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M48 Patton Medium Tank

The M48 Patton medium tank was utilized to good effect in the Vietnam War by the US Army and USMC, despite the foreign terrain.

 Updated: 3/21/2017; Authored By Dan Alex; Content ¬©

The M48 Patton appeared in 1952 and was produced in over 11,000 examples during her tenure. She went on to form the backbone of the American armored forces in Vietnam, seeing extensive action in that conflict. War was never far for the M48 for she also contended with enemies in the Six Day War of 1967, the Indo-Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971 and the brutal Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Her reliability and adaptability made her a stalwart of Cold War actions throughout her years of service and she maintains a presence - albeit a limited one - in the ranks of today's modern and powerful armies. Years of modernization have ensured her place and her chassis has been developed into a myriad of useful modifications suitable for any conquering land army.

The Patton Line of Tanks

The M48 is part of the "Patton" family line of armor, named after the fabled American World War 2 General George S. Patton. The M26 took on the name of World War 1 hero General John J. Pershing whilst the M46 was the first to take on the series name of "Patton" (or more formally as the "General Patton"). While the M47 was dubbed the "Patton II" it was never officially designated as such. The M48 was also given the name of "Patton" as was the upcoming M60 main battle tank. The M46, M47 and M48 were all classified as "medium tanks" with the M48 becoming the last such type in service with American forces. The M60 Patton became the first American tank to take on the designation of "main battle tank".

The M46 was seen as an interim solution to counter the drawbacks of theWorld War 2-era M26 Pershing series, a tank initially classified as a heavy tank by later reclassified as a medium tank. The M26 saw limited service in the final months of World War 2 and had little impact on the closure. The M46 attempted to improve upon the M26's engine output (essentially a revised M4 Sherman type) and its terrain mobility. The M47 arose as the first American "all-new" post-World War 2 tank design and sported an all-new turret atop the proven chassis of the M46. Despite its rush to production by the end of 1951, the M47 missed out on the Korean War altogether, the conflict coming to a draw in 1953. Just as the M47 was revving up, the M48 was already being drawn up as an interim solution to the M47 itself, attempting to bridge the gap between the M47 and the upcoming M60 Patton. In fact, the M48 would serve alongside the M60 in due time.

M48 Patton Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1952
Type: Medium Tank
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Chrysler / Ford / General Motors / Alco Prods - USA
Production: 12,000

Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

Operating Crew: 4
Length: 30.48 feet (9.29 meters)
Width: 11.88 feet (3.62 meters)
Height: 10.66 feet (3.25 meters)

Operating Weight: 54 tons (48,987 kg; 107,998 lb)

Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
Nightvision Equipment: Yes - Passive

Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

Engine(s): INITIAL: 1 x Continental AVDS-1790-5B V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo engine developing 810 horsepower. (LATER) AVDS-1790-2D V12, water-cooled diesel engine developing 750 horsepower.

Maximum Road Speed: 30 mph (48 km/h)
Maximum Road Range: 310 miles (499 km)

Armament and Ammunition

1 x 90mm T54 OR M48 main gun
1 x 7.62mm co-axial anti-infantry machine gun
1 x 7.62mm machine gun on commander's cupola
1 x 7.62mm machine gun at loader's hatch
2 x 6 smoke grenade dischargers

1 x 105mm main gun
1 x 12.7mm Browning heavy machine gun in commander's cupola for anti-aircraft role (replacing commander's 7.62mm machine gun).

54 x 105mm projectiles
10,000 x 7.72mm caliber ammunition

Global Operators / Customers

Greece; Iran; Israel; Jordan; Lebanon; Morocco; Norway; Pakistan; Portugal; South Korea; South Vietnam; Spain; Taiwan; Thailand; Tunisia; Turkey; United States; Vietnam; West Germany; Yugoslavia

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

T-48 - Developmental Designation
M48 - Base production model designation; based on the M47; new turret; revised hull; sans bow machine gun; M41 90mm main gun; Y-shaped muzzle brake.
M48C - Trainer Variant based on M48 production models having found to display poor ballistic protection on the hull.
M48A1 - 90mm main gun; new driver hatch; M1 commander's cupola with accessible external 12.7mm machine gun.
M48A2 - 90mm main gun; Continental Gasoline Fuel-injection air-cooled V-12 engine; 5 x track return rollers; improved turret function.
M48A2C - Based on M48A2; improved rangefinder; new evacuator for main gun; sans auxiliary tensioning wheels.
M48A3 - M48A1 production models with Continental AVDS-1790 V-12 air-cooled diesel engine; 90mm main gun; new improved fire control system.
M48A3 Mod. B - Improved armor protection across tail lights and exhaust; heightened commander's cupola.
M48A4 - Cancelled variant; M48A3 with M60 turret systems.
M48A5 - Updated with 105mm M68 series main gun; revised commander's cupola and upgraded engine.
M48A5PI - Israeli Urdan cupola replacing M1 style.
M67 "Zippo" - Flamethrower tank; based on original M48 production models fitted with false main gun and false muzzle brake.
M67A1 - Flamethrower tanks using the M48A2 hull.
M67A2 - Flame thrower tanks using the M48A3 hull.
M8 - Engineering Vehicle based on the M48 chassis
M48A1 - Improved Engineering Vehicle
M48 "Marksman" - British Designation for M48 developed into Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG) fitting a Marksman turret system.
E-48 - Israeli Designation
E-48 AVLB - Bridgelayer Conversion Model
E-48 (M48A2) - Israeli designation of M48A2 models received from Germany.
E-48 (M48A2C) - Israeli designation of M48A2C models received from Germany.
E-48 (M48A3) - Israeli designation of M48A3 models received from the United States.
"Magach" - Israeli designation of M48 systems highly modified and improved to suit Israeli style warfare and experience; Magach 1, 2, 3 and 5 are based on the M48 whilst Magach 6 and 7 are based on the M60.
AB1 - Jordanian designation for armored recovery vehicle based on the M48 chassis.
AB9B1 - Jordanian designation for upgraded M48 systems fielding the 120mm smoothbore main gun.
M48A3 (ROC) - Taiwanese designation of upgraded M48A1 and M48A2 systems.
M48H/CM-11 "Brave Tiger" - Taiwainese designation of up-gunned M48A2 turrets fitted to an M60A3 hull; improved fire control system' improved gun tracking equipment.
CM-12 - Taiwanese designation of M48A3 with upgrades as found on the CM-11 version.
M48A5 MOLF (MOdular Laser Fire) - Greece designation of M48A5 systems; upgraded with EMES-18 fire control system.
M48A5E - Spanish designation of M48A5 fitted with 105mm main gun and laser rangefinder.
Alacran CZ-10/25E - Spanish battlefield engineering vehicle
Alacran CZ-10/30E - Spanish designation for upgraded CZ-10/25E models.
M48A3K - South Korean designation of M48A3 models fitting a diesel powerplant over the original's gasoline type; T-type muzzle brake; three support wheels added to each track side; South Korean-based fire control system.
M48A5K - South Korean designation of M48A5; fitting the KM68 105mm main gun; side skirts for added side armor protection; Laser Tank Fire Control System (LTFCS).
M48A5T1 - Turkish designation of M48A5; fitting the M68 105mm main gun; MTU diesel engine; passive night sight equipment.
M48A5T2 - Turkish designation of upgraded M48A5; inclusion of thermal sight and laser rangefinder.
M48T5 "Tamay" ARV - Turkish designation of armored recovery vehicle conversion model utilizing the M48 chassis.
Minenraempanzer Keiler - Battlefield Mine Flail; based on the M48A2C hull.
Kampfpanzer M48A2C - Initial M48 medium tanks delivered to Germany; MG3 machine guns.
Kampfpanzer M48A2GA2 - Upgraded M48A2C models with L7 105mm main gun; revised MG3 machine gun installation.
"Super M48" - Proposed German upgrade; never produced beyond a prototype.

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