T43 Heavy Tank

Hello everyone,

yesterday, in the article about Object 777 Soviet heavy tank, an American tank was mentioned, the T43. The Soviets feared it and considered it on par with their best mass-produced heavy tank at that point, the T-10. So, what was the T43 actually?


Well, as you might have guessed from the picture, it was the designation of the M103 prototype. Its history is rather well-described: in 1946, the War Department Equipment Review Board, led by Joseph W.Stilwell initiated a program with the goal to re-arm the US Army with a new type of tank. New light, medium and heavy tanks were proposed (on the other hand, the tank destroyer program was cancelled altogether). Especially the heavy tanks were under scrutiny, with the T34 120mm gun tank proving to be perhaps the most promising of them all after some extensive testing at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. It was however too heavy, 10 tons heavier than what the board demanded.

In 1948, the Ordnance Committee Minutes (OCM) 32530 defined new demands on the future heavy tank, giving the design a designation of T43. In this case, the crew was to consist of 4 people only: commander, driver, gunner and loader.

The vehicle was to be powered by the Continental AV-1790 engine, specifically its turbocharged version, producing whopping 1041 horsepower. It was to be armed with a 120mm cannon, inserted into the T140 mount along with a coaxial 12,7mm machinegun. This mount included a three-cylinder recoil compensator. The aiming system was to consist of a rangefinder, panaromatic periscope, gunner telescope and mechanical ballistic computer.

The armor was to be the thickest at upper front hull plate (127mm at 58 degrees), the turret front was to have a 60 degree slope. During the development however, the shape of the tank gradually changed, even though the T43 designation remained. Tests have shown that cast armor of elliptic shape reduces the vehicle weight while keeping the level of protection the same.

The mockup was ready in December 1949, but it was not to last long – on 24.4.1950, the Ordnance Committee again changed some of the project parameters, including the size of the turret ring, which was increased to 2159mm. The crew count was increased to 5 as well and it was decided to rework the recoil compensator system, while removing the ballistic computer, rangefinder and panoramatic periscope from the project. After these changes, it was assumed that the weight of the tank would not cross the 55 ton threshold.

On 7.11.1950, the vehicle was officially designated as Tank, 120mm T43. The first prototype was trialed in December 1951 at Aberdeen. At that point, Chrysler took over the third prototype being built at Detroit Tank Arsenal and made some modifications to the vehicle, resulting in the tank being renamed to 120mm T43E1. The first prototype was armed with a 120mm T122 gun, the other prototypes were armed with 120mm T123 gun (T123 had the pressure increased to 48000 psi, the later model with improved recoil compensators was called T123E1).

These prototypes are recognizable from the mass-produced tanks by their commander’s cupola with 5 viewports and one fixed periscope – the same cupolas, as were mounted on the M47 medium tanks (while the mass-produced tanks recieved M48 medium tank cupolas).

300 T43E1 tanks were produced between 1953 and 1954, but further trials uncovered some significant flaws and as a result, the tanks were temporarily mothballed, until the issues got fixed (at that point, the vehicle recieved its M103 designation).

Characteristics of the T43 prototype (in brackets, M103 for comparison)

Weight: 54,431 tons (56,699)
Crew: 5
Length (gun forward): 11394,4mm
Length (hull): 6992,6mm
Width: 3749mm
Height (up to cupola roof): 3218,2mm (3558,5)
Turret ring: 2159mm
Ground pressure: 0,871kg/m2 (0,906)

Upper front plate: 127mm (127)
Lower front plate: 102mm (114)
Sides: 76mm (51-44)
Rear (upper): 38mm
Rear (lower): 25mm
Bottom: 38-13mm
Mantlet: 267 to 102mm
Turret front: 127mm
Turret sides: 83-70mm (137-70)
Turret rear: 51mm
Roof: 38mm (25)

Gun: 120mm T122, 34 rounds (120mm M58 aka T123E1, 33 rounds)
Engine: Continental AV-1790-5C (810 hp) (several, same horsepower)
Maximum speed: 40,2 km/h (33,8)


32 thoughts on “T43 Heavy Tank

  1. You may say the history is well documented but I know barely anything about this vehicle, so a good read.

    Had to laugh at “panaromatic periscope”.

  2. I cant wait to see what’s going to happen with the ultra fictive armor of T110E5 once it becomes a HD model. M103 got it’s armor nerfed pretty bad and received nothing in return. This was my favorita tank. Now it’s just like a paper AMX without autoloader. It gets penned everywhere.

      • Yea right. I can hulldown in a T34 just fine, but with the M103 its a joke. While the T34 turret is only vulnerable from the sides, the M103 gets penned from virtually any angle. Not to mention that its so fucking huge that you need at least a 10-story building with an attached Walmart to hide behind. All that hightech means nothing in WoT, so its one giant tumor with no advantages whatsoever.

        The M103′s only advantage is speed and agility, without an autoloader. The gun is fine, but you have to look pretty hard to find bad heavy tank guns in Tier 9.

        • when I first heard of the books from Hunnicutt I rea them and found there the T43 and my first thought was this is the perfect candidate for a tier 8 US heavy

          I thought it could replace the T32 that dispite being a good tank in certain situations is more like a premium tank (worse than other regular Tier 8 heavy tanks) and with the first 120mm gun from the M103 as top gun it would fit the tier without being overpowered

          in the article above we can also see some diferences when compared with the M103 and because of that it wouldn’t be a complet copy/clone
          there’s also 2 choices for diferent turrets shown on Hunnicutt’s book (one was the mockup turret and the other the early concept turret)

          P.S: I would also like to see an article about the 60 ton Chrysler K Heavy Tank and the 75 ton Heavy Assault Tank (armed with a 155mm gun) proposed as a response to the Maus, E-100 Program and IS-3

          • pls uninstall wot if you think the t32 is worse than the other t8…One of the best,IF not the best t8 heavy.

            • Yeah, especially when to fight against tier IX and X, with his crap penetration and mediocre accuracy.
              And after accuracy buff and more detailed armor schemes, his turret isn’t so impenetrable as before.

          • We dont need any more tier 8 tenks woth 400 alpha. T32 is good, stop messing around. The t34 is annoying at tier 8, 400 alpha and 248mm pen is really too fucking much. With the huge amount of russians and american opremiums at tier 8, german tenks are highly disadvantageus. 390-400 alpha vs 320 dmg.

    • At least it seems in WT it wont be nerfed (but still as a rule it can’t overperform anything with a red star on it)

    • You mean like a paper-wrapped paper tank? The M103 already has very little armor to speak of.

      • “Very little”? Most heavy tenk guns as tier 9 has 246-258mm pen, that is enough to pen pretty much anything. Make pen 240mm max at tier 9 and armor gets more valuable.

      • Why do people have to autoswitch into crusade mode when they hear “WT”? I enjoy both games, WoT for its accesible, simple, shooterlike approach to tenks for masses and WT for its realistic/sim battles where you have much more open ground to use, instakills and the need to use your fucking eyes and line up long distance shots instead of “point and shoot @ the red thingies through 20 trees” and also your gun shoots where it points, whoa!. Physics, especially collision need a lot of work but UI seems fine to me and atleast the in-battle UI (almost none) is something I like as a break from all the stuff that you have in WoT hud, especially with XVM. You have eyes, ears, commanders hatch view and gun optics, fair enough for me (I consider both minimap and friendly names over tanks a pussy kid feature in SB, but meh cant have everything).

          • I guess direct WoT ripoff has more chance to succeed, but I consider that a good business case managed by somebody with economical education, rather than a new game where the devs are attempting something new. But game development seems to work when taken over by regular managers that run the company like any other industry – Battlefield 3, 4, Hardline, CoD… GG be a happy consumer :)

            • Rip off? Because both of them use tanks? lol. Guess WoT must be a ripoff on Panzer Front then, they both have make believe tanks and certainly inaccurate historical models. How dare all these games use the concept of tanks shooting each other! Certainly an original idea. Guess Wolfenstein should call out onto all the ripoffs as well on the first person shooter genre while we’re on the topic.

            • They work so well I haven’t wasted any money on these bugged, cheap, DLC-selling platforms called Battlefield and CoD for quite some time.
              They are like typical Hollywood junk movies – made to suck out money from retards.
              Well, since the market is mostly made of retards I can see how they are succesfull, but the game development and games themselves are a joke.

      • What do you want to prove? The Tiger 2 Porsche has a big shot trap, any shot to the lower mantlet will bounce to the top of the hull and kill it

        • I’m not saying it’s unhistorical I said that balance in wt:gf is nonexistent, and this video is a good example where an anti air tank from 1957 rapes two Tiger II and a panther built in 1944. There is a reason why ppl not play with germans in rank 5 tanks only masochists want to play against 80% global winrate T-54s, check Ground Forces Discussion on wt forum, most of the players have similar opinion.

          • Not WoT’s fault that WT put “historical accuracy” in front of balanced gameplay.

            I used to think WG’s “balance” was bad like others.

            Then I took a WTGF to the knee.

    • Hunnicutt doesn’t list pretty much any ballistic differences between the 120mm T53(Seen on the T34) and the 120mm T122(Though there were some estimates in both tables). Same pressure. Same round and projectile weights. Same caliber length. Same velocity with a standard round. Same muzzle energy. Same chamber dimensions.

      Naturally this needs to be cross referenced and I’m sure The_Chieftain has data on it sitting somewhere.

      Interestingly the T122 is listed as having an estimate for HVAP, whereas in WoT it fires HEAT