A medium tank named after General George S. Patton, infamous commander of the U.S. Third Army, this World War II M47 Patton Tank was an interim solution essentially incorporating the M46 hull and a turret originally intended for the T42 heavy tank. The design of its predecessor, the M46, was simply a temporary solution originally proposed to be replaced with the T42 medium tank. Once fighting began in Korea, the Army realized the time-line for the next design needed to be expedited.
The Armed Forces History Museum, in Largo, FL, has a fully restored, operational M47 Patton Tank on display.
They did not believe there was enough time available to develop and remedy the problems associated with the T42’s new design. Therefore, the post-World War II M47 Patton Tank was designed and production began in 1951.
The main gun on this particular tank was the M30 90 mm machine gun. The secondary armament included two .30cal Browning - one front mounted and one coaxial machine gun mounted on the turret roof – and one .50cal Browning on a pintle mount, also on the turret roof. While this was the final American designed tank which included the front mounted machine gun, only minor improvements were made during the production run of the M47, which began in 1951. Due to unforeseen difficulties, the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions actually did not receive their first M47s until the summer of 1952.
Additional Information on the M47 Patton and Variants
These tanks were also used by both the NATO and SEATO countries establishing the first modern tank powers in Austria, Belgium, France and Germany. Production on this tank continued until sometime in November of 1953. In all, just over 8,500 Patton tanks rolled off the assembly line.
The M47 saw combat in 1965 when Pakistan used them against India in the Indo-Pakistani War. Jordan also used this tank in the Six Day War against Israel in 1967. M47 continued to see battle into the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but were eventually retired from service and used as gunner/missile targets for military exercises.
Variants of the M47 included the M46E1 – the pilot model, in which the M46 hull was combined with the T42 turret and fitted with the M36 90 mm gun and the M47M whose design was started in the 1960s and included the engine and fire control elements from the M60A1. Other alternatives included the Spanish M47M, the second upgrade to this model, the M47E1 and the M47E2 and the M47ER3.
The post-World War II M47 Patton Tank has been used in many popular films, most notably, Battle of the Bulge, where it was actually used to depict Tiger II tanks.