Joseph Williams is one of those names that should be well known to tank and AFV aficionados but is not. As we have pointed out in past posts, the former Soviet Union did a far better job of publicly recognizing their prominent tank designers than the Western democracies tended to do. Fortunately, there is a short biography dedicated to Mr. Williams on the US Army Ordnance “Hall of Fame” page.
Mr. Joseph Williams entered Government service at Aberdeen Proving Ground in July 1941 as a designer and project engineer.
In a very short time, he became one of the Army’s pioneers in design and analytical disciplines which are now the basic framework for scientific approach and methodology of combat vehicle design and development. Mr. Williams played a key role in the initial concepts of prototype tanks leading to the medium tank M26. He was also responsible for the conception and execution of the first postwar tank design, Model T37/M41 light tank, featuring such innovations as a single driver, quick removable powerplant, scientifically developed ballistic shape, and concentric gun recoil system.
Mr. Williams was a driving force in the initiation and development of new tank building blocks. He designed the T42/M47 gun and turret assembly, including fire control selection and installation and development of ballistic and casting sections.
He also conceived and performed most of the preliminary design and analytical work for the M103 heavy tank. He then designed the T48/M48 tank, which was later produced in large quantities and is the main battle tank for many foreign countries.
Versions of this tank are currently being modernized in the US Army and are a vital part of the tank inventory. He was a driving force in the development of the M551 and the M60A2 tanks, in both a direct-responsibility role and as a consultant.
Through his international interests and affiliations and his vast knowledge of tanks, he also played a major role in the United States/Federal Republic of Germany tank development program, a precedent-setting international endeavor. During the last 10 years of his career, Mr. Williams was recognized internationally as an outstanding leader in the design and development of combat vehicles.
That is a pretty impressive resume to say the least. In the gallery below we present Mr. Williams’ 1974 article from ARMOR magazine on “Tank Analysis.”