||Main battle tank
|Place of origin
||Yom Kippur War
Invasion of Grenada
Persian Gulf War
Western Sahara War
Shia insurgency in Yemen
Yemeni Civil War (2015)
||Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant,Chrysler
||Over 15,000 (all variants)
||M60: 50.7 short tons (46.0 t; 45.3long tons)
M60A1: 52 to 54 short tons (47 to 49 t; 46 to 48 long tons) depending on turret design.
||M60: 6.946 meters (22 ft 9.5 in) (hull), 9.309 meters (30 ft 6.5 in) (gun forward)
||M60: 3.631 meters (11 ft 11.0 in)
||M60: 3.213 meters (10 ft 6.5 in)
M60: 3.67 in (93 mm) at 65°
8.68 in (220 mm) LoS
M60A1: 4.29 in (109 mm) at 65°
10.15 in (258 mm) LoS
M60A2: same as M60A1
M60A3: same as M60A1
M60: equals 7 in (180 mm)
M60A1: equals 10 in (250 mm)
M60A2: equals 11.5 in (290 mm)
M60A3: same as M60A1
|105 mm (4.1 in) M68 gun (M60/A1/A3)
152 mm (6.0 in) M162 Gun/Launcher (M60A2)
|.50 BMG (12.7×99mm) M85
7.62×51mm NATO M73 machine gun
||Continental AVDS-1790-2 V12,air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine
750 bhp (560 kW)
||General Motors, cross-drive, single-stage with 2 forward and 1 reverse ranges
||Torsion bar suspension
||0.463 meters (1 ft 6.2 in)
||1,457 liters (320 imp gal; 385 U.S. gal)
|300 miles (500 km)
||30 miles per hour (48 km/h) (road)
The M60 Patton is a main battle tank (MBT) introduced in December 1960. With the United States Army's deactivation of their last (M103) heavy tank battalion in 1963, the M60 became the Army's primary tank during the Cold War. Although developed from the M48 Patton, the M60 series was never officially classified as a Patton tank, but as a "product-improved descendant" of the Patton series. In March 1959, the tank was officially standardized as the 105 mm Gun Full Tracked Combat Tank M60.
The M60 underwent many updates over its service life. The interior layout, based on the design of the M48, provided ample room for updates and improvements, extending the vehicle's service life for over four decades. It was widely used by the U.S. and its Cold War allies, especially those in NATO, and remains in service throughout the world today, despite having been superseded by the M1 Abrams in the U.S. military.Egypt is currently the largest operator with 1,716 upgraded M60A3s, Turkey is second with 866 upgraded units in service, and Israel is third with over 700 units of Israeli variants.
During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a Soviet T-54A medium tank was driven onto the grounds of the British embassy in Budapest by the Hungarians. After a brief examination of this tank's armor and 100 mm gun, British officials decided that their 20 pounder was apparently incapable of defeating it. There were also rumors of an even larger 115 mm gun in the works. Hence there was a need to adopt a 105 mm gun, which emerged as the famed Royal Ordnance L7. This information made its way to the United States, where the Army had been experimenting with a series of upgrades to their M48 Patton tanks. These experiments were concerned with improving the armor and the introduction of a variety of autoloader systems, such as that used in the 105 mm gun tank T54, and upgraded rangefinders.
The T95 program, launched after the Questionmark III conference in June 1954, was the intended replacement to the M48. It featured a host of innovative and experimental components such as its 90 mmsmoothbore T208 cannon rigidly affixed to its turret, and its new powertrain and suspension. The burden of developing them however slowed the overall program to a crawl. General Taylor approved of a new tank development program in August 1957. This incorporated many ARCOVE recommendations and foresaw the eventual replacement of the light, medium, and heavy tanks with two types the airborne reconnaissance/assault vehicle and the Main Battle Tank. The MBT was to combine the firepower and protection sufficient for the assault role with the mobility to perform as a medium tank. A tank of the T95series, armed with a smoothbore cannon and powered by a compression ignition engine, was envisaged by the Army Staff as the bearer of the role of future MBT.
The course of this tank program was the source of widespread debate. The Bureau of Budget (BOB) believed that the Army was not progressing with sufficient speed in its tank modernization program and recommended the immediate replacement of the M48A2. Correctly predicting that the BOB would not approve the procurement of the M48A2 after the fiscal year of 1959, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics (DCSLOG) proposed a tank based on the M48A2 featuring improved firepower and the AVDS-1790 engine. Of course the alternative was to introduce a tank from the T95 series but it remained highly experimental with its compression ignition engine not as developed as the AVDS-1790. An influential group of senior officers, by May 1958, concluded that the T95 had only marginal advantages over the M48A2. They proposed that the most important improvements, better firepower and fuel economy, could be achieved by mounting a compression ignition engine and a more powerful gun on the M48A2.
Choice of components
The main gun was chosen after a comparative firing test on the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Participating in the test were six guns: the 90 mm M41 (armament of the M48A2 although tested with the new T300E53 HEAT round), the 90 mm T208E9 (a smoothbore weapon firing T320E62 APFSDS), the 105 mm T254 (an American gun firing the same APDS ammunition as that of the British), the 105 mm X15E8 (a British gun developed from the 20 pdr), the 120 mm T123E6 (a lightened variant of the M58), and the 120 mm M58 (armament of the M103). The 120 mm T123E6 was preferred by the Ordnance Department because its ammunition, the same as that for the M58 gun, was already at an advanced state of development. The T123E6 however had a slow rate of fire as, unlike the M58 on the M103, there would be only be one loader servicing it. This led to the weapon having a max rate of fire of 4 rpm vs. the T254's 7 rpm. The factors evaluated were accuracy, lethality of a hit, rate of fire and penetration performance. Based on these tests, the 105 mm T254E2 was selected and standardized as the M68. Until American-made tubes could be obtained with comparable accuracy, British tubes were to be used.
Composite armor made with fused silica glass was intended on the turret and the hull. This composite armor provides protection against HEAT, HEP, and HE rounds. However, repaired castings suffered a loss of kinetic energy protection. This led to the front of the hull taking the shape of a flat wedge, instead of the M48's elliptical front, as it simplified the installation of this armor. Limitations in manufacturing capacity and the added cost however lead to this special armor being dropped and all M60 series tanks were protected with conventional steel armor.
M60A1 tank of the U.S. Army maneuvers through a narrow German village street while participating in the multi-national military training exercise,REFORGER
In 1957, plans were laid in the US for a universal or all purpose tank. Fulfilling this requirement with an interim tank resulted in the M60 series, which largely resembles the M48 it was based on, but has significant differences. The M60 mounted a 105 mm M68 main gun with the bore evacuator mounted towards the middle of the tube, compared with the M48's 90 mm M41, which mounted the bore evacuator towards the end of the tube right after its T-shaped muzzle brake. It also had a hull with a straight front slope whereas the M48's hull was rounded, had three support rollers per side to the M48's five, and had road wheels constructed from aluminum rather than steel, although the M48 wheels were often used as spare parts.
The improved design incorporated a Continental V-12 750 hp (560 kW) air-cooled, AVDS-1790-2 diesel engine, extending operational range to over 300 miles (480 km) while reducing both refueling and servicing. Power was transmitted through a CD-850-6 cross drive transmission, a combined transmission, differential, steering, and braking unit.
The hull of the M60, like its predecessor the M48, could be cast as a single piece or by welding smaller castings. The turret was similar to the M48A2's and was made as a single piece casting although it was modified to accept the new larger diameter cupola and the M116 mount for the 105 mm gun. The hull was divided into three compartments, with the driver in front, fighting compartment in the middle and engine at the rear. The driver looked through three M27 day periscopes, one of which could be replaced by an M24 infrared night vision periscope.
The M60 was the last U.S. main battle tank to utilize homogeneous steel armor for protection. It was also the last to feature an escape hatch under the hull. (The escape hatch was provided for the driver, whose top-side hatch could easily be blocked by the main gun. Access between the driver's compartment and the turret fighting compartment was also restricted, requiring that the turret be traversed to the rear).
Originally designated the XM60, the new vehicle was put into production in 1959, standardized as the 105 mm Gun Full Tracked Combat Tank M60 on 16 March 1959, and entered service in 1960. There was a proposal in April 1959 to change the nomenclature to 105 mm gun main battle tank M60; this was however rejected due to a conflict with the Federal Cataloging Agency Policy. Over 15,000 M60s (all variants) were built.
In 1978, work began on the M60A3 variant. It featured a number of technological enhancements, including smoke dischargers, a new flash-lamp pumped ruby-laser based rangefinder (AN/VVG-2) that could be used by both commander and gunner, and an M21 ballistic computer, and a turret stabilization system.
M60A3 main battle tank of the 3rd Armored Division, 3-32nd Armored Regt, moves along a street in Germany during Exercise REFORGER '85.
Late production M60A3s omitted the commander's cupola (Israel Defense Forces armor doctrine required tank commanders to fight commander-exposed, and it was discovered that non-penetrating hits on the vehicle could dislodge the cupola from its mount while the commander was in it). Compared to a conventional pintle mount, the remote-controlled M85 machine gun was relatively ineffective in the anti-aircraft role for which it was designed. Removing the cupola lowered the vehicle's relatively high silhouette. The cupola's hatch also opened toward the rear of the vehicle and was dangerous to close if under small-arms fire owing to an open-locking mechanism that required the user to apply leverage to unlock it prior to closing. U.S. Army A3 version all retained the cupola until the tank was phased out of service.
The M60A3 was phased out of US service in 2005, but it has remained a front-line MBT into the 21st century for a number of other countries.
While overall a less advanced tank than the M1 Abrams, the M60A3 did have some advantages over some M1 models:
- The M60A3 TTS had a better thermal imaging system than that of M1 tanks up into the 21st century, when many M1s were upgraded with newer 2nd generation systems.
- The M60A3 had an exterior phone for infantry to talk directly to the crew inside, though this feature was removed from most M60A3s in its later life. This feature was also installed on some M1 tanks with the TUSK upgrade kit.
- The M60A3's diesel engine had lower overall performance, but also it had lower cost, required less maintenance, and had better fuel efficiency.
- The exhaust temperature of an M1's turbine is very high, which makes it dangerous for infantry to take cover behind it. This was and is not the case with the diesel engine on the M60.
- The escape hatch located under the hull of the M60A3 is not present on the M1 Abrams, making it more difficult for the crew to escape a battle-damaged Abrams or evacuate casualties than from an M60A3.
- The M60 series' M68A1 105 mm main gun fires a much wider variety of ammunition than the 120 mm smoothbore on the M1A1 series, because doctrine only required APFSDS and HEAT.
- The M60 series has instrumentation that allows indirect fire as ad-hoc artillery if needed by virtue of having a M28A1/M28E1 azimuth indicator and M13A3 quadrant elevation on board.