M46 Patton (General Patton) History

After the events of World War 2 and Japanese removal from mainland Asia, Korea remained a divided country with a communist north influenced by the Soviet Union and the democratic south supported by the United States. The nation was divided along the 38th Parallel and both governments maintained a physical presence (and interest) throughout the peninsula during the early "Cold War" years between the East and West. The promise of free elections fell through in 1948 and worsened already growing tensions. This resulted in the North, with the blessings of Soviet leader Stalin and Chinese leaders, invading the South on June 25th, 1950 in an attempt to forcibly unify the peninsula under communist rule. Thus began the Korean War, becoming the first notable engagement of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (though largely considered a "proxy war" in military terms).

During this time, the world was already weary of war and defense budgets were drastically slashed from their peaks seen during World War 2. As such, much of the World War 2 inventory remained and this included the ubiquitous M4 Sherman medium tank of the American Army. For the communist North, it fielded a plethora of Soviet T-34 medium tanks - a hero of World War 2 - some of the later variants mounting the potent 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 configuration. Alongside the M4 Sherman, the United States Army could also field the late-war M26 Pershing, originally categorized as a heavy tank before advances of the time downsized it to a medium tank classification in the post-war world.

In combat, the M46 gave a good account of itself. It outmatched the North Korean Soviet T-34/76 and the limited T-34/85 medium tank types considerably. The 90mm main gun proved a good penetrating power at range while Western tactics proved superior for the day. The subsequent battles regained swathes of territory originally lost in the initial North Korean push, eventually pulling Chinese forces into the fold (Soviet jet fighter pilots also flew against Americans). The M46 proved critical in the defense of the all-important Pusan Perimeter during the latter half of 1950 that, its loss, would have spelled defeat for both US forces and South Koreans otherwise. M46s were used in support of the amphibious US Marine landings at Inchon thereafter and were also fielded used in support of UN forces during their retreat after the Chinese thrust. The war would eventually conclude in a cease-fire armistice though no formal conclusion was ever recognized - meaning that a state of war has consistently existed between the North and South since. As such, limited skirmishing continues today across the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a zone spanning some 2. 5 miles between the North and South as a buffer of sorts. The Korean War became the sole combat exposure for the M46 breed as it was soon replaced by the similar M47 Patton beginning in 1952. M47s were not used in the war but went on to stock US allies across Europe and the Middle East in the years following. Remnant M46s were eventually leased to Belgium, France and Italy as interim fighting and training systems until the expected arrival of M47s in their respective inventories.

Such ended the tenure of the M46 Patton, the first of the Patton tank line that has since culminated with the M60 Patton of 1961 - America's first "Main Battle Tank". The M60 itself was superseded by the excellent M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank in 1980.

The M46 Patton was formally retired in 1957. 1,160 M46 tanks were built in all by the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant. The M46 was utilized by both US Marine and Army elements in the Korean War.

M46 Patton (General Patton) Specification

BASICS

Year:
1950
Crew:
5
Manufacturing:
Detroit Tank Arsenal - USA
Production:
1,160 Units

ROLES

- Infantry Support

- Tank vs Tank

- Frontline

STRUCTURAL

Length:

31. 17 ft (9. 5 m)

Width/Span:

11. 48 ft (3. 5 m)

Height:

10. 37 ft (3. 16 m)

Weight:

49 tons (44,000 kg; 97,003 lb)

POWER

1 x Continental AVDS-1790-5A V12, 4-cycle, twin-turbo, water-cooled gasoline engine developing 810 horsepower.

PERFORMANCE

Maximum Speed:

30 mph (48 kph)

Maximum Range:

81 miles (130 km)

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ARMAMENT

1 x 90mm M4A1 main gun

1 x 12. 7mm machine gun roof-mounted (optional)

1 x 7. 62mm coaxial machine gun

1 x 7. 62mm bow-mounted machine gun

Ammunition:

70 x 90mm projectiles

550 x 12. 7mm ammunition

5,500 x 7. 62mm ammunition

VARIANTS

M26E2 - Original Product Designation

M46 - Base Series Designation; fitted with Continental V12 engine; cross-drive transmission; M3A1 90mm main gun as found on the M26A1 Pershing; repositioned exhausts; 800 examples produced.

M46A1 - Improved oil cooling, braking system fire extinguisher systems, updated instrument panels, updated electrical wiring, improved transmission and powerpack (CD-850-4 transmission, AV-1790-5B engine); 360 examples produced.

M46 (Dozer) - Fitted with M3 dozer conversion kit.

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