Armoured fighting vehicle
An armoured fighting vehicle is an armed combat vehicle protected by armour combining operational mobility with offensive and defensive capabilities. AFVs can be tracked. Main battle tanks, armoured cars, armoured self-propelled guns, armoured personnel carriers are all examples of AFVs. Armoured fighting vehicles are classified according to their intended role on the battlefield and characteristics; the classifications are not absolute. For example lightly armed armoured personnel carriers were superseded by infantry fighting vehicles with much heavier armament in a similar role. Successful designs are adapted to a wide variety of applications. For example, the MOWAG Piranha designed as an APC, has been adapted to fill numerous roles such as a mortar carrier, infantry fighting vehicle, assault gun; the concept of a mobile and protected fighting unit has been around for centuries. Armoured fighting vehicles were not possible until internal combustion engines of sufficient power became available at the start of the 20th century.
Modern armoured fighting vehicles represent the realization of an ancient concept - that of providing troops with mobile protection and firepower. Armies have deployed war cavalries with rudimentary armour in battle for millennia. Use of these animals and engineering designs sought to achieve a balance between the conflicting paradoxical needs of mobility and protection. Siege engines, such as battering rams and siege towers, would be armoured in order to protect their crews from enemy action. Polyidus of Thessaly developed a large movable siege tower, the helepolis, as early as 340 BC, Greek forces used such structures in the Siege of Rhodes; the idea of a protected fighting vehicle has been known since antiquity. Cited is Leonardo da Vinci's 15th-century sketch of a mobile, protected gun-platform; the machine was to be mounted on four wheels which would be turned by the crew through a system of hand cranks and cage gears. Leonardo claimed: "I will build armored wagons which will be invulnerable to enemy attacks.
There will be no obstacle which it cannot overcome." Modern replicas have demonstrated that the human crew would have been able to move it over only short distances. Hussite forces in Bohemia developed war wagons - medieval weapon-platforms - around 1420 during the Hussite Wars; these heavy wagons were given protective sides with firing slits. Heavy arquebuses mounted on wagons were called arquebus à croc; these carried a ball of about 3.5 ounces. The first modern AFVs were armed cars, dating back 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 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; the armoured car was the first modern armoured fighting vehicle. The first of these was the Simms' Motor War Car, designed by Simms and built by Vickers, Sons & Maxim in 1899.
The vehicle had Vickers armour 6 mm thick and was powered by a four-cylinder 3.3-litre 16 hp Cannstatt Daimler engine giving it a maximum speed of around 9 miles per hour. The armament, consisting of two Maxim guns, was carried in two turrets with 360° traverse. 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; the vehicle was equipped with a Hotchkiss machine gun, with 7 mm armour for the gunner. Armoured cars were first used in large numbers on both sides during World War I as scouting vehicles. In 1903, H. G. Wells published the short story "The Land Ironclads," positing indomitable war machines that would bring a new age of land warfare, the way steam-powered ironclad warships had ended the age of sail. Wells' literary vision was realized in 1916, amidst the pyrrhic standstill of the Great War, the British Landships 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 cannons. These first British heavy tanks of World War I moved on caterpillar tracks that had lower ground pressure than wheeled vehicles, enabling them to pass the muddy, pocked terrain and slit trenches of the Battle of the Somme; the tank proved successful and, as technology improved. It became a weapon that could cross large distances at much higher speeds than supporting infantry and artillery; the need to provide the units that would fight alongside the tank led to the development of a wide range of specialised AFVs during the Second World War. 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
Katyusha rocket launcher
The Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver explosives to a target area more than conventional artillery, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload, they are fragile compared to artillery guns, but are inexpensive, easy to produce, usable on any chassis. The Katyushas of World War II, the first self-propelled artillery mass-produced by the Soviet Union, were mounted on ordinary trucks; this mobility gave the Katyusha, other self-propelled artillery, another advantage: being able to deliver a large blow all at once, move before being located and attacked with counter-battery fire. Katyusha weapons of World War II included the BM-13 launcher, light BM-8, heavy BM-31. Today, the nickname is applied to newer truck-mounted post-Soviet – in addition to non-Soviet – multiple rocket launchers, notably the common BM-21 Grad and its derivatives. Although this type of weapon has existed since the 15th century, the design of the Katyusha may have been influenced by Giuseppe Fieschi's Machine infernale - Fieschi was honored in a religious service at a Moscow church at the prompting of Soviet General Kotskov, the inventor of the Katyusha rocket launcher.
Concerns for secrecy kept the military designation of the Katyushas from being known by the soldiers who operated them. They were called by code names such as Kostikov guns, after the head of the RNII, the Reaction-Engine Scientific Research Institute, classed as Guards Mortars; the name BM-13 was only allowed into secret documents in 1942, remained classified until after the war. Because they were marked with the letter K, Red Army troops adopted a nickname from Mikhail Isakovsky's popular wartime song, "Katyusha", about a girl longing for her absent beloved, who has gone away on military service. Katyusha is the Russian equivalent of Katie, an endearing diminutive form of the name Katherine: Yekaterina →Katya →Katyusha. German troops coined the nickname "Stalin's organ", after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, comparing the visual resemblance of the launch array to a pipe organ, the sound of the weapon's rocket motors, a distinctive howling sound which terrified the German troops, adding a psychological warfare aspect to their use.
Weapons of this type are known by the same name in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Belgium, Hungary and other Spanish-speaking countries as well as in Sweden. The heavy BM-31 launcher was referred to as Andryusha. Katyusha rocket launchers, which were invented in Voronezh, were mounted on many platforms during World War II, including on trucks, artillery tractors and armoured trains, as well as on naval and riverine vessels as assault support weapons. Soviet engineers mounted single Katyusha rockets on lengths of railway track to serve in urban combat; the design was simple, consisting of racks of parallel rails on which rockets were mounted, with a folding frame to raise the rails to launch position. Each truck had 14 to 48 launchers; the M-13 rocket of the BM-13 system 13.2 cm in diameter and weighed 42 kg. The weapon is less accurate than conventional artillery guns, but is effective in saturation bombardment, was feared by German soldiers. A battery of four BM-13 launchers could fire a salvo in 7–10 seconds that delivered 4.35 tons of high explosives over a 400,000-square-metre impact zone, making its power equivalent to that of 72 conventional artillery guns.
With an efficient crew, the launchers could redeploy to a new location after firing, denying the enemy the opportunity for counterbattery fire. Katyusha batteries were massed in large numbers to create a shock effect on enemy forces; the weapon's disadvantage was the long time it took to reload a launcher, in contrast to conventional guns which could sustain a continuous low rate of fire. In June 1938, the Soviet Reaction-Engine Scientific Research Institute in Moscow was authorized by the Main Artillery Directorate to develop a multiple rocket launcher for the RS-132 aircraft rocket. I. Gvay led a design team in Chelyabinsk, which built several prototype launchers firing the modified 132 mm M-132 rockets over the sides of ZiS-5 trucks; these proved unstable, V. N. Galkovskiy proposed mounting the launch rails longitudinally. In August 1939, the result was the BM-13; the first large-scale testing of the rocket launchers took place at the end of 1938, when 233 rounds of various types were used. A salvo of rockets could straddle a target at a range of 5,500 metres.
But the artillery branch was not fond of the Katyusha, because it took up to 50 minutes to load and fire 24 rounds, while a conventional howitzer could fire 95 to 150 rounds in the same time. Testing with various rockets was conducted through 1940, the BM-13-16 with launch rails for sixteen rockets was authorized for production. Only forty launchers were built before Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. After their success in the first month of the war, mass production was ordered and the development of other models
M2 light tank
The M2 light tank Light Tank, M2, was an American pre-World War II light tank which saw limited use during World War II. The most common model, the M2A4, was equipped with one 37 mm M5 gun and five.30 cal M1919 Browning machine guns. It was developed from the prototype T2 tank built by Rock Island Arsenal, which had a Vickers-type leaf spring suspension; the suspension was replaced by the superior vertical volute system in the T2E1 series of 1935. This was put into production with minor modifications with ten produced; the main pre-war version was the M2A2, with 239 produced, becoming the main tank in the US Army infantry units in the Interwar period. The Spanish Civil War showed; this led to the M2A4 with a 37 mm gun as the main armament. A total of 375 were delivered, the last ten as late as April 1942, its only combat use in American units was with the US Marine Corps 1st Tank Battalion during the Pacific War in 1942. However, it is believed that M2A4s served in Burma and India with the British 7th Hussars and 2nd Royal Tank Regiment during their engagements with the Imperial Japanese Army's 14th Tank Regiment.
The M2A4 light tank led to the development of the M3 Stuart light tank and the M4 Tractor artillery prime mover. The M3 Stuart saw widespread use throughout the war. US Army infantry tank design started with the Light Tank, T1 during the 1920s, which developed into a series of experimental designs which didn't enter production; the T2 concept, starting five years incorporated several design lessons from the T1, but used a new suspension system copied from the British Vickers 6-Ton tank. The first prototype was delivered in 1933; the Defense Act of 1920 had defined tanks to be used in support of the infantry. Through the 1920s a number of theorists outlined an independent role for the tank that required it to move at high speed into the rear areas, a modern version of the cavalry; the British referred to these designs as cruiser tanks, but similar high-speed designs were developed under a variety of names. As the Defense Act limited tank development to the infantry, the United States Cavalry began tank development under the name "combat car".
In keeping with the high-speed role, the new T5 Combat Car introduced the new vertical volute spring suspension system, which proved superior to the Vickers leaf spring system. This led to a second prototype of the T2, the T2E1 in April 1934, adopting VVSS from the T5; the T2E1 was armed with one.30 cal and one.50 inch Browning machine gun mounted in a fixed turret. The T2E1 was selected for production in 1935 as the M2, which mounted only the M2 Browning in a small one-man turret, the.30 cal in the hull. After only 10 units were delivered, the Infantry Branch decided to switch to a twin turret configuration in the M2E2, with a.30-caliber machine gun in a second turret. These early twin-turret tanks were given the nickname "Mae West" by the troops, after the popular busty movie star; the twin-turret layout was inefficient, but was a common feature of 1930s light tanks derived from the Vickers, such as the Soviet T-26 and Polish 7TP. Further refinements to the M2A2 produced the A3 model, which incorporated a modified suspension system that reduced the tank's ground pressure.
The weight increased to 10 tons. Following the Spanish Civil War, most armies, including the U. S. Army, realized that they needed tanks armed with cannon and not with machine guns; the Cavalry had opted for a single, larger turret on its nearly identical M1 Combat Car. In December 1938, OCM #14844 directed that a single M2A3 be removed from the assembly line and modified with heavier armor and weapons, to meet the standards of the U. S. Infantry; this vehicle, after conversion, was re-designated as the M2A4. It was equipped with an M5 37 mm main gun, 1 inch thick armor, a seven-cylinder gasoline engine. Other upgrades included improved suspension, improved transmission, better engine cooling. Production of the M2A4 began in May 1940 at the American Car and Foundry Company, continued through March 1941; the US Army sent out press photos still showing the M2A4 being assembled in July 1941 after the assembly line had been changed over to the M3. The M2 Light Tank led to the US M3-series and M5-series light tanks.
The Ordnance Department viewed the M2A4 as a stopgap tank. The first M3 Stuart tanks began to be produced in March 1941. On the M2A4, the idler is raised; the M3 incorporated 1/2 - inch thicker armor. The tank kept the same 37 mm gun and the forward firing hull machine guns, but the turret incorporated improvements. Over 4,500 examples of all variants were produced. By December 1941, the M2A1, M2A2 and M2A3 were used for training only; the majority of M2A4s, which went to the US Army, were used only for training between 1940 and 1942. The U. S. Marine Corps ordered M3 Stuart tanks to outfit its armored units in 1940, but as the new tank was not yet in production, it received 36 M2A4s, after which point production of the M3 had come on line. Many of these tanks were deployed during the Battle of Guadalcanal while assigned to A Company, 1st Tank Battalion, where they and M3 Stuarts were typically
A light tank is a tank variant designed for rapid movement now employed in the reconnaissance role or in support of expeditionary forces where main battle tanks cannot be made available. Early light tanks were armed and armored similar to an armored car, but used tracks in order to provide better cross-country mobility; the fast light tank was a major feature of the pre-World War II buildup, where it was expected they would be used to exploit breakthroughs in enemy lines created by slower, heavier tanks. Numerous small tank designs and "tankettes" were developed during this period and known under a variety of names, including the "combat car"; the light tank has been one of the few tank variants to survive the development of the main battle tank, has seen use in a variety of roles including the support of light airborne or amphibious forces and reconnaissance. Modified IFVs are assuming these roles in many militaries due to their immediate availability, as a cheaper alternative to developing and fielding a pure light tank.
In World War I industrial initiative led to swift advances. The car industry used to vehicle mass production and having much more experience in vehicle layout, designed the first practical light tanks in 1916, a class neglected by the British, it would be Renault's small tank design the FT, incorporating a proper climbing face for the tracks, the first tank to incorporate a top-mounted turret with a full rotation. In fact the FT was in many respects the first modern tank having a layout, followed by all designs since: driver at the front. Previous models had been "box tanks", with a single crowded space combining the role of engine room, fighting compartment, ammunition stock and driver's cabin; the FT would have the largest production run of any tank of the war - with over 3,700 built it was more numerous than all British and German tanks combined. The Carden Loyd tankette and its derivatives were adopted by several nations as small tracked vehicles carrying a machine gun for armament. In 1928, the British firm of Vickers-Armstrong started promoting another design by John Carden and Vivien Loyd as the "six-ton tank".
Although rejected by the British Army, it was bought by a large number of nations in small numbers. It formed the basis of the Soviet T-26 and the Polish 7TP tank and influenced the Italian Fiat M11/39; the British Army did not use the design as a light tank themselves but a developed version of the Carden-Loyd tankette as the starting point for a series of British light tanks intended for use in imperial policing and expeditionary warfare. As the only tank fit for immediate manufacture, it was a key element in the expansion of the British Army in the period leading up to the outbreak of war. In general, French tanks of the 1930s were well-armored, innovative vehicles that owed little to foreign designs. However, the light tanks lacked firepower and all French tanks were handicapped by their one-man turrets the larger tanks such as the Char B1, which overworked the commander who, besides directing the vehicle, or a troop, had to load and aim the turret gun; the lack of radios with the light tanks was not seen as a major drawback, since French doctrine called for slow-paced, deliberate maneuvers in close conformance to plans.
The role of small unit leaders was to execute plans. In 1939, a belated effort was made to increase the number of radios. Throughout the interwar period the US produced only a few hundred tanks. From the end of World War I to 1935, only 15 tanks were produced. Most were derivatives or foreign designs or poor quality private designs; the Christie designs were among the few better examples, but the US Army acquired only three Christies and did not pursue the idea any further. Budget limitations and the low priority given to the army meant that there were few resources for building tanks; the US Army instead developed and tested tank components such as suspensions and transmissions. This paid off; the Soviet BT tanks were the most advanced in the 1930s fast and mounting high velocity 45 mm cannons. Their only drawback were their petrol engines which caught fire and during the Nomonhan fighting which lasted from about May through September 1939; the Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go light tank was equipped with a diesel engine, although mounting a 37 mm cannon, it was a low velocity gun with a maximum effective range of about 700 meters.
However, this conflict would be instrumental in developing the famous T-34 medium tank. Germany's armored Panzer force was not impressive at the start of the war. In the invasions of Poland and France, the German forces were made up of the Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks; the Panzer I was little more than a training vehicle armed only with machine guns, the Panzer II with a 20 mm cannon. The Panzer division included some Czech designed light tanks - the Panzer 35 and the Panzer 38. American light tank development started with the M2 light tank series; these light tanks were mechanically reliable, with good mobility. However, they had a high silhouette, only a few saw combat; the M3 Stuart series was an improvement of the M2 with better armor. The new medium tank just entering production in 1940 was the M2A1; this was a poor design with a high silhouette. The M3 Stuart saw use in the North African Campaign but was relegated to reconnaissance as soon as US-built medium tanks became available. Further light tank development in the war led to the improved M5 Stuart and inc
A tank is an armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat, with heavy firepower, strong armour, tracks and a powerful engine providing good battlefield manoeuvrability. They are a key part of combined arms combat. Modern tanks are versatile mobile land weapon system platforms, mounting a large-calibre cannon in a rotating gun turret, supplemented by mounted machine guns or other weapons, such as ATGMs, or rockets, they combine this with heavy vehicle armour which provides protection for the crew, the vehicle's weapons, its propulsion systems, operational mobility, due to its use of tracks rather than wheels, which allows the tank to move over rugged terrain and adverse conditions such as mud, be positioned on the battlefield in advantageous locations. These features enable the tank to perform well in a variety of intense combat situations both offensively with fire from their powerful tank gun, defensively due to their near invulnerability to common firearms and good resistance to heavier weapons, all while maintaining the mobility needed to exploit changing tactical situations.
Integrating tanks into modern military forces spawned a new era of combat, armoured warfare. There are classes of tanks, some being larger and heavily armoured, with high calibre guns, while others smaller armoured, equipped with a smaller calibre, lighter gun; these smaller tanks move over terrain with speed and agility and can perform a reconnaissance role in addition to engaging enemy targets. The smaller faster tank would not engage in battle with a larger armoured tank, except during a surprise flanking manoeuvre; the modern tank is the result of a century of development from the first primitive armoured vehicles, due to improvements in technology such as the internal combustion engine, which allowed the rapid movement of heavy armoured vehicles. As a result of these advances, tanks underwent tremendous shifts in capability in the years since their first appearance. Tanks in World War I were developed separately and by Great Britain and France as a means to break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front.
The first British prototype, nicknamed Little Willie, was constructed at William Foster & Co. in Lincoln, England in 1915, with leading roles played by Major Walter Gordon Wilson who designed the gearbox and hull, by William Tritton of William Foster and Co. who designed the track plates. This was a prototype of a new design that would become the British Army's Mark I tank, the first tank used in combat in September 1916 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. While the British and French built thousands of tanks in World War I, Germany was unconvinced of the tank's potential, built only twenty. Tanks of the interwar period evolved into the much larger and more powerful designs of World War II. Important new concepts of armoured warfare were developed. Less than two weeks Germany began their large-scale armoured campaigns that would become known as blitzkrieg – massed concentrations of tanks combined with motorised and mechanised infantry and air power designed to break through the enemy front and collapse enemy resistance.
The widespread introduction of high-explosive anti-tank warheads during the second half of World War II led to lightweight infantry-carried anti-tank weapons such as the Panzerfaust, which could destroy some types of tanks. Tanks in the Cold War were designed with these weapons in mind, led to improved armour types during the 1960s composite armour. Improved engines and suspensions allowed tanks of this period to grow larger. Aspects of gun technology changed as well, with advances in shell design and aiming technology. During the Cold War, the main battle tank concept became a key component of modern armies. In the 21st century, with the increasing role of asymmetrical warfare and the end of the Cold War, that contributed to the increase of cost-effective anti-tank rocket propelled grenades worldwide and its successors, the ability of tanks to operate independently has declined. Modern tanks are more organized into combined arms units which involve the support of infantry, who may accompany the tanks in infantry fighting vehicles, supported by reconnaissance or ground-attack aircraft.
The tank is the 20th century realization of an ancient concept: that of providing troops with mobile protection and firepower. The internal combustion engine, armour plate, continuous track were key innovations leading to the invention of the modern tank. Many sources imply that Leonardo da Vinci and H. G. Wells in some way "invented" the tank. Leonardo's late 15th century drawings of what some describe as a "tank" show a man-powered, wheeled vehicle with cannons all around it; however the human crew would not have enough power to move it over larger distance, usage of animals was problematic in a space so confined. In the 15th century, Jan Žižka built armoured wagons containing cannons and used them in several battles; the continuous "caterpillar" track arose from attempts to improve the mobility of wheeled vehicles by spreading their weight, reducing ground pressure, increasing their traction. Experiments can be traced back as far as the 17th century, by the late nineteenth they existed in various recognizable and practical forms in several countries.
It is frequen
The M3 Stuart Light Tank, M3, was an American light tank of World War II. It was supplied to British and other Commonwealth forces under lend-lease prior to the entry of the U. S. into the war. Thereafter, it was used by U. S. and Allied forces until the end of the war. The British service name "Stuart" came from the American Civil War Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart and was used for the derivative M5 Light Tank. In U. S. use, the tanks were known as "Light Tank M3" and "Light Tank M5". Stuarts were the first American-crewed tanks in World War II to engage the enemy in tank versus tank combat; the Stuart was the light tank counterpart of the M3 Lee, a medium tank. Observing events in Europe, American tank designers realized that the Light Tank M2 was becoming obsolete and set about improving it; the upgraded design, with thicker armor, modified suspension and new gun recoil system was called "Light Tank M3". Production of the vehicle started in March 1941 and continued until October 1943. Like its direct predecessor, the M2A4, the M3 was armed with a 37 mm M5 gun and five.30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns: coaxial with the gun, on top of the turret in an M20 anti-aircraft mount, in a ball mount in right bow, in the right and left hull sponsons.
The gun was replaced with the longer M6, the sponson machine guns were removed. For a light tank, the Stuart was heavily armored, it had 38 mm of armor on the upper front hull, 44 mm on the lower front hull, 51 mm on the gun mantlet, 38 mm on the turret sides, 25 mm on the hull sides, 25 mm on the hull rear. The M3 and M3A1 variants were powered by an air-cooled radial engine, either a gasoline-fueled 7-cylinder Continental W-670 or a 9-cylinder Guiberson T-1020 diesel. Both of these powerplants were developed as aircraft engines. Internally, the radial engine was at the transmission at the front of the tank's hull; the propeller shaft connecting the engine and transmission ran through the middle of the fighting compartment. The radial engine's crankshaft was positioned high off the hull bottom and contributed to the tank's tall profile; when a revolving turret floor was introduced in the M3 hybrid and M3A1, the crew had less room. A further 3,427 M3A3 variants were built with modified hull, new turret and the Continental W-670 gasoline engine.
In contrast to the M2A4, all M3/M5 series tanks had a trailing rear idler wheel for increased ground contact. To relieve wartime demand for the radial aero-engines used in the M3, a new version was developed using twin Cadillac V8 automobile engines and twin Hydra-Matic transmissions operating through a transfer case; this version of the tank was quieter and roomier. The new model featured a redesigned hull with a raised rear deck over the engine compartment, sloped glacis plate and driver's hatches moved to the top. Although the main criticism from units using the Stuarts was that it lacked firepower, the improved M5 series kept the same 37 mm gun; the M5 replaced the M3 in production from 1942 and, after the M7 project proved unsatisfactory, was succeeded by the Light Tank M24 in 1944. Total M5 and M5A1 tank production was 8,885. British and other Commonwealth armies were the first to use the Light Tank M3, as the "General Stuart", in combat. From mid-November 1941 to the end of the year, about 170 Stuarts took part in Operation Crusader during the North Africa Campaign, with poor results.
This is despite the fact that the M3 was superior or comparable in most regards to most of the tanks used by the Axis forces. The most numerous German tank, the Panzer III Ausf G, had nearly identical armor and speed to the M3, both tanks' guns could penetrate the other tank's front armor from beyond 1,000 m; the most numerous Italian tank, the Fiat M13/40, was much slower than the Stuart, had weaker armor all around, could not penetrate the Stuart's front hull or turret armor at 1,000 meters, whereas the Stuart's gun could penetrate any spot on the M13/40. Although the high losses suffered by Stuart-equipped units during the operation had more to do with the better tactics and training of the Afrika Korps than the apparent superiority of German armored fighting vehicles used in the North African campaign, the operation revealed that the M3 had several technical faults. Mentioned in the British complaints were poor internal layout; the two-man turret crew was a significant weakness, some British units tried to fight with three-man turret crews.
The Stuart had a limited range, a severe problem in the mobile desert warfare as units outpaced their supplies and were stranded when they ran out of fuel. On the positive side, crews liked its high speed and mechanical reliability compared to the Crusader tank, which comprised a large portion of the British tank force in Africa up until 1942; the Crusader had similar armament and armor to the Stuart while being slower, less reliable, several tons heavier. The Stuart had the advantage of a gun that could deliver high-explosive shells; the main drawback of the Stuart was range.
A mortar is a simple, man portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arcing ballistic trajectories. Mortars are used as indirect fire weapons for close fire support with a variety of ammunition. Mortars have been used for hundreds of years in siege warfare. Many historians consider the first mortars to have been used at the 1453 siege of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror. An Italian account of the 1456 siege of Belgrade by Giovanni da Tagliacozzo said that the Ottoman Turks used seven mortars that fired "stone shots one Italian mile high"; the time of flight of these was long enough that casualties could be avoided by posting observers to give warning of their trajectories. However, earlier mortars were used in Korea in a 1413 naval battle when Korean gunsmiths developed the Wan'gu; the earliest version of the Wan'gu dates back to 1407. Choi Hae-san, the son of Choe Mu-seon, is credited with inventing the first Wan'gu.
Early mortars, such as the Pumhart von Steyr, were large and heavy, could not be transported. Made, these weapons were no more than iron bowls reminiscent of the kitchen and apothecary mortars whence they drew their name. An early transportable mortar was invented by Baron Menno van Coehoorn; this mortar fired an exploding shell. This innovation was taken up, necessitating a new form of naval ship, the bomb vessel. Mortars played a significant role in the Venetian conquest of Morea and in the course of this campaign an ammunition store in the Parthenon was blown up. An early use of these more mobile mortars as field weapons was by British forces in the suppression of the Jacobite rising of 1719 at the Battle of Glen Shiel. High angle trajectory mortars held a great advantage over standard field guns in the rough terrain of the West Highlands of Scotland; the mortar had fallen out of general use in Europe by the Napoleonic era and interest in the weapon was not revived until the beginning of the 20th century.
Mortars were used by both sides during the American Civil War. At the Siege of Vicksburg, General US Grant reported making coehorn mortars "by taking logs of the toughest wood that could be found, boring them out for six- or twelve-pound shells and binding them with strong iron bands; these answered as Coehorns, shells were thrown from them into the trenches of the enemy". During the Russo-Japanese War, Lieutenant-General Leonid Gobyato of the Imperial Russian Army applied the principles of indirect fire from closed firing positions in the field and, with the collaboration of General Roman Kondratenko, he designed the first mortar that fired navy shells; the German Army studied the Siege of Port Arthur, where heavy artillery had been unable to destroy defensive structures like barbed wire and bunkers. As a result, they developed. Used during World War I, they were made in three sizes. World War I saw the introduction of the Stokes mortar, it was the forerunner of all modern mortars in use today.
These modern weapons are light, easy to operate, yet possess enough accuracy and firepower to provide infantry with quality close fire support against soft and hard targets more than any other means. It was not until the Stokes Mortar was devised by Sir Wilfred Stokes in 1915 during the First World War that the modern mortar transportable by one person was born. In the conditions of trench warfare, there was a great need for a versatile and portable weapon that could be manned by troops undercover in the trenches. Stokes's design was rejected in June 1915 because it was unable to use existing stocks of British mortar ammunition, it took the intervention of David Lloyd George and Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Matheson of the Trench Warfare Supply Department to expedite manufacture of the Stokes mortar; the weapon proved to be useful in the muddy trenches of the Western Front, as a mortar round could be aimed to fall directly into trenches, where artillery shells, due to their low angle of flight, could not go.
The Stokes mortar was a simple muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smoothbore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount. When a mortar bomb was dropped into the tube, an impact sensitive primer in the base of the bomb would make contact with a firing pin at the base of the tube, detonate, firing the bomb towards the target, it could fire as many as 25 bombs per minute and had a maximum range of 800 yards firing the original cylindrical unstabilised projectile. A modified version of the mortar, which fired a modern fin-stabilised streamlined projectile and had a booster charge for longer range, was developed after World War I. By World War II, it could fire as many as 30 bombs per minute, had a range of over 2,500 yards with some shell types; the French developed an improved version of the Stokes mortar as the Brandt Mle 27, further refined as the Brandt Mle 31. These weapons were the prototypes for all subsequent light mortar developments around the world. Mortar carriers are vehicles.
Numerous vehicles have been used to mount morta