How come military tanks do not have wheels?
Here are opinions and answers from FAQ Farmers:
- To improve traction and hence mobilty. Tracks also allow Tanks
to cross gaps such as ditches.
- A tank weighs between 40 and 70 tons, depending on what model
it is. If you built a tank with wheels, it would concentrate all
that weight on a few small points, and the vehicle would sink into
the ground. Tracks spread that weight out.
Following on from as said above, the key reasons why Military
Tanks don't have wheels is because:
- Tracks on Tanks helps improve Traction and Mobility on all
kinds of surface
- Reduce Chances of getting Stuck
- get rid of possibility of tyres can be blown (tyres can't be
made bullet proof unless made of full bulletproof material.
- Tracks displace to weight of a tank on all parts of the track
instead off on a single wheel.
The rule that "tanks have tracks, armored cars have wheels" is a
very arbitrary one, and one which is increasingly wrong. In the
current 4th generation of armored vehicles, the distinction between
a "true" tank with tracks and an uprated wheeled fighting vehicle
is very little, particularly in concept. In particular, current
mobile armored warfare doctrine has three major roles for armored
vehicles (not including things like artillery, vehicle recovery,
- High mobility, Heavy Firepower vehicles able to quickly
blast holes through enemy lines and then rush into the rear to
wreck havoc with logistical and other support functions. Today,
this is the task for the MBT (Main Battle Tank)
- High mobility, Scouting and Screening vehicles are
intended to search out the position of the enemy, and gather
intelligence about strength, condition, and other tactical
information. A wide variety of vehicles are used in this role by
- Infantry Support vehicles are the infantry's best
friend. Some of them are simply battle taxis, while others provide
significant fire support and protection all on their own. APCs,
IFVs, and a host of other vehicles now fill this role.
In the first category, mobility across a huge variety of terrain
tends to be at a premium, as the ability to go anywhere quickly is
key to mobile armored warfare. Tracks provide the best mobility
across the widest terrain features of any vehicle propulsion
system, due to both a huge traction advantage, and an extremely low
ground pressure (a 70-ton Abrams M1A2 has less ground pressure per
area than a soldier standing still). Thus, tracked vehicles are
virtually the entire category.
In the scouting role, however, tracked vehicles are hardly the
only option, and make up a slim majority of all such vehicles. The
high mobility requirements are a large advantage over their wheeled
counterpart, but there are significant disabilities that often
result in wheeled tanks. Wheels are far faster over smooth, hard
surfaces. They are also significantly quieter, and stealth is a
major consideration for scouts. Additionally, wheeled vehicles have
a higher reliability than tracked ones, and scouting missions often
require long periods of time outside the logistical supply chain.
Thus, this category is fairly evenly split between tracked and
wheeled tanks, which otherwise have very similar characteristics.
This is where you typically see something classified as a "light"
tank. In fact, many armies have both a wheeled and tracked light
tank available for use; they use the one most appropriate to the
In the last category, most "tanks" actually carry infantry
(though this is not exclusively true). The APC and IFV are the
classic category vehicles, but newer ones such as the US's Armored
Gun System also fit here. The prime design requirements for this
category are moderate mobility (enough to keep up with the MBTs on
many, but not all, terrain) and enough firepower to defeat common
opponents of the infantry. Once again, wheeled and tracked vehicles
are mixed here, and they are often use together.
Overall, tracks have the following advantages:
- Very low ground pressure, making movement over soft terrain
easy. Ironically, modern tanks have so little ground pressure that
they will not set off anti-tank mines.
- Extremely high traction, enabling them to climb very steep
inclines and traverse extremely uneven terrain
- Long drive path, enabling the crossing of wide barriers and
- Relative immunity to small arms fire
- Very high maneuverability, able to turn in extremely tight
They have the following disadvantages:
- High cost
- High complexity, and resulting higher maintenance (and lower
- Vulnerability to mid-range weaponry (autocannons and light AT
rockets), which can quickly result in a "mobility kill"
- Loud sound signature
- High abuse of the surfaces they traverse, radically degrading
it for further use.
Wheels on the other hand, have these advantages:
- Very high speed on hard surfaces, and correspondingly high fuel
- Relative simplicity of suspension, and relative ease of both
maintenance and repair
- Multi-axle designs provide significant cross-country and
extreme terrain performance, though not through very soft
- Advanced designs are mostly resistant to small arms fire, and,
while easier to damage than tracks, are more able to operate when
- Significantly cheaper overall than tracked designs
Wheeled designs have these disadvantages:
- Poor performance over soft terrain
- High ground pressure, and vulnerable to mines
- Requires significant space for multi-axel designs
- Less maneuverable than tracks
Nowdays, tank designers take all of the above into
consideration, and balance them again the design criteria to chose
which to use. Thus, a "tank" (as defined as: "an armored vehicle
armed with a large caliber main gun and significant armor
protection") doesn't have to, and often doesn't, have tracks.