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Old March 18th, 2011, 09:47 PM
Commissar Commissar is offline
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M1 series cancelled, M60A4 project instead

As the tin says. In the budget battles of 1980, some obscure, never to see the light of day project looks a bit more promising and sucks up more black budget funding hidden in 400 dollars a hammer deal.

Unfortunately, it forces the axing of the M1 series. However, it is decided the turret design of the M1 will be incorporated into the next upgrade package of the M60 series resulting in the M60A4.

M60A4. Uprated Diesel Engine, Chobham Armor replaces the old armor but still same chassis, new NBC system, turret from the M1, 105mm rifled gun later replaced with 120mm rifled gun so it has a more versatile use than the overkill that was the M1 main gun that made it unsuited for Close Infantry Support due to its enormous muzzle blast. It also retains a phone for accompanying infantry to talk to the TC, and instrumentation to serve as indirect artillery in a pinch.

Okay discuss.
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  #2  
Old March 18th, 2011, 11:05 PM
Anderman Anderman is offline
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You mean something like the M60-2000?

http://www.patton-mania.com/M60_Patt..._m60-2000.html
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  #3  
Old March 18th, 2011, 11:13 PM
Commissar Commissar is offline
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Originally Posted by Anderman View Post
You mean something like the M60-2000?

http://www.patton-mania.com/M60_Patt..._m60-2000.html
Yeah, but better optimized for Infantry Support rather than Tank on Tank battles, though with a HESH Round it will kill any Soviet Tank.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 02:51 AM
Arachnid Arachnid is offline
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The problem is that by the M60A3 you have now reached the ceiling for the chassis which was based on the M26. Like all tanks of the era the M26 was built with an over-engineered chassis to provide headroom for improvements, however there is only so far you can go. The more armour you hang onto it and the bigger engine you put in it with the more you stress the basic chassis and it was designed for a tank 40% lighter. After 35 years with the same chassis this is the point where you need to wipe the slate clean and start again from the ground up.
No one would argue for keeping the M60 series, the only question was with what to replace it.
That said you could get a M60A4 as a stop gap until a delayed M1 comes along but you have reached the upper ceiling with both weight and engine power with the A3. Obviously there is some scope for replacing steel with lighter Chobam and putting a more efficient engine in but it is fiddling round the edges. The result, while an improvement, is going to be seriously outclassed by the 3rd generation tanks that were coming along at this time like the Challenger 1 and the Leopard 2.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 03:08 AM
Cryptic Cryptic is offline
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Originally Posted by Commissar View Post
It also retains a phone for accompanying infantry to talk to the TC, and instrumentation to serve as indirect artillery in a pinch.

Okay discuss.
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Originally Posted by Aracnid View Post
After 35 years with the same chassis this is the point where you need to wipe the slate clean and start again from the ground up.
No one would argue for keeping the M60 series, the only question was with what to replace it.
So....

The M-60 A4 leads to the US army favoring infantry tactics supported by an ultra heavy infantry support tank. The eventual replacement is not the M-1, but the uhmmm... "USA'kava", infantry support tank. Since this tank matches the Israeli design needs, the Israelis never develop the Merkava and just buy the US product. There are a few differences though. US tank commanders like the M-60 series armoured cupola, so this is retained. Also USA'Kavas dont have near the machine gun mounts that Israelis do. Since the infantry are not going to be able to go faster than the USA'Kava support tank, the Bradley emerges as an even heavier vehicle than it already is. There is also no need to purchase urban combat kits as the USA'kavas are pretty much optimized for it anyways.

Meanwhile, the US marines want nothing to do with the heavy support tank concept nor the ultra heavy Bradleys. They temporarily drop the main battle tank all together. France has many good armoured car and wheeled APC designs. The USMC then buys a variety of French armoured vehicles.

Impressed by the quality and variety of light French armoured vehicles, the USMC is an early customer of the Leclerec (western main battle tank, but relatively light with a smaller logistics need). US tankers never liked the three man crew concept so USMC versions have four man crew and no auto loader. US manufacturs throw a fit, but they cant produce 250 comparable tanks for anywhere near the price that the French can build the Leclerec. The Marines, however, are popular in congrees so there is not alot they can do.

After alot of joint training with the USMC,the French decide to buy US hovercraft for beach landings. USMC love affair with French equipment continues. They select Euro French helicopters to replace the aging Chinook D models and also select the new French truck towed 155mm artillery system.

Vive Le France et son Blindee et Vive Le USMC.

Last edited by Cryptic; March 19th, 2011 at 01:12 PM..
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Old March 19th, 2011, 08:29 AM
OneUp OneUp is offline
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Originally Posted by Cryptic View Post
So....

The M-60 A4 leads to the US army favoring infantry tactics supported by an ultra heavy infantry support tank. The eventual replacement is not the M-1, but the uhmmm... "USA'kava", infantry support tank. Since this tank matches the Israeli design needs, the Israelis never develop the Merkava and just buy the US product.

There are a few differences though. US tank commanders like the M-60 series armoured cupola, so this is retained. Also USA'Kavas dont have near the machine gun mounts that Israelis do. And... since the infantry are not going to be able to go faster than the USA'Kava support tank, the Bradley emerges as an even heavier vehicle than it already is. There is also no need to purchase urban combat kits as the USA'kavas are pretty much optimized for it anyways.

Meanwhile, the US marines want nothing to do with the heavy support tank concept nor the ultra heavy Bradleys. They temporarily drop the main battle tank all together. France has many good armoured car and wheeled APC designs. The USMC then buys a variety of French armoured vehicles.

Impressed by the quality and variety of light French armoured vehicles, the USMC is an early customer of the Leclerec (western main battle tank, but relatively light with a smaller logistics need). US tankers never liked the three man crew concept so USMC versions have four man crew and no auto loader. US manufacturs throw a fit, but they cant produce 250 comparable tanks for anywhere near the price that the French can build the Leclerec. The Marines, however, are popular in congrees so there is not alot they can do.

After alot of joint training with the USMC,the French decide to buy US hovercraft for beach landings. USMC love affair with French equipment continues A pre de quatorze ans, they select Euro French helicopters to replace the aging Chinook D models and also select the new French truck towed 155mm artillery system.

Vive Le France et son Blindee et Vive Le USMC.
Cool. Make a TL!
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Old March 19th, 2011, 03:44 PM
Bearcat Bearcat is offline
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It still likely won't have the protection of the Merkava, unless you move the engine to the front. Not sure something like that is even possible within the M60 chassis. Interesting idea, though.

A heavily protected, more mobile tank, with the M1's turret (and thus decent fire control and gun), would be pretty good for most US cold war needs. You're going to fight on the defensive, if at all. Its weaknesses will be evident in the desert, where mobility is prized, and likely would lead to something more like the Abrams being produced in the 90s. Note though, the British Challengers did okay with diesels in the desert. The Abrams pays a lot of money for that last five percent of capability.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 04:24 PM
benjamin benjamin is offline
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This would be incredibly detrimental to the US Army and it's post Vietnam armor doctrine. General Abrams and others may in fact resign in disgust. The ill fated MBT-70 and XM803 tanks and the Congressional / international boondoggles that had accompanied those programs had already left a very sour taste in the mouths of those involved in the US Armor School and associated programs.

If the XM815 / XM1 is cancelled than the even more controversial XM723 / XM2-3 Infantry Combat Vehicle program also goes. This will leave the US Army with a infantry carrier based on an updated XM113, and while not as detrimental as losing the XM1 this two will lessen the Army's tactical mobility.

With the slower vehicles than the entire concept of Air-Land Battle, which arose in the early 1980s due to West German anger over the proliferation tactical nukes and the need for a "forward defense", will be still born. Some effort may be put towards more airmobile doctrine using Apaches and Black Hawks but given that helo troops can't really hold or take ground when confronted by heavy opposition it will prove a costly failure. Also, the Air Force may get a bit of a boost aimed at interdiction and tactical support, but they will spend this money on "fast movers" that are nearly worthless for close air support.

Ironically, without the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle the XM800 program may proceed. This will give the Army a decent armored cavalry vehicle but no workable follow on force to exploit any weak spot. Furthermore the Army will be locked into a rather defense minded attitude that will slow the recovery from and see a prolonged Vietnam Syndrome. The US will be forced to make even greater use of tac nukes and see even more anti-US protests in West Germany during the 1980s.

Most likely so long as Star Wars continues and Reagan becomes President the Soviet Union will fall as per OTL. But come the Gulf War we will see much higher casualties, as the Army won't be able to pull of the wildly successful sweep across the desert from the left flank.

In the long run this may make the US less reluctant to intervene in places like Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Given that 9/11 may be butterflied away this might not really matter.

Benjamin
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Old March 19th, 2011, 05:53 PM
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This will leave the US Army with a infantry carrier based on an updated XM113, and while not as detrimental as losing the XM1 this two will lessen the Army's tactical mobility.
No, it remains the same. Most military advances never exceed 30 miles a day, any faster and you risk your spearheads getting lopped off.

Even when your opponent utterly panics and his front breaks apart, you're lucky to advance 60 miles a day.

Here is why:

As you advance, you are engaged in battle and have to leave the roads and maneuver around. The M60 has comparable speed to the M1 in such an environment.

If you're opponent breaks and runs, they are retreating along their supply line and using the gas up and destroying what they can't take, while you have to bring yours up and plan operational stops so you can tank up while retaining a reserve to counter a counter-attack.

When view in that light, the M1 series is a fucking disaster logistically against a competent foe as it uses up at least three times the fuel of the M60 series due to a stupid decision to put in an aircraft engine which in addition, is so hot Infantry cannot hitch a ride on it and provide top cover.

Also Tank-on-Tank battles are rare. Most of the time a tank is going to be supporting Infantry with Direct Fire. Viewed in that way, the decision to go for a Smoothbore Tank Killing Gun was another disaster for the M1 as that main gun is fucking powerful. You do not want to be within 100 yards of it when it goes off. This limits the aid it can give infantry and lessens the amount of HE it can carry in it HE rounds and also limits the types of rounds it can carry.

Finally the M60 is roughly 20 tons lighter and can use more bridges than the M1 can which is a big operational advantage.

That being said, the M1 is the best Heavy Tank in the World and can kill any Tank one-on-one, but Tanks ultimately have to support the Infantry with direct fire, which the M1 is poorly suited to, in addition to being a massive logistics burden to keep in the field and mobile.

In essence, the Army bought a Tiger, when they needed a Sherman.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 06:10 PM
Cryptic Cryptic is offline
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It still likely won't have the protection of the Merkava, unless you move the engine to the front. Not sure something like that is even possible within the M60 chassis. Interesting idea, though.
I dont think so either. My idea is that the U.S. Merkava style infantry support tanks evolves from the infantry favoring M60-A4. As you mentioned, a Merkava style tank would meet all U.S. cold war needs in Germany, South Korea etc.
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Its weaknesses will be evident in the desert, where mobility is prized, and likely would lead to something more like the Abrams being produced in the 90s.
True. But as the other poster mentioned, the Abrams is a weight and logistics nightmare. The U.S. never builds it. Deserts are when the USMC gets to show off their French built LeClerec tanks (no autoloader, four man crews). Leclerecs are perfect for USMC style warfare (advanced, powerful, yet relatively light and easy on logistics). Of course, the Army gets jealous as expedition warfare weems to be the wave of the future. They want a role as well. So the army buys U.S. built (under liscense) Leclerecs. Most army units keep the Merkava style tanks, some Cavalry squadrons get the Leclerecs.

In the end, the US has two tanks which compliment each other perfectly:

Advanced Infantry Support tank (Merkava style): good tank for every where, super armour protects against quality opponents with advanced ATGMs, RPGS etc, Great tank for close in terrain and urban warfare (increasingly likely scenarios). Not ideal for high mobility desert warfare, but can still perform there if needed.

Leclerec: All USMC tank batallions and a few select army units. Good tank everywhere, Great tank for expeditionary warfare against most opponents.

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Last edited by Cryptic; March 19th, 2011 at 07:53 PM..
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Old March 19th, 2011, 07:10 PM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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Hate to rain on the LeClerc parade, but there's a huge problem with that: NIH. Or, for those not familiar with DOD procurement, it's the Not Invented Here syndrome. It's also a condition in Congress, too. Only if there is no domestic alternative available will DOD buy a foreign-made weapons system, or any other major item, for that matter. There would be a M-1 revival later on in the mid '80s, with the Reagan buildup and all, so the issue would be moot.

Actually ran into something similar over on ACIG.org a few years back: someone suggested the USN buy Rafales as an F/A-18E substitute. That suggestion died a quick death.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 07:42 PM
Cryptic Cryptic is offline
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Hate to rain on the LeClerc parade, but there's a huge problem with that: NIH. Or, for those not familiar with DOD procurement, it's the Not Invented Here syndrome.
Yes, that is alot of rain, but their might be some "rain coats":
- The Marines are pretty popular congressionaly
- The Marine Leclerec order is going to be small with a good cost advantage
- They are going to be assembled in Texas, US of 'A (big congressional delegation that wants the cash infusion)

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Only if there is no domestic alternative available will DOD buy a foreign-made weapons system...
I agree. The foreign element needs to be reduced. For follow on orders:
-These are not French Leclerecs (they just look like them), they are actually American uhmm.... "Saber" tanks.
- They are made (well OK, actually assembled under liscense) right here in the US of 'A.
- All (or nearly all) upgrade equipment for the Sabers is U.S. designed and manufactured.

Last edited by Cryptic; March 19th, 2011 at 08:01 PM..
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Old March 19th, 2011, 09:58 PM
CalBear CalBear is offline
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Yeah, but better optimized for Infantry Support rather than Tank on Tank battles, though with a HESH Round it will kill any Soviet Tank.
This is extremely unlikely. The U.S. Army was late to the Tank vs. Tank club, but it became quite wedded to the concept.

The M-1 was designed to stop the Red Army along the intra-German border. That was THE war.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 10:05 PM
CalBear CalBear is offline
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Originally Posted by Matt Wiser View Post
Hate to rain on the LeClerc parade, but there's a huge problem with that: NIH. Or, for those not familiar with DOD procurement, it's the Not Invented Here syndrome. It's also a condition in Congress, too. Only if there is no domestic alternative available will DOD buy a foreign-made weapons system, or any other major item, for that matter. There would be a M-1 revival later on in the mid '80s, with the Reagan buildup and all, so the issue would be moot.

Actually ran into something similar over on ACIG.org a few years back: someone suggested the USN buy Rafales as an F/A-18E substitute. That suggestion died a quick death.
There is the also not insignifcant matter of the LeClerc not being introduced until 1991. The U.S. needed an M-60 replacement WAY before then.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 10:58 PM
Commissar Commissar is offline
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This is extremely unlikely. The U.S. Army was late to the Tank vs. Tank club, but it became quite wedded to the concept.

The M-1 was designed to stop the Red Army along the intra-German border. That was THE war.
Yet their combat in that period was nothing like that and was more Infantry Support than Tank on Tank battles. Furthermore a hot war with the USSR would be small unit actions due to the need to prevent large units being nuked and given the terrain, the capability for indirect fire would be a crucial advantage as it means the M60s would not need to be line of sight to hit targets.

Europe also has a lot of stone villages built up around the area which greatly negates the long range of the M1 and requires heavy CIS fire which the M1 is ill suited for due to the power of the main gun and lack of dedicated HE and HESH rounds as well as WP rounds if the fighting gets that nasty.

Finally there are strict weight limits on the bridges in the area which prevents the M1 from using most bridges which can be fatal if their bridging gear is unavailable or can not be erected in time.

When you get right down to it, few areas in the world are suited to long range gunnery duels and if they are, they also are a CAS Aircraft's dream field.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 11:06 PM
Cryptic Cryptic is offline
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There is the also not insignifcant matter of the LeClerc not being introduced until 1991. The U.S. needed an M-60 replacement WAY before then.
The initial replacement for the M-60 series would be the Merkava type, Advanced Infantry Support Tank. This type of Tank is ideal for Cold War Germany, South Korea etc situations. The expeditionary French Leclerec (liscensed in USA as "Saber") tank is bought after Gulf War I.
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When you get right down to it, few areas in the world are suited to long range gunnery duels and if they are, they also are a CAS Aircraft's dream field.
Interesting point. As a side note, that principle was applied to the design of the AK-47 as well.

Last edited by Cryptic; March 19th, 2011 at 11:22 PM..
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Old March 19th, 2011, 11:47 PM
Commissar Commissar is offline
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Interesting point. As a side note, that principle was applied to the design of the AK-47 as well.
That is more the result of poor training standards in marksmanship and poor maintenance.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 01:32 AM
Cryptic Cryptic is offline
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That is more the result of poor training standards in marksmanship and poor maintenance.
No, not all. The AK 47 was designed to have a maximum effective range (experts in controlled conditions) of about 300 meters.
Most infantry combat is well with in 300 meters. The tack driving, long range accuracy of the M-16 is rarely used and the extra design capacity and associated cost is wasted.

Then factor in that marksmanship of most soldiers deteriorates under stress. In the end, firefights where the M-16 user has the opportunity and the ability to use the M-16s long range accuracy are very rare.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 01:38 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is offline
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You forgot one thing: Congressional support for the M-1. There was quite a bit, especially in Ohio (Lima, OH is where the tank is built and given major overhauls). GDLS had subcontractors in 30+ states, (fire-control, the gun, radio, etc.) and you can bet those congresscritters would've raised holy hell (Sens John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum (both D-OH, among others). And one other thing: Just as Reagan promised to pick up on the B-1 program, he'd very likely restart the M-1 program (so initial fielding is in 1985-86 instead of 1981). The program was too far advanced by 1980 for cancellation. Even though Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) wanted to cancel it, and IIRC Newsweek suggested it in 1982 as well. Keep in mind that all weapons systems have teething troubles when they go from prototype stage to initial operating capability (IOC). Given the new President and a GOP Senate, killing the M-1 just isn't likely in a continued Carter administration (only real possiblity, IMO)

It'd be a cold day in you-know-where before the U.S. would buy any foreign made MBT....sorry to rain on the LeClerc parade. Even if the USMC wanted to (not very likely), Congress would step in and refuse to fund a purchase and insist on a U.S. made tank. Nowadays, when we hear about proposed defense cuts, there's calls about "preserving the industrial base" for certain weapons systems...submarines, ICBMs, manned heavy bombers, etc. There would be a similar call for MBTs.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 01:57 AM
Cryptic Cryptic is offline
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Originally Posted by Matt Wiser View Post
You forgot one thing: Congressional support for the M-1. There was quite a bit, especially in Ohio (Lima, OH is where the tank is built and given major overhauls). GDLS had subcontractors in 30+ states, (fire-control, the gun, radio, etc.) and you can bet those congresscritters would've raised holy hell
Ohio still gets to manufacture the 100% USA Merkava type, Advanced Infantry support Tank ("shield"). Most of the U.S. tank inventory is going to be of this type. The "Saber" (Leclerec) program is going to assemble about 425 tanks. Ohio does lose out, but not catastrophically. Also, maybe the Saber engines could be built under liscense in Ohio (casting plants etc)
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