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M1 Abrams

General Characteristics
Length:8,48 m (27.82 ft)
Width:3,64 m (12 ft)
Height:2.43 m (8 ft)
Weight:69.5 tons
Speed:67 km/h (42 mph) (road)
48 km/h (30 mph) (off-road)
Range:M1: 498 km (310 mi)
M1A1: 465 km (288 mi)
M1A2: 391 km (243 mi)
M1: 105mm gun
M1A1 and M1A2:
120-mm smoothbore gun
.50 caliber machine gun
7.62 mm machine gun
Power plant:1119 kW (1500 hp)
gas turbine

The M1 Abrams main battle tank, the US Army's principal combat tank is named after General Creighton W. Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and commander of the Army's 37th Armored Battalion.

Table of contents
1 Production history
2 Combat history
3 Armour
4 Armament
5 Movement
6 Crew
7 See Also:
8 External links

Production history

The M1 Abrams was designed by the General Dynamics Corporation and first entered US Army service in 1980. An improved version of the M1, the M1A1 was introduced in 1985. The M1A1 has an 120mm smoothbore gun developed by Rheinmetall GmbH of Germany, improved armor and an NBC protection system. The M1A2 is a further improvement of the M1A1 with a commander's thermal viewer and weapon station, position navigation equipment, digital data bus and a radio interface unit. The army has upgraded older M1s and A1s to the A2 configuration.

A further upgrade of the A2 called the System Enhancement Program (SEP) was began in 1999.

In this article, "Abrams" is used to refer to all variants of the tank, while the specific variants are referred to as the M1, M1A1, and M1A2.

During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm some M1A1s were modified with add-on armor and others were equipped with mine rollers (Panther II) and mine plows (Grizzly) for breaching obstacles and clearing minefields.

Over 8,800 M1 and M1A1 tanks have been produced.

Reduced capability export variants of the M1 Abrams are also used by the defence forces of:

Combat history

The Abrams remained untested in combat until the
Gulf War in 1991. A total of 1,848 M1A1s were deployed to Saudi Arabia. The M1A1 was vastly superior to the Soviet produced T-72, T-62 and T-55 tanks fielded by the Iraqi as only 18 M1A1s were taken out of service due to battle damage. The M1A1 was capable of making kills in excess of 3000 m.

Further combat was seen during 2003 when US forces invaded Iraq and deposed the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The campaign saw very similar performance from the tank with no Abrams crew member being lost to hostile fire during the battle in Iraq. However, on October 29, 2003, two soldiers were killed and a third wounded when the tank was disabled by a land mine, which may have been combined with other explosives to increase its effect. This marked the first time deaths resulted from an assault on the M1 tank.

During the major combat operations in Iraq, Abrams crew members were lost when one tank with the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, and US Marine Corps troops, drove onto a bridge. The bridge failed, dropping the tank into the Euphrates River, where one soldier drowned.

No Abrams tank has ever been destroyed as a result of fire from an enemey tank.


The Abrams is protected by composite armour similar to the Chobham armour used by British tanks. It may also be fitted with reactive armour if needed. Fuel and ammunition are compartmented to protect the crew and reduce the risk of cooking off if the tank is damaged. Protection against spalling is provided by a kevlar liner.


Main armament

The main armament of the M1 variant is the M68A1 105mm rifling cannon firing a variety of APFSDS, HEAT, and high explosive rounds.

The main armament of the M1A1 and M1A2 is the M256 120mm smoothbore cannon, produced by the Rheinmetall Corporation of Germany. It fires APFSDS and HEAT rounds.

Secondary armament

The Abrams tank has three machine guns:

  1. A .50cal M2 machine gun in front of the commander's hatch. This gun is on a powered mount and has a 3x magnification sight.
  2. A 7.62mm M240 machine gun in front of the loader's hatch on a skate mount.
  3. A 7.62mm M240 machine gun in a fixed mount coaxial with the main armament.

The turret is fitted with two six-barreled smoke grenade launchers. These can create a thick smoke that blocks both vision and thermal imaging. The engine can also be used to create a smokescreen.


The Abrams is equipped with fire control computer that takes data from a laser rangefinder, a wind sensor, a tilt sensor, and manually-entered data on the ammunition type, and computes a firing solution. Either the commander or gunner can fire the gun.


The M1 Abrams is powered by a 1500 HP Lycoming gas turbine, and a 4-forward/2-reverse speed transmission, giving it a top speed of 42 mph (67 km/h on roads, 30 mph (48 km/h) cross-country. The tank can be fueled by diesel fuel, any grade of gasoline, kerosene, or JP-1 jet fuel.

The Abrams is so large that the largest US transport aircraft, the C-5 "Galaxy", can only carry one at a time. This has caused serious logistical problems when deploying the tanks for the first Gulf War: the 1,848 tanks used had to be transported by ship.


The Abrams has a crew of four:

  1. A driver in the center front of the hull.
  2. A gun loader seated on the left side of the turret.
  3. A commander seated on the rear right side of the turret.
  4. A gunner seated on the front right side of the turret.

See Also:

See also:
List of tanks, Leopard, Merkava, T-80

External links