A squadron commander belonging to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Armored Regiment, aboard an M-60A3 Main Battle Tank uses hand signals to maneuver his tanks. See more tank pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

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.

Tank Image Gallery

This view of a loader shows his tank commander.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

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.

When the capabilities of the new T-62/T-72 MBTs became known in detail, the U.S.

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.

An M-60 Main Battle Tank fires its 105mm main gun.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

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:

M-60 Main Battle Tank Equipment

This is the gunner position in the M-60A3 Main Battle Tank. The 105mm main gun breech is in the left foreground.
This is the gunner position in the M-60A3 Main Battle Tank. The 105mm main gun breech is in the left foreground.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

M-60 Main Battle Tank equipment made it competitive with the contemporary Soviet tanks. The L7A1 105mm M68 main gun, of British design but built in the United States, was rifled and could fire between six and eight rounds per minute.

This M-60A3 loader wears a cold weather face mask while standing in the loader hatch in the turret.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The tank carried 63 rounds of main gun ammunition, which could be a mix of any of the following: M728 armor-piercing, discarding sabot-tracer; M735 and M735A1 armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding sabot-tracer; M731, with a tungsten penetrator, and M731A, with the stabaloy penetrator; M774 and M833, both using monobloc stabaloy penetrators; M392A2 armor-piercing, discarding sabot-tracer; M494 antipersonnel-tracer; M456 high-explosive, antitank-tracer; and various

target rounds.

The M-60 Main Battle Tank also carried two machine guns. The commander's cupola was equipped with a .50 caliber M85 antiaircraft machine gun. Mounted coaxially in the hull was the 7.62mm NATO M85, which was replaced with the M240 machine gun.

The M-60 was up-rated to the A3 configuration beginning in 1977, and the first M-60A3s were sent to Europe and issued to the United States 1st Battalion of the 32nd Armor Division in 1979.

Specific improvements included a new AN/WG-2 laser range finder connected to an improved fire control system that used an M21 solid state computer rather than a mechanical one.

The new system allowed either the gunner or the tank commander to fire the main gun. Bore sighting was made incomparably easier with the laser system.

The control unit of the gunner is located to the far right. The green light indicates the system is functioning properly.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

A new track system with replaceable pads was also installed in the M-60A3, as well as a newer, more reliable diesel engine.

An automatic Halon fire extinguisher system, a smoke-screen system using diesel fuel sprayed into the engine manifold, and the M219 smoke grenade launcher were included.

A deep-water fording kit allowed an M-60A3 fitted with a snorkel to traverse water up to 13 feet deep.

This M-60A3 carries the M68 105mm main gun. Note the shrouded infrared/white light searchlight above the gun.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The last M-60A3 tank was built for the U.S. Army in 1983. The last of the older M-60A1s was completed for the Marine Corps in 1980. Conversion of all M-60A1s to the M-60A3TTS (tank, thermal sight) model was completed in the early 1990s.

The final version of the M-60, the M-60A3TTS, weighed close to 57 tons, seven tons more than the M-48, which in 1956 was considered too heavy.

Continue to the next page to find specifications for the M-60 Main Battle Tank.

To learn more about historical tanks, check out:

M-60 Main Battle Tank Specifications

These M-60A1 Main Battle Tanks are on maneuvers. Note the SIMFIRE laser unit mount ahead of the bore evacuator on the main gun.
These M-60A1 Main Battle Tanks are on maneuvers. Note the SIMFIRE laser unit mount ahead of the bore evacuator on the main gun.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Developed in response to technological advances in Soviet tanks, the M-60 Main Battle Tank was designed to hold its own on the battlefield. Below are specifications for the M-60 Main Battle Tank.

Date of service: 1960

Country: United States of America

Type: Main Battle Tank

Dimensions: Length, 6.9 m (22.6 ft); width, 3.61 m (11.8 ft); height, 3.27 m (10.7 ft)

Combat weight: 51,982 kg (57.3 tons)

Engine: Continental AVDS-1790-2D 750-horsepower diesel

Armament: One 105mm L7A1 main gun; one 7.62mm NATO M73 machine gun; one .50 caliber M85 machine gun

Crew: 4

Speed: 48 km/h (30 mph)

Range: 480 km (298 mi)

Obstacle/grade performance: 0.9 m (3 ft)

To learn more about historical tanks, check out: