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Tank M-46/47/48 "Patton"

Development of the M46/47/48 "Patton" series of medium tanks started in the post World War II years when the development of armor was stagnant and then rapidly developed when the Korean War erupted in 1950. In 1946, in honor of the late General George Patton of WWII fame, the M26 "Pershing" was redesignated as the M46 "Patton" and was essentially a M26 "Pershing" tank with reworked engine, reworked steering , reworked transmission, etc. When the Korean War started in June, 1950 the M47 "Patton" began rapid production superseding the M46 with an improved 90mm cannon, increased horsepower and redesigned turret assembly. Production of the M47 was short lived with only 8,600 being produced as a stopgap measure for the war until the design of the M48 "Patton" began production in the summer of 1952.

The first release of a M48A1 "Patton" was in 1952. However, there were problems arising from its rapid development that plagued the M48A1 in its introduction. This 45 ton tank sped forward at a mere 1400 feet, per gallon and as was reliable as the Ford Edsel of that era. After the Korean war it served extensively in the Vietnam War and despite these early set backs, the upgraded M48A3 "Patton" in 1958, would continue with many innovative systems. Many alterations from the original release would bestow longevity to the "Patton" into the 1980's. For the next generation of tank designed in 1960, the M60, has much of its running systems related to the M48A3.
Converting from a traditional carburetor fuel induction system, to a fuel injection system on its 12 cylinder, 750 hp, diesel engine, increased its maximum speed to 30 mph. Along with increased fuel capacity, the fuel injection increased its operating range from 70 to 290 miles. Another different between the early releases was the 90mm muzzle braked cannon was replaced in later models with a potent 105mm caliber. In addition to conventional 105mm shells the newest High Explosive Squash Head HESH or High Explosive Plastic HEP anti-tank shells were carried in their arsenal. Its armor was beefed up to 4.75 inches of new silicon fused steel plating designed to be lighter, yet provide the same protection of the thickness of conventional steel against HESH/HEP incoming anti-tank projectiles.
Installed in many M48A3's, was a Xenon 2,500 kilowatt searchlight mounted on its gun turret, when coupled with its innovated infra-red driving vision system, together provided unprecedented night operations. Other armament was either a .30 caliber, M-60 machine gun or .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun both externally mounted. Solid state electronics fire control systems provided accurate 1 shot placement of their 90mm or 105 projectiles. A special flame-throwing barrel that pressurized and ignited Napalm, was provided for the U.S. Marines. Other vehicles based on the M48A3 chassis were armor recovery vehicles, mobile armor bridge spans and self propelled howitzers. Over 11,000 "Pattons" would be manufactured until ceasing production.


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Christy Butler **** www.shoeboxphotos.net **** **** butts@bcn.net