Putin’s war in Ukraine has surely been a disaster no matter how one looks at it.
But it also has many questioning if the era of the tank is over.
Could modern armor be as obsolete as the battleship?
Where Are Russia’s Anti-Tank Weapons? – Almost immediately after the first armored behemoths – the original MkI heavy tanks of the British Army – rolled across the fields of the Somme on the Western Front during the First World War, German military planners considered the best ways to counter the threat.
Artillery was employed, while the Germans even developed a massively oversized bolt action rifle, the Model 1918 “T-Gewehr.”
By the Second World War, anti-tank weapons continued to evolve and these included anti-tank mines, shape chargers, and later man-portable rocket launchers. The latter type of weapon has steadily improved and have successfully been employed to great effect by Ukrainian forces against Russian armor – resulting in the destruction of potentially thousands of main battle tanks (MBTs).
End of the Age of Tanks?
In fact, the destruction of so many Russian tanks, including large numbers of the Cold War-era T-72 and even more advanced T-90s, has led to the conclusion that the age of the tank could be coming to an end.
However, there are a few important considerations.
As the Modern War Institute at West Point noted in a March 2020 study, “Infantry’s advantage isn’t permanent. As tanks with new capabilities are fielded, infantry forces will have to respond, and cannot wait for a new generation of capabilities to provide battlefield solutions. Instead, infantry units should begin conceptualizing, refining, and training new tactics, techniques, and procedures.”
Those weapons have been used with devastating results.
But the other half of the equation is that infantry still needs to have the right weapons to take out a tank.
Without such weapons, infantry can often be rolled over – just as the British MkIs were able to do to the Germans nearly 107 years ago in the mud-soaked fields of the Western Front.
That fact was noted in a video that was shared on social media a few months back.
Charging Into Action
The 45-second clip showed a Ukrainian T-72B3 – an upgraded model of the Soviet Union’s Cold War-era main battle tank (MBT) charging forward across a frozen field outside of the besieged city of Bakhmut.
Note the video was posted months back before the city was destroyed and take by Putin’s forces.
The tank appeared to engage the Russian forces at near-point-blank range.
It was a bold move, and not all that different from the armored tactics repeatedly made by Russian tank crews with disastrous results.
There have been reports that the Kremlin is struggling to keep its forces adequately equipped and that has included a variety of ordnance.
Or, it could have a case of a very bold tank crew that had luck on its side. A lesson now is that tankers are like pilots – as in there are bold pilots and old pilots, but very few old bold pilots.
A bold tank crew is likely a dead tank crew. And the Ukrainians seen in the video might not want to press their luck.
— Thomas C. Theiner (@noclador) February 19, 2023
From 19FortyFive: Joe Biden Has Made A Massive Mistake
From 19FortyFive: Donald Trump Keeps Making One Embarrassing Mistake
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.