The M-48 General George S. Patton Medium Tank equipment was impressive. As in the M-47, the gunner was located on the right side of the turret, the loader on the left, and the commander behind and higher.
The loader had a hatch that opened to the rear. The commander's cupola could be traversed manually and had a sight for the .50 caliber Browning M2 HB machine gun.
The original General Motors Corporation 810-horsepower gasoline engine and a fire extinguishing system were mounted in the rear compartment. The engine drove the rear drive sprocket through a planetary gear transmission.
The M-48 used torsion bar suspension with six relatively small road wheels per side. Five return rollers were used in the M-48 and M-48A1 configuration but only three in the M-48A2 and later variations.
The M-48 was equipped with infrared driving lights, and an infrared/white light searchlight was mounted above the main gun.
The M-48 was the first American tank to be fitted with a nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) protection system and warm air heaters for crew comfort. A bulldozer blade kit was developed, and all M-48s had provisions for mounting it on the hull.
The M-48 Patton was the most heavily armored tank in American service to that date. Armor protection ranged from 4.72 inches on the hull's front to 4.3 inches on the turret front down to slightly less than 1 inch on the turret top.
The 90mm M41 main gun used in the M-48 and M-48A1 was equipped with an evacuator, a muzzle brake, and a vertical sliding breech mechanism. The main-gun range finder fed information to the commander's station and the gunner's station.
The gunner's ballistic computer was electrically operated but worked on mechanical principles. Solutions to problems were simultaneously fed to gunner and commander.
The same ammunition used in the M-47 was used in the M-48 with only minor variations in muzzle velocity and range.
The M-48 General George S. Patton Medium Tank has gone through seven model designations. In 1975 all M-48s of whatever configuration were again modernized to the M-48A5 standard. This modernization included improved armor, an improved fire control system, the 105mm M68 main gun, and a range of other modifications that increased the service life of the M-48 tank.
The diesel engine built by Continental was also replaced with an improved model that gave an even greater range. The coaxial machine gun was changed from the 7.62mm Browning 1919A4E1 to the 7.62mm NATO M73 machine gun.
A second 7.62mm NATO M73 machine gun was added at the loader's hatch position for antiaircraft use. The commander's hatch also had a machine gun.
The M-48 tank was adopted by at least 19 other nations, including Israel. In fact, the M-48 in various configurations, including variations of Israeli origin, has served with Israeli forces in every war since 1956.
No active United States Army units have been equipped with the M-48 Patton since 1984, when the last M-48s were withdrawn from the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea.
See the next page to find specifications for the M-48 General George S. Patton Medium Tank.
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