The US M103 Heavy Tank

The US M103 Heavy Tank

Despite its reclassification as a medium tank in the post war years, the M26 Pershing was classed as a heavy during the war. It’s hull was extended as a test bed for the T29 heavy tank program that kicked in 1944/45. A new turret was developed for the program with a 120mm main gun and the final vehicle that resulted from the program was the T34.

It never entered service and remained at the prototype stage, however the turret was mounted in later years, on an extended M48 Patton tank hull to form the M103 Heavy Tank.

The US M103 Heavy Tank entered service in the US Army in 1957. 300 were built and as the M60 series entered service with the Army in the 1960’s, the USMC became the principal operator. It was completely withdrawn from service in 1974.

The US M103 Heavy Tank Variants

M103 (1957) – 300 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 tank, increasing the road range to 480 km at the expense of a lower maximum speed of 37 km/h. New sight coincidence XM2A.

The US M103 Heavy Tank Specifications

Weight 65 short tons (58 metric tons)
Length 22.7 ft (6.99 m)
Width 12.22 ft (3.76 m)
Height 10.49 ft (3.23 m)
Crew 5 (commander, gunner, driver, 2 loaders)
Primary armament 120 mm gun M58, 34 rounds (rifled)
Secondary armament 2×.30-cal (7.62 mm) M1919A4E1 machine gun(co-axial)
1×.50-cal (12.7 mm) M2 AA machine gun
Engine (M103A1) Continental AV1790 12-cylinder air-cooled gasoline
(M103A2) Continental AVDS-1790-2, V12, air cooled, twin turbocharged diesel
810 hp (604 kW)
Power/weight M103: 12.4 hp/short ton M103A2: 11.5 hp/ton
Transmission General Motors CD-850-4A or -4B, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
Suspension torsion bar
Fuel capacity 280 US gallons (710 liters)
Operational range M103: 80 mi (130 km) M103A2: 295 mi (480 km)
Speed M103: 25 mph (40 km/h) M103A2: 23 mph (37 km/h)

All welded steel armour

Hull front 100 mm to 130 mm (4 in to 5.3 in)
Hull side 76 mm (3.1 inch)
Hull top 25 mm(1 in)
Turret mantlet 250 mm (10.2 in)
Turret front 180 mm (7.34 in)
Turret side 76 mm (3.1 in)
Turret top 38 mm (1.55 in)