M103 heavy tank

M103 heavy tank

Infobox Weapon
name=M103 Heavy tank

caption=An M103A2 at Bovington tank museum in the UK
origin=flagcountry|United States
type=Heavy tank
service= 1957 - 1974
manufacturer= Chrysler
number= 400
variants= M103A1, M103A2
weight=65 tons (58 tonnes)
length=22.7' (6.99 m)
width=12.22' (3.76 m)
height=10.49' (3.23 m)
crew=5 (commander, gunner, driver, 2 loaders)
armour=180 mm (7.34")
primary_armament=120 mm gun M58, 34 rounds
secondary_armament=2×.30-cal (7.62 mm) M1919A4E1
1×.50-cal (12.7 mm) M2 AA machine gun
engine=(M103A1) Continental AV1790 12-cyl. air-cooled gasoline (M103A2) Continental AVDS-1790-2, V12, air cooled, twin turbocharged diesel
engine_power=810 hp (604 kW) 750 hp (560 kW)
transmission=General Motors CD-850-4A or -4B, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
fuel_capacity= 280 gallons (710 litres)
pw_ratio=M103: 12.4 hp/ton
M103A2: 11.5 hp/ton
suspension=torsion bar
vehicle_range=M103: 80 mi (130 km)
M103A2: 295 mi (480km)
speed=M103: 25 mph (40 km/h)
M103A2: 23 mph (37 km/h)

The M103 heavy tank served the United States Army and the US Marines during the Cold War. Until the development of the M1A1 in the mid 1980s, it was the heaviest and most heavily-armed tank in US service.

The M103 was manufactured at the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant and the first units were accepted in 1957. Like the British Conqueror tank, the M103 was designed to counter Soviet heavies such as the Josef Stalin tank or the T-10 if a conventional World War III broke out. Its long-ranged 120mm cannon was designed to hit enemy tanks at extreme distances, but it was never used in combat, and the last units left service in 1974. Only a few hundred were built. Today, 120 mm guns are commonly used in main battle tanks such as the M1 Abrams tank.

The successive versions of the M103 shared many components with the M47, the M48 Patton tank and the M60, which were all considered main battle tanks. Tracks, rollers and suspension elements were the same with some modification to take into account the greater weight. The engine and transmission were never modified enough to give the extra power needed for the greater weight of the M103, and as a result the tank was relatively underpowered and the drive systems were fragile.

The turret of the M103 was larger than that of the M48 or the M60 to make room for the huge 120 mm gun and the two loaders assigned to it, in addition to the gunner and the commander. The driver sat in the hull. The gun was capable of elevation from +15 to -8 degrees.


The armour is made from welded rolled and cast homogeneous steel of varying thickness.
*Hull front: 100 mm to 130 mm.(4" to 5.3")
*Hull side: 76 mm.(3.1")
*Hull top: 25 mm.(1")
*Turret mantlet: 250 mm.(10.2")
*Turret front: 180 mm.(7.34")
*Turret side: 76 mm.(3.1")
*Turret top: 38 mm.(1.55")


* M103 1957. 400 built.
* M103A1 1959. 219 converted or rebuilt. New sight (Steroscopic T52) and T33 ballistic computer. Removed one coaxial machine gun. New turret electric amplidyne system traverse. Turret basket.
* M103A2 1964. 153 converted or rebuilt. New 750 hp (559 kW) diesel engine from the M60 Patton tank, increasing the road range to 480 km at the expense of a lower maximum speed of 37 km/h. New sight coincidence XM2A.


USA - 400. All withdrawn from service in 1974.

List of surviving examples

There are several M103s in existence including the late M103A2 version.
* Ordnance Center and Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, USA,
* Radcliffe, Kentucky (M103)
* Fort Hood, Texas (M103)
* Fort Lewis, Washington (M103)
* 4th Infantry Division Museum
* Fort McClellan, Anniston, Alabama (M103A2)
* 45th Infantry Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (M103A2)
* Armed Forces Center, Syracuse,New York (M103A2)
*M103 Heavy Tank at Credit Island Park, Davenport, Iowa
*M103A2 at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation in Portola Valley, California
*T43/M-103 at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Fort Hood, Texas
* Marine Corps Mechanized Museum, Camp Pendleton, CA
* Pioneer Park, Nacogdoches, TX (non-functioning)
* Euclid City Hall, E. 222nd Street. Euclid, Ohio
* Heritage Center of the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma AZ
* U.S. Army Dugway Proving Grounds, UT, M103 hulk for testing


* [http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/m103heavy.html American Fighting Vehicle Database.]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m103.htm globalsecurity.org]
* [http://www.patton-mania.com/M_103/m_103.html Patton-Mania]

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