The M1 Abrams Family tree
The development of the Abrams tank and the first operational version: The M1 Abrams
The Abrams tank is a development that started with the MBT-70, a MBT development project of West-Germany and the USA. The project proved to be too expensive and was shut down. Technology developed for this project was used on both the Abrams and Leopard II so these tanks are 'siblings' is a way. The M1 Abrams was the first tank to be designed with a laser range finder, targeting computer, thermionic targeting system and sensors in the gun barrel to measure distortions of the barrel. The M1 was armed with a 105mm gun and powered by an 1500 hp turbine engine. The first tanks where operational in 1978. These Abrams tanks have been painted in MERDC camouflage giving you a wide range of color scheme's to chose from.
Below two photo's of the prototype. the frontal armor is very different from the armor placed on the production versions of the tank but otherwise this is the Abrams in it's production form.
The first production type is simply known as the 'M1 Abrams' and was also painted in the MERDC colors but also plain green:
A successful experiment: The M1IP and M1E1The M1E1 Abrams is a prototype for the M1A1 Abrams, the first type of Abrams to receive upgrades in turret armor and a 120mm gun. In order to carry the heavier gun the front suspension is also improved. The M1 Abrams was already designed with the placement of a 120mm gun in mind so this was a relatively easy conversion. One of the prototypes carried some extra armor plates welded to the turret. A close up of this can be seen on the photo below more information on and the photo on this site. From 1978 onwards small improvements where already installed on the M1's making them known as M1IP's. One of the improvements was the larger stowage rack on the back of the turret still used today.
A new standard: The M1A1(HA) AbramsAfter testing with M1E1 Abrams modifications where implemented in the M1A1(HA) model of the Abrams from 1985 onwards. These include additional depleted uranium armor, a 120mm smoothbore gun, new blastdoors above the ammunition storage, an improved NBC system, slightly different access panels to the engine and a new type of stowage rack on the back of the turret. The depleted uranium armor was added from 1987 onward and retrofitted on previously build tanks. The 'HA' in M1A1(HA) signifies a tank with uranium armor added (Heavy Armor), but this is standard now so the suffix HA is sort of redundant. A final change on the outside is a round plate bolted on to the turret in front of the loaders hatch. This is locks off a hole in the turret where an additional target finder can be added. The US Marines also use the M1A1 Abrams which has a slightly different smoke grenade launcher as the army version. This version os fitted on the tank in the last picture of the paragraph. On the picture below the differences between the turrets of the M1 and M1A1 can be clearly seen. The addition of the extra armor makes the turret noticeably longer.
- 105mm gun upgraded to a 120mm gun.
- Depleted uranium armor added.
- Provisions for the installation of an extra target finder.
- Larger side stowage boxes.
- Lager rear stowage rack
- Two identical blast doors rather then 3 different ones.