During the Second World War, tanks rose to prominence as a major element of land-based offensives. Although the U.S. military was using tanks by the end of World War I, these early prototypes were often cumbersome on the battlefield and had a tendency to be more dangerous than protective to their crews. Between the two World Wars, however, tank technology improved to provide greater speed and agility, as well as advanced weaponry. (Here is every tank in the history of the U.S. military.)
The U.S. built a large arsenal of tanks between 1939 and 1945. One of the most prolific tanks of the era, the M3 Stuart light tank, was used early in the war but proved no match against German armored vehicles and was quickly replaced by newer designs. The M4 Sherman medium tank, however, would go down in history as the main player in the Allied offensive. About 50,000 M4 Shermans were built between 1942 and 1945. Easy to maintain and relatively cheap to produce, these tanks are the most prolific tanks ever produced for the U.S. military.
To determine the most mass-produced tanks in U.S. military history, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a list of tanks used by the U.S. military from Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms and more. Tanks are ranked according to how many in total were produced. Data on the type of tank, country of origin, crew size, and wars served also came from Military Factory.
After World War II, M4 Shermans featured prominently in the Korean War, along with the first in a new line of tanks named after General Patton. By the time the Vietnam War broke out, the Patton family of tanks included two of the most produced tanks after Shermans and Stuarts: M48 Pattons, the main workhorses of the Vietnam War, and M60s, the first tanks with the designation “Main Battle Tank.”
Over 15,000 M60s were produced before their retirement after the Gulf War. These main battle tanks have since been replaced by another mass-produced tank: the M1 Abrams battle tank, one of the most expensive land vehicles ever used by the U.S. military.
Click here to see the most-produced tanks in US history.
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