Early Cold War Tanks
Tank development continued after World War II as Western nations, which formed NATO, tried to prevent Communism from being spread over the globe, while Soviet bloc nations, which formed the Warsaw Pact, tried to prepare themselves for an attack from the West.
Advances in early Cold War tank technology included the development of composite armor - armor that contains layers of different types of materials, such as metals, plastics or ceramics, with different degrees of elasticity and hardness.
With the threat of nuclear warfare looming, tanks began to be equipped with NBC protection - protection from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
The Main Battle Tank (MBT) came into existence at the beginning of the Cold War. MBTs were designed to be able to fulfill almost all roles on the battlefield - as mobile as medium tanks but with the protection and firepower of heavy tanks.
The NATO nations usually developed their weapons separately, but the Warsaw Pact nations generally used standardized designs. As a result, NATO tanks of the Cold War tended to be more diverse than Warsaw Pact tanks.
Western tanks tended to have high turrets, which gave them a large range of fire. They were most effective when they were hidden behind an obstruction for protection while the guns were fired over the obstruction.
Soviet tanks tended to have low profiles and to be difficult to hit, making them more useful in open terrain.
(Weights are in long tons and kilograms.)