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M60 Series Tank (Patton Series)

The M60 series tank succeeded the M47 and M48 Series. The Bureau of the Budget prohibited M48 funding after the end of fiscal year (FY) 1959. In an attempt to overcome this prohibition, the Army developed a low risk, interim solution until develop-ment of the new MBT. The reliable M48 chassis was outfitted with a ballistically improved turret, a British 105mm cannon, and a new V-12 air cooled diesel engine was installed. On 16 March 1959 this hybrid was type classified as the M60MBT, designed as an interim vehicle.

The improved design provided an increased operational range and mobility, requiried a minimum of refueling and servicing, and incorporated an improved main armament. A Continental V-12 750 hp. air cooled diesel engine powers the vehicle. Power is transmitted to a final drive through a cross drive transmission, which is a combined transmission, differential, steering, and braking unit. The hull of this vehicle is a one piece steel casting and is divided into two compartments, the crew in the front, and the engine at the rear.

Production on the M60 Patton began in 1960, but only after a decade of effort to tweak and contort World War II-vintage Pershings into something more than they were designed for. The Pershing got a new power train and was dubbed the Patton in 1950, an obvious naming choice with GEN George S. Patton Jr., a Blackjack Pershing protégé, transformed by death into an icon. The M46 then got a new turret, 90mm gun, and fire control system to become the second Patton tank, the M47.

A whole new tank was contracted to Chrysler. The crew was reduced to four; enhancements were made to the fire control system; the hull was recast, but the same M47 powerpack was used, resulting in the M48. It wasn’t until 1959 that a variant of the M48 — with a diesel engine, new front hull, higher profile, and a 105mm cannon — proved to be different enough to warrant a new number; and the M60 was born.

By the 1990s the M60 Patton main battle tank was primarily found in US Reserve and National Guard units, but it served as the primary US main battle tank for two decades prior to the introduction of the M1. Developed from the M48 Patton series, the M60 was fitted with a 105mm main gun and manned by a four-man crew. Criticized for its high profile and limited cross-country mobility, this durable tank proved reliable and underwent many updates over its service life. Rarely has one vehicle type labored as the principle main battle tank for as long as the stalwart M60. The interior layout, based on the excellent design of the M26/46/47/M48, provided ample room for updates and improvements, extending the vehicle's service life for over four decades.

In the early 1950s, reports from British intelligence indicated the Soviets had developed a new heavily armored medium tank, the T-54. This new tank was armed with a 100mm gun, superior to the American M48 medium tank, which used an old 90mm main weapon developed in WWII. In response, the US developed a strategy to bring the M48 up a level to compete with the new Soviet tank -- the M60. Initially produced in 1960, over 15,000 M60s were built by Chrysler and first saw service in 1961. Production ended in 1983, but 5,400 older models were converted to the M60A3 variant ending in 1990. This tank saw action with the Israeli forces during the Yom Kippur War in both the Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Besides its main gun, the M60 series tanks are equipped with a 7.62mm M240 coaxial machine gun and 12.7mm M85 antiaircraft gun. Power is provided by a Continental AVDS-1790-2C 750 hp V-12 engine and an Allison CD-850-6/6A powershift crossdrive transmission. The first M-60s retained a turret similar to the M-48, but had a revised hull with better ballistic protection. The M60 tank hull was designed with a unique rounded boat shape, made from five cast pieces that combine to provide excellent ballistic protection for the four crew and equipment packed inside.

The army ordered the M60 into production in 1959 and the first M60s entered service with U.S. Army units during the fall of 1960. Most of the initial production vehicles were sent to Europe to offset the Russian T-54, then coming into widespread service with Warsaw pact armies. While it was an improvement over the M48, especially in armament (having a 105 mm gun, a much roomier M19 Commander Cupola and new road wheels), the M60 was regarded as somewhat of a stop gap measure. It has 750 hp. with a maximum speed of 30 mph and maximum range of 350 miles.

Used in Vietnam and Desert Storm, it proved itself to be a dependable vehicle in all areas of operation. In May 1997, at Fort Riley, 1st Battalion, 635th Armor, Kansas Army National Guard, retired the last M60-series tanks in the United States’ military force structure. The 58 M60A3 main battle tanks of the Kansas Guard’s only armor battalion were unceremoniously parked in a holding pen at the Camp Funston Mobilization and Training Equipment Site (MATES), in the Kansas River Valley, down the hill from Fort Riley’s main post.

Page last modified: 01-07-2021 18:00:29 Zulu