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'THE BIG PICTURE viewers will get an opportunity in this picture to see how armor has grown from a small group of specialists to the all-important role in in today's army. Signal Corps films present an authentic report of the first tactical employment of the iron combatants. Now accepted as an essential part of the fighting team on the ground, tanks were once considered impractical and ineffective. This episode records the slow evolution of today's rugged, reliable, hard-hitting, mobile forces. Authentic combat footage shows the successful employment of armored vehicles in World War II and in Korea. An indication of what lies ahead is also given with a view of the most modern armored vehicles being tested at Army proving grounds. A substantial following of World War II and Korean veterans, as well as those readers of Armor Magazine and members of the U.S. Armor Association who review the past triumphs of armor with considerable interest, will find in this documentary film a complete story that has long been waiting to be told.'
The Big Picture episode TV-509
Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
A tank is a large type of armoured fighting vehicle with tracks, designed for front-line combat. Modern tanks are strong mobile land weapons platforms, mounting a large-calibre cannon in a rotating gun turret. They combine this with heavy vehicle armour providing protection for the crew of the weapon and operational mobility, which allows them to position on the battlefield in advantageous locations. These features enable the tank to have enormous capability to perform well in a tactical situation: the combination of strong weapons fire from their tank gun and their ability to resist enemy fire means the tank can take hold of and control an area of the battle and prevent other enemy vehicles from advancing, for example. In both offensive and defensive roles, they are powerful units able to perform all primary tasks[which?] required of armoured troops on the battlefield. The modern tank was the result of a century of development from primitive armoured vehicles, due to improvements in technology such as the internal combustion engine, which allowed the rapid movement of heavy equipment required to construct armoured vehicles. As a result of these advances, tanks underwent tremendous shifts in capability during the World Wars of the 20th century.
Tanks in World War I were developed separately and simultaneously by Great Britain and France as a means to break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front. Their first use in combat was by the British Army on 15 September 1916 between the villages of Flers and Courcelette, during the Battle of the Somme. The name "tank" was adopted by the British during the early stages of their development, as a security measure to conceal their purpose (see etymology). While the French and British built thousands of tanks between them, Germany was unconvinced of the tank's potential, and built only twenty of her own.
Tanks of the interwar period evolved into the designs of World War II. Important concepts of armoured warfare were developed; the Soviet Union launched the first mass tank/air attack at Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in August 1939, which later resulted in the T-34, a predecessor of the main battle tank. Less than two weeks later, Germany began their large-scale armoured campaigns that would become known as blitzkrieg ("lightning war") – massed concentrations of tanks supported by motorised and mechanized infantry, artillery and air power designed to break through the enemy front and collapse enemy resistance.
The widespread introduction of HEAT warheads during the second half of WWII led to lightweight anti-tank weapons with considerable power. This caused major changes in tank doctrine and the introduction of effective combined arms tactics. Tanks in the Cold War were designed with these weapons in mind, and led to greatly improved armours during the 1960s, especially composite armour. Improved engines, transmissions and suspensions allowed tanks of this period to grow larger. Aspects of gun technology changed significantly as well, with advances in shell design.
During the 20th century, main battle tanks were considered a key component of modern armies...