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Armada Michigan M48 hull with XM66 "D" Turret update
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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Joined: Jan 29, 2006
Posts: 2067
Location: Razorback Country
PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:18 pm
Post subject: Armada Michigan M48 hull with XM66 "D" Turret update

Over the last few months I have been researching M48A3 history. This had led me to some conclusions which I am presenting here for review and comment.

This is the Armada Michigan tank that used to be on display at the old Detroit Tank Arsenal grounds in Warren MI. She is an interesting amalgam, consisting of what appears to be an M48A3 hull with the "D" model turret proposed for what eventually became the M60A2. Picture courtesy Walter Sobchak.

Armada MI Tank

I have acquired two first edition Tank Manuals for the M48A3 from June and July of 1963. These manuals were written using one of the two Prototype M48A1E2's, Registration Number 9A9551. She is pictured below, the image is from TM 9-2350-224-10, dated 11 JUL 1963.


Notice she has only three support roller per side. In 1960 Chrysler took six M48A1's and upgraded them with AVDS-1790 Diesel engines and 105mm M68 guns. They were made using many M60 parts. Part of the conversion was to eliminate the number two and four support rollers and upgrading the fender and stowage layout similar to the M48A2.Here is a picture of RN 9A9551 as an M48A1E1.


In the TM there is a picture showing the casting mark along the right side of the hull. It is located in front of the #5 road wheel arm bump stop. I compared it to a picture of the same spot on the tank in Armada MI. The mark appears to be identical, to include the "R" out of position on the first line. I also noticed the "HEAT" and "SERIES" numbers are the same. I have compared other casting marks from the same producer in the same spot and they do not have this misaligned "R" or the same numbers for either "HEAT" or "SERIES". The weld bead and imperfection also match up.

Casting mark comparison

Based on this casting mark, I am quite sure this hull is 9A9551. A historically significant vehicle in my opinion. She was one of only two prototypes for the M48A3 Tank. This tank was also provided to the USMC for their trails prior to receiving the M48A3. She is featured in "Patton" by RP Hunnicutt, page 222, and in "M48A3 in Vietnam" by David Doyle, page 4 and 10.

What is interesting is she now has the 152mm gun/launcher "D" turret installed. This was one of four proposed turrets initially designed to be on M60 hulls and was installed on M60 RN 9B4770 for a while. That tank also had what would eventually become the M60A2 turret installed, becoming the first M60A1E1.

M60 RN 4470 with "D" turret

Had this program survived, excess M60 turrets would have been installed on M48A1 hulls modified to M48A3 standards and would have been known as the M48A4. In order to install these M60 turrets, the turret ring was modified and raised 2" to accommodate the lower hanging turret floor. Two of these M48A4's were made. One was RN 9A9849, and is well documented in "Patton". I have not found any images or information of the other, to include her Registration Number. In the image below of the Armada tank, you can see a spacer that has been welded to the hull turret ring. Picture courtesy Walter Sobchak.

Turret ring spacer

The only reason I can think of why this was done would be to install a turret with a lower floor than the M48. This spacer may also help explain how this "D" turret designed for an M60 hull could be installed. Would be nice to see the inside of her to know if the floor is still there. M60A2 turrets have been installed on M48 hulls to make targets. The "Franken Tanks" on Fort Knox ranges are good examples. In order to make them they cut the floors off though. In any case, I believe 9A9551 was also used to make the other Pilot M48A4. The turret ring spacer along with her former location at the Detroit Arsenal as a display tank for TACOM helps support this theory. The M60 turrets used for the M48A4 pilots were eventually returned to their original hulls when the M60A1E1 was cancelled, therefore effectively canceling the M48A4.

I can only assume she was used as an automotive test rig or some other "Mule" before retiring. Might explain the diamond plate steps welded on the front slope. My guess is the "D" turret was mated to her for either weight or just to complete her when retired to make a display. Maybe someone thought they were both historically significant to save, or just easier to display than scrapping. Finding a picture of the other M48A4 would really help confirm or discount the M48A4 tie in. Either way, I welcome comments pro or con on my conclusions.


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Joined: Apr 26, 2011
Posts: 909
Location: Lewes, Delaware, USA
PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:26 am
Post subject: Re: Armada Michigan M48 hull with XM66 "D" Turret update

Joe, Just wondering if You found any new information on the M48A3, Armada, MI, M48E1, M48E2, or M60 with type "D" turret. I'm always looking for data on pilot model and rare tanks. I have been working on data about the T95 Medium tank series for several years, hope to print it someday. Thanks, Rick Eshleman
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