Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jedi Tanker

It is my educated opinion that the M60A3 tank was the most fun tank that I ever crewed.  Over my career I crewed the M60A1, the M551 Sheridan (which isn't a tank, but a cav recon vehicle), the M60A3, and the M1 Abrams.

A post over on the Book of Face got me to reminiscing about shooting, and I started thinking about my time on the A3 tank.  It was a tremendous upgrade from the A1 tank.  It had better suspension, better turret electronics, better radios, and better automotive pack.  The M80A3 was the ne plus ultra of the old tanks, and it was a joy to operate.

The M60A3 was the very first fully night-capable tank in the inventory, with a great thermal imaging system, and a laser rangefinder.  It often out-shot the M1 Abrams on night tables because the A3 had better thermals, and was capable of degraded gunnery.  If the M1 glitched out, it couldn't be fired, but if the A3 had a problem, a knowledgable gunner could work around the problem, with three different sighing systems. (Main sight, thermals, and telescope) and could operate when one system was down.

The guys in the M1 called themselves Star Wars tankers.  We in the older M60A3 were Jedi tankers.  The force was strong with us.  I finally cross-trained into the M1, but the old M60A3 was my love.

M60A3 firing night tables
It was a great tank.  But, when the M1 series came along, it was relegated to the scrap bin.  I'm sure that some of them are still serving, somewhere.  It was too good of a tank to put completely out to pasture.  The only ones I see these days are statues in front of  National Guard camps and VFW posts.

But, it was a great tank, and I'm glad I got to command one.

UPDATE** Commenter John links to an article that says Raytheon is befinning a service life improvement program for the old warhorse.  Interesting video, with some notable upgrades.  Most noticeable from a profile perspective is the stand-off protection designed to defeat shaped charges.

Very cool.


John in Philly said...

My wife and I were watching a parade some years ago in Philly and an M60 cruised by, (don't know which mod) and the tank stopped, pointed the gun at a small child and then did a 360 degree turn. Way cool!

I remembered reading this last year. An upgrade program for M60 tanks.

Old NFO said...

Huh, didn't know they SLEPed tanks too!

Dave said...

The Turks still use them. The Israelis did for a long time, but I think they've turned the M60 chassis into other things (APCs, engineer vehicles, etc) and gone to an all-Merkava tank fleet.

Dave said...

And Old NFO, the Army has been SLEPing M1s, M2/M3s, and M109s for many years.

Timmeehh said...

Still used all over the world.