A former M60A2 tanker in theUS Army Army kindly accepted an interview for the blog. This variant, nicknamed Starship, was one of the most particular one. It was equipped with a M162 152 mm gun/launcher similar to the one used in thr M551 Sheridan. It was nicknamed "Starship" due to it's advance technology, but due to a number of issues it did not stay long in service.
1) Hello J., many
thanks for accepting an interview with alejandro-8.blogspot.com. Could you
provide an introduction to your service in the US Army?
I enlisted in the U.S. Army in June, 1975. I served as an enlisted soldier and NCO in B Company 2/64 and B Company 3/64 Armor in the 3rd Infantry Division in West Germany from November, 1975 to November, 1978. I completed my first and last six months at Fort Knox as a trainee and later as a trainer. I spent many years in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves, retiring after 30 years as a Colonel. I completed a three week add on training on the M60A2 after my initial training on the M60 A1. In Germany, we transitioned from the M60A1 to the A2 in July, 1976. It was another three weeks of training. I spent two years as a gunner and one year as a tank commander.
2) You served in a
M60A2. What was your impression of the vehicle, and the strong/weak points?
I thought it was an excellent tank. It had many advanced features like a stabilization system for the main turret and the commander’s cupola. It had a laser rangefinder and passive night vision sights. Its low front profile allowed for a gunner’s hatch, which was great for the gunner. The turret could traverse 360 degrees within its own hull length which made it a great tank in urban conditions.
3) This variant is known for it's reliability issues with the main armament. Were they ironed out when you served? If not, can you describe them?
I was not aware of any main gun issues. The missile system worked great but there were a few training missiles that were lost because of technical problems.
4) The M162
Gun/Launcher could fire projectiles and missiles. What was the criterion when
it came to choosing which one to fire? What was the maximum distance at which
you ever fired (in daylight)?
Distance to the target was the criterion for deciding on which ammunition to fire. The gun system was designed to fire missiles at the maximum range of 3000 meters in the Fulda Gap scenario. I engaged targets successfully at that range. Firing a HEAT round, I once hit a moving target at 2650 meters. Night time had no effect on distance.
5) How was the night
firing conducted (flares/projector)? What was the maximum distance at which you
could fire (both round and missile)?
The M60A2 had passive IR night vision sights. Most targets could be engaged at night to about 1200 meters with no assistance. The tanks also had searchlights that could augment the passive sights out to maximum effective range.
7) What was the typical ammunition configuration load (% missiles/HEAT)?
Normal load was 13 missiles and 33 main gun rounds. We did not carry missiles until we went to the range,
8) How sensitive was the missile guidance to rain, wind, fog and other wheather conditions?
The missile was IR command link guided. I don’t recall firing one in adverse weather conditions.
9) What was the
maximum rate of fire you achieved? How did it change as you went through the
We never fired it like that. But we could get two rounds down rage in about 7-10 seconds as I recall.
10) What was the maximum distance you covered in a day during deployments or exercises? Was the mobility suitable? Did the tank cope well or needed extra maintenance?
Probably the most distance covered in a day was during REFORGER exercises. Range depended on the tactical situation so I really don’t have a good recollection of that. The tank only needed basic operator before-during-and after operations maintenance.
11) What is you opinion on the ergonomics of the M60A2?
I really liked the gunner’s hatch. In most tanks there is no such thing. Often, we removed the missile racks to move between the gunner’s, commander’s, and loader’s stations.
12) Did you have the opportunity to train with other Armies? What were your impressions? Did you like/dislike any specific equipment?
I trained with the German army but not on tanks.
13) Do you think it was a good idea to retire the M60A2? Or perhaps it could have served a few more years?
Personally, I don’t think they gave it a fair chance. It could have worked a few more years.
13) Is there an anecdote you would like to share before we finish the interview?
One time I zeroed the tank at 1200 meters on the first round. I shot a second round through the same hole. Another time I fired at and hit a single infantryman target at 1200 meters, just to see if I could hit it.
Photos shared by J
I am always looking for more veterans, active members or people related with the defence industry to accept interviews. If you enjoyed reading the material and would be happy to accept an anonimous interview you can get in contact with me. My e-mail can be found in this link at the heading. Otherwise leave a message in the comment sections.
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