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==Development of the main battle tank==
 
==Development of the main battle tank==
 
[[File:Centurion Tank outside the Redoubt Fortress.jpg|thumb|British Centurion Mk 3 main battle tank at [[Eastbourne Redoubt]]]]
 
[[File:Centurion Tank outside the Redoubt Fortress.jpg|thumb|British Centurion Mk 3 main battle tank at [[Eastbourne Redoubt]]]]
Medium tanks gradually evolved into the new concept of the [[main battle tank]]. This transition happened gradually in the 1950s, as it was realized that medium tanks could carry guns (such as the US 90 mm, Soviet [[D-10 tank gun|100]] mm, and especially the British [[Royal Ordnance L7|L7 105 mm]]) that could penetrate any practical level of armor at long range. The World War II concept of heavy tanks, armed with the most powerful guns and heaviest armor, became obsolete since they were just as vulnerable as other vehicles to the new medium tanks.{{Citation needed|date=November 2014}} Likewise, World War II had shown that lightly armed, lightly armored tanks were of little value in most roles. Even reconnaissance vehicles shown a trend towards heavier weight and greater firepower during World War II; speed was not a substitute for armor and firepower.
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Medium tanks gradually evolved into the new concept of the [[main battle tank]]. This transition happened gradually in the 1950s, as it was realized that medium tanks could carry guns (such as the US 90 mm, Soviet [[D-10 tank gun|100]] mm, and especially the British [[Royal Ordnance L7|L7 105 mm]]) that could penetrate any practical level of armor at long range. The World War II concept of heavy tanks, armed with the most powerful guns and heaviest armor, became obsolete since they were just as vulnerable as other vehicles to the new medium tanks.{{Citation needed|date=November 2013}} Likewise, World War II had shown that lightly armed, lightly armored tanks were of little value in most roles. Even reconnaissance vehicles shown a trend towards heavier weight and greater firepower during World War II; speed was not a substitute for armor and firepower.
 
[[File:M48 Patton Tank on display.jpg|thumb|left|M48 Patton]]
 
[[File:M48 Patton Tank on display.jpg|thumb|left|M48 Patton]]
   
 
[[File:T-72A tank on parade.jpg|thumb|right|[[T-72]]B with thick "Dolly Parton" [[composite armor]] on the turret front]]
 
[[File:T-72A tank on parade.jpg|thumb|right|[[T-72]]B with thick "Dolly Parton" [[composite armor]] on the turret front]]
   
An increasing variety of anti-tank weapons and the perceived threat of a [[nuclear war]] prioritized the need for additional armor. The additional armor prompted the design of even more powerful cannons.<ref name="MBT generations">{{cite book|title=Arms diffusion: the spread of military innovations in the international system|year=2002|publisher=Psychology Press|isbn=0-415-93514-8|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=fhnixhMQqW8C&dq=%22main+battle+tank%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s|author=Front Cover Thomas W. Zarzecki|accessdate=5 April 2011|page=212}}</ref> The main battle tank thus took on the role the British had once called the 'Universal tank', filling almost all battlefield roles. Typical main battle tanks were as well armed as any other vehicle on the battlefield, highly mobile, and well armored. Yet they were cheap enough to be built in large numbers. The classic main battle tanks of the 1950s were the British [[Centurion Tank|Centurion]], the Soviet [[T-55]] series, and the US [[M47 Patton|M47]] and [[M48 Patton|M48 series]]. These three basic vehicles were upgraded significantly over time. For example, the Centurion began life with the highly effective [[Ordnance QF 17 pounder gun|17-pounder (76.2&nbsp;mm) gun]], but was upgraded to 20 pounder (84&nbsp;mm) and then 105&nbsp;mm main armament by 1959, with improved fire control and new engines.
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An increasing variety of anti-tank weapons and the perceived threat of a [[nuclear war]] prioritized the need for additional armor. The additional armor prompted the design of even more powerful cannons.<ref name="MBT generations">{{cite book|title=Arms diffusion: the spread of military innovations in the international system|year=2002|publisher=Psychology Press|isbn=0-415-93514-8|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=fhnixhMQqW8C&dq=%22main+battle+tank%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s|author=Front Cover Thomas W. Zarzecki|accessdate=5 April 2011|page=212}}</ref> The main battle tank thus took on the role the British had once called the 'Universal tank', filling almost all battlefield roles. Typical main battle tanks were as well armed as any other vehicle on the battlefield, highly mobile, and well armored. Yet they were cheap enough to be built in large numbers. The classic main battle tanks of the 1950s were the British [[Centurion Tank|Centurion]], the Soviet [[T-55]] series, and the US [[M47 Patton|M47]] and [[M48 Patton|M48 series]]. These three basic vehicles were upgraded significantly over time. For example, the Centurion began life with the highly effective [[Ordnance QF 17 pounder gun|17-pounder (76.2&nbsp;mm) gun]], but was upgraded to 20 pounder (84&nbsp;mm) and then 105&nbsp;mm main armament by 1959, with improved fire control and new engines.
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The Russian T-55 started with a 100&nbsp;mm gun, but has been upgraded with both 115&nbsp;mm and 125&nbsp;mm guns, much improved fire control systems, new engines, track, etc. The M47 series evolved through to the [[M60 Patton|M60]] series.The first Soviet main battle tank was the [[T-64]]<ref>T-64 manual ("Танк Т-64А. Техническое описание и инструкция по эксплуатации. 1984") state T-64 as "main battle" tank, while previous T-62 and T-55 (in corresponding military manuals, like "Танк Т-62. Руководство по материальной части и эксплуатации. 1968") stated as "medium" tanks</ref> while the first American MBT was the [[M60 Patton]].<ref>MIL-T-45308 state "Tank, Main Battle, 105MM Gun, M60", while MIL-T-45148 state "TANK, COMBAT, FULL-TRACKED, 90MM GUN, M48A2"</ref>
 
The Russian T-55 started with a 100&nbsp;mm gun, but has been upgraded with both 115&nbsp;mm and 125&nbsp;mm guns, much improved fire control systems, new engines, track, etc. The M47 series evolved through to the [[M60 Patton|M60]] series.The first Soviet main battle tank was the [[T-64]]<ref>T-64 manual ("Танк Т-64А. Техническое описание и инструкция по эксплуатации. 1984") state T-64 as "main battle" tank, while previous T-62 and T-55 (in corresponding military manuals, like "Танк Т-62. Руководство по материальной части и эксплуатации. 1968") stated as "medium" tanks</ref> while the first American MBT was the [[M60 Patton]].<ref>MIL-T-45308 state "Tank, Main Battle, 105MM Gun, M60", while MIL-T-45148 state "TANK, COMBAT, FULL-TRACKED, 90MM GUN, M48A2"</ref>
   
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[[File:destroyed m60.jpg|thumb|left|An Israeli M60 Patton tank destroyed in the [[Yom Kippur War]].]]
 
[[File:destroyed m60.jpg|thumb|left|An Israeli M60 Patton tank destroyed in the [[Yom Kippur War]].]]
   
There was also talk that tanks were obsolete and budgets decreased a bit {{Citation needed|date=November 2014}} after the [[Yom Kippur War]] of 1973 when Israeli tanks were destroyed in unheard of quantities by man-portable [[wire guided missile]]s (ATGMs), fired by Egyptian infantry. Subsequent analysis showed that Israeli forces had underestimated their opponents during the first phases of the war; their all-tank tactics ignored the newfound ability of Infantry armed with cheap AT weapons to stop tanks. The solution to this new battlefield environment was both tactical and technical. Tactically, there was renewed recognition for the need for combined-arms tactics. This led to greater mechanization of Infantry and advanced artillery tactics and warheads. Tanks alone were vulnerable to Infantry, but a combined team of tanks, mechanized Infantry, and mechanized artillery could still win in the new environment.
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There was also talk that tanks were obsolete and budgets decreased a bit {{Citation needed|date=November 2013}} after the [[Yom Kippur War]] of 1973 when Israeli tanks were destroyed in unheard of quantities by man-portable [[wire guided missile]]s (ATGMs), fired by Egyptian infantry. Subsequent analysis showed that Israeli forces had underestimated their opponents during the first phases of the war; their all-tank tactics ignored the newfound ability of Infantry armed with cheap AT weapons to stop tanks. The solution to this new battlefield environment was both tactical and technical. Tactically, there was renewed recognition for the need for combined-arms tactics. This led to greater mechanization of Infantry and advanced artillery tactics and warheads. Tanks alone were vulnerable to Infantry, but a combined team of tanks, mechanized Infantry, and mechanized artillery could still win in the new environment.
   
 
In 1974, the United States initiated an impressive programme to modernise its existing tank fleet and start real mass production of the M60A1, and later the M60A3; at the same time the M1 was developed. Budgets for tank design and production picked up during the administration of president [[Ronald Reagan]], following tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
 
In 1974, the United States initiated an impressive programme to modernise its existing tank fleet and start real mass production of the M60A1, and later the M60A3; at the same time the M1 was developed. Budgets for tank design and production picked up during the administration of president [[Ronald Reagan]], following tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.
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The [[M551 Sheridan]] was initiated when the replacement for the [[M41 Walker Bulldog]], the [[T92 Light Tank]], was canceled.
 
The [[M551 Sheridan]] was initiated when the replacement for the [[M41 Walker Bulldog]], the [[T92 Light Tank]], was canceled.
   
The need for even lighter weight to make the tank transportable presented the design with a particularly difficult problem; guns capable of defeating modern tanks at reasonable ranges were so large that they demanded a large vehicle to carry them, so large that they couldn't be used as a "light" tank. The use of HEAT rounds instead of conventional penetrating ammunition could address this, but HEAT rounds work better at larger calibers. Gun weight is typically the product of caliber and [[muzzle velocity]], so in the case of the XM551 they sacrificed the muzzle velocity, producing the low-velocity but relatively large-caliber 152&nbsp;mm '''M81'''. HEAT rounds fired by the M81 could defeat any contemporary tank at shorter ranges, but its low velocity made it difficult to use at longer ranges, especially against moving targets. The large low-velocity gun was also ideal for infantry support, where higher performance anti-tank guns would often fire right through soft targets and their small-caliber guns left little room for explosive filler. The [[M551 Sheridan]] tank would thus be ideal for both direct fire support as well as short-distance anti-tank engagements.
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The need for even lighter weight to make the tank transportable presented the design with a particularly difficult problem; guns capable of defeating modern tanks at reasonable ranges were so large that they demanded a large vehicle to carry them, so large that they couldn't be used as a "light" tank. The use of [[HEAT]] rounds instead of conventional penetrating ammunition could address this, but HEAT rounds work better at larger calibers. Gun weight is typically the product of caliber and [[muzzle velocity]], so in the case of the XM551 they sacrificed the muzzle velocity, producing the low-velocity but relatively large-caliber 152&nbsp;mm '''M81'''. HEAT rounds fired by the M81 could defeat any contemporary tank at shorter ranges, but its low velocity made it difficult to use at longer ranges, especially against moving targets. The large low-velocity gun was also ideal for infantry support, where higher performance anti-tank guns would often fire right through soft targets and their small-caliber guns left little room for explosive filler. The [[M551 Sheridan]] tank would thus be ideal for both direct fire support as well as short-distance anti-tank engagements.
   
 
The only niche where the [[M551 Sheridan]] was not ideal was the medium and long-range anti-tank engagement. The muzzle velocity was so low that a HEAT round fired at longer ranges would have to be "lofted", making aiming difficult, and the flight time would be so long that a moving target would be very difficult to hit. However, it appeared there was a solution to this problem by equipping the tank with gun-fired [[anti-tank missile]]s. For longer range engagements a missile would be fired instead of a HEAT round, and although its velocity would also be relatively slow, the guidance system would make a hit highly likely anyway. The [[M551 Sheridan]] appeared to offer the best of both worlds; for infantry support the large calibre gun allowed it to fire full-sized artillery rounds and canister shot, while also giving it reasonable short-range anti-tank performance from the same gun.
 
The only niche where the [[M551 Sheridan]] was not ideal was the medium and long-range anti-tank engagement. The muzzle velocity was so low that a HEAT round fired at longer ranges would have to be "lofted", making aiming difficult, and the flight time would be so long that a moving target would be very difficult to hit. However, it appeared there was a solution to this problem by equipping the tank with gun-fired [[anti-tank missile]]s. For longer range engagements a missile would be fired instead of a HEAT round, and although its velocity would also be relatively slow, the guidance system would make a hit highly likely anyway. The [[M551 Sheridan]] appeared to offer the best of both worlds; for infantry support the large calibre gun allowed it to fire full-sized artillery rounds and canister shot, while also giving it reasonable short-range anti-tank performance from the same gun.
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[[File:DM-SC-92-03658.jpg|thumb|left|Marines from Company D, [[2nd Tank Battalion]], drive their M60A1 main battle tank during a breach exercise in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The tank is fitted with [[reactive armor]] and an M-9 bulldozer kit.]]
 
[[File:DM-SC-92-03658.jpg|thumb|left|Marines from Company D, [[2nd Tank Battalion]], drive their M60A1 main battle tank during a breach exercise in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The tank is fitted with [[reactive armor]] and an M-9 bulldozer kit.]]
   
During the 1960s, the US and [[West Germany]] entered a joint project for a new tank common to both armies and intended to enter service in the 1970s. The [[MBT-70]] project was technically advanced with sophisticated suspension, a low silhouette, spaced armor and advanced gun systems but suffered from excessive costs and the Germans pulled out of the project at the end of the decade.
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During the 1960s, the US and [[West Germany]] entered a joint project for a new tank common to both armies and intended to enter service in the 1970s. The [[MBT-70]] project was technically advanced with sophisticated suspension, a low silhouette, spaced armor and advanced gun systems but suffered from excessive costs and the Germans pulled out of the project at the end of the decade.
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After Vietnam, the [[M60 Patton]] was upgraded and designated the M60A2. It featured an entirely new low-profile turret with a commander's machine-gun cupola on top, giving the commander a good view and field of fire while under armor but spoiling the low profile. It also featured a 152&nbsp;mm cannon, which fired conventional rounds as well as [[guided missile]]s.
 
After Vietnam, the [[M60 Patton]] was upgraded and designated the M60A2. It featured an entirely new low-profile turret with a commander's machine-gun cupola on top, giving the commander a good view and field of fire while under armor but spoiling the low profile. It also featured a 152&nbsp;mm cannon, which fired conventional rounds as well as [[guided missile]]s.
   
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[[File:DF-SC-82-07237.jpg|thumb|right|An XM1 Abrams, during a demonstration at Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1979.]]
 
[[File:DF-SC-82-07237.jpg|thumb|right|An XM1 Abrams, during a demonstration at Fort Knox, Kentucky in 1979.]]
   
The German [[Leopard 1|Leopard]] tank, another 105mm armed tank, was introduced in 1965. It was sold widely to several nations in NATO as well as worldwide. It was followed in 1979 by the [[Leopard 2]] with a 120mm [[smoothbore]] gun.
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The German [[Leopard 1|Leopard]] tank, another 105mm armed tank, was introduced in 1965. It was sold widely to several nations in NATO as well as worldwide. It was followed in 1979 by the [[Leopard 2]] with a 120mm [[smoothbore]] gun.
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In 1976, prototypes of a new tank which became the [[M1 Abrams]] were delivered by Chrysler Defense and General Motors armed with a 105&nbsp;mm rifled cannon. The Chrysler Defense design was selected for development as the M1. In 1979, General Dynamics Land Systems Division purchased Chrysler Defense. The [[M1 Abrams]] came from the diverted funds from the over budget and impractical [[MBT-70]] and XM815 projects.
 
In 1976, prototypes of a new tank which became the [[M1 Abrams]] were delivered by Chrysler Defense and General Motors armed with a 105&nbsp;mm rifled cannon. The Chrysler Defense design was selected for development as the M1. In 1979, General Dynamics Land Systems Division purchased Chrysler Defense. The [[M1 Abrams]] came from the diverted funds from the over budget and impractical [[MBT-70]] and XM815 projects.
   

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