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World War II
The New War Horse - Tanks in WWII



The New War Horse - Tanks in WWII
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.91

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    anti-tank, assault, blitzkrieg, burly, defuse, dislodge, grueling, infantry, kreeg, mines, tactic, warfare, production, cavalry, resistance, greatly
     content words:    World War I., World War, Western Front, World War II, Russian T-34, Many Shermans, Sherman Crab, Sherman Jumbo, In WWII, War II


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The New War Horse - Tanks in WWII
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Tanks came into being before World War I. They replaced a form of military transport from an earlier day - the horse! Cavalry used to mean a group of soldiers who fought on horseback. Now it usually means a unit that fights from an armored vehicle, like a tank. What could tanks do that a sleek, graceful horse couldn't?
 
2     War horses could be very hardy and brave. But as weapons got more deadly, horses were no match for the dangers of battle. Soldiers needed protection. That's how tanks got started. The first motor vehicles used in battle were tractors. They had metal plates stuck on here and there. The plates shielded riders a little during battle.
 
3     Britain led the way in armored vehicle design. Soon the clumsy tractors were improved. Tracks replaced wheels. Power problems were worked out. Weapons were added. The project was carried out in secret. Workers wanted to know what they were building. What were these big metal boxes on tracks? "Water tanks!" was the answer. "They will carry loads of water to men in the field." Workers called their products tanks. The name stuck.
 
4     World War I became the proving ground for tanks. For many years, trench warfare had been a favored tactic. In this way of fighting, each side dug lots of long ditches. Soldiers stayed in the shelter of the ditches and fired at each other. It was hard to dislodge a force that had dug itself in. Two armies could face each other for months. The German army used this tactic. They dug miles and miles of ditches. They stayed stubbornly entrenched along the vast Western Front. (The Front was a battle line across Europe.)
 
5     Then tanks came along. Britain fielded her latest models in several battles. France made use of tanks as well. A tank could lumber up and over dirt mounds and ditches. It could fire down into the trenches. Its thick armor protected the soldiers inside. It worked well against the "dig and wait" tactic.

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