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The T110 120mm Heavy Tank Project

Today’s post is on the T110 120mm heavy tank project. While I cite numerous sources for this article I must point out that it is the work of author Hunnicutt which is the authoritative and most influential of all reference materials.

Initiated on December 3, 1954, the T110 120mm heavy tank project began (Estes). Prior work had begun on October 30 for cannons to be used in this project, the T204 and T179, 120mm cannons. On September 18, 1956 the project would be canceled in light of the success of the  T43 project which would lead to the M103 (Estes). The T110 began life as concept TS-31 and was given to Chrysler Corporation with their proposal being the 120mm gun tank T110 (Hunnicutt). There were multiple versions of the T110 that were proposed. The initial proposal was rejected as its dimensions would of prohibited the vehicles passage through the Berne International Tunnel, a requirement for the project (Hunnicutt). A further requirement was that the vehicle have a 50 ton weight limit (Hunnicutt). As design progressed the  T123E1 was selected as the cannon (Hunnicutt). All total there were five T110 designs (Hunnicutt). The names Chrysler and Detroit Arsenal should be considered interchangeable when reading on the development of this tank. To be clear the Detroit Arsenal, or Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant (DATP) was established by Chrysler but owned and by the United States government and alternately would be Army operated or contractor operated (“Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant”). Chrysler operated the facility during the development of the T110; having regained it from the Army in 1952 (“Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant”).

The five proposals:

  1. Proposal 1 – initially rejected as the cupola arrangement would have prohibited the vehicles passage through the Berne International Tunnel. Redesigned so that the cab width was reduced to 124″ and commander relocated to center rear; the nose shortened; and fuel removed from the front. AV-1790 engine selected; XTG-500 transmission; flat-track suspension (Hunnicutt).

  2. Proposal 2 – redesign of proposal 1 with transmission relocated to engine compartment; cupola removed; fuel moved to front with the driver to the left; AOI-1490 engine selected; XTG-500 transmission; traditional suspension (Hunnicutt).

    Proposal 2

    Proposal 2

  3. Proposal 3 – the main gun was placed in a rigid mount for this proposal. This proposal was fraught with problems with regards to power plant mounting; engine and transmission issues; grill area issues (Hunnicutt).

    Proposal 3

    Proposal 3

  4. Proposal 4 – this proposal placed an AOI-1490 engine and XTG-510 transmission in rear; rear deck infrared sheilding; rigid gun emplacement; both .50 and .30 caliber machine guns; a T53 OPTAR range finder; a T156 telescope as the main gun site and a M16A1 periscope as the secondary sitting mechanism. The commander was placed in the center towards the rear; the gunner on the left of the gun mount; and the driver at the right of the gun mount. This vehicle had a limited turret traverse (Hunntington).
  5. Proposal 5 – this design was for a vehicle with a turret capable of a full 360 degree traverse. This design many standard components including the same turret traverse ring as the M103 series. This design had a crew of four; with the gunner and the commander to the left of the main gun. This design had a power rammer for the main gun; a commander’s override system; a T53 OPTAR range finder. A full size mock up was made of this vehicle (Hunntington).

    Proposal 5

    Proposal 5

A document reflecting specifications for the T95, T96, and  T110:

Project T95 used the OPTAR range finder (“The Chieftain’s Hatch: Rangefinding.”); just as was called for in the fourth and fifth T110 designs. Utilizing pulse lights, the OPTAR range finder could determine the range by timing the reflection of light from the target; although it suffered from a scattering effect (Hunnicutt).

A T95 with an OPTAR rangefinder; as was intended for the fourth and fifth T110 designs.

A T95 with an OPTAR rangefinder; as was intended for the fourth and fifth T110 designs.

The video game World of Tanks represents three of the proposed T110 designs as vehicles in game; as the T110E3, the T110E4, and the T110E5, representing the third, fourth, and fifth proposals respectively.

Works Cited:

1. Estes, Kenneth W. M103 Heavy Tank 1950-74. Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2012. eBook.

2. Hunnicutt, R. P. Firepower: A History of the American Heavy Tank. Presidio, 86, 130, 172 – 176. Print.

3. “T110E3.” World of Tanks Wiki. Wargaming.net, 20 Mar 2013. Web. 24 May 2013. <http://wiki.worldoftanks.com/T110E3>.

4. “T110E4.” World of Tanks Wiki. Wargaming.net, 18 April 2013. Web. 24 May 2013. <http://wiki.worldoftanks.com/T110E4>.

5. “T110E5.” World of Tanks Wiki. Wargaming.net, 10 May 2013. Web. 24 May 2013. <http://wiki.worldoftanks.com/T110E5>.

6. “The Chieftain’s Hatch: Rangefinding.” World of Tanks. Wargaming.net. Web. 25 May 2013. <http://worldoftanks.com/news/2351-chieftains-hatch-ragefinding/>.


8. “Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 15 Nov 2012. Web. 29 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Arsenal_Tank_Plant>.

Off Topic: Artillery Photos And More

This is off topic but I thought I’d share a selection of photos of Artillery pieces I took while visiting the Texas Military Forces Museum not that long ago. There were several field pieces and at least one anti-aircraft, and one anti-tank piece; from several countries and time periods including examples from France, Russia, and the USA.


105 mm (10.5 cm) Cannon on the Sherman and Panzer IV

An M4A3E8 Sherman Tank

An M4A3E8 Sherman Tank armed with a 76mm cannon.

In the game World of Tanks the available Sherman tanks, the M4, the M4A3E2, and the M4A3E8 as well as the Panzer (PzKpfw) IV are shown as having a 105mm cannon available. In the case of the Sherman, Gun 105 mm SPH M4 L/23; and in the case of the Panzer IV, Gun 10,5 cm KwK 42 L/28. While I’m aware of upgrade programs for the Sherman, while thinking about the Panzer IV this got me wondering about when this would have occurred and where it may have been seen.

Regarding the Sherman I have found that during the Second World War, there was a variant using a 105mm cannon: the M4 Sherman 105mm Howitzer. This variant was used in both an Artillery, and a Tank Destroyer capacity. These tanks were fitted with a modified 105mm M2 howitzer (“1944-U.S.A. M4 Medium Tank (105)”); the M1/M2 being the guns in the M7 Priest Self-Propelled Gun.

While actual Sherman’s using the 105mm cannon were produced and saw action, the Panzer IV with a 105mm (10.5cm) was a different story. The German’s appear to have experimented with a 105mm artillery gun mounted in an experimental demountable turret on a Panzer IV chassis (“Panzer IV”); this experimental design was called the Heuschrecke (“Grasshopper”), a Self-Propelled Gun. A further  experimental design, a tank destroyer nicknamed Dicker Max (Fat Max); it was called the 10.5 cm K gepanzerte Selbstfahrlafette. While the prototype for the  Heuschrecke 10 doesn’t appear to have been sent into combat; the Dicker Max prototypes, both, were sent to the Eastern Front. What is not clear is if two were built and sent to the Eastern Front, or if one was built and sent along with a prototype for the Sturer Emil (Stubborn Emil) which was a comparable vehicle. Quoting the Wikipedia page for the Sturer Emil, the name for the prototypes of the two Sturer Emil units sent to the Eastern Front where “Max and Moritz” (“Sturer Emil”).

Works Cited:

1. “M4 Sherman.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 12 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Sherman>.

2. “The History of the M4 Sherman 105mm Howitzer.” . Tamiya.com. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.tamiya.com/english/products/56014sherman/sherman_expl.htm>.

3. “1944-U.S.A. M4 Medium Tank (105).” Battle Tanks. N.p.. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.battletanks.com/m4_105mm.htm>.

4. “Panzer IV.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 7 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_IV>.

5. “10.5 cm K (gp.Sfl.).” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 1 Mar 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10.5_cm_K_(gp.Sfl.)>.

6. “Heuschrecke 10.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 8 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuschrecke_10>.

7.  “Sturer Emil.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 27 Feb 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturer_Emil>.

8. “Dicker Max and Sturer Emil in Combat.” Flames of War. N.p., 21 May 2010. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=1936>.

Doing Stupid Things With Tanks

What follows is a list of things people in power have chosen to use tanks to do that they should not have; this list is by no means exhaustive so let me know if you know of some good examples. Many of the examples below relate to the use of Tanks, which are a weapon of war, in civilian contexts.

Budapest 1956

During 1956 the Soviet Union violently put down a populist revolution in Hungary; the heavy handed use of force stunned the world and was best epitomized by pictures of Soviet tanks in Budapest.

Michael Dukakis in a Tank

Michael Dukakis in a Tank

Taking a cue from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, who successfully used a tank in a publicity photo; Michael Dukakis, the 1988 presidential nominee for the Democratic party posed with a tank in an effort to bolster his image. The efforts of Dukakis, who had served in the United States Army, backfired; with his rival successfully using the photo-op to ridicule him.

1989 Tiananmen Square Protests
1989 Tiananmen Square Protests

During the 1989 protest in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese military for some reason felt compelled to send in tanks to help clear the protesters; what followed was an iconic moment in 20th century politics as a single man frustrated the movement of a column of Chinese tanks sent in ironically to intimidate him and others.

During February and April of 1993, what has become known as the Branch Davidian Massacre occurred. During this event no less than  four ATF agents and 80 followers of David Koresh(Vernon Howell) would perish (“Branch Davidian Massacre Site”). There have been many criticisms of the events that unfolded; the use of heavy weapons was one.  The list of military equipment used at Waco included: nine Bradley fighting vehicles, five combat-engineer vehicles, one tank-retrieval vehicle and two M1A1 Abrams tanks (O’Meara).

On new years eve, 1994, Russian forces attempted to retake Chechnya with an assault on the city of Grozny; they did this with a force largely comprised of AFVs and little infantry support. The resulting debacle left 105 of 120 tanks knocked out and many Russian soldiers dead.

Works Cited:

1. Grau, Lester. “CHANGING RUSSIAN URBAN TACTICS: THE AFTERMATH OF THE BATTLE FOR GROZNY.” INSS Strategic Forum. Foreign Military Studies Office, n.d. Web. 6 May 2013. <http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/grozny.htm>.

2. “This Day In History Nov 4, 1956: Soviets put brutal end to Hungarian revolution.” History. A&E Television Networks, LLC. Web. 6 May 2013. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-put-brutal-end-to-hungarian-revolution>.

3. “Michael Dukakis.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 8 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dukakis>.

4. “Branch Davidian Massacre Site.” Roadsideamerica.com. N.p.. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11910>.

5. O’Meara, Kelly . “CLARK TANKS USED IN WACO SIEGE.” WND. N.p., 16 Oct 2003. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.wnd.com/2003/10/21282/>.

M26 Pershing

There was one example of an M26 Pershing at the Texas Military Forces Museum that I was able to see. The M26 saw service during World War II and the Korean War. The M26 Pershing has a crew of 5 and its main armament is the 90 mm Gun M3.

M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle

I got to see an M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV) while at the Texas Military Forces Museum.  This vehicle has a dozer blade and a crane boom on it and is built on the chassis of the M60A1 Patton tank. This type of vehicle is used by Combat Engineers; and this model was used during the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. The M728 CEV was produced between 1965 and 1987 and its main armament is an 165mm M135 gun.

M48 Patton

While I was at the Texas Military Forces Museum I was able to see multiple Patton tanks including an M48 Patton. The vehicle was produced from 1952 to 1959. The main armament for the M48 Patton was the 90 mm T54 and the vehicle had a crew of 4. The M48 Patton saw service in numerous conflicts including the Vietnam War, Six Day War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Yom Kippur War, Lebanese Civil War, Iran–Iraq W

ar, and the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

M24 Chaffee Light Tank

While I was at the Texas Military Forces Museum I was able to see an excellent example of the M24 Chaffee Light Tank. The Chaffee was built between 1944 and 1945 although it saw service in numerous wars beyond World War II; including the Korean War, Vietnam War, First Indochina War, Algerian War of Independence, and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The Chaffee has a crew of 5 and its main armament is a 75 mm Gun M6 L / 39. The example at the Texas Military Forces Museum was outside and by appearance pretty good looking compared to the other vehicles outside.

The M56 Scorpion

I recently bought a lot off eBay of tank models. Included was an odd piece I couldn’t identify; and I eventually passed it off as more fantasy and fun than fact. While at the Texas Military Forces Museum I was surprised to stumble onto this vehicle; it was the M56 Scorpion. I have attached to this post pictures of both the actual vehicle and the model I have; the model was in very poor shape when I received it and I was able to reassemble what I have. What threw me off about the model was the scale; but the real vehicle matches and to be clear this vehicle is small compared to the other AFVs on the lot. The M56 is a self-propelled anti-tank gun and it was built through the 1950s. It is armed with a 90mm M54 gun. This vehicle weights 8 tons (7.1 tonnes). The vehicle served during the Vietnam War but not during the Korean War having been first built the year that war ended in an Armistice.


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