The Tank Turns 100 Years Old

Video highlights from Megafactories

Find out what it takes to build one of these all-terrain military vehicles

The M1-Abrams Tank weighs 63 tonnes and has a 1500 horsepower jet engine that propels it at speeds over 72 kilometres per hour, making it one of the fastest tanks in the world. 

To this day, no M1 tank has ever been destroyed by another tank.

The tank’s six-metre long cannon launches shells at five times the speed of sound, and can destroy targets three kilometres away.

Building an M1 tank is complicated process that begins at the Anniston Army Depot and ends at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Centre.

Phase 1: Anniston Army Depot

  • The M1 Anniston Army Depot factory is 40 square kilometres in size, has 428 kilometres of roadway, 2,647 employees and 2,100 buildings.
  • The M1 Anniston factory has salvaged nearly four million components from M1s.
  • Overhauling an M1 tank requires four months and 3,000 workers.
  • At the factory, the turret of the M1 tank is removed from the hull by a ceiling mounted crane that can handle 30 ton loads – as much as two buses. 
  • After the turret is removed, M1 assemblers strip 12,000 parts from the turret and hull.
  • After four weeks, a fully restored M1 engine and transmission are ready to be shipped to the next factory to be installed.
  • In 1992, the U.S. Army created a windowless, 11-story hangar with nine robots and14 human workers who are responsible for storing and retrieving four million bar-coded tank parts for M1 tanks. 
  • To prepare the M1 tank’s shell, it’s placed in a spinner hangar behind eight-ton, ten-metre high doors and then bombarded with millions of tiny steel pellets as it rotates three times per minute.   After 90 minutes in the chamber, another 90 minutes is spent deep processing and vacuuming the steel inside the vehicle.

Phase 2: Joint Systems Manufacturing Centre

  • The Joint Systems Manufacturing Centre is where gutted M1s are rebuilt from the ground up in a process that takes six months.
  • The Joint Systems Manufacturing M1 tank factory covers over 370 hectares, has its own railroad, three kilometres of test track, and has 47 buildings.
  • The M1 tank’s main hull assembly line is manned by a crew of 36 and spans the length of nearly two football fields.

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