By Steven J. Zaloga, Tony Bryan
One of many weaknesses of airmobile forces has consistently been their vulnerability to enemy armor. because the Nineteen Forties, there were a variety of schemes to box mild tanks that may be deployed by means of parachute or different how to toughen paratroopers and different airmobile forces. This publication tells the tale of the united states event with airmobile tanks, beginning with efforts in international battle II, particularly the M22 Locust airmobile tank. even if no longer utilized in strive against via the USA military, it was once used in the course of Operation Varsity in 1945 by way of British airborne forces and ended up assisting US paratroopers in this undertaking at the Rhine river. The ebook then turns to post-war efforts reminiscent of the original T-92 airborne tank, designed for paratroop drop. the one airborne tank truly synthetic in major numbers was once the M551 Sheridan. The historical past of this tank offers the point of interest of this booklet, highlighting the problems of mixing heavy firepower in a chassis gentle adequate for airborne supply. The ebook examines its arguable wrestle debut in Vietnam, and its next wrestle background in Panama and Operation desolate tract hurricane . It additionally rounds out the tale through studying makes an attempt to exchange the Sheridan with different armored autos, similar to the short-lived M8 MGS and military LAV courses.
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Extra resources for M551 Sheridan: US Airmobile Tanks 1941-2001
The Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) is also exploring a variety of light armored vehicles, but the program has faltered in recent years and may be at risk of cancellation or restructuring. In recent decades, airborne tanks have been viewed by the US Army as too specialized to justify the cost. FURTHER READING The history of the M22 Locust has been obscure, though the recent book by Keith Flint provides a thorough examination of British use; I used the official M22 development history from the Ordnance files at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland, for this account.
To minimize weight and size, the AGS used a two-man turret crew and autoloader. In its basic “level 1” configuration, the design was intended to provide armor against heavy machine-gun fire; level 2 and level 3 added progressively greater levels of appliqué armor to offer better protection against common battlefield threats, such as the ubiquitous RPG. The idea behind this was that the AGS could be deployed by air in its light, level 1 configuration, and the appliqué armor shipped separately if needed and mounted in theater; the vehicle weighed between 19 and 25 tons in combat-loaded configuration depending on the armor package.
There were a number of attempts to improve the Shillelagh and the M81 gun/launcher. The MGM-51B extended-range Shillelagh was developed, which increased the maximum range from 2,000 to 3,000m. During initial service, the gun tube was found to have a service life of only 100 rounds due to structural cracks at the muzzle end. Although the M81 used a smoothbore gun tube, it had a shallow groove that fitted a “key” on the missile that kept the missile in a fixed vertical orientation prior to launch to establish its proper flight regime.