for the attack. Conventional artillery shells
were very effective against the tank's thinner top armor if fired in
appropriate density while the tanks were concentrated, enabling direct
hits by a sufficiently powerful shell. Even a non-penetrating shell
could still disable a tank through dynamic shock, internal armor
shattering or simply overturning the tank. More importantly the tanks
could be disabled due to damage to tracks and wheels, and their
supporting vehicles and personnel could be damaged and killed,
reducing unit's ability to fight in the longer term. Because tanks
were usually accompanied by infantry mounted on trucks or half-tracked
vehicles that lacked overhead armor, field artillery that fired a mix
of ground and air-burst ammunition was likely to inflict heavy
casualties on the infantry as well. Field guns, such as the Ordnance
QF 25 pounder, were provided with armor-piercing shot for direct
engagement of enemy tanks.
Anti-tank guns 
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2008) (Learn
how and when to remove this template message)
Anti-tank gun and
Bofors 37 mm anti-tank gun as used by several nations
Anti-tank guns are guns designed to destroy armored vehicles from
defensive positions. In order to penetrate vehicle armor, they fire
smaller caliber shells from longer-barreled guns to achieve higher
muzzle velocity than field artillery weapons, many of which are
howitzers. The higher velocity, flatter trajectory ballistics provide
terminal kinetic energy to penetrate the moving/static target's armor
at a given range and contact's angle. Any field artillery cannon with
barrel length 15 to 25 times longer than its caliber was able also to
fire anti-tank ammunition, such as the Soviet A-19.
Prior to World War II, few anti-tank guns had (or needed) calibers
larger than 50 mm. Examples of guns in this class include the
German 37 mm, US 37 mm (the largest gun able to be towed by
the jeep), French 25 mm and 47 mm guns, British QF 2-pounder
(40 mm), Italian 47 mm and Soviet 45 mm. All of these light
weapons could penetrate the thin armor found on most pre-war and early
PaK 38 50-mm anti-tank gun
At the start of World War II, many of these weapons were still being
used operationally, along with a newer generation of light guns that
closely resembled their WWI counterparts. After Soviet
T-34 and KV
tanks were encountered, these guns were recognized as ineffective
against sloped armor, with the German lightweight 37 mm gun
quickly nicknamed the "tank door knocker" (German:
Panzeranklopfgerät), for revealing its presence without penetrating
Germany introduced more powerful anti-tank guns, some which had been
in the early stages of development prior to the war. By late 1942, the
Germans had an excellent 50-mm high-velocity design, while they faced
the QF 6-pounder introduced in the
North African Campaign
North African Campaign by the
British Army, and later adopted by the US Army. By 1943
forced to adopt still larger calibers on the Eastern Front, the
75 mm and the famous 88 mm guns. The
Red Army used a variety
of 45 mm, 57 mm, and 100 mm guns, as well as deploying
general-purpose 76.2 mm and 122-mm guns in the anti-tank role.
For the Invasion of Normandy, the British produced the 3-inch
(76.2 mm) calibre QF 17 pounder, whose design had begun before
the 6 pounder entered service, which proved to be a highly effective
anti-tank gun and was also used on the tank and the tank destroyer.
Panzerjäger and Jagdpanzer
A British Archer tank destroyer, based on the hull of a Valentine tank
As towed anti-tank cannon guns grew in size and weight, they became
less mobile and more cumbersome to maneuver, and required ever larger
gun crews, who often had to wrestle the gun into position while under
heavy artillery and/or tank fire. As the war progressed, this
disadvantage often resulted in the loss or destruction of both the
antitank gun and its trained crew. This gave impetus to the
development of the self-propelled, lightly armored "tank destroyer"
(TD). The tank destroyer was usually based on the hull of existing
tank designs, using either a gun integrated into the hull or a fully
rotating turret much like that of a conventional tank. These
self-propelled (SP) AT guns were first employed as infantry support
weapons in place of towed antitank guns. Later, due to a shortage of
tanks, TDs sometimes replaced the former in offensive armored
Early German-designed tank destroyers, such as the Marder I, employed
existing light French or Czech design tank chassis, installing an AT
gun as part of an armored, turret-less superstructure. This method
reduced both weight and conversion costs. The
Soviet Union later
adopted this style of self-propelled anti-tank gun or tank destroyer.
This type of tank destroyer had the advantage of a reduced silhouette,
allowing the crew to more frequently fire from defilade ambush
positions. Such designs were easier and faster to manufacture and
offered good crew protection, though the lack of a turret limited the
gun's traverse to a few degrees. This meant that, if the TD became
immobilized due to engine failure or track damage, it could not rotate
its gun to counter opposing tanks, making it an easy target. This
vulnerability was later exploited by opposing tank forces. Late in the
war, it was not unusual to find even the largest and most powerful
tank destroyer abandoned on the field after a battle, having been
immobilized by a single high-explosive shell to the track or front
US Army pre-war infantry support doctrines emphasized the use of tank
destroyers with open-top fully rotating turrets, featuring less armor
than the standard
M4 Sherman tanks, but with more powerful cannon. A
76 mm long-barrel tank cannon was fitted to the Sherman-based M10
and all-new design M18 designs, with the M18 being the fastest-moving
American AFV of any type in World War II. Late in 1944, the
Sherman-origin M36 appeared, equipped with a 90 mm cannon. With
rotating turrets and good combat maneuverability, American TD designs
generally worked well, although their light armor was no match for
enemy tank cannon fire during one on one confrontations. Another
disadvantage proved to be the open, unprotected turret, and casualties
from artillery fire soon led to the introduction of folding armor
turret covers. Near the war's end, a change in official doctrine
caused both the self-propelled tank destroyer and the towed antitank
gun to fall from favor in U.S. service, increasingly replaced by
conventional tanks or infantry level antitank weapons. Despite this
M36 tank destroyer
M36 tank destroyer continued in service, and was used in
combat as late as the Korean War.
The third, and likely most effective kind of tank destroyer was the
unturreted, casemate-style tank destroyer, known by the Jagdpanzer
term in German service, or
Samokhodnaya Ustanovka in Soviet service
for their own designs. These generally featured a heavy gun mounted on
an older or then-current tank chassis, with the gun pointing forward
with a limited degree of traverse.
Casemate tank destroyers often had
the same amount of armour as the tanks they were based on. The removal
of the turret allowed for greater room to mount a larger gun with a
larger breech and leave room for crew. Many casemate tank destroyers
either originated as, or were dual-purpose vehicles with the duty of a
self-propelled gun, which share many (but usually not all) of the same
features and layout. Some examples are the German
Sturmgeschütz III -
the most-produced German armored fighting vehicle of WW II — and the
Soviets' SU-100, itself based on the
T-34 tank's hull and drivetrain.
PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle during World War II.
See also: Anti-tank rifle
Anti-tank rifles were introduced in some armies before the Second
World War to provide infantry with a stand-off weapon when confronted
with a tank assault. The intention was to preserve the morale of the
infantry by providing a weapon that could actually defeat a tank.
Anti-tank rifles were developed in several countries during the 1930s.
By the beginning of WW2, anti-tank rifle teams could knock out most
tanks from a distance of about 500 m, and do so with a weapon
that was man-portable and easily concealed. Although the AT rifle
performance was negated by the increased armor of medium and heavy
tanks by 1942, they remained viable against lighter-armored and
unarmored vehicles, and against field fortification embrasures.
Notable examples include the Finnish
Lahti L-39 (which was also used
as a sniper rifle during the Continuation War), the automatic Japanese
Type 97 20 mm anti-tank rifle, the German Panzerbüchse 38,
Panzerbüchse 39, the Polish wz.35 and the Soviet 14.5 mm PTRD
By 1943, most armies judged anti-tank rifles to lack combat
effectiveness due to the diminished ability to penetrate the thicker
armor of new tanks - the
British Army had abandoned them by 1942 and
Wehrmacht by 1943, while the US Army never adopted the weapon,
although the USMC used Boys anti-tank rifles in the Pacific Theater.
However, the anti-tank rifle remained in Soviet use during the
conflict due to the importance it occupied in its doctrine of
anti-tank in-depth defense, first demonstrated during the defense of
Moscow and again during the Kursk battles. This became particularly
true later in the war when the
Red Army assumed an almost constant
offensive, and anti-tank in-depth defensive deployments were used for
protecting flanks of the operational breakthroughs against German
tactical counterattacks. By firing on the lighter armored infantry and
support vehicles (e.g. artillery tractors) the anti-tank rifle units
helped to separate the supporting infantry (panzergrenadiers) and
artillery of the German tanks and so forced the tanks to halt at short
distances from the concealed anti-tank guns leaving them exposed to
fire from larger, longer ranged anti-tank guns.
anti-tank rifles were also used for sniping since an additional tracer
round enabled rapid fire adjustment by the gunner. Although optical
sniper scopes were tried with the PTRS-41, the weapons proved too
inaccurate at sniping distances (800 m or more), and the recoil
too much for effective use of the scopes.
Rockets and shaped charges
The development of light, man-portable, anti-tank weapons increased
during the Second World War. Most were based on the Munroe effect
which led to the development of the high-explosive shaped charge.
These weapons were called high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT). The
destructive effect was reliant entirely on the kinetic energy of the
explosion rather than the ballistic speed of the round on the damage
inflicted to the armor. The effect was also concentrated and could
penetrate more armor for a given amount of explosives. The first HEAT
rounds were rifle grenades, but better delivery systems were soon
introduced: the British
PIAT was propelled in a manner similar to the
spigot mortar with a blackpowder charge contained in the tailfin
assembley, the US
Bazooka and the German
Panzerschreck used rockets,
and the German
Panzerfaust was a small recoilless gun. The HEAT
warhead was retroactively used to give more power to smaller calibre
weapons such as in the conversion of the otherwise limited German
37 mm PaK guns to fire a large shell, called Stielgranate 41,
that fitted over the barrel rather than down in it, to a greater range
Panzerschreck could manage.
Hungarian 44M ""Buzogányvető"" was a successful unguided rocket
used extensively in the Siege of Budapest.
PARS 3 LR
PARS 3 LR with
HEAT warhead of the German Army.
After the war, research on infantry anti-tank weapons continued, with
most designers focused on two primary goals: first an anti-tank weapon
that could defeat more heavily armored postwar tanks and fighting
vehicles, and second a weapon lightweight and portable enough for
Mines and other explosives
Main article: Anti-tank mine
A statue of a Vietminh soldier holding a Lunge AT Mine. In Vietnamese
the mine is called bom ba càng, literally means "three-clawed bomb".
Sticky bomb in production
Though unsophisticated, the satchel charge was an effective anti-tank
weapon during World War II; the blast could sever the tracks of a
tank, damage internal components or injure the crew.
Wehrmacht employed the Goliath tracked mine, an unmanned
Soviet Union employed anti-tank dogs during World War II, with
very limited success; as a counterpart to the German Goliath the
Teletank was used as a remote-controlled unmanned tank.
The Japanese forces employed suicide attacks with pole-mounted
anti-tank mines dubbed Lunge Mines during late World War II. In
Vietnam, similar mines were called bom ba càng due to the three
contact points at the head of each mine.
Main article: Anti-tank grenade
Regular fragmentation grenades were ineffective against tanks, so many
kinds of anti-tank grenades were developed. These ranged from hollow
charge designs (e.g., the British No. 68 AT Grenade), to ones that
simply contained a lot of explosive (the British No. 73 Grenade). To
increase their effectiveness, some grenades were designed so that they
adhered to the tank either through an adhesive (sticky bomb) or with a
magnet. The Germans used a magnetic grenade, the
ensure that the shaped charge would fire at the optimal 90° angle to
There was also a special type of grenade called the Nebelhandgranaten
or Blendkörper ("smoke hand grenades"), which was supposed to be
smashed over an air vent and fill the tank with smoke, widely used by
both sides in World War II.
Molotov cocktails also saw much use,
especially in the Winter War, early tanks (such as the T-26) being
very vulnerable to them, but later tanks required a well-thrown bottle
directly over the engine compartment to have any effect at all.
On the whole, thrown anti-tank weapons suffered from a variety of
drawbacks. In addition to the inherently short range, they required
careful aim to be effective, and those that relied on explosive force
were often so powerful that the user had to take cover immediately.
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2009) (Learn
how and when to remove this template message)
A Finnish soldier with a
Molotov cocktail in the 1939-40 Winter War.
Anti-tank tactics developed rapidly during the war but along different
paths in different armies based on the threats they faced and the
technologies they were able to produce. Very little development took
place in UK because weapons available in 1940 were judged adequate for
engaging Italian and German tanks during most of the North African
Campaign. Its experience therefore failed to influence the US Army's
anti-tank doctrine prior to 1944. From 1941, German anti-tank tactics
developed rapidly as a result of being surprised by the previously
unknown Soviet tank designs, forcing introduction of new technologies
and new tactics. The
Red Army was also faced with a new challenge in
anti-tank warfare after losing most of its tank fleet and a
considerable part of its anti-tank capable cannons.
Anti-tank tactics during the war were largely integrated with the
offensive or defensive posture of the troops being supported, usually
infantry. Most anti-tank tactics depend on the range effectiveness of
various weapons and weapon systems available. These are divided as
Operational range over the horizon (20–40 km range)
Bomber aircraft and long range artillery
Tactical staging areas (7–20 km range)
Ground attack aircraft
Ground attack aircraft and field artillery including MRLs
Tactical zone forming-up area and rear combat zone (2–7 km
Heavy anti-tank guns and mortars
Tactical forward combat zone (1–2 km range)
Anti-tank guns and tanks deployed in defense
Engagement distance (200–1000 m range)
Mines and anti-tank rifles
Close combat distance (25–200 m range)
Infantry anti-tank weapons
Ground-to-air cooperation was not yet systematic in any army of the
period, but given sufficient warning ground attack aircraft could
support ground troops even during an enemy attack in an attempt to
interdict the enemy units before they come into tactical combat zone.
Various bomb loads can be used depending on what type of tank unit is
engaged in at the time or who its accompanying troops are. This is an
indirect form of anti-tank warfare where the tanks are denied the
opportunity to even reach combat.
Field artillery was particularly effective in firing against tank
formations because although they were rarely able to destroy a tank by
direct penetration, they would severely crater the area preventing the
tanks from moving therefore causing them to become nearly stationary
targets for the ground attack aircraft, or disrupting the enemy
schedule and allowing own troops more time to prepare their defense.
Examples of Czech hedgehogs deployed on the
Atlantic Wall in the
vicinity of Calais.
Anti-tank defense proper was by 1942 designed in First World War
fashion with several prepared trench lines incorporating anti-tank
weapons of different capabilities. Depending on terrain and the
available line-of-sight, the longer-ranged guns could begin to fire on
approaching tanks from as far as 2 kilometers, which was also the
range at which German Panther and Tiger tank gunners were trained to
fire. Anti-tank guns were usually deployed to cover terrain more
suitable for tanks, and were protected by minefields laid at about 500
meters to 1 kilometer from their positions by combat engineers. In the
Red Army the anti-tank rifle units would be positioned throughout the
forward trench line and would engage the lighter tanks and any other
vehicles, such as infantry half-tracks in an attempt to separate them
from the tanks. The anti-tank guns deployed further back would often
hold their fire until enemy tanks were within the most effective range
for their ammunition. Where there were insufficient anti-tank weapons,
engineers would construct anti-tank obstacles such as dragon's teeth
or czech hedgehog.
Towed anti-tank guns were thought to be the primary means of defeating
tanks. At the battle of Kursk for example, the
Red Army deployed more
artillery regiments than infantry regiments and towed gun densities
reached over 20 guns per kilometer of defended tactical zone. A towed
gun was much cheaper than a tank and could be concealed in a shallow
position. When time allowed, dugouts with strong overhead cover could
be constructed. Guns deployed on reverse slopes and in flanking
positions could take a toll of attacking tanks. However, gun crews
were vulnerable to artillery, mortar HE fire and enemy infantry. Their
positions had to be carefully selected and once engaged, they
generally could not redeploy. Experience strongly suggested that towed
AT guns were less effective than self-propelled AT weapons and took
The tactic of ambushing enemy armor at grazing shot distances was
perfected during World War 2. Some combatants, like the Soviet Red
Army, doctrinalized it and used it to engage heavy German armor at
optimal distances and angles.
Self-propelled anti-tank guns were rare at the beginning of WW2,
Belgian Army deployed a few T.15 tank destroyers and the
French army was developing several wheeled and tracked designs. The
advantages of mobility and even thin armor protection were so
compelling that most armies were using self-propelled AT guns by
mid-war. Examples of these weapons included the US M10, German Marder
II, and Soviet SU-85.
Infantry close assault
Panzerfaust armed German soldiers on the Eastern Front, 1945.
The tank is still vulnerable to infantry, especially in close country
or built-up areas. Rough terrain may expose the floor armor, and high
ground such as multi-story buildings may expose the top armor. Their
large size and loud noise can allow enemy infantry to spot, track and
evade tanks until an opportunity presents itself for counter-attack.
Because tank crews have limited visibility from inside the tank,
infantry can get close to a tank given enough concealment and if the
hatches are closed. If tank crewmen unbutton for better visibility
they become vulnerable to small arms fire, grenades and molotov
cocktails. An infantryman cannot be targeted by a tank's main gun when
close, as it cannot depress sufficiently. Close defense weapons such
as pistol ports, hull-, coaxial- and pintle-mounted machine guns gave
them some protection however.
Whilst many hand-held infantry anti-tank weapons will not penetrate
the front armor of a tank, they may penetrate the less heavily armored
top, rear, and sides. Anti-tank weapons can damage the tracks or
running gear to inflict a mobility kill. Early WWII tanks had open
vision slits that could be fired through to kill the crew. Later
tanks' slits had thick glass, as well as sights and periscopes which
could still be damaged with powerful small arms such as anti-tank
rifles and heavy machine guns, hampering the crew. If all else fails,
the hatch could also be forced open and grenades thrown inside,
although later tank designs often have hatches designed to be
difficult to open from the outside.
Tanks were also vulnerable to hand-placed anti-tank mines. Infantry
have even immobilized tanks using a set of plates covered with leaves
and dirt as dummy mines – the ruse being augmented by the crew's
obscured vision – infantry can then attack the stopped tank. This
tactic was taught to the
British Home Guard
British Home Guard during
World War II
World War II since
they were not often provided with long-range anti-tank weapons.
In some cases in World War II, a tactic of some infantry was to run
directly up to a tank, avoiding its main and machine guns, and pour
petrol over and into the tank and light it, sometimes blocking the
exit, burning the crew alive.
In the Japanese army, the use of satchel charges and pole charges was
widespread. Although the charges could knock out any allied tank, the
tactic was extremely close-range and the sappers were vulnerable to
Chinese suicide bomber putting on an explosive vest made out of Model
24 hand grenades to use in an attack on Japanese tanks at the Battle
Chinese troops in the
Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War used suicide bombing
against Japanese tanks. Chinese troops strapped explosives like
grenade packs or dynamite to their bodies and threw themselves under
Japanese tanks to blow them up. This tactic was used during the
Battle of Shanghai, where a Chinese suicide bomber stopped a Japanese
tank column by exploding himself beneath the lead tank, and at the
Battle of Taierzhuang
Battle of Taierzhuang where dynamite and grenades were strapped on by
Chinese troops who rushed at Japanese tanks and blew themselves
up. During one incident at Taierzhuang,
Chinese suicide bombers obliterated four Japanese tanks with grenade
North Korean tanks were attacked by South Koreans with suicide tactics
during the North Korean invasion of the South.
American tanks at Seoul were attacked by North Korean suicide
squads, who used satchel charges. A North Korean soldier who
exploded an American tank with a suicide bomb named Li Su-Bok is
hailed as a hero in North Korean propaganda.
During the Iran–Iraq War, the Iranian
Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh
Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh blew
himself up under an Iraqi tank with a grenade.
According to the Sudanese writer Mansour Al-Hadj, Sudanese jihadists
were trained to attack enemy tanks by suicide bombing them.
The initial assault by North Korean KPA forces was aided by the use of
Soviet T-34-85 tanks. A North Korean tank corps equipped with
about 120 T-34s spearheaded the invasion. These drove against a ROK
Army with few anti-tank weapons adequate to deal with the Soviet
T-34s. The North Korean tanks had a good deal of early successes
against South Korean infantry, elements of the 24th Infantry Division,
and the United States built
M24 Chaffee light tanks that they
encountered. For the UN forces Aerial interdiction by ground
attack aircraft was the only means of slowing the advancing North
Korean armor. The tide turned in favour of the United Nations forces
in August 1950 when the North Koreans suffered major tank losses
during a series of battles in which the UN forces brought heavier
equipment to develop an anti-tank role, including M4A3 Sherman medium
tanks backed by U.S. M26 heavy tanks, along with British Centurion,
Churchill, and Cromwell tanks.
In the U.S., the 2.36 in (60 mm) M9A1 bazooka rocket
launcher evolved into the more powerful 3.5 in (89 mm) M20
"Super Bazooka", which was used to good effect against North Korean
armored spearheads during the Korean War. However, the M20 proved
difficult and cumbersome to portage on foot over long distances. The
Tank Aircraft Rocket, developed by the navy, also proved
effective against North Korean tanks.
Cold War era,
HEAT became an almost universal choice outside of
artillery and tank units. The British had developed the High-explosive
squash head (HESH) warhead as a weapon for attacking fortifications
during the war, and found it surprisingly effective against tanks.
Although these systems allowed infantry to take on even the largest
tanks, and, like HEAT, its effectiveness was independent of range,
infantry typically operated at short range. A major influence in
anti-tank warfare came with the development and evolution of anti-tank
guided missiles (ATGM) that could be fired by infantry operators, from
ground vehicles and by aircraft. Increasing use of combined arms
tactics allowed the attacking infantry to suppress the anti-tank crews
effectively, meaning that they could typically get off only one or two
shots before being countered or forced to move.
Main article: Attack aircraft
Cold War aircraft, such as the
A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt II and SU-25 Frogfoot,
have been specifically built for close air support, including tank
destruction. They can use a variety of weaponry, including
large-caliber anti-tank autocannons or rotary autocannons,
air-to-surface missiles (e.g. AGM-65 Maverick), volleys of unguided
rockets, and various bombs (unguided or laser-guided and with or
without submunitions such as
HEAT bomblets, an example of which would
be the CBU-100 Cluster Bomb).
Further information: Attack helicopter
British Army Westland WAH-64 Apache, an anti-tank helicopter
Guided anti-tank missiles were first used in a helicopter-borne role
by the French in the late 1950s, when they mounted SS.11 wire-guided
missiles on Alouette II helicopters. While, initially, there were
many teething problems, the possibilities were clear, such as
providing the ability to attack the more lightly armored top of the
Although putting weapons on helicopters (probably) dates back to 1955
with the Bell 47, the first specific attack helicopter that went into
mass production was the Bell
AH-1 Cobra in 1966. The AH-1 was equipped
with TOW missiles in 1973 for anti-tank capability.
The anti-tank helicopter armed with ATGWs (Anti-
Tank Guided Weapons)
or anti-tank cannons is one of the biggest threats to a modern tank.
The helicopter can position itself where it is not easily seen from a
tank and then attack from any quarter, exposing the weaker parts of
the tank's armor. The limited visibility from a closed-down tank also
makes sighting a helicopter harder.
Most helicopter-launched ATGWs have sufficient range that they can
under the right conditions be fired at a range too long for the tank
to retaliate with its own weapons. This may change with the Israelis
fielding the Lahat missile that can be fired from the main gun of the
Merkava MBT. With both anti-tank and anti-helicopter role, it does
level the playing field somewhat. The Indian Arjun tank has also been
modified to fire this missile. The People's Republic of China has
developed 100 mm gun-launched missiles based on Russian designs
such as the GP2 (based on the Russian Bastion). It has been reported
to have successfully engaged aerial targets, as well as being an
anti-tank missile. Similar missiles are available for Chinese tanks
equipped with the 105 mm gun. The Russians have also displayed a
similar if more advanced system in the Reflex. The system involves an
automatic targeting of an aerial/land target instigated by a laser
In the last thirty years, however, a variety of artillery projectiles
have been developed specifically to attack tanks. These include
laser-guided projectiles, such as the US's Copperhead
Guided Projectile (CLGP), which increases the chances of a direct hit.
Some of these CLGPs (including the Copperhead) have
instead of common HE.
Guided and unguided scatter munitions and submunitions have also been
developed: a single artillery shell containing a number of smaller
munitions designed to attack a tank. A six-gun battery might be able
to fire several hundred submunitions in a minute or two.
In one form, the shell bursts in the air above the tank and a number
of shaped charge (HEAT) or HEDP (High Explosive Dual Purpose) bomblets
or grenades rain down. Any that hit the tank have a good chance of
causing damage, since they are attacking the thin top armor.
Another form scatters a number of small anti-tank mines in the tank's
path, which probably will not penetrate the armor but can damage a
track, leaving the tank immobile and vulnerable.
More sophisticated are submunitions with a homing capability. Once
again the shell explodes above the tank position and dispenses a
number of submunitions. The munitions contain some circuitry to
identify tanks, such as IR or millimeter radar; when a tank is
identified, a rocket propellant is fired to shoot the projectile at
the tank. These munitions will often descend by parachute, to allow
time for target acquisition and attack.
All of the above but the
CLGP can be fired from medium
(122/152/155-mm) artillery, both tube and rocket. There has also been
development of large caliber (81 mm and larger) guided mortar
munitions with both internal (e.g., IR or radar) or external (i.e.,
laser designator) guidance.
Main article: Anti-tank missile
The development of the wire-guided missile, or Anti-
Tank Guided Weapon
(ATGW) systems came into use in the late 1950s and 1960s that could
defeat any known tank at ranges beyond that of the guns of the
accompanying infantry. The United Kingdom, France, and other NATO
countries were among the first to develop such weapons (e.g., the
Malkara missile by the UK and Australia in 1958). The Soviet Union,
and now Russia, put extensive development into these weapons; the
first man-portable model to enter service was the AT-3 in 1961. The
United States was one of the last, coming up with the
BGM-71 TOW in
For a time, it appeared that the tank was a dead end. A small team of
infantry with a few missiles in a well-concealed position could take
on a number of the largest and most expensive tanks. In the 1973 Yom
Kippur War, Soviet first-generation wire-guided missiles employed by
the Egyptian forces inflicted heavy casualties on Israeli tank units,
causing a major crisis of confidence for tank designers.
Active protection systems, such as the Russian Arena active protection
system, are starting to be more common, with similar systems such as
the Israeli Iron Fist active protection system. The tank may be on a
comeback because of active defense systems, which attack missiles in
mid-air. This may allow the tank to be competitive on the battlefield
Main article: Anti-tank gun
South African tank gun retrofitted to a OQF 17 pdr carriage.
Anti-tank guns continued to be used in a number of conflicts past
World War 2 around the world, such as the Six Day War and the
South African Border War. Soviet anti-tank guns in particular were
exported to at least eighteen other countries after being retired from
service and have continued to see action.
Rather than developing specialized anti-tank artillery, some nations,
including South Africa and Israel, grafted obsolete tank guns onto
towed carriages for use in that role.
Owing to greater sophistication of the tank, and engineering support
available to tank units to detect and negate minefields, a
considerable effort was made to develop more effective anti-tank mine
technology in the effort to deny tank-led formations maneuver space,
or channel their movement into unsuitable avenues of approach.
Land Rover Series
Land Rover Series 2 "gunbuggy" with a M40 recoilless
rifle used in the anti-tank role.
The search for a more suitable, longer-range delivery system took up
much of the immediate post-war era. The US invested in the recoilless
rifle, delivering a widely used 75 mm design, and less common
90 mm and 106 mm designs (the latter was usually mounted
rather than infantry-handled). The 106 mm formed the basis of a
dedicated anti-tank vehicle, the Ontos tank, which mounted six
106 mm rifles. The
Australian Army also fitted M40 recoilless
Land Rover Series
Land Rover Series 2 vehicles for use in an anti-tank role.
Soviet Union also built recoilless rifles in various calibers
intended to be used as anti-tank weapons, most commonly 73 mm,
82 mm, and 110 mm (only the 73 mm remains in service
with the Russian military today, though the other two can be found all
over the world due to Soviet military aid during the Cold War). The
British used a 120 mm (4.7 inch) design to equip infantry units,
the BAT series, which served from the 1950s until replaced by MILAN,
but it was generally too heavy for infantry use and had to be towed
by, or mounted on, a vehicle for maneuverability.
The Soviets developed the
RPG-2 from the German
Further development led to the ubiquitous RPG-7. The
RPG-7 is one of
the most widely used anti-tank weapons, favored most by soldiers of
irregular militaries. The
RPG-7 could fire a range of different
warheads, from thermobaric warheads to a single
HEAT or tandem-charge
HEAT warheads against explosive reactive armor equipped tanks. The
RPG-7 has a long combat history, and has been used in most wars from
Vietnam war all the way to present day wars. In modern times, the
RPG-7 is generally used in an urban environment, which would enhance
their effectiveness due to the close ranges involved. However, the
RPG-7 has evolved to the even more potent
RPG-29 which has
proven its worth in conflicts in the Middle East, damaging the Merkava
IV, Challenger 2 and M1 Abrams main battle tanks.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Army adopted the
M72 LAW rocket, a lightweight,
collapsible rocket launcher with the ability to penetrate moderate
thicknesses of enemy armor. During the Vietnam War, the weapon was
used primarily against NVA and Viet Cong defensive works and
emplacements, as there were few encounters against enemy armor.
Overall, the LAW was regarded as a success, though its ignition system
frequently suffered from misfires in the heat and humidity of
Vietnamese jungles. The LAW has since been replaced by the
Changes in the anti-tank tactics since the Second World War mostly
came from the appearance of new technologies, and increased firepower
of the infantry mounted on fully armored vehicles. The most profound
anti-tank technology has been the guided missile, which when coupled
with a helicopter can mean that tanks can be engaged beyond ground
line of sight (LOS), and at one of their most vulnerable aspect, the
The effect of anti-tank warfare is to destroy or damage enemy tanks,
or to prevent enemy tanks, and their supporting troops from
maneuvering, which is the primary capability of the tanks. In the US
Army the degree of effect by an anti-tank weapon on a vehicle is
referred to as either "mobility kill", "firepower kill", and
"catastrophic kill". In a mobility kill (M-kill), the vehicle loses
its ability to move, for example, by breaking a tank track or bogey or
damaging the engine; the targeted tank is then immobile, but may
retain full use of its weapons (large cannon, heavy machine gun and
smaller machine guns) and still be able to fight to some extent. On
the other hand, a mobility-killed tank is a relatively vulnerable
target to RPG or
Molotov cocktail attacks, and it cannot maneuver to
better firing positions.
A firepower kill (F-kill) is some loss of the vehicle's ability to
fire its weapons. For example, a tank may be hit on its main cannon,
making the main gun inoperable. M-kills and F-kills may be complete or
partial, the latter corresponding to reductions in a target's ability
to move or fire. A catastrophic kill (K-kill) removes the tank's
ability to fight completely; this may entail complete destruction of
the tank or disabling or killing the crew.
South African Sherman tanks disabled in the fight to take the Perugia
Highlands in Italy 1944 - World War 2.
Although the future of the tank was questioned in the 1960s due to the
development of the anti-tank missiles, increases in thickness and
composition of armor, and other improvements in tank design meant that
infantry operated systems were no longer sufficiently effective by the
1970s, and the introduction of
Chobham armor by the
British Army and
reactive armor by the Soviet Army forced the
HEAT rounds to be
increased in size, rendering them less portable.
Weapon systems like the
FGM-148 Javelin use a Tandem
warhead where the first warhead disables reactive armor, while the
second warhead defeats the shell armor by means of a
HEAT or a shaped
charge. Today the anti-tank role is filled with a variety of weapons,
such as portable "top attack" artillery ammunition and missiles,
HEAT missiles fired from ground vehicles and helicopters, a
variety of high velocity autocannon, and ever-larger and heavier tank
guns. One of the first lessons of the
2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict is
the effectiveness of portable rocket propelled grenades, in
particular, Russian-made RPG-29, and Metis-M, Kornet and European
MILAN anti-tank missiles.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anti-tank weapons.
List of anti-tank guns
^ "WW1 Anti-
Tank rifles". Retrieved 10 October 2014.
^ Maj. Frederck Myatt M.C., Modern Small Arms, Crescent Books, New
York, NY, 1978, pp,228-29
^ Macksey, K.,
Tank vs Tank, Grub Street, London, 1999, p.32
^ John Norris, Anti-tank weapons, p.7
^ Terry Gander and Peter Chamberlain, Small Arms,
Special Weapons of the Third Reich, MacDonald and Janes, London, 1978,
^ Dr. J.R. Crittenden, "RPG-The Devil's Finger", Shotgun News, Nov.
20, 2003, P.30.
^ JOURNAL OF BATTLEFIELD TECHNOLOGY, VOL 1, NO 1, MARCH 1998, SOME
METALLURGICAL ASPECTS OF SHAPED CHARGE LINERS, Alistair Doig, p.1.
^ Chant, Christoper, How Weapons Work, Marshal Cavendish, Ltd,, Hong
Kong, 1980, p.50.
^ Francis, Devon E., Mr. Piper and His Cubs, Iowa State University
Press, ISBN 0-8138-1250-X, 9780813812502 (1973), p. 117.
^ Gantt, Marlene, Riding His Piper Cub Through The Skies Over France,
Bazooka Charlie Fought A One-man War,
World War II
World War II Magazine, September
^ Fountain, Paul, The Maytag Messerschmitts, Flying Magazine, March
1945, p. 90
^ Zaloga, Steven J,
Tank Destroyer 1943-97, p. 14,
^ Lone Sentry: New Weapons for Jap
Tank Hunters (U.S. WWII
Intelligence Bulletin, March 1945)
^ "Leonard Thomas Piper". WW2 People's War (article a2504530).
Retrieved 20 July 2006.
^ Schaedler, Luc (2007). Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet: Literary,
Historical, and Oral Sources for a Documentary Film (PDF) (Thesis
Presented to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Zurich For the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy). University of Zurich, Faculty of
Arts. p. 518. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2015.
Retrieved 24 April 2014.
^ Harmsen, Peter (2013). Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze
(illustrated ed.). Casemate. p. 112. ISBN 161200167X.
Retrieved 24 April 2014.
Tank Forces and Battles before 1949, Chapter One: PLA Tank
Forces In Its Infancy". TANKS! e-Magazine (#4). Summer 2001. Archived
from the original on 7 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
^ Xin Hui (8 January 2002). "Xinhui Presents: Chinese
Tank Forces and
Battles before 1949". Newsletter 1-8-2002 Articles. Archived from the
original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
^ Ong, Siew Chey (2005). China Condensed: 5000 Years of History &
Culture (illustrated ed.). Marshall Cavendish. p. 94.
ISBN 9812610677. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
^ Olsen, Lance (2012). Taierzhuang 1938 – Stalingrad 1942.
Numistamp. Clear Mind Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9838435-9-7.
Retrieved 24 April 2014.
^ "STORM OVER TAIERZHUANG 1938 PLAYER'S AID SHEET" (PDF).
grognard.com. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
^ Dr Ong Siew Chey (2011). China Condensed: 5,000 Years of History
& Culture (reprint ed.). Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte
Ltd. p. 79. ISBN 9814312991. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
^ International Press Correspondence, Volume 18. Richard Neumann.
1938. p. 447. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
^ Epstein, Israel (1939). The people's war. V. Gollancz. p. 172.
Retrieved 24 April 2014.
^ International Journal of Korean Studies. Korea Society and the
International Council on Korean Studies. 2001. p. 40.
^ Carter Malkasian (29 May 2014). The Korean War. Osprey Publishing.
pp. 22–. ISBN 978-1-4728-0994-0.
^ T. I. Han (1 May 2011). Lonesome Hero: Memoir of a Korea War POW.
AuthorHouse. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-1-4634-1176-3.
^ Charles R. Smith. U.S. Marines in the Korean War. Government
Printing Office. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-0-16-087251-8.
^ Sonia Ryang (16 January 2009). North Korea: Toward a Better
Understanding. Lexington Books. pp. 78–.
^ "Reformist Writer Mansour Al-Hadj: In My Youth, I Was Taught to Love
Death". MEMRI. www.aafaqmagazine.com. November 19, 2009.
^ Stokesbury 1990, pp. 14, 43.
^ Stokesbury 1990, p. 39.
^ Zaloga & Kinnear 1996:36
^ Stein 1994, p. 18.
^ Stokesbury 1990, pp. 182–184.
^ Helicopters at War, Blitz Editions, p. 63, ISBN 1-85605-345-8.
^ Verier, Mike. Bell AH-1 Cobra. Osprey Publishing, 1990.
^ Oren, Michael. Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the
Middle East (2003 ed.). Presidio Press. pp. 192–194.
^ "Ratel teen tenk en". Port Elizabeth: International Veterans'
Association/South African Forces Club. 2011. Archived from the
original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
^ "Trade Registers". Armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
^ Baasjan howitzer (RSA) (Exhibit), South African Armour Museum,
Bloemfontein: South African National Defence Force, 2014
^ Hezbollah anti-tank fire causing most IDF casualties in Lebanon -
Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel News
^ "Telegraph article". The Daily Telegraph.
A 1987 U.S. Army news archive about light anti-tank weapon training by
the 7th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Ord, Calif.
American Civil War
World War I
World War II