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074.mp3 ( Firefox users, please download the audio file )

M1A1 ABRAMS Supertank - 2

The M1A1 is the first major block improvement to the M1 ABRAMS Tank System and provides a significant improvement to the Army's offensive ground combat power as displayed during Operation Desert Storm.

These tanks were feared by the Allies, but there were too few of them to turn the tide of war. The design of tanks had always been a compromise between armor, firepower, and mobility. The heavier the armor, the better the protection, but the slower the speed. The bigger the gun, the heavier the casing needed to carry it. Victory or defeat depended on a balance between these characteristics.

During the cold war, the Soviet Union was years ahead of the West in the development of tank technology. They had produced a range of low profile designs that were harder to identify and to hit. The US and West Germany, now Allies, collaborated to produce a new tank of the century that would incorporate the latest scientific developments. By 1969, with over 400-million-dollar spent, the project was way over budget. Congress pulled the plug. But the US still needed a new generation of battle tanks. In 1972, both Chrysler and General Motors were asked to come up with new designs.

United States hadn't had a new tank for quite a number of years. And the Army felt the need to incorporate the knowledge that was available then into a new tank that would give them better firepower, more mobility and reliability. The Army did, I think, a very intelligent, very smart job of managing, the first thing they did was to get a group of seasoned, experienced tankers to get a tour of docks and ask these gentlemen what it is you'd like to have on a next version tank? It's somewhat similar to putting a kid in a candy store, and what to come out of that was a very tough and demanding sort of requirements.

World events would also play an important role in shaping the design. In October 1973, the Middle East War saw the largest tank versus tank battles since World War II. Israeli armored brigades fought with British Centurion tanks and the latest American Pattons. Egyptian and the Syrian forces were armed with the modern Soviet T-62 tank. The Middle East War proved that tank remained the dominant weapon on the modern battlefield. The US Army was now more committed than ever to design a new main battle tank. For US tank designers, the war provided a unique opportunity. They closely tracked the strength and weaknesses of the armored divisions and brought the results to the design table. Another factor that would affect the tank's overall design was the new top-secret British Chobham armor, code-named Burlington by the Army. In 1978, successful impact tests on the secret Burlington armor were held at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground.

There are two basic kinds of tank ammunition. One is kinetic energy -- brute force pushes a hole through the armor and it's very effective. The other type of anti-tank round is called the chemical energy round, molten metal come out of the front of the shell in a finger-sized jet that will burn a hole through several feet of steel.

 
 
turn the tide   cause a complete reversal of the circumstances
     
pull the plug   discontinue
 
 
 
 
 

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M1A1 ABRAMS Supertank - 2

 

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