Tank destroyer
A tank destroyer is a type of armored fighting vehicle armed with a gun or missile launcher, and is designed specifically to engage enemy armored vehicles. Many have been based on a tracked tank chassis
A chassis consists of an internal framework that supports a man-made object. It is analogous to an animal's skeleton. An example of a chassis is the underpart of a motor vehicle, consisting of the frame with the wheels and machinery.- Vehicles :In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the...

, while others are wheeled.

Since World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, main battle tank
Main battle tank
A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

s have largely replaced gun-armed tank destroyers although lightly armored anti tank guided missile (ATGM) carriers are commonly used for supplementary long-range anti-tank work. However, the resurgence of expeditionary warfare in the past twenty years has seen the emergence of gun-armed wheeled vehicles, sometimes called protected gun systems, that are tank destroyers in all but name.

World War II

Dedicated anti-tank vehicles made their first major appearance in the Second World War as combatants developed effective armored vehicles and tactics. Some were little more than stopgap solutions, mounting a gun on a tracked vehicle to give mobility, while others were more sophisticated designs. An example of the development of tank destroyer technology throughout the war are the Marder III
Marder III
The Marder III is the name for a series of World War II German tank destroyers built on the chassis of the Panzer 38. The German word Marder means "marten" in English...

 and Hetzer
The Jagdpanzer 38 , later known as Hetzer , was a German light tank destroyer of the Second World War based on a modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38 chassis. The project was inspired by the Romanian "Mareşal" tank destroyer.The name Hetzer was at the time not commonly used for this vehicle...

 vehicle, that were very different in spite of being based on the same chassis: Marder was straightforwardly an anti-tank gun on tracks whereas Hetzer traded some firepower (its Pak 39, designed to operate within the confines of a full-armored fighting compartment, fires the same projectiles from a reduced propellant charge compared to Marder's Pak 40) for better armor protection and ease of battlefield concealment.

The role of the tank destroyer was to attack enemy tanks from an ambush. A turret was not particularly important for this form of attack, nor particularly desirable since a low silhouette was paramount in order to make the vehicle easier to conceal. The absence of a turret also meant that tank destroyers could be manufactured significantly cheaper, faster and more easily than the tanks on which they were based as turrets require the use of motors and relatively complex bearings.

Except for the American designs, tank destroyers were all turretless and had fixed or casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

 superstructures. The latter allowed accommodation of a bigger cannon than could be mounted in a turreted tank on the same chassis, and increased the vehicle's internal volume, allowing for increased ammunition stowage and crew comfort. Eliminating the turret also allowed the vehicle to carry thicker armor than would otherwise be the case, although sometimes there was no roof (or merely a strip of canvas) to keep the overall weight down to the limit that the chassis could bear. After hard lessons early in the war, machine guns were mounted for use against infantry but the limited traverse of the mounting meant that they were still less effective than those used on turreted tanks.


Variants of TKS
The TK and TKS were Polish tankettes during the Second World War.-Design and development:The TK tankette was a Polish design produced from 1931 that was based upon an improved chassis of the British Carden Loyd tankette. The TKS was an improved model with a new hull and a more powerful engine...

 and TK-3 Polish tankettes up-armed with 20 mm (23–26 vehicles) were operationally deployed in the invasion of Poland. Their turretless construction bears similarity to later tank destroyers, but they were used exclusively by reconnaissance units – the Polish anti-tank units depended on simple towed guns, like all other armies at the time.


The first German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 tank destroyers were the Panzerjäger
Panzerjäger was a branch of service of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War which were the anti-tank arm-of-service who operated anti-tank artillery, and made exclusive use of the tank destroyers which were also named Panzerjäger...

("tank hunters") which took an existing anti-tank gun and mounted it on a convenient chassis to give mobility, usually with just a three-sided gun shield
Gun shield
thumb|A [[United States Marine Corps|U.S. Marine]] manning an [[M240 machine gun]] equipped with a gun shieldA gun shield is a flat piece or section of armor designed to be mounted on a crew-served weapon such as a machine gun or artillery piece, or, more rarely, to be used with an assault rifle...

 for protection. For instance, 202 German Panzer I
Panzer I
The Panzer I was a light tank produced in Germany in the 1930s. The name is short for the German ' , abbreviated . The tank's official German ordnance inventory designation was SdKfz 101 .Design of the Panzer I began in 1932 and mass production in 1934...

 light tanks were modified by removing the turret and were rebuilt as the Panzerjäger I
Panzerjäger I
The Panzerjäger I was the first of the German tank destroyers to see service in the Second World War. It mounted a Czech Skoda cm PaK anti-tank gun on a converted Panzer I Ausf. B chassis...

 self-propelled Skoda
Škoda Works
Škoda Works was the largest industrial enterprise in Austro-Hungary and later in Czechoslovakia, one of its successor states. It was also one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Europe in the 20th century...

  anti-tank gun. Similarly, Panzer II
Panzer II
The Panzer II was the common name for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II...

 tanks were used on the eastern front. Captured Soviet anti-tank guns were mounted on modified Panzer II
Panzer II
The Panzer II was the common name for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II...

 chassis, producing the Marder II
Marder II
The Marder II was a German tank destroyer of World War II based on the Panzer II chassis.-History:During the very first days of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans were shocked to encounter Soviet T-34 medium tanks and KV heavy tanks...

 self-propelled anti-tank gun. The most common mounting was a German anti-tank gun on the Czech Panzer 38(t)
Panzer 38(t)
The Panzerkampfwagen 38 was originally a Czech tank of pre-World War II design. After Czechoslovakia was taken over by Germany, it was adopted by the German Army, seeing service in the invasions of Poland and Russia. Production ended in 1942, when its armament was deemed inadequate. In all, over...

 chassis to produce the Marder III
Marder III
The Marder III is the name for a series of World War II German tank destroyers built on the chassis of the Panzer 38. The German word Marder means "marten" in English...

. The Panzer 38(t) chassis was also used to make the Jagdpanzer 38 'Hetzer
The Jagdpanzer 38 , later known as Hetzer , was a German light tank destroyer of the Second World War based on a modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38 chassis. The project was inspired by the Romanian "Mareşal" tank destroyer.The name Hetzer was at the time not commonly used for this vehicle...

' casemate style tank destroyer. The Panzerjäger series continued up to the equipped Nashorn
Nashorn , initially known as Hornisse , was a German tank destroyer of World War II. It was developed as an interim solution in 1942 and was armed with the outstanding Pak 43 anti-tank gun...


German tank destroyers based on the Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III was the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III translating as "armoured battle vehicle". It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and...

 or later German tanks were unique in that they had more armor than their tank counterparts, sacrificing speed for better crew protection. One of the more successful German tank destroyers was actually designed as a self-propelled artillery gun, the Sturmgeschütz III
Sturmgeschütz III
The Sturmgeschütz III assault gun was Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle during World War II. It was built on the chassis of the proven Panzer III tank...

. Based on the Panzer III tank chassis, the Sturmgeschütz III was originally fitted with a low-velocity gun, and was assigned to the artillery arm for infantry fire support. Later, after encountering Soviet tanks, it was refitted with a high-velocity anti-tank gun, enabling it to function as a tank destroyer. The Sturmgeschütz III used a new casemate-style superstructure with an integrated design similar to the later Jagdpanzer
Jagdpanzer , German for "hunting tank", is a name given to German self-propelled anti-tank guns.It typically refers to anti-tank variants of existing tank chassis with a well-armoured casemate fixed superstructure, mounting an anti-tank gun with limited traverse in the front, and usually classed by...

. It became the single most-produced armored fighting vehicle of Nazi Germany throughout the war, and was employed in infantry support and offensive armored operations as well as in the defensive anti-tank role.
Although the early German Panzerjäger carried more effective weapons than the tanks on which they were based, they were generally lacking in protection for the crew, having thinly armored open-topped superstructures. The "open-topped" design format of the Panzerjäger vehicles was succeeded by the Jagdpanzer '("hunting tanks") which mounted the gun in true casemate-style superstructures, completely enclosing the crew compartment in armor that was integral to the hull. The first of these Jagdpanzers was the Ferdinand (later renamed the Elefant
The Elefant was a "schwerer Panzerjäger" of the German Wehrmacht used in small numbers in World War II. It was built in 1943 under the name Ferdinand, after its designer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant...

), a 70-ton monster mounting an 88 mm cannon. However, the Elefant proved to be mechanically unreliable and difficult to maneuver, and the type was discontinued after only 91 vehicles had been completed. The German Army had more success with the Jagdpanther
The Jagdpanther was a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service late in the war and saw service on the Eastern and Western fronts...

. Introduced in mid-1944, the Jagdpanther was considered the best of the casemate-design Jagdpanzer designs. It featured an cannon fitted to the chassis of the medium Panther tank
Panther tank
Panther is the common name of a medium tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV; while never replacing the latter, it served alongside it as...

, providing greatly improved armor-penetrating capability in a medium-weight vehicle.

Facing an increasingly defensive war, the German Army reverted to larger and more powerfully armed Jagdpanzer designs, and in July 1944 the first Jagdtiger
Jagdtiger is the common name of a German tank destroyer of World War II. The official German designation was Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf. B. The ordnance inventory designation was Sd. Kfz. 186. It saw service in small numbers from late 1944 to the end of the war on both the Western and Eastern Front...

rolled off the production line, the heaviest German armored fighting vehicle to go into active service. The Jagdtiger featured a huge 128 mm cannon and heavy armor protection. It was first deployed to combat units in September 1944.

The decision of German armored vehicle designers to use a casemate-stye superstructure for all tank destroyers had the advantage of a reduced silhouette, allowing the crew to more frequently fire from defilade ambush positions. Such designs were also easier and faster to manufacture and offered good crew protection from artillery fire and shell splinters. However, the lack of a rotating turret limited the gun's traverse to a few degrees. This meant that the entire tank normally had to be turned onto its target by the driver, a much slower process than simply rotating a powered turret. If the TD became immobilized due to engine failure or track damage, it could not rotate its gun to counter opposing tanks, making it highly vulnerable to counterfire. This vulnerability was later exploited by opposing tank forces. Even the largest and most powerful of German tank destroyers were found abandoned on the field after a battle, having been immobilized by one or more hits by high explosive (HE) or armor-piercing (AP) shells to the track or front drive sprocket.


As with the Germans, most of the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 designs mounted anti-tank guns, with limited traverse in casemate-style turretless hulls. The results were smaller, lighter, and simpler to build than tanks, but could carry larger guns. The Soviets produced the SU-85
The SU-85 was a Soviet self-propelled gun used during World War II, based on the chassis of the T-34 medium tank. Earlier Soviet self-propelled guns were meant to serve as either assault guns, such as the SU-122, or as mobile anti-tank weapons; the SU-85 fell into the latter category...

 and SU-100
The SU-100 was a Soviet tank destroyer. It was used extensively during the last year of World War II and saw service for many years afterwards with the armies of Soviet allies around the world.- Development :...

 self-propelled guns based on the same chassis as the T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

 medium tank, as well as the ISU-122
The ISU-122 was a Soviet self-propelled gun used during World War II.-History:A prototype of the ISU-122 heavy self-propelled gun was built at the Chelyabinsk Kirov Plant, , in December 1943...

 and ISU-152
ISU-152 was a Soviet multirole fully enclosed and armored self-propelled gun developed and used during World War II, with a subsequent use, mainly in the Soviet military, till the 1970s.-History:...

 which shared components with the IS-2 heavy tank and was nicknamed Zveroboy ("beast killer") for its ability to destroy German Tigers, Panthers
Panther tank
Panther is the common name of a medium tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV; while never replacing the latter, it served alongside it as...

 and Elefant
The Elefant was a "schwerer Panzerjäger" of the German Wehrmacht used in small numbers in World War II. It was built in 1943 under the name Ferdinand, after its designer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant...

s. The predecessor of the ISU 152 was the SU 152, built on the KV1S chassis and shared many similarities (incl. its gun) with the ISU 152. The ISU-152 built as a heavy assault gun, relied on the weight of the shell fired from its M-1937/43 howitzer to defeat tanks. In 1943, the Soviets also shifted all production of light tanks like the T-70
The T-70 was a light tank used by the Red Army during World War II, replacing both the T-60 scout tank for reconnaissance and the T-50 light infantry tank for infantry support. The T-80 light tank was a more advanced version of the T-70 with a two-man turret—it was only produced in very small...

 to much simpler and better-armed SU-76
The SU-76 was a Soviet self-propelled gun used during and after World War II.- History :The SU-76 was based on a lengthened and widened version of the T-70 tank chassis...

 self-propelled guns, which used the same drive train. The SU-76 was originally designed as an anti-tank vehicle, but was soon relegated to the infantry-support role.

United States

U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and counterpart British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 designs were very different in conception. U.S. doctrine was based in light of the fall of France on the perceived need to defeat German blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

 tactics, and U.S. units expected to be faced with large numbers of German tanks attacking on relatively narrow fronts. These were expected to breakthrough a thin screen of anti-tank guns, hence the decision that the main anti-tank units – the tank destroyer (TD) battalions
Tank destroyer battalion (United States)
The tank destroyer battalion was a type of unit used by the United States Army during World War II. The unit was organized in one of two different forms—a towed battalion equipped with anti-tank guns, or a self-propelled battalion equipped with armored tank destroyers. U.S. Army doctrine held that...

 – should be concentrated and very mobile. In actual practice, such German attacks rarely happened; indeed, throughout the war only one battalion ever fought in an engagement quite like that which had originally been envisaged (the 601st
601st Tank Destroyer Battalion
The 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion was a battalion of the United States Army active during the Second World War. It was the first of the newly formed tank destroyer battalions to see combat, and the only one to fight as a "pure" tank destroyer force...

, at the Battle of El Guettar
Battle of El Guettar
The Battle of El Guettar was a World War II battle that took place during the Tunisia Campaign, fought between elements of the Army Group Afrika under Jürgen von Arnim and U.S. II Corps under Lieutenant General George Patton in south-central Tunisia. It was the first battle in which U.S...

). The Tank Destroyer Command eventually numbered over 100,000 men and 80 battalions each equipped with 36 self-propelled tank destroyers or towed guns. In part because of the effectiveness of US TD tactics, no German campaign against the US ever achieved its objectives, nor did any TD unit lose more vehicles than its German opponent.

Only a few shots were expected to be fired from any firing position. Strong reconnaissance elements were provided so that TDs would be able to use pre-arranged firing positions to best advantage. Flanking fire by TDs was emphasized, both to penetrate thinner enemy side armor, and to reduce the likelihood of accurate enemy return fire.

All American tank destroyers were officially known by exactly the same collective term used for American self-propelled artillery ordnance, "Gun Motor Carriage". The designs were intended to be very mobile and heavily armed. Most retained a turret, but left it open on top both to save weight and to accommodate a larger gun. The earliest expedient design was an M3 Half-track
M3 Half-track
The Carrier, Personnel Half-track M3 was an armored vehicle used by the United States, the British Empire and the other Allies during World War II and the Cold War. Nearly 43,000 were produced, and supplied to the U.S...

 mounting an M1897 gun in a limited-traverse mount, and called the 75 mm Gun Motor Carriage M3
The 75 mm Gun Motor Carriage M3 was a United States tank destroyer and self-propelled artillery piece of the Second World War. It was the most numerous tank destroyer in U.S. Army service, during critical battles in North Africa and the Philippines, and continued to be used in more limited...

. Another, considerably less successful, early design mounted a 37-mm anti-tank gun in the bed of a Dodge 3/4-ton truck - the 37-mm GMC M6
M6 Fargo
The 37 mm Gun Motor Carriage M6 was a modified Dodge Light Truck mounting a light anti-tank gun. It was used by the US Army for infantry support and tank defense...

. By far the most common US design was the 3in Gun Motor Carriage M10 (Wolverine), later supplemented by the 90 mm Gun Motor Carriage M36 (Jackson) and 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 (Hellcat)
M18 Hellcat
The 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 was an American tank destroyer of World War II. The manufacturer, Buick, gave it the nickname "Hellcat" and it was the fastest tracked armored fighting vehicle during the war with a top speed up to 60 mph. Hellcat crews took advantage of the vehicle's...

. The M18 came closest to the US ideal; the vehicle was very fast, small, and mounted a gun in a turret. The M36 Jackson GMC possessed the only American-origin operational gun that could rival the vaunted 88 mm German ordnance, the 90 mm M3 gun, and the M36 remained in service well after World War II. The only dedicated American-origin, casemate hull design fighting vehicle of any type to be built during the war, that resembled the German and Soviet tank destroyers in hull and general gun mounting design, was the experimental T28 Super Heavy Tank, which mounted a 105 mm T5E1 long-barrel cannon, which had a maximum firing range of 12 miles (20 km), and was originally designed as a self-propelled assault gun to breach Germany's Siegfried Line
Siegfried Line
The original Siegfried line was a line of defensive forts and tank defences built by Germany as a section of the Hindenburg Line 1916–1917 in northern France during World War I...


Of these tank destroyers, only the gun of the M36 proved to be effective against the frontal armor of Germans' larger armored vehicles at long range. The open top and light armor made these tank destroyers vulnerable to anything greater than small-arms fire. As the number of German tanks encountered by American forces steadily decreased throughout the war, most battalions were split up and assigned to infantry units as supporting arms, fighting as assault guns or being used essentially as tanks.


Although initially flawed in its division of tanks into cruiser
Cruiser tank
The cruiser tank was a British tank concept of the inter-war period. This concept was the driving force behind several tank designs which saw action during the Second World War....

 and infantry
Infantry tank
The infantry tank was a concept developed by the British and French in the years leading up to World War II. Infantry tanks were tanks designed to support the infantry in the attack. To achieve this they were generally heavily armoured compared to the cruiser tanks, to allow them to operate in...

 support roles, repeated encounters with German armor led the British to recognize the inevitability of tank-to-tank combat earlier than the Americans. As a result, there was extra impetus given to the development of anti-tank weaponry, which culminated in the Ordnance QF 17 pounder
Ordnance QF 17 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 17 pounder was a 76.2 mm gun developed by the United Kingdom during World War II. It was used as an anti-tank gun on its own carriage, as well as equipping a number of British tanks. It was the most effective Allied anti-tank gun of the war...

, widely considered one of the best anti-tank guns of the war.

Towed anti-tank guns were the domain of the Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

 rather than the Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Armoured Corps
The Royal Armoured Corps is currently a collection of ten regular regiments, mostly converted from old horse cavalry regiments, and four Yeomanry regiments of the Territorial Army...

 and vehicles adapted to mount artillery including anti-tank self-propelled guns such as the Deacon
Deacon (artillery)
The AEC Mk I Gun Carrier, known as Deacon, was a British armoured fighting vehicle of the Second World War. It was an attempt to make the QF 6 pounder anti-tank gun into a self-propelled artillery piece...

 and Archer
Archer (tank destroyer)
The SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer was a British self propelled anti-tank gun of the Second World War based on the Valentine infantry tank chassis fitted with a Ordnance QF 17 pounder gun.-Design and development:...

 were their preserve.
The self-propelled guns that were built in the "tank destroyer" mold came about through the desire to field the formidable QF 17 pounder anti-tank gun and simultaneous lack of suitable tanks to carry it. As a result they were of a somewhat extemporized nature. Mounting the gun on the Valentine tank
Valentine tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production...

 chassis gave the Marder-like Archer
Archer (tank destroyer)
The SP 17pdr, Valentine, Mk I, Archer was a British self propelled anti-tank gun of the Second World War based on the Valentine infantry tank chassis fitted with a Ordnance QF 17 pounder gun.-Design and development:...

. The 17 pounder was also used to re-equip the US-supplied M10 Tank Destroyer, replacing the American 3" gun to produce the 17pdr SP Achilles
17pdr SP Achilles
The 17 pounder, Self Propelled, Achilles was a British variant of the American M10 Tank destroyer armed with the powerful British Ordnance QF 17 pounder anti-tank gun in place of the standard 3" Gun M7...

The Tank, Cruiser, Challenger (A30)
Cruiser Mk VIII Challenger
The Tank, Cruiser, Challenger was a British tank of World War II. It mounted the 17 Pounder gun on the Cromwell chassis to add heavier anti-tank firepower to the cruiser tank units....

 was a project to bring a 17 pdr tank into use to support the Cromwell cruiser tank. Delays led to it being outnumbered in use by the Sherman Firefly
Sherman Firefly
The Sherman Firefly was a World War II British variant of the American Sherman tank, fitted with the powerful British 17 pounder anti-tank gun as its main weapon...

 but a derivative of Challenger was the more-or-less open-topped variant Avenger which was delayed until post war before entering service.

The closest the British came to developing an armored tank destroyer in the vein of the German Jagdpanzers or Soviet ISU series was the Churchill 3 inches (76.2 mm) Gun Carrier - a Churchill tank
Churchill tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV was a heavy British infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war...

 chassis with a boxy superstructure in place of the turret and mounting a 3 inches (76.2 mm) anti-aircraft gun. Although a number were ordered, they were not put into service. The design was rejected in favor of developing a 17 pounder armed Cromwell tank variant ultimately leading to the Comet tank
Comet tank
The Tank, Cruiser, Comet I was a British cruiser tank that first saw use near the end of World War II. It was designed to provide greater anti-tank capability to Cromwell tank squadrons. It was armed with a 77mm HV, a derivative of the 17 pounder, with the result it was one of the few British...

. The heavy assault tank known as Tortoise was well armoured and had a very powerful 32 pounder gun but did not reach service use.

By 1944, a number of the Shermans in British use were being converted to Sherman Fireflies by adding the QF 17 pounder gun. Initially this gave each platoon of Shermans one powerfully armed tank. By war's end - through the production of more Fireflies and the replacement of Shermans by British tanks - about 50% of Shermans in British service were Fireflies.

Post-World War II

In the face of the Warsaw Pact, a general need for extra firepower was identified. In the 1950s, the UK produced the FV 4101 Charioteer to beef up the tank regiments, mounting a 20 pounder gun in an oversize turret on the Cromwell tank hull—it lacked the all round capability of the Centurion tank
Centurion tank
The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. It was a successful tank design, with upgrades, for many decades...

. In the late 1960s, Germany developed the Kanonenjagdpanzer
The Kanonenjagdpanzer 4 - 5 was a German Cold War tank destroyer equipped with a 90mm anti-tank gun, which remained from the outphased M47 Patton tanks...

, essentially a modernized World War II Jagdpanzer mounting a gun. As Soviet designs became more heavily armored, the gun became ineffective and the Kanonenjagdpanzers were retrofitted for different roles or retired. Some provisions were made for the fitting of a 105 mm cannon, and many of the vehicles were modified to fire HOT
Euromissile HOT
The HOT is a second-generation long-range anti-tank missile system developed originally as an effort to meet a joint German-French Army requirement, by the then German firm Bolkow and the French firm Nord, to replace the older SS.11 wire guided...

 or TOW missiles in place of a main gun. These upgraded variants remained in service into the 1990s.

With the development of flexible anti-tank missiles, which were capable of installation on almost any vehicle in the 1960s, the concept of the tank destroyer has morphed into light vehicles with missiles. With the weight of main battle tanks growing to the forty to seventy-tonne range, airborne forces were unable to deploy reasonable anti-tank forces. The result was a number of attempts to make a light vehicle, including the conventional ASU-85
The ASU-85 is a soviet-designed airborne self-propelled gun of the Cold War Era. From 1959 it replaced the open-topped ASU-57 in service but was in its turn replaced by the BMD-1 from 1969.-Development history:...

, the recoilless rifle-armed Ontos
The Ontos, officially the Rifle, Multiple 106 mm, Self-propelled, M50, was an American light armored tracked anti-tank vehicle developed in the 1950s...

, and missile-armed Hornet Malkara armored car and Sheridan
M551 Sheridan
The M551 Sheridan was a light tank developed by the United States and named after Civil War General Philip Sheridan. It was designed to be landed by parachute and to swim across rivers. It was armed with the technically advanced but troublesome M81/M81E1 152mm gun/launcher which fired conventional...

 light assault vehicle.


Many forces' IFVs carry anti-tank missile in every infantry platoon, and attack helicopter
Attack helicopter
An attack helicopter is a military helicopter with the primary role of an attack aircraft, with the capability of engaging targets on the ground, such as enemy infantry and armored vehicles...

s have also added anti-tank capability to the modern battlefield. But there are still dedicated anti-tank vehicles with very heavy long-range missiles, and ones intended for airborne
Airborne forces
Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...


There have also been dedicated anti-tank vehicles built on ordinary armored personnel carrier
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

 or armored car chassis. Examples include the U.S. M901 ITV (Improved TOW Vehicle)
M901 ITV
The M901 ITV is a United States Army armored vehicle designed to carry a dual M220 TOW launcher. It is based on the ubiquitous M113 Armored Personnel Carrier chassis.- Equipment :...

 and the Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

The Norwegian Model-142 is an anti-tank variant of the American M-113 armoured personnel carrier , the difference being that it is equipped with a TOW2 turret, developed in Norway by Kværner Eureka.- Armament :...

, both on an M113
M113 armored personnel carrier
The M113 is a fully tracked armored personnel carrier that has formed the backbone of the United States Army's mechanized infantry units from the time of its first fielding in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S...

 chassis, several Soviet
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 ATGM launchers based on the BRDM
BRDM is an initialism for Boyevaya Razvedyvatelnaya Dozornaya Mashina, , literally "Combat Reconnaissance Patrol Vehicle". The BRDM is a four wheeled amphibious vehicle which is very lightly armoured by today's standards. Both versions were produced in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc...

 reconnaissance car, the British FV438 Swingfire
FV438 Swingfire
The FV438 Swingfire was an armoured anti-tank vehicle of the British Army.It was derived from the FV430 series of vehicles by converting the FV432 to accommodate a launcher for Swingfire anti-tank guided missiles....

 and FV102 Striker
FV102 Striker
The FV102 Striker was the anti-tank guided missile carrier in the CVR family and served in the British Army.-Overview:FV102 Striker was the Swingfire wire guided anti-tank missile carrying member of the CVR family. The FV102 Striker was externally very similar to the FV103 Spartan but carried five...

 and the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Raketenjagdpanzer is the designation of a range of German dedicated tank destroyers equipped with anti-tank guided missiles...

 series built on the chassis of the HS 30 and Marder
Marder (IFV)
The Marder is a German infantry fighting vehicle operated by the German Army as the main weapon of the Panzergrenadiere from the 1970s through the present day. Developed as part of the rebuilding of Germany's armoured fighting vehicle industry, the Marder has proven to be a successful and solid...


A US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 combined arms battalion has two infantry companies with TOW missile-armed Bradley IFVs
M2 Bradley
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is an American fighting vehicle platform manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, formerly United Defense.As with other infantry fighting vehicles, the Bradley is designed to transport infantry with armor protection while providing covering fire to suppress enemy...

 and can bring a large concentration of accurate and lethal fire to bear on an attacking enemy unit that uses AFVs. They can be complemented by mobile units of AH-64 Apache Helicopters armed with TOW or Hellfire antitank missiles.

Missile carrying vehicles however are referred to as anti-tank missile carriers instead of tank destroyers.

Some gun-armed tank destroyers continue to be used. The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 has developed the tracked PTZ89
Type 89 (Tank Destroyer)
The Type 89 tank destroyer is a Chinese armored vehicle that entered service in 1988. Armed with a 120 millimeter smoothbore gun, it was intended to combat newer generations of Western and Russian main battle tanks that were equipped with composite armor and 120 and 125 millimeter caliber guns...

 and the wheeled PTL02 tank destroyers. PTZ89 is armed with a smoothbore cannon while PTL02, developed by NORINCO for the PLA's new light (rapid reaction) mechanized infantry divisions, carries a one (a version armed with a 105 mm rifled gun is available for export). PTL02 is built on the 6×6 wheeled chassis of the WZ551
The WZ551 is a Chinese wheeled armored personnel carrier. It is actually consisted of two families of vehicles with official designations in the People's Liberation Army as Type 90 and Type 92. Roughly 600 WZ551s are in service with the PLA, where they are used by light mechanized infantry units...


Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 use the Italian-built Centauro, a wheeled tank destroyer with a cannon. The gun-armed tank destroyer may possibly see revival in the US Army through the introduction of the Stryker
The IAV Stryker is a family of eight-wheeled, 4-wheel-drive , armored fighting vehicles derived from the Canadian LAV III and produced by General Dynamics Land Systems, in use by the United States Army. The vehicle is named for two American servicemen who posthumously received the Medal of Honor:...

, more specifically, the M1128 Mobile Gun System, a Stryker variant armed with a cannon which has remote control and autoloading capabilities. Originally, the Canadian Forces had considered replacing their aging Leopard 1 tanks with the Stryker Mobile Gun System. But with the increased use of IEDs
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

 capable of destroying Strykers by insurgent forces, they opted instead to purchase the Leopard 2
Leopard 2
The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the early 1970s for the West German Army. The tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve...


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