In the last part, we followed the fate of the XM1 prototype until its introduction into service as the M1 Abrams main battle tank. Today, we are going to have a look at what followed.
The Department of Defense ordered a whole bunch of Abrams tanks and sent them straight to the first battalion that was to be equipped with them. It wasn’t just the usual military use, more like an extended period of testing, even though the mass-produced vehicles already featured some improvements over the prototypes (for example the extended rear of the turret, different loader’s machinegun, additional IR headlights and numerous other changes).
During the extensive military use/testing, multiple issues were uncovered and fixed – usually, these were connected to the actual use of the vehicles, not being significant design flaws per se. The vehicle was also criticized at first by the public but the crew and unit commanders were actually quite happy with it. It was a solid, useful battle tank and that was what they actually wanted from the start.