In the context of tank building, this approach leads to the appearance of a wide variety of new projects, each of which is slightly more advanced than the previous one. In most cases, each new modernization concerns all the main systems of the armored car - weapons, power plant, auxiliary equipment, etc. However, the military department of a country is not always able to order and pay for the full development of a new tank. Or there is such an opportunity, but the further start of production of a combat vehicle will result in unacceptable costs.
In such cases, sometimes there are real tanks-hybrids, the design of which uses ready-made elements of existing machines. Consider some tanks, created not only on the basis of finished equipment, but consisting of its components and manufactured, primarily, for economic reasons.
Based on Chaffee
Perhaps the most "successful" in terms of the number of hybrids produced on its base was the American light tank M24 Chaffee. As of the end of the forties, the second largest fleet of these armored vehicles was in France. Not wanting to lose such a massive, but not quite satisfactory equipment, the French began a project in the first half of the fifties, the goal of which was to develop a new tank with more firepower.
By the middle of the same decade, the French industry had mastered the production of the AMX-13 light tank with the original rocking cannon turret. With a gun of the same caliber as the Chaffee (75 millimeters), due to the greater barrel length (71 caliber), the new French tank had a great combat potential. In the 1955-56 years as an experiment, French tank builders built the first hybrid tank based on the M24 and AMX-13, which used ready-made units of both armored combat vehicles.
The serial turret was removed from the serial drill, and in its place, after appropriate modifications, the combat module FL10, borrowed from AMX-13, was installed. As expected, the firing capabilities of the M24-based hybrid tank were significantly higher than the original Chaffee with an American cannon. However, the performance of the resulting armored vehicles left much to be desired, and the prospects for such a tank looked ambiguous. With all the advantages over the original M24, the hybrid tank in the light of the resource of the existing tank chassis looked doubtful. Therefore, soon the only M24 prototype with the FL10 tower was removed from the tests. On the serial conversion of the available Chaffee out of the question.
Case AMX-13 + M24 CHAFFEE tower
A little later, the French tank builders, using the M24 tank units, assembled another prototype, but this time they borrowed a turret from Chaffee. The fact is that during the war in Algeria, French tankers rarely had to fight with enemy armored vehicles. In addition, the power of the AMX-13 tank guns was excessive for the destruction of fortifications and infantry. For this reason, the French Defense Ministry ordered the development of a cheap and simple combat vehicle capable of effectively using high-explosive fragmentation ammunition.
The result of these works was the hybrid tank of the following type. On the AMX-13 tank chassis mastered in the production, an original tower from M24 was installed. The barrel of the M6 gun used on the Chaffee was almost two times shorter than that of the AMX-13 cannon - about 37 calibers versus 71. Therefore, losing in the armor penetration to the French gun, the American was more effective against infantry, structures and unprotected equipment.
Such a hybrid tank was more successful in comparison with its predecessor. In the first half of 1959, the first prototype was assembled, and in the spring of 60, the Ministry of Defense of the Fifth Republic already ordered the first batch of production tanks. The military expressed a desire to acquire one and a half hundred such tanks, called the AMX-13 Chaffee. They were actively used in battles, and in the sixties they changed their status. Almost all the hybrids of this type available at that time were converted into training ones. In this “position,” they worked to develop a resource.
French "Sherman" for Egypt
At about the same time as the hybrid tanks described above, another armored vehicle was built in France, built according to a similar principle. However, this time the tanks were commissioned by Egypt, which urgently needed cheap combat vehicles with acceptable characteristics.
As a basis for a new medium tank, the old American M4A4 Sherman was taken, since a sufficient number of such vehicles remained in the reserve of the French army. Unlike previous experiments with Chaffee, the base machine underwent much greater changes when developing a tank for Egypt. Thus, instead of the native power unit of the M4A4 Chrysler A57 Multibank tank consisting of five automobile engines, a new power plant was installed on the new armored vehicle, corresponding to the M4A2 tanks - two General Motors 6046 diesel engines.
Picking up new weapon for a promising export tank, the French engineers went down the beaten track: they simply replaced the Sherman tank turret with a combat module from the AMX-13 tank. Due to the fact that this tank and the FL10 turret were already in the series, it was planned to make the ready tank for Egypt as cheap as possible and at the same time provide it with acceptable characteristics. The resulting machine, according to the name of the source components, received the index M4 / FL10. According to various sources, France supplied Egypt with at least 24-25 such hybrids.
In terms of their capabilities, the M4 / FL10 tanks roughly matched the Israeli Sherman M50, but later on the latter were more fortunate. During the Second Arab-Israeli War alone, in 1956, the Israeli forces managed to take the 12 Egyptian tanks M4 / FL10 as trophies right away. Most of the remaining combat vehicles were later destroyed or damaged in battle. Only three copies of the M4 / FL10 tanks, which are museum pieces, have survived to our time. Also until recently it was said about the existence of the fourth tank, abandoned in the Sinai desert and partially preserved due to the peculiarities of the climate of this area.
In the second half of the 1940s, the United States began exporting M18 Hellcat self-propelled artillery. Among other buyers of this technology was Yugoslavia. For various reasons, primarily economic, the army of this country used American self-propelled guns for a long time - they remained in service even when other operating states brought them down and disposed of them.
Thrift military Yugoslavia and other warring countries to some extent helped them in the wars of recent decades. The old armored vehicles were repaired, put in an acceptable condition and used in battles. At the same time, quite often more than non-standard designs appeared. Perhaps the most striking example of the Balkan approach to the repair of outdated armored vehicles can be considered the well-known self-propelled M18 with the new engine. There is no exact data on which motor was installed instead of the native one, but along with it the armored vehicle received a characteristic radiator grille in place of the hull aft sheet.
As a matter of fact, the engines that developed their resource were the main problem of the Yugoslav SAU. In addition, the booking of the hull and the tower was not enough even for the early fifties. However, in the nineties, the Yugoslav, Bosnian, Croatian, etc. the military needed any armored vehicles and therefore did everything they could. Roughly in 1995-97, such a need led to the emergence of a real hybrid tank, in which some self-propelled M18 self-propelled guns were used.
As the basis for the new hybrid tank, they took the chassis of the Soviet T-55 tank. These armored vehicles were massively supplied in the sixties and formed the basis of the armored forces of Yugoslavia. For some reasons that have not yet been clarified, the base tank has lost its home turret, in place of which the corresponding unit from the M18 Hellcat ACS was installed. The finished armored vehicle turned out to be noticeably lighter than the base tank, but at the same time it lost to it in firepower. The same was ambiguous: on a relatively well-protected armored hull there was a tower welded from less thick sheets. In addition, the tower of the new hybrid tank still had no armor.
It is worth noting the exact origin of this combat vehicle is still in question. The most common version according to which it was built by the Yugoslavs, and was made 10-15 machines. According to other sources, the hybrid tank was called So-76 and was a product of the activities of the military of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was built only in one copy. Similarly, information about the year of appearance of this technique is different.
There is no exact information about the combat use of tank hybrids and SAUs. In a number of sources speaking of Yugoslav roots, it is mentioned that during one of the battles several such vehicles were trophies of the troops of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Until recently, at least one such hybrid tank was kept in storage along with other M18 SAUs in different condition. Regardless of the origin of this “mix” of Hellcat self-propelled guns and the T-55 tank, it can be concluded that its effectiveness is insufficient. As often happens with armored vehicles forcedly built, the Yugoslav / Bosnian armored vehicle could not meet the expectations.
"Abrams" for the poor
In the late nineties, the American company General Dynamics Land System (GDLS) launched a new project, designed to complement the export main tank M1A1 Abrams. With all its advantages, the Abrams turned out to be quite expensive and far from everyone could buy it. Therefore, the GDLS started work on the creation of a new main battle tank with a minimum price and the highest possible characteristics. To reduce the cost of development and production, it was decided to do it according to the “hybrid tank” scheme.
Taking into account the possibilities of potential buyers, the old tank M60 Patton was chosen as the basis for the new combat vehicle. Because of this, the new project was considered as its deep modernization. The project was named M60-2000. A little later, for some reason, the project was renamed 120S. During the design, the aim was to create not just a new main tank on the basis of the existing one, but to make a kit for updating it. This kit includes a number of units that significantly improve the characteristics of the base tank.
The list of new equipment for the M60 tank chassis included a new Continental AVDS-1790-9A engine with 1200 horsepower and a new Allison transmission designed for heavy loads. In addition, the M60-2000 project implied the installation of new chassis components, also adapted to work with a larger engine. In this case, support rollers and driving wheels of the M1A1 tank were used. It was argued that all updates to the undercarriage and powerplant would significantly increase the capabilities of the upgraded M60. On tests, the M55,5-60 prototype, which was heavier to 2000 tons, due to its higher power density, showed the best characteristics of speed and maneuverability.
The update kit also included a new combat module. It was he who makes M60-2000 a hybrid tank. The fact is that in order to reduce the cost of production and ensure the required characteristics, the tower, armament and related electronics were almost unchanged from the tank M1A1 Abrams. Thus, the M60-2000 / 120S was armed with an 120-mm smoothbore M256 gun, two 7,62-mm machine guns, and one large-caliber machine gun. Weapons control system, sights, thermal imagers, communication systems, etc. also fully comply with those used on the Abrams.
Thus, the M60-2000 tank was a combat vehicle based on the modified M60 chassis with the combat capabilities of the modern M1A1, which was considered a great advantage for promotion in the international market. The M60-2000 / 120S project was regularly shown at exhibitions in the late nineties. At the same time, Turkey became interested in a new tank, and thanks to this event, GDLS assembled its first prototype. It was assumed that soon the United States and Turkey will work together to remake a number of Turkish machines M60A3 in 120S.
However, the M60-2000 / 120S project has not yet emerged from the testing stages of an experienced machine. Apart from Turkey, no one became interested in such an option to improve the old M60, and soon official Ankara refused to make possible purchases of modernization kits. The company General Dynamics Land System for some time continued to develop its project, and Turkey, in turn, a little later took up the creation of the tank Altay. Perhaps the project 120S in the future could break through to the international market, but the likelihood of this decreased every year. By the mid-2000s, the M60 tank modernization project was frozen and virtually closed.
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