M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank

The M-47 Patton Medium Tank and its immediate predecessor, the M-46, were developed from the M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank was an interim design derived from an interim tank. It was developed because the Army needed a medium tank heavier than the M-4 Sherman after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea in 1950.

Following the end of World War II, the majority of the military establishment concerned with the design and use of armor thought that the medium tank concept should be developed further. They had the fine examples of the German Panzerkampfwagen V Panther and the Soviet 85 millimeter gunned T-34 to spur them on.


Work began to upgrade the M-26 Pershing Heavy Tank to a more heavily armed and gunned medium tank. The result was the M-46 and its slightly up-rated variation, the M-46A1. The M-46 chassis and hull were the same as those used for the M-26, but the new tank had a new engine and transmission built by Continental.

At the same time, development work was being carried out on a second medium tank concept, designated the T-42. The T-42 was equipped with a new turret mated to a modified T-40 chassis, which in turn was derived from the M-26. The T-40 chassis had been given a new engine and transmission.

When the Korean War began in June 1950, the new turret on the T-42 was well along in development but the designers were still working the bugs out of the new chassis. To provide a new medium tank as soon as possible, the T-42 turret with its new 90mm T119 gun was mounted on the M-46 chassis. The result was christened the M-47 General George S. Patton.

The M-47's hull was built from cast-and-welded sections. Escape hatches were provided in the floor, rather than through the sides, to secure the hull's integrity.

The M-47 was also the last American tank to have a hull machine gunner. He sat on the right side of the hull to operate his 7.62mm NATO machine gun. The driver sat on the left side of the hull. The gunner sat at the right front of the turret, the loader on the left side, and the commander behind.

The loader's station had a rear-opening hatch above. The commander had a separate cupola and rear-opening hatch. Commander and loader stations had periscopes. The gunner also had a periscope as well as a stereoscopic range finder.

For more on the capabilities of the M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank, continue to the next page.

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M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank Capabilities

The M-47 Patton Medium Tank, here updated with M-60 components, was one of three tanks to carry the name Patton. The others were the M-46 and M-48.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank capabilities were an interesting mix of old and new. The new turret was a massive single-piece casting that provided armor protection nearly 4 inches thick.

The rifled 90mm T119 main gun had a sliding block, vertical breech mechanism, and used the short recoil concentric ring mechanism pioneered in the M-24 Chaffee Light Tank.


In the M-47, recoil shock was absorbed by hydraulic compression. One 7.62mm NATO Browning machine gun was mounted to the right of, and coaxially with, the main gun. It was used for range finding or for antipersonnel use.

A .50 caliber Browning M2 Heavy Barrel machine gun was mounted on the turret roof for use against attacking aircraft or unarmored vehicles.

Ammunition for the 90mm T119 main gun included armor-piercing-tracer rounds with a velocity of 2,998 feet per second accurate to 4,811 yards; antipersonnel-tracer at 2,998 feet per second accurate to 18,979 yards; high-explosive-tracer at 2,398 feet per second to 16,765 yards; armor-piercing capped-tracer at 2,798 feet per second to 21,399 yards; high-explosive at 2,700 feet per second to 19,374 yards; high-explosive, antitank-tracer at 3,999 feet per second to 8,899 yards; and high-velocity, armor-piercing-tracer rounds at 3,346 feet per second to 15,130 yards.

Other rounds used were white phosphorous smoke, canister, and target-practice tracing rounds.

This M-47 Patton Medium Tank was nicknamed Chief Wahoo. It carried camouflage netting secured to the turret bustle.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The M-47 was powered by a Continental V-12, air-cooled gasoline engine producing 810 horsepower. The engine drove through an Allison transmission to the rear drive sprockets. The torsion bar suspension system used in the M-26 program was improved, and installed.

Six road wheels and three return rollers per side were used. A fire extinguisher was mounted in the rear engine compartment.

No nuclear-biological-chemical protection was provided. The tank was fitted with infrared driving lights, and some nations fitted an infrared searchlight above the main gun.

A total of 8,576 "interim" M-47s were built by Chrysler at the Detroit Arsenal and by the American Locomotive Company. But they were used by the United States Army for only a few years in the 1950s.

They were then replaced by the more capable M-48 Patton Medium Tank. Almost all the M-47s built were sent in military aid packages to at least 17 countries.

Go to the next page to find specifications for the M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank.

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M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank Specifications

This M-47 Patton, which belonged to the 2nd Armored Division, clears a muddy obstacle somewhere in Korea in 1952.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Though it was considered only an "interim" tank, the M-47 General George S. Patton Medium Tank served the United States well in the Korean War. Find the specifications for this medium tank below.

Date of service: 1950


Country: United States of America

Type: Medium Tank

Dimensions: Length, 8.05 m (26.4 ft); width, 3.51 m (11.5 ft); height, 2.95 m (9.7 ft)

Combat weight: 46,170 kg (50.9 tons)

Engine: Continental V-12 810 horsepower gasoline

Armament: One 90mm T119 main gun; one 7.62mm NATO Browning machine gun; one .50 caliber Browning M2 HB machine gun

Crew: 5

Speed: 48 km/h (30 mph)

Range: 130 km (80.5 mi)

Obstacle/grade performance: 0.9 m (3 ft)

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