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The M60 Patton, officially the 105 mm Gun Full Tracked Combat Tank, M60, is a first-generation main battle tank (MBT) introduced in December 1960. It was widely used by the U.S. and its Cold War allies, especially those in NATO, and remains in service throughout the world today despite having been superseded by the M1 Abrams in the U.S. military. Egypt is currently the largest operator with 1,716 upgraded M60A3s, Turkey is second with 866 upgraded units in service, and Israel is third with over 700 units of Israeli variants.
Although developed from the M48 Patton, another interim until replaced by the M60, the M60 series was never officially classified as a Patton tank, but as a "product improved descendant" of the Patton series of tanks. On 16 March 1959, the OTCM (Ordnance Technical Committee Minutes) #37002 standardized the vehicle as the 105 mm Gun Full Tracked Combat Tank M60. With the US Army's deactivation of their last (M103) heavy tank battalion, the M60 became the Army's first main battle tank during the Cold War.
Initial versions 
The M60 traces its roots to the late World War II-era M26 Pershing heavy tank from which the M48 was developed. In 1957, plans were laid in the US for a tank with a 105 mm (4.1 in) main gun and a redesigned hull offering better armor protection.
The resulting M60 series largely resembles the M48 it was based on, but has significant differences. The M60 mounted a bore evacuated 105 mm main gun, compared with the M48's 90 mm (3.5 in), had a hull with a straight front slope whereas the M48's hull was rounded, had three support rollers per side to the M48's five, and had road wheels constructed from aluminum rather than steel, although the M48 wheels were often used as spare parts.
The improved design incorporated a Continental V-12 750 hp (560 kW) air-cooled, twin-turbocharged diesel engine, extending operational range to over 300 miles (480 km) while reducing both refueling and servicing. Power was transmitted to a final drive through a cross drive transmission, a combined transmission, differential, steering, and braking unit.
The hull of the M60 was a single piece steel casting divided into three compartments, with the driver in front, fighting compartment in the middle and engine at the rear. The driver looked through three M27 day periscopes, one of which could be replaced by an infrared night vision periscope. Initially, the M60 had essentially the same clamshell turret shape as the M48, but this was subsequently replaced with a distinctive "needlenose" design that minimized frontal cross-section to enemy fire and optimized the layout of the combat compartment.
The M60 was the last U.S. main battle tank to utilize homogeneous steel armor for protection. It was also the last to feature an escape hatch under the hull. (The escape hatch was provided for the driver, whose top-side hatch could easily be blocked by the main gun. Access between the driver's compartment and the turret fighting compartment was also restricted, requiring that the turret be traversed to the rear.)
Originally designated the M68, the new vehicle was put into production in 1959, reclassified as the M60, and entered service in 1960. Over 15,000 M60s (all variants) were constructed.
In 1963, the M60 was upgraded to the M60A1. This new variant, which stayed in production until 1980, featured a larger, better-shaped turret and improvements to the armor protection and shock absorbers. The M60A1 was also equipped with a stabilization system for the main gun. However, the M60A1 was still not able to accurately fire on the move, as the system only kept the gun pointed in the same general direction while the tank was traveling cross country. It did however enable the coaxial machine gun to be brought to bear while moving.
M60A2 "Starship" 
The M60A2 was intended as a stop-gap solution until the projected replacement by the MBT-70. The M60A2, nicknamed the "Starship" due to its Space Age technology, featured an entirely new low-profile turret with a commander's machine-gun cupola on top, giving the commander a good view and field of fire while under armor but spoiling the low profile. It featured a 152 mm (6.0 in) main gun similar to that of the M551 Sheridan light tank, which fired conventional rounds as well as the MGM-51 Shillelagh anti-tank missile system. The fitting of a CBSS (closed breech scavenger system), which used pressurized air to clear the breech after each shot, solved the problem of unburnt propellant from the main gun rounds fouling the barrel and pre-detonating subsequent rounds. The M60A2 proved a disappointment, though technical advancements would pave the way for future tanks; the MBT-70, which relied on much of this technology as it was used in the M60A2, never advanced beyond prototype stage though. The Shillelagh/M60A2 system was phased out from active units by 1981, and the turrets scrapped. Most of the M60A2 tanks were rebuilt as M60A3, or the hulls converted to armored vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) vehicles.
M60A3 series 
In 1978, work began on the M60A3 variant. It featured a number of technological enhancements, including smoke dischargers, a new flash-lamp pumped ruby-laser based rangefinder (AN/VVG-2) that could be used by both commander and gunner, and an M21 ballistic computer, and a turret stabilization system.
Late production M60A3s omitted the commander's cupola (Israeli Defence Force armor doctrine required tank commanders to fight commander-exposed, and it was discovered that non-penetrating hits upon the vehicle could dislodge the cupola from its mount while the commander was in it). The remote-controlled M85 machinegun was relatively ineffective in the anti-aircraft role for which it was designed compared to a conventional pintle mount. Removing the cupola lowered the vehicle's relatively high silhouette. The cupola's hatch also opened toward the rear of the vehicle and was dangerous to close if under small-arms fire owing to an open-locking mechanism that required the user to apply leverage to unlock it prior to closing.
The M60A3 was phased out of US service in 1997, but it has remained a front-line MBT into the 21st century for a number of other countries.
While overall a considerably less effective tank than the M1 Abrams, the M60A3 did have some limited advantages over some M1 models:
- The M60A3 TTS had a somewhat better thermal imaging system than that of the M1 up into the 21st century, when many M1s had newer 2nd generation systems installed. It was, however, considerably noisier, emitting a loud clicking sound audible several meters outside the vehicle.
- The M60A3 had an exterior phone for infantry to talk directly to the crew inside. This feature was also installed on some USMC M1A1s in Iraq and is now being incorporated into all active Abrams.
- The diesel had lower performance, but also had lower cost, maintenance and better fuel efficiency.
- The exhaust temperature of an M1's turbine is very high, which makes it dangerous for infantry to take cover behind it. This is not the case with the diesel engine on an M60A3.
- The escape hatch located under the hull of the M60A3 is not present in the M1 Abrams (due to the Abrams having lower clearance between the ground and the bottom of the hull), making it more difficult for the crew to bail out of a battle-damaged Abrams or evacuate casualties than from an M60A3.
- The M60 series' L68A1 105 mm main gun fires a much wider variety of ammunition than the currently used 120 mm smoothbore on the M1 series, including a dedicated HE (High Explosive) round, and a white phosphorus smoke round, among others.
- The M60 series includes instrumentation enabling indirect fire as ad-hoc artillery if needed.
An M60A3 TTS was involved in a civilian police chase in 1995, when one was stolen by Shawn Nelson from a California Army National Guard armory and taken on a rampage through San Diego, California. Nelson was killed by police when he refused to surrender after the tank became stuck on concrete freeway dividers. News footage of this incident has been shown numerous times on various television programs.
Service history 
Vietnam War 
The M60-based M60 AVLB (Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge) and the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle were the only variants of the M60 deployed to South Vietnam. The AVLB, commonly referred to as the "Bridge tank", was mounted on an M60 tank hull, and the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle was an M60 tank mounting a short-tubed 165 mm (6.5 in) main gun that fired a shaped charge.
M60s and M60A1s saw action with Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War in both the Sinai and the Golan Heights. The United States sent additional M60s to Israel just before and during hostilities. Following the war, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) received many more M48s, M60s and M60A1s from the U.S. Israel further upgraded their inventory of M60s prior to their use in the invasion of Lebanon in the 1982 Lebanon War. The Israeli modifications included new tracks and explosive reactive armor (ERA). This variant was known as the Magach. Further work in Israel has been done on the upgraded Magach models, adding new armor, new fire control system, a thermal sleeve and smoke dischargers. The latest versions, the Magach 7 (with variants A through C), are still in use with some IDF units.
The M60A1 RISE Passive of the U.S. Marines saw action during Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Gulf War, opposing Iraqi armor which included the T-54, T-55, T-62, Type 69, and T-72. The M60A1s were fitted with add-on explosive reactive armor (ERA) packages and supported the drive into Kuwait City where they were involved in a two day tank battle at the Kuwait airport with only one vehicle damaged beyond repair and no crew casualties. They saw service with the United States Marine Corps and the Saudi Arabian Army.
Other users 
As of 2005, M60 variants were in service with Bahrain, Bosnia, Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Thailand, Taiwan, Iran, and some other nations to varying degrees. Royal Thai Army M60A3s were engaged in combat to recapture Border Post 9631 from Myanmar Army forces in 2001, and reportedly exchanged fire with Type 69 tanks.
The US continues to have significant stockpiles of M60s waiting to be scrapped, sold-off, converted, or used as targets in weapons testing. Some vehicles that use the chassis are still in use, however. Most of the M60s still used are much upgraded models. Pattons formed the basis for many 'new' tank designs, some using the chassis but with all-new turrets others using various upgrade packages. Jordan for example, is modifying two battalions of M60A3 with the IFCS system.
Greece has offered to donate 13 M60A3 tanks to Afghanistan in 2007.
Combat performance 
Overall, the M60A1/A3s performed well against opposing tanks such as T-55s, T-62s, T-72s and Type 69s in various conflicts including the Yom Kippur war, Lebanon and the battle for the Kuwait airport. The Marine Corps M60A1s had ERA that helped to protect them, and the Iraqi tank crews were not well trained and were using older T-55s and T-62s.
During the Yom Kippur War, the M60 tank proved effective versus T-54/55 and T-62 tanks. However, many Israeli M60s were destroyed by Egyptian troops armed with AT-3 Sagger anti-tank missiles. Most of these casualties were in the first few days following the Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal. Once the Egyptian armor left the cover of the anti-air umbrella, it sustained heavy losses to the Israeli Air Force, before it was defeated by dug-in Israeli tanks in defensive positions on 14 October. In the 1982 Lebanon War, Israeli M60A1s saw success against Syrian T-55, T-62 and even the new T-72, which the Soviets designed to defeat the M60. On 10 June 1982 Israeli tanks south of Beirut encountered 400 Syrian tanks and by the end of the two-day battle the Syrian tank force was defeated. Israeli M60A1s destroyed many Syrian T-72s during the battle.
In Israeli service, the type is highly regarded and has been updated through the years, having earned praise for its firepower and maneuverability.
Late in the M60's U.S. Army service a number of prototype upgrades were evaluated. These were passed over in favor of simply producing more M1 Abrams. Due to the end of the Cold War, surplus US Army M1s were absorbed into the remaining USMC units, allowing the Marine Corps to become an all M1 tank force at reduced cost. Except for a small number in active service, most M60s were placed in reserve, with a few being sold to US allies.
The M60A3 participated in close air support trials with the F-16 in the 1980s. M60A1s are still used by the USAF for testing of ground radar equipment on new aircraft and for ground force adversarial work at Red Flag at Nellis AFB Nevada.
During Operation Desert Storm in 1991 at least one US Air Force unit was equipped with M60s. The 401st TFW (P), deployed to Doha, Qatar had two M60s for use by explosives ordnance disposal personnel. It was planned that using the MBTs would allow the EOD crews to remove unexploded ordnance from tarmac runway and taxiway surfaces with increased safety.
- XM60/M60: Bearing a strong familial resemblance to the M48, the M60 has a wedge shaped hull, three return rollers, and aluminum road wheels, features not found on previous M48s. Featured a turret with 105 mm M68 gun. Some early production units for this and for A1 version, did not have the commander's cupola.
- M60A1: First variant to feature the distinctive "needle-nose" long nosed turret, along with better armor protection and improved hydraulics.
- M60A1 AOS: Add-On Stabilization, introduced in 1972 for the M68 gun.
- M60A1 RISE: Reliability Improvements for Selected Equipment, featured improvements of almost all the basic systems including an upgraded engine design that allowed easier access to components to allow removing the engine pack in less time and a new track type, T142, that helped reduce wear and improve track life.
- M60A1 RISE Passive: RISE, but with a smaller infra-red/white light capable search-light and passive night vision equipment. USMC M60A1 RISE Passives were outfitted with explosive reactive armor (ERA) in the late 1980s.
- M60A1E1: Developmental test vehicles fitted with the 152 mm M162 gun-missile launchers.
- M60A1E2/M60A2: Turret design finalized, giving the distinctive "starship" look. A variant was tested with a remote controlled 20 mm cannon as well.
- M60A1E3: prototype, M60A1E2 fitted with 105 mm gun.
- M60A1E4: Experimental type with remote control weapons.
- M60A3: M60A1 fitted with a laser rangefinder, M21 solid state ballistic computer, and a crosswind sensor. Late production units omitted the commander's cupola.
- M60A3 TTS: Tank Thermal Sight; M60A3s fitted with the AN/VSG-2 thermal sight.
- M60 Super/AX: Uparmored versions with minor improvements. Main version also featured no optical rangefinder.
- M60-2000/120S: M60/Abrams hybrid vehicle developed by General Dynamics Land Division. Not adopted by the United States military.
- M60AVLB: baseline M60-based chassis armoured vehicle-launched bridge with 60-foot (18 m) scissors bridge.
- M60A1: Upgraded version of the M60 AVLB based on the M60A1.
- M60 AVLM: Armored Vehicle Launched MICLIC (Mine-Clearing Line Charge), modified AVLB with up to 2 MICLIC on M60 chassis.
- M60 Panther: M60 modified into a remotely controlled mine clearing tank.
- M728 CEV: baseline M60-based Combat Engineer Vehicle fitted with a folding A-frame crane and winch attached to the front of the turret, and an M135 165mm demolition gun. Commonly fitted with the D7 bulldozer blade, or a mine-plow for the clearing of land mines.
- M728A1: Upgraded version of the M728 CEV based on the M60A1.
- M9: Bulldozer and earthmoving equipment for the M60.
- M60T or Sabra: highly upgraded version of the M60A1 which is designed for the MBT modernization program of the Turkish Army. It features a new 120 mm smoothbore gun, electric stabilization system, new fire control system, and new armor package. M60T is also known as Sabra Mk.III.
- E-60: basically unmodified main production M60
- E-60A: basically unmodified M60A1
- E-60A Dozer: version with M9 bulldozer kit installed
- E-60B: basically unmodified M60A3
- M60VLPD 26/70E: Spanish Army bridgelayer based on the M60 with "Leguan bridge system". 12 converted from M60A1.
- M60CZ-10/25E Alacran: Spanish Army combat engineer variant. 38 converted from M60A1.
- Israeli variants: Many of the Israeli M60s have been upgraded with additional reactive or passive armor, drastically improving their armor protection. These up-armored versions are called Magach 6 / Magach 7.
- M60 Phoenix: Jordanian upgrade, being carried out by the King Abdullah II Design And Development Bureau. Upgrade includes shoot-on-move capabilities, increased firepower (with a RUAG 120 mm smoothbore gun) and armor protection scheme upgrade.
- Samsam (Sword): Iranian upgraded version of M60A1 tank, fitted with reactive armor (presumably Kontakt-5), EFCS-3 Fire Control system, Laser warning system and IR jammers.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: 85 M60A3 40 Delivered in 2012 for exercise and main mission tasks.
- Bahrain: 180 M60A3
- Brazil: 91 M60A3 TTS
- Egypt: 1016 M60A3/700 M60A1 total:1716
- Greece: 357 M60A1 RISE Passive and 312 M60A3 TTS were received in the early 1990s, being withdrawn, only 88 remain in service as of 2012
- Iran: 150 M60A1
- Israel: 711 Magach 6 Archuv and Magach 6 Archuv 2, 111 Magach 7 (to be increased by 74 before 2010).
- Jordan: 354 .
- Lebanon: 66 A3 series, first 10 arrived on 22 May 2009.
- Morocco: 260 M60A3TTS, 167 M60A3 
- Oman: 93
- Saudi Arabia: 450 M60A1 and M60A3
- Spain: 17 M60A3TTS (Infantería de Marina), 38 M60CZ-10/25E, 12 M60VLPD-26/70E (Spanish Army)
- Republic of China (Taiwan): 450 M60A3 TTS
- Thailand: 178 M60A1/A3 ex–U.S. Army
- Tunisia: 84
- Turkey: 658 M60A3TTS,104 M60A1 RISE,170 M60T total:866
- Yemen: 240
- Austria: Sold to Egypt
- Italy: 300
- Portugal: 100 M60A3 TTS
- United States: Retired from active service, some in reserve/storage.
See also 
- Magach 6 & 7: series of Israeli upgrades to the M60 platform
- Gun data computer
- Shawn Nelson: Went on a rampage in Clairemont, San Diego in a stolen M60A3
- G-numbers (SNL G292)
Comparable contemporaries 
- Foss, p. 166
- Hunnicutt pp. 6, 408.
- Hunnicutt[page needed]
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- 300 Ex-US M60A1 from 1991 to 1994 and 120 M60A3TTS and 7 M60A1 in 1997
- "Morocco's M60A1 tanks were upgraded to M60A3's as these became available." 
- 140 Upgraded to M60A3TTS in 2009 Source: Army-guide
- Army Equipment – Taiwan
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: M60 tanks|
- M60A3 Main Battle Tank Variant Details
- AFV Database: 105 mm Gun Tank M60
- MilitaryImages.Net: M60 Series
- The short film Big Picture: M-60 King of Armor is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]