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Jordan Clark
Jordan Clark

Armored Combat Vehicle

An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed combat vehicle protected by armour, generally combining operational mobility with offensive and defensive capabilities. AFVs can be wheeled or tracked. Examples of AFVs are tanks, armoured cars, assault guns, self-propelled guns, infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), and armoured personnel carriers (APC).

armored combat vehicle

Armoured fighting vehicles are classified according to their characteristics and intended role on the battlefield. The classifications are not absolute; two countries may classify the same vehicle differently, and the criteria change over time. For example, relatively lightly armed armoured personnel carriers were largely superseded by infantry fighting vehicles with much heavier armament in a similar role.

Successful designs are often adapted to a wide variety of applications. For example, the MOWAG Piranha, originally designed as an APC, has been adapted to fill numerous roles such as a mortar carrier, infantry fighting vehicle, and assault gun.

Armoured fighting vehicles began to appear in use in World War I with the armoured car, the tank, the self-propelled gun, and the personnel carrier seeing use. By World War II, armies had large numbers of AFVs, together with other vehicles to carry troops this permitted highly mobile manoeuvre warfare.

The idea of a protected fighting vehicle has been known since antiquity. Frequently cited is Leonardo da Vinci's 15th-century sketch of a mobile, protected gun-platform; the drawings show a conical, wooden shelter with apertures for cannons around the circumference. The machine was to be mounted on four wheels which would be turned by the crew through a system of hand cranks and cage (or "lantern") gears. Leonardo claimed: "I will build armoured wagons which will be safe and invulnerable to enemy attacks. There will be no obstacle which it cannot overcome."[1] Modern replicas have demonstrated that the human crew would have been able to move it over only short distances.

The first modern AFVs were armed cars, dating back virtually to the invention of the motor car. The British inventor F. R. Simms designed and built the Motor Scout in 1898. It was the first armed, petrol-engine powered vehicle ever built. It consisted of a De Dion-Bouton quadricycle with a Maxim machine gun mounted on the front bar. An iron shield offered some protection for the driver from the front, but it lacked all-around protective armour.[3]

The armoured car was the first modern fully armoured fighting vehicle. The first of these was the Simms's Motor War Car, also designed by Simms and built by Vickers, Sons & Maxim in 1899.[4] The vehicle had Vickers armour 6 mm thick and was powered by a four-cylinder 3.3-litre[4] 16 hp Cannstatt Daimler engine giving it a maximum speed of around 9 miles per hour (14 kilometres per hour). The armament, consisting of two Maxim guns, was carried in two turrets with 360 traverse.[5][6]

Another early armoured car of the period was the French Charron, Girardot et Voigt 1902, presented at the Salon de l'Automobile et du cycle in Brussels, on 8 March 1902.[7] The vehicle was equipped with a Hotchkiss machine gun, and with 7 mm armour for the gunner.[8][9] Armoured cars were first used in large numbers on both sides during World War I as scouting vehicles.

Wells's literary vision was realized in 1916, when, amidst the pyrrhic standstill of the Great War, the British Landship Committee deployed revolutionary armoured vehicles to break the stalemate. The tank was envisioned as an armoured machine that could cross ground under fire from machine guns and reply with its own mounted machine guns and naval artillery. These first British tanks of World War I moved on caterpillar tracks that had substantially lower ground pressure than wheeled vehicles, enabling them to pass the muddy, pocked terrain and slit trenches of the Battle of the Somme.

The armoured personnel carrier, designed to transport infantry troops to the frontline, emerged towards the end of World War I. During the first actions with tanks, it had become clear that close contact with infantry was essential in order to secure ground won by the tanks. Troops on foot were vulnerable to enemy fire, but they could not be transported in the tank because of the intense heat and noxious atmosphere.[citation needed] In 1917, Lieutenant G. J. Rackham was ordered to design an armoured vehicle that could fight and carry troops or supplies. The Mark IX tank was built by Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., although just three vehicles had been finished at the time of the Armistice in November 1918, and only 34 were built in total.

During World War II, most major military powers developed self-propelled artillery vehicles. These had guns mounted on a tracked chassis (often that of an obsolete or superseded tank) and provided an armoured superstructure to protect the gun and its crew. The first British design, "Bishop", carried the 25 pdr gun-howitzer in an extemporised mounting on a tank chassis that severely limited the gun's performance. It was replaced by the more effective Sexton. The Germans built many lightly armoured self-propelled anti-tank guns using captured French equipment (for example Marder I), their own obsolete light tank chassis (Marder II), or ex-Czech chassis (Marder III). These led to better-protected tank destroyers, built on a medium-tank chassis such as the Jagdpanzer IV or the Jagdpanther.

By the end of World War II, most modern armies had vehicles to carry infantry, artillery and anti-aircraft weaponry. Most modern AFVs are superficially similar in design to their World War II counterparts, but with significantly better armour, weapons, engines, electronics, and suspension. The increase in the capacity of transport aircraft makes possible and practicable the transport of AFVs by air. Many armies are replacing some or all of their traditional heavy vehicles with lighter airmobile versions, often with wheels instead of tracks.

The greater the recoil of the weapon on an AFV, the larger the turret ring needs to be. A larger turret ring necessitates a larger vehicle. To avoid listing to the side, turrets on amphibious vehicles are usually located at the centre of the vehicle.[13]

Modern main battle tanks or "universal tanks" incorporate recent advances in automotive, artillery, armour, and electronic technology to combine the best characteristics of the historic medium and heavy tanks into a single, all around type. They are also the most expensive to mass-produce. A main battle tank is distinguished by its high level of firepower, mobility and armour protection relative to other vehicles of its era. It can cross comparatively rough terrain at high speeds, but its heavy-dependency on fuel, maintenance, and ammunition makes it logistically demanding. It has the heaviest armour of any AFVs on the battlefield, and carries a powerful precision-guided munition weapon systems that may be able to engage a wide variety of both ground targets and air targets. Despite significant advances in anti-tank warfare, it still remains the most versatile and fearsome land-based weapon-systems of the 21st-century, valued for its shock action and high survivability.

A tankette is a tracked armed and armoured vehicle[16] resembling a small "ultra-light tank" or "super-light tank" roughly the size of a car, mainly intended for light infantry support or scouting.[17] They were one or two-man vehicles armed with a machine gun. Colloquially it may also simply mean a "small tank".[18]

Tankettes were designed and built by several nations between the 1920s and 1940s following the British Carden Loyd tankette which was a successful implementation of "one man tank" ideas from Giffard Le Quesne Martel. They were very popular with smaller countries. Some saw some combat (with limited success) in World War II. However, the vulnerability of their light armour eventually caused the concept to be abandoned.However, the German Army uses a modern design of air-transportable armoured weapons carriers, the Wiesel AWC, which resembles the concept of a tankette.

The term "super-heavy tank" has been used to describe armoured fighting vehicles of extreme size, generally over 75 tonnes. Programs have been initiated on several occasions with the aim of creating an invincible siegeworks/breakthrough vehicle for penetrating enemy formations and fortifications without fear of being destroyed in combat. Examples were designed in World War I and World War II (such as the Panzer VIII Maus), along with a few in the Cold War. However, few working prototypes were built and there are no clear evidence any of these vehicles saw combat, as their immense size would have made most designs impractical.

Some multi-axled wheeled fighting vehicles can be quite heavy, and superior to older or smaller tanks in terms of armour and armament. Others are often used in military marches and processions, or for the escorting of important figures. Under peacetime conditions, they form an essential part of most standing armies. Armoured car units can move without the assistance of transporters and cover great distances with fewer logistical problems than tracked vehicles.

During World War II, armoured cars were used for reconnaissance alongside scout cars. Their guns were suitable for some defence if they encountered enemy armoured fighting vehicles, but they were not intended to engage enemy tanks. Armoured cars have since been used in the offensive role against tanks with varying degrees of success, most notably during the South African Border War, Toyota War, the Invasion of Kuwait, and other lower-intensity conflicts.

A scout car is a military armoured reconnaissance vehicle, capable of off-road mobility and often carrying mounted weapons such as machine guns for offensive capabilities and crew protection. They often only carry an operational crew aboard, which differentiates them from wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and infantry mobility vehicles (IMVs), but early scout cars, such as the open-topped US M3 scout car could carry a crew of seven. The term is often used synonymously with the more general term armoured car, which also includes armoured civilian vehicles. They are also differentiated by being designed and built for purpose, as opposed to improvised "technicals" which might serve in the same role. 041b061a72


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