Like some other well-known designs, the birth of the Abrams main battle tank was not exactly easy. In this series of articles, we will have a look at how it actually happened.
In order to get to the roots of the program that resulted in the Abrams main battle tank, we have to go all the way back to the 60’s when the Patton series of tanks was still the principal armored fighting vehicle of the U.S. Army. The Patton (including the latest modifications) was in fact the development of the old WW2 M26 Pershing medium tank. During several conflicts it proved itself to be somewhat effective but far from stellar - the Patton units of the Israeli army in particular suffered very high losses during the 1973 Yom Kippur war and while the issue was remedied later on (partially thanks to design changes and partially thanks to superior crew training), the reputation stain stuck with the American workhorse.
The American program to replace the M48/M60 series in fact started as early as in 1963 when the army decided to participate in the international development program with Germany (considered having plenty of experience in tank building). The program eventually resulted in the MBT-70 main battle tank, a new, unified tank for the NATO countries capable of surpassing all its opponents in power.