(Photo via Friends of the Tank Museum)
“U.S. M60 and the Soviet-built T62, showing the much lower profile of the Warsaw Pact vehicle. Although armament was roughly equivalent, the lower profile of the T-62 made it a much harder target.”
The T-62, at about 40-tons, was eight feet high– three feet less than the M-60, giving it the tactical advantage. However, due to the low depression of the T-62’s gun when compared to the 105mm hull cracker of the M-60, was seen in the West as a handicap.
The T-62 carried 40 rounds of ammunition, with most of the rounds stored in the hull and the gun suffered from a very long ejection period. The M60 carried 60 rounds, with more ready in the turret, and could fire about twice as fast with a well-trained crew.
Plus, the T-62 was seen as being cramped and hard to drive.
The M60 Patton was introduced in 1961, augmenting and then replacing the M48 in U.S. service (though it should be noted that upgraded M48A5’s, up-gunned with the 105 mm M68 gun to make them basically M60s, remained in some National Guard armored units until as late as 1990). The M60 was in turn replaced after 1980 by the M1 Abrams, though Marine M60A1s fought in Desert Storm, reportedly accounting for as many as 200 Iraqi tanks including some rather modern T-72s. Though the U.S. phased out the last M60s, used as training vehicles, by 2005, they remain in service with over 20 foreign allies. Some 15,000 were built.
As for the T-62, armed with the 115 mm U-5TS “Molot” (2A20) Rapira smoothbore tank gun, it was the go-to tank of the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact partners, and overseas commie friends. The Soviets alone produced 20,000 variants through 1975 when they moved on to the T-72, though the simplified “monkey model” as former Soviet military intelligence officer Viktor Suvorov called them, are still produced in North Korea as the Ch’ŏnma-ho I with upgraded 125mm 2A46 guns complete with autoloaders.
T-62s and M-60s met at least three times in combat: In the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Syrian and Egyptian T-62 was an effective adversary for Israeli Pattons, though better training and more ammo carried the day for the IDF; Iraqi T-62s under Saddam clashed with Iranian M-60s in the 1980s, and of course the story of the Marines from Desert Storm.
Though both of these MBTs were a product of late 1950s tech, they will both continue to be encountered worldwide for the next several generations.
And for a great throwback, here is a 1977 Army film on how to best kill the T-62, likely shot with the use of some captured Syrian vehicles as well as intelligence footage.