The M48 Patton is a medium tank that was designed in the United States. It was the third and final tank to be officially named after General George S. Patton
About this creation
The M48 was a further development of the M47 Patton tank. The M48 Patton served as an interim tank in U.S. service until replaced by the U.S. Army's first main battle tank (MBT), the M60. The M48 served as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps's primary battle tank during the Vietnam War. It was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, especially other NATO countries.
Chassis based off of L4L's M60 chassis. Turret as well, but extensively modified to more accurately represent the M48's actual dimensions.
The M48 Patton tank was designed to replace the previous M47 Pattons and M4 Shermans. Although largely resembling the M47, the M48 Patton was a completely new tank design. Some M48A5 models served well into the 1980s. Many various M48 Patton models remain in service internationally. The M48 was the last U.S. tank to mount the 90 mm tank gun, with the last model, the M48A5, being upgraded to carry the new standard weapon of the M60, the 105mm gun.
Nearly 12,000 M48s were built from 1952 to 1959. The early designs, up to the M48A2C's, were powered by a gasoline 12-cylinder engine which was coupled with an auxiliary 8-cylinder engine. The gas engine gave the tank a short operating range and was prone to catching fire when hit. This version was considered unreliable but numerous examples saw combat use in various Arab-Israeli conflicts
They also were prone to fire when the turret was penetrated and the hydraulic lines ruptured spewing "cherry juice" (the nickname for the red colored hydraulic fluid) at high pressure into the crew compartment resulting in a fireball. The flashpoint was too low, less than 300 F, causing many burns and deaths to crew members. Beginning in 1959, most American M48s were upgraded to the M48A3 model which featured a diesel power plant. M48s with gas engines, however, were still in use in the US Army through 1968
In February 1963, the US Army accepted its first of 600 M48 Patton tanks that had been converted to M48A3's, and by 1964, the US Marine Corps had received 419 Patton tanks. These Pattons were to be deployed to battle in Vietnam. Because all M48A3 tanks were conversions from earlier models, many characteristics varied among individual examples of this type.
In the mid-1970s, the M48A5 upgrade was developed to allow the vehicle to carry the heavier 105 mm gun. This was designed to bring the M48s up to speed with the M60 tanks then in regular use and to simplify ammunition logistics. Most of the M48s were placed into service with reserve units by this time.
By the mid-1990s, the M48s were phased out of U.S. service. Many foreign countries, however, continued to use the M48 models.
The M48s saw extensive action during the Vietnam War, over 600 Pattons would be deployed with US Forces during the war. The initial M48s landed with the US Marine 1st and 3rd Tank Battalions in 1965;the Marine 5th Tank Battalion would later become a reinforcement unit. Remaining Pattons deployed to South Vietnam were in three U.S. Army battalions, the 1-77th Armor near the DMZ, the 1-69th Armor in the Central Highlands, and the 2-34th Armor near the Mekong Delta.
The M48s performed admirably in Vietnam in the infantry-support role. However, there were few actual tank versus tank battles. South Vietnamese M-48s and M-41s fought in the so-called Ho Chi Minh Offensive in 1975. In several incidents, the South Vietnamese Army successfully defeated NVA T-34 and T-55 tanks and even slowed the North's offensive. However since the United States Congress passed bans on the transfer of fuel and ammunition to South Vietnam, the American-made tanks were soon out of ammunition and fuel and were abandoned to the North Vietnamese Army in 1975 which put them in predictably short service of the Vietnamese People's Army after the war ended in May 1975.
Below are two of the many M48's at the museum where I work.