M46 Patton

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M46 Patton
Marines-tank-Korea-19530705.JPEG
An American M46 Patton tank of the United States Marine Corps, during the Korean War.
TypeMedium tank[1]
Place of origin United States of America
Service history
In service1950s
WarsKorean War
Production history
ManufacturerDetroit Arsenal Tank Plant
Number built800 + 360 M46A1
VariantsM46A1
Specifications
Weight48.5 tons (44 metric tons)
Length27.82 ft (8.48 m)
Width11.52 ft (3.51 m)
Height10.43 ft (3.18 m)
Crew5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, assistant driver)

Armor102 mm/4 inches maximum
Main
armament
90 mm gun M3A1
70 rounds
Secondary
armament
.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun
2x .30 cal (7.62 mm) M1919A4 machine guns
EngineContinental AV-1790-5A V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo gasoline engine
810 hp (604 kW)
Power/weight18.4 hp/t
TransmissionGeneral Motors CD-850-3 or -4, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
SuspensionTorsion bar suspension
Ground clearance18.82 in (478 mm)
Fuel capacity878 liters 232 U.S. gallons
Operational
range
80 miles (130 km)
Speed30 mph (48 km/h)
 
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M46 Patton
Marines-tank-Korea-19530705.JPEG
An American M46 Patton tank of the United States Marine Corps, during the Korean War.
TypeMedium tank[1]
Place of origin United States of America
Service history
In service1950s
WarsKorean War
Production history
ManufacturerDetroit Arsenal Tank Plant
Number built800 + 360 M46A1
VariantsM46A1
Specifications
Weight48.5 tons (44 metric tons)
Length27.82 ft (8.48 m)
Width11.52 ft (3.51 m)
Height10.43 ft (3.18 m)
Crew5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, assistant driver)

Armor102 mm/4 inches maximum
Main
armament
90 mm gun M3A1
70 rounds
Secondary
armament
.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun
2x .30 cal (7.62 mm) M1919A4 machine guns
EngineContinental AV-1790-5A V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo gasoline engine
810 hp (604 kW)
Power/weight18.4 hp/t
TransmissionGeneral Motors CD-850-3 or -4, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
SuspensionTorsion bar suspension
Ground clearance18.82 in (478 mm)
Fuel capacity878 liters 232 U.S. gallons
Operational
range
80 miles (130 km)
Speed30 mph (48 km/h)

The M46 was an American tank designed to replace the M26 Pershing and M4 Sherman. It was one of the U.S Army's principal medium tanks of the early Cold War, with models in service from 1949 to the mid-1950s. It was not widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, being exported only to Belgium, and only in small numbers to train crews on the upcoming M47.

The M46 was the first tank to be named after General George S. Patton Jr., commander of the U.S. Third Army[2] during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates for the use of tanks in battle.[3][4]

History[edit]

An American M46 Patton tank of the United States Marine Corps, in July 1952, during the Korean War. Note the different rear plate and twin fender-mounted exhausts.

After World War II, most U.S. Army armored units were equipped with a mix of M4 Sherman and M26 Pershing tanks. Designed initially as a heavy tank, the M26 Pershing tank was reclassified as a medium tank postwar. The M26 was a significant improvement over the M4 Sherman in firepower and protection. Its mobility, however, was deemed unsatisfactory for a medium tank, as it used the same engine as the much lighter M4A3 and was plagued with an unreliable transmission.

Work began in January 1948 on replacing the original power plant with the Continental AV1790-3 engine and Allison CD-850-1 cross-drive transmission. This design was initially called M26E2, but modifications continued to accumulate; eventually the Bureau of Ordnance decided that the tank needed its own unique designation. When the rebuild began in November, 1949, the upgraded M26 received not only a new power plant and a main gun with bore evacuator, but a new designation M46. In total, 1,160 M26s were rebuilt: 800 to the M46 standard, 360 to the M46A1.

A Belgian M46A1 Patton tank; one out of eight vehicles leased to Belgium in 1952, this particular tank was donated by the United States to the Royal Army Museum of Brussels in 1984.

Combat service[edit]

The only American combat use of the M46 Patton was during the Korean War. On 8 August 1950 the first M46 Patton tanks belonging to the 6th Tank Battalion landed in South Korea. The tank proved superior to the much lighter North Korean T-34-85, which were encountered in relatively small numbers. By the end of 1950, 200 M46 Pattons had been fielded, forming about 15% of US tank strength in Korea; the balance of 1,326 tanks shipped to Korea during 1950 were 679 M4A3 Shermans (including the M4A3E8 variant), 309 M26 Pershings, and 138 M24 Chaffee light tanks.[5] Subsequent shipments of M46 and M46A1 Pattons allowed all remaining M26 Pershings to be withdrawn during 1951, and most Sherman equipped units were also reequipped.[6]

Known M46 series operators include: 1st Marine Tank Battalion and regimental Antitank Platoons of the 1st Marine Division by 1952, 72nd Tank Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division by January 1952, 64th Tank Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division, 73rd Tank Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division by January 1951, 6th Tank Battalion of the 24th Infantry Division, 140th Tank Battalion (took over the tanks of the 6th Tank Battalion) and regimental tank companies of the 40th Infantry Division (CA ARNG) by October 1951,[7] and the 245th Tank Battalion of the 45th Infantry Division (OK ARNG) by 1952.[8] Several other regimental tank companies gained M46/M46A1s by the end of the war, including the 7th and 65th Infantry Regiments of the 3rd Infantry Division.[9] A surviving example of the M46 Patton tank can be seen on display at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul, South Korea.

In the 1950s, small numbers of M46s were leased for training purposes at no cost to some European countries, including Belgium, France and Italy, in preparation for the introduction of the M47. American instruction teams used the vehicles to train European tank crews and maintenance personnel.

Variants[edit]

Operators[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hunnicutt, p. 35
  2. ^ Hunnicutt
  3. ^ although the Ordnance Committee Minutes/OCM #33476 ceased utilizing the heavy, medium, and light tank designations on 7 November 1950; going to the "...Gun Tank designation")
  4. ^ Hunnicutt, p. 14
  5. ^ Steven J. Zaloga "M26/M46 Pershing Tank 1943-1953" ISBN 1-84176-202-4 pp.39-40
  6. ^ Donald W Boose Jr."US Army Forces in the Korean War 1950-53" ISBN 1-84176-621-6 pp.52,75-86
  7. ^ all Donald W Boose Jr. ibid
  8. ^ Simon Dunstan "Armour of the Korean War 1950-53" ISBN 0-85045-428-X pp.29-32
  9. ^ Troy D. Thiel "The M26 Pershing and Variants" ISBN 0-7643-1544-7 pp.64-84
  10. ^ "JED The Military Equipment Directory"

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]