The first M-1 tanks were delivered to the U.S.Army on February 28, 1980. The new tank was named for the late General Creighton W. Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and commander of the 37th Armored Battalion.
Protection against Chemical Agents
The M-1 mounts an M68E1 105 millimeter main gun. Two 7.62mm NATO M240 machine guns are also mounted, one coaxially with the main gun, and one on top of the turret at the loader's station. A .50 caliber Browning M2 HB machine gun is mounted at the commanderıs station for anti-aircraft defense. The M-1A1, first delivered in August 1985, mounts an M256 smoothbore Rheinmetall main gun developed in West Germany. M-1A1 upgrades also involved enhanced armor protection and a new nuclear-biological-chemical warfare protection system.
The Abrams hull and turret are built of a material similar to the ceramic-and-steel-plate Chobham armor developed in Britain. The driver is seated in a reclining position in the front of the hull; the commander and gunner are in the turret on the right, and the loader is on the left. Armor plate separates the crew compartment from the fuel tanks and ammunition storage area.
In March 1988, a program to develop and mount depleted uranium armor plate on the M-1A1 was begun. A non-radioactive substance, depleted uranium has a density at least two-and-a-half times greater than steel. The depleted uranium armor will raise the total weight of the Abrams tank to 65 tons, but offers vastly improved protection in the bargain.
Immediately following President Bush's decision to commit U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia, American armored units began the difficult process of relocating to the threatened area. The M-1A1ıs arrival was much welcomed by Allied forces, as it is capable of defeating any tank in the Iraqi inventory.
-From: "Gulf War - A Comprehensive Guide to People, Places & Weapons" by Col. Walter J. Boyne, U.S. A.F. (RET) Signet, 1991
Performance During the Gulf War
"It was the principal U.S. heavy tank used in the Gulf War. The heavy U.S.-based divisions arriving in the Gulf during the fall of 1990 were equipped with the earlier M1 because the division in Europe which had to face the best Soviet tanks, enjoyed priority for the better-armed M1A1. It is not altogether clear whether all M1s in Saudi Arabia were replaced by M1A1s before war began. The U.S. Army in Saudi Arabia probably had about 1,900 M1A1 tanks.
Its ability to fire reliably when moving at speed over rough ground (because of the stabilized gun mount) gave it a capability that proved valuable in the Gulf. The Abrams tank also has FLIR, an infrared vision device that proved effective not only at night, but also in the dust and smoke of Kuwaiti daytime.
On average, an Abrams outranged an Iraqi tank by about 1,000 meters."
- From: "Desert Victory - The War for Kuwait" by Norman Friedman, Naval Institute Press, 1991.
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