M48 Patton on display in 1st Cavalry Division Museum
|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin||United States|
|In service||1953-1990s (United States)|
|Wars||1958 Lebanon crisis|
Portuguese Colonial War
Dominican Civil War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Yom Kippur War
Western Sahara War
Lebanese Civil War
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Battle of Mogadishu (1993)
2007 Lebanon conflict
|Designer||Chrysler Defense Engineering|
|Manufacturer||Chrysler Newark Tank Plant, DE|
Fisher Body Grand Blanc Tank Plant, MI
Ford Motor Company Livonia Tank Plant, MI
American Locomotive Company Schenectady Tank Plant NY
|Unit cost||M48A3: $309,090 (1961)|
|No. built||12,000 (all variants)|
|Variants||Many, see the variants section|
|Mass||M48: 49.6 short tons (44.3 long tons; 45.0 t) combat ready|
|Length||9.3 m (30 ft 6 in)|
|Width||3.65 m (12 ft 0 in)|
|Height||3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)|
|Crew||4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)|
|Armor||Upper Glacis: 110 mm (4.3 in) at 60° = 220 mm (8.7 in) LoS|
Turret Front: 178 mm (7.0 in) at 0°
|M48/M48A1: 90mm M3A1/T54|
M48A2/M48A3: 90 mm gun M41/T139
M48A5: 105 mm T254E2/M68 gun
|.50 cal (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun |
.30 cal (7.62 mm) M73 Machine gun
|Engine||Continental AV1790-1790-2 carbureted, V12, air-cooled, gasoline engine[a] 650 DIN hp (478 kW)|
750 hp (560 kW)
|Power/weight||16.6 hp (12.4 kW)/tonne|
|Transmission||General Motors CD-850-4A or -4B, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse|
|Suspension||Torsion bar suspension|
|Fuel capacity||200 US gal (760 l; 170 imp gal)|
|M48 and M48A1 113 km, M48A2 258 km, M48A3 463 km, M48A5 499 km (all on road)|
|Speed||M48A5: 30 mph (48 km/h)|
The M48 Patton is an American first generation main battle tank (MBT) introduced in February 1951. It was designed as a replacement for the M26 Pershing, M4 Sherman variants and M46 Pattons used in the Korean War, and as the successor to the M47 Patton. Nearly 12,000 M48s were built, mainly by Chrysler and AlCo, from 1952 to 1961. The M48 underwent many design modifications and improvements during its production life. This led to a wide variety of suspension systems, cupola styles, power packs, fenders and other details among individual tanks. The early designs, up to the M48A2C, were powered by a gasoline engine. The M48A3 and A5 versions used a diesel engine, however gasoline engine versions were still in use in the US Army National Guard through 1968 and through 1975 by many West German Army units. Numerous examples of the M48 saw combat use in various Arab-Israeli conflicts and the Vietnam War. Beginning in 1959, most American M48A1s and A2s were upgraded to the M48A3 model.
The M48 Patton-series saw widespread service with the United States and NATO until it was superseded by the M60 tank as well as being widely exported. The tank's hull also developed a wide variety of prototypical, utility and support vehicles such as armored recovery vehicles and bridge layers. Some M48A5 models served into the mid-1980s with US Army National Guard units, and were used as targets for weapons and radar testing into the mid-1990s. Many M48s remain in service in other countries though most of these have been highly modified and had their firepower, mobility and protection upgraded to increase their combat effectiveness on the modern battlefield. The Turkish Army has the largest number of modernized M48 MBTs, with more than 1,400 in its inventory. Of these, around 1,000 have been phased out, placed in storage, or modified as armoured recovery vehicles.
After the conclusion of World War II, the United States Ordnance Tank-Automotive Command (OTAC) drastically slowed or canceled many tank development and design programs. On 7 November 1950, the Ordnance Technical Committee mandated a change in the nomenclature for tanks in the US Military. It was decided that weight designations (Light, Medium, Heavy) were no longer applicable due to changes in the way tanks were developed and employed on the battlefield, and the varying calibers of main guns now available. Thus the caliber of the gun replaced its weight designation. For example, the M103 Heavy Tank was redesignated as the 120mm Gun Tank M103 and the Light Tank M41 Walker Bulldog as the 76mm Gun Tank M41 Walker Bulldog. The M47 Patton entered production in 1951 and was used by the United States Army and Marine Corps but ongoing technical and production problems kept it from serving in the Korean War. This forced the US to field older tank models, such as the M26 Pershing and M46 Patton. In response, the Army launched several design projects for a replacement of the M46 and M26. The United States entered a period of frenzied activity during the crisis atmosphere of the Korean War, when America seemed to lag behind the Soviet Union in terms of tank quality and quantity. Testing and development cycles occurred simultaneously with production to ensure speedy delivery of new tanks. Such rapid production caused problems but the importance given to rapidly equipping combat units with new tanks precluded detailed testing and evaluation prior to its quantity production. Notable among these were the T42, T69 and T48 Projects as well as continuing to pursue further improvements to the M47. General Bruce C. Clarke stated "We know exactly what we want. We want a fast, highly mobile, fully armored, lightweight vehicle. It must be able to swim, cross any terrain, and climb 30 degree hills. It must be air-transportable. It must have a simple but powerful engine, requiring little or no maintenance. The operating range should be several hundred miles. We would also like it to be invisible".
The T48 was to focus on improving the turret design and a more powerful engine. 1/4 and 1/8 scale mock-ups of the turret were constructed during May 1950. The design study was accepted by the Army in December the same year and a contract for the design and manufacture of a 90mm armed tank, the T48 was given to the Chrysler Corporation. Six prototypes were built, the first by December 1951. The hull was redesigned, moving the driver's station to the front center and the bow-mounted machine gun and its associated crew station were removed and converted to safe container storage for additional main gun ammunition. The front glacis was redesigned into a slope and offered much better ballistic protection than former welded and rather flat designs. The driver steered the vehicle using an aircraft styled steering wheel. Initially the power pack consisted of the Continental AV-1790-5B gasoline engine producing 704 brake horsepower coupled to an Allison CD-850-4A cross-drive transmission with 2 forward and 1 reverse ranges. The hull armor was increased to 4 inches (100 mm) on the front glacis of rolled homogenous steel. It had six roadwheel pairs per side and five return rollers, a torsion bar suspension system, using the T97E2 steel track assembly.
A new hemispherically shaped turret was implemented for the T48. This was to eliminate the noted shot traps in the M47's turret design and also lowered the vehicle's height in comparison to the M46 and M47. It was armed with the T54 90mm main gun and used a Y-shaped muzzle brake on the barrel. The full image stereoscopic T46E1/M12 rangefinder was placed in the central section of the turret.
On 27 February 1951, shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, the Ordnance Technical Committee Minutes (OTCM) #33791 initiated the simultaneous production and design refinement of the new tank, designating it the 90mm Gun Tank M48. The Army planned to produce some 9,000 M48s within three years of development. Such rapid, mass production would close the imbalance between Soviet and American tank forces. Meeting this goal, however, required production simultaneous with operational testing and development. Chrysler Corporation became the principal producer of the tank. Expected production and teething troubles led to the creation of integrating committees to coordinate tank and component development. These Army Combat Vehicle (ARCOVE) committees included military and industrial representatives who provided early warning of defects and recommended remedies. Testing trials of the T48 tanks began in February 1952 and continued until the end of 1952. However the perceived immediate threat of Soviet aggression in Western Europe and the ongoing Korean War impelled Army senior leadership to rush the T48 tank into series production before the inevitable bugs could be worked out of the new tank. Instead, it was decided that any needed design changes uncovered by the testing of the T48 tanks would be incorporated into the series production vehicles as quickly as possible.
In conjunction with the development of the T48 project there was some discussion regarding armor. The weight of conventional armored steel needed to provide protection against the emerging large-calibered high-velocity main guns and improved APDS kinetic energy penetrators was making its continued use impractical. Composite applique armor panels made with fused silica glass was envisioned to be fitted to the hull. It was also desired that a turret be constructed using this special armor. The US Army Tank and Automotive Command and Carnegie Institute of Technology began development of the armor in November 1952 at Fort Belvoir VA as Project TT2-782/51. This composite armor provides protection against HEAT, HEP, and HE rounds. Its overall slow development kept it from being used on the T48 and was dropped from consideration in 1953 however its development was continued with the T95 Medium Tank until 1958.
There were two different hulls used for the M48 series. The M48 hull had a wedge-shaped front glacis compared to the M46's rather flat design and a smaller driver's hatch. The suspension consisted of six roadwheel pairs with a torsion bar suspension system and five return rollers. The engine exhaght vents were located on the top of the rear deck. There was a dual compensating idler arm at the front, and dual auxiliary track tension wheels behind the last road wheels, using the T97E2 track assembly. The drive sprocket was located at the rear of the hull. Shock absorbers were mounted at the first two and last roadwheel arms. This hull design was manufactured for the original M48 and M48A1 versions of the M48 series.
The M48A2 hull design had three return rollers and six roadwheel pairs per side. The suspension system was simplified. The track tensioner arm was eliminated, modifications to the idler arm, the addition of bumper springs and friction snubbers, and a relocation of the air cleaner assembly. The engine deck was redesigned. It had two large louvered doors at the rear that replaced the complicated grill work of the rear engine decks of the M48/M48A1 hull designs. This hull was used on newly constructed M48A2 and M48A3 tanks of the M48 series.
The turret used for the M48 series was hemispherical in shape and was made from cast homogeneous steel. It had a flat gun shield and a standard pop-up styled hatch for the commander and an additional hatch for the loader's station. Early production models of the turret had somewhat smaller diameter hatches. The gunner was provided with an M37 .30 cal machine gun with 5,900 rounds of ammunition.
During WWII and the Korean War, most tanks used a direct sighting system where the gun sights and rangefinders were slaved directly to the gun's barrel but its long range accuracy depended upon the focusing abilities of the individual gunner. There are two basic types of optical rangefinders, stereoscopic and coincidence. With a stereoscopic model range determination occurred by measuring the distance from the observer to a target using the observer's capability of binocular vision. The coincidence rangefinder uses a single eyepiece. Light from the target enters the rangefinder through two windows located at either end of the instrument. The ARCOVE emphasis upon increased long range accuracy led to the incorporation of a fire control system (FCS) in the M48. The fire control system included a rangefinder, mechanical ballistic computer, ballistic drive, and gunner's periscope. Collectively, these mechanical devices resembled in miniature the fire control systems used in naval gunnery. Only after the Second World War did such systems become small enough for use in combat vehicles. These mechanical fire control systems permitted tanks to engage effectively at much longer ranges than in World War II, a critical consideration for an army expecting to enter the battlefield outnumbered. Instead of a gunner's sight being slaved to the gun tube, the ballistic computer and drive computed the range and elevated the gun. The gunner's primary responsibility lay in keeping the sight on the target. The mechanical ballistic computer made a more accurate computation of range possible by mathematically accounting for such factors as vehicle cant and ammunition type. Many developmental range finders based on pulses of IR light, such as the OPTAR rangefinder of the T95 continued into 1957.
Another requirement of the T48 project was to explore the use of autoloaders for the main gun as they became available. Preliminary experiments with a loading system using the T48 turret were unsuccessful due to the limited space and the need to line up the breach with the loading system after each firing. It also was dropped from consideration for use on the M48 but was further developed using the T69 tank.
ARCOVE also involved the Ordnance Department with the goal of improving the 90mm gun and its ammunition. The Army expected difficulties in engagements with the Soviet JS III heavy tank, since the M48's 90mm M3A1/T54 gun could not consistently penetrate its frontal armor, even with special armor-piercing capped (APC) or HEAT ammunition. Work was performed to address this by developing the improved 90mm T300E53 HEAT ammunition. The 90mm T208 and T210 guns were smooth bored weapons and used to further develop hyper-ballistic kinetic energy projectiles. They were developed using the T95 tank. The T42 tank's T139 90mm rifled main gun was capable of firing newly developed APDS ammunition as well as making the crew's changing of the gun's barrel easier and being lighter in weight compared to the M3A1/T54 gun. This gun was a significant improvement over the M3A1/T54. Firing an APDS (Armor-Piercing Discarding-Sabot) round, it could penetrate 11.1 inches (282mm) of homogenous steel armor, angled at 30 degrees, at a distance of 1000 yards (914.4 meters). It was later standardized as the 90mm Gun M41 and used on the M48A2 and A3 tanks. The 90mm T178 gun was fitted with an eight-round auto-loader system, it was explored using the oscillating turret of the T69 tank.
The T48 tank featured a remote controllable machine gun mount as the tank commander's weapon on a pedestal, which allowed him to fire the .50 caliber (12.7mm) M2HB machine gun from within the vehicle's turret. It used a 100-round ammunition box and could also be employed manually by the commander. However, servicing and reloading of the weapon required the tank commander to open his roof hatch and expose his head and upper torso. This remote controllable mount was designated as the .50 Caliber Machine Gun Mount, M1 and designed by Chrysler Defense Engineering. By October 1954, the Army decided to amend the design of the tank by installing a cupola. During the production of M48s it was modified several times resulting in a wide mix of cupola styles among individual tanks. Afterwards it was renamed as the Cupola, Tank Commander's Caliber .50 Machine Gun, M1. The new tank commander cupola would allow the tank commander to aim and fire his weapon while remaining under armor protection via a remote controlled M2HB machine gun, however the commander had to open the cupola hatch and expose his head to reload or service the machine gun due to the limited headroom. These cupolas had a small rearward opening hatch and a single, non-removeable vision block. They were designed by Aircraft Armaments Incorporated. Because of its smaller turret roof hatch opening those M1 cupolas retro-fitted to early production M48 tanks used an adaptor ring.
The M1E1 cupola design used a G305 cupola riser with 9 non-removable vision blocks installed (some versions had 7 with the 2 rear blocks deleted) between the turret roof and the cupola. It also came with a new bulged hatch cover to provide the tank commander with more headroom and allowed him to reload the weapon while remaining under armor protection. A major drawback of both these cupolas was their inability to mount either daylight or infrared vision devices in the already cramped cupola's interior. Also due to restraints in the cupola, smaller 50 round ammunition boxes were used. Development of its eventual replacement, the T9/M19 cupola of the XM60 tank was continued into 1958 and some M19 cupolas were retro-fitted to M48A5s to allow for the use of IR and daylight periscopes by the commander.
Chrysler began building the new Newark Tank Plant in Newark, Deleware in 1951 to produce the M48 while Chrysler Defense Engineering and ARCOVE continued advanced production engineering (APE) to evolve the design using the T48 prototypes at the OTAC Detroit Arsenal. In May 1952 Chrysler came to an agreement to take control (on a Government Owned and Contractor Operated (GOCO) basis of the Newark Tank plant production facility with the US Government and to continue production design refinement of the T48 at the OTAC Detroit Arsenal. The first Chrysler production tank was unveiled on 1 July 1952 as the 90mm Gun Tank M48 and christened the M48 Patton by Mrs. Beatrice Ayer Patton, wife of the late General George S Patton. To meet the urgent need for tanks, production contracts were also awarded to General Motors and Ford Motor Company to produce the tank in Michigan starting in 1952. Also in July 1952 the Army awarded American Locomotive Company a $200 million contract to start producing the tank in 1953 at the Schenectady Tank Plant in New York. All four companies were given initial production contracts in that same year for around 400 tanks each.
The M48 featured a gasoline-powered engine, different models were used depending on availability and manufacturer. Originally the M48(Mod A) was built at the Chrysler Defense using the Continental AV-1790-5B coupled to a General Motors CD-850-4A or 4B cross-drive transmission as used for the M47. The M48(Mod B) used a Continental AV-1790-5C gasoline engine and either an Allison CD-850-4A or 4B cross-drive transmission. Most of these were built by the American Locomotive Company. Additionally a two-cylinder, gasoline, air-cooled engine (sometimes referred to as the "Little Joe" by tank crews) was provided to power a 28 volt, 300 ampere generator when the main engine was not needed. Fuel capacity was 200 gallons providing a cruising range of about 70 miles (110 km). The suspension consisted of six roadwheel pairs with a torsion bar suspension system and five return rollers. There was a dual compensating idler arm at the front, and dual auxiliary track tension wheels behind the last road wheels, using the T97E2 track assembly as were the previous M46 and M47 tanks. It had hydraulic shock absorbers mount on the first, second and sixth roadwheel pairs (opposite of the M46 and M47). The bow mounted machine gun and its related crew station was eliminated thus providing more ammunition storage for the main gun. The driver's station was moved to the front center of the hull. The steering controls were redesigned. A large aircraft-styled steering wheel (replacing the wobble stick control of the M46 and M47) and placing the transmission range selector on the floor to the driver's right. Mod A hulls had a small oval overhead hatch for the driver. It incorporated a mechanism that dropped his three periscope heads to provide clearance for the hatch door as it swung to the right, and the driver then had to reposition the periscopes by hand once the hatch was closed again. The vehicle did not have an NBC protection system for the crew and a fording depth of approximately 1.2 meters.
The M48's turret consisted of a redesigned flat gun shield and standard pop-up hatch for the commander's station. The M48 Mod A turret design had a smaller roof hatches for both the commander and loader. A .50cal M2HB using a M1 remote control mount on a pedestal was available for the commander. When not in use, the machine gun mount could be stowed on a bracket welded to the turret roof in front of the loader. It featured the 90mm M3A1 main gun. The M48's direct fire control system consisted of an M12/T41 stereoscopic rangefinder with a field of view of 5 degrees and magnification of x7.5, an azimuth indicator, an M20 gunner's periscope and a T13 superelevation actuator. Two main bearings are bolted to the mounting plate on the roof of the tank turret to support the range finder on steel radial ball bearings. A parallel gun linkage between the gun trunnion and the range finder assures that the line of sight of the range finder reproduces the exact motion of the gun in elevation. A .30 caliber M1919E4 machine gun was coaxially mounted to the main gun's right and was operated by the gunner. An M12 full field optical range finder was used, the same as the M47. The tank was not fitted with any night fighting or computerized fire control systems. It mounted the M3A1 gun using a Y-shaped muzzle brake on the barrel and carried 53 rounds. Eight ready rounds were stored in the left side of the turret bustle for the loader, the rest were stored inside safe containers in the hull. Tank crews complained that the Y-shaped fume extractor was found to be prone to snagging brush. It was replaced with a T-shaped model early in production.
These early M48 tanks suffered from engine, transmission, track, and suspension problems. The M12 rangefinder was too fragile and often broke. Army Field Forces (AFF) found these tanks to be unsuitable for combat use in Europe and was regulated to limited use by US Army CONUS units until numerous shortcomings were corrected. Furthermore, some 120 hulls were found to have insufficient hull armor. These were denoted as the M48C and relegated to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) for non-ballistic training use by the Armor School at Fort Knox to train crewmembers and maintenance personnel.
The Army concluded in January 1952 that the T42 had failed as a tank capable of combat in Europe against Soviet tanks and reached the same conclusion in November 1953 for the M48 Mod A/B versions. The M48A1 focused on improving the engine and the vehicle's operational range and fixing numerous mechanical problems. To cope with the lack of range, an add-on modification allowed the use of 4 external jettisonable 55 gallon (210 liter) fuel drums was mounted to the rear deck, extending the range to 135 miles. This proved very unpopular with tank crews. Further ARCOVE changes included a desire for the commander to observe and operate his weapons station while remaining under armor protection. The operational range of the M48 continued to prove unsatisfactory. At this same time the US Army Field Forces (USAAFF) declared the T42 medium tank unfit for production in November 1952, mainly due to serious shortcomings of its hull design. However, its turret design was used for the M47 Patton and its T139 90 mm gun was be standardized as the 90mm Gun M41 used on the M48A2 and A3 variants of the M48-series. Ford's production of the M48 ended in August 1953 after a fire destroyed most of the Livonia Tank Plant.
Testing and feedback from ARCOVE had uncovered the fact that the original driver's hatch design of the M48(Mod A)/T48 tank proved to be too small and made for an uncomfortable seating position for the driver when operating the tank with his hatch in the open position. To rectify this problem a new larger driver hatch was devised that was introduced into series production vehicle as early as possible. Also the front vision block was removable and could be replaced with an infrared IR vision block. A redesigned power pack featured an AV-1790-7B gasoline engine and CD-850-4B transmission. The turret was fitted with the M1 cupola that enclosed the M2HB machine gun. In April 1953, the Army standardized the configuration Patton as the 90mm Gun Tank M48A1 Patton.
Between April 1952 and December 1954, nearly 7,000 M48s and M48A1s were produced, with an with production contracts for an additional 2,500 M48A1s to be built through 1956. Combat units immediately received 2,120 of these early tanks, but correction of defects discovered after production delayed the fielding of the remaining tanks. The first production vehicles suffered from excessive oil consumption and engine failures after only 1,000 miles. The gasoline engine managed only .33 miles per gallon, limiting range to 75 miles. The M48's width proved too wide for many European tunnels, complicating rail transport. Operational readiness rates of M48-equipped units tended to be low. The tanks suffered from engine, transmission, track, and suspension problems, and the M12 stereoscopic rangefinder was uncomfortable to operate. However, the M48 was considered an even match for its Soviet counterpart, the T54. On 25 October 1954, the Army decided to amend its designation of the M48 tank. Thereafter, the tanks with the original small driver's hatch and the Chrysler-designed M1 remote-control machine gun mount attached to the tank commander's cupola would remain the 90mm gun tank M48. However, all those tanks with the larger driver hatch and fitted with a new small turreted cupola armed with a .50 caliber M2HB machine gun would be designated as the 90mm gun tank M48A1. Many of these tanks were later upgraded to the A2 and A3 standards.
The concurrent testing and production of the M48 was the source of widespread debate. Congress believed that the Army was not progressing with sufficient speed in its tank modernization program and recommended the immediate replacement of the M48A2 as well as well as better quality control. Under the ARCOVE's "single, efficient producer" model, Defense Secretary Charles Erwin Wilson directed the Army to reduce the number of contractors producing each model of tank. In a new round of production bids for the M48A2, General Motors underbid Chrysler, and in September 1953 Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens awarded GM's Fisher Body division a $200 million contract to become the sole producer of the M48A2 and started production at its Grand Blanc Tank Plant in Michigan in April 1953. The decision raised skepticism among lawmakers. Senator Estes Kefauver noted the move would effectively leave GM as the only producer of light and medium tanks when the Chrysler production contract for M48 production was set to expire in April 1956.
During the ARCOVE Questionmark III conference in June 1954 it was predicted that the Congressional Budget Oversite Committee would not approve the procurement of the M48A2 after the fiscal year 1959, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics (DCSLOG) proposed a tank based on the M48A2 featuring improved firepower and a compression ignition engine. In response to these findings an eventual replacement for the M48 was proposed. This resulted in the start of the T95 Project. Months later Chrysler underbid GM in the new round of proposals. In September 1954 the Army awarded Chrysler an exclusive $160.6 million contract to restart production. In November 1955 the Army awarded Alco Products a $73 million contract to begin producing 600 M48A2s the next year at the Schenectady Tank Plant, New York. However Alco opted to wrap up its tank business when its contract ended in July 1956. In May the Army awarded Chrysler, the only bidder, a $119 million contract to continue production of the M48A2 at the Delaware Tank Plant. In December 1953 Chrysler took on orders initially intended for the American Locomotive after the AlCo opted production cutbacks to its tank program and ceased further tank production by 1956.
The engine deck was redesigned. It had two large louvered doors that replaced the complicated grill work of the rear engine decks of the M48/M48A1 hull designs. This new rear hull arrangement on the M48A2 tank helped in cooling the engine and minimizing the infrared (heat) signature of the vehicle. The fender  The suspension system was simplified. The track tensioner arm was eliminated, modifications to the idler arm, the addition of bumper springs and friction snubbers, and a relocation of the air cleaner assembly. The number of return rollers was reduced to 3 per side. Many older model M48s and M48A1s were rebuilt to this production configurations but retained their original 5 return rollers per side.
The M48A2C saw improvements for the turret. The main gun was upgraded with the 90mm T139/M41 from the T42 tank replacing the M3A1/T54. The M12 rangefinder was replaced with a full-field coincidence model. The M13 Fire Control included an improved turret control system M13 Fire Control System (FCS), The M13 FCS consists of the M5A2 ballistic drive and mechanical M13A3 gun data computer which integrated barrel temperature data with an M17 coincidence range finder. The rangefinder is a double image coincidence image instrument used as the ranging device of the gunner's primary direct sighting and fire control system. The gunner is provided with an M20 day periscope with a magnification of x8 and an M105D day telescopic sight with a magnification of x8 and a field of view of 7.5 degrees. Range information from the rangefinder is fed into the ballistic computer through a shaft. The ballistic computer is a mechanically driven unit that permits ammunition selection, range correction, and superelevation correction by the gunner. The ballistic drive receives the range input and, through the use of cams and gears, provides superelevation information to the superelevation actuator. The superelevation actuator adds sufficient hydraulic fluid to the elevating mechanism to correctly position the gun.
The continued use of gasoline engines was undesirable due mainly to its high fuel consumption, poor low-end torque and fuel flammability. ARCOVE industrial representatives had expressed desires for a diesel engine for the tank since 1953. Continental Motors and OTAC began to develop an experimental X-shaped compression ignition engine in 1954 with T95 tank but it remained unreliable. In June 1955, OTAC adopted the recommendations and allowed a diesel engine to be used if it significantly contributed to better fuel economy. By August 1956 the diesel powered AVDS-1790 was recommended for the M48 and the Army requested the initial retrofitting of approximately 1020 older M48A1s and A2s with the new engine in December.
During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a Soviet T-54A medium tank was driven onto the grounds of the UK's embassy in Budapest by the Hungarians. After a brief examination of this tank's armor and 100 mm gun by a British military attaché, the UK decided that their 20 pounder (84mm L/66.7) was apparently incapable of defeating it. There were also rumors of an even larger 115 mm gun in the works. In response to this the US Army started development of the XM60 to replace the M48 tank series and the development of a new main gun, the 105mm T254.
In addition to the conversion of older model M48s, Chrysler continued to build new vehicles. New vehicles built to this standard used the M48A2 hull design (with 3 return rollers) and had redesigned fenders and mudguards, armored boxes around the taillights among other minor details. They were fitted with another re-designed commander's cupola, a modified M1E1. It had a modified hatch to allow more room in comparison to the previous M1 cupola and the two rear vision blocks were eliminated. The driver's steering wheel was replaced with a T-bar control and received a padded seat. M48A3 hull production ended in May 1961. The Newark Tank plant was closed in October.
Instead of immediately getting a 105mm main gun, the M48A3 tanks were to retain their existing M41 90mm main guns for several reasons. First, funding shortfalls made it impossible to supply enough 105mm main gun rounds for all the planned converted tanks. Second, there were still large stockpiles of 90mm main gun rounds on hand. Third was its planned replacement, the M60 Patton was set to start production in 1959. This newest version of the M48 series received the designation Tank, Combat, Full-Tracked; 90mm Gun, M48A3 on 19 March 1958.
By February 1960, the US Army had around 600 converted M48A3 Patton tanks and by 1964 the US Marine Corps had received 419. The A3 model introduced the diesel engine, countering the earlier versions' characteristic of catching fire.  Because all M48A3 tanks were conversions from earlier models, many characteristics varied among individual examples of this type. M48A3 tanks could have either three or five support rollers on each side and might have either the early or later type headlight assemblies, some retained their earlier cupola styles.
In the mid-1970s, the vehicle was modified to carry the heavier 105 mm gun. The original program designation was XM736. The designation was subsequently changed to M48A3E1 and was finally standardized as M48A5. As many components from the M60A1 were utilized as possible. Anniston Army Depot was issued a contract to convert 501 M48A3 tanks to the M48A5 standard and this was completed in December 1976. These early M48A5's were essentially M48A3 tanks with the 105mm gun added. They retained the M1 cupola armed with a .50 cal machine gun.
Based on Israeli experience in upgrading M48 series tanks, further changes were included starting in August 1976. These included replacing the M1 cupola with a low-profile "Urdan" type cupola that mounted an M60D machine gun for use by the tank commander. A second M60D machine gun was mounted on the turret roof for use by the loader. Internal ammunition stowage for the 105mm main gun was also increased to 54 rounds. These tanks were initially given the designation M48A5API; but, after early conversions were brought up to the later standard, the API was removed and these tanks were known simply as M48A5.
In addition to the conversion of M48A3 tanks, an additional conversion process for bringing M48A1 tanks to M48A5 standard was also developed. By March 1978, 708 M48A5 tanks had been converted from the M48A1 model.
Work continued until December 1979, at which time 2069 M48A5's had been converted.
The vast majority of M48A5 tanks in service with US Army units were assigned to National Guard and Army Reserve Units. A notable exception was the 2nd Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea, who replaced their M60A1 tanks with M48A5's, which arrived in June and July 1978. On 2nd Infantry Division M48A5 tanks the commander's M60D was replaced with a .50 caliber M2 machine gun.
By the mid-1990s, the M48s were phased out of U.S. service. Many other countries, however, continued to use these M48 models.
The M48 saw extensive action with the US military during the Vietnam War. Over 600 Pattons would be deployed with US forces during that war. The initial M48s first landed with the US Marine 1st and 3rd Tank Battalions in 1965, with the 5th Marine Tank Battalion later becoming a back-up/reinforcement unit. The remaining Pattons deployed to South Vietnam were in three US Army battalions, namely the 1-77th Armor near the DMZ (67 M48A2C (23 tanks supplied from US Army Training Center at Fort Knox, KY USA, and 44 tanks from Letterkenney Army Depot Chambersburg, PA USA) tanks were used by the 77th Armor from August 1968 to January 1969. These were later replaced with M48A3s), the 1-69th Armor in the Central Highlands of central South Vietnam and the 2-34th Armor positioned near the Mekong Delta. Each battalion consisted of approximately 57 tanks. M48s were also used by Armored Cavalry Squadrons in Vietnam until replaced by M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicles (ARAAV) in the Divisional Cavalry Squadrons. M48A3 tanks remained in service with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment until the unit was withdrawn from the conflict. The M67A1 flame tank (nicknamed the Zippo) was an M48 variant used in Vietnam. From 1965 to 1968, 120 US M48A3 tanks were written off.
The M48 Patton has the distinction of playing a unique role in an event that was destined to radically alter the conduct of armored warfare. When US forces commenced redeployment operations, many of the M48A3 Pattons were turned over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces, in particular creating the battalion-sized ARVN 20th Tank Regiment; which supplemented their M41 Walker Bulldog units. During the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Easter Offensive in 1972, tank clashes between NVA T-54/PT-76 and ARVN M48/M41 units became commonplace. But, on 23 April 1972, tankers of the 20th Tank Regiment were attacked by an NVA infantry-tank team, which was equipped with the new 9M14M Malyutka (NATO designation: Sagger) wire guided anti-tank missile. During this battle, one M48A3 Patton tank and one M113 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV) were destroyed, becoming the first losses to the Sagger missile; losses that would echo on an even larger scale a year later during the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East in 1973. By 2 May, 20th Tank Regiment had lost all of their tanks to enemy fire. During the first month of the First Battle of Qu?ng Tr? a total of 110 ARVN M48 Pattons were lost.[c]
The M48s performed admirably in Vietnam in the infantry-support role. However, there were few actual tank versus tank battles. One was between the US 1-69th Armor and PT-76 light amphibious tanks of the NVA 202nd Armored Regiment at Ben Het Camp in March 1969. The M48s provided adequate protection for its crew from small arms, mines, and rocket-propelled grenades. South Vietnamese M48s and M41s fought in the 1975 Spring Offensive. In several incidents, the ARVN successfully defeated NVA T-34 and T-55 tanks and even slowed the North's offensive. However, due to shortages of fuel and munitions faced by the South Vietnamese military because of the US Congress-placed ban on the further funding and supply of military equipment and logistics to the country, the American-made tanks soon ran out of ammunition and fuel and were quickly abandoned to the NVA, which then put them in their service after the war ended in May 1975. In total, 250 of the ARVN's M48A3s were destroyed and captured and those captured (at least 30) were only used briefly before being phased out and turned into war-memorial displays all over Vietnam.
M48s, along with Australian 20 pounder (84mm)-gunnedCenturions of the 1st Armoured Regiment, were the only vehicles in use by the anti-communist side in the Vietnam War that could reasonably protect their crews from land mines. They were often used for minesweeping operations along Highway 19 in the Central Highlands, a two-lane paved road between An Khe and Pleiku. Daily convoys moved both ways along Highway 19. These convoys were held up each morning while the road was swept for mines. At that time, minesweeping was done by soldiers walking slowly over the dirt shoulders of the highway with hand-held mine detectors. During this slow process, convoys would build up into a dangerously-inviting target for the enemy, especially their guerillas and partisans. As a result, a faster method was improvised, the "Thunder Run", in which one M48 lined up on each side of the road, with one track on the dirt shoulder and the other track on the asphalt, and then with all guns firing, they raced to a designated position miles away. If the M48s made it without striking a mine, the road was clear and the convoys could proceed. In most cases, an M48 that struck a land mine in these operations only lost a road wheel or two in the explosion; seldom was there any hull damage that would be considered "totalling" or a "catastrophic kill" (entirely destroying) the tank.
Supply of M48A3 tanks to South Vietnam:
May 1972: 120.
October 1972: 72.
November 1972: 59.
Total: 379 M48 tanks, all of them were lost.
The United States lost at least 123 M48 tanks (non-repairable) during the war. As a result, the United States with South Vietnam lost more than 500 M48 tanks.
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M47s and M48s were used in tank warfare by the Pakistan Army against the Indian Army's Soviet T-55s, British Centurions and US M4 Sherman tanks in both the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 as well as the following war in 1971 with at least some good results. During Operation Grand Slam, Pakistani tank forces, composed mainly of M47 and M48 Patton tanks, thrust through the Indian defence-lines very quickly and swiftly defeated back Indian Army armoured counter-attacks. The Pakistanis used approximately a division's worth of tanks in the operation, although not all were Pattons, with upgraded Shermans included as well. In contrast, Pakistan's Patton tank failed to live up to its high expectations in the Battle of Asal Uttar in September 1965, where about 97 Pakistani tanks were lost, the majority of them being Pattons (M47s and M48s). Later, the Patton tank was the main Pakistani tank at the Battle of Chawinda and its performance at that battle was deemed satisfactory against Indian armour.
The Patton was later used by Pakistan again, this time, in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. A counter-attack led by the 13th Lancers and the 31st Cavalry army units was defeated by the Indian 54th Division around Battle of Barapind in December 1971. The Pakistan Army Patton tanks could not stop an assault by Indian T-55 Soviet-supplied tanks of the 2th Armored Brigade. At least 9 of the Pattons were destroyed by T-55 tanks during the battle of Nainakot. It total, more than 80 Pakistani Pattons were knocked out during battle, mainly by Centurion and T-55 fire.
India later set up a temporary war-memorial so named "Patton Nagar" (or "Patton City") in Khemkaran District in Punjab, where the captured Pakistani Patton tanks were displayed for a short period of time before being scrapped or sent all across India for use as war monuments and military memorials.
Analysing their overall performance in their wars with India, the Pakistani military held that the Patton was held in reasonably-high esteem by both sides and that combat-tactics were to blame for their utter defeat and the following debacle at Asal Uttar. However, a post-war US study of the tank battles in South Asia concluded that the Patton's armor could, in fact, be penetrated by the 20-pounder tank gun (84 mm) of the Centurion (later replaced by the even-more successful L7 105mm gun on the Mk. 7 version which India also possessed) as well as the 75 mm tank gun of the AMX-13 light tank.
M48s were also used with mixed results during the Six-Day War of 1967. On the Sinai battlefront, Israeli M48s upgunned with the then-advanced 105 mm L7 rifled tank gun were used with considerable success against Egyptian IS-3s, T-54s/T-55s, T-34/85s and SU-100s supplied by the Soviet Union during the 1950s and the 1960s (such as during the Second Battle of Abu-Ageila. However, on the West Bank war-front, Jordanian M48s (Jordan was also a user of the M48 Patton as was Israel at the same time-period) were often defeated by Israeli 105mm-armed Centurions and WWII-era upgraded M4 Shermans (M-51s upgunned with French-built 105 mm tank guns (not to be confused with the British L7 105mm tank gun)). In purely-technical terms, the Pattons were far superior to the much-older Shermans, with shots at more than 1,000 meters simply glancing off the M48's armor. However, the 105 mm main gun of the Israeli Shermans fired a HEAT round designed to defeat the Soviet T-62 tank, which was the USSR's response to the M48's successor in US service, the M60 Patton. The Jordanian Pattons' general failure on the West Bank could also be attributed to excellent Israeli air superiority. The Israeli Army captured about 100 Jordanian M48 and M48A1 tanks and pressed them into service in their own units after the war, as the same as were the Jordanian M113 APCs they seized during the war.
Israel used 445 M48 tanks in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. From 15 to 18 October, M48 tanks participated in the largest tank battle of the war - Battle of the Chinese farm. The battle involved the Egyptian 21st Armored Division (136 T-55s), 25th Armored Brigade (75 T-62s), tank battalion (21 T-55s) from 2nd Infantry Division (in the total 232 Egyptian tanks) and the Israeli 143rd and 162nd Armored Divisions (more than 400 tanks). The battle ended with an Israeli victory, but both sides lost a huge number of tanks in this battle. On the night of October 15/16, the Israeli 14th Brigade of the 143rd Division lost 70 tanks out of 97. Between the 16th at 0900 and the 17th at 1400, the Israeli 143rd and 162nd Divisions have lost 96 tanks. As of 18 October the Egyptian 21st Armored Division had no more than 40 tanks remaining of an original 136 tanks available at the start of the battle.
Aside from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the M48 was also operated by the Lebanese Army, the Christian Lebanese Forces militia, the Druze Progressive Socialist Party's People's Liberation Army militia and the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) in the Lebanese Civil War. On 10 June in 1982, eight Israeli M48A3s, two M60A1s and at least three M113 APCs were lost in a successful ambush by Syrian T-55 tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in 1982.
When the Kurdish-Turkish conflict began, the Turkish Armed Forces had a number of M48s. These were used throughout the 1980s and the 1990s as static artillery and was used in defending military-base perimeters from enemy attacks.
Iranian M48 tanks were used widely in the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, where they faced Iraqi T-55s, T-62s and T-72s, alongside M60 Pattons, in fierce and harsh combat with their Iraqi foes, with mixed results. M48s of the 37th Armored Brigade were used in the Battle of Abadan. About 150 of M48s were lost in this tank battle alone.
In 1973, Morocco took delivery of its first M48A3s. By the end of the 1970s, further deliveries of M48A5 had occurred and the upgrade to M48A5 was achieved locally with the aid of US consultants. In 1987, a final shipment of 100 M-48A5 tanks from the Wisconsin National Guard was delivered to the Moroccan army. There are unconfirmed reports of deliveries of Israeli M48A5s during the 1980s. The tanks were used in the Western Sahara desert against Polisario guerrillas.
Israel created an extensive number of variants of the series from tanks acquired initially from a number of sources, including capturing them in battle, or from other countries, such as Germany and the United States. Many of the Israeli M48's have been upgraded with additional reactive or passive armor, drastically improving their armor protection. These up-armored versions are called Magach.
The picture of the Brave Tiger shows one of the first M60s with an M48 turret.