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In my setting, multiple large groups are at war with each other for resources and power. The primary mode of fighting is using tanks on all terrain and environment types, although infantry, aerial, and water fighting also happen less commonly. The world should look a lot like our 1960s.

Tanks are powerful land/shallow water vehicles that have the advantage of thick armor and powerful gun mounts. In this world, a common use of tanks on the battlefield include mobile artillery, close and long range attacking(including flamethrowers, rockets, shotguns(maybe), energy weapons, heavy machine guns, light artillery shells, and small kamikaze tanks), and utilitairy tanks(like transporting materials or ammunition, or helping fix other tanks in the heat of battle).

So then, what circumstances would make this kind of fighting ideal(or preferred) over other types of fighting on an earth-like planet with conditions similar as to that of our own?

Edit: just the 1960s

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  • $\begingroup$ Do infantry still support tanks in your world? That is, do infantry protect them from folk with anti-tank weapons? $\endgroup$ – DrBob Sep 8 '16 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ @DrBob Not in most cases. However in jungles and mountaneous terrain, that might not be avoidable. $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 17:26
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Create a Culture Where Long-Range Attacks are Considered Cowardly

One of the reasons we don't use tanks much anymore is that the countries that can afford tanks would prefer not to put their soldiers in harms way. Why use tanks or soldiers when you can use drones or missiles fired from planes that your enemy is unlikely to shoot down?

However, if the culture of the world were one such that it was universally considered "cowardly" to attack from a distance then suddenly you're looking at a lot more soldiers on the battlefield. At that point I can't think of a reason for tanks not to be involved (they are still filled with people and are therefore not "cowardly" weapons, just good tactical choices).

Edit

Also note that terrain that makes tanks feasible is also necessary. Fighting in mountains or jungles is not conducive to tanks, nor is guerrilla warfare. So maybe another point to the culture is that it is cowardly to attack-and-run.

Edit II - Clarifying Points based on OP Comments

Let me clarify my points a bit.

By creating a culture that believes anything worth fighting over is worth fighting in person you remove planes from the battlefield (at least most of the time) and any weapons that are fired from a considerable distance. Those are considered "cowardly" attacks because they do not risk the life of anyone pulling the triggers.

(note: I am not saying aerial combat is "safe", just that it is substantially safer than being anywhere on the ground... well, unless you count the surprisingly frequent crashes on takeoff/landing - particularly in that era - which I think we can assume are not considered as part of the cultural definition of "safe" combat).

At this point your wars are waged with a lot more soldier presence. No more advanced scouting with planes/helicopters or clearing paths with huge bombardments from the rear... no, you're running forward with guns held high into the unknown.

At that point you need to find ways to limit losses to your side while still inflicting more damage on the other guys. That screams for tanks. And because anti-tank weapons are readily available they are still vulnerable, so they don't get the "cowardly" trigger.

As pointed out in the comments though, for obvious reasons guerrilla wars and wars fought in jungles/mountains won't see much/any tank use. That's just not what they're for. Fortunately, without ICBM's stopping superpowers from fighting there would probably be a lot more large-scale/active wars to write about.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, great answer, but in the 1960s, ranged weapons were rarely if ever used or fabricated. The wars of the time did not use much ranged weaponry, and had not yet developed things like drones. And sorry for kinda changing my dates. $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcGuiselin - I'm not sure what you mean. We had war planes and ICBM's in those days. We didn't launch ICBM's, but we had them. Their very existence prevented many wars that would have been fought with tanks. Planes are your biggest problem because they are much more effective and have a much lower casualty rate. Drones were not used, but it's an illustration used to prove a point. You need a culture that values the idea that if you are going to fight you should do so in person, otherwise there is little reason for widespread tank use. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '16 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I guess we did. My fault. That point however doesn't really justify the use of tanks instead of other fighting types. Attack and run attacks being cowardly might make infantry less popular, but it doesn't limit the use of planes and warships. $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MarcGuiselin - I expanded my post a bit to see if that helps clarify my meaning. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '16 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ That clarification answers my question perfectly. Thank you very much :) $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 15:30
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The same sort of condition that allow for armoured warfare on Earth today.

Armoured fighting vehicles were conceived (as far back as the late 1400's by Leonardo Da Vinci) as a means of protected movement across contested ground and as a way of breaching enemy formations and fortifications.

enter image description here

However, while some theorists have thought in terms of entirely mechanized formations (everything from H.G. Well's "The Land Ironclads" to some of the early works of B.H. Liddell Hart and J.F.C Fuller), experience has demonstrated that this is impractical and entirely limited.

The limitations include the sheer expense of both a full mechanized force and the logistical train needed to support it (only the United States has come close to this model, and is the only nation which can project such a force around the world as well), terrain and the political messaging of using armoured forces. Terrain includes complex terrain like jungles, mountains and heavy urbanized terrain, as well as human terrain where tank hunting teams can hide among the population .

The problem of political messaging is more complex. Deploying armoured fighting vehicles is certainly a statement of will, but can also be turned against the user by claiming it is a disproportionate response, and driving public opinion against the user.

enter image description here

So while AFV's are very useful tools in certain circumstances to support the movement of the formation across contested grind and move striking power to where it is needed, like all tools it needs to be used in the right place in the right time by a skilled user for maximum effect.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. that makes sense. I may have to refine the overall storyline then. $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ These are big powerful groups, so they have the power to build these tanks. They also aren't spending as much resources on building naval vessels, which might allow them to produce huge armies of tanks. $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 17:20
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If I interpret your question correctly, you want a world that is environmentally similar to ours, with a technology level similar to the 1960s, but with little in the way of naval or air warfare, and where armored vehicles do not operate in tandem with infantry.

I don't think you can get what you're looking for here. Ignoring aerial and naval warfare for a moment, you'd have to explain why tanks are so much more operationally and cost effective than infantry formations (or combined armor/infantry formations) that they are used exclusively. Since infantry are both much cheaper and require less logistical support, plus they present smaller targets and are more mobile than vehicles over broken terrain, I don't see many realistic possibilities to manage this within the preconditions you mention. The only situation I can come up with is one where vehicle armor is unrealistically resilient.

I can see it if you allow for a very different environment, say, one with a caustic or toxic atmosphere that makes long distance travel outside of a sealed, armored vehicle difficult to impossible. Another alternative is a world whose landmasses are large, flat, and mostly desert (the RPG "Heavy Gear" imagines a similar setting, where the only temperate areas are located near the poles).

You'd also need a change like that to explain why aerial or naval warfare is uncommon. The surface of the earth is mostly water: your world would need to be devoid of large oceans, or they'd need to be mostly ice-locked. Perhaps the oceans could be filled with gigantic predators (think the size and power of Godzilla) that are frequently encountered but not readily defeated by existing weaponry. The atmosphere could be extremely stormy, with unpredictable winds, making aircraft unreliable. Any of these would affect planetary habitability and make the world less earthlike.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for commenting late. Thanks, but @GrinningX did a pretty good job with his solution. These waring groups easily have enough resources to build vehicles like these since they arn't building huge naval vessels and planes. I also thought of the toxic environment, but sci fi wasn't at all the way I wanted to go. If I placed the continents closer together in a world where aviation was still in its early stages, aviation wouldn't be as common. $\endgroup$ – Marc Guiselin Sep 8 '16 at 17:16

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