MBT-70, a Main Battle Tank project between the U.S. and West Germany. during the cold war.


I do not like them at all. May seem like visual design had been entirely ignored. Just like in Abrams. Now Leo 2 having said that is roll model in design: no clutter that is unnecessary clean and simple lines. ...



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Some random comments on reddit about MBT-70, a Main Battle Tank project between the U.S. and West Germany. during the cold war.

  • I don't like them at all. Seems like aesthetic design was completely ignored. Just like in Abrams. Now Leo 2 on the other hand is roll model in design: no unnecessary clutter, clean and simple lines. No wonder every new western MBT still copies the design (Arjun and Altay for example).
  • American tanks haven't been historically pretty. The Sherman is probably the best looking tank produced by the U.S.A. Germany does like having clean hulls. I think the Tiger-II illustrates this best.
  • The Tiger II is aesthetically very pretty. The Tiger I wasn't exactly sports-car smooth, but it was intimidating, and had a clean design. The Panther, in my opinion, wasn't that great, if we're ranking on aesthetics. I've always had a particular affinity for the late-model Panzer IVs, though. I think it's got a good function-over-form blend going on.
  • hellcat is fairly pretty, i dont like how big and blocky the sherman is.
  • The hellcat is technically a tank destroyer, but I agree. I think the smooth, rounded shape of the Sherman is pretty appealing. It's like the compact sportscar of the tank world.
  • Im doing some research on the MBT-70, AMA about its design history. Ill share what I can, and tell you that the rest is classified.
  • How much truth is there to the "couldn't decide on measurement system to use" rumor I've heard a few times? How advanced was the targeting system/optics? Why was the 20mm autocannon selected, and why was the concept not employed more often afterwards? How large of an improvement was the protection package compared to the tanks of the day? (Leopard 1 series and similar design philosophy lines excluded) What were the primary causes for the unplanned for expenses? Did the XM 150 ever become a viable weapon?
  • 1)I had a long answer written out to this, but then I lost it. If I have the time (energy) to rewrite it I will, but long story short the answer is absolutely yes. Its all very silly, but a symptom of a larger conflict. 2) The targeting system was pretty advanced for the time. Specifically, the missile targeting system required some pretty advanced kit, which would allow the gunner to direct the missile onto its target. This involved some good sights, although the US has always developed good clear optical sights, and a laser designator which allowed the missile to track properly. 3) The 20mm cannon is pretty simple, the Germans wanted something to use against aircraft, especially Soviet Helicopters. They recognized that attack helicopters would increasingly be a threat against tanks, and wanted an AA armament which would handle armored helicopters and other light ground targets. American tanks had equipped weapons in the commanders cupola before, as in the case of the infamous M1 Commander's Cupola , which was universally despised. The real problem with the 20mm was it was big, and the designers wanted it to retract. The retraction mechanism never worked reliably, and the gun was a little too big to just have hanging out there, so it just got in the way. I think people really latch onto the 20mm as a symbol of the MBT-70's flaws, an overly complicated solution to a simple problem. 4) The tank utilized a new design of an old concept for its protection, spaced armor. Specifically, the turret face was designed with a series of plates and spaces designed to stop Soviet HEAT shells and missiles. While not a new concept by far, it was a lighter concept than the silica armor of the late 50s, but was still pretty heavy and primitive by today's standards. Where the MBT70 really excelled was in its radiological protection, with over 15mm of neutron resistant materials between the crew and the outside world. Combined with a well designed armor configuration (to prevent seepage), the MBT-70 was designed to operate in a predominantly radioactive environment. However, all this came at a cost, both financially and physically. Weve harped on the financial costs before, but again, shits expensive man. These were cutting edge materials used in a cutting edge way, designed using the best modern computing had to offer. Thats not cheap. But to achieve the ballistic and radiological protection the US wanted, the MBT needed a lot of armor. So much, that it was way too heavy. The first prototypes of the MBT were almost 50 metric tons. The Germans wanted no more than 45. By '69, Germany had compromised at 46, but the US couldnt get the tank much lower than 47 without compromising ballistic and/or nuclear protection. That conflict was the real downfall of the tank. The Germans wanted one thing, the Americans the other. When push came to shove, neither country was willing to back down on what they wanted. Thus, both sides decided to design their own version of the MBT. For a project whose stated goal was to create one unified tank design, that decision killed the MBT in its joint US/FRG form. 5)Weve covered this, but basically everybody wanted the MBT to be the most advanced tank ever built. The US and the FRG got pretty close to doing that, but the process took a lot of time and money to get there. Keep in mind, the treaty which created the joint Project Management Board was signed in 1963, and the project drug on until 1971, when assets were finally divided up. That whole time, the staff of both military design teams had to be paid, plus the staffs of the independent contractors, like Chrysler, had to be paid, plus weapons tests, road tests, material strength tests, crew comfort and stress tests, radiological protection simulations, so much. But both countries were willing the foot the bill as along as they got what they wanted. By late 1968, that seemed unlikely, and by 1969 the Germans were proposing radical redesign efforts to lighten the tank. Those issues, more than the previous cost overruns, killed the MBT 70 I think. 6)Sure. The Shillelagh concept eventually worked out in the late-model M60A2s. The caseless ammunition stopped exploding, shattering the barrels, knocking the missile guidance systems offline, all the bad things were associate with the early Shillelagh project. The major problem with the Shillelagh system, both the XM150 and the M162 versions, was the tradeoffs which made the Shillelagh work. They never developed a solid, reliable, KE round, the Shillelagh had its little quirks, and the ammunition capacity was limited at best. In the 60s, when the solution to increasing tank protection seemed to be long range guided missiles (which promised over 90% accuracy and a first-hit kill), those trade-offs made sense. By by 1970, and especially by 1975, the missile system seemed to give up more than it achieved. Instead, designers went to work on improving traditional guns and their killing power over long distances. The AT missile concept is obviously a valid one, and even the Russians have adopted Shillelagh-like missiles in some of their tanks. But the Shillelagh was not the missile that the US really wanted. Its successor, the TOW, better filled the role the Shillelagh pioneered, while tanks were allowed to concentrate on their traditional ammunition.
  • Thank you very much for the prompt and thorough response! I particularly didn't know about the radiological protection . I'd always thought the tank was really cool looking and conceptually, so I really appreciate those questions I had being answered.
  • Classified? The project went bust and most of the new tech then is out of date now.
  • You would be mystified at some of the things that are still classified.
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