The 1940s were a period when tanks were most essential to land-based military operations and battles. During this time, both the Axis and Allied countries produced tanks in ever-increasing number to win the war. In both Eastern and Western Europe, thousands of tanks were involved on the main fronts. These were a few of the great tanks of WW2.
T – 34
Perhaps the most celebrated Soviet tank of the war was the Russian T-34. The Russian T-34 was developed before USSR joined the war, although the Russians had far fewer of these tanks to support the Red Army at the time. When the war in the USSR began, the Russians built T-34s in ever-increasing numbers. As such, from 1942 onwards the T-34 became the dominant tank of the Red Army and provided the momentum for their westward advances.
The Red Army used the T-34 extensively in some notable battles such as the Battle of Kursk, which was a decisive Soviet victory. The T-34 was a great all-round model combining good fire-power, mobility and armory. In addition, the T-34 had a great technical design that enabled the Russians to mass-produce it in large numbers for the Eastern Front.
The best tank that the Western Allies had in their armory was perhaps the American M4 Sherman. This was mass-produced by the USA in large numbers, and so was not only the USA's primary tank, but also that of British and the Commonwealth armies who the Americans provided with many Shermans via the Lend Lease Scheme. As such, the M4 Sherman was the Western Allies' best that was first used in North Africa against Rommel's Afrika Corps. There they were most effective in Britain's victory at El Alamein, and then in further Allied operations such as Operation Torch. In Western Europe the Sherman also played its part in Operation Overlord, but was later found to be lacking against the superior German Panther tanks at the Battle of the Bulge. However, the Sherman was undoubtedly the USA's most reliable tank of the war.
German Panther Tank
The Panther was the successor to the Panzer IV, which by 1942 was becoming more obsolete in comparison to Soviet models such as the T-34. The Germans developed the new Panther for combat against the Allies by 1943. It was first used at the Battle of Kursk, but at a time when German fronts were collapsing it could not turn the tide of war.
However, the Panther was still formidable with great fire-power that could penetrate any Allied tank, had strong armor and excellent mobility. The Panther outclassed the U.S. tanks at the Battle of the Bulge and provided the momentum for the German advance towards Bastogne. Fuel shortages made the Panther increasingly useless in the latter stages of the battle. It was one of the best tank designs of the 1940s and the best Axis model.
These were a few of the great tanks of WW2. The Panther, T-34 and the M4 Sherman were the best tanks of the U.S., U.K., German and Russian armies.