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M-48 Patton Tank

The M-48 Patton Medium Tank is a further refinement of the M-47 Patton Tank featuring a cast steel elliptical hull and turret design for improved ballistic protection. After a period of development that began in October 1950, the first M48-series Patton tank was christened by Mrs. George S. Patton Jr. on 1 July 1952 at the Chrysler Tank Plant, Newark. Delaware. Full production began there later the same year. The M-48 Patton Tank was intended for use in Europe against Soviet tank forces, and was used widely in Vietnam as well as by U.S. allies in conflicts such as between India and Pakistan. With total production of approximately 11,700 units between 1952 and 1959, the M-48 remains in use in many countries. Units designated M48A3 and M48A5 were upgraded from older M48s, not new production.

The M-48 through M-48A3 Patton Tanks had a 90 mm main gun, with one .30 cal. and one .50 cal. machine gun. The M-48A5 was upgraded to a 105mm main gun.

See United States Tanks After World War II for additional information about the M-48 Patton Tank.

11th Armored Cav. M-48 Patton Tank west of Saigon, Vietnam. Probably diesel engine M-48A3, most common variant in Vietnam
11th Armored Cav. M-48 Patton Tank west of Saigon, Vietnam. Probably diesel engine M-48A3, most common variant in Vietnam.

Today in WW II: 20 Oct 1941 In reprisals for losses to Yugoslavian partisians, Germans troops kill thousands of civilians in Kragujevac and Kraljevo [20-21 Oct].  More 
20 Oct 1944 Philippines invaded by Allies at Leyte, joined by Filipino guerillas.
20 Oct 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur Returns to Leyte, Philippine Islands.
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Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

M-48 Patton Medium Tank: External Model Differences

The many models of the M-48 Patton Medium Tank may be difficult to distinguish in photos or if you encounter a tank on display. Here are some external features that can be used to differentiate:

  • M48 had external .50 cal. machine gun with no protection for the commander. Five return rollers.
  • M48A1 enclosed the .50 cal. with the commander's armored cupola. Five return rollers.
  • M48A2 (1955) and M48A2C had three return rollers, engine deck without grill work, louvered exhaust panels.
  • M48A3 (1959) diesel engine with external air cleaners mounted on the fenders. Since these were upgrades of M48 and M48A1 many had five rollers. Starting in 1963, 1,019 M48A1s were modified.
  • M48A5 (1975) had octagonal track shoes, 105mm main gun, M60 lights. Since these were upgrades of earlier variants, many had five rollers. Late M48A5s are very similar to the M60.

M48s weighed 52-54 tons loaded, depending on model. The M48, M48A1 and M48A2 variants had the ability to reach 32 mph on the road and 25 mph cross country, powered by a Continental AV1790-58 12 cyl. 810 hp gasoline engine. With the M48A3, introduced in 1968, and M48A5 a Continental AVDS-1790-2, 12 cyl. 750 hp supercharged diesel engine was used. [Note: There was an M48A4 model but only a few were produced as a pilot.]

With the development of the M-60 Patton Main Battle Tank, in full production by 1965, the M-48 was replaced in many units. The M48A3 saw extensive service in Vietnam, used by both Army and Marine Corps units. Upgraded M48A5 units remained in U.S. service until the mid-1990s.

Find additional photos and hi-res versions of the M-48 Patton Medium Tank at the Olive-Drab Military Mashup:

An M-48 main battle tank with Korean soldiers aboard moves down a road during the joint South Korean/US Exercise Team Spirit '84, Korea, 25 March 1984.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army Berlin Command face off against police from the former East Germany during one of several standoffs at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, circa 27 October 1961. On several occasions that year, a U.S. quick reaction force of tanks and infantry Soldiers stood watch as armed military policemen escorted U.S. personnel across the border into East Berlin.  Jeep is M38A1 and tank is an M48 Patton.
The M48 Patton medium tank is equipped with a 90mm high velocity gun.
Recently manufactured M48 Patton tanks await shipment to the US military in the storage yard of the General Motors Tank Arsenal, Grand Blanc, MI, circa 1952 or later.
M67A1 Tank Flamethrower with an M7A1-6, turret-mounted, main armament, mechanized flamethrower (replaced the 90-millimeter main gun).  Chassis is an M48A2 Patton tank.  Developed to provide the Army and Marine Corps with a modern armored flamethrower to replace the vintage M4 Sherman based systems used in Korea, the M67 series was first fielded to the Army and Marine Corps in the mid-1950s. Quickly phased out by the Army, the system was retained by the Marine Corps, modernized, and used in combat during the Vietnam War. The system consisted of an M7A1 fuel and pressure unit, an M6 flamethrower gun, and a control unit. The M7A1 held thickened fuel and pressurized air at 3,000 pounds per square inch. A  secondary container held 10 gallons of gasoline to ignite the thickened fuel. A high-tension electrical system provided a spark for ignition. This vehicle is on display at the Chemical Corps Museum, Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
Refugees pass by a supporting USMC M48 tank as it moves up the street during Operation Hue City, Vietnam, 3 February 1968.

M-48 Patton Medium Tank Photo Gallery

M-48 Patton Tank of the 2d Bn, 34th Armor, in position as static road security, Vietna
M-48 Patton Tank of the 2d Bn, 34th Armor, in position as static road security, Vietnam.

U.S. 25th Infantry Division M-48 Patton Tanks on a road in Vietnam, west of Pleiku, 1 April 1966
U.S. 25th Infantry Division M-48 Patton Tanks on a road in Vietnam, west of Pleiku, 1 April 1966.

M-48 Patton Tank at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005
M-48 Patton Tank at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005.Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit

M-48 Patton Tank at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005
M-48 Patton Tank at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005.Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit

M-48A3 Patton Tank at Texas Military Forces Museum, Camp Mabry, TX, 30 January 2006
M-48A3 Patton Tank at Texas Military Forces Museum, Camp Mabry, TX, 30 January 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit

M-48A1 Patton Tank in front of the Third U.S. Army headquarters building at Ft. McPherson, GA, 18 September 2005
M-48A1 Patton Tank in front of the Third U.S. Army headquarters building at Ft. McPherson, GA, 18 September 2005.

Detail of turret and commander's armored cupola on M48A1 Patton Tank
Detail of turret and commander's armored cupola on M48A1 Patton Tank.

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