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120 mm Gun Tank T57
T69.jpg
The T69 tank, which the T57 bore extreme resemblance to, despite having a larger calibre gun.
Type Heavy tank
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by See Operators
Production history
Designed 1951
Number built 2 turrets built
Specifications
Weight 54.3 tonnes (59.9 short tons; 53.4 long tons)
Length 9.3 m (30 ft 6 in) (hull only)
Width 3.63 m (11 ft 11 in)
Height 3.08 m (10 ft 1 in)
Crew 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)

Armor Cast homogeneous armour
Front upper glacis: 127 mm (5.0 in) @ 60°
Front lower glacis 114.3 mm (4.50 in) @ 45°
Sides:76.2 mm (3.00 in) @ 0°
Rear: 38.1 mm (1.50 in) - 25.4 mm (1.00 in) @ 30° - 60°
Turret front: 127 mm (5.0 in) @ 60°
Primary
armament
120 mm T179 tank gun
Secondary
armament
1 x coaxial 7.62 mm M37 light machine gun
1 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning heavy machine gun on a turret pintle mount
Engine Continental AV-1790-7 V12 gasoline
810 hp (600 kW) at 2300 rpm -690 hp (510 kW) at 2100 rpm
Power/weight 14.9 hp/tonne
Transmission General Motors CD-850-3 5 gear transmission
Suspension Torsion bar suspension
Operational
range
130 km (81 mi)
Speed 35 km/h (22 mph) on road

The T57 heavy tank was an experimental heavy tank developed by the American military during the Cold War era as a further development of the M103 heavy tank. Featuring heavy armour and a long range 120mm rifled gun, the T57 was supposed to serve as a replacement to the M103 in service with American heavy tank units in Europe. Armor on the hull front was to range between 137-203mm in thickness and the turret was to be 152mm at maximum on all sides. Like the French AMX 50 project, it was to feature an oscillating turret and was also to receive a 153mm gun. Experiments were also conducted to look into the possibility of the tank being able to mount a 203mm gun, but this was soon found to be infeasible. When multiple problems were discovered in the turret oscillation system on account of the excess weight of the heavily armored turret and the gun, the project was dropped.

Design

Armament

T57 cutaway turret schematic

The T57 was armed with the 120mm T179 rifled tank gun, a derivative of the T123E1 gun found on the failed T43 tank. The gun was mounted to the T169 mount located inside the vehicle's oscillating turret, which allowed for a maximum of 15 degrees of gun elevation or -8 degrees of depression by shifting the turret structure up and down rather than the gun itself. The T169 featured a hydrospring gun recoil system. The T179 was able to fire a variety of ammunition, including T284 armor piercing (AP) shells, T308 HEP shells, T275 high explosive (HE) and T309 high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. The AP rounds were tested to be able to penetrate 10.8 inches of homogeneous plate at 2000 yards or 9.8 inches at 1000 yards, while the HEAT round was able to penetrate 16 inches of plate. The T179 was reloaded by an autoloader system that had an estimated firerate of 30 rounds per minute. Due to the large size of the one-piece ammunition, a maximum of 18 rounds were able to be carried.[1]

Protection

The T57 was well protected for a tank at its time; it featured armour heavier than the M103 heavy tank despite using a hull based on its design. All of the armour of the tank was of cast homogeneous armour. The frontal upper glacis featured upwards of 127mm of armour sloped at 60 degrees while the lower glacis featured 114.3mm of armour at 45 degrees. The sides of the vehicles were 76.2mm thick while the rear was 38.1 to 25.4mm thick. The oscillating turret was the most armoured section of the vehicle, with a 127mm plate angled at 60 degrees. The gun mantlet was 254 to 101.6mm thick at 45 degrees. The sides of the turret were 136 to 69.85mm thick at 20 to 40 degrees of angling while the rear of the turret was 38.1mm thick as was the roof of the tank. The belly of the vehicle was 12.7 to 38.1mm thick. The hull of the vehicle retained the iconic rounded cast steel "beak" design of the frontal hull seen on both the M103 and M48 tanks.[1] The armour of the T57 was supposed to provide immunity for the vehicle against all existing Soviet anti-tank weapons at the intended engagement ranges of the vehicle. Heavy emphasis was placed on the turret armour due to the intention for the T57 and other NATO heavy tanks to provide long range fire in hull down positions.

Propulsion

The T57 was powered by a Continental AV1790 12 cylinder air-cooled gasoline engine that could propel the vehicle to a maximum of 35km/h, a comparable speed to the M103 tank which utilised the same engine. This was however far slower than medium tanks at the time such as the M48 and Soviet T-54/T-55, which could easily reach 40–50km/h of speed. A significant downside of the T57 was its very low range of 80 miles or 130km due to its very inefficient engine, a similar issue that had also befallen the M103.

History

The T57 project was commenced on 12 October 1951 to design a 120mm armed tank with an oscillating turret and autoloader. The initial design of the autoloader was cylindrical, however this was rejected by the Army Field Forces because such a design would take up an enormous space inside the turret bustle and limit round capacity to a maximum of 11. The Rheem Manufacturing Company was contracted to design and produce two pilot vehicles. However, the T57 was never completed and only two turrets were constructed, with both being mounted on T43 hulls for trials. On January 17 the US Ordinance Committee cancelled the project with both turrets scrapped and the hulls returned to a supply depot for future usage. Another project arose with the T77 120mm Gun Tank, which planned to mount the T57 turret to a M48 Patton tank hull, which was never completed. The failure of the T57 has been attributed to shifting doctrines in tank design at the time, with American designers progressing to the modern concept of main battle tanks that combined the mobility of medium tank, armour and firepower of a heavy tank in a lighter package, rendering heavy tanks obsolete.[2]

In popular culture

The T57 makes an appearance inside the online video game World of Tanks and World of Tanks Blitz as a tier 10 heavy tank.

References

Further reading

  • Bradford, George (2010). Cold War Armored Fighting Vehicles. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811706780. 

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