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Heavy Tank

Category: Term of the day

Soviet-made IS-2 heavy tank

A heavy tank was a subset of tank that provided equal or greater firepower as well as armor than tanks of lighter classes, at the cost of mobility and maneuverability.

Heavy tanks have usually been deployed to breakthrough enemy lines, though in practice have been more useful in the defensive role than in the attack. Design goals have included attacking obstacles, creating breakthroughs, and engaging enemy armoured formations.

Heavy tanks feature very heavy armour and weapons relative to lighter tanks, though they tend to push onboard power generators to the limits. As a result they tend to be either underpowered and comparatively slow, or have engine and drive train problems from overworking their engines. Heavy tanks tend to have excellent protection compared to their lighter cousins.

Heavy tanks achieved their greatest successes both fighting other, lighter tanks, and destroying fortifications with their very large guns. Although it is often assumed that heavy tanks suffered inferior mobility to mediums, this was not always the case, as many of the more sophisticated heavy tank designs featured advanced suspension and transmission precisely to counteract this drawback. But the greatest drawback is cost which translates into production, resulting in short supplies. The German Tiger I, for example, had similar speed and better terrain-handling characteristics when compared to the significantly lighter Panzer IV medium tank, albeit at the cost of low reliability and only 1,355 were produced compared to 8,800 Panzer IV and 58,000 Soviet T-34 and 40,000 American M4 Sherman medium tanks.

Sergyi Way

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