Today we present an article from the May-June 1967 issue of ARMOR titled “A New Concept in Land-Vehicle Propulsion” by Captain David Noake. This piece is about the AGT-1500 gas turbine engine that would go on to power the M1 Abrams MBT. It’s an interesting look at what was expected of gas turbine technology back when the concept was new. It is also worth noting that the author of the article makes the quite correct observation that fuel consumption of a gas turbine is generally inferior to a diesel when running at low load, a statement which garners an editors note claiming that, according to AVCO Lycoming, this is not true for the AGT-1500. It’s probably fair to say that AVCO Lycoming was being a bit optimistic with their fuel consumption figures. In service, the AGT-1500 would prove to be rather “thirsty.”
The article also points out that “the turbine engine presently is not capable of sustained operations in extremely dusty areas.” Ironically, the Abrams would go on to see combat almost exclusively in “extremely dusty areas.” Of course, dust inhalation was a serious issue for early model Abrams tanks, but those issues were sorted out many years ago. By the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Abrams proved it could operate in a desert environment quite successfully. It may surprise some of the young men that operate the current generation of Abrams tanks that the engine powering their steel behemoth is quickly approaching it’s 50th anniversary!