Patton! 34 years ago today

An M60A3 main battle tank moves along a street in Langgöns, Hesse, West Germany, during Central Guardian Reforger ’85 with M151 MUTTs and M113 APCs in the background. The tank belongs to the 3rd Btl, 32nd Armored Regiment according to its hull numbers and likely came from the nearby U.S. Army Depot at Gießen, which had been occupied by Uncle since 1945. The date on the image is 24 January 1985.

DF-ST-85-13331 Photo by SSG Fernando Serna

The M60A3 was the Army’s 1970s answer to rumors of the advanced new Soviet T-72 tanks across the Fulda Gap before the M1 Abrams could be fielded. The up-armored Patton picked up another 54mm of armor on the turret face, new electronics and fire control systems (including a then-advanced analog ballistic computer and the early AN/VGS2 tank thermal sight), and a new Continental AVDS-1790-2C diesel to help carry all that around. Some 5,400 legacy M60A1/A2s were rebuilt to the standard and 4,320 new tanks built by 1983 when the line was closed. The Army National Guard continued to use them into the 1990s.

As for the 32nd Armor– the unit which Elvis famously served in during the 50s– they deactivated in 2000 after seeing action (riding M1 Abrams) with the 3rd Armored Division in Desert Storm. The unit’s lineage is today carried by the 1st Squadron (RSTA), 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, 101st Airborne (Air Assault).

The Gießen Depot was turned back over to the Germans slowly between 2007 and 2017.

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