US M103 Heavy Tank

sferrin

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Was suppose to be a counter to the Russian JS III heavy tank. It weighed in at 65 tons with a 120mm gun. Although it did make it into service in small numbers it was a rarity.
 

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Skybolt

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A frontal view and a profile.
It was used both by the Army and the Marines. The two version differed because the Army's one had a gasoline engine :eek: while the Marines adapted the M60A1 diesel engine. Stated service in 1955, was retired circa 1966. Last Army tanks were converted to diesel.
 

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glmm

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Skybolt said:
A frontal view and a profile.
It was used both by the Army and the Marines. The two version differed because the Army's one had a gasoline engine :eek: while the Marines adapted the M60A1 diesel engine. Stated service in 1955, was retired circa 1966. Last Army tanks were converted to diesel.

Well, not exactly:

The orginal M103 had a petrol engine, as was the standard case for all the US 1950s era combat vehicles (for the sake of logistics, all the US Army vehicles had to be fed with gasoline)

The M103 was indeed designed to cope with the Soviet "heavy" tanks, the JS III being the best known example at the time. The British Conqueror was designed with the same aims and used the same gun, while the French AMX-50 prototype got a 120mm gun firing the US ammo.

The M103 was heavy and cumbersome, built in small numbers and not exactly a very successful vehicle. The Marines got a few of them and found ample space for improvements, creating a diesel powered A2 variant using the M60 powertrain. The Army saw the advantages and got some from the USMC, although the last one was retired in 1966. The M103A2 soldiered with the USMC till 1972 when the M60A1 replaced it.
 

Pioneer

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Just my opinion - I think the Soviet JS III heavy tank had it over the M103 in ballistic shape, weight (ans I would guess in cross country mobility!!) and lower silhouette!
And probably more important the JS-III was built in greater numbers!

A little off topic -but........
Many allied soldiers have wrote about the dreaded German Tiger tank in combat
But I would be interested to know what the German infantryman (or tank crews) thought about the 'JS' series in combat?

Just my observation

Regards
Pioneer
 

Speedy

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Hi
Pioneer said:
Just my opinion - I think the Soviet JS III heavy tank had it over the M103 in ballistic shape, weight (ans I would guess in cross country mobility!!) and lower silhouette!

Yes; but, on the other hand, the Western 120 mm tanks were better armed, with high velocity guns (1067 m/s for AP-T, 1143 m/s for HEAT-T) and modern ammunition. Equipped with optical rangefinders and ballistic calculators, they could hit the target from a very long distance. IS-3 had a D-25 gun with simple optical sight. This gun shoot the classic APHE rounds with muzzle velocity 780 m/s.
 

Artie Bob

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I was in the USN on an LSD 1960-1962. Some of the USMC units we operated with were equipped with the M-103. As a landing party platoon leader we encountered some M-103s head on in manuevers on Vieques. Perhaps not so effective in tank vs tank, but really impressive for an infantry style unit when one comes over the crest of a hill heading in your direction.

Best regards,

Artie Bob
 

Rickshaw

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Pioneer said:
Just my opinion - I think the Soviet JS III heavy tank had it over the M103 in ballistic shape, weight (ans I would guess in cross country mobility!!) and lower silhouette!
And probably more important the JS-III was built in greater numbers!

Well, the JS-III was actually mechanically unreliable and that was why it was never issued in very large numbers and why the fUSSR and the Warsaw Pact and other client states were supplied with the JS-II in far greater numbers. While the fUSSR tried to correct the problems of the JS-III and produced the JS-IIIM it was never very popular and was quickly passed onto category 2 and 3 units until most JS-IIIs of all marks were either passed onto the Middle-Eastern Arab states or used as stationary pillboxes in the Far East.

Personally, I'd trade one unreliable tank for 10 reliable ones of lesser quality any day. As the German Tiger showed, there was little value in having a super-uber tank which usually breaks down or gets bogged (more Tiger Is and IIs were lost to mechanical breakdown and getting bogged than enemy action).
 

Colonial-Marine

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I've had the good luck to talk to a few guys who operated the M103. They were actually pretty confident about it when it came to comparisons with Russian heavy tanks (IS-3 and T-10). Mainly due to their optics and the fact that they would be fighting on the defensive. A moving Russian IS-3 or T-10 would have a damn hard time spotting a hull down and possibly camoflauged M103. Plus the M103 carried significantly more ammo.
 

Chunks

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ysi_maniac said:
Was this tank dubbed 'Kennedy'?

I think this name is a marketing artifact for a Japanese made model from the '60's. Could easily be wrong tho.
 

Rickshaw

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Just call me Ray said:
M-103 never had a designation beyond "M-103"

Weren't the upgraded diesel engined ones designated M-103a1?
 

jstar

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See 'Firepower: A History of the American Heavy Tank" by R. P. Hunnicutt for the complete story of the M-103.

joe
 

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