Armor: New American M10 Tank


March 28, 2024: The U.S. Army is receiving 504 M10 light tanks to provide front line firepower for infantry units. The M10 Booker tank is a 38-ton armored vehicle that looks like a tank but is designated an assault gun. It has a low recoil 105mm gun with fifty 105mm shells on board. Next (coaxial) to the 105mm gun is a 7.62mm machine-gun that can be fired instead of the main gun. On top of the turret is a 12.7mm heavy machine-gun. The aimed range of the 105mm gun is four kilometers.

The crew consists of a driver, gunner, loader, and tank commander. Top speed is 65 kilometers an hour and max range using onboard fuel is 305 kilometers. M10s will be assigned to infantry companies in groups of four or more M10s. There is also an ammunition supply vehicle available. As an infantry support vehicle, the M10 will use a lot of ammunition supporting infantry attacks. The fire control system enables the M10 to deliver very accurate fire on targets designated by the infantry being supported.

Before the M10 was developed, M1 tanks would supply artillery support for the infantry using their limited number of high-explosive shells. The M1 normally carries some 120mm armor piercing anti-tank shells plus a variable number of 120mm high-explosive shells for infantry support. The main function of the M1 is destruction of enemy tanks and other vehicles. The M10 is designed to supply infantry support more effectively than the M1 and allow the M1s to concentrate on their anti-tank and anti-vehicle role.

The M10 has been tested in realistic field exercises but has not been in combat yet, where the enemy will often do unexpected things to render a new weapon, like the M10, less effective. It’s not known if any M10s are going to Ukraine as military aid. Once in Ukraine such new weapons also get some very practical, useful, and revealing combat experience.

The first assault gun was the German Sturmgeschütz 3, also known as the StuG III. The vehicle entered service in 1940 and over 10,000 were built by the time the war ended in 1945. The Sturmgeschütz 3 was a 24 ton armored vehicle armed with a 75mm anti-tank gun and 54 anti-tank or high explosive shells were carried. Another 1,300 of these vehicles were armed with a 105mm gun and used self-propelled artillery.

Then there was the Hetzer. The was a 16-ton turretless armored vehicle armed with a 75mm anti-tank gun and a 7.92mm machine-gun, with 1,200 rounds of belted ammunition, mounted next to the top hatch. There was a crew of four and 41 rounds of 75mm ammo were on board. Top speed was 42 kilometers an hour and max range using internal fuel was 180 kilometers on roads or 130 kilometers off road. The armor could stop rifle and machine-gun fire and most shell and bomb fragments.

The Hetzer was used mainly in Russia and eastern Europe. Between March 1944 and May 1945 2,800 Herzer’s were built.

The Russian answer to the StuG 3 was the Su-76. This was a 11 ton armored vehicle built on the chassis of the T-70 light tank. SU-76 was armed with a 76.2 mm gun. Over 14,000 of these vehicles were built between the end of 1942 and late 1945. Su-76s served in the Russian army until the 1950s and were used by export customers into the 1970s. The Su-76 was followed by the SU-85. This was a 30 ton turretless armored vehicle armed with an 85mm gun. The SU-85 was built on the chassis of a T-34 tank. There was a crew of four. Between 1943 and 1944, 2,650 SU-85s were built. SU-122s, armed with a 122mm gun entered service in 1942 and only 638 were built.




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