Cold War Vehicles

During the Cold War (1945–1990), the two opposing forces in Europe were the Warsaw Pact countries on the one side, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries on the other side. The Warsaw Pact was seen by the West as having an aggressive force outnumbering the NATO forces.

Soviet domination of the Warsaw Pact led to effective standardization on a few tank designs. In comparison, NATO adopted a defensive posture. The major contributing nations, France, Germany, the USA, and the UK developed their own tank designs, with little in common, while the smaller nations of NATO purchased or adapted these designs.

After World War II, tank development continued largely as it had been because of the Cold War. Tanks would not only continue to be produced in huge numbers, but the technology advanced dramatically as well. Tanks became larger and their armour became thicker and much more effective. Aspects of gun technology changed significantly as well, with advances in shell design and terminal effectiveness. However, most contemporary tanks in service still have manually breech-loaded guns, a trait of the earliest tanks which is shared with most self-propelled and field guns.

Many of the changes in tank design have been refinements to targeting and ranging (fire control), gun stabilisation, communications and crew comfort. Armour has evolved to keep pace with improvements in weaponry, and guns have grown bigger. But there have been no fundamental changes.

After World War II, tank design budgets were cut and engineering staff was often scattered. Many war planners[who?] believed that with the advent of nuclear weapons the tank was obsolete, given that a tactical nuclear weapon could destroy any brigade or regiment, whether it was armoured or not. The Korean War proved that tanks were still useful on the battlefield, given the hesitation of the great powers to use nuclear weapons. In the 1950s, many nations' tanks were equipped with NBC protection, allowing mechanized units to defend against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, or to conduct breakthroughs by exploiting battlefield nuclear strikes.
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T-54 Main Battle Tank
The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tanks introduced in the years following the Second World War. The first T-54 prototype was completed at Nizhny Tagil by the end of 1945.[2] Initial production ramp up settled for 1947 at Nizhny Tagil, and 1948 for Kharkov were halted and curtailed as many problems were uncovered; the T-34-85 still accounted for 88 percent of production through the 1950s.[2] The T-54 eventually became the main tank for armoured units of the Soviet Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and many others. T-54s and T-55s have been involved in many of the world's armed conflicts since the later part of the 20th century.

The T-54/55 series eventually became the most-produced tank in military history. Estimated production numbers for the series range from 86,000 to 100,000. They were replaced by the T-62, T-64, T-72, T-80, T-90 and soon, T-14 tanks in the Soviet and Russian armies, but remain in use by up to 50 other armies worldwide, some having received sophisticated retrofitting.

During the Cold War, Soviet tanks never directly faced their NATO adversaries in combat in Europe. However, the T-54/55's first appearance in the West around the period of the 1950s (then the beginning of the Cold War) spurred the United Kingdom to develop a new tank gun, the Royal Ordnance L7, and the United States to develop the M60 Patton.
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Centurion Mk 3
The Centurion was the primary British main battle tank of the post-Second World War period. Introduced in 1945, it is widely considered to be one of the most successful post-war tank designs, remaining in production into the 1960s, and seeing combat in the front lines into the 1980s. The chassis was also adapted for several other roles, and these have remained in service to this day.

Development of the Centurion began in 1943 with manufacture beginning in January 1945. Six prototypes arrived in Belgium less than a month after the war in Europe ended in May 1945.[10] It first entered combat with the British Army in the Korean War in 1950, in support of the UN forces. The Centurion later served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where it fought against US-supplied M47 and M48 Patton tanks and it served with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in Vietnam.

Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and during the 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. Centurions modified as armoured personnel carriers were used in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Lebanese border. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurions, first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973. South Africa deployed its Centurions in Angola during the South African Border War.[11]

It became one of the most widely used tank designs, equipping armies around the world, with some still in service until the 1990s.[12] As recently as the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as armoured personnel carriers and combat engineering vehicles. The South African National Defence Force still employs over 200 Centurions, which were modernised in the 1980s and 2000s as the Olifant.

Between 1946 and 1962, 4,423 Centurions were produced, consisting of 13 basic marks and numerous variants. In British Army use it was replaced by the Chieftain.
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Centurion Mk 5
The Centurion was the primary British main battle tank of the post-Second World War period. Introduced in 1945, it is widely considered to be one of the most successful post-war tank designs, remaining in production into the 1960s, and seeing combat in the front lines into the 1980s. The chassis was also adapted for several other roles, and these have remained in service to this day.

Development of the Centurion began in 1943 with manufacture beginning in January 1945. Six prototypes arrived in Belgium less than a month after the war in Europe ended in May 1945.[10] It first entered combat with the British Army in the Korean War in 1950, in support of the UN forces. The Centurion later served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where it fought against US-supplied M47 and M48 Patton tanks and it served with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in Vietnam.

Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and during the 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. Centurions modified as armoured personnel carriers were used in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Lebanese border. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurions, first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973. South Africa deployed its Centurions in Angola during the South African Border War.[11]

It became one of the most widely used tank designs, equipping armies around the world, with some still in service until the 1990s.[12] As recently as the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as armoured personnel carriers and combat engineering vehicles. The South African National Defence Force still employs over 200 Centurions, which were modernised in the 1980s and 2000s as the Olifant.

Between 1946 and 1962, 4,423 Centurions were produced, consisting of 13 basic marks and numerous variants. In British Army use it was replaced by the Chieftain.
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Centurion Mk 5 AVRE with 165mm L9 Demolition Gun.
The Centurion was the primary British main battle tank of the post-Second World War period. Introduced in 1945, it is widely considered to be one of the most successful post-war tank designs, remaining in production into the 1960s, and seeing combat in the front lines into the 1980s. The chassis was also adapted for several other roles, and these have remained in service to this day.

Development of the Centurion began in 1943 with manufacture beginning in January 1945. Six prototypes arrived in Belgium less than a month after the war in Europe ended in May 1945.[10] It first entered combat with the British Army in the Korean War in 1950, in support of the UN forces. The Centurion later served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, where it fought against US-supplied M47 and M48 Patton tanks and it served with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps in Vietnam.

Israel used Centurions in the 1967 Six-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, and during the 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon. Centurions modified as armoured personnel carriers were used in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Lebanese border. The Royal Jordanian Land Force used Centurions, first in 1970 to fend off a Syrian incursion within its borders during the Black September events and later in the Golan Heights in 1973. South Africa deployed its Centurions in Angola during the South African Border War.[11]

It became one of the most widely used tank designs, equipping armies around the world, with some still in service until the 1990s.[12] As recently as the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict the Israel Defense Forces employed heavily modified Centurions as armoured personnel carriers and combat engineering vehicles. The South African National Defence Force still employs over 200 Centurions, which were modernised in the 1980s and 2000s as the Olifant.

Between 1946 and 1962, 4,423 Centurions were produced, consisting of 13 basic marks and numerous variants. In British Army use it was replaced by the Chieftain.
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