90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

The T95 series were American prototype tanks from the mid-1950s and early 1960s. The vehicles incorporated many high-tech features that appeared in later tanks. Among these innovations was siliceous-cored armor, a precursor of modern composite armors. The T95 also featured the T53 OPTAR rangefinder, which used an intense beam of light to calculate range. Various T95s were armed with guns ranging in caliber from 90mm to 120mm. There was much expected of the T95 program when it was initiated, but slow progress dogged the development process. It was finally decided that the T95 would not offer an appreciable benefit over an upgunned and re-engined M48A2 Patton, so the T95 was cancelled in favor of what eventually became the M60. Much was learned from the T95, however, and the pilot tanks were used for further component testing after the cancellation of the program. T95s took part in experiments with hydropneumatic suspensions, engines, and combination gun/missile launchers, with this experience directly influencing the M60A2 and MBT70 projects.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

This vehicle, hull serial number 5, was constructed as the sole T95E1 model in early 1958. The T95E1 differed from the T95 by using a recoiling main gun mount (compared to the T95's rigid mount) and a simpler fire control system that lacked the OPTAR rangefinder. The only differences between the 90mm gun T208E9 found in the T95E1 and the T95's 90mm gun T208 were those modifications necessary for use with the T95E1's recoiling gun mount.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

During testing, this tank was eventually topped by an M48A2 turret. It is therefore armed with the 90mm gun M41, not the T208E9. The commander's cupola is not fitted to the turret, but would have been a low-profile model with a lower silhouette than the M48A2's usual cupola. This tank is fitted with 24 inch wide T127 tracks. T95s originally used double-pin 21 inch wide T114 tracks, but with this track the tanks possessed inadequate cross-country mobility compared with the M48A2.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

The driver sat centrally in the front hull, and was provided with three T48 periscopes. The periscopes were retracted into the hull when the driver's hatch was opened.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

The fire extinguisher external activation handle was positioned on the right side of the hull, although it is absent from this vehicle. Two of the fender outriggers can be seen on the other side of the tank.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

On the opposite side of the front hull is the exhaust port for the personnel heater. The heater was located to the driver's left, and provided heat for both the fighting and driving compartments. Originally, an exhaust pipe with a guard to prevent burns would have exited this empty port.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

The T95 was designed with a 10-tooth rear drive sprocket. Details of the single-pin T127 track can also be seen.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

This tank is fitted with wheels that were designed with ten lightening holes around the circumference. Solid wheels were also used in the T95 series, and both types of wheel were sometimes seen on the same tank. When originally constructed, this vehicle was completely fitted with the solid wheels. T95s were fitted with shock absorbers on the first and last wheels of each track. An unusual design feature for an American tank was the T95's flat track suspension. The lack of return rollers saved weight and lowered the hull height.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

The rear hull and engine compartment of this vehicle were modified in the early 1960s to test the experimental AVDS-1100 engine. The tank was redesignated as T95E8 for the new engine testing. The rear hull of this tank would have been a more compact design when first constructed. The large hexagonal opening in the rear hull would have been occupied by exhaust louvres similar to those found in the later M48 tanks and the M60. The taillight groups are visible on the rear of the air cleaner boxes, and the towing pintle is mounted centrally on the lower portion of the hull rear. The travel lock for the gun is in the raised position on the top of the rear deck.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

Details of the rear deck and screens installed for the AVDS-1100 engine can be seen in this picture. The gun travel lock is apparent on the edge of the deck as well. The top of the fender-mounted air cleaned boxes can be seen on each side of the engine deck.

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90mm Gun Tank T95E8 in Weirton, West Virginia.

This turret interior view showcases the gunner's seat minus the cushions, and the breech of the 90mm gun M41 is visible to the right of the picture.

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References
  1. Hunnicutt, R.P. Abrams: A History of the American Main Battle Tank, volume 2. Navato, CA: Presidio Press, 1990.

  2. Crismon, Fred W. U.S. Military Tracked Vehicles. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1992.

  3. Decker, Oscar C. "The Patton Tanks: The Cold War Learning Series." Camp Colt to Desert Storm: The History of U.S. Armored Forces. Eds. George F. Hofmann, Donn A. Starry. USA: University Press of Kentucky, 1999.


Last updated 18 Mar 2006.

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© Copyright 2001-06 Chris Conners