This is the continuation of my Red Storm Rising post that I have been doing. I have had this post in "Draft" mode for over a week and I couldn't find time to finish it. In the book the M-1 Abrams and the German Leopard 2 tank were used to great success against the Soviet onslaught. The Soviet used the T-72/T-80 series tanks in their first and part of their second echelon of forces. The Soviets kept their most potent tank forces in what was called "OMG" and it don't mean Oh My God..it meant Organizational Maneuver Group, by Soviet Doctrine was to be part of the second echelon, to run amuck as it were after the first echelon ruptured the NATO lines, the OMG is designed to be self supporting as it would be away from their logistical tail as they romped in the rear echelon of the NATO forces to secure what ever political or military target assigned to it by STAVKA.
I remembered the first time I saw an M-1 and it looked so futuristic versus the U.S M-60 MBT. I also remember the complaint about the 105 mm gun that the tank was originally equipped with. The United States was notorious for undergunning their tanks, the Sherman comes to mind....I remembered a quote " imagine how many BB's will it carry?" The next generation of Soviet tanks the T-72 and the rumored t-80( at the time) had a larger diameter gun than the Abrams. The Abrams had the 105 and the T-72 had the 125 Smoothbore. The Abrams had an excellent fire control computer enabling the tank to fire on the move and have a high hit probability. The M-1 Abrams was a more technologically advanced than the T-72/T-80 series. I remembered the first time I heard the M-1 during maneuvers in Germany, it didn't rumble...it "wooshed". The speed on the tank would exceed 60 miles an hour, and for this reason the Army put a governor on the tank to keep it at 45 MPH. The excessive speed can damage the transmission or sling a track.
I picked this up at the PX in Robinson Barracks, in Stuttgart in 1987 I believe and I still have it today..
Hanging in my bonus room with all my other souvenirs and stuff that I have collected in my travels.
The M1 Abrams is an American third-generation main battle tank. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army chief of staff and commander of United States military forces in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972. Highly mobile, designed for modern armored ground warfare, the M1 is well armed and heavily armored. Notable features include the use of a powerful multifuel turbine engine, the adoption of sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety. Weighing nearly 68 short tons (almost 62 metric tons), it is one of the heaviest main battle tanks in service.
The M1 Abrams entered U.S. service in 1980, replacing the M60 tank.
The M1 Abrams was developed during the Cold War as a successor to the canceled MBT-70. The M1 Abrams contract went to Chrysler Defense and was the first vehicle to adopt Chobham armor. Adaptations before the Persian Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm) gave the vehicle better firepower and NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) protection. Being vastly superior to Iraqi tanks, very few M1 tanks were hit by enemy fire. Upgrades after the war improved the tank's weapons sights and fire control unit. The Abrams participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, exposing vulnerabilities in urban combat that were addressed with the TUSK modification. The Marine Corps sent a company of M1A1 Abrams tanks to Afghanistan in 2010.
The first attempt to replace the aging M60 tank was the MBT-70, developed in partnership with West Germany in the 1960s. The MBT-70 had advanced features such as a height-adjustable air suspension and a very low-profile chassis with the driver located in the turret. The MBT-70 ultimately proved to be too heavy, complex, and expensive. As a result of the imminent failure of this project, the U.S. Army introduced the XM803, using some technologies from the MBT-70 but removing some of the more troublesome features. This succeeded only in producing an expensive system with capabilities similar to the M60.
Congress canceled the MBT-70 in November and XM803 December 1971, and redistributed the funds to the new XM815, later renamed the XM1 Abrams after General Creighton Abrams. Prototypes were delivered in 1976 by Chrysler Defense and General Motors armed with the license-built version of the 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 gun along with a Leopard 2 for comparison. The turbine-powered Chrysler Defense design was selected for development as the M1; Chrysler had significant experience designing turbine-powered land vehicles going back to the 1950s. In February 1982, General Dynamics Land Systems Division (GDLS) purchased Chrysler Defense, after Chrysler built over 1,000 M1s.
The Abrams remained untested in combat until the Persian Gulf War in 1991, during Operation Desert Storm. A total of 1,848 M1A1s were deployed to Saudi Arabia to participate in the liberation of Kuwait. The M1A1 was superior to Iraq's Soviet-era T-55 and T-62 tanks, as well as T-72 versions imported from the Soviet Union and Poland. Polish officials state no license-produced T-72 (nicknamed Lion of Babylon) tanks were finished prior to the Iraqi Taji tank plant being destroyed in 1991. The T-72s, like most Soviet export designs, lacked night vision systems and then-modern rangefinders, though they did have some night-fighting tanks with older active infrared systems or floodlights. A total of 23 M1A1s were damaged or destroyed during the war. Of the nine Abrams tanks destroyed, seven were destroyed by friendly fire, and two were purposely destroyed to prevent capture after being damaged. Some others took minor combat damage, with little effect on their operational readiness. Very few M1 tanks were hit by enemy fire, which resulted in no fatalities and only a handful of wounded.
The M1A1 was capable of making kills at ranges in excess of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). This range was crucial in combat against previous generation tanks of Soviet design in Desert Storm, as the effective range of the main gun in the Soviet/Iraqi tanks was less than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). This meant Abrams tanks could hit Iraqi tanks before the enemy got in range—a decisive advantage in this kind of combat. In friendly fire incidents, the front armor and fore side turret armor survived direct armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot (APFSDS) hits from other M1A1s. This was not the case for the side armor of the hull and the rear armor of the turret, as both areas were penetrated on at least two occasions by friendly depleted uranium ammunition during the Battle of Norfolk.
Desert Shield and Desert Storm some M1IP and M1A1s were modified locally in theater by modification work orders (MWO) with additional rolled homogenous armor plating welded on the turret front. The M1 can be equipped with mine plow and mine roller attachments.
The main armament of the original model M1 was the M68A1 105 mm rifled tank gun firing a variety of high explosive anti-tank, high explosive, white phosphorus and an anti-personnel (multiple flechette) round. This gun used a license-made tube of the British Royal Ordnance L7 gun together with the vertical sliding breech block and other parts of the American T254E2 prototype gun. However, it proved to be inadequate; a cannon with lethality beyond the 1.9-mile (3 km) range was needed to combat newer armor technologies. To attain that lethality, the projectile diameter needed to be increased.
The Abrams tank has three machine guns, with an optional fourth:
- A .50 cal. (12.7 mm) M2HB machine gun in front of the commander's hatch. On the M1 and M1A1, this gun is mounted on the Commander's Weapons Station. This allows the weapon to be aimed and fired from within the tank. The later M1A2 variant had a 'flex' mount that required the tank commander to expose his upper torso in order to fire the weapon. In urban environments in Iraq this was found to be unsatisfactory. With the Common Remote Operated Weapons System (CROWS) add-on kit, an M2A1 .50 Caliber Machinegun, M240, or M249 SAW can be mounted on a CROWS remote weapons platform (similar to the Protector M151 remote weapon station used on the Stryker family of vehicles). Current variants of the TUSK kit on the M1A2 have forgone this, instead adding transparent gun shields to the commander's weapon station. The upgrade variant called the M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) equips the .50 caliber gun with a thermal sight for accurate night and other low-visibility shooting.
- A 7.62 mm M240 machine gun in front of the loader's hatch on a skate mount (seen at right). Some of these were fitted with gun shields during the Iraq War, as well as night-vision scopes for low-visibility engagements.
- A second 7.62 mm M240 machine gun in a coaxial mount to the right of the main gun. The coaxial MG is aimed and fired with the same computer fire control system used for the main gun.
- (Optional) A second coaxial 12.7 mm M2HB machine gun can be mounted directly above the main gun in a remote weapons platform as part of the TUSK upgrade kit.
Bore sighting the Main Gun
The fire-control system uses this data to compute a firing solution for the gunner. The ballistic solution generated ensures a hit percentage greater than 95 percent at nominal ranges. Either the commander or gunner can fire the main gun. Additionally, the Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV) on the M1A2 can be used to locate targets and pass them on for the gunner to engage while the commander scans for new targets. In the event of a malfunction or damage to the primary sight system, the main and coaxial weapons can be manually aimed using a telescopic scope boresighted to the main gun known as the Gunner's Auxiliary Sight (GAS). The GAS has two interchangeable reticles; one for High-explosive anti-tank warhead and MPAT (MultiPurpose AntiTank) rounds and one for APFSDS and STAFF (Smart Target-Activated Fire and Forget) ammunition. Turret traverse and main gun elevation can be accomplished with manual handles and cranks in the event of a Fire Control System or Hydraulic System failure. The commander's M2HB .50 caliber machine gun on the M1 and M1A1 is aimed by a 3× magnification sight incorporated into the Commander's Weapon Station (CWS), while the M1A2 uses either the machine gun's own iron sights, or a remote aiming system such as the CROWS system when used as part of the TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit). The loader's M240 machine gun is aimed either with the built-in iron sights or with a thermal scope mounted on the machine gun.
The M1 Abrams's powertrain consists of a Honeywell AGT 1500 (originally made by Lycoming) multi-fuel gas turbine capable of 1,500 shaft horsepower (1,100 kW) at 3000 rpm and 3,950 lb·ft (5,360 N·m) at 1000 rpm, and a six speed (four forward, two reverse) Allison X-1100-3B Hydro-Kinetic automatic transmission, giving it a governed top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) on paved roads, and 30 mph (48 km/h) cross-country. With the engine governor removed, speeds of around 60 mph (97 km/h) are possible on an improved surface; however, damage to the drivetrain (especially to the tracks) and an increased risk of injuries to the crew can occur at speeds above 45 mph (72 km/h). The tank was built around this engine and it is multifuel capable; meaning that it can be powered with diesel, kerosene, any grade of motor gasoline, and jet fuel (such as JP-4 or JP-8). For logistical reasons, JP-8 is the US military's universal fuel powering both aircraft and vehicle fleets. On the other hand, Australian M1A1 AIM SA burn diesel fuel, since the use of JP-8 is less common in the Australian Army.
jet blast emitted from the rear of M1 Abrams tanks makes it difficult for the infantry to proceed shadowing the tank in urban combat. The turbine is very quiet when compared to diesel engines of similar power output and produces a significantly different sound from a contemporary diesel tank engine, reducing the audible distance of the sound, thus earning the Abrams the nickname "whispering death" during its first REFORGER exercise.
General Electric for the XM2001 Crusader program that was to be a replacement for the Abrams's AGT-1500 engine. The new LV100-5 engine was lighter and smaller (43% fewer parts) with rapid acceleration, quieter running, and no visible exhaust. It also featured a 33% reduction in fuel consumption (50% less when idle) and near drop-in replacement. The Abrams-Crusader Common Engine Program was shelved when the Crusader program was canceled, however Phase 2 of Army's PROSE (Partnership for Reduced O&S Costs, Engine) program called for further development of the LV100-5 and replacement of the current AGT-1500 engine.
The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s for the West German Army. The tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and 12 other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. The Leopard 2 was used in Kosovo with the German Army and has also seen action in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian contributions to the International Security Assistance Force, as well as seeing action in Syria with the Turkish Armed Forces against IS and the YPJ.
There are two main development batches of the tank, the original models up to Leopard 2A4, which have vertically faced turret armour, and the "improved" batch, namely the Leopard 2A5 and newer versions, which have angled arrow-shaped turret appliqué armour together with other improvements. All models feature digital fire control systems with laser rangefinders, a fully stabilized main gun and coaxial machine gun, and advanced night vision and sighting equipment (first vehicles used a low-light level TV system or LLLTV; thermal imaging was introduced later on). The tank has the ability to engage moving targets while moving over rough terrain.
Even as the Leopard 1 was just entering service, the German military was interested in producing an improved tank in the next decade. This resulted in the start of the MBT-70 development in cooperation with the United States beginning in 1963 However already in 1967 it became questionable whether the MBT-70 would enter service at any time in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the German government issued the order to research future upgrade options of the Leopard 1 to the German company Porsche in 1967. This study was named vergoldeter Leopard (Gilded Leopard) and focused on incorporating advanced technology into the Leopard design. The projected upgrades added an autoloader, a coaxial autocannon and an independent commander's periscope. The anti-air machine gun could be operated from inside the vehicle and a TV surveillance camera was mounted on an expendable mast. The shape of the turret and hull was optimized using cast steel armour, while the suspension, transmission and the engine exhaust vents were improved.
Following the end of Gilded Leopard study in 1967, the West-German government decided to focus on the Experimentalentwicklung (experimental development) as feasibility study and to develop new components for upgrading the Leopard 1 and for use on a future main battle tank program. At first 25 million DM were invested, but after the industry came to the conclusion that with such a low budget the development of the two projected testbeds was not possible, a total of 30 to 32 million DM was invested. The experimental development was contracted to the company Krauss-Maffei, but with the obligation to cooperate with Porsche for the development of the chassis and with Wegmann for the development of the turret. Two prototypes with differing components were built with the aim to improve the conception of the Leopard 1 in such a way that it would match the firepower requirements of the MBT-70. A high first-hit probability at ranges of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) and the ability to accurately engage targets on the move thanks to a computerized fire control system were the main goals of the experimental development. The resulting vehicles were nicknamed Keiler (tusker). Two prototypes (ET 01 and ET 02) of the Keiler were built in 1969 and 1970, both of them being powered by the MB 872 engine.
The MBT-70 was a revolutionary design, but after large cost overruns and technological problems, Germany withdrew from the project in 1969. After unsuccessful attempts of saving the MBT-70 by conceptual changes in order to eliminate the biggest issue — the driver being seated in the turret — it became clear in late 1969 that Germany would stop the bi-national development.
In July 1973 German Federal Minister of Defence Georg Leber and his US counterpart James R. Schlesinger agreed upon a higher degree of standardization in main battle tanks being favourable to NATO. By integrating components already fully developed by German companies for the Leopard 2, the costs of the XM1 Abrams should be reduced. A German commission was sent to the US to evaluate the harmonisation of components between the XM1 and Leopard 2. However, by American law it was not possible for a public bidder to interfere in a procurement tender after a contract with intention of profits and deadline was awarded to companies of the private industry.
As a result, the modification of the Leopard 2 prototypes in order to meet the US Army requirements was investigated. Following a number of further talks, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on 11 December 1974 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA, which declared that a modified version of the Leopard 2 should be trialled by the USA against their XM1 prototypes, after the Americans had bought and investigated prototype PT07 in 1973. The MOU obligated the Federal Republic of Germany to send a complete prototype, a hull, a vehicle for ballistic tests and a number of special ballistic parts to the USA, where they would be put through US testing procedures for no additional costs.
The US Army evaluation showed that on the XM1 a larger portion of the tank's surface was covered by special armour than on the Leopard 2AV. Differences in armour protection were attributed to the different perceptions on the expected threats and the haste in which the Leopard 2AV was designed to accommodate special armour. On mobility trials the Leopard 2AV performed equal to better than the XM1 prototypes. The AGT-1500 gas turbine proved to consume about 50% more fuel and the Diehl tracks had a higher endurance, while the tracks used on the XM1 prototypes failed to meet the Army's requirements. The heat signature of the MTU diesel engine was much lower. The fire control system and the sights of the Leopard 2 were considered to be better and the 120 mm gun proved to be superior. The projected production costs for one XM1 tank were $728,000 in 1976, the costs for one Leopard 2AV were $56,000 higher.
After the American evaluation of the Leopard 2AV and the US army's decision to opt for the XM1 Abrams, both American and German sources blamed the other side. According to American literature it was discovered, that the Leopard 2AV prototype used for mobility trials was underweight.
In Germany the test conditions were criticized for being unrealistic and favouring the XM1. Instead of using actual performance data, the calculated hypothetical acceleration was used. The XM1 was found to have a slightly higher rate of fire despite having internal layouts similar to the Leopard 2AV, because the XM1 prototypes were manned by professional crews, while the Leopard 2AV had to be manned by conscripts in order to prove that the Leopard 2AV was not too complicated. Firing on the move was demonstrated on flat tracks, which nullified the better stabilization systems.
The decision to put the Leopard 2 tank in production for the German army was made after a study was undertaken, which showed that adopting the Leopard 2 mod would result in a greater combat potential of the German army than producing more Leopard 1A4 tanks or developing an improved version of the Leopard 1A4 with 105/120 mm smoothbore gun, improved armour protection, a new fire control system and a 1,200 horsepower (890 kW) or 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW) engine. Various changes were applied to the Leopard 2 design before the series production started. Engine, transmission and suspension were slightly modified and improved. The ballistic protection of turret and hull was improved and weak spots were eliminated. The turret bustle containing the ready ammunition racks and the hydraulic systems was separated from the crew compartment and fitted with blow-out panels. The development of several new components introduced to the Leopard 2 during the Leopard 2AV development and after the US testing was completed. For the series version the Hughes-designed laser rangefinder made with US Common Modules was chosen over the passive EMES-13 rangefinder. The EMES-13 system was considered to be the superior solution, but the Hughes system was cheaper and fully developed
The Leopard 2 uses spaced multilayer armour throughout the design. The armour consists of a combination of steel plates of different hardness, elastic materials and other non-metallic materials. Steel plates with high hardness and high ductility are used. The armour is a result of extensive research about the formation and penetration mechanism of shaped charge jets. The Leopard 2's armour might be based on the British Burlington armour, which had already been demonstrated to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1970. Later, in the mid-1970s, full details about Burlington were handed over to the West-German government. The frontal arc of the Leopard 2's armour is designed to withstand large caliber kinetic energy penetrators and shaped charge projectiles. During the 1980s, it was estimated that the Leopard 2's front would resist 125 mm APFSDS rounds fired from a distance of 1,500 m.
The Leopard 2A4's armour has a maximum physical thickness of 80 centimetres (31 in) based on unofficial measurements and estimates made by former conscripts and professional soldiers of the German army. On the Leopard 2A5 and subsequent models, the thickness is increased by the wedge-shaped armour module to 150 centimetres (59 in).
The side and the rear of the tank protect against heavy machine guns, medium caliber rounds and older types of tank ammunition. The side of the hull is covered by armour skirts to increase protection against projectiles and RPGs. The frontal third of the hull sides is covered by heavy ballistic skirts, while the rest of the hull sides is covered by steel-reinforced rubber skirts. For increased protection against mines, the sides of the hull floor are sloped by 45° and the floor is reinforced with corrugations.
The primary armament for production versions of the Leopard 2 is the Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun - the same gun currently used on the M1 Abrams - in either the L44 variant (found on all production Leopard 2s until the A5), or the L55 variant (as found on the Leopard 2A6 and subsequent models). Ammunition for the gun comprises 27 rounds stored in a special magazine in the forward section of the hull, to the left of the driver's station, with an additional 15 rounds stored in the left side of the turret bustle, which are separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically operated door. If the ammunition storage area is hit, a blow-off panel in the turret roof would direct an explosion upwards away from the crew compartment. The gun is fully stabilized, and can fire a variety of types of rounds, such as the German DM43 APFSDS-T anti-tank round, which is said to be able to penetrate 560 millimeters (22 in) of steel armour at a range of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd), and the German DM12 multipurpose anti-tank projectile (MPAT). For the L55 gun, a newer APFSDS-T round was introduced to take advantage of the longer barrel, the DM-53, which is said to be able to penetrate 750 mm of RHAe armour at a range of 2,000 meters. The bore evacuator and the gun's thermal sleeve of the A4 and A5, designed to regulate the temperature of the barrel, are fabricated from glass-reinforced plastic. The barrel has a chrome lining to increase barrel life. The main gun is capable of power elevating from +20° to −9°.
Rheinmetall has developed an upgrade for Leopard 2 tanks to give them the ability to fire the Israeli LAHAT anti-tank guided missile through the main gun; the missile can engage targets out to a range of 6,000 metres (20,000 ft).
The Leopard 2 is propelled by the MTU MB 873 Ka-501 engine, which provides 1,500 PS (1,103 kW) at 2,600 rpm and 3,466 lb·ft (4,699 N·m) of torque at 1,600-1,700 rpm. The MTU MB 873 Ka-501 is a four-stroke, 47.7 litre, 90° V-block 12-cylinder, twin-turbocharged and intercooled, liquid-cooled diesel engine (with multi-fuel capability), which has an estimated fuel consumption rate of around 300 litres per 100 km on roads and 500 litres per 100 km across country, and is coupled to the Renk HSWL 354 gear and brake system. The Renk HSWL 354 transmission has four forward and two reverse gears, with a torque converter and is completely automatic, with the driver selecting the range.The Leopard 2 has four fuel tanks, which have a total capacity of approximately 1,160 litres, giving a maximum road range of about 500 km. The propulsion pack is capable of driving the tank to a top road speed of 68 km/h (limited to 50 km/h during peacetime by law), and top reverse is 31 km/h. The power pack can be changed in the field in 35 minutes. The engine and transmission is separated from the crew compartment through a fireproof bulkhead.An enhanced version of the EuroPowerPack, with a 1,650 PS (1,214 kW) MTU MT883 engine has also been trialled by the Leopard 2