M47 Patton

M47 Patton

M47 Patton on display
Type Medium tank[1]
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1952–early 1960s (USA)
Wars Suez Crisis, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Six Day War, 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Ogaden War, Iran–Iraq War, Somali Civil War, Yugoslav Wars
Production history
Manufacturer Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant
American Locomotive Co.
Produced 1951–1953
Number built >9,000
Weight 48.6 short tons (44.1 t) combat ready [2]
Length 27 ft 11 in (8.51 m)
Width 11 ft 6.25 in (3.51 m)
Height 11 ft (3.35 m)
Crew 5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, assistant driver)

Armor Upper Glacis: 4 in (100 mm) at 60°
= 8 in (200 mm) LoS
Turret Front: 4 in (100 mm) at 40°
= 5.22 in (133 mm) LoS[3]
90 mm gun M36
71 rounds
1 × .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2 machine gun (roof-mounted)[2]
2 x .30 cal (7.62 mm) M1919A4 machine gun (one flexible mount at right front of hull, one coaxial with the 90mm cannon)[2]
Engine Continental AV-1790-5B V12, air-cooled, Twin-turbo gasoline engine
810 hp (600 kW)
Power/weight 17.6 hp (13.6 kW) / tonne
Transmission General Motors CD-850-4, 2 ranges forward, 1 reverse
Suspension Torsion bar suspension
Fuel capacity 233 US gal (880 l; 194 imp gal)[2]
100 mi (160 km)(In average conditions)[2]
Speed 37 mph (60 km/h)[2]

The M47 Patton is the second American tank to be named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates of tanks in battle. It was a development of the M46 Patton tank mounting an updated turret,[4] and was in turn further developed as the M48 Patton.


The M47 was the U.S. Army's and Marine Corps' primary tank, intended to replace the M46 Patton and M4 Sherman medium tanks.[5] The M47 was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, both SEATO and NATO countries, and was the only Patton series tank that never saw combat while in US service.

Although roughly similar to the later M48s and M60s, these were completely new tank designs. Many different M47 Patton models remain in service internationally. The M47 was the last US tank to have a bow-mounted machine gun in the hull.


A Copperhead laser-guided anti-tank missile fired from a towed M198 155 mm Howitzer detonating on contact with a target M47 tank.

Although a new power plant corrected the mobility and reliability problems of the M26 Pershing, the subsequently renamed M46 was considered a stopgap solution that would be replaced later by the T42 medium tank. However, after fighting erupted in Korea, the Army decided that it needed the new tank earlier than planned. It was deemed that there was not enough time to finish the development of the T42 and fix various problems that were likely to emerge in the new design. The final decision was to produce another interim solution, with the turret of the T42 mounted on the familiar hull of the M46. The composite tank, developed by the Detroit Arsenal, was named the M47 Patton and entered production in 1951. Its main gun was the M36 90 mm gun with an M12 optical rangefinder fitted. The secondary armament consisted of two .30cal Browning machine guns, one in the bow of the hull and one coaxial machine gun in the turret, and a .50cal Browning M2 on a pintle mount on the turret roof. The M47 was the last American-designed tank to include a bow machine gun. The T42 turret had a larger turret ring than the M26/M46 turret, and featured a needle-nose design, which improved armor protection of the turret front (similar to the M60A1 tank of 1962), an elongated turret bustle and storage bin which protruded halfway across the engine deck, and the turret sides were sloped to further improve ballistic protection; this gave the turret a decidedly lozenge-shaped profile. It also featured the M12 stereoscopic rangefinder, which was designed to improve first-round hit probability but proved difficult to use; the rangefinder protruded from both sides of the upper turret front, which would be a feature of American tanks until the advent of the M1 Abrams in 1980.[6]

Production began at the Detroit Tank Arsenal in June 1951 before the M47 was standardized for production. Delays in the shipment of the M12 rangefinder and other problems due to the rushed production schedule caused a protracted testing period, and the first M47s were not fielded to the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions until summer 1952. Standardized in May 1952, the M47 Patton's production ran until November 1953; Detroit built 5,481 tanks, and American Locomotive Company (Alco) produced 3,095, for a total production run of more than 9,000 M47 Pattons.[7]


M47 Patton tank at Fort Meade, Maryland.

With the arrival of the improved M48 Patton in 1953, the M47 was declared 'limited standard' in 1955, and examples in tank units were replaced with the M48 series soon after.[8] After being declared obsolete in 1957, M46s and M47s were retained in active duty infantry division battlegroup assault gun platoons (four tanks each, one platoon per battlegroup, for a total of 20 tanks per division) until replaced with the light truck-mounted SS-10 anti-tank guided missile in the early 1960s.[9] M47s were used by the Reserves for a relatively short time, soon being replaced by early production M48 Patton series tanks; thus, most of the M47s were exported in the late 1950s.[8][10]

The US Marine Corps also fielded M47s starting in late 1952; after the Korean War, all seven Marine tank battalions, three divisional, two reserve training, and two force level, each fielded M47s. But these were soon replaced with M48A1 Pattons and M103 heavy tanks, with the last M47s being retired in 1959.[11]

The M47 was widely used by many countries, especially NATO and SEATO allies, including Austria (147), Belgium (784), Ethiopia (30), France (856), Greece (396[12] from USA and West Germany), Iran (around 400), Italy (2,480), Japan (1 for evaluation only), Jordan (49), Pakistan (100), Portugal (161), Saudi Arabia (23 from the US, 108 on the international market), Somalia (25 from Saudi Arabia), South Korea (531), Sudan (17 from Saudi Arabia), Spain (389), Switzerland (2 for evaluation), Turkey (1,347 from the US and West Germany), West Germany (1,120), and Yugoslavia (319).[13] Like the US Army of the time, the West German Bundeswehr also used some of their M47s as interim tank destroyers/assault guns until replaced by the Raketenjagdpanzer 1 tank destroyers armed with SS-11 anti-tank guided missiles in the early 1960s.[14]

US Army M47s remaining in storage were expended as targets; in the 1970s, they were used for the M60A1's 105mm gun with devastating effect. The 105 mm HEAT round would penetrate the frontal armor with ease. Many M47s in like-new condition met their fate in this manner, showing the M60 crews first hand the effects of modern tank weapons on conventional steel armor.

Combat service

Destroyed M47 in Somalia
A captured Pakistani M-47 Tank from the battle of Assal Uttar at Bhikiwind Village in the Khem Karam Sector on 10 September 1965. Now displayed in Bangalore city.


Additional equipment


Map of M47 Patton operators in blue with former operators in red

Current operators

Former operators

M47 Patton II in museum in Dresden, Germany
Line drawing of the M47.

Evaluation only operators

Civilian operators

See also


  1. Hunnicutt, p. 35
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Department of the Army and the Air Force. Military Vehicles (Ordnance Corps Responsibility). Department of the Army Technical Manual, 1953, February 1953 p. 119.
  3. Hunnicutt, R.P. (1984). Patton: A History of the American MBT. Presidio. p. 425.
  4. Hunnicutt
  5. 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")
  6. Jim Mesko "Pershing/Patton in action" ISBN 0-89747-442-2 pp. 41-45.
  7. Mesko, p. 41.
  8. 1 2 Mesko, p. 47.
  9. Department of the Army, "Field Manual FM 7-21 Headquarters and Headquarters Company Infantry Division Battle Group", 8 August 1957, pp. 185, 205.
  10. Steven J. Zaloga "The M47 and M48 Patton Tanks" ISBN 1-85532-825-9 pp. 6, 12-38, 44-45.
  11. George F. Hofmann and Donn A. Starry "Camp Colt to Desert Storm: The History of U.S. Armored Forces" ISBN 0-8131-2130-2 p. 281.
  12. Σχολή Αξιωματικών Τεθωρακισμένων, Γραφείο Μελετών, Ιστορία Ιππικού-Τεθωρακισμένων, Αυλώνας 1995, pages A9-A13. Also page 58: beginning in 1992 the Greek army scrapped 391 M47 as part of the CFE agreement
  13. Zaloga, ibid.
  14. Peter Blume, "Die Anfangsjahre des Heeres 1956-1966", Tankograd Publishing 2003, pp. 46-47.
  15. The Action of the Captured M47 in Attila II in The Unknown Soldier of Cyprus (Savvas Vlassis) 1997
  16. "Американский танк 50-х годов получил шанс на новую жизнь". warfiles.ru. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  17. Mesko, pp. 41, 43
  18. Mesko, p. 41
  19. Mesko, pp. 41, 43, 45
  20. http://www.military-today.com/tanks/sabalan.htm
  21. "بازگشت مقتدرانه قدیمی‌ترین تانک ایرانی پس از 60 سال +عکس". Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  22. Ivan Bajlo. "M-47 Patton". Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  23. "M47 Patton II". Military Factory. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  24. "M47 Patton II". Military Factory. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  25. John Pike. "Pakistan Army Equipment". Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  26. "M47 (Patton II) Medium Tank (1951)". Militaryfactory.com. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  27. Matt McDaniel. "Arnold Schwarzenegger takes his own personal tank out for a spin". Retrieved 3 March 2015.


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