“In this year, 1929, I became convinced that tanks working on their own or in conjunction with infantry could never achieve decisive importance. My historical studies, the exercises carried out in England, and our own experience with mock-ups had persuaded me that the tanks would never be able to produce their full effect until the other weapons on whose support they must inevitably rely were brought up to their standard of speed and of cross-country performance. In such formation of all arms, the tanks must play primary role, the other weapons beings subordinated to the requirements of the armour. It would be wrong to include tanks in infantry divisions; what was needed were armoured divisions which would include all the supporting arms needed to allow the tanks to fight with full effect.” (Heinz Guderian)
War has always been a competition between defense and offense. At times these two have been relatively balanced, but at other times, one becomes far more powerful. It is during those times that the greatest military innovations occur.
The tank was first developed by the British and French during World War I as a means to break the deadlock on the Western Front. More so than any previous war, the balance of power lay with the defense, as machine guns, trenches, bunkers, barbed wire, and rapid-firing rifles all made frontal assaults on established positions prohibitively costly. In the closing months of the war, the tank partially evened up that balance, even as the war’s commanders initially proved unsure of how to use them. While it cannot be said that the tank won the war, it contributed to its end and if the fighting had continued another year, the mass production that had started in Allied countries may have proved decisive.
©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors