Chrysler Tank Plant, Newark Delaware


The Newark Delaware Chrysler Corporation Assembly Plant manufactured over 6000 M 48 “Patton”
Tanks during the period 1951-1959.

In October 1950, Detroit Tank Arsenal began design work on a new tank armed with a 90 mm gun and,
in December the same year, the Chrysler Corporation was awarded a letter of intent to design the new
tank under the designation T48. Design work began in late December and six prototypes were built, the
first being completed in December 1951. In March 1951, before the prototypes had been completed, the
Fisher Body Division of the General Motors Corporation and the Ford Motor Company at Livonia were
both given a production contract for the tank.

Chrysler's first production M48 rolled out of the Delaware Tank Plant in Newark and was christened by
Mrs George S Patton Junior on 1 July 1952. The first production M48s were completed in 1952 and
production of the M48 series amounted to 11,703 units, about 6,000 of which were built by the Chrysler
Corporation at the Delaware Tank Plant which continued production until 1959. Alco Products of
Schenectady also built a number of M48A2 tanks. Many components of the M48 are also used in the M88
ARV as well as the M53 SPG, and further development of the tank resulted in the M60 series, production
of which was finally completed at the Detroit Tank Plant in September 1987. Initial production of the M60
MBT was in fact undertaken at the Delaware Tank Plant but in 1959 a decision was taken that all future
production would be undertaken at the Detroit Tank Plant.


The cast hull of the M48 is boat-shaped with additional sections welded into position. A hull escape hatch
is provided in the floor of the tank. The turret is a one-piece casting. The driver is seated at the front of
the hull in the centre and is provided with a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the right, forward of
which are three M27 periscopes. For driving at night, an M24 infrared periscope is placed in the turntable
located in the driver's hatch. The other three crew members are in the turret with the commander and
gunner on the right and the loader on the left. The commander is provided with an M1 cupola which he
can traverse by hand through 360°. This cupola is equipped with five vision blocks and an M28C sight
for controlling the 12.7 mm (0.50) machine gun. The M28C has a magnification of x1.5 and a 48° field of
view. The coincidence rangefinder is operated by the tank commander and has a maximum range of 4,400
m and a magnification of x10. The gunner is seated forward and below the commander and has a roof-
mounted periscope sight with a x8 magnification and a telescope with a similar magnification linked to
the main armament. The ballistic computer is an electromechanical device which has been designed to
compute superelevation angles for the main armament. It receives range information in the form of shaft
rotation from the rangefinder. The data are then applied to the ammunition data and ballistic corrections
which have been entered into the computer by the gunner. The end product is the superelevation angle
which is transmitted through the ballistic drive to the periscope. The ballistic drive also transmits the
same superelevation angle to the rangefinder which is operated by the tank commander. The loader is
provided with a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear. Mounted to the top rear of the turret is a
dome-shaped ventilator cover and a stowage basket is provided at the rear of the turret.

The engine is mounted to the immediate rear of the bulkhead separating the engine and fighting
compartments and the transmission is at the rear of the vehicle. The engine compartment is equipped
with fire extinguishers but there is not a fire warning system. Power is transmitted to the final drives
through the cross-drive transmission, which is a combined transmission, differential, steering and
braking unit.

The torsion bar suspension consists of six dual rubber-tyred roadwheels with the idler at the front, drive
sprocket at the rear and five return rollers on each side. Some earlier versions of the M48 tank were fitted
with a tensioning idler between the drive sprocket and the sixth roadwheel station. Hydraulic shock-
absorbers are provided for the first, second and sixth roadwheel stations. Infrared driving lights are fitted
as standard and most models have an infrared/white light searchlight mounted over the main armament,
which has a maximum range of 2,000 m. Standard equipment includes an NBC system, heaters, an
external infantry telephone and provision for installing a dozer blade on the front of the hull. The M48,
M48C and M48A1 can be fitted with the M8 blade weighing 3,980 kg and the M48A2, M48A3 and M48A5
with the M8A1 blade which weighs 3,810 kg. The tank can ford to a depth of 1.219 m without
preparation and to 4.438 m with a deep fording kit. Before deep fording, all the openings are sealed and an
exhaust extension is fitted vertically to the right rear engine grille, the bilge pump is switched on. Main
armament of the M48A3 is an M41 (T139) 90 mm M41 gun, which consists of the barrel, evacuator
chamber, blast deflector and breech mechanism assembly. The breech block is of the vertical sliding type
with an inertia percussion firing mechanism. The barrel has a life of 700 equivalent full charge rounds.
The following types of fixed rounds can be fired, but it should be noted that not all are currently in use:
APERS-T (M580), APC-T (M82), AP-T (M77), AP-T (M318), Canister (M336), Canister (M377), HE-T
(M71), HEAT-T (M431), HEAT (M348/M348A1), HVAP-T (M332A1), TP-T (M353) and Smoke WP (M313).
A total of 19 rounds of 90 mm ammunition is stowed to the left of the driver with a further 11 rounds to
his right, eight horizontally on the turret floor, 16 stowed vertically around the turret ring and the
remaining eight for ready use in the turret. Mounted coaxially to the left of the main armament is a 7.62
mm M73 machine gun (earlier models have the 7.62 mm (0.30) M1919A4E1 weapon), and mounted in the
commander's cupola is a 12.7 mm (0.50) Browning M2 HB machine gun which can be elevated from -10 to
+60°, and can be aimed and fired from within the cupola.
Delaware Military History