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World War II was a global catastrophe with an unprecedented number of war casualties and an unmatched level of human suffering. Given the ferocity and cruelty of fighting and clashes between the opposing sides, there was a need to adjust and develop military industries to keep up with the increasing demand for new and modernized weapons and arms. The countries involved made great strides in developing and improving their tank design and construction approaches.
Research shows that many of the approaches developed back in the day are still being drawn on by the military industries today. In this article, we are reviewing the tank schools of the major powers involved in WW2: Nazi Germany, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.
Following the end of WW1, Germany was prohibited from establishing and operating tank facilities or forces. To avoid the sanctions, the Germans struck a deal with the Soviet Union to establish a tank school within the USSR in 1929. Most likely, the Soviets regretted the deal a decade later when the Nazis launched an all-out war on the Soviet Union in 1941, but it seemed like a good idea back in the day. It was named the Kama tank school, and it was located in the city of Kazan.
Panzertruppenschule 1 was another tank school established by the Nazis to train German soldiers to operate the famed Panzer tanks. Panzers were Germany’s main battle tanks, and they used them to launch blitzkriegs against France, Poland, and other European countries.
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The U.S. launched its Army Armor School in 1940. Its full name was the Armored Force School and Replacement Center, and it was located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The school trained soldiers on a broad range of topics, including armor tactics, tank operation and maintenance, communications, and gunnery. As the United States was dragged into the war later in 1941 following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the role of the school became more accentuated.
Many soldiers trained at the school went on to man the renowned Sherman tanks that the United States used as part of its ground operations in Europe following D-Day in 1944.
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Great Britain boasts of having the oldest tank school in the world. The Royal Tank Regiment was established in 1916 as the First World War was underway. The British tank school gained increasing prominence as Germany started and sustained its clandestine operations to rebuild its military industry, preparing for a major offensive. It became clear the next war to be fought would be the war of tanks.
Soldiers trained by the school successfully fought against the enemy in Europe and Africa. They also played a huge role in the denazification of Europe toward the end of WW2. Numerous books about war depict the valor and effectiveness of these brave people on the battlefield.
The Soviet Union launched its first major tank school in 1932. It was named the Stalin Nizhny Novgorod Tank School. The school trained tank commanders serving in the Red Army. The city was renamed to Gorky in the same year, which meant the name of the school was also renamed to the Gorky Tank School.
Several years later, Soviet military leadership made a decision to relocate the school to the city of Kharkiv in Ukraine. The school trained soldiers to operate the renowned T-34 and KV tanks, which turned out to be a major surprise for the Germans when they appeared on the battlefield after the German invasion in 1941.
Due to the German onslaught and continued offensive, the school had to be relocated to the city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan in September 1941. It was renamed the Tashkent Tank School, and it trained more than 7,000 commanders in total.
Tanks played a major role in the offensive military operations during World War 2. It was inconceivable to hope for success because most of the military operations were conducted on land. All the key opposing powers set up and ran well-resourced tanks schools to train and provide qualified personnel to operate these important machines on the battlefield. The experience of the schools is still drawn on by military experts to this day.
Olivia Evans is a popular author, researcher, and historian. She is particularly interested in the two world wars of the last century and the ways in which they spurred the development of military industries and technologies. Olivia’s articles and research reports are particularly popular among history students.