Tanks a Lot!
Sadly, at some point, the file copies of Blackhorse Newspaper that
had been retained by Regiment were reduced to a small collection of
clippings. If you call or visit the 11th ACR Museum at Fort Irwin
and ask to see what they have, out comes a folder, out spills a
pitiful collection of yellowed partial pages and there goes what
should have been an invaluable collection of names, dates and
events. In a folder marked Force Modernization, a small collection
of articles related to the M60 tanks and virtually nothing on M1 or
similar new weapons systems. I am sure at the time, reducing the
file copies of the monthly paper to a single folder must have seemed
like a really good idea.
The newspaper images that accompanied these articles were in rough
shape, I have substituted images from the site photo collection that
Tanks and the 1980s
What was Saved
June was the month they all waited for. There were those among them
that dreaded it, but it happened. Two squadrons of the Regiment
turned in the vehicles which were babies to some and tin cans
During the month of June the First and Second Squadrons exchanged
their Sheridans (M551A1 Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault
Vehicles ) for new M60A1 Main Battle Tanks.
Each squadron turned in 54 Sheridans and received 36 M60A1s which
will now be used by members of the line Troops. Several new
soldiers with the 19E MOS are and will be replacing the former 11DR8
MOS soldiers which are Armored Reconnaissance Specialists who are
Sheridan qualified. In addition, former Sheridan crewmembers will
receive on the job training as crewmembers of the new battle tanks.
from B Troop is pictured here involved in some of that
training as he crawls with a tow cable for time, one of the
events in the Tankers PT training. Other events and
requirements of the test are: The ammo lift, which requires
the soldiers to lift a dummy 105mm round above their head at
least 45 time, the low crawl in which the soldier low crawls
under four M60A1s I less than 24 seconds, the track block
shuffle, where you move a stack of ten track blocks 25
meters and re - stack them exactly as they were in 3
minutes, 17 seconds, rolling a road wheel for time and doing
a two mile for time. In the case of B Troop, the top
performer gets the rest of the afternoon off.
This is only a small part of the intensive training that is going on
to familiarize the soldiers with the new tanks. Every day the
soldiers are being briefed and taught by tank qualified personnel on
all aspects of the vehicles. This is being accomplished by
maintenance ands weapons system classes on the subject. In addition
training is also being put to use I the local field training sites
to prepare soldiers for battle field conditions. Pictured below are
members of First Squadron, including commander LTC James B. Taylor,
waving farewell to one of the last Sheridans rolling out the gate as
a new M60A1 takes up its place on the line.
Eaglehorse Moves to
Sp/5 Ron Graddy
Beams of light wink through space striking the enemy war machines.
Suddenly the enemy war machines burst into flames as the good guys
score yet another hit.
Of this was the post theater you might think you were watching
another science fiction film like Star Wars. What is really
happening is that laser range finder equipped tanks of the 2nd
Squadron 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Bad Kissinger, are on
Eaglehorse squadron solders have become believers in space age
warfare with the addition of the M60 A3 tank to their already
The M60A3 is an improved version of the Armys M60 series which has
been in the field for decades.
M60A3s feature a laser operated rangefinder that gives instant range
readouts with the flick of a finger. This computer operated system
has dramatically increased the chance of a first round hit in modern
tank combat. For Eaglehorse men the A3 could mean the difference
between life and death on some future battlefield. According to
Sgt. Kenneth Neff of Fox Troop, The M60 A3s take the guesswork out
of the system. A tanker for all of his career, Neff is impressed
with his new equipment.
For a tanker, speed is everything, Neff relates. If you dont
get an opposing tank with the first round, that tank may very well
Two weeks of transition training from the squadron old M60 A1s to
the A3 consisted of both classroom and hand on training.
You have to have full confidence in the computer, say instructor
SFC Donald Stockton. Experienced tankers find that the hardest
thing is letting the computer handle all the small adjustments that
they have normally handled. Once they believe that the computer can
do the job, they have no problems.
First round hit capability is important to modern tankers, says
Stockton, and experienced tanker with many years of service with the
M60 series. The m60A3 greatly increases the tankers chances for
successful combat. The M60A1 only gave about a 30 to 40 percent
chance of obtaining that all important first round hit. The A3
provides at least a 70 percent hit probability. And remember this
is an average, not what the best crews can do.
possession of their new tanks and completing classroom and
dry fire training, Eaglehorse tankers moved to the live fire
ranges. Here the battlefield zero was checked for accuracy.
Using modern technology, tankers were given instant corrections from
the range tower. Unaware of the system, tank crews were amazed at
the quality of guidance from the tower.
With Television cameras and a video tape playback machine, the
transition team was able to see the exact spot where the round hit
the target. With the instant replay system instructors could
playback the firing and freeze the scene which showed the round
hitting the target.
After zeroing - in, tanks and crews moved on to another range to
fire at both moving and still tagers. Fox 11 scored an impressive
87 percent on the range the first time out. PFC Columbus Waters,
the Fox 11 driver, relates, Ill get the rest of the crew there to
do their job. They just have to keep the enemy off my back.
Fox 22 is another 2nd Squadron 11th ACR tank. Called SATE for
Supreme Allied Tank Europe , by its crew it also posted respectable
scores on the range. SSG Charles Cox, the tank commander, said,
The new system is a vast improvement over the old way of doing
things. As soon as we fully understand and are fully trained in the
system we will be almost unstoppable.
Sp4 Gary Wade is the Fox 22 gunner. Wade a and PFC Abraham Dumas,
the loader, both feel the new system makes them more combat
effective. Sp4 Steve Dohler, the Fox 22 driver, feels, We are a
team. As long as I do my job we move. When the loader and the
gunner dont do their job we become just an expensive taxi. It
takes all of us working together to make it happen.
For tank commander SFC Kenneth Shields, Neff and the rest of the Fox
14 crew the improvements on the tank are a big bonus. Confident of
his new weapon, Neff shows it off as proudly as someone else might
show off a new car. I press this button and the laser fires and
bingo we have the range. You have to be careful with the laser
though; you could blind someone if you hit them. Turing serious
Neff continues, But a tank is not meant to be a safety item
anyway. It is meant to kill the enemy and with this new weapon, I
think we can do a better job at that. The Fox 14 tank was nicknamed
the Bro - Ken - Toy by its crew and for a logical reason they feel.
Bro is for PFC Jeffry Smith, the driver. Ken is the first
names of both Shields and Neff and Toy is the nickname for the
loader, PFC Richard Coker.
Shields says with a grin, Coker is a short guy. We started calling
him Toy Tanker because he is so short and the name stuck
Neff who recently reenlisted as a tanker says, I like what I do.
He believes If you like what you are doing you should stay in
that line of work.
In modern combat situation accuracy counts. This belief accounts
for the importance of the M60 A3 improvements over the older M60A1.
The Soviets, say Department of the Army officials, have several
medium tanks fielded. Their T 54, T 55 and T 62 and T 72 are
considered at least marginally superior primarily because of their
advanced armor protection.
The introduction of the new main battle tank, the XM -1, is designed
to offset this advantage through, say Department of the Army
Eaglehorse is first
to test new sights.
In January of this year the Eaglehorse Squadron was the first
squadron in the Regiment to receive the new tank thermal sight.
They fired at Wildflecken Training Area shortly after receiving the
sights, and reports from the squadron are that the new sight is
SFC Robert Davis, a platoon sergeant with Golf Troop, was on the new
equipment team from Fort Knox that brought the M60A3 to Europe in
February 1979. He has had quite a bit of experience with the sights
as he has been working with them since November 1978.
The tanks were originally fitted with searchlight and during the
retrofit these searchlight packages were removed and the tank
thermal sight was put in its s place by fitting the sight to the
turret, The whole procedure took about 8 hours per vehicle,
The team that conducted the retrofit was form the States and
assisted by a team from Mainz. They did an outstanding job of
fitting and giving instruction on the sights, said Davis. The
instruction included the standard operating procedures for the
sights as well as troubleshooting and maintenance.
other missions in the squadron it took about one month to
refit the entire squadron and give our soldiers practical
instruction, Davis said.
The reaction from the solders of the Eaglehorse after firing at
Wildflecken was fantastic. Our guys were highly motivated to
train after using the sights because it is a lot simpler to use and
easier and quicker to shoot, said Davis. Davis is very confident
in the new sights saying, I think its the best the Army has now
or in the past.
Although Davis found no disadvantages or frustration with the new
sights, the squadron master gunner, SFC Roger Franklin said that the
one frustration was setting up the ranges. The sights were no
problem as far as the tanks are concerned; the problem was setting
up the range at Wildflecken, but when we go to Graf this summer I
dont think well have the same problem. said Franklin.
The general consensus, however, among the Eaglehorse soldiers is
that the new thermal sights are great. Said Franklin, The morale
has never been better, the soldiers are really excited about the new
sight and as far as a combat situation, we are ready now!