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M103 Heavy Tank, 1950-74 (New Vanguard) [Paperback]

Kenneth W. Estes , Richard Chasemore
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Feb 2013 New Vanguard
The T43 design represented the pinnacle of U.S. Army tank engineering of the late 1940s. The heavy tank proved fairly popular with its crews, who above all respected the powerful armament it carried. The outbreak of war in Korea brought a rush order in December 1950 which led to a complete production run of 300 vehicles. After 1951, the Marine Corps alone retained confidence in the heavy tank program, investing its scarce funds in the improvements necessary to bring about its fielding after a hurried production run in midst of the 'tank crisis' of the year 1950-51. The eventual retirement of the M103 in 1972, over 20 years after manufacture and after 14 years of operational service, demonstrated the soundness of its engineering. It may have been the unwanted 'ugly duckling' of the Army, which refrained from naming the M103 alone of all its postwar tanks. For the Marine Corps, it served the purpose defined for it in 1949 until the automotive and weapons technology of the United States could produce viable alternatives.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (20 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849089817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849089814
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 18.4 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

An unusual and little known subject. Recommended. - Tankette

About the Author

Kenneth W Estes is a 1969 Naval Academy graduate who served in a variety of command and staff assignments in the US Marine Corps until his retirement in 1993. He earned his doctorate in European History in 1984 and has taught at Duke University, the US Naval Academy, and local schools. He is the editor of several books, and has written extensively in military and academic journals throughout his career. Kenneth was made an Honorary Legionnaire in the Spanish Legion in 1992.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Born out of the shock of the Korean War, the M103 (or its T43 prototypes) reached service at a time it was no longer so actively required and slowly but surely moved off center stage with the arrival of the M60. Of the approximately 300 built, the majority went to the USMC and the only semi-active deployment they were ever engaged in was in the perimeter security role in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Like other books in the series, the author attempts to package loads of material into a very compact package and in this he largely succeeds. The whole development history, the leading personalities involved in getting the project through to approval, the operational use in both US Army and USMC guise as well as the subsequent upgrades are all covered. And while you will get some info on the specific components used (primarily the gun and fire control system), this is perhaps the area with the least amount of coverage.

The book also has quite some black and white photos as well as the customary colour plates and detail drawings, all executed to the usual high standard.

On top of this you will also get some assessment of the tank's capabilities compared to its contemporaries (such as the M60, with which it later shared many of the mechanical components), especially concerning armour protection and firepower. The book does cover comparatively little in terms of first hand accounts of the tankers using it, though.

So overall a good compact information source on a largely forgotten tank, and a very interesting start for someone interested in post WW2 heavy armour.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A look at an obscure tank 9 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The M103 tends to be overlooked, due to the small numbers built. This book is typical of the New Vanguard series and gives an informative view of the tank. If you are interested in US heavy tanks, it is worth the price.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Boys 23 Mar 2013
By Michael Dunham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My dream was to command a platoon of these awesome vehicles,only to arrive at Delta Co.,2nd Tank Bn.,USMC,just after they were shipped off and replaced with M48s! Anyhow,Estes does a fine job in a small book,and highlights the drawn out development that not only corrected the original design deficiencies,but turned the M103 into a fearsome weapons package.Yes,I would have liked some more photos of the Littlefield M103a2,but these are easily found elsewhere.I would also like a mention of how indirect fire techniques could be used with the 120mm,and just how much damage it could inflict.My only gripe with the book is that all artwork shows the track reversed,enough of an error to really stand out in a Tankers perspective! Still a bargain and a harbinger of a well done injection 1/35th kit for modelers??
Highly recommended,even with the track run error
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite There... 25 Mar 2013
By John W. Faulconbridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm glad I got this book since there is little else published. I'm still looking for a copy of Hunnicutt's Firepower to really get the details on this monster.
Having said that, I'm disappointed by several of the decisions that the author and editors made. Spending two pages to list a timeline of variations to gun tubes and details in a Vanguard format book is almost a crime. This is made even worse because the majority of these details are then included in the narrative of the development and deployment of the tank. There are editing errors like repeating the caption for photos alongside completely different views. Like other reviewers, I'd have liked a line drawing or photos of the turret crew arrangements since they were so unique to this tank and more careful attention to details with the illustrations. Showing the variations between Army and Marine "green" is well rendered.
Much like the only average M60 book, this one deserves an addendum or revision right from the start.
Get it if you're really interested in this line of armor development, or if you are one of the few who crewed on it.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Narrative, Lacks Interior Views 19 Mar 2013
By cpt matt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not a lot of books to choose from on this tank. You have Estes book, or R.P. HunnicuttFirepower: A History of the American Heavy Tank, which is out of print and very expensive. This book has good historical narrative of the development and deployment of the 68 ton 120 mm beast. 300 were built, 80 of which went to the US Army, the rest to the Marines.

I have other New Vanguard books, the 2 page centerpiece/cut away is what you'd expect - it does not show enough of the interior. Nor do the photos (there are 2 of the interior). This tank was very unique in US armor technology - it had two loaders. Why not a schematic of the inside, a top view, left and right side views? 7 of the 48 pages are color plates of the tank in US Army & Marine camouflage. Since they are all OD green, I'd rather see more of the interior.

If you want a short, concise book on the history of this tank that saw limited action, this is a good place to start. Since all of the paint is essentially OD green or semi gloss green for the Marines, it's not going to be that helpful and certainly you can find photos on line that are in color, larger and show more details.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage 26 Mar 2013
By J. Duquette - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Perhaps a less well known tank to those used to reading about Panther tanks, Tiger Tanks and the like. Kenneth Estes coverage of the development of the M-103 Heavy tank is excellent. Anyone interested in the United States heavy tank development program during the early portion of the Cold War should definitely get a copy of this booklet.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of the design development of the American heavy tank... 18 Jun 2013
By Bayard B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really good history and review of the design development of the M 103 heavy tank. I noticed that some other reviewers didn't like the lack of of technical data summaries (dimensions, weights, engine data, armaments, armor, and so forth) and I agree that is a weakness. But I thought the discussion on the design history and the thinking behind the design requirements were very good.
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