120 mm Gun M58

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Summary

The 120 mm Gun M58 is a high-caliber tank armament developed by the Americans to defeat the Soviet IS-3 heavy tank and its successors. The 120 mm gun M58 was used on the M103 heavy tank. The gun design was also exported to Britain as the L1A1 to arm their new heavy tank in development that will be known as the Conqueror.

Game Usage

Guns of comparable performance

Users

Ammunition

M58

Ammunition Penetration in mm @ 90° Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Fuse delay in m: Fuse sensitivity in mm: Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
Normalization At 30° from horizontal: Ricochet:
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m 0% 50% 100%
M358 shot 303 302 286 267 251 235 AP 1067 23.1 N/A N/A N/A -1° 42° 27° 19°
M356 shell 39 39 39 39 39 39 HE 762 22.8 0.1 0.1 4,650 +0° 11° 10°
M469 shell 380 380 380 380 380 380 HEATFS 1143 24.0 0.0 0.1 2,670 +0° 25° 18° 15°

Ordnance QF Tk. L1A1

Ammunition Penetration in mm @ 90° Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Fuse delay
in m:
Fuse sensitivity
in mm:
Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
Normalization At 30°
from horizontal:
Ricochet:
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m 0% 50% 100%
Shot L1G 362 361 359 354 339 321 APDS 1493 9.1 N/A N/A N/A +1.5° 15° 12° 10°
Shell L1TK 152 152 152 152 152 152 HESH 792 16 0.4 0.1 3,970 +0° 15° 12° 10°

History of creation and combat usage

The 120mm M58 is the Main Gun found the 120mm Gun Tank M103. It was developed to give the NATO Troops stationed in Europe a fighting chance against possible attacks of Soviet Tanks at that time, such as the IS-3, the T-10 and T-54/55, because the 76mm Gun mounted on the M41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank and the 90mm Guns (M3, M3A1) were incapable of reliably penetrating Soviet Tanks at feasible European Combat Ranges. The Gun was part of the T43 Tank development program and as such developed from the 120mm M1 AA Gun, which has constantly been improved. The first version was called 120mm T122. The American Designers found that the Penetration Power of this Gun was sufficient to engage any threat, but the constructors went a step further and by increasing chamber pressure in the Gun Breech, the T123 and T123E1 were created, the T123E1 finally being the M58.

Rounds available for the M58 in American usage were the M358 APBC-T (Armor-Piercing Ballistic-Capped Tracer), M356 HE-T (High-Explosive Tracer), M469 HEAT-FS (High-Explosive Anti-Tank Fin-Stabilized). The M358 ammo, out of the M58, is capable of achieving the highest output of kinetic energy of any mass-produced Tank Gun. The 23kg of projectile weight and the great velocity of 1067m/s give it an energy output of 13.2 megajoules (MJ), which is more than the main battle tanks used in modern time such as the American M1 Abrams, a testament to the extreme power the M58 can deliver. This power allows the M58 to penetrate any contemporary Soviet tanks at the time such as the IS-3s and T-54/55s. Tests show that the round's impact on the tanks will cause massive shockwave, overpressure and intense heat with the release of the 13.2 MJ of energy onto the plate and in the crew compartment. The extreme effects made an explosive filler unnecessary inside the shells to strengthen the shell's integrity to prevent shattering on impact. The only drawbacks of the M58 were the massive recoil, the heavy two-piece ammunition and excessive gun wear.

The M58 Gun was shipped in unknown quantities to Great Britain where it should serve as Main gun for the British Heavy Tank, the Conqueror. Renamed to L1A1, the M58 was put into British service after having been compared to the 105 mm L7. These tests again showed that the M58 outperformed the L7 in Penetration, Accuracy and Lethality with contemporary ammunition types. The British decided to develop APDS and HESH Rounds, finding that HEATFS was unnecessary and too expensive. 120mm HESH was eventually tested by the Americans on the M103, yet not put into active service.

Images

A USMC personnel holds on a stacked up high-explosive round and casing for the M103.

Additional information (links)

References