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M41D Walker Bulldog

The Taiwan army’s M41D light tank is improved from the M41 tank, which can effectively fill the gap in combat power before the third-generation tank entered service. The M41D is the only remaining light tank in the Taiwan National Army. Although the M41D tank is old, it has a high rate of accuracy. After its performance was improved, it still has the most advanced aiming and firing control system in the army, and it can fire fin-stabilized and armor-piercing projectiles.

The M41 Walker Bulldog tank (named after the US Army commander in the Korean War Walton Walker) is a light tank developed by the United States to replace the M24 Chaffee tank after the end of World War II. During the M41's service career, he participated in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In 1953, the M41 officially replaced the M24 in the US Army. The prototype vehicle appeared for a short time in the Korean War. By 1969, the vehicle began to be gradually retired, and the equipment did not long remain in service.

US soldiers did not appraise the M41 very highly, thinking that the internal space of the car was too small and it was uncomfortable to use. However, the M41, which was also provided to the South Vietnamese troops at the time, was welcomed because the South Vietnamese soldiers were generally short in stature, which made the space problem considered by the US military non-existent.

It was the first US military light tanks for export during the Cold War. Although the US military does not like M41, it does not delay its export. A total of 22 countries and regions were equipped with this type of tank, and there are more than 5,500 vehicles in total.

The M41 light tanks were first fielded by Taiwan in 1958 with 55 US military vehicles, and later received as many as 700 vehicles. Both Taiwan's army and the Marine Corps are equipped. By 1996, these M41s were still in service, but they were seriously inadequate due to their hull protection, firepower and power. Therefore, the Taiwan military selected 400 of the 700 with good quality and upgraded it. However, because the light tank was already a weapon out of the era at the time, the upgrade plan did not last to the end, and only more than 50 were completed.

Taiwan's army successively received M41 combat vehicles since 1949. The models are A1 and A3. After the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1996, the performance of the national army waas improved by 50 M41D combat vehicles. The army modified diesel engines, replaced main guns and fire control, and installed nights. According to the system, the M41D is a unique model in Taiwan. A modification of Taiwan Republic of China Army exclusive M41D ( D = diesel technology, to replace the traditional engine), characterized in that the maximum of both large side skirts, also has a night vision ranging and fire control systems.

M41D is different from other M41 variants - it can be regarded as the product of the "emergency renewal" of the Taiwan military. Originally, the Taiwan military planned to update the second-generation tanks in the 1990s, and then the M41C, which had been used for more than 30 years, could be retired with peace of mind. Therefore, in the early 1990s, the Taiwan military focused on producing the CM-11 "Brave Tiger". The performance of the old M41 was outdated, and the operational rate dropped to less than 60%. No one cared.

In 1994, for emergency needs, the Taiwanese Army tried to install a low-light night vision device on the M41 tank, but the plan failed to proceed because it failed to meet the requirements of combat skills. It seems that the modification plan of the M41 tank is really twists and turns", but the results of these modification plans are not completely in vain.

But then, the Taiwan Strait crisis broke out. At that time, the CM-11 was only produced in half the planned number, and the M-60 had not arrived in large quantities. The Taiwan military had to base itself on the existing equipment of the M41 to fight "local wars under high-tech conditions". Relying on an old 76mm cannon plus World War II fire control to fight the People's Liberation Army tanks produced after the 1980s, even the Type 59, would depend on skill and luck (to put it bluntly, the M41C couldn't penetrate the front armor of Chinese tanks).

The Taiwan military put forward two different M41 improved schemes, and each produced prototypes. The main difference between the two vehicles was the fire control and power: Prototype No. 1 used Texas Instruments’ CVTTS night vision fire control system and Cummins’ 4-stroke VAT-903TR diesel engine, and No. 2 used the “M41” made by Taiwan Kunyi Company Tank Night Vision Fire Control System" and the 2-stroke 8V-71T diesel engine of NAPCO of the United States. The M41D prototype that was finally launched was "smashed"-using the turret of Prototype 1 and the chassis of Prototype 2 (reminiscent of the development process of Stalin-3).

M41 Walker Bulldog M41D Walker Bulldog - Variant 1 M41D Walker Bulldog - Variant 2

Improving the M41 had become an urgent problem. At that time, the Taiwan authorities proposed to refit 300-400 M41s at a price of NT$20 million (US$730,000) per tank (according to the appropriateness rate at the time, it was almost the total number of M41s that were not broken), focusing on improving the firepower, fire control and Maneuverability.

The M41D is Taiwan Republic of China Army upgrades improved the M41A3 light tanks. After the performance of M41A3 was upgraded to M41D, the appearance of the side group armor was increased, and the tank was updated. The fire control system has a thermal imager (TTVS), a computerized ballistic computer, and a 41D aiming and fire control system. It is still the most advanced in the army; and the tank’s main gun is updated, although it is still 76mm guns, but removed Fire cap, increased gun barrel smoke evacuator, can fire fin-stabilized armor-piercing projectile; M41D tank updated the power system, the engine is replaced with Cummins two-stroke diesel engine, but the gearbox is not changed, still the original CD500, the top speed ratio M41A3 is low, but it is more fuel-efficient, and the torque is increased.

The crawler skirt is made of high-strength structural steel plates, which can increase the protection of the load-bearing system. In conjunction with the turret configuration, new smoke bomb launchers and dynamic smoke generators are designed to enhance the active protection.

Its maximum penetration depth is only 250mm @ 1000 meters. It can directly penetrate the frontal armor of the 59 series tanks, but at the same time can do nothing about the frontal armor of the Tpe 96 PLA tanks. The Texas Instruments’ CVTTS fire control has an electronic ballistic computer and a laser rangefinder, as well as a relatively trendy thermal imager at the time. It has a bit of advantage in night battles of about 1000 meters, but the tank’s turret and artillery have no stabilizers. That is to say, the car can neither move nor move, nor can it move to static. As a light tank that requires mobile combat, although the mobility of the M41D has also been enhanced, this weakness makes it somewhat embarrassing.

When the improvement of the M41D was completed in 1999, the Taiwan army originally planned that these tanks could extend the life of these tanks by 10-15 years. At first, Taiwan’s national army intended to purchase the US military’s M8-AGS light tank, but due to the high price, the national army compromised to upgrade the existing M41A3 to M41D. However, when the M41D prototype was first launched, the requirements of the national army changed significantly. Due to the purchase of a large number of M60A3 main tanks from the US military, the development of the M41D light tank gradually declining. Tthe 460 M60A3TTS bought by Taiwan’s military for less than US$1 million each.

Except for a few remaining in the Armored Forces School as a trainer, all the M41Ds were delivered to the second tank battalion of the 284 Division after the completion in 1999. Later, when the 284 Division was changed to the 584 brigade, it moved to the main island of Taiwan. The vehicles also continued to stay in Kinmen and were equipped with the tank camp of the Ministry of Defense, although on the small terrain of Kinmen Island, such a weakly armored tank actually has poor survivability in the face of the People's Liberation Army.

On 08 October 2020, an M41A3 tank belonging to the Lieyu garrison group unexpectedly overturned on its way back to camp, causing the death of the commander, Sergeant Lin Kaiqiang. M41D have a new dress M32K1 76mm guns, the installation of the new design of the muzzle flash suppressor muzzle brake, gun smoke chamber position is also shifted backwards, so as the first step in the transformation of M41D gun transformation.. At that time, the president promised to give priority to replacing this old type of military equipment. On 29 December 2020, the first M41D, which had been overhauled by the Military Rehabilitation Center, arrived at Kaohsiung Port and was ready to be sent to Kinmen by sea. Although it is only an upgrade of the old vehicle, its safety and firepower are better than before. The Army Command Headquarters confirmed that it planned to replace the existing aging fleet of M41A3 tanks stationed at the Kinmen Defense Command's Lieyu Garrison Battalion by June 2021.

The replacement of the M41D tank is based on the actual needs of the outer islands. It will be handed over after the entire vehicle has been overhauled and rigorously tested. And the brake system has no safety concerns. The Army Headquarters stated through a press release tonight that the Ministry of Defense’s replacement of the M41D tank is based on the threat of the enemy and the type of warfare, considering the size, terrain, and geomorphology of the outer islands, and adjusting the tank configuration appropriately to strengthen its mobility, strike and night combat capabilities meet the actual needs of defense operations in outer islands. In addition, the Army pointed out that the M41D tank brake system is a mechanical linkage. The Army has completed performance tests by the Ordnance Reconstruction Center before the transfer and inspection, and will be transferred after reaching the qualified standards. The brake system has no safety concerns.

The Army emphasized that it will continue to review and revise the outlying island troops in accordance with face-to-face threats, defensive operations requirements, and the acquisition schedule of weapons and equipment to enhance the overall defense capabilities. It appealed to Taiwan's people to rest assured and support national defense policies.

Currently, there are about 30 M41D combat vehicles available for inspection on the island. After the army has been organized into joint arms battalions this year, there are actually more than two hundred more armored vehicles including the clouded leopard armored vehicle. Regarding why the clouded leopard armored vehicle did not choose to take over the defense with the 40 howitzer gun model, the military explained that the M41 battle vehicle is a light tank, and its size and power are very suitable for the rugged terrain and narrow roads of Kinmen. The focus is on the tunnels of the concealed tank, which does not need to be widened.

The M41D is with the 3rd Battalion of the Mechanized Infantry of the Guandu Force stationed in Tamsui District, New Taipei City. It is estimated that it should be a tank company equipped with the battalion as a regular tank, but it cannot be ruled out that it is an armored cavalry directly under the command to which it belongs with the M41D. Because in the previous Hanguang military exercise, the so-called Snow Mountain Tunnel defense subject, there was also the M41D used as a mobile bunker, which came from the armored cavalry company directly under the Lanyang Regional Command. It is not difficult to see that the Taiwan Army has basically given up the idea of ??using M41D against the PLA armored units. The current M41D has been reduced to countering the presence of airborne troops and special forces.

The Army has a demand for more than two hundred light tanks in the future, and it is currently targeting the 105-gun wheeled armored vehicle developed by the Armament Bureau’s "Cheetah Project". The Armament Bureau of the Ministry of National Defense has allocated 778.84 million yua. Under the name of the "Cheetah Project," it plans to complete the development of two 105mm wheeled war artillery prototypes.

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Page last modified: 06-10-2021 12:14:58 ZULU