90mm Gun Tank M47E1 Patton II - "A Design Fulfilled"

Would you like to see the M47E1 in game?
  • Yes, as a tech tree vehicle
  • Yes, as a premium vehicle
  • Yes, as an event vehicle
  • Yes, as a squadron vehicle
  • No, I would not like to see the M47E1 in game.

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Catainium's Tanks: M47 Patton Medium Tank

A standard M47 Patton II for illustrative purposes. Outwardly, the M47E1 was indistinguishable from the previous model.


Today, I would like to present to you what is likely one of the most obscure Patton variants ever produced: the M47E1. To be clear, I am not talking about the Spanish M47E1 upgrade. Rather, the American M47E1 had only one significant modification, but it was a complete game changer for the vehicle. In order to understand the history behind the M47E1, it’s important to consider the genesis of the Patton II. The 90mm Gun Tank T42, which started life as the T42 Medium Tank in 1948, was the progenitor of the M47’s distinctive turret, and it was meant to incorporate several new features in order to replace the M46 Patton. One of these features was a gyroscopic gun stabilizer. Unfortunately, the T42 would never receive a stabilizer, despite the turret being designed to incorporate it, but the thought of stabilizing the T42 turret wasn’t abandoned so easily. Enter the M47E1.


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Installation of a Vickers fire control system in the turret of an M47, with the gunner’s controls on the left and the commander’s override on the right. Comparing the description of the deficiencies in the fire control system identified in Project STALK to the photographs above, it can be assumed that this is, in fact, the fire control system of the M47E1. This is because the commander override notably lacks elevation control - a problem that was only inherent to the M47E1. Also worth noting is the relative complexity of the gunner’s controls compared to the other photographed systems in R.P. Hunnicutt’s Patton - another cited issue of the M47E1.


The M47E1, four years after the T42 project started, finally fulfilled one of the design goals of the tank: a gyroscopic stabilization system for the main gun. It owes its success to the British Centurion Mk. 2 and Mk. 3, some of the first tanks to be fully stabilized in azimuth and elevation. The Ordnance Technical Committee authorized the procurement of 20 Centurion stabilizer systems for installation in the M47 turret on March 1st, 1952, and by August of 1953, the M47E1 was ready for comparative testing. The M4A3E8 Sherman, T41 76mm Gun Tank, M47 90mm Gun Tank, M47E1 90mm Gun Tank, and M48 90mm Gun Tank were pitted against each other in a series of trials called Project STALK. The objective of Project STALK was not to see which tank was better, as by almost every metric, it was the M48 Patton III. Rather, it was to see how well the crew handled their tanks, identify design deficiencies and failures in training, and to more heavily consider ergonomics in tank design.


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Comparative ratings in the STALK trials. The M47E1 was the highest rated tank for combat performance and crew performance alike.


The results of the trials from Project STALK, the testing of which was carried out through September - December of 1953 at Camp Irwin, CA, showed that the M47E1 was highly rated by its crews, and that the gun stabilizer helped with target acquisition and firing on the move. On the other hand, crews described difficulties in loading while moving with a gun stabilizer, which they were not used to, and the rangefinder was not stabilized, leading to discomfort from commanders and gunners attempting to range in on a target while moving. Despite the high marks the M47E1 got in Project STALK testing, it was never adopted for production, as the lower rank of the M48 was primarily attributed to poor training and system complexity rather than deficiencies in the tank’s design. Also, the M47’s production run was coming to an end, and retrofitting the Patton II fleet was either uneconomical or simply not a priority. Therefore, the M47E1 was destined to fade into obscurity… until today.


Specifications:


90mm Gun Tank M47E1 Patton II


Crew: 5

Weight: 50.9 tons ☆

Powerplant: Continental AV-1790-5B

  • 810 gross horsepower
  • 704 net horsepower

Power to weight ratio: 15.9 hp/ton gross (13.8 hp/ton net)

Maximum Speed: 30 mph (48.3 km/h)


Armament:

  • Main gun: T119E1 (M36) 90mm cannon
    • Rate of fire: 8 rds/min
    • Traverse: 24 degrees/sec, 360 degree range ☆
    • Elevation: 4 degrees/sec, + 19 / - 10 ☆
    • Ammunition types: AP, APC, HVAP, HE, HEP, HEAT, Smoke
  • Coaxial machine gun: .50 caliber Browning HMG (2,350 rds) or .30 caliber M1919A4E1 Browning machine gun
  • Anti-aircraft machine gun: .50 caliber Browning HMG (700 rds)
  • Bow machine gun: .30 caliber M1919A4E1 Browning machine gun

Armor:

  • Hull:
    • Upper glacis: 4 in (102 mm) RHA at 60 degrees
    • Lower glacis: 3.5 in - 3 in (89 mm - 76 mm) RHA at 53 degrees
    • Side front: 3 in (76 mm) RHA at 0 degrees
    • Side rear: 2 in (51 mm) RHA at 0 degrees
    • Rear, upper: 2 in (51 mm) CHA at 0 degrees
    • Rear, lower: 0.75 in (20 mm) CHA at 62 degrees
  • Turret:
    • Mantlet: 4 in (102mm) CHA at 60 degrees
    • Turret face: 4 in (102mm) CHA at 45 degrees
    • Sides: 3.5 in - 2.5 in (89mm - 63.5mm) CHA at 40 degrees
    • Rear: 3.6 in (91 mm) CHA at 7 degrees

Additional equipment:

  • M12 stereoscopic rangefinder
  • Gun stabilization system

Number produced: up to 20

Note - the gun stabilization system may have affected these figures compared to the base model M47. There is no specific information that I came across related to these values in comparison to the standard M47.



Sources:

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Would be a blast. +1