|USA||Heavy Tank||Tier IX|
The development started in 1948. In 1952 the order was placed for production of 300 vehicles to fight in the Korean War. The tank was designated as M103.
It replaced the T34 as the tier 9 heavy in patch 0.7.2. The fully upgraded 120mm cannon is a fantastic gun, with great accuracy, and very high penetration. While it lacks alpha damage compared to the IS-8 or E-75, the gun's reload speed makes up for its lack of damage. The M103's oddly shaped hull and well-sloped turret can make this tank a bit tricky to fight, especially at long ranges; however, this tank suffers from having very weak sides and rear armor. When fighting this tank from the front, make sure you try and hit the lower armor plating as hitting the upper hull will most likely bounce. The speed and maneuverability of this tank are quite good, so it's able to keep up with the rest of the team and provide excellent fire support when needed, and is able to turn its frontal hull towards the enemy quickly to reduce damage taken from incoming fire.
The M103 leads to the T110E5.
|Guns compatible with this Turret:|
|Guns compatible with this Turret:|
Pros and Cons
- Good mobility
- Highly sloped frontal hull and turret armor
- Small angled area on the gun mantlet is 267mm
- Decent accuracy and aim time
- Commander's hatch is strong
- Decent gun depression, however worse than its predecessor
- 2nd Highest penetration of all Tier 9 heavy tanks (barely bested by the Conqueror)
- Turret prone to jamming, hits from artillery, and crew loss
- Weak overall armor, only the gun mantlet and upper "beak" of the hull offer consistent protection from shells
- Front of turret does not offer constant protection
- Lower Glacis Is relatively large and easy to hit
- Ammo rack is located on the sides of the hull and is easily damaged
- Driver is prone to being injured/KO'd if front of the hull is penetrated
- Small bulging plate in front of cupola allows for easy pens there
Mobility, penetration, and rate of fire are this tank's strongest attributes, it is recommended to stay with other tanks when advancing, as its lack of overall armor makes it easy to damage. Stay artillery safe whenever you are not in motion, as the large and poorly armored turret makes the M103 prone to being penetrated by HE rounds from tier 6 arty and above. Also avoid exposing your hull as the glacis plate is extremely easy to hit.
The turret ring, while hard to hit, is easy damage. The turret sides can be easily penetrated, and the lower frontal glacis is an obvious weak spot which many players will know of from experience by now. The M103 plays more like a very heavy medium than as a heavy tank. It is not meant to take hits nor to do it frequently due to its poor armor which also makes it extremely weak to artillery, sometimes dying in just one shot from tier 8-10 SPGs. Players should try to flank heavier targets and support stronger heavies such as the E-75 and VK 45.02 (P) Ausf. B when possible. Try to stay behind lines and letting them take the hits instead while giving the enemy a nasty surprise of 400 alpha damage which combined with its rate of fire is a threat to any tank it comes across.
- Players should first seek to upgrade to the 120mm, as the stock 105mm's low pen and accuracy is vastly inadequate when fighting other tier 9s and 10s.
- The next upgrade should be the turret, which will give the M103 a badly needed increase in durability and boost the rate of fire as well.
- Next you should get the engine, as it gives the tank much better mobility.
- After that you can decide if you want to get the top 120mm gun or to save the 60,000 XP for the T110E5 to get it sooner. The 120mm slightly upgrades rate of fire, penetration, aim time, and accuracy.
- The radio does not have priority but it is relatively cheap to research.
- The stock tracks allow mounting all upgraded modules, so you can wait to upgrade these if you prefer.
Design and Development
Like the contemporary British Conqueror tank, the M103 was designed to counter Soviet heavies such as the Josef Stalin tank or the T-10 if a conventional World War III broke out. Its long-ranged 120 mm cannon was designed to hit enemy tanks at extreme distances, but it was never used in combat. In 1953-1954 a series of 300 tanks, initially designated T43E1, were built by Chrysler at the Newark plant. Testing was unsatisfactory, and the tanks were all stored in August 1955. Only after recommending improvements, on 26 April 1956 the tank was standardized as the M103 Heavy Tank. Of the 300 T43E1s built, 80 went to the US Army (74 of which were rebuilt to M103 standard), and 220 were accepted by the US Marine Corps, to be used as infantry support, rebuilt to improved M103A1, then M103A2 standards. The successive versions of the M103 shared many components with the M47 and M48 Patton tanks and the M60, which, with the exception of the M60 (a main battle tank) were all considered 90 mm gun (medium) tanks. Tracks, rollers and suspension elements were the same, with some modification to take into account the greater weight. The engine and transmission were never modified enough to give the extra power needed for the greater weight of the M103, and as a result, the tank was relatively underpowered and the drive systems were fragile. The turret of the M103 was larger than that of the M48 or the M60 to make room for the huge 120 mm gun and the two loaders assigned to it, in addition to the gunner and the commander. The driver sat in the hull. The gun was capable of elevation from +15 to -8 degrees. The armor is made from welded rolled and cast homogeneous steel of varying thickness.
- Hull front: 100–130 mm (4.0–5.3 in)
- Hull side: 76 mm (3.1 in)
- Hull top: 25 mm (1 in)
- Turret mantlet: 250 mm (10.2 in)
- Turret front: 180 mm (7.3 in)
- Turret side: 76 mm (3.1 in)
- Turret top: 38 mm (1.5 in)
In Europe, the US Army fielded only one battalion of heavy tanks, from January 1958, originally assigned to the 899th Armor, later redesignated the 2/33rd Armor. The US Army heavy armor battalion, in contrast to other armor units, was organized into four tank companies, composed of six platoons each, of which each platoon contained three M103's, for a total of 18 tanks per company. Standard US Army armor battalions at the time had three companies per battalion, each with three five-tank platoons, with 17 tanks per company (two tanks were in headquarters platoon). The US Marine Corps assigned one M103 company to each of its 3 Marine tank battalions, including its Marine reserve units. While the US Army deactivated its heavy armor units with the reception of the new M60 series main battle tanks in 1963, the remaining M103s stayed within the US Marine Corps inventory until they began receiving the M60 series MBT. With the disappearance of the heavy tank from US forces came the full acceptance of the main battle tank in 1960 for the US Army, and 1973 for the US Marine Corps. Although the 21st century's M1 Abrams MBT utilizes the same caliber of main gun, the 120 mm, the M103's cannon was a rifled gun firing a fixed round, ejecting a lengthy brass shell casing (34.69 inches in length for the armor-piercing rounds). The M1 tank's 120 mm main gun is a smooth bore (no rifling) firing a semi-caseless round, ejecting only a back cap of the original loaded round; the bulk of the 120 mm shell's casing is consumed during firing. Ammunition fired by the M103's M58 cannon included:
- APBC-T M358 Shot
- HEAT-T M469 Shell
- HE-T M356 Shell
- TP-T M359E2 Shot
- T43E1 1953. 300 built.
- M103 1957. 74 converted.
- M103A1 1959. 219 converted or rebuilt. New sight (Stereoscopic T52) and T33 ballistic computer. Removed one coaxial machine gun. New turret electric amplidyne system traverse. Turret basket.
- M103A2 1964. 153 converted or rebuilt. New 750 hp (559 kW) diesel engine from the M60 tank, increasing the road range to 480 km and maximum speed to 37 km/h. New sight coincidence XM2A.
Estes, K.W., 2013, M103 Heavy Tank 1950–74, New Vanguard Series 197, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 48p, ISBN:9781849089814.
Forty, G., 2007, The World Encyclopedia of Tanks & Armoured Fighting Vehicles - An Illustrated History Of The World's Most Important Tanks and AFVs From The Beginning Of The 20th Century To The Present Day, Anness Press, London, ISBN:9780754817413.
Foss, C.F. and W. Fowler, 2002, The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles, Thunder Bay Press, San Diego, CA, 544p, ISBN:9781571458063.
Hunnicutt, R.P., 1988, Firepower: A History of the American Heavy Tank, Presidio Press, 222p, ISBN:9780891413042.