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American Tank Designations - What do they mean?


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NoobusMaximus #1 Posted May 28 2011 - 03:36

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American tanks and other instruments of war seem to follow the convention of MxAyEz designation scheme, for example, late-model Sherman tanks and M16 assault rifles. General consensus dictates that the M stands for Model. Does anyone know what the A and E stands for?

Pleatincil #2 Posted May 28 2011 - 04:55

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Model Advanced Enhancements that is usually the American military standard it is used for there tanks and firearms.
THe case in point would be the M4A2E4 which is the model 4 advanced 2 the chassis was modified and turret over the original hence the advanced  and the E4 was because of the enhancement of motor and firepower i believe.  I know it is that was with the rifles the m16a1e2 was just a modified m16a1 the first model that was produced and it had small changes but nothing major therefore it keeps the advanced because it is the same frame and innards but it becomes E2 because it has enchancements such as rail mounts.   SOO i hope that helps and i will say it again

M=MODEL
A=Advanced(advancement)
E=Enhanced{enhancements)

Echo_Sniper #3 Posted May 28 2011 - 04:56

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View PostNoobusMaximus, on May 28 2011 - 03:36, said:

American tanks and other instruments of war seem to follow the convention of MxAyEz designation scheme, for example, late-model Sherman tanks and M16 assault rifles. General consensus dictates that the M stands for Model. Does anyone know what the A and E stands for?

The M stands for the model of the tank(sherman, pershing. etc). The A might be for the suspension on sherman, while maybe the E is for the model of the chassis or something like that. Might be other way around. I also can be completely wrong about that though. It's my theory.

NoobusMaximus #4 Posted May 28 2011 - 06:01

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View PostPleatincil, on May 28 2011 - 04:55, said:

Model Advanced Enhancements that is usually the American military standard it is used for there tanks and firearms.
THe case in point would be the M4A2E4 which is the model 4 advanced 2 the chassis was modified and turret over the original hence the advanced  and the E4 was because of the enhancement of motor and firepower i believe.  I know it is that was with the rifles the m16a1e2 was just a modified m16a1 the first model that was produced and it had small changes but nothing major therefore it keeps the advanced because it is the same frame and innards but it becomes E2 because it has enchancements such as rail mounts.   SOO i hope that helps and i will say it again

M=MODEL
A=Advanced(advancement)
E=Enhanced{enhancements)

That was very helpful. Thank you very much.

Pleatincil #5 Posted May 28 2011 - 06:18

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your welcome and i had to ask a friend who actually deals with tanks and not firearms and the way he explained it now to me is the A or advancements is when they change out something big that in theory makes it better such as turrets or suspension or even chassis.   E or enhancements for tanks is when they are upgunned or better motors anything that changes how well it works not how it works

ApplesauceBandit #6 Posted Jul 20 2011 - 23:35

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I think that "t" means trial and is for things that weren't/ have yet to pass trials but you might want to double check this.  for example, the t18 didn't pass trials but the m7 did

BluefoxP #7 Posted Sep 30 2011 - 09:42

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T is service test.
there is also a B and D for other modifications. (B for a new hull and D for a different turret)

the M7 HMC had a ver know as the M7B1 that used a M4 Medium tanks hull instead of the M3 Medium the first models had.

The M36 Jackson had the M36B1 and M36B2, the B1 has a M4A3 hull and the B2 used a M10 hull.

Mark2 #8 Posted Nov 26 2011 - 20:15

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Actually, E is a designator for "Experimental".  It was not a proper service designator at all.

The proper designation for the M4A3E8 was:  Medium Tank M4A3 76mm HVSS (w)
It was an M4A3, mounting a 76mm M1A1 gun, with a horizontal volute suspension system, and wet ammo storage.  The E8 was a designation during trials -- as the HVSS system was the 8th major series of experiments done on the M4 chassis.  Somehow E8 stuck, and troops took to calling them E8 (or "Easy 8") as a means of distinguishing it, as much for the gun as for the suspension. But there were also 76mm-armed M4A3s that did not have the HVSS suspension (called the Medium Tank M4A3 76mm). The M4A1 76mm HVSS (w) was also called an M4A1E8 by the troops.

US Army designation system at that time called EVERY category of ANYTHING by an M designator, starting at M1 and incrementing with each new design.  The A designator indicated an upgrade or re-design to the original that was not a big enough changeto warrant a full new M number.  Nothing more than that.

So in 1942 you had the Halftrack M3, or the Halftrack M3A1(with the pulpit-mounted HMG).  But if you mounted a 75mm gun on that halftrack, it became a GMC M3  (Gun, Motor Carriage -- the proper term for a tank destroyer). You had the Light Tank M3 (Stuart), or the Light Tank M3A1 (with the round, vs. hex turret).  You had the Medium Tank M3 (Lee), which usually mounted a Tank Gun, 75mm,  M2 in the hull sponson, or you had the Medium Tank M3A1 (Lee) which used a Tank Gun,75mm, M3, and in either cases you might have had the Sub-Machine Gun M3 (the "Grease Gun") or even the Can Opener M3 as part of the tankers' personal kit.

It was not until the confusion that the troops experienced in North Africa in 1942 (imagine an infantry company CO calling on the radio for "support from the M3s"!) that the Army started paying attention to the potential for confustion caused by this system, and so the next light tank upgrade went directly from M3 to M5, to avoid confusion with the next medium tank upgrade, which was the M4.

The M4 Sherman major sub-designators were mostly due to engine changes.  But not all.

M4 = Original Sherman. Wright radial gasoline engine.  Welded hull.
M4A1 = First change.  Wright radial gasoline engine.  Cast hull.  Easier to produce, and so actually saw major use before M4.
M4A2 = Guiberson diesel engine.  Welded hull.
M4A3 = Ford GAA gasoline engine.  Welded hull.
M4A4 = Chrysler multi-bank engine.  Welded hull, extended in length to make room for engine.

The M4A1, A2 and A3 were produced with the 76mm gun starting in 1944.  The M4 and M4A3 were also produced in assault gun versions with the 105mm howitzer in 1944.  The M4A4 was the most common version upgunned to the 17pdr gun by the British (the "Sherman Firefly") in 1944.  None of those changes are noted by the presence or absense of their A designator.

Hope that helps.

blurr91 #9 Posted Nov 29 2011 - 23:41

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And here I thought A & E mean Arts and Entertainment... :P

Kampfwagenkanone #10 Posted Jan 16 2012 - 13:01

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So why have they gone back to M1s and B1s?  Will the US soon get an F1?