Oldest Military Tanks Still in Service

Armored Giants 9 Oldest Military Tanks Still in Service

Armored tanks have been at the forefront of ground warfare for over a century. These impressive machines demonstrate the military might while playing pivotal roles in shaping military strategies. Like all technology, military tanks have undergone continuous technological advancements. 

Let’s explore the nine oldest military tanks showcasing their strength, standing strong against the test of time, and continuing to serve their respective countries. Even with the advancements in the field, military tanks still hold unwavering relevance in the modern battlefield.

9. Leopard 1 (Germany, 1965)

Leopard 1 (Germany, 1965)Photo Source

The Leopard 1 was introduced by Germany in 1965, marking a new era of tank design, emphasizing mobility and firepower. While Germany has retired the Leopard 1 from active service, several other countries still rely on its modernized versions.

Did You Know?

The Leopard 1 was a significant export success, with over a dozen nations incorporating the tank into their military fleets.

8. Type 61 (Japan, 1961)

Type 61 (Japan, 1961)Photo Source

The Type 61 is Japan’s first domestically-produced main battle tank. It entered service in 1961. The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force has continued to utilize the Type 61even though it is an aging design. We can chalk it being operational down to budget constraints and as a stopgap solution.

Did You Know?

The Type 61 was based on the American M47 Patton tank, but as the Chinese engineers did with Type 59, Japan made several modifications, including a domestic 90mm cannon and improved armor.

7. M60 Patton (United States, 1960s)

M60 Patton (United States, 1960s)Photo Source

The M60 Patton was a mainstay of the United States and its allies during the Cold War. Even though it was introduced in the 1960s, it is still in service with various armed forces worldwide. The reason is that it has been continuously upgraded, and it proudly remains an effective battlefield asset.

Did You Know?

The M60 Patton series stood strong on numerous battlefields, including the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

6. Type 59 (China, 1959)

Type 59 (China, 1959)Photo Source

The Type 59 is based on the Soviet T-54A tank we talked about at the beginning of the article. This tank became the first Chinese-produced tank in 1959. It has undergone continuous modernization changes and upgrades, which has allowed it to remain in active service with China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Did You Know?

Even though Type 59’s design was influenced by the Soviet T-54A, its success is because Chinese engineers made significant modifications to suit the country’s operational needs and terrains.

5. T-55 (Soviet Union, 1958)

T-55 (Soviet Union, 1958)Photo Source

The T-55 is another one of the iconic Soviet tanks. It entered service in the late 1950s, and since then, it has been widely exported to and employed by numerous countries. Its simplicity, reliability, and effectiveness have contributed to its longevity on modern battlefields.

Did You Know?

The T-55 has been a part of many battlefields, including the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the Yugoslav Wars. This has cemented its status as a globally recognized tank.

4. AMX-13 (France, 1952)

AMX-13 (France, 1952)

Photo Source

The AMX-13 is a French light tank introduced in the early 1950s. It proved to be a successful export model. This made it slither into the arsenals of multiple nations. This compact tank is, to this day, employed for reconnaissance and other specialized roles in several countries.

Did You Know?

The AMX-13 was an effective light tank during its time because of its unique oscillating turret design that allowed for a smaller, agile tank with a 75mm gun.

3. Centurion (United Kingdom, 1945)

Centurion (United Kingdom, 1945)Photo Source

The Centurion was introduced by the British Army at the end of World War II in 1945. It is one of the longest-serving tanks in history. The Centurion is known for its durability and adaptability. It has undergone numerous upgrades to remain in service with various armed forces worldwide.

Did You Know?

The Centurion played a crucial role in numerous conflicts showcasing its global impact, such as the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, and the Indo-Pakistani Wars.

2. M4 Sherman (United States, 1942)

M4 Sherman (United States, 1942)Photo Source

The M4 Sherman is an American medium tank that was extensively used by Allied forces during World War II and beyond. Its versatility, ease of maintenance, and widespread availability made it a mainstay on the battlefield. 

Today, several nations continue to utilize modified variants of the M4 Sherman for various military purposes.

Did You Know?

The M4 Sherman’s popularity was so widespread that it was even leased to some nations under the Lend-Lease program during World War II.

1. T-34 (Soviet Union, 1940)

T-34 (Soviet Union, 1940)Photo Source

The T-34 is a legendary Soviet tank introduced in 1940. When it was introduced in World War II, it revolutionized armored warfare. Its innovative sloped armor design and mobility are still a sight to behold.

The T-34 tank became the backbone of the Red Army. It contributed significantly to the Soviet victory. Even after over 80 years since its inception, some nations, impressively, still employ upgraded versions of this historic tank.

Did You Know?

The T-34’s impact was so profound that it remains a symbol of Soviet military might. Not only that, it is revered in Russia as a key instrument of their triumph over Nazi Germany.


The nine oldest military tanks still in service exemplify these armored giants’ resilience, adaptability, and enduring significance. Despite the passage of time and the advent of modern technologies, these historic tanks continue to play essential roles on contemporary battlefields, a testament to the timeless ingenuity of their original designs. 

As the world’s militaries evolve, these ageless armored behemoths remind us of the value of experience and the indomitable spirit of innovation within ground warfare.

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