M103 – 120 mm Gun Tank

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Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

General info

M103 heavy tank in the garage.

The 120 mm Gun Tank M103 is a Rank V American heavy tank with a battle rating of 7.7. It is one of the first American tanks to be released with the American ground tree in Update 1.45 "Steel Generals".

The main purpose, usage and tactics recommendations

General play style

Armed with an extremely large 120 mm cannon, the tank boasts superior firepower rivaling many other Rank V vehicles. One thing must be said from the start: The full name of the M103 is "120 mm Gun Tank M103" and not "Heavy tank T32". As the title already hinted, this tank is all about the cannon, a Gun tank. This defines the general play style of the tank in both arcade and realistic mode: it is a sniper with the sole role of making the enemy's life as miserable and short lived as possible. The cannon can compete against the armour of the Maus!

One thing to note is that the M103's play style is very different from its predecessor T32. Aside from the increase in firepower with the 120 mm cannon, the armour on the M103 is actually slightly weaker than the T32. The M103's gun mantlet is still good with ~300 mm line of sight thickness, but any other spot on the tank is weaker. The tank's upper glacis is, however, a major improvement and mostly a ricochet zone. If impacted, the shells usually travel straight into the turret or gun. Against later Soviet and German tanks, the front of the M103 is vulnerable. Even by using the "hull down" tactic as with the T32, the tank can still be penetrated. However, half-turret down will net better results. The sides, as on most US tanks, are still very thin and vulnerable with no major changes from previous models.

However, the armour of the M103 is not all bad; while it is not thick, the way it angles will deflect many shots. A badly placed shot will easily ricochet, or be swallowed by the line of sight thickness. A head-on engagement is the M103's greatest strength as its frontal armour performs similarly to the IS-3's frontal pike nose.

With range, the advantages of the M103 increase while its disadvantages recede. It is therefore the perfect tank for large, open maps like Mozdok and Kursk, where flanking tanks can easily be spotted and dealt with

Vehicle characteristics

Tactics

The M103 is best played at medium to long range, making use of it's 120mm cannon to devastate enemies at a long distance. The vehicle's armor is more about slope than actual thickness, so the long distance also helps to mitigate the M103's rather large armor gaps. The tank also has good gun depression, so making use of hills is advised wherever possible. If you get a city map, and have no long range opportunities, stay close to teammates and move up only as warranted. The 120mm has a fairly long reload, and in close quarters, can get you killed, even if you manage to hit and kill the tank you were aiming at. As such, keep a back-up plan and escape route handy, as a missed, bounced, or non lethal shot, can leave you exposed to enemy return fire for far longer than you'd like.

The M103 also comes with a smoke round in case it's needed, but unless it's used to cover a pre-engagement advance, it's best to keep it in reserve only. The long reload of the gun can make loading a smoke round a fatal error, should you get caught mid reload, or worse, have to cease a reload halfway through to load a more suitable round.

Specific enemies worth noting

Counter-tactics

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Has one of the largerst caliber gun in the game that fire solid AP shots.
  • Excels in long-range combat on open maps.
  • Decent gun depression of -8 degrees for hull-down positions.
  • The M358 AP round is one of the strongest rounds available.
  • Great post-penetration for AP.
  • Very fast turret traverse rate.
  • Frontal armour is very strong against all but the most well-aimed and large caliber shots.
  • Sloped front glacis can deflect most AP shots.
  • Quite mobile for a heavy tank, even with stock modifications.
  • .50 cal machine gun can provide some AA defense.
  • Stock AP rounds can one-shot almost anything - pending you know where to hit!

Cons:

  • HEATFS has relatively low penetration compared to contemporary enemy tanks.
  • Tank can only hold 33 rounds.
  • Rather long reload of more than 15 seconds.
  • Turret shot trap present and could be shot at.
  • Turret ring is vulnerable.
  • Belly armour is only 38.1 mm thick.
  • Not close-engagement friendly.
  • Sides and rear of turret and hull is very weak, less than 50.8 mm thick.

Specifications

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Armaments

1 x 120 mm Gun M58 (33 rounds)
1 x 12.7 mm M2HB heavy machine gun (1,000 rounds)
2 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (8,000 rounds)

Main armament

1 x 120 mm Gun M58
  • Ammunition Capacity: 33 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -8°
  • Gun Elevation: 15°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 14.28°/s (Stock), 19.8°/s (Upgraded), 24°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 26.6°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 28.2°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 19.37s (Stock), 17.14s (Full Crew), 15.79s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 14.9s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
1 x 120 mm Gun M58
  • Ammunition Capacity: 33 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -8°
  • Gun Elevation: 15°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 14.28°/s (Stock), 16.8°/s (Upgraded), 20.4°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 22.6°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 24°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 19.37s (Stock), 17.14s (Full Crew), 15.79s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 14.9s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
1 x 120 mm Gun M58
  • Ammunition Capacity: 33 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -8°
  • Gun Elevation: 15°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 14.28°/s (Stock), 16.8°/s (Upgraded), 20.4°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 22.6°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 24°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 19.37s (Stock), 17.14s (Full Crew), 15.79s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 14.9s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
Ammunition
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° 48° 63° 71°
M356 shell 39 39 39 39 39 39 HE 762 22.8 0.1 0.1 4,650 +0° 79° 80° 81°
M469 shell 380 380 380 380 380 380 HEATFS 1143 23.8 0.0 0.1 2,670 +0° 65° 72° 75°
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Screen radius
in m
Screen time
in s
Screen hold time
in s:
Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
M357 Smoke 762 23 20 5 25 50
Ammo racks
Ammo racks of the M103.
Full
ammo
Ammo
Part
1st
rack empty
2nd
rack empty
3rd
rack empty
4th
rack empty
Recommendations Visual
discrepancy
33 Projectiles
Propellants
12 (+21)
24 (+9)
(+32)
14 (+19)
 
10 (+23)
 
(+32)
Keep Full No

Secondary armaments

1 x 12.7 mm M2HB heavy machine gun (pintle mount)
2 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (coaxial)

Crew

  • Commander
  • Gunner
  • Loader 1
  • Loader 2
  • Driver

Total: 5 Crew members

Armour

Armour type:

  • Cast homogeneous armour
  • Rolled homogeneous armour (Turret roof)
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull 114.3 mm (55-66°) 50.8 mm Upper
44.44 mm Lower
38 mm 25.4 mm
Turret 127 -350 mm 76.2 - 93 mm 51 mm 38 mm

Notes:

  • Suspension wheels are 20 mm thick and tracks are 30 mm thick.
  • Hull armour: After the fantastic T32, the M103's armour situation is generally a let down. Its side armour is near nonexistent, same applying to the rear. The M103's turret size was also increased, while reducing the armour down from 152mm to ~85mm average. But all hope is not lost - the M103's armour design did improve. Unlike its predecessor, it features slopes and angles everywhere, making the M103 a difficult target to destroy from the front. It is also reassuring to know that the frontal chassis is no longer a big weak spot; it is relatively minor and can reliably bounce shots right into the armoured gun mantlet.
  • Turret armour: The M103's turret fares better. It is designed to take on tanks from the front, as the line of sight thickness exceeds 300mm on many occasions and where it doesn't the angle will result in bounces. However, this only works when facing straight at the enemy. Any slight angling miscalculation and the LoS armour becomes useless.
  • Weak spots: The worst part of the M103 are its true weak spots. As mentioned previously, the upper glacis and lower gun mantlet tend to bounce shots into each other, often with deadly results. Furthermore, the bottom turret cheeks are not as well angled as the rest of the turret (~176mm) and can even be penetrated by the 8.8 cm KwK 43. The biggest issue present is the abnormally large turret ring. It is visible all around the tank, and with merely 127mm of armour it attracts many shots. This, in combination with the "shot trap", presents a very deadly scenario: Either the enemy hits the turret ring and kills the entire crew with one APHE shell, or the shell strikes the mantlet/glacis and still does massive damage to either the driver's compartment or the gun breech. Keep the turret ring hidden! Another small weakness is that the M103's belly armour is only 38.1 mm thick, meaning most high-explosive rounds used by the Rank V tanks, HESH, can be splashed under the M103 and actually penetrate it with the explosion alone.

Engine & mobility

Weight: 56.7 ton

Max Speed: 36 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 1046 hp @ 2800 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 18.45 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: ____ hp @ 2800 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: __.__ hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: __°
Weight: 56.7 ton

Max Speed: 33 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 716 hp @ 2800 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 12.63 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 810 hp @ 2800 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 14.28 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: __°
Weight: 56.7 ton

Max Speed: 33 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 716 hp @ 2800 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 12.63 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 810 hp @ 2800 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 14.28 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: __°

Modules and improvements

It comes without question that this tank, whose sole defining aspect is its gun, should rely first on parts to keep the barrel smoking. For the second upgrade, which also unlocks other tier 2 upgrades, "Turret Drive" is recommended. The M103 has no mobility problems and therefore tracks can generally be neglected. However, its second tier unlocks are very useful. "FPE" is beneficial against the fires caused by the engine, but the 380mm penetration HEAT shells and "Adjustment of Fire" for better accuracy are nothing to ignore. When choosing upgrades, ask yourself this question: Is the normal APBC shot enough? Would I have benefited from being able to put out a fire? Does better accuracy help me to get more kills? Choose wisely! After all these three modules are researched, there are not a lot left. "Elevation Mechanism" is always nice, same for "Engine" and "Transmission".

History of creation and combat usage

Development

The M103 tank was designed to counter the Soviet heavy tanks being produced at the time, namely the IS-3 and the T-10M heavy tanks, which prove rather impervious to Western tank designs such as the M26 Pershing and Centurion. The problem facing the designers at the time was to produce a versatile tank system capable of engaging heavy tanks like the IS-3 and fortifications.

The result of the request for such of a vehicle was the experimental T34 heavy tank, which was a variant of the then experimental T29 Heavy tank except mounting the much larger 120 mm T53 cannon rather than a 105 mm T5E2 cannon. Further development began on this tank in 1948, where multiple changes were made to the design to fit a more versatile tank system. The end result was the now named T43 Heavy Tank, which began to see doubt in its success as the Korean War was undergoing at the time that placed the M26 Pershing back in the spotlight. The T43 managed to survive due to an order request of 80 units by the Army to reinforce their depleted armoured forces. The USMC even sought a replacement that could serve for a long period of time and ordered 220 of the vehicle in 1951. Changes were made to the armour protection and the gun was updated to the newer 120 mm T123E1 cannon. After being sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground and approved, it was accepted under the T43E1 designation.

The 120 mm T123E1 cannon (adopted as the M58 gun) was a very large cannon, and the ammo could penetrate about 340 mm of armour up to 1,000 yards. However, the ammo's large size restricted the number that could be held in the tank turret and hull. The design also had a 7.62 mm machine gun and a .50 cal machine gun could be installed on the turret to provide anti-aircraft and anti-personnel fire. The heavy weight of the design at 59 tons caused the Continental AV1790 engine to be insufficient in propelling the tank. Thus, the tank's speed was only about 34 km/h (21 mph). Despite the weight, it was still 10 tons lighter than its predecessors and retained about the same armour protection ratings. The production of the T43E1 tank was designated as the M103 tank and were produced at Chrysler Newark for a total of 300 units produced.

Deployment

The M103 was fielded in Europe in only one battalion in January 1958. The 889th Tank Battalion (later as the 2nd Battalion, 33rd Armor Regiment) was organized to four companies of six platoons each. Each platoon had three M103 heavy tanks for eighteen tanks per company. The United States Marine Corps had one M103 company of about seventeen tanks assigned to each of its three Marine tank battalions in regulars and reserves.

Legacy

The M103 never saw combat during its service life from 1957 to 1974 and the US Heavy Tank Battalions began to be deactivated around 1963 with the arrival of the M60 Main Battle Tank, which proved to be much better in the long terms compared to the M103. The Marines kept their M103s until they began receiving the M60 tanks to replace them. The removal of the heavy tank units in the US military was the time of turnover from the traditional classification of weight between tank to the new concept of "main battle tanks" and "airborne vehicles". This ushers in the new age of main battle tanks that can serve in a multi-purpose role against armour and fortifications, starting in the M60 tank, then in its successor the M1 Abrams. The M1 Abrams, while having the same caliber as the M103, was much more powerful due to its new ammunition types and design, and was a statement on the advancement of technology that came in about thirty years difference between the two tank designs.

Today, only a few M103 samples are left intact around America in various bases and museums.

Screenshots and fan arts

Skins

Videos

Additional information (links)

References


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us_m103.png

Icon-country-usa.png M103
Nation USA
Type Heavy tank
Rank 4
Battle Rating
7.7
7.7
7.7

   Metric✓       Imperial   

   Metric       Imperial✓   

Characteristics
Weight
56,700 kg
125,002 lb
Number of Crew 5
Hull armour thickness
114.3/50.8/38/25.4 mm
4.5/2.0/1.5/1.0 inches
Statistics
Engine power (stock)
1,046 hp
716 hp
716 hp
Engine power (upgraded)
___ hp
810 hp
810 hp
HP/ton ratio (stock)
18.45
18.74
12.63
12.83
12.63
12.83
HP/ton ratio (Upgraded)
__.__
__.__
14.29
14.51
14.29
14.51
Max speed
36 km/h
22.1 mph
33 km/h
20.8 mph
33 km/h
20.8 mph
Main Weapon
1 x 120 mm M58 Cannon
Ammo stowage 33 rounds
Vertical guidance -8°/15°
Secondary Weapon
1 x 12.7 mm M2HB Heavy machine gun
Ammo stowage 1,000 rounds
Mount Pintle mount
Vertical guidance -10°/70°
Horizontal guidance -60°/60°
2 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 Machine gun
Ammo stowage 8,000 rounds
Mount Coaxial
Economy
Required RP 210,000 RP
Vehicle cost 550,000 SL
Crew training cost 160,000 SL
Max repair cost*
4,800 SL
9,500 SL
5,900 SL
Free repair time (Stock)
5d 21h
14d
11d
Free repair time (Upgraded)
1d 23h
4d 17h
3d 16h
Warning: this sidebar is a WIP and can be incorrect. Last updated 1.77.2.191.