A Quick History of Armored Vehicles

We see armored vehicles every once in a while, typically when banks need to transfer money. Maybe you have never been fortunate enough to see one; or, perhaps, maybe you have seen a warzone and have been up close and personal with a tank or other military vehicle.

But while these might be the only armored vehicles you can recall quickly, there are actually many different types of armored vehicles, especially armored fighting vehicles.

What is an Armored Fighting Vehicle?

Also known as an AFV, an armored fighting vehicle is a combat vehicle outfitted with protective armor. Generally speaking, the strategy is to combine operational mobility with both tactical offensive and defensive capabilities. These vehicles can have wheels or tracks and are typically outfitted with different types of weapons. Obviously, the equipment can change the way the vehicle functions and improves its functions depending on the environment and particular theatre of battle.

Ancient Armored Fighting Vehicles

While armor on vehicle in war may seem like a very modern novelty, the idea actually has roots in ancient times. Or, rather, the concept of a highly-mobile but well-protected military unit has been around for many centuries. Dating back to Hannibal’s war elephants and showing up again in DaVinci’s war machine designs, it seems that military strategists have always felt the need to maximize both the mobility and the survivability of troops on the ground.

Types of Armored Fighting Vehicles

Again, armored fighting vehicles come in many forms but always serve the same fundamental purpose: to protect troops during ground transport. Now, that said, armored vehicle classification depends upon the machine’s dedicated role on the battlefield, as well as other physical characteristics. For example, does the vehicle have wheels or tracks? Each has their own advantages and disadvantaged. Similarly, while most AFV are equipped with some type of weapon, not all are used in that way and not all weapons are the same.

Here is a list of different types of armored fighting vehicles throughout history:

War elephant

Siege machine

War wagon

Armed car

Armored car


Troop transport


Self-propelled artillery

Anti-aircraft vehicle

Self-propelled multiple rocket launcher


Armored fighting vehicles could be outfitted with different degrees of armor and weaponry based on the job it was designed to do. A main battle tank, for example, would have heavy armor, tank guns, and perhaps anti-tank missles. A “light reconnaissance” vehicle, on the other hand, would have light armor as it is designed for speed and agility.

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