Back in the 1980s, there was a new king crowned in the tank world when the M1 Abrams tank was released. The Army was looking for a solid replacement to the M60 Patton Tank that had been used since 1961 so it tried a few different prototypes before settling on the XM815 that would later be named XM1 Abrams after General Creighton Abrams, who was an Army commander in Vietnam. They had two different manufacturers attempt to build the XM1, Chrysler Defense and General Motors but very quickly it was determined that the Chrysler prototype was far superior to the one provided by General Motors so Chrysler received the contract to develop the M1. Chrysler Defense was later bought by General Dynamic Land Systems in 1979 where they would go on to build almost 3500 M1’s from 1979-1985.
The M1 used the 105mm Royal Ordinance L7 gun that was 5mm bigger than the outgoing M60 and due to much better ammunition technology the L7 was much more accurate at long range than anything. But what really set the M1 apart was the technology that it utilized for range finding, missile guidance systems and maybe even most importantly night vision assistance that most other tanks did not have. Powering this mighty beast was the Honeywell AGT1500 which is a gas turbine engine that puts out 1500 hp and an incredible 2,750lb-ft of torque, just to give a comparison the most powerful semi truck driving on the road right now will have roughly 500-600 hp and at most 2,000 lb-ft of torque. But really you are going to need all the power you can get considering that this thing tips the scales at over 67 tons making it the heaviest tank in the world. Apparently the AGT1500 can run on many types of fuel, gas, diesel and even JET FUEL! So no need worry about running out of gas because there is bound to be something laying around that would power this thing.
Tanks are a waste if they are not as strong as they look, and if its possible the Abrams is even tougher than it looks. It has quite the battle record considering that there has never been a single M1 destroyed due to fire from an enemy tank. There have obviously been many that required extensive repair but none that have been totally destroyed. There was one instance where an M1 was destroyed but later it was determined that it had taken friendly fire from a HellFire missile that had been fired from a nearby Apache Helicopter. It disabled four Abrams but only destroyed one of them beyond repair. There was debate as to whether it had actually taken a direct hit from a hellfire missile or not but apparently there was remnant of the missile in the vicinity of the tank. Luckily there weren’t any soldiers killed in the accident but there were some injuries. It was reported that the Abrams had taken direct fire from a 125mm cannon but due to its unmatched armor technology there was very little damage made by the massive shell, however it could have been due to the out dated ammunition tech available to the Iraqis at the time.
There was also a story of an Abrams taking three direct hits with Kinetic Energy armor piercing rounds but according to the Department of Defense report they were not able to fully penetrate the armor which obviously saved all the crew members on board. It did cause some damage though so it was forced to go in for maintenance and therefore became the only Abrams to be taken out by an Iraqi Tank, but it was able to return to duty after some repairs.
The M1 Abrams had a few upgrades over the years, in 1986 it got the smoothbore 120mm cannon and many technology upgrades improving its night vision and navigation systems. It is still in use today and will probably be in use for the foreseeable future.
This is the newer M1A1 tank doing some firing tests.