M48 Patton

M48 Patton

Infobox Weapon
name=M48 Patton

origin=United States
type=Main battle tank
service= 1950s - 1990s (USA)
wars= Vietnam War, Six Day War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Iran–Iraq War
manufacturer= M48: Chrysler, Fisher Tank Arsenal, Ford
production_date= M48: 1952 - 1959
number= M48: ~12,000
variants= Many, see the variants section
weight=M48: 49.6 tons (45 tonnes) combat ready
length=30.22' (9.3 m)
width=11.86' (3.65 m)
height=10.07' (3.1 m)
crew=4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)
armour=120 mm (4.89")
primary_armament= 90 mm gun T54; M48A5 and later variants: 105 mm M68 gun
secondary_armament=.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Machine gun
.30 in (7.62 mm) M73 Machine gun
engine= Continental AVDS-1790-5B V12 aircooled, twin turbocharged gas engine (early M48s) 810 hp (604 kW)
Continental AVDS-1790-2 V12 air cooled, twin turbocharged diesel
engine_power=750 hp
transmission=General Motors CD-850-4A or -4B, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
fuel_capacity=200 gals (757 litres)
pw_ratio=15.1 hp/ton (16.6/tonne)
suspension=Torsion bars
vehicle_range=287 miles (463 km)
speed=29.8 mph (48 km/h)

The M48 Patton was one of the U.S army's principal main battle tanks of the Cold War, with models in service from the early 1950s on through the 1990s. The M48 was the U.S. Army and Marine Corps primary tank during the Vietnam War. It was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, especially other NATO countries. The tank belongs to the Patton family of tanks, named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates for the use of tanks in battle. It was a further development of the M47 Patton tank.

The M48 Patton tank was designed to replace the previous M47 Pattons and M4 Shermans. Although largely resembling the M47, the M48 Patton was a completely new tank design despite a rough similarity from a distance. Some M48A5 models served well into the 80s. Internationally, many various M48 Patton models remain in service. The M48 was the last American tank to mount the 90mm tank gun, and in fact later models were upgraded to carry the new standard weapon of 105mm.


A year after the M47 entered service, the US Army decided to replace it by yet another product of the evolution of the Pershing/Patton line, the M48, still dubbed Patton. A deeper modernization than the M46 and the M47, the M48 featured a new turret, new redesigned hull and an improved suspension. The hull machine gunner position was removed, reducing the crew to 4. Essentially, it was a new tank altogether.

Nearly 12,000 M48s were built from 1952 to 1959. The early designs were powered by gasoline engines which gave the tank a short operating range and were prone to catching fire when hit. This version was considered unreliable but numerous examples saw combat use in various Arab-Israeli conflicts. They also were prone to fire when the turret was penetrated and the hydraulic lines ruptured spewing "cherry juice" (the nickname for the red fluid) at high pressure into the crew compartment resulting in a fireball. The flashpoint was too low at less than 300 F, causing many burn injuries and deaths to crew members. In 1959, American M48s were upgraded to the M48A3 model which featured a diesel power plant. However, in 1975, M48s with gas engines were still in use by many West German Army units including the 124th Panzer Battalion.


In the mid-1970s, the M48A5 upgrade was developed to allow the vehicle to carry the heavier 105mm gun. This was designed to bring the M48s up to speed with the M60 tanks then in regular use. Most of the M48s were placed into service with reserve units by this time.

By the mid-1990s, the M48s were phased out of U.S. service. However, many foreign countries continued to use the M48 models.

Combat service


The M48s saw action during the Vietnam War. Some were assigned to U.S. Marine Corps units, arriving in Vietnam in 1965. Others were in three U.S. Army battalions, the 1/77th Armor near the DMZ, the 1/69th Armor in the Central Highlands, and the 2/34th Armor near the Mekong Delta. Each battalion consisted of approximately fifty seven tanks. M48s were also used by armored cavalry squadrons in Vietnam, until replaced by M551 Sheridan tanks. The M67A1 flamethrower tank (nicknamed the Zippo) was an M48 variant used in Vietnam.

The M48s performed admirably [Nolan] in Vietnam in the infantry-support role. There were few actual tank versus tank battles. One was between the 1/69th Armor and NVA PT-76 tanks near Ben Het in 1969. The M48s provided adequate protection for its crew from small arms, mines, and RPGs.

M48s, alongside Australian Centurions, were the only vehicles in Vietnam that could reasonably protect their crews from land mines. They were often used for minesweeping operations along Highway 19 in the Central Highlands, a two lane paved road between An Khe and Pleiku. Daily convoys moved both ways along Highway 19. These convoys were held up each morning while the road was swept for mines. At that time, minesweeping was done by soldiers walking slowly over the dirt shoulders of the highway with hand-held mine detectors. During this slow process, convoys would build up to a dangerously inviting target for the enemy. As a result a faster method was improvised. One M48 lined up on each side of the road, with one track on the dirt shoulder and the other track on the asphalt; then they raced to a designated position miles away. If M48s made it without striking a mine, the road was clear and the convoys could proceed. In most cases, an M48 that struck a land mine in these operations only lost a road wheel or two in the explosion; seldom was there any hull damage which would be considered "totaling" the tank. [Starry]

Indo-Pakistani Wars

M47s and M48s were again used in tank warfare by the Pakistan Army against Indian Army's Centurion and M4 Sherman tanks in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 with some good results. In the Rann of Kutch the tanks proved surprisingly nimble in marshy terrain, and Pakistani forces drove back Indian incursions. In Kashmir and Punjab, the tank had its first real test. During "Operation Grandslam", Pakistani tank forces broke through the Indian lines very quickly, and defeated armored counterattacks. The Pakistanis used approximately a division worth of tanks though not all were Pattons. The Patton failed to live up to expectations in the Battle of Asal Uttar, on September 10th. Six Pakistani Armoured Regiments took part in the battle, namely the 19 Lancers (Patton), 12 Cavalry (Chafee), 24 Cavalry (Patton) 4 Cavalry (Patton), 5 Horse (Patton) and 6 Lancers (Patton). These were opposed by three Indian Armoured Regiments with inferior tanks, Deccan Horse (Sherman), 3 Cavalry (Centurion) and 8 Cavalry (AMX). The battle was so fierce and intense that at the end of the war, the Fourth Indian Division had captured about 97 tanks in destroyed / damaged or intact condition. This included 72 Patton tanks and 25 Chafees and Shermans. 32 of the 97 tanks, including 28 Pattons, were in running condition. Indian losses in Khem Karan were 32 tanks. Roughly about fifteen of them were captured by the Pakistan Army, mostly Sherman tanks.

The Patton was later used by Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, with mixed results. In a repetition of 1965, Pattons spearheaded the Pakistani advance through Chamb, and the Patton was the main Pakistani tank at Shakarghar. In the latter battle, a brigade of tanks (the Changez Force) successfully resisted the Indian advance, in a repeat of Chawinda. However, in what became known as Pakistan's Charge of the Light Brigade, a counterattack led by 13th Lancers and 31st Cavalry was mauled by the Indian 54th Division around Battle of Barapind. India later set up a war memorial named "Patton Nagar" ("Patton City") in Khemkaran District, where the captured Pakistani Patton tanks are displayed.

Analyzing their performance, the Pakistani Army held that the Patton was held in unreasonably high esteem by both sides and that tactics were to blame for the debacle at Asal Uttar and Basantar. [ [http://www.pakdef.info/pakmilitary/army/tanks/patton.html Pakistan Military Consortium :: www.PakDef.info ] ] . However, a U.S. study of the battles in South Asia concluded that the Patton's armor could in fact be penetrated by the 84mm 20 pounder gun of the Centurion and the 75mm gun of the AMX-13.

Middle East

M48s were also used with mixed results during the 1967 Six-Day War. On the Sinai front, Israeli M48s were used with stunning success against Egyptian T-54s and T-34s supplied by the Soviet Union. However, on the West Bank front, Jordanian M48s were often defeated by Israeli WWII-era M4 Shermans (upgunned with 105mm guns), the result of superior Israeli tactics and crews. In pure technical terms the Jordanian Pattons were far superior to the Israeli Shermans, with Israeli shots at more than 1,000 meters simply glancing off the M48s' armor. Other reasons for the Jordanian Pattons' failure on the West Bank were Israeli air superiority and a distinct lack of aggressive handling by the Jordanian crews. The Israeli Army captured about 100 Jordanian M48 and M48A1 tanks and pressed them into service in their own units after the war. M48s were used by the Lebanese Army and the Christian Lebanese Forces militia in the Lebanese Civil War. The Lebanese Army still operates about 100 M48s. In 2007, during the 2007 North Lebanon conflict Lebanese Army M48s shelled militant outposts in a refugee camp. [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3402989,00.html]

M48s were used, along with M47s, in the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July and August 1974.


U.S. variants

*M48 - Differed from the M47 in having yet another new turret design and a redesigned hull, doing away with the bow machine gun position, featuring the M41 90 mm gun. These turrets give the M48 its distinctive non-M26 style look. Originally the gun featured a Y-shape muzzle brake, but this was changed to the more characteristic T-shape.
**M48C - Over a hundred original production hulls were found to be lacking correct ballistic protection and were relegated to training as the M48C.
*M48A1 - New driver hatch and M1 commander's cupola, allowing the M2HB .50 caliber machine gun to be operated and reloaded from within the vehicle.
*M48A2 - improved powerpack and transmission, redesigned rear plate, an improved turret control.
**M48A2C - M48A2s with an improved rangefinder, M17, new ballistic drive and bore evacuator for the main gun, and the auxiliary tensioning wheels were deleted.
*M48A3 - Refit of M48A1s with diesel engines and a new fire control system.
**M48A3 Mod. B - Additional armor on the exhausts and tail lights, and a raised commanders cupola.
*M48A4 - Proposed refit of M48A3s with M60 turrets, scrapped with the need of these previous "surplus" turrets with the failure of the M60A2
*M48A5 - Upgunned with the 105 mm M68 gun.
**M48A5PI - M1 cupola replaced by the Israeli Urdan model.
*M67 "Zippo" - M48 armed with a flamethrower inside a dummy model of the main gun with fake muzzle brake.
**M67A1 - M67 variant, M48A2 hulls used.
**M67A2 - M67 variant, M48A3 hulls used.

pecialized variants

*M88 Hercules - Armored recovery vehicle based on M48 chassis.

"Additional equipment":
*M8 - Bulldozer and earthmoving equipment for the M48.
**M8A1 - Improved bulldozer and earthmoving equipment for the M48

British variant

*M48 Marksman - a SPAAG version, equipped with a Marksman turret.

Israeli variants

Israel created an extensive number of variants of the series from tanks acquired initially from a number of sources, including capturing them in battle, or from other countries such as Germany and the United States.Many of the Israeli M48's have been upgraded with additional reactive or passive armor, drastically improving their armor protection. These uparmored versions are called Magach.

**E-48 AVLB - a M48 AVLB but with an Israeli bridge.
**E-48 (M48A2) - basically unmodified M48A2 from Germany
**E-48 (M48A2C) - basically unmodified M48A2C from Germany
**E-48 (M48A3) - basically unmodified M48A3 from USA
*Magach - a series of improved Israeli versions of the M48 and the M60.

Jordanian variants

*AB1 - Jordanian armoured recovery vehicle.
*AB9B1 - Jordanian upgrade with 120 mm smoothbore gun.

Republic of China variants

*M48H/CM-11 "Brave Tiger" - ROC version consisting of an up-gunned M48A2 turret and a M60A3 hull. Also has significant upgrades to the gun tracking equipment and fire control.
*CM-12 - M48A3 MBT receiving the same weapons and fire control upgrades as those of CM-11.

Hellenic variants

*M48A5 MOLF - The Hellenic Army has added the EMES-18 FCS to their M48A5, denumerating them as “MOLF” for Modular Laser Fire Control System.

panish variants

*M48A5E - M48A5 variant, 105 mm gun with laser rangefinder.
*Alacran CZ-10/25E - Spanish army combat engineer variant. (M-60.A1)
**Alacran CZ-10/30E - Upgraded CZ-10/25E. (M-60.A1)

outh Korean variants

*M48A5K - Replacing the main gun with the KM68 105 mm gun. Additional side skirts were provided, and the fire control system has been upgraded to the Laser Tank Fire Control System. (LTFCS)

*M48A3K - This variant uses a diesel engine instead of the original gasoline one. Other changes include installation of T-form muzzle brake on the gun, three additional support wheels on the tracks, commander's periscope on the turret and smoke grenade launchers. The fire control system has also been replaced with a South Korean version.

Turkish variants

*M48A5T1 - Turkish-upgraded M48 variant along similar lines to the M48A5, with M68 105 mm main armament, passive night vision and MTU diesel engines.
*M48A5T2 - Turkish-upgraded M48 variant, improved version of the M48A5T1 with thermal sight and laser rangefinder.
*M48T5 "Tamay" ARV - Turkish-designed armored recovery vehicle based on the M48 body.

German variants

*Minenraeumpanzer Keiler - armored mine clearing vehicle based on a widely modified M48 A2C cast hull. (Still in service)
*Kampfpanzer M48 A2C - replaced the Kampfpanzer M47 since the end of the fifties and saw service with the "Home Defense Forces" in reserve units until the early nineties
*Kampfpanzer M48A2GA2 - upgraded version with the 105mm L7 cannon and a different MG3 installation from the Leopard 1. Out of service in the early nineties
*Super M48 - upgraded version M48. [ [http://mainbattletanks.czweb.org/Tanky/superm48.htm Super M48] ]


*GRE - 390 M48A5 MOLF (retiring)
*IRN - 80
*ISR - 561 Magach 5 Golan [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/army-equipment.htm Israel - Army Equipment] ]
*JOR - 200
*KOR - 850 M48A5K [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/rok/army-equipment.htm Republic of Korea - Army Equipment] ]
*LBN - 104 M48A1 and M48A5
*TRNC - 235 ["Turkey: A Country Study", p.350. Kessinger Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1419191268]
*PAK - 345 M48A5
*ROC (Taiwan) - 450 CM-11, 100 CM-12 [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/taiwan/army-inventory.htm Taiwan - Army Equipment] ]
*THA - 150
*TUN - 28
*TUR - 525 M48A5, 250 M48T5, 1350 M48A5T1 and 750 M48A5T2
*VIE - 20 M48

Former Operators

*MAR - 224 M48A5
*NOR - 38 M48A5
*POR - 86 M48A5
*ESP - 164 M48A5E
*PHI - M48
*flag|South Vietnam - 20 (passed on to Socialist Republic of Vietnam)

ee also

*M46 Patton
*M47 Patton
*Type 61
*M60 Patton
*M88 Recovery Vehicle - An armored recovery variant based on the M48/M60 Patton tanks chassis and part of the automotive component.
*M103 heavy tank
*List of armoured fighting vehicles

References and notes

*Steven J Zaloga, Tony Bryan, Jim Laurier - "M26–M46 Pershing Tank 1943–1953", 2000 Osprey Publishing (New Vanguard 35), ISBN 1-84176-202-4.
*Keith W. Nolan "Into Lao's, Operation Lam Son 719 and Dewey Canyon II" 1986. Presidio Press. Account of the US Army's final offensive of the Vietnam War.
*Abraham Rabinovich - "The Battle for Jerusalem June 5-7, 1967", 2004 Sefer Ve Sefer Publlishing, Jerusalem, ISBN 965-7287-07-3
*Starry, Donn A., General. "Mounted Combat In Vietnam"; Vietnam Studies. 1989; Department of the Army.

External links

* [http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/m48patton.html AFV Database: M48 Patton]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m48.htm GlobalSecurity.org: M48 Patton]
* [http://www.patton-mania.com/ Patton-Mania]

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