Received in 1966 the US Army light tank М551 Sheridan made a splash among specialists. The case of aluminum alloys, 152-mm gun — launcher ATGM “Shillelagh”, the ability of the transport aircraft and parachute landing — it was all tanks for US, and for most light tanks the rest of the world a new word in the design and tactics of application. However, the value of these innovations were controversial, but it is not even that… All of the above is well known to many history buffs tanks. Much less known is that if the “cards lay” differently, the American army would get a completely different, though no less interesting light tank T92.
Since the story about this machine, I can not comment on the history of the American light tanks.
Enlisting in the Second world war with a 12-ton MZ “Stuart”, armed with 37-mm gun, American tank crews consistently move on the M5, and then the M24 “Chaffee”. This tank already weighed 16.5 tons and had a much more powerful 76-mm gun. The next step is the “weighting light tank” was the appearance in 1951, almost no different in the scheme of the M41 “Walker Bulldog”. 24-ton machine, superior firepower and weight of a medium tanks of world war II, became a “crowning development” of “classical” ways of improvement of a light tank. Trying to go this way was the creation in early 1953 t49 tank, armed with 90-mm cannon, and weighed over 25 tons. Despite the good results shown in the tests, the us military decided to go this way is meaningless, as it turns out the tank is too heavy and expensive to easy and too weakly armed (as conceded by the ammunition and sighting devices) and armored for a medium.
In may 1952, the Committee on arms announced the requirements for a new light tank that was to replace the M41. Initially it was assumed that the weight of the new machine is 20 tons, later this figure was reduced to 18. Tank wanted to arm the 90-mm gun, which gave him the opportunity to effectively deal with almost all armored vehicles a potential enemy, but the results of the preliminary study, made by experts of the Detroit Arsenal, it became clear that have limited the 76-mm gun, but it must be equipped with automatic loading. The competition received more than a dozen of various projects. In June 1953 at a meeting at Fort Knox has identified three contenders to win the competition.
The first of these was developed at the Detroit Arsenal and was a 18-ton tank armed with 76-mm cannon in the low desert tower. Ammunition of the guns was 60 shots, 18 of which were placed in the automatic loader. The presence of the latter allowed to reduce the crew to three people. Two of them, the tank commander and gunner were placed in the tower. The place of the third crew member — the driver is positioned in the center front of the hull. The armor corresponded to that of the precursor, the tank “Walker Bulldog”. In the aft were transverse-mounted 340-horsepower carburetor – tion engine AOI-628 and transmission of HT-270, transferring driving torque on the driving sprocket at the rear. Four carrier roller had torsion-bar suspension. Complementary suspension front idler wheels and three track-return rollers on Board.
1 — drive sprocket;
2 — support roller;
3 — supporting the roll;
4 — Dragoon;
5 — spare tracks;
6 — 76-mm gun Т185Е1;
7 — the hatch of the battery compartment;
8 — driver’s hatch;
9 — 7.62-mm machine gun;
10 — turret gunner;
11 hood left gas tank;
12 — hatch starboard of the tank;
13 — turret commander;
14 — 12.7-mm machine gun;
15 — lights;
16 — surveillance device commander of the tank;
17 — the commander’s periscope;
18 — periscope gunner;
19 — surveillance device of the gunner;
20 — entrenching tool in a special basket;
21 — aft double doors;
22 — box exhaust system;
23 — louver cooling the engine compartment.
The second project was proposed by the firm “Cadillac Motor car Division”. Tank T71 was a relatively lightweight (17 ton) machine with 76-mm cannon Т185 located in the regular (manned) tower. The weapon was the same gun M32, which was mounted on “Walker Bulldog”, but equipped with a device for quick loading. The crew consisted of four people, three of them — the commander, gunner and loader were situated in the turret, and the driver sat on the left in the front of the case. Booking is not different from the M41. Power unit was an engine AOI-628-1, leading leading asterisks located, unlike the previous draft, in front of the body. The scheme of the chassis, which had four track roller of large diameter with the torsion bar suspension on Board, was allowed to do without support rollers. The fuel was 570 liters, which provided a T71 cruising range 265 miles.