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WATCH: 5 things you didn’t know about M1A1 & M1A2 Abrams tanks

A M1 Abrams tank from 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, fires a round during a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Mar 26, 2018. (U.S. Army/ Spc. Hubert D. Delany III)
March 31, 2016

Abrams tanks, the M1A1 and M1A2, are some of the heaviest vehicles on the planet. Their powerful presence and performance terrorize enemies and reassures friendly troops.

Here are five little known facts about these mighty vehicles. For instance, despite their heavy weight they sure have some speed.


These tanks have been the backbone of the military for more than three decades. Abrams are amongst the most heavily armed tanks in the world.

The M1A1 and the M1A2 are manufactured by General Dynamics Land System. The main gun is the M256 120mm smooth bore cannon, firing rounds like the MA-29 piercing round and the MA-30 high explosive anti-tank round. They are outfitted with three machine guns, a Browning M2 50 caliber tank commander, an M2-40 7.62mm scape mounted machine gun, and a C2 model machine gun.

Take a look in the video below:

The armor on Abrams tanks is a composite material that includes depleted uranium. This makes them very different from past tanks. The material that makes the Abram is essentially a mix of hard materials and soft and strong materials. By layering and sandwiching the many materials it is much stronger and has better heat absorption. Composite materials are designed to absorb the impact energy from projectiles, prevent penetration, and avoid internal damage.

During the 1991 Gulf War, 12 Abrams destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks, 15 personnel carriers, and 30 vehicles in less than 30 minutes. The Abrams made their debut in 1980, but not until the Gulf War were they able to truly shine. On Feb. 26, 1991, in the biggest tank battle since WWII, U.S. tanks charged out a sandstorm and showed the Iraqis who was boss.


Abrams tanks can accelerate from zero to 20 mph in just seven seconds, which is impressive for a tank that weighs in at 70 tons. These two tanks are among the heaviest in the world, but their amazing speed is thanks to their 1,500 horsepower engines.

Vulnerabilities exposed during the 2003 Iraq War prompted the installation of TUSK. A crippling attack can come from any direction at any time and urban battlefields are some of the most difficult to protect. Susceptibilities from rocket-propelled grenades and mines came to light. Tank Urban Survivability Kit, also known as TUSK. A loaders armored gun shield, a tank-infantry phone, Abrams reactive armor tiles, a remote thermal site, and a power distribution box were added to improve the tanks situational awareness and firepower in urban battlefields.

The Abrams was chosen in honor of former Army Chief of Staff, Crayton W. Abrams, who commanded a 37-tank battalion during WWII.