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.
Design and development
Like the contemporary 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 120 mm cannon was designed to hit enemy tanks at extreme distances, but it was never used in combat. Of the 300 M103s built, 80 went to the US Army, and 220 were accepted by the US Marine Corps, to be used as infantry support.
The successive versions of the M103 shared many components with the M47
and M48 Patton
tanks and the M60
, which, with the exception of the M60 (a main battle tank
) were all considered 90 mm gun (medium) 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... Read More