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In , the Army thought that existing knowledge was sufficient to begin work on a guided missile with a HEAT warhead, and in June Sperry and Ford Aeronutronic were asked for designs to fill the shorter range role. Ford won the contract and started work on the XM The first test shots were fired in , and limited production started in The missile was then known as the MGMA. The basic system was quite advanced for its day. The missile body consisted of a long tube with fold-out fins at the extreme rear, which was propelled from the new M81 gun with a small charge strapped on the rear.
Once clear of the gun, the fins popped open and the engine ignited. To keep the missile from spinning while in the gun due to the rifling, a small "key" fitted into a straight groove in the rifled gun. Aiming the missile was simple; the gunner simply kept his gunsight on the target, while electronics in the sighting system tracked the missile optically and sent corrections through an IR link similar to a TV remote control.
In general the gunners were able to achieve excellent hit rates. The main problem with the system is firing the main gun with a projectile vs. The recoil from the gun throws all the missile optics off. Limiting the use of the M to either anti-tank or bunker buster. Because the system was so advanced, the development of the Shillelagh was fraught with problems. Ford Aeronutronic underestimated the complexity of the task of designing a missile as advanced as this, and there were major problems with the propellant, igniter, tracker and infrared command link of the missile.
The Sheridan was a light aluminum-armored AFV designed to be air transportable and provide antitank support for airborne forces. The Sheridans' mm main guns were used in combat operations in Vietnam but proved troublesome. They were also liable to detonate if the vehicle was hit.
Firing the gun caused such a large recoil as to result in failures in the delicate missile firing electronics on the tank. These problems, in combination with the lack of suitable targets, resulted in their deployment without the complex missile system. The Shillelagh was considerably larger than a conventional round, so only a small number could be carried.
In addition, the missile proved to have a very long minimum range. Because of its maximum range of about 2, yards 2, m , the system was only effective within a fairly narrow span of combat distances. While the maximum range of 2, yards 2, m was acceptable, the Army thought that it could and should be improved.
Ford received a contract to develop a longer range version in , and returned a slightly larger design the next year. Besides the changes to the missile, the gun was modified. In testing it was found that the key slot in the gun led to cracking after firing only a few shells. The new missile was about 45 inches 1, mm long, about 6 inches mm in diameter, and weighed 60 pounds 27 kg.
It remained in production until , by which time 88, had been produced, probably in anticipation of use by main battle tanks below. Even with its problems, the system had shown that it could be used by an airborne tank to destroy a main battle tank.
The question of whether or not it could fill its original role as the main armament of all tanks was still open. The Army had originally started development of a low-profile turret with a short barrel for their existing M60 tanks in the s, but did not place an order for delivery until , when the main problems with the system had been resolved. The Shillelagh-equipped M60A2s entered service in , but were hampered by reliability problems, and were phased out in The final revision of the M60A3 used the same mm gun and turret as the M60A1.
Design work on the MBT began in The tank mounted a huge auto-loader turret on top of a very short chassis, so short that there was no room for a driver in the front hull. Instead of being located in the conventional position, the driver was seated in the turret with the other crew members, in a rotating cupola that kept him facing forward.
The gun was a new longer-barreled design, the XM, which extended range and performance to the point where it was useful for sabot type rounds as well. Talk Contributions Create account Log in. Sarna News: Bad 'Mechs - Banshee. Page Page Discussion Edit History.
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