The M-60 Main Battle Tank was developed in response to upgraded enemy tanks. In 1956, intelligence reports regarding tank development in the Soviet Union suggested that a tank more capable than the T-54/T-55 Main Battle Tank (MBT) was being developed.
As the M-48 Medium Tank entered service in 1952, it was considered too heavy, too short-ranged, and too lightly armored to deal with the expected capabilities of the new Soviet tank.
A design team suggested that there was plenty of room for improving the M-48. Upgrade programs were immediately undertaken, beginning with the installation
of a new Continental diesel engine.
But the ultimate goal, up-gunning to the British L7A1 105mm gun, required a new turret. Authorization was obtained for the new tank design, and the first American
MBT entered service in 1960 as the M-60.
Two years later an up-rated M-60, the M-60A1, was put into production. These two versions were followed by 562 M-60A2s, all of which were converted to other armored vehicles like the M-60 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge or the M-728 Combat Engineer Vehicle.
Army began a crash program to up-rate the M-60. The M-60A3 was the result, and it was placed in production in May 1980.
More than 15,000 M-60s of various configurations were built before production ended in August 1987.
The M-60 Main Battle Tank's hull was basically the same as that of the M-48. It was built of cast-and-welded sections and divided into three compartments: driving, fighting, and engine/transmission. The new turret was better armored and considerably larger, as it had to mount the 105mm main gun.
A nuclear-biological-chemical warfare protection system was added in the M-60A3 configuration. It combined overpressure in the crew compartment with a high-capacity central air filtration system. Fresh air was brought directly to each crew member through a tube.
Complete night vision equipment was fitted to the tank and included an improved infrared/white light xenon searchlight.
For more on M-60 Main Battle Tank equipment, continue to the next page.
To learn more about historical tanks, check out: