The slab-faced turret dictated by the special armor within is perhaps the M1's most striking contrast from the cast turret tanks fielded before it. (Picture taken 1 Jan 1983; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
This early tank features the track retaining ring on the rear drive sprocket and the original rear track skirt. This design allowed dirt to build up underneath and resulted in thrown tracks, so it was redesigned to incorporate a notch around the drive sprocket. The rear of the turret was ringed with tie downs for external stowage; this was also replaced later with a stowage rack in the rear. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
This tank features the track retaining ring on the rear drive sprocket, but has the newer notched rear skirt design that helped prevent dirt buildup. T156 tracks with integral rubber pads are on this tank. There are antenna mounts on the rear corners of the turret, and the crosswind sensor is folded over in the middle of the turret bustle's rear. (Picture taken 15 Aug 1984 by SPC5 Vincent Kitts; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
This image details where the special armor arrays were arranged: the forward armor skirts, turret front and sides, and the lower hull front. (Picture from "Special Armor Security Classification Guide.")
The structure of the gun shield is diagrammed here. The internal diagonal plates would offer some movement when struck, helping to destabilize and break up incoming projectiles. (Picture from "Special Armor Security Classification Guide;" sanitized for release on 2014/03/04.)
The hull front armor array differs in detail from the gun shield, but functions in a similar manner. (Picture from "Special Armor Security Classification Guide.")
The turret sides were also protected by a composite armor array. (Picture from "Special Armor Security Classification Guide.")
The forward ballistic skirts are cross-sectioned in this sketch. The right side of the tank featured additional protection to guard the hull ammunition bin located in the right rear of the fighting compartment. (Picture from "Special Armor Security Classification Guide.")
The difference in thickness between the special armor skirt panel on the left and the regular skirt panel on the right is obvious.
A machine gun rests in the commander's mount, although the loader's weapon is absent. Likewise, the bracket for the smoke grenade launcher can be seen in front of the stowage box on the turret side, but the launcher itself is not mounted. The shape of the front turret and size of the main gun on this tank can easily be contrasted with the 120mm gun tanks below.
The extreme slope of the tank's glacis forced the driver to sit in a reclined position. Details of the 105mm gun mount are also visible, including the aperture for the gunner's auxiliary sight on the bottom and the base of the barrel shroud for the 7.62mm coaxial MG directly above this. The opening for the gunner's auxiliary sight can be contrasted with tanks below whose armor has been strengthened (beginning with the IPM1), where it became a channel on the underside of the gun mantlet. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
The hatch is in place in this picture, flanked by two fuel fillers. The driver's left-side wiper is missing, but its base can be seen atop the central periscope. The crosswise weld line in the foreground is related to the construction of the special armor in the front hull.
Another view of the tank's glacis and weld line is shown from above. Construction of the gun mantlet and coaxial machine gun flash hider can also be seen. The flap on the rear of the gun mantlet is a cover for the joint between the gun mantlet and turret that is held down by sprung hinges. The mounting lug on top of the gun shield extends straight forward, which would be changed in later models of the tank.
The blowoff panels atop the ammunition stowage in the turret bustle allowed the conflagration caused by detonating ammunition to vent into the air away from the crew. This tank has been retrofitted with a turret bustle stowage rack.
Once the stowage basket was introduced, it was commonly retrofitted to earlier tanks. The mount for the crosswind sensor can be seen in the lower left, while a fuel filler is at the corner of the hull in the opposite corner.
Details of the mounted crosswind sensor can be seen in this image. Note the hinge at the base to allow it to be folded over when not in use, as in the image above. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
Looking forward from the stowage basket, the loader's hatch on the left and the commander's cupola on the right are just in front of the ammunition blowoff panels. Emerging from the roof between the two hatches is the wiring for the left-side smoke grenade launcher, which then snakes its way around the loader's hatch to the turret side.
The rear of the commander's cupola and the cradle for the .50cal machine gun are seen here. The sight for the machine gun would be found in the vertical guard to the right of the machine gun.
The loader's hatch is seen in this image from behind the commander's cupola. The skate rail for his machine gun and the periscope guard in his hatch are obvious.
The front of the loader's hatch is shown, revealing more details of the machine gun cradle and his periscope.
The crew hatches are open on this tank, and the roof machine guns are mounted. The loader's weapon is mounted on a skate rail and the empty ammo box cradle is on the gun's left, while the commander's MG was fired from under armor. It was elevated manually, but traversed electrically. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
The loader's stowage box is shown here; a similar box was found beside the commander. The previously-mentioned wiring for the smoke grenade launcher can be found under the shroud on the roof.
The gunner's primary daylight and thermal sights (GPS) as well as the laser rangefinder were protected by an armored "doghouse," with shutters that could be opened and closed via a lever at his position.
Behind the GPS housing, the wiring for the right-hand smoke grenade launcher assembly exits the turret roof.
Weld lines visible on the turret roof highlight the construction of the turret shell.
A similar view is provided of the turret's right front corner.
Details of the tracks and rear road wheel can be seen here. The outer hubs of the road wheels are clear plastic, which facilitates checking the lubricant level. The drive sprocket teeth can just be seen behind the track retaining ring. Note the compression of the rubber pad of the track block under the road wheel. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
A close-up of the track retaining ring is offered in this photo. During tests, tanks tended to shed tracks at the sprocket due to dirt buildup and quick turns. Fixes for this problem included the track retaining ring, increasing track tension, a mud scraper for the drive sprocket and a sprocket hub with mud chute cutouts, and steel plates welded to the hull to keep the tracks aligned and to prevent tracks from coming off to the inside. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
More details of the track retaining ring are provided here. The road wheel hubs have been painted on this tank.
This image highlights the evacuation holes in the drive sprocket as well as the mud scraper.
A second view of the mud scraper and one of the guidance blocks is provided here. The guidance block can be seen just to the inside of the track end connectors. Another guide that wraps around the rear of the final drive is hidden by the track and sprocket ring.
The guidance block not visible in the image above can just be seen emerging from under the rear fender.
The idler wheel arm and the link connecting it to the first road wheel can be seen between the track and hull.
Looking forward from above the final road wheel arm, the rotary shock absorber at this position, return rollers, and skirt supports can be seen. The side hull is thickened above the forward six road wheel stations as well.
A similar view is provided from between the idler and front road wheel. The rotary shock absorber stations are larger than those of the center four undampened wheels. The increased side hull armor is easier to see in this image around the rotary shock absorber station.
The turret ring and construction of the underside of the turret are highlighted in this image.
The hull ammunition compartment featured blowoff panels on the top and bottom of the hull.
Weld lines visible on the hull floor show where the tanks' underside blowoff panels would be located.
With increased protection, the shape of the turret front and gun mantlet on these tanks is subtly different from the earlier tanks above. Note that the aperture for the gunner's auxiliary telescope is no longer totally contained by the gun mantlet armor. The detachable stowage rack introduced on the IPM1 can be contrasted with the original bustle tie-downs on the tank at the top of the page. These 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) tanks were participating in NATO Exercise Display Determination '87; pyrotechnics have been mounted on the bore evacuator to simulate the main gun firing, and the machine guns have blank adapters fitted. (Picture taken 1 Jan 1987 by MSG William B. Belcher; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
Another view of the enhanced turret front is provided here. The mounting lug on top of the gun mantlet no longer extends straight out, but rises upward to the horizontal section. The "Boogie Men" were 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) tankers who were participating in NATO Exercise Display Determination '87. (Picture taken 1 Jan 1987 by MSG William B. Belcher; available from the National Archives.)
The near tank has the redesigned rear skirt, while the rear skirt section has simply been removed from the machine in the background. They both still have the track retaining rings on the drive sprockets, however. These tanks belonged to the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and were taking part in an exercise; MILES sensors are attached to the turrets, and pyrotechnics are mounted on the gun mantlet. (Picture taken 1 Nov 1988; available from the National Archives.)
A closer look at the tank's turret front shows a bit more detail about the changed shape. (Picture taken 1 Nov 1988; available from the National Archives.)
The larger main gun marks this vehicle as an M1A1. The vent for the overpressure NBC system can be seen above the number 5 track skirt. The smoke grenade launchers have been changed by the US Marines from those typically used by the Army, and an external auxiliary power unit is visible in the turret bustle stowage basket. (Picture taken 1 Apr 2003 by CPL Mace M. Gratz; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
The discolored grille on the rear hull of this tank is the engine exhaust, and visible surrounding it is a mounting bracket with holes for attaching a fording stack. The other two grilles are for engine and transmission oil cooling. The tank commander is CPT William T. Cundy. (Picture taken 13 Nov 2003 by TSGT John L. Houghton, Jr.; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
The Abrams tank was fitted with a six-barrel smoke grenade launcher on each side of the turret. These could be fired individually or both at once.
The rear deck of the M1A1 features engine air inlet grilles and various access hatches.
The turret bustle features blowoff panels over the ammunition stowage, so that if an ammunition explosion occurs, the energy and gases will be dispersed into the atmosphere instead of into the crew compartment. The tank's crosswind sensor is visible in the lower right corner of this picture.
The device on the end of the gun tube is part of the vehicle's muzzle reference system. This allows the gunner and ballistic computer to account for artificial boresight loss. The thermal shroud on the barrel was intended to help alleviate droop caused by uneven heating.
The shutters of the gunner's primary sight doghouse are open in this view. Note the difference in construction versus the one pictured above.
The coaxial machine gun on the Abrams was provided with a flash-suppressing barrel shroud.
The loader was provided with a hatch in the turret roof across from the TC, and a periscope was installed in his hatch door.
The TC's position was ringed with six vision blocks, as well as the sight for the .50cal machine gun. The cupola hatch door could also be positioned so that it provided overhead protection while still allowing the TC outside vision.
This view into the turret shows the gunner's seat, and just to its left, the breech for the 120mm main gun. The gunner was provided with a chest support, and it is folded off to the right. The coaxial machine gun's ready ammunition box is labeled, and the belt of ammo would snake across the top of the main gun's breech.
The opposite side of the turret interior is shown here. The loader's seat is visible, as is the vehicle's radio setup behind the padded shoulder guard. When in action, the shoulder guard would be swung down to protect the loader from the recoil of the main gun. Below the radio is stowage for field boxes of 7.62mm ammunition.
The ready rack of 120mm ammunition is shown here. The turret bustle ammunition is placed behind blast doors, so that if there is an ammunition detonation, the roof blowoff panels will vent the blast away from the crew compartment. There is a semi-ready rack behind the commander's position, and rounds are transferred to the ready rack as it is depleted and as time allows.
The loader's control panel is shown here, and would give indications of the main gun's status as well as operate the turret ventilation blower and turret drive. A blue night light is visible towards the top of the image.
The bustle ammunition blast doors were operated by this padded kneeswitch.
A look at the gunner's position is provided here. The chest support is folded out of the way, and a kneepad is provided on the turret basket. The red handle is the main gun's manual firing handle, and just above that is the gunner's auxiliary sighting telescope.
This image provides a close look at the gunner's control cadillacs. The large switches on the front of the handles are the palm switches to engage the tank's stabilization system, the thumb buttons are for firing the laser rangefinder, and the index triggers are for firing the weapons.
The gunner's control panel is shown here. His primary sight and its browpad can be seen at the top of the picture.
The TC was able to see what the gunner was looking at via the gunner's primary sight extension. The gunner's controls are visible low in the background, and above those are the handles that open and close the armored shutters for the gunner's primary sight.
The .50cal machine gun cupola was elevated manually with this handwheel, and the red trigger fired the weapon.
The tank commander was provided with a turret control handle as well, and could override the gunner's inputs if necessary. The TC's override was equipped with triggers for the laser rangefinder and weapons, so the TC could fight the tank if the need arose. The black handle in front of the turret control handle was for the powered traverse of the commander's cupola, and the handle with the black knob allowed the commander to switch between powered and manual traverse of the cupola. The gunner's chest support is visible near the bottom of the picture.
The TC's control panel is shown in this image.
The driver's instrument panel is shown here.
The driver's master panel is on his right side.
The driver controlled throttle and steering with a motorcycle-style T-bar. Throttle was controlled by twisting the handle, and therefore an accelerator pedal was not needed. The transmission selector is placed below the T-bar, and the black parking brake release handle is to the driver's right.
The armored skirts have been removed from this tank, allowing a view of the return rollers and supports for the skirts attached to the lower hull side. Note the damage to the skirt on the tank to the left. (Photo by Richard S. Eshleman.)
This tank is fitted with several features from the TUSK I upgrade kit. Present are the shields for the TC and loader as well as the TC's thermal .50cal sight, the mount for a .50cal MG over the gun mantlet (the Counter Sniper/Antimaterial Mount; CSAMM), explosive reactive armor tiles on the side skirts, and the V-shaped armor applique on the hull bottom. This tank belonged to Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and was being used to train Iraqi tankers in Joint Security Station Al Rashid, Iraq. The box with the pyramidal top attached to the gunner's primary sight housing is the antenna for the Blue Force Tracker system. (Picture taken 15 Jul 2010 by SPC Gary Silverman; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)
A better view of the CSAMM mount and its attachment to the gun mantlet is provided here. This tank has also been fitted with the TC's and loader's shields and the TC's thermal sight on his .50cal mount. In this image, SGT Anthony Ciofalo of Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division is instructing an Iraqi soldier on driving the tank in Joint Security Station Al Rashid. (Picture taken 15 Jul 2010 by SPC Gary Silverman; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)
The commander's independent thermal viewer can be seen in front of the loader's position on this vehicle, and it is aimed to the tank's right. A tow bar is stowed on the tank's bow. (Picture taken 26 Jan 2006 by SSG Aaron D. Allmon, II; available from the Defense Visual Information Center.)
Features of the TUSK kit present on this tank include explosive reactive armor tiles on the side skirts, shields around the loader's and TC's position, and the CSAMM mount. The .50cal MG has a front shield as well as the armor enclosing the sides and rear. The large antenna at the rear of the turret bustle is part of the AN/ULQ-35 Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare (CREW) Duke IED jammer system. This tank belonged to Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and was training on Memorial Range near Contingency Operating Base Speicher. (Picture taken 27 Jul 2011 by SGT Quentin Johnson; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)
Further details of the shielding around the TC's position can be seen here. These men were with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and were training on the Besmaya Combat Training Center range near Baghdad. (Picture taken 9 Jan 2011 by SSG Garrett Ralston; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)
The very tall common remotely operated weapon system (CROWS) has been mounted on this tank. It provides the commander with a thermal viewer, laser rangefinder, and a mount for the .50cal machine gun that can be operated from under armor. The loader's MG is not present, but he has been provided with armored shields. Instead, he is wielding a carbine with a blank adapter. The TC is LTC Carter Price, commander of 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. They were taking part in Operation Combined Resolve II. (Picture taken 25 May 2014 by PFC Daniel Lograsso; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)
The mount of the CROWS encompasses the gunner's primary sight enclosure. Forward vision for the TC is affected, as can be seen here. The T-shaped antenna to the crosswind sensor's right in the turret bustle rack was for the CREW IED jammer system. The green box with the light top in front of the CREW antenna is the antenna for the Blue Force Tracker system. This tank belongs to D Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and was taking part in exercise Heidesturm Shock. (Picture taken 6 Jun 2015 by Markus Rauchenberger; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)
"Bruce Almighty" provides us with a rare view of the suspension without the full set of side skirts. The front return roller can be seen. (Picture taken 6 Dec 2016 by SGT Aaron Ellerman; available from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.)