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M103 Heavy Tank 1950-74 (New Vanguard) Paperback – 20 Mar 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (20 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849089817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849089814
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 0.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 605,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"An unusual and little known subject. Recommended." --Tankette

Book Description

An in-depth look at the M103 - the Cold War heavy tank the US designed to match the Soviet tanks in the event of a conventional WWIII.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews
20 of 20 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
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine book about an obscure tank 14 April 2013
By Kenneth P. Katz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The M103 is the most obscure American tank of the Cold War era that actually entered production and saw operational service. Only a relative handful were built, they were used for only a short time by the US Army and longer by the US Marine Corps, and they never were exported or saw combat.

LtCol Estes is the ideal author for a book about the M103. As a retired USMC tank officer and a historian, he is the recognized expert on the history of tanks and other AFVs in the US Marine Corps. The book follows the standard Osprey format for the New Vanguard series. Clearly Estes did a lot of archival research that explains why the US Army rejected the M103 and the US Marine Corps adopted it. The characteristics, merits and inadequacies of the M103 are described in a great detail. The collection of photographs and illustrations is excellent.

On a minor note, I assume that the photos on p. 47 are of a young Lt or Capt Estes in an M103A2, and a much older LtCol (retired) Estes is a restored example of the same. However the caption for the photos is mistakenly copied from the previous page.

Trivial quibbles aside, this is an excellent and interesting book, and a worthwhile purchase and read for anybody interested in the subject.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good information on a rare vehicle 5 Jun. 2013
By Gary E. Binder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a former officer Ken Estes knows his tanks. The M103 was the largest tank of the Cold War and the heaviest US production tank until later versions of the M1A1 Abrams. A big beast that was envisioned to be able to kill Soviet tanks from over 2000 meters. The US heavy tank programs suffered from changing directions and the lack of either a clear requirement of what they were to do or a strong desire for them by the using arm. Estes does a fine job of putting the M103 program in perspective. There were only a few of these tanks produced and fewer were deployed. The M103 never fired a shot in anger but did have effects on future tank development in the US. The book is well illustrated as are most Osprey titles. Certainly a good deal through Amazon. Recommended for tank buffs, military historians or modelers.
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE US HEAVY TANK DID EXIST 23 Sept. 2014
By Gunny Cru - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For armor enthusiasts, here's an oddity that the Army just all but gave up on, yet the Marines took it to its fullest potential. A rare heavy tank for the United States produced during the Cold War, it never actually saw battle, but it's medium derivative M48 90mm Patton version did in Vietnam and in other nations armies of this era. Never the less, the Marines fielded this behemoth from the 60's to the early '70's.
This tank is most likely the pinnacle of the post world war II diecast designs before the advent of antitank missiles rendered them obsolete. Even so, the Marines insisted upon its full development as the Army's preference for the M60 series tank, didn't impress the Corps' enough in performance to this tanks' superior 120mm gun which could defeat its Soviet developed counterparts heavy tanks. The background history is of itself of interest to anyone who has a penchant for understanding how the US military carries out its research and development of its armor and the branches of services defining their needs. A good read with copious illustrations.
5 of 5 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.
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