In this article, we will take a closer look at Lebanon’s popular battle tanks – a country with a diverse range of both Western and Soviet-made arms. Three key models have significantly influenced Lebanon’s armoured forces: the American-made M48 Patton, and the Soviet-designed T-62 and T-54/T-55. Each of these tanks has its unique history, capabilities, and role within the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Lebanon’s Popular Battle Tanks
The T-54 and T-55 tanks were developed by the Soviet Union after World War II and became the primary tanks for the Soviet Army and Warsaw Pact countries in the late 1950s. These tanks have been involved in numerous conflicts around the world since their introduction. Interestingly, the T-54/55 series holds the record for the most-produced tank in history, with an estimated production range of 96,500 to 100,000. While they have been replaced by newer models in the Soviet and Russian armies, they are still in use by approximately 50 other armies worldwide, some of which have undergone significant retrofitting. It is unclear how Lebanon acquired their T-54/T-55 tanks, but it is possible that they were obtained through purchases or donations from other countries. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on global military strength and equipment, it is recommended to consult a reliable source.
The T-62, a medium tank developed by the Soviet Union, was first introduced in 1961 as an upgrade to the T-55 series. It incorporated various design features from its predecessor, including a low profile and thick turret armour. What set it apart from previous tanks was its smoothbore tank gun, which could fire APFSDS rounds at higher velocities. While it became the standard tank in the Soviet arsenal, it did not completely replace the T-55 in export markets due to its higher manufacturing costs and maintenance requirements. Despite the introduction of newer tank models by successor states of the Soviet Union, the T-62 remained in reserve within the former USSR and continued to be utilized by other countries on the frontlines.
The M48 Patton, an initial American main battle tank, was introduced in February 1952. It served as a replacement for various tanks such as the M26 Pershing, M4 Sherman, M46, and M47 Patton, becoming the primary battle tank for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Between 1952 and 1961, approximately 12,000 M48s were manufactured, primarily by Chrysler and American Locomotive Company. Distinguishing itself as the first U.S. medium gun tank with a four-man crew, it featured a driver’s compartment in the centerline and lacked a bow machine gunner.