Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Heavy Tank M103

The M103 was a mammoth tank design delivering armor protection and firepower at the expense of sheer size and speed. Stemming from the T43 trial version, the system evolved into the T43E1 which became the standardized M103. Main armament consisted of the heavy caliber rifled 120mm main gun mounted alongside a conventional 7.62mm coaxial mount in the turret. The commander was afforded a heavy caliber 12.7mm machine gun at his cupola, but this was externally mounted and classified as an air defense weapon. Ammunition supply for all guns was ample and five crew were required for optimal operation. Along with the driver and commander, there was the standard gunner along with two loaders.

With the Cold War in full bloom, design of heavy tanks for the United States Army increased in an effort to mimic the success of the World War Two / Korean War-era M26 Pershing Heavy Tank.

Despite the formidable array of arms, the system was dogged by reliability problems, a short road range and its sheer size. In the temperate and hilly terrain of Europe, the M103 faired below expectations. It's size alone made the system very difficult to conceal along the Cold War fronts throughout Europe. A new engine, bringing the road range from the measly 80 miles to over 300 miles was implemented in what would become the M103A2 but it was not meant to be. The M103 was dissolved from service with the United States Army in a few short years, bringing an end to the new generation of M103 Heavy Tank.



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