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M47 Patton

Named for Gen. George S. Patton, the M47 went into production in April, 1951. Technical problems prevented fielding of the M47 until the following year. The M47 tank was the U.S. armed forces' first all new tank after World War II. Designed for offensive combat operations, it provided mobile firepower and crew protection for the four man crew. It is powered by an air-cooled V-12, 750 hp. gasoline engine. This and the other vehicles you see today use a torsion bar suspension system consisting of transverse torsion bars in the bottom of the hull, wheel arms, and road wheels. The vehicle hull is constructed of armored plate and cast armor sections welded together and reinforced. A transverse bulkhead separates the crew compartment in the front from the engine compartment at the rear. The turret is a one piece cast structure using a 90mm main gun, and the armor is from 2 to 4 inches thick. Designed in the early 1950's, it saw use in foreign wars but not with the US armed forces in any conflict.

With the outbreak of the Korean War, a decision was made to utilize existing vehicle designs and to phase in additional changes as new items could be produced, without moving too far from the existing M-46Al design. The M47 was essentially an M46 fitted with the turret from the T42 tank prototype, and was intended to be an interim design until the 90mm gun tank M48 could be produced. While the experimental T-42 hull had been made up of flat plates, the M-46 hull was better ballistically, at least in front. The superior cast turret armed with a 90mm gun was originally designed for the experimental T42 heavy tank that did not enter service. The T-42 turret was put into production, the M-46 hull and chassis was modified, and the two were joined.

This "interim" vehicle was initially called the M-46E1, and soon re-designated the M-47. Compared to the M46, the M-47 included better ballistic protection fire control and layout. Some of the holdovers from the Sherman family were the 5-member crew and inclusion of a bow machine gun. The first fully new tank design after the Second World War was the M-48, which provided a bridge between the Pershing and the M-60.

The M-47 is easily identified by the sharply tapered turret with small gun shield and particularly by the long narrow turret bulge ending in a stowage box. The turret was slightly elliptical with a long bustle or rear turret bulge which acted as a counterweight to the gun, and housed the radio and a ventilator.

The M47 was the last American tank with a five-man crew. The tank was not fitted with any NBC, night fighting or computerized fire control systems. The M-47 was powered by a Continental AV-1790-5B, 12 cylinders, 820 HP, gasoline propelled engine. With a full tank of 882 liters, the M-47 could only run approximately 128km. The drive sprocket on the M47 was higher than M46's, and made the top of the track run flat.

The main gun was the M36 90mm gun with an M12 optical rangefinder fitted. The main armament 90 mm gun was fitted with a bore evacuator but no muzzle brake. The "eyes" of the gunner's stereoscopic rangefinder protruded from the top sides of the turret. The 90mm gun M36 had a cylindrical blast deflector and a bore evacuator. The secondary armament consisted of a .30cal Browning as bow machine gun and the .50cal Browning M2 on a pintle mount on the turret roof.

On 09 November 1950, the US Army adopted a new tank designation system, based on the caliber of the vehicle's main gun rather than the vehicle's weight. The M47, which would previously have been a medium tank, became a 90mm gun tank.

First produced in 1951 at the Detroit Arsenal, the M47 entered US service in 1952 but did not see any action in the Korean War. In US service the M47 was quickly replaced by the M48 which began entering service in 1953. A total of 8,576 [8,676?] M47 were produced. During the Korean War, the Chrysler plant was modified to build the new battle tank, the M47 Patton. In all, Chrysler built 3,443 M47 Patton tanks between 1952 and 1954. Always considered an interim design, as the M-48 tanks became available, the M-47's were replaced.

The M47 remained in service internationally for some time, and was mainly used to equip NATO partners against the Warsaw Pact forces. The M-47's being available in quantity, they were the first armored vehicles furnished to West Germany. The M47 was widely used by European NATO countries forming the first modern tank forces in Belgium, France, and Austria. Other nations later received them. They included China (Taiwan), Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia.

An upgrade program for the M47 was started in the late 1960s and resulted in the M47M, which used the engine and fire control system from the 105mm gun tank M60A1. The Continental's AVDS-1790-2A supercharged diesel engine, had the exhaust vented through rear louvres, which replaced the mufflers on the M47's rear fenders. The crew was reduced from five to four [the assistant driver was eliminated] to make room for more 90mm ammunition. The small track tension idler wheel was deleted, and the rear road wheel was moved 3.8" (9.7cm) to the rear to compensate for the loss of the track tensioning wheel. Over 800 M47Ms were produced by Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Inc., and by a tank factory built in Iran for M47M production.

Spain and Portugal were equipped with the M47 until the 1980's. Spain rebuilt those in service to E1 and E2 standards with a more powerful AVDS 1790 diesel engine and the E2 even with a 105mm main gun. Other users of the M47 included Greece, Turkey and the Republic of Korea as well as Jordan, Iran and the former Yugoslavia. Iran used the M47M version with a new diesel engine and fire control system but the old 90mm gun. This version was also in use with Pakistani forces.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:46:27 ZULU