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The M48 Patton is a main battle tank (MBT) that was designed in the United States. It was the third tank[5] to be officially named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army[6] during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates for the use of tanks in battle.[c] It was a further development of the M47 Patton tank. The M48 Patton was in U.S. service until replaced by the M60 Patton[6] and served as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps' primary battle tank during the Vietnam War. It was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, especially other NATO countries.

M48 Patton
M48 Patton Thun.jpg
M48 Patton on display in Thun, Switzerland
TypeMain battle tank[1]
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1953–1990s (United States)
Wars1958 Lebanon crisis
Portuguese Colonial War
Dominican Civil War
Vietnam War
Six-Day War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Yom Kippur War[2]
Western Sahara War
Lebanese Civil War
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Iran–Iraq War
Battle of Mogadishu (1993)
Kurdish–Turkish conflict
2007 Lebanon conflict
Production history
ManufacturerM48: Chrysler, Fisher Body, Ford Motor Company, American Locomotive Company
ProducedM48: 1952–1959
No. builtM48: ≈12,000
VariantsMany, see the variants section
MassM48: 49.6 short tons (44.3 long tons; 45.0 t) combat ready
Length9.3 m (30 ft 6 in)
Width3.65 m (12 ft 0 in)
Height3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)
Crew4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)

ArmorUpper Glacis: 110 mm (4.3 in) at 60° = 220 mm (8.7 in) LoS
Turret Front: 178 mm (7.0 in) at 0°[3]
90 mm T54; M48A3 90 mm gun M41; M48A5 and later variants: 105 mm M68 gun
.50 cal (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun
.30 cal (7.62 mm) M73 Machine gun
EngineContinental AV1790-1790-2 carbureted, V12, air-cooled, gasoline engine[a] 650 DIN hp (478 kW)

Continental Continental AV1790AVI-1790-6 V12, air-cooled gasoline engine M-48A2[b]

Continental AVDS-1790-2 V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine
750 hp (560 kW)
Power/weight16.6 hp (12.4 kW)/tonne
TransmissionGeneral Motors CD-850-4A or -4B, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
SuspensionTorsion bar suspension
Fuel capacity200 US gal (760 l; 170 imp gal)
M48 and M48A1 113 km, M48A2 258 km, M48A3 463 km, M48A5 499 km (all on road)[4]
SpeedM48A5: 30 mph (48 km/h)

The M48 Patton tank was designed to replace the previous M47 Pattons and M4 Shermans. Although bearing some semblance to the M47, the M48 was a completely new design, featuring a complete new turret as well as modified hull. It was the last U.S. tank to mount the 90 mm tank gun, with the last model, the M48A5, being upgraded to carry the new standard weapon of the M60, the 105mm gun. Some M48A5 models served well into the 1980s with U.S. Army National Guard units, and many M48s remain in service in other countries. The Turkish Army has the largest number of modernized M48 MBTs, with more than 1,400 in its inventory. Of these, around 1,000 have been phased out, placed in storage, or modified as armoured recovery vehicles.


Marines of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, riding on an M48A3 tank, Vietnam, 1966

In February 1951, the Army initiated the design of the new tank, designated the 90mm Gun Tank T-48 (the prefix letter "T" would be replaced by the prefix "X" beginning with the M60 series tank).[7]

By January 1952 Army officials were considering whether the lighter T42 medium tank was better suited to the doctrine preferred by the Ordnance Department that called for lighter, more agile tanks.[8]

A deeper modernization than the M46 and the M47, the M48 featured a new hemispherical turret, a redesigned hull similar to the T43 heavy tank,[8] and an improved suspension. The hull machine gunner position was removed, reducing the crew to four. In April 1953, the Army standardized the last of the Patton series tanks as the 90mm Gun Tank M48 Patton.[6]

In April 1952 Chrysler Corporation began production of the M48 at its Newark, Delaware, plant. The tank was christened after the late General George S. Patton at its public debut at the Chrysler plant in July.[9] General Motors and Ford Motor Company produced the tank in Michigan. Also in July the Army awarded American Locomotive Company a $200 million contract to produce the tank.[10] In December Chrysler took on orders initially intended for the American Locomotive after the Army ordered production cutbacks to its tank program.[11] Under the "single, efficient producer" model of Defense Secretary Charles Erwin Wilson the Army was directed to reduce the number of contractors producing each model of tank. General Motors underbid Chrysler, and in September 1953 Army Secretary Robert T. Stevens awarded GM's Fisher Body division a $200 million contract to become the sole producer of the M48.[12] The decision raised skepticism in lawmakers. Senator Estes Kefauver noted the move would effectively leave GM as the only producer of light and medium tanks when Chrysler wrapped up M48 production by April 1954. The Defense Department was called to the Senate Armed Services Committee in January 1954 to defend the single-producer decision. During hearings Army Under-Secretary John Slezak said the move reduced costs, and that multiple producers were unnecessary to fulfill the Army's diminishing needs for new tanks.[13]

Months later Chrysler underbid GM in the new round of proposals. In September 1954 the Army awarded Chrysler an exclusive $160.6 million contract to restart production.[14] In November 1955 the Army awarded Alco Products a $73 million contract to begin producing 600 M48A2s the next year.[15] Alco opted to wrap up its tank business when its contract ended in July 1957. In May 1957 the Army awarded Chrysler, the only bidder, a $119 million contract to continue production of the M48A2 in Delaware and Muskegon, Michigan.[16]

In 1960 the Government Accounting Office, investigating performance of Army and Marine tanks, found that the M48 and M48A1 were "seriously defective vehicles."[17] In November a House Armed Services investigation largely corroborated the GAO report, which had been disputed by Army Secretary Wilber M. Brucker.[18]

Nearly 12,000 M48s were built from 1952 to 1959. The early designs, up to the M48A2C, were powered by a gasoline 12-cylinder engine and a 1-cylinder auxiliary generator (called the "Little Joe"). The gasoline engine versions gave the tank a shorter operating range and were more prone to catching fire when hit. Although considered less reliable than diesel-powered versions, numerous examples saw combat use in various Arab–Israeli conflicts. The low flashpoint of hydraulic fluid used in the recoil mechanisms and hydraulic systems for rotating weapons or aiming devices was less than 212 °F (100 °C) and could result in a fireball in the crew compartment when the lines were ruptured.[19] The fluid was not peculiar to the M48 and is no longer used in combat armored vehicles, having been replaced by fire resistant hydraulic fluid. Beginning in 1959, most American M48s were upgraded to the M48A3 model, which featured a more reliable and longer-range diesel power plant. M48s with gasoline engines, however, were still in use in the US Army through 1968, and through 1975 by many West German Army units.


In February 1963, the US Army accepted the first of 600 M48 Patton tanks that had been converted to M48A3s, and by 1964 the US Marine Corps had received 419 Patton tanks. The A3 model introduced the diesel engine, countering the earlier versions' characteristic of catching fire.[20] These Pattons were to be deployed to battle in Vietnam.[6] Because all M48A3 tanks were conversions from earlier models, many characteristics varied among individual examples of this type. M48A3 tanks could have either three or five support rollers on each side and might have either the early or later type headlight assemblies.


In the mid-1970s, the vehicle was modified to carry the heavier 105 mm gun. The original program designation was XM736. The designation was subsequently changed to M48A3E1 and was finally standardized as M48A5. As many components from the M60A1 were utilized as possible. Anniston Army Depot was issued a contract to convert 501 M48A3 tanks to the M48A5 standard and this was completed in December 1976. These early M48A5's were essentially M48A3 tanks with the 105mm gun added. They retained the M1 cupola armed with a .50 cal machine gun.[6]

Based on Israeli experience in upgrading M48 series tanks, further changes were included starting in August 1976. These included replacing the M1 cupola with a low-profile "Urdan" type cupola that mounted an M60D machine gun for use by the tank commander. A second M60D machine gun was mounted on the turret roof for use by the loader. Internal ammunition stowage for the 105mm main gun was also increased to 54 rounds. These tanks were initially given the designation M48A5API; but, after early conversions were brought up to the later standard, the API was removed and these tanks were known simply as M48A5.[6]

In addition to the conversion of M48A3 tanks, an additional conversion process for bringing M48A1 tanks to M48A5 standard was also developed. By March 1978, 708 M48A5 tanks had been converted from the M48A1 model.[6]

Work continued until December 1979, at which time 2069 M48A5's had been converted.[6]

The vast majority of M48A5 tanks in service with US Army units were assigned to National Guard and Army Reserve Units. A notable exception was the 2nd Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea, who replaced their M60A1 tanks with M48A5's, which arrived in June and July 1978. On 2nd Infantry Division M48A5 tanks the commander's M60D was replaced with a .50 caliber M2 machine gun.[6]

By the mid-1990s, the M48s were phased out of U.S. service. Many other countries, however, continued to use these M48 models.

Combat serviceEdit


US Marines riding atop an M48 tank in Vietnam in April 1968.

The M48 saw extensive action with the US military during the Vietnam War. Over 600 Pattons would be deployed with US forces during that war.[6][21] The initial M48s first landed with the US Marine 1st and 3rd Tank Battalions in 1965,[22] with the 5th Marine Tank Battalion later becoming a back-up/reinforcement unit. The remaining Pattons deployed to South Vietnam were in three US Army battalions, namely the 1-77th Armor near the DMZ (67 M48A2C (23 tanks supplied from US Army Training Center at Fort Knox, KY USA, and 44 tanks from Letterkenney Army Depot Chambersburg, PA USA) tanks were used by the 77th Armor from August 1968 to January 1969. These were later replaced with M48A3s), the 1-69th Armor in the Central Highlands of central South Vietnam and the 2-34th Armor positioned near the Mekong Delta. Each battalion consisted of approximately 57 tanks. M48s were also used by Armored Cavalry Squadrons in Vietnam until replaced by M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicles (ARAAV) in the Divisional Cavalry Squadrons. M48A3 tanks remained in service with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment until the unit was withdrawn from the conflict. The M67A1 flame tank (nicknamed the Zippo) was an M48 variant used in Vietnam.[citation needed] From 1965 to 1968, 120 US M48A3 tanks were written off.[23]

Men of Troop B, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, and their M48 Patton tank move through the dense jungle in the Central Highlands of Vietnam in June 1969.

The M48 Patton has the distinction of playing a unique role in an event that was destined to radically alter the conduct of armored warfare.[22] When US forces commenced redeployment operations, many of the M48A3 Pattons were turned over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces, in particular creating the battalion-sized ARVN 20th Tank Regiment; which supplemented their M41 Walker Bulldog units. During the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Easter Offensive in 1972, tank clashes between NVA T-54/PT-76 and ARVN M48/M41 units became commonplace. But, on 23 April 1972, tankers of the 20th Tank Regiment were attacked by an NVA infantry-tank team, which was equipped with the new 9M14M Malyutka (NATO designation: Sagger) wire guided anti-tank missile. During this battle, one M48A3 Patton tank and one M113 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV) were destroyed, becoming the first losses to the Sagger missile; losses that would echo on an even larger scale a year later during the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East in 1973.[22] By 2 May, 20th Tank Regiment had lost all of their tanks to enemy fire.[24] During the first month of the First Battle of Quảng Trị a total of 110 ARVN M48 Pattons were lost.[d][25]

A 1st Battalion, 69th Armor Patton during Operation Lincoln

The M48s performed admirably[26] in Vietnam in the infantry-support role. However, there were few actual tank versus tank battles. One was between the US 1-69th Armor and PT-76 light amphibious tanks of the NVA 202nd Armored Regiment at Ben Het Camp in March 1969.[22] The M48s provided adequate protection for its crew from small arms, mines, and rocket-propelled grenades. South Vietnamese M48s and M41s fought in the 1975 Spring Offensive. In several incidents, the ARVN successfully defeated NVA T-34 and T-55 tanks and even slowed the North's offensive. However, due to shortages of fuel and munitions faced by the South Vietnamese military because of the US Congress-placed ban on the further funding and supply of military equipment and logistics to the country, the American-made tanks soon ran out of ammunition and fuel and were quickly abandoned to the NVA, which then put them in their service after the war ended in May 1975. In total, 250 of the ARVN's M48A3s were destroyed and captured[27] and those captured (at least 30) were only used briefly before being phased out and turned into war-memorial displays all over Vietnam.

A destroyed M48A3 during Vietnam war

M48s, along with Australian 20 pounder (84mm)-gunned[28] Centurions of the 1st Armoured Regiment,[22] were the only vehicles in use by the anti-communist side in the Vietnam War that could reasonably protect their crews from land mines. They were often used for minesweeping operations along Highway 19 in the Central Highlands, a two-lane paved road between An Khe and Pleiku. Daily convoys moved both ways along Highway 19. These convoys were held up each morning while the road was swept for mines. At that time, minesweeping was done by soldiers walking slowly over the dirt shoulders of the highway with hand-held mine detectors. During this slow process, convoys would build up into a dangerously-inviting target for the enemy, especially their guerillas and partisans. As a result, a faster method was improvised, the "Thunder Run", in which one M48 lined up on each side of the road, with one track on the dirt shoulder and the other track on the asphalt, and then with all guns firing,[29] they raced to a designated position miles away. If the M48s made it without striking a mine, the road was clear and the convoys could proceed. In most cases, an M48 that struck a land mine in these operations only lost a road wheel or two in the explosion; seldom was there any hull damage that would be considered "totalling" or a "catastrophic kill" (entirely destroying) the tank.[21]

Supply of M48 tanks to South Vietnam:

1971: 54 tanks.[30]

May 1972: 120 tanks.[31]

October 1972: 72 tanks.[32]

November 1972: 59 tanks.[33]

1973-1974: 74 tanks.[34]

Total: 379 M48 tanks, all of them were lost.

The United States lost at least 123 M48 tanks (non-repairable) during the war.[23] As a result, the United States with South Vietnam lost more than 500 M48 tanks.

Indo-Pakistani WarsEdit

M47s and M48s were used in tank warfare by the Pakistan Army against the Indian Army's Soviet T-55s, British Centurions and US M4 Sherman tanks in both the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 as well as the following war in 1971 with at least some good results. During Operation Grand Slam, Pakistani tank forces, composed mainly of M47 and M48 Patton tanks, thrust through the Indian defence-lines very quickly and swiftly defeated back Indian Army armoured counter-attacks. The Pakistanis used approximately a division's worth of tanks in the operation, although not all were Pattons, with upgraded Shermans included as well. In contrast, Pakistan's Patton tank failed to live up to its high expectations in the Battle of Asal Uttar in September 1965, where about 97 Pakistani tanks were lost, the majority of them being Pattons (M47s and M48s). Later, the Patton tank was the main Pakistani tank at the Battle of Chawinda and its performance at that battle was deemed satisfactory against Indian armour.

The Patton was later used by Pakistan again, this time, in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. A counter-attack led by the 13th Lancers and the 31st Cavalry army units was defeated by the Indian 54th Division around Battle of Barapind in December 1971. The Pakistan Army Patton tanks could not stop an assault by Indian T-55 Soviet-supplied tanks of the 2th Armored Brigade.[35] At least 9 of the Pattons were destroyed by T-55 tanks during the battle of Nainakot.[36] It total, more than 80 Pakistani Pattons were knocked out during battle, mainly by Centurion and T-55 fire.[37]

India later set up a temporary war-memorial so named "Patton Nagar" (or "Patton City") in Khemkaran District in Punjab, where the captured Pakistani Patton tanks were displayed for a short period of time before being scrapped or sent all across India for use as war monuments and military memorials.

Analysing their overall performance in their wars with India, the Pakistani military held that the Patton was held in reasonably-high esteem by both sides and that combat-tactics were to blame for their utter defeat and the following debacle at Asal Uttar.[citation needed] However, a post-war US study of the tank battles in South Asia concluded that the Patton's armor could, in fact, be penetrated by the 20-pounder tank gun (84 mm) of the Centurion (later replaced by the even-more successful L7 105mm gun on the Mk. 7 version which India also possessed) as well as the 75 mm tank gun of the AMX-13 light tank.[citation needed]

Middle EastEdit

An ex-Israeli M48 Patton tank captured by Egypt during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

M48s were also used with mixed results during the Six-Day War of 1967. On the Sinai battlefront, Israeli M48s upgunned with the then-advanced 105 mm L7 rifled tank gun were used with considerable success against Egyptian IS-3s, T-54s/T-55s, T-34/85s and SU-100s supplied by the Soviet Union during the 1950s and the 1960s (such as during the Second Battle of Abu-Ageila. However, on the West Bank war-front, Jordanian M48s (Jordan was also a user of the M48 Patton as was Israel at the same time-period) were often defeated by Israeli 105mm-armed Centurions and WWII-era upgraded M4 Shermans (M-51s upgunned with French-built 105 mm tank guns (not to be confused with the British L7 105mm tank gun)). In purely-technical terms, the Pattons were far superior to the much-older Shermans, with shots at more than 1,000 meters simply glancing off the M48's armor. However, the 105 mm main gun of the Israeli Shermans fired a HEAT round designed to defeat the Soviet T-62 tank, which was the USSR's response to the M48's successor in US service, the M60 Patton. The Jordanian Pattons' general failure on the West Bank could also be attributed to excellent Israeli air superiority.[citation needed] The Israeli Army captured about 100 Jordanian M48 and M48A1 tanks and pressed them into service in their own units after the war, as the same as were the Jordanian M113 APCs they seized during the war.

Israel used 445 M48 tanks in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.[38] From 15 to 18 October, M48 tanks participated in the largest[39] tank battle of the war - Battle of the Chinese farm. The battle involved the Egyptian 21st Armored Division (136 T-55s),[40] 25th Armored Brigade (75 T-62s),[41] tank batalion (21 T-55s) from 2nd Infantry Division (in the total 232 Egyptian tanks) and the Israeli 143rd and 162nd Armored Divisions (more than 400 tanks).[42] The battle ended with an Israeli victory, but both sides lost a huge number of tanks in this battle. On the night of October 15/16, the Israeli 14th Brigade of the 143rd Division lost 70 tanks out of 97. Between the 16th at 0900 and the 17th at 1400, the Israeli 143rd and 162nd Divisions have lost 96 tanks.[43] As of 18 October the Egyptian 21st Armored Division had no more than 40 tanks remaining of an original 136 tanks available at the start of the battle.[44]

Aside from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the M48 was also operated by the Lebanese Army, the Christian Lebanese Forces militia, the Druze Progressive Socialist Party's People's Liberation Army militia and the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) in the Lebanese Civil War. On 10 June in 1982, eight Israeli M48A3s, two M60A1s and at least three M113 APCs were lost in a successful ambush by Syrian T-55 tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in 1982.

A target M48 struck by an AGM-65 Maverick missile during a weapons test.

The Lebanese Army still operates about 100 M48s. In 2007, during the 2007 North Lebanon conflict, Lebanese Army M48s shelled militant outposts located in a refugee camp.[45][46]

Together with the M47, M48 tanks were used by the Turkish Armed Forces during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The Turkish Armed Forces in Northern Cyprus continue to use M48 tanks today.

When the Kurdish–Turkish conflict began, the Turkish Armed Forces had a number of M48s. These were used throughout the 1980s and the 1990s as static artillery and was used in defending military-base perimeters from enemy attacks.[citation needed]

Iranian M48 tanks were used widely in the Iran–Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, where they faced Iraqi T-55s, T-62s and T-72s, alongside M60 Pattons, in fierce and harsh combat with their Iraqi foes, with mixed results. M48s of the 37th Armored Brigade were used in the Battle of Abadan. About 150 of M48s were lost in this tank battle alone.[47]


In 1973, Morocco took delivery of its first M48A3s. By the end of the 1970s, further deliveries of M48A5 had occurred and the upgrade to M48A5 was achieved locally with the aid of US consultants. In 1987, a final shipment of 100 M-48A5 tanks from the Wisconsin National Guard was delivered to the Moroccan army. There are unconfirmed reports of deliveries of Israeli M48A5s during the 1980s. The tanks were used in the Western Sahara desert against Polisario guerrillas.

Pakistan used M48 Pattons while reinforcing American troops during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.[48]



M48A5 Patton with an M48A3 commander's cupola.
  • M48: Differed from the M47 in having yet another new turret design and a redesigned hull, doing away with the bow machine gun position, featuring the M41 90 mm gun. These turrets give the M48 its distinctive non-M26 style look. Originally, the gun featured a Y-shape muzzle brake, but this was changed to the more characteristic T-shape.
    • M48C: Over a hundred original production hulls were found to be lacking correct ballistic protection and were relegated to training as the M48C.
  • M48A1: New driver hatch and M1 commander's cupola, allowing the M2HB .50 caliber machine gun to be operated and reloaded from within the vehicle.
  • M48A2: Improved powerpack and transmission, redesigned rear plate, and improved turret control.
    • M48A2C: M48A2s with an improved rangefinder, M17, new ballistic drive and bore evacuator for the main gun, and the auxiliary tensioning wheels were deleted.
  • M48 AVLB: M48A2 chassis, fitted with a scissors-type bridge.[49] All later upgraded to A3 standard.[50]
  • M48A3: Refit of M48A1 through M48A2C models to diesel engines and a new fire control system. 1,019 converted.[51][52][unreliable source]
    • M48A3 Mod. B: Additional armor on the exhausts and tail lights, and a raised commander's cupola.
  • M48A4: upgrade proposed 15 October 1966 by Chrysler Defense, mating the T95E5 turret of the original variant of the M60 series tank to the M48A3 hull. Used by Israel in some Magach 3 variants.[53]
  • M48A5: Up-gunned with the 105 mm M68 gun. 2,069 converted[52]
  • M48A5E1: New laser rangefinder, digital fire-control system, improving night vision system.
    • M48A5PI: M1 cupola replaced by the Israeli Urdan model.
A USMC M67A2 "Zippo" in action near Da Nang, Vietnam.

Specialized variantsEdit

  • M48DB: (M48 Dozer Blade) Outfitted with dozer blade type M8 and M8A1 (Bulldozer, Earth Moving, Tank Mounting M8/M8A1)
    • M48A1DB: Improved M48 tank with equipment as above
      • M48A2DB: German Army version


Israel created an extensive number of variants of the series from tanks acquired initially from a number of sources, including capturing them in battle, or from other countries, such as Germany and the United States. Many of the Israeli M48's have been upgraded with additional reactive or passive armor, drastically improving their armor protection. These up-armored versions are called Magach.

  • E-48
    • E-48 AVLB: An M48 AVLB but with an Israeli bridge.
    • E-48 (M48A2): An unmodified M48A2 from Germany.
    • E-48 (M48A2C): German designation for the M48A2C.
    • E-48 (M48A3): US-made M48A3 in German service.
  • Magach: A series of improved Israeli versions of the M48 and the M60.

Republic of China (Taiwan)Edit

CM-11 Brave Tiger
  • M48A3 (Taiwan Variant): Most of Republic of China Army M48A3 began their lives as M48A1/A2 and have (unlike those serving other nations) retained the original engine compartment, the engine installation made possible by removing adjacent fuel cells, resulting in a lower operational range of 312 km.
  • M48H/CM-11 "Brave Tiger": ROC M60 Patton version utilizing an up-gunned M48A2 turret mated to an M60A3 hull. Also, has significant upgrades to the gun-tracking equipment and fire control.
  • CM-12: M48A3 retrofitted with the same weapons and fire control upgrades as the CM-11. They retained the original engine compartment of the M48/M48A1, and the upgrade apparently included the removal of some fuel cells in the hull, resulting in a lower operational range than that of the M48A5 (the official figure being 203 km).

The picture of the Brave Tiger shows one of the first M60s with an M48 turret.


  • M48A5 MOLF: The Hellenic Army has added the EMES-18 FCS to their M48A5, designating them as "MOLF" for Modular Laser Fire Control System. About 400 M48A5 were rebuilt at 304 Π.Ε.Β. (Hellenic Army Factory) and most of the electronics of the EMES-18 have been manufactured by ECON electronics in Greece. The MOLF system shares 80% of its parts with the EMES-18 used in Hellenic's Army 501 Leopard 1A5GR.


M48 Patton tank of the Spanish Army at the El Goloso Museum of Armored Vehicles.
  • M48A5E: 1978-79, M48A5 variant, 105 mm gun with M17B1C optical rangefinder. M13A4 ballistic computer, IR/white light projector over main armament.
  • M48A5E1: improved M48A5E
  • M48A5E2: 1981–1983. Hughes Mk7 fire control system with laser rangefinder and solid state ballistic computer; passive night vision equipment, Urdan cupola. 164 upgraded vehicles, retired 1997.
  • M48A5E3: 1991. Prototype only. E2 with thermal sights and main gun stabilization. Cancelled in 1993.[55]

South KoreanEdit

  • M48A3K: 381 vehicles were M48A1 to M48A3 Mod.A with M48A5K standard FCS. This variant uses a diesel engine instead of the original gasoline type. Other changes include installation of a T-shaped muzzle brake on the gun, three additional support wheels on the tracks, commander's periscope on the turret and smoke grenade dischargers. The fire control system has also been replaced with Laser Tank Fire Control System (LTFCS).
  • M48A5K1/A5K2/A5KW: 195 M48A5K1 were converted from M48A2C, and 210 M48A5K2 were converted from M48A1. Introduced in 1980, it replaced the main gun with the KM68A1 105 mm gun.[56] Additional side skirts were provided, and the fire control system was upgraded to the Laser Tank Fire Control System (LTFCS) which incorporates LRF, digital ballistic computer and crosswind sensor.[57] M48A5K2 equips Israeli Urdan cupola. Korea also received 275 ex-USFK M48A5 in 1995, and upgraded to M48A5KW. The characteristic of M48A5KW is identical to M48A5K1/K2, but lacks side skirts.


  • M48A5T1: Turkish M48 variant upgraded along similar lines to the M60A1, with an M68 105 mm main gun, passive night vision, M60A1 fire control system and an AVDS-1790 diesel engine.
  • M48A5T2: Improved version of the M48A5T1 upgraded along similar lines to the M60A3 with thermal imaging, M60A3 fire control system and a laser rangefinder.
  • M48T5 "Tamay" ARV: Turkish-designed remote controlled armored recovery vehicle built on the M48 chassis.


German M48A2GA2
  • Keiler (Mine flail) Minenräumpanzer Keiler (mine clearing tank "wild boar"), a mine flail, mine clearing vehicle based on a widely modified M48A2C cast hull. The first of 24 Keilers was supplied to the German Army by Rheinmetall in 1997.[58] This vehicle remains in service.
  • Kampfpanzer M48A2C: Served together with the M47 starting in the late 1950s (the M47 was replaced by the Leopard 1). When the Leopard 2 came into service, they were sent to the Heimat-Schutzbrigaden ("home defence brigades") of the Territorialheer (Territorial Army). Many were later upgraded to M48A2GA2 standard.
  • Kampfpanzer M48A2GA2: Upgraded version with the 105 mm L7 cannon and a different MG3 installation from the Leopard 1 as well as quite a few other assemblies. The tank served with tank battalions and in the 5th (heavy) company of some Jäger Battalions of the Territorial Army. 650 were converted by Wegmann (Kassel) between June 1978 and November 1980[59]
An M48 Patton tank destined for Bremerhaven is lifted aboard cargo ship Nabob. New York City - 1959
  • Combat-Engineer Variants: The Bundeswehr used several Combat Engineer Variants of the M48. The early versions were based on the M48A2C with an M8 dozer blade attached but otherwise unmodified vehicles. When the M48 was upgraded to the M48A2GA2, these tanks were not upgraded but given to the Home Defense Forces and lost their gun completely. In Service until the early 1990s
  • Super M48:[60] Private venture upgrade for the M48. Featured a 105 mm L7 cannon with thermal sleeve, MOLF 48 FCS, a new 1,000 hp MTU Diesel engine and add-on armor on the turret front and sides.[61] Never developed beyond a prototype/test platform stage.

Commercial upgradesEdit

  • M48 Marksman: An M48 hull with the British-designed Marksman anti-aircraft turret mounted. Not in service.


Map of M48 Patton operators in blue with former operators in red

Current operatorsEdit

  •   Greece: 390 M48A5 MOLF.
  •   Iran: 180 M48A5.
  •   South Korea: Around 300 M48A3K and 500 M48A5K1/K2 are in service. M48A3K are expected to be replaced by the K2 Black Panther in the distant future. Most of the M48A3K are used in reserve, but the South Korean military continues to use a few tanks in active service. However, the South Korean M48A3Ks are being replaced with K-1 tanks.
  •   Lebanon: 104 M48A1 and M48A5.
  •   Morocco: 225 M48A5.
  •   Taiwan: 450 CM-11, 100 CM-12[62]
  •   Thailand: 105 M48A5PI.
  •   Turkey: 758 M48A5T2 in service. All other variants, 2,250 pieces including the 1,389 M48A5T1 are phased out of active service.

Keiler (Mine flail)

  •   West Germany 20 Minenräumpanzer Keiler
  •   Poland 4 Minenräumpanzer Keiler, from Germany

Former operatorsEdit

Non-state former operatorsEdit

See alsoEdit

Tanks of comparable role, performance and eraEdit

  • T-54 – a contemporary Soviet design
  • Centurion – a contemporary British design


  1. ^ Early M48s up to and including M48A1
  2. ^ These engines used a light fuel injection system (20psi) No gasoline engines with the AVSI designation (air-cooled, V12, Supercharged, Fuel Injected) were used in the combat tanks. This engine designation was only found in the M-88 Tank Retriever and was rated at 1050HP @ 2800 RPM.
  3. ^ Although the Ordnance Committee Minutes/OCM #33476 ceased utilizing the heavy, medium, and light tank designations on 7 November 1950; going to the "...Gun Tank designation")
  4. ^ 1st Armor Brigade lost 43 M48s and 66 M41s, 20th Tank Regiment lost 57 M48s


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  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5
  • Steven J. Zaloga, Tony Bryan and Jim Laurier, M26–M46 Pershing Tank 1943–1953, New Vanguard series 35, Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford 2000. ISBN 1-84176-202-4
  • Steven J. Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2): The wars of 1973 to the present, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 2003. ISBN 962-361-613-9
  • Keith W. Nolan, Into Lao's, Operation Lam Son 719 and Dewey Canyon II, Presidio Press, 1986. – Account of the US Army's final offensive of the Vietnam War.
  • Abraham Rabinovich, The Battle for Jerusalem June 5–7, 1967, Sefer Ve Sefer Publlishing, Jerusalem 2004. ISBN 965-7287-07-3
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  • Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, Signet, 2001. ISBN 0-451-20393-3
  • David R. Higgins, M48 Patton VS Centurion Indo-Pakistani War 1965, Osprey Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4728-1092-2
  • Simon Dunstan, Vietnam Tracks – Armor in Battle, Osprey Publishing Ltd., London 1982. ISBN 0-89141-171-2

External linksEdit