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Subject: Best NATO tanks of the Cold War? rss

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Gordon Reynolds
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Best NATO tanks of the cold War?
What, in your opinion, were some of the better, or the best, NATO tanks of the Cold War?
Mostly want to focus on the early generations of tanks so please Do NOT include: M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, Challenger, LeClerc and other advanced designs.

Some examples to start
UK
Centurion
Chieftan
FV214 Conqueror

France
AMX-13
AMX-30

Germany
Leopard 1
Kanonenjagdpanzer

Other Europe
Stridsvagn 103 (S-tank) - Sweden
SK-105 K├╝rassier - Austria

US
M47
M48A5
M60A1
M60A2
M60A3
M551
M103 Heavy Tank
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J.L. Robert
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What about the heavies, like the Conqueror and the M103?
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Gordon Reynolds
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Had M103 in there at first but thought not many were produced to warrant it.

"the US Army fielded only one battalion of heavy tanks...2/33rd Armor"
In now.
Quote:
FV214 Conqueror
Deployed in West Germany 1955-1966
They were issued at nine for each regiment in Germany; usually grouped in three tank troops.


Good enough.
Any others?
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J.L. Robert
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And what of the non-NATO western tanks, like the Merkava series? I'd stack them up against anything NATO rolled out.
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Robert Wesley
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South Africa has some "wheeled" TANKS, SPA, etc. amongst others for that 'matter'... whistle
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William Barnett-Lewis
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As a former (early 80's) M-60A3 tanker, I'd rate the best prior to the Abrams class like this for each nation:

Centurian
AMX-30
Leopard 1
M-60A3

Of them, I'd prefer either a Centurian or M-60A3 if I were young again and sent off to fight them. The L7 series of 105mm rifle remains one of the finest bits of ordinance ever fielded. The Centurian was laid out better but the LRF & TTS on the M60A3 was superior to everything until the most recent generation of M1's.

Later as a scout in the reserves, I really really really lusted for the Scorpion. Much better than the jeeps or hummers we had.

None of the heavies, on either side, were worth a damn. They simply would have moved slowly about until they died in big fireballs.
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William Barnett-Lewis
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J.L.Robert wrote:
And what of the non-NATO western tanks, like the Merkava series? I'd stack them up against anything NATO rolled out.


The Merkava is a Patton modified by real combat experience. It's also very tied to the IDF's particular needs and conditions. I'd rather have a Merkava on the Golan but it's not the tank to be used for the end around run of Gulf 1. Only the M1's speed (granted by it's obscene fuel consumption) could pull that off.
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J.L. Robert
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wlewisiii wrote:
J.L.Robert wrote:
And what of the non-NATO western tanks, like the Merkava series? I'd stack them up against anything NATO rolled out.


The Merkava is a Patton modified by real combat experience. It's also very tied to the IDF's particular needs and conditions. I'd rather have a Merkava on the Golan but it's not the tank to be used for the end around run of Gulf 1. Only the M1's speed (granted by it's obscene fuel consumption) could pull that off.


Well, since we're talking about tanks of the 60's and 70's, NONE of the tanks on the table could pull off that gambit.
 
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Fernando Robert Yu
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Chieftain, due to the armor as well as the main gun...it already had the 120 mm gun versus the 105s of its allied contemporaries...
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Adam Siler
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I vote Chieftan, and the Centurion before it. Their successor has proven successful in combat, and it was the most advanced.

I'd take the Merkava last of all. These may have done well against the 'monkey model' T-62s, but for armored operations and massive breakthroughs, they don't fit the order. Also, Lebanon's victory in 2006 proved that these things were not invincible, as previously thought.
 
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Gordon Reynolds
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Quote:
And what of the non-NATO western tanks

Thought I'd keep it limited to tanks that members here possibly served on.
 
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Eric Walters
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As an Army-trained USMC tank officer, I'd take the M48A5/M60A1 RISE (Passive) or M60A3--either one. I was trained on the A3s with the laser rangefinder but the Marines didn't have them so I had to learn the fire control system/coincidence lens range finder (with hand crank) on the M48A5/M60A1. But unless fighting in the desert, it probably wouldn't have mattered since we typically kept the range settings on the ballistic computer at "battlesight" gunnery ranges (typically for us, it was 1,200 meters). Which works just fine out to about 1,500 meters or so. Also liked the fact that with 105mm sabot rounds, a good loader could keep the rate of fire pretty damn high.

Of course, had I been I faced with vastly superior numbers and terrain/visibility that allowed for long-range engagement, I probably would prefer the A3 with that laser rangefinder and lots...lots of sabot rounds in the ammo racks...so long as I'd boresighted and zeroed the tank main gun with optics every damn day (and twice to three times a day in the desert, once at "stand to," once at high noon when the heat was high (to account for gun tube bend from the heat on the tube upper half)), and once again in the evening if need be.

Hated the suspension system on these tanks, though. Broke more torsion bars than I care to admit. Pain in the butt to pull them out and replace them--hours and hours of sledgehammering, sweat, and cussing.
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Robert Wesley
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rgordon44 wrote:
Quote:
And what of the non-NATO western tanks

Thought I'd keep it limited to tanks that members here possibly served on.
The "Gun" and its 'target' TANK with 2 "Aircrafts" postcards even of A-L-L I'd been upon! cool
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Gordon Reynolds
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Was there anything else even comparable to the TTS (Tank Thermal Sight)?
 
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Brent Pollock
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AMX-13 and S-Tank solely on style points.
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Gordon Reynolds
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We need a game/simulation to sort this all out?
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Jim F
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freddieyu wrote:
Chieftain, due to the armor as well as the main gun...it already had the 120 mm gun versus the 105s of its allied contemporaries...


A friend of mine who served in the British Army during the 1980's said he had no time for the Chieftan because it was always breaking down. As a Red Cap he had to attend when angry German farmers were demanding yet another one be recovered from their field.
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ericmwalters wrote:
As an Army-trained USMC tank officer, I'd take the M48A5/M60A1 RISE (Passive) or M60A3--either one. I was trained on the A3s with the laser rangefinder but the Marines didn't have them so I had to learn the fire control system/coincidence lens range finder (with hand crank) on the M48A5/M60A1. But unless fighting in the desert, it probably wouldn't have mattered since we typically kept the range settings on the ballistic computer at "battlesight" gunnery ranges (typically for us, it was 1,200 meters). Which works just fine out to about 1,500 meters or so. Also liked the fact that with 105mm sabot rounds, a good loader could keep the rate of fire pretty damn high.

Of course, had I been I faced with vastly superior numbers and terrain/visibility that allowed for long-range engagement, I probably would prefer the A3 with that laser rangefinder and lots...lots of sabot rounds in the ammo racks...so long as I'd boresighted and zeroed the tank main gun with optics every damn day (and twice to three times a day in the desert, once at "stand to," once at high noon when the heat was high (to account for gun tube bend from the heat on the tube upper half), and once again in the evening if need be.

Hated the suspension system on these tanks, though. Broke more torsion bars than I care to admit. Pain in the butt to pull them out and replace them--hours and hours of sledgehammering, sweat, and cussing.

LOVE IT!!!! Barrel warp. OMG.
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rgordon44 wrote:
We need a game/simulation to sort this all out?

Lock n Load Heroes of the Gap.
Charlie Winner. Best Post WWII Modern Era game.

Most of vehicles talked about here are in it and one other expansion.
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Gordon Reynolds
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M103 Heavy Tank
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Martin McCleary
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J.L.Robert wrote:
wlewisiii wrote:
J.L.Robert wrote:
And what of the non-NATO western tanks, like the Merkava series? I'd stack them up against anything NATO rolled out.


The Merkava is a Patton modified by real combat experience. It's also very tied to the IDF's particular needs and conditions. I'd rather have a Merkava on the Golan but it's not the tank to be used for the end around run of Gulf 1. Only the M1's speed (granted by it's obscene fuel consumption) could pull that off.


Well, since we're talking about tanks of the 60's and 70's, NONE of the tanks on the table could pull off that gambit.


That's not really accurate. Speed in and of itself doesn't equate to rate of advance. The formations had to move at the pace of the slowest vehicles which in most cases were the arty and C2 vehicles. You also have to keep formations intact as you move. Granted there are times when you need dash speed. What gave us the ability to move across open desert was GPS and the ability to navigate accurately.

On another note, my time was also on M60A3's (and M48A5's, M551's, M1 and M1A1 and even some T-72M) and they were excellent systems. The TTS was far superior to the thermal sight in the M1 series, even the later M1A1. In fact unitl the advance of gen 2 thermal in the M1A2 SEP the TTS was the better thermal sight.
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Gordon Reynolds
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TTS (Tank Thermal Sight)
How did it compare to other thermal systems of it's time?
How much of an advantage was it?
What were some other thermal systems at that time and how effective were they?
 
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I don't know enough about all those tanks to really compare them with each other but the Centurian's gotta be up there near the top. It had a really long service history - introduced in the 50s, some served on the front line up to the 1st Gulf War! There's a famous story of how 2 Isreali Centurians halted an advance of dozens of Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur war.
 
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Martin McCleary
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panzer-attack wrote:
I don't know enough about all those tanks to really compare them with each other but the Centurian's gotta be up there near the top. It had a really long service history - introduced in the 50s, some served on the front line up to the 1st Gulf War! There's a famous story of how 2 Isreali Centurians halted an advance of dozens of Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur war.


get a copy of the Book "The Heights of Courage". It covers the tank battles in the Golan heights in 73 by the "Courage 77" BDE. You'll read about night battles at 50m range, yes 50 meters, as well as Israeli tanks without ammo facing down Syrian tanks in deadly games of "peek a boo". Excellent book well worth the read.
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Martin McCleary
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rgordon44 wrote:
TTS (Tank Thermal Sight)
How did it compare to other thermal systems of it's time?
How much of an advantage was it?
What were some other thermal systems at that time and how effective were they?


The TTS was manufactured by Hughes Industries. They eventually went under but the advantages the sight had were: it had more thermal receptors than the versions installed in later M1 series tanks and was thus more sensitive and generated incredible night capability, the second advantage was that it was a bioptic sight: the tank commander and gunner were essentially looking at a large round picture as opposed to having to press his eye against a monolcular sight piece in the M1 / M1A1 series. One of the issues you have is eye fatigue with a monolcular sight. If you are pulling extended thermal watch scans you get tired very quickly with one eye. The biocular sight was far less of a strain. It also allowed people, like me, who wore glasses to use the sight much more easily.

I have no experience with what the Germans or others were putting in their tanks at the time but my guess would be that the TTS was hands down the better sight. The Russians hadn't fielded any thermal systems (in fact didn't until later versions of the T-80B series which had gen 1 thermals) so NATO tanks with thermals had a tremendous advantage at night and in conditions of reduced visibility. The thermal wasn't a panacea (you couldn't laser range effectively thru lots of dust and smoke so accuracy falls off) but it was a big advantage.
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