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A tankette is a tracked armoured fighting vehicle[1] that resembles a small tank, roughly the size of a car. It is mainly intended for light infantry support and scouting.[2][3] Colloquially it may also simply mean a small tank.[4] Several countries built tankettes between the 1920s and 1940s, and some saw limited combat in the early phases of World War II. The vulnerability of their light armor, however, eventually led armies to abandon the concept with some exceptions such as the German Wiesel (Weasel) series.

Contents

1 Characteristics 2 History 3 Examples 4 See also 5 References

Characteristics[edit] Tankettes were made both in two- and three-man models. Some were so low that the occupant had to lie prone.[3] Some models were not equipped with turrets (and together with the tracked mobility, this is often seen as defining the concept), or just a very simple one that was traversed by hand or leg. They were significantly smaller than light tanks and did not have a tank gun, instead their main weapon tended to be one or two machine guns or, rarely, a 20 mm autocannon or grenade launcher. History[edit]

A Japanese Type 94 tankette

The genesis of the tankette concept was the armoured warfare of World War I. On the Western Front in the later stage of the war, Allied tanks could break through the enemy trench lines but the infantry (needed to take and hold the ground gained) following the tanks were easily stopped or delayed by small arms fire and artillery. The breakthrough tanks were then isolated and destroyed and reinforcements plugged the hole in the trench line. The tankette was originally conceived in the early interwar period to solve this problem. The first designs were a sort of mobile, one-man machine gun nest protected against small arms fire and shell fragments. This idea was abandoned and the two man-model, mainly intended for reconnaissance, was produced instead. The moving up of infantry while protecting them was solved with the armoured personnel carrier.

An Italian Carro Leggero 3/35 (L3/35) Light Tank

In 1925 British tank pioneer Giffard Le Quesne Martel
Giffard Le Quesne Martel
built a one-man tank, the Morris-Martel, in his garage and showed it to the War Office, who agreed to production of a few for testing. The publicity caused John Carden and Vivian Loyd to produce their own. Both types were developed further, but the two-man Carden Loyd tankette
Carden Loyd tankette
was considered the classic and most successful design,[3] with many other tankettes modeled after it. While the design was influential, few Carden Loyd tankettes saw combat,[citation needed] other than those the Bolivian side used during the Chaco War. However, the design did lead to the universal carrier, which had an extensive operational history in the Second World War.[5] The Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) equipped three armoured divisions and three "fast" (celere) divisions with L3/33
L3/33
and L3/35 tankettes. The L3s were used in large numbers during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War, and almost every place Italian soldiers fought during World War II. Some L3s went with the Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia
Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia
(Corpo di Spedizione Italiano, or CSIR) as late as Operation Barbarossa. The French armoured reconnaissance type (automitrailleuses de reconnaissance, "machine-gun scout") of the 1930s was essentially a tankette in form, specifically intended for scouting ahead of the main force. In 1935, the Soviets experimented with transporting T-27s by air, suspending one under the fuselage of a Tupolev TB-3 bomber.[3]

IJA Type 97 Te-Ke
Type 97 Te-Ke
tankette in China

The Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
(IJA) became one of the most prolific users of tankettes, producing a number of designs for reconnaissance and infantry support in China[6] and jungle warfare. However, by the time of the Second World War, many were already obsolete and some were proven unsuccessful in their appointed task. Many were relegated to tractor duties for artillery or logistics units.[3][7] Due to their limited utility and vulnerability to anti-tank weapons (even machine guns), the tankette concept was abandoned, and their role largely taken over by armoured cars. However, in Vietnam, the US Marines
US Marines
employed the similar, somewhat larger, M50 Ontos
M50 Ontos
with some success. The 1990s saw the renaissance of a similar concept in the German Wiesel, introduced to provide airborne troops with armoured reconnaissance capability;[8] while these are called "armoured weapons carriers", they fit the definition of a tankette. Examples[edit]

German Wiesel, a related modern concept, seen here in the Ozelot anti-air version.

United Kingdom

Carden Loyd Morris-Martel

Italy

L3/33 L3/35

Japan

Type 92 Jyu-Sokosha Type 94 tankette Type 97 Te-Ke

Polish: TKS/TK-3 Czechoslovakia

AH-IV Skoda MU-4 Tančík vz. 33

Soviet Union

T-27 ASU-57 T-37 NI tank PPG tankette

France

Renault UE Chenillette AMR 33 AMR 35

Germany

Panzer I
Panzer I
-Although classified as a light tank, most sub-variants fit the designation of a tankette Wiesel 1 and Wiesel 2 -similar modern German armoured and tracked weapon carrier systems

United States

Marmon-Herrington CTLS
Marmon-Herrington CTLS
- not officially designated tankettes Ford 3-Ton M1918

See also[edit]

Armoured warfare Infantry
Infantry
fighting vehicle Light tank Tank
Tank
classification

References[edit]

^ The Revolution After Next: Making Vertical Envelopment by Operationally Significant Mobile Protected Forces a Reality in the First Decade of the 21st Century, Tedesco, Vincent J. III; Major, School of Advanced Military Studies, United States
United States
Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, United States, 2000, Page 15 ^ Iron Arm (book excerpt via Google Books), Sweet, John Joseph Timothy; Stackpole Books, 2007, Page 84) ^ a b c d e T-27
T-27
Tankette
Tankette
(from the 'battlefield.ru' website, with further references cited. Accessed 2008-02-21.) ^ War Slang: American Fighting Words and Phrases Since the Civil War (book excerpt via Google Books), Dickson, Paul; Brassey's, 2004, Page 221) ^ Fletcher & Bryan, p. 3 ^ Zaloga, Steven J. (2007). Japanese Tanks 1939–45, Osprey Publishing, pp. 7, 10, 12. ISBN 978-1-8460-3091-8. ^ U.S. Forces Encounter Old Jap Tankette
Tankette
(from Intelligence Bulletin, September 1945, via lonesentry.com. Retrieved 2008-01-06.) ^ Wiesel 1 (product website from the Rheinmetall
Rheinmetall
manufacturer website. Accessed 2008-05-29.)

v t e

World War I
World War I
armoured fighting vehicles

List Category

British

Little Willie "Female" tank "Male" tank Mks I, II, III Mk IV Mk V Mk VI Mark VII Mk VIII Mk IX Medium Mk A "Whippet" Medium Mk B Medium Mk C Flying Elephant Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor Lancelot de Mole's proposal* (1912)

French

Schneider CA1 Saint-Chamond Renault FT Breton-Prétot machine Boirault machine Frot-Laffly landship Souain prototype Levavasseur* (1903)

German

A7V K-Wagen LK I LK II Oberschlesien

Armoured Cars:

Büssing A5P Ehrhardt E-V/4

Austro-Hungarian

Günther Burstyn's Motorgeschütz* (1911) Austro Daimler
Austro Daimler
armoured car (1905)

Italian

Fiat 2000 Fiat 3000

American

M1917 light tank Ford 3-Ton M1918 Holt Gas-Electric Skeleton tank Steam tank Steam Wheel Tank

Russian

Tsar Tank Vezdekhod Mendeleev Tank* Rybinsk tank*

Belgian

Minerva Armoured Car

Italics—experimental prototypes; * concept only

Tank

history classification

WWI Interwar WWII Cold War Post–Cold War

v t e

Interwar tanks

List Category

Tankettes

L3/33 L3/35 Carden Loyd Morris-Martel T-27 TKS Type 92 tankette Type 94 tankette Type 97 Te-Ke Tančík vz. 33 AH-IV

Light

H35 R35 Fiat 3000 Leichttraktor Light Tanks Mk I–V Light Tank
Tank
Mk VI Light Tank
Tank
Mk VII M1 Combat Car M2 Light Tank Panzer I Panzer II LT vz. 34 LT vz. 35 LT vz. 38 T1 Light Tank T7 Combat Car T-18 T-13 T-15 T-19 T-26 T-37 T-38 7TP Type 95 Ha-Go Vickers 6-Ton Vickers-Carden-Loyd Light Amphibious Tank

Medium

Char D1 Char D2 Grosstraktor Medium Mk I Medium Mk II Medium Mk III Panzer III T-24 T-28 Type 89 I-Go Type 97 Chi-Ni Type 97 Chi-Ha Type 98 Chi-Ho

Cavalry, Cruiser and Fast

AMC 34 AMC 35 AMR 33 AMR 35 BT tank Cruiser Mk I Cruiser Mk II Cruiser Mk III SOMUA S35

Infantry

FCM 36 Infantry
Infantry
Mk I, Matilda Renault R35 T-26 Type 89 I-Go

Heavy

Char B1 Neubaufahrzeug SMK T-35 T-100 Type 95 Heavy Tank Vickers A1E1 Independent

Super-heavy

FCM F1 Char 2C T-42

Armoured carriers

UE Chenillette Bren Gun Carrier

Tank

history classification

WWI Interwar WWII Cold War Post–Cold War

v t e

World War II
World War II
tanks

List Category

Light

7TP Fiat L6/40 M3/M5 Stuart M22 Locust M24 Chaffee Marmon-Herrington CTLS Renault R40 Schofield T-26 T-40 T-60 T-70 Tetrarch Toldi Type 98 Ke-Ni Type 2 Ke-To Type 2 Ka-Mi Type 4 Ke-Nu Type 5 Ke-Ho

Medium

Carro Armato P 40 40 M Turan I Fiat M11/39 Fiat M13/40 Fiat M14/41 Fiat M15/42 M2 Medium M3 Lee/Grant M4 Sherman Panzer III Panzer IV Panzer V Panther T-34 T-43 Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha Type 1 Chi-He Type 3 Ka-Chi Type 3 Chi-Nu Type 4 Chi-To Type 5 Chi-Ri Type 5 To-Ku Sherman Firefly

Cruiser

AMC 35 AMR 33 AMR 35 BT-2/BT-5/BT-7/BT-7M Cruiser Mk III Cruiser Mk IV Covenanter Crusader Cavalier Cromwell Mk VIII Challenger Comet Grizzly Ram Sentinel

Infantry

Black Prince Churchill Matilda I Matilda II T-26 T-50 Valentine Valiant Type 2 Ho-I

Heavy

IS tank KV tank M26 Pershing Tiger I Tiger II T-35

Assault

Excelsior T14 Sherman Jumbo Tortoise

Super-heavy

T28 TOG1 TOG2 O-I Panzer VII Löwe Panzer VIII Maus Panzerkampfwagen E-100 Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster

Tank

history classification

WWI Interwar WWII Cold War Post–Cold War

v t e

Cold War tanks

List Category

MBTs

AMX-30 AMX-40 Centurion Challenger 1 Chieftain Chonma-ho EE-T1 Osório K1 88 Leopard 1 Leopard 2 M1 Abrams M60 Patton M-84 Magach MBT-70 MBT-80 Merkava Object 187 Object 292 Object 785 OF-40 Panzer 68 Stridsvagn 103 T-62 T-64 T-72 T-80 TAM TR-85 Type 59 Type 61 Type 69/79 Type 74 Nana-yon Type 88 Vijayanta Vickers MBT WZ-122

Light

AMX-13 ELC Expeditionary tank M8 Armored Gun System M41 Walker Bulldog M551 Sheridan PT-76 Scorpion SK-105 Kürassier Spähpanzer SP I.C. Stingray Stridsvagn 74 T71 Light Tank T92 Light Tank Type 62 Type 63 Type 64 WZ-132

Medium

Charioteer M26 Pershing M46 Patton M47 Patton M48 Patton Panzer 58 Panzer 61 T-44 T-54/55 T95 Type 58

Heavy

AMX-50 Conqueror IS-3 Object 279 M103 T-10 T30 Stridsvagn KRV WZ-111

Tank
Tank
destroyers

Infanterikanonvagn 73 Infanterikanonvagn 91 Kanonenjagdpanzer M56 Scorpion M50 Ontos

Tank

history classification

WWI Interwar WWII Cold War Post–Cold War

v t e

Post–Cold War tanks

List Category

Under 120 mm gun

Ch'ŏnma-ho Ramses II

Under 50 tonnes

Al-Zarrar Al-Khalid P'okpoong-Ho PL-01 PT-91 Twardy T-84 T-90 Type 10 Type 59G Type 96 Zulfiqar

Over 50 tonnes

Ariete Arjun BM Oplot Challenger 2 K1 88-Tank K2 Black Panther Leclerc Leopard 2 M1 Abrams M60-2000 Merkava Sabra Type 90 Type 99 tank T-14 Armata VT-4 Main Battle Tank

Not in service

Altay Black Eagle EE-T1 Osório M-95 Degman M-84AS Black Tiger T-95 Tank
Tank
EX Type 99KM

Tank

History Class

WWI Interwar WWII Cold W

.