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.
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
commander's 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.
Despite its 63-ton weight, the M-1A1 can attain a top speed of 45 miles per hour.
The tank is 26 feet long, 12 feet wide, and eight feet high. Range is limited to
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-1A1's 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
"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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