NATO Standard Tank for the 60s and 70s: Which would you choose?

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
4,182
Reaction score
3,439
As we know the Russians managed to standardise their tanks forces in the 60s and 70s on two designs: The T55 and later the T72.
What tank should NATO have chosen if politics had been no object?
 

Volkodav

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Mar 28, 2014
Messages
539
Reaction score
753
Leopard 1 although a Chieftain with a better engine would be good too. My ideal would actually be a Leo for most applications with an MTU engined Chieftain as a replacement for the Conqueror / M-103.
 

Volkodav

I really should change my personal text
Joined
Mar 28, 2014
Messages
539
Reaction score
753
JFC Fuller said:
Basically Chieftain as originally conceived, with a 90 degree RR V8 engine instead of the Leyland L60 that resulted from the NATO multi-fuel policy.

Interesting, I'd like to know more about that engine, I've read a bit on the Chieftain but never come across the RR engine option.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
4,182
Reaction score
3,439
I think I would choose Leopard 1 with the excellent 105mm gun over the Chieftain and the M60, though both have their
good sides.
In some ways Leopard 1 came pretty close to being a NATO standard tanks (Belgium, Italy Netherlands then Denmark and Canada and eventually Greece and Turkey)

By the end of the 1970s it would be a hard choice between Leopard 2 and M1.

Of course for sheer lunacy and cool, MBT 70!
 

sferrin

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
15,411
Reaction score
4,920
uk 75 said:
Of course for sheer lunacy and cool, MBT 70!

One wonders how that would have faired with the KE penetrator becoming the go-to round, given it's short barrel.
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
2,339
Reaction score
937
I too would have to say Leopard 1, on the grounds of its engineering, I dare say its cheaper cost compared to the Chieftain, its excellent MTU diesel engine, its proven ability to be modified and adapted through its life cycle (including 120mm gun), and of course its excellent range of adapted support vehicles - bridge layer, recovery vehicle, engineering vehicles, SPAAG .......
I have to say anything would have been better than the M60, whose design philosophy was all but an outgrowth of the M48.
I also think it's obvious that NATO could have fielded more Leopard 1's for a given cost than other contenders!


Regards
Pioneer
 

sferrin

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
15,411
Reaction score
4,920
How did the M103 compare to the M60? Seems like an oddball but apparently they made a few of them.
 

Abraham Gubler

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
3,534
Reaction score
412
Take the best from each nation: German power pack and running gear, British armour and main gun, American fire control system, French optics, Dutch radios, Italian styling and a Nordic crew. All packaged into a 50 tonne, four man tank. Basically a bigger Leopard 1 with Chieftain style hull and turret castings.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
4,182
Reaction score
3,439
I was going to start a new thread and then found we had been here before, but I thought I would widen the scope to cover the 50s and bring the story up to date.
Two tanks equipped the growing number of NATO formations by the end of the 1950s. The US M47 had become the most important, notably equipping France and Germany as well as Belgium and Italy. The UK had Centurion which Denmark and the Netherlands used as well.
In the 1960s the major nations all went their own way. The US had M48 and its modernised M60 variant. West Germany introduced M48 and then Leopard 1. France rejected Leopard in favour of AMX30 with its different French designed gun. Ironically the UK moved to 120mm with Chieftain while most NATO nations were using the British 105mm.
The failure of the US and West Germany to field a joint tank (MBT70 and later the Leopard 2) was partially mitigated by joint use of a new German 120mm gun.
Significantly neither M1 Abrams nor Challenger were adopted by other NATO nations. By the end of the Cold War Leopard 2 was the most successful in being used by other NATO nations.
Thirty years later this remains pretty much the same. France and UK have stuck with their own tanks-Leclerc and Challenger. Leopard II equips most European armies. The US M1 has found a new customer in Poland.
It is tempting to suggest that Leopard 1 and 2 might have been better buys for France, UK and US. However, NATO benefited from the different capabilities these tanks brought.
As ever Italy chose its own way. After using M47, M60 and Leopard 1 it does not use Leopard II but its own Ariete design which looks a bit more like Challenger.
 

Michel Van

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
5,874
Reaction score
3,499

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
4,182
Reaction score
3,439
As the Turks have discovered Leopard 2 does not have the armour protection levels of the M1 Abrams or Challenger. This reflects the more mobile fighting techniques of the West Germans.
I am not sure that this fundamental emphasis could have been changed by better communications.
Stranger is that France which did have a similar approach to Germany could not get a joint tank designed. AMX30 and Leclerc are very Leopardlike.
 

Elan Vital

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
50
Reaction score
54
As the Turks have discovered Leopard 2 does not have the armour protection levels of the M1 Abrams or Challenger. This reflects the more mobile fighting techniques of the West Germans.
I am not sure that this fundamental emphasis could have been changed by better communications.
Stranger is that France which did have a similar approach to Germany could not get a joint tank designed. AMX30 and Leclerc are very Leopardlike.
Did they ever outright say the bolded part? Taking Leopard 2 losses =/= Leopard 2 being less protected than something else.
 

uk 75

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
Messages
4,182
Reaction score
3,439
As the Turks have discovered Leopard 2 does not have the armour protection levels of the M1 Abrams or Challenger. This reflects the more mobile fighting techniques of the West Germans.
I am not sure that this fundamental emphasis could have been changed by better communications.
Stranger is that France which did have a similar approach to Germany could not get a joint tank designed. AMX30 and Leclerc are very Leopardlike.
Did they ever outright say the bolded part? Taking Leopard 2 losses =/= Leopard 2 being less protected than something else.
oops no they did not..But Leopard II is cited in various places online as not having the same high level of protection.
 

GK Dundas

ACCESS: Restricted
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
37
Reaction score
56
As the Turks have discovered Leopard 2 does not have the armour protection levels of the M1 Abrams or Challenger. This reflects the more mobile fighting techniques of the West Germans.
I am not sure that this fundamental emphasis could have been changed by better communications.
Stranger is that France which did have a similar approach to Germany could not get a joint tank designed. AMX30 and Leclerc are very Leopardlike.
Did they ever outright say the bolded part? Taking Leopard 2 losses =/= Leopard 2 being less protected than something else.
oops no they did not..But Leopard II is cited in various places online as not having the same high level of protection.
Quite frankly,and judging by open source materials. Mostly video and pictorial. I'm going to hazard a guess and say what killed most them was lousy handling by their owners.
Bad tactics and either insufficient or no infantry screens.
See the Yom Kippur war of 73' And of course the current Russo- Ukrainian unpleasantness.
 
Last edited:
Top