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Tank M-551 "Sheridan"

In 1959, the U.S. Army contracted with General Motors Corporation to manufacture a lightweight tank for use with their airborne divisions. It was designated the M551 "General Sheridan" and manufacture began in 1965, with 1,700 units being constructed by 1970. The body of the tank was constructed with welded aluminum and turret of steel giving it a gross weight of only 34,000 lbs. Compared to the 100,000 lbs of the M-48 or M-60 class of tank the "Sheridan appeared suitable for its airborne assault vehicle role. Armed with a 152mm, 6 inch cannon, it could fire a variety of high explosive shells and the Shillelagh missile. In addition, it had a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on its turret. Powered by a 300 hp diesel engine it had a maximum land speed of 45 mph, range of 300 miles and with a flotation collar amphibious capability. However, its downfall once deployed, was in Vietnam where its light weight armor used on the underside was vulnerable to mines that the Viet Cong frequently used. Although utilized in South Korea, Panama and during and the Gulf War, no further development of this tank was the end result.


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