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Cold War US Army upgrades history M60 M1 Abrams M113

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#21 arcweasel

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 1938 PM

I've stuck in a bit of information on when these tanks stopped being used but of course it's very hard to say definitively. What defines out of service? Last battalion equipped? Placed in storage? Sunk as a reef?

I'm sure someone will turnup who saw them in use in some capacity past the dates shown below.

  • M48A1 (until December 1979?), removed from use in Vietnam in 1968 (but this may not refer to all units)
  • M48A3 - late 1970s or early 1980s
  • M48A5 (October 1975-mid '90) 1992 or 1993
  • M60 (fall of 1960-1963?) I've seen mention of these tanks in use as late as apr1979, but could be later
  • M60A1 (1963-1972?) (basic version) difficult to say as some mentions of M60A1 probably refer to modified versions
  • M60A1(AOS) (late 1972-1975)) still in service in 1990
  • M60A1(RISE) (1975-77?) still in service in 1990
  • M60A1(RISE/PASSIVE) (1977-1997?) still in service in 1990
  • M60A1 ERA (late '80) Marines
  • M60A2 "Starship" (1974-1981) sometime 1980-1982
  • M60A3 (May 1979-upgraded with TTS couple of months later?) all upgraded to TTS by the end of FY1984, alternatively still in service in 1989
  • M60A3 (TTS) (August 1979-1997) may1997(National Guard), 1999(last tank struck off inventory)
  • M1 (1984-1992?) sep1996(regular army), planned for 2007(national guard), all gone by 2008 (but some still stored)
  • M1IP (1984-1992?) planned for 2007(national guard), all gone by 2008 (but some still stored)
  • M1A1 (August 1985)
  • M1A1 HA (October 1988)



#22 Nikolas93TS

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 0513 AM

Exquisite,sir!

#23 JW Collins

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 0830 AM

Maybe because of M60s?


I think I saw the numbers here somewhere. Weren't the only American M60s deployed USMC M60A1s? Maybe those M1s fitted with bulldozer kits or mine-clearing blades/rollers were older variants? Or was the M60 and M728 still doing all of that sort of combat-engineering until after the Gulf War?

From what I've read here and elsewhere, the TTS on the M60A3 was more popular than the TIS on the M1. I'd imagine that when seen in motion it had better image quality (still images from both look very similar to me). When the M60A3s started to be retired was any official consideration given towards refitting the TTS to active M1s and M1A1s? During that time period it seems like the number of vehicles being upgraded to M1A2 standard was rather small, and such a (presumably) low-cost modification would probably have been appreciated.

Perhaps one of the factors resulting in the better image quality of the TTS was a layout that allowed for better cooling on the M60A3, but would not be possible on the M1?

#24 Harold Jones

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 1249 PM


Maybe because of M60s?


I think I saw the numbers here somewhere. Weren't the only American M60s deployed USMC M60A1s? Maybe those M1s fitted with bulldozer kits or mine-clearing blades/rollers were older variants? Or was the M60 and M728 still doing all of that sort of combat-engineering until after the Gulf War?


Two battalions of M1IPs (3/37 and 4/37 armor) fought in the ground war as part of the 1st ID. M1 types were not mixed in tank battalions and the mine and roller kits used were universal and could be mounted on either variant used in theater. As far as I know, no dozer kit was ever used on M1s of any variant.

#25 Damian

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 1319 PM

As far as I know, no dozer kit was ever used on M1s of any variant.


Posted Image
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#26 DKTanker

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 1336 PM

Posted Image

I believe the answer was in regards to ODS, and that picture definitely isn't from that time period. The USMC purchased some kits in 2004ish, perhaps this is one of those.

Edited by DKTanker, 05 January 2013 - 1822 PM.


#27 Nikolas93TS

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 1137 AM

Aside from the two battalions in Korea, I don't believe any Regular Army units were ever equipped with M48A5s.


Here is what I have dig out.140 M48A5 were delivered to Regular Army,more precisely to 2nd Infantry Division in Korea,in order to replace their worn-out M60A1. (Hunnicutt, R. P. Patton: A History of the American Main Battle Tank).I was also told by ex-tanker in that unit they were replaced with M60A3 in summer of 1984,for which however I don't have a written source or unit history,but I think it is good enough.

Also,given that total 2069 M48A5s were obtained by upgrading M48A1 from 1975 to 1979,and when we add earlier A3 conversions,I can assume that A1s were all depleted by then.

I am not sure for fate of A2 variant,but I am guessing for series of factors (introduction of M60,M48A3 etc) that they were relegated to storage around 1968.Betwene1957-1963 (SIPRI) 1486 M-48A1s and M-48A2s (mostly A2) was given to West Germany,so good part of 2328 produced units ended there.

#28 binder001

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 1203 PM

I question the reference above that mentioned the M48A1 being withdrawn from Viet Nam circa 1968. To my nowledge the M48A1 "mo gassers" were never deployed to Southeast Asia. The M48A3 was the standard combat tank for the US Army and the USMC. Limited numbers of M48A2s went to Viet Nam in the ;late 1960s, but no A1s.

In the fate of the M48A2 - at least some were used in the M48A5 program. Trivial detail, the M48A1 had five track return rollers and the M48A2/A2C has three. This arrangement didn't change with rebuilding, so M48A3s had five return roller because they were rebuilt from M48A1s. A few M48A5s show up in photos with three return rollers, they were rebuilt A2s. At least this seems to hold true for US rebuilds, I don't know if the Israelis changed the return roller arrangement or not.

When speaking of the various reserve components one must keep in mind that different units had different prioities. Circa 1968 the DoD started the "Selected Reserve Force" or SRF. This later evolved into the "Roundout" concept. The idea was that there were several active Army divisions that normally had only two brigades plus the divisional HQ and support. In time of war these were to be "rounded out" with certain National Guard armored or mechanized brigades. The Roundout brigades trained with their parent divisions during their annual field training. These units had a higher priority for newer equipment. I can remember seeing the changes in the Nebraska National Guard's 67th Infantry Brigade (Mech) when it became an SRF unit, M59 APCs gave way to M113s, the WW2 small arms were replaced by M16s, etc, etc. Back in the 1970s I would visit a National Guard equipment site to take photos for my tank modeling. From the late 70s into the early 1980s Troop E of the 167th Cav went through having M48A3s, then M60s, then M48A5s, and they later received some "hand me down" M1s. The 1/195 Armor had M60A3s at the time of its deactivation. I'm sure that other units had similar equipment changes and rotations. Lower priority reserve units might keep older equipment longer. I know that the Texas ArNG 49th Armored Division operated M48A1s into the 1970s.

#29 DogDodger

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 1306 PM

Starry mentions that M48A1s were issued to some units in Vietnam after the 1968 Tet offensive led to a shortage of M48A3s.

Edited by DogDodger, 07 January 2013 - 1306 PM.


#30 arcweasel

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 1333 PM

Starry mentions that M48A1s were issued to some units in Vietnam after the 1968 Tet offensive led to a shortage of M48A3s.


I don't belive that either the M48A1 or M48A2C lasted very long in Vietnam though, so 1968 may still be reasonable for the M48A1s.

Oddly enough I've seen scattered (internet only) references to 300 M48A1 provided to south vietnam in 1974 which seems quite odd, but if true would imply stocks maintained somewhere.

#31 Max H

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 1426 PM

Oddly enough I've seen scattered (internet only) references to 300 M48A1 provided to south vietnam in 1974 which seems quite odd, but if true would imply stocks maintained somewhere.


Perhaps they were actually M47s? :P

#32 shep854

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 1911 PM

Were M48A5s used to replace M60s given to Israel during the Yom Kippur War? ISTR reading something about that a long time ago.

#33 DKTanker

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 2200 PM

Were M48A5s used to replace M60s given to Israel during the Yom Kippur War? ISTR reading something about that a long time ago.

Nope, M48A5s weren't being built until 1974ish, far too late for that dust up.

Edit, I think I misread your statement. Did you mean to replace the POMCUS stocks sent to Israel?

Edited by DKTanker, 07 January 2013 - 2203 PM.


#34 shep854

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 2316 PM


Were M48A5s used to replace M60s given to Israel during the Yom Kippur War? ISTR reading something about that a long time ago.

Nope, M48A5s weren't being built until 1974ish, far too late for that dust up.

Edit, I think I misread your statement. Did you mean to replace the POMCUS stocks sent to Israel?

I'm reaching back to the mid-'70s, but it was my understanding that the M48A5s were procured to alleviate a US tank shortage due to the Yom Kippur War. Could M60s have been drawn from NON-USAEUR units to build the POMCUS stocks back up, necessitating the M48A5 procurement?

#35 Nikolas93TS

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 0743 AM



Were M48A5s used to replace M60s given to Israel during the Yom Kippur War? ISTR reading something about that a long time ago.

Nope, M48A5s weren't being built until 1974ish, far too late for that dust up.

Edit, I think I misread your statement. Did you mean to replace the POMCUS stocks sent to Israel?

I'm reaching back to the mid-'70s, but it was my understanding that the M48A5s were procured to alleviate a US tank shortage due to the Yom Kippur War. Could M60s have been drawn from NON-USAEUR units to build the POMCUS stocks back up, necessitating the M48A5 procurement?


2nd Division in Korea gave their M60A1 for M48A5,which were overhauled and sent to Europe.So technically,yes.

#36 DKTanker

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 0904 AM

2nd Division in Korea gave their M60A1 for M48A5,which were overhauled and sent to Europe.So technically,yes.

That's like saying money is fungable. The M60A1s of 2ID were crapped out and were replaced by M48A5s, that those same tanks were rebuilt and happened to be sent to Europe for POMCUS is pure coincidence*. They could as easily been rebuilt to M60A1 RISE and issued to the active components which were just then being issued RISE tanks. Or they could have been in the rebuild line for conversion to M60A3. A lot of rebuilding occured at the Mainz Depot facility in FRG. It is quite possible they were sent directly to Mainz for rebuild and reissue.

*Just out of curiousity, do you in fact have a serial # trail that states as much?

Edited by DKTanker, 08 January 2013 - 0906 AM.


#37 Nikolas93TS

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 1030 AM

No,in fact it is based on my logical assumption.

As per M60s sent to Europe,I can't remember where I read that.They were overhauled in USA.

#38 binder001

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 1020 AM

Were M48A5s used to replace M60s given to Israel during the Yom Kippur War? ISTR reading something about that a long time ago.

Indirectly.... During the 1973 "Yom Kippur War" the US airlifted M60s and M60A1s to Israel to replace their heavy losses in first-line tanks. The 1973 conflict frew attention to the high losses that were likely in modern high intensity conflict. The US Army looked at losses due to ATGMs and conventional tank combat, RPGs, etc. and concluded that their tank inventory was too low, especially after several hundred tanks had been drwn off for Israel. This led to a desire to increase tank production however US foundry capacity had fallen to where the production bottleneck would be the armor castings. That led to the decision to rebuild a large number of M48 types to current standards, 105mm guns, AVDS1790 multi-fuel engines, etc. The first batch of M48A5s retained to commander's MG cupola, so even with the vision riser applied to the M48A3, but most were completed with an Israeli-style commander's low-profile cupola with external mounts for two 7.62mm machine guns. Later M48A5s has add-on stabilization making them better gun platforms than the basic model M60A1s. M48A5s were converted at Anniston Army Depot, I'm not sure off hand whether BMY or Red River also were involved in the program. The original intent was that the M48A5 would equip reserve component forces. This allowed replacement of the older M48A1, A2 and A3 versions still in service with a 105mm gunned tank. M60A1 production was accelerated, changing therefater to the M60A3. Older M60A1s were rebuilt to M60A3s as that model became standard. After adoption of the M1, the M60A3s were passed down to the reserve forces allowing replacement of the M48A5s. So the M48A5 was "stop gap" tank. Some crewmen seemed to like them. You might look at the US modifications and say that the US Army adaopted an Israeli tank. I know that some M48A5s went to Thailand, and I think some ended up in ROK hands. I don't know if many more were exported, but there aren't many left in US museums. A great many were steam cleaned and made "eco-friendly" then dumped off US coasts to foster growth of reefs.

Edited by binder001, 10 January 2013 - 1021 AM.


#39 shep854

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 1044 AM

Thanks, Binder. That's pretty much how I remembered it.

#40 Nikolas93TS

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 1530 PM

Are there any information on when M60A3 exactly became a front line standard for Regular Army?

Arcweasel provided some very useful info,but I suppose those AOSs,RISE/Passives etc available in 1990 were rather part of reserves and ANG. From what DTanker wrote,I guess that by 1984 all units in Europe transitioned to A3?





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