Skip to Content

What are the cool tank nicknames for ww2?

What are the cool tank nicknames for ww2?

Tanks played a crucial role during World War 2, with massive tank battles determining the fate of nations. As such, soldiers developed nicknames for the tanks they used and faced in combat. These nicknames help capture the reputation, strengths, and personalities of the era’s tanks. This article will explore some of the coolest tank nicknames that emerged during World War 2.

American Tank Nicknames

America produced several iconic tanks during WW2 that were bestowed suitably imposing nicknames by their crews.

M4 Sherman

The M4 Sherman was the primary American tank of WW2, with over 49,000 produced by the war’s end. Soldiers gave it the nickname “Ronson” after the cigarette lighter company’s slogan “Lights up the first time, every time.” This was a reference to the Sherman’s unfortunate tendency to ignite when hit due to its gasoline engines.

M10 Tank Destroyer

The M10 tank destroyer was a turretless vehicle armed with a powerful 3-inch gun for hunting enemy tanks. Its powerful gun and open top led troops to nickname it “Wolverine” after the vicious animal.

M18 Hellcat

The M18 Hellcat was one of the fastest armored vehicles of WW2, able to hit speeds over 50 mph. Its speed and 76mm gun led to its fearsome “Hellcat” moniker.

M36 Tank Destroyer

The 90mm gun of the M36 tank destroyer was one of the most powerful anti-tank weapons fielded by America during WW2. Its lethality against enemy armor earned it the nickname “Jackson” after the tough general Stonewall Jackson.

British Tank Nicknames

Like the Americans, British tank crews also bestowed nicknames on their steeds that encapsulated their capabilities.

Crusader Cruiser Tank

The Crusader tank was exceptionally fast for its time, capable of over 30 mph. This speed led British soldiers to nickname it the “Racehorse.”

Matilda Infantry Tank

The heavily armored Matilda infantry tank gained fame during WW2 for its seeming impenetrability. German anti-tank weapons bounced off it harmlessly during the early war years, earning it the nickname “Queen of the Desert.”

Churchill Infantry Tank

The Churchill infantry tank had extremely heavy armor for the time and was named after Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Its armor and old-fashioned look caused troops to nickname it “Winnie.”

Cromwell Cruiser Tank

The Cromwell cruiser tank was named after the English Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell. British crews called it the “Ironsides” after Cromwell’s nickname and the tank’s all-around armor protection.

German Tank Nicknames

German tank nicknames during WW2 highlighted their advanced capabilities and fearsome reputations.

Panzer IV

The Panzer IV was the most widely produced German tank of WW2 with over 8,500 built. It gained the nickname “Smokey Joe” from Allied troops for the thick smoke screen its engine exhaust could create.

Panther Tank

The Panther Tank was considered one of the most formidable tanks by Allied forces when it debuted in 1943. Its combination of firepower, armor, and mobility led to nicknames like “Big Cat” and “Leopard.”

Tiger I

The heavy Tiger I tank sported thick armor that was impervious to many Allied anti-tank weapons in the early war years. Its invulnerability and 8.8cm gun led British troops to call it the “King Tiger” or “Monster.”

Elefant Tank Destroyer

The Elefant tank destroyer had armor over 200mm thick and carried an 88mm gun capable of destroying any Allied tank. Its immense size and firepower earned it the nickname “Elephant.”

Soviet Tank Nicknames

Though less well-known, Soviet tanks also received their share of nicknames from Red Army tankers.


The T-34 was the mainstay Soviet tank of WW2, with over 84,000 eventually produced. Its sleek sloped armor and 76mm gun shocked German forces, leading to nicknames like “Steel Monster” and “Beast of the Battlefield.”

KV-1 & KV-2

The KV series of heavy tanks had extremely thick armor for 1941 that was impervious to many German anti-tank weapons. German troops nicknamed them “Russian Colossus” for their size and invulnerability.


The IS-2 heavy tank carried a massive 122mm gun that could destroy Tiger and Panther tanks. Its heavy firepower and armor led to nicknames like “Steel Pulverizer” from Soviet crews.


The SU-152 tank destroyer was armed with a 152mm howitzer for bombarding targets. Its devastating rounds earned it the nickname “Zveroboy” or “Beast Killer” among Red Army troops.

Why Tank Nicknames Were Important in WW2

Tank nicknames served several useful purposes beyond just morale for troops during WW2:

  • Helped identify unknown enemy tanks: Nicknames gave troops an easy way to identify mysterious new tanks faced on the battlefield. For example, “Tiger” told Allied soldiers the tank had heavy armor and an 88mm gun before its capabilities were officially known.
  • Spread reputation: Nicknames highlighted capabilities and spread a tank’s reputation. Names like “Hellcat” encapsulated a vehicle’s speed and firepower in a few words.
  • Inspired confidence and fear: Nicknames inspired confidence in friendly tanks like the “Unbreakable Matilda” while spreading fear of enemy tanks like the “Monster” Tiger.
  • Simplified communication: Simple nicknames like “Ronson” or “T-34” were easier to say over radios than longer designations.
  • Fostered camaraderie: Nicknames made tanks seem more human and helped crews bond with their vehicles.

For these reasons, tank nicknames became a vital way for soldiers to understand armored warfare during WW2’s unprecedented mechanized battles. The nicknames also live on as part of the legend surrounding WW2’s famous tanks.

Most Iconic WW2 Tank Nicknames

While there were hundreds of tank nicknames used during WW2, a few stand out as particularly iconic:

Nickname Tank
Ronson M4 Sherman
Tiger Tiger I
Panther Panther Tank
Hellcat M18 Tank Destroyer

These few tank nicknames succinctly captured the essence of the vehicles while also being easy to say and remember. They represent tanks that left a major impact on the war and linger on even today in books, films, and documentaries about WW2 armor.

The Importance of Tank Nicknames in Remembrance

While created during the heat of WW2 battles, tank nicknames remain a vital way that people remember and understand the armored clashes of the era today:

  • Help bring tanks to life: Nicknames give tanks personality beyond just technical specifications, making them easier to visualize and remember.
  • Allow connections to crews: Names like “Winnie” help us connect on a more personal level with the men who crewed the tanks.
  • Represent capabilities: Nicknames neatly summarize capabilities that might take paragraphs to explain otherwise.
  • Capture wider significance: Names like “Queen of the Desert” place tanks into the wider narrative of campaigns and battles.
  • Aid popular memory: Nicknames help tanks persist in public memory through books, movies, games, and more.

Without their memorable and descriptive nicknames, many of WW2’s famous tanks would just be lifeless hunks of metal. The nicknames keep their legacy alive and help new generations understand their significance. They also form a special bond between the machines and the men who fought and died in them.


Tank nicknames were not just colorful names tossed around by WW2 soldiers. They served vital purposes during the war while also helping capture wider public imagination in the decades since. Names like “Hellcat” and “Tiger” remain ingrained into the lore of tanks like few technical characteristics ever could. For those seeking to understand armored warfare in WW2 and remember its participants, the nicknames give tanks distinct personalities and connections. They help the metal war machines that battled across smoldering battlefields live on in memory and history. The coolest tank nicknames of WW2 represent both machines and the crews that fought in them in just a few evocative words.