NATO Battle tank for the 60s

uk 75

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Sep 27, 2006
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When John and Bobby Kennedy got interested in European defense during the Berlin crisis
Robert McNamara knew it meant trouble. When he had to explain why every NATO major country was building its own battle tank when the Warsaw Pact used basically one (T54) he knew it was going to be a bad month.
Actually it turned out rather well, as German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer agreed. By the Spring of 1963 a trials session had been held at the Grafenwoehr range in West Germany between the M60 (USA), Leopard Standardpanzer (Germany), AMX 30 (France) and the Chieftain (UK). France knew the AMX would lose, but agreed like the Brits to take some of the winners for its forces in Germany provided that NATO (actually the Germans and the US) came up with some money to pay for them. The British who were hard up as always and whose Army was much more worried about its mobile forces outside Europe wangled a similar deal. The contest boiled down to a trial between the M60 and the Leopard.
I won't spoil things by telling you who won! Besides as the Bundeswehr was only replacing its M47s and the US only its 7th Army tank forces, the loser knew that in a few years time a second contest would have to be held to choose a new tank tentatively called MBT 70.
The Brits were a bit miffed at having to give up Chieftain, but the new Government in 1964 turned the whole project over to Israel and Vickers were given lots of nice airmobile armoured vehicles to build. When the Egyptians and Syrians met the Merkava, as the Israelis called their Chieftains, in small numbers in the Six Day War in 1967 another legend was born.
The Rhine Army meanwhile quite liked their M60s/Leopard Standardpanzers. For the first time they had reliable vehicles and decent spares!


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Jan 15, 2022
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ridiculous. chieftain loses to m60. History suggest otherwise