At the very start of the Cold War, the United States Army’s wartime experiences largely dictated tank doctrine and strategic disposition. Furthermore, considerable military assets remained mobilised in Germany. Those military assets, which would eventually find themselves at the frontline of the Cold War, comprised the majority of US tank forces including various Sherman type tanks, M26 Pershings and M24 Chaffee models. Spread out across a wide swathe of territory, most US tanks were located in the southern part of Germany and Austria. As troops and assets were later reorganised, US forces stationed in West Germany came under a single command. Following the earliest incidents of the Cold War, such as the blockade of Berlin, the communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Korea, the 7th US Army was stationed in Stuttgart in November 1950. Following the formation of NATO in 1949, a nomenclature shakeup was ordered by the US military, in response to changes in tank doctrine. Light, medium and heavy were removed from their names, as deployment strategies and calibre variety were changing.

Thus, the initial period of the Cold War, following the end of WWII, was marked by a reorientation of tactics and approaches. Tanks were coming to be viewed differently very soon after they proved pivotal in WWII. As incidents that would ultimately be considered to be contributing to the Cold War developed, approaches to tank doctrine remained fluid, on the part of the Americans.


U.S. Cold War Tank Nomenclature

Medium Tanks and Main Battle Tanks (MBTs)

M60 Patton – 105 mm Gun Tank

M60A2 Starship – 152 mm Gun/Launcher

M47 Patton II – 90 mm Gun Tank

M48 Patton III – 90 mm Gun Tank

M1 Abrams

M45 (T26E2) – Medium Tank

M46 Patton – Medium Tank

Light Tanks

AR/AAV M551 – 152 mm Gun-Launcher

M41 Walker Bulldog – 76 mm Gun Tank

Light Tank Stingray

Artillery Vehicles


M109 Paladin



M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier

M59 Armoured Personnel Carrier

M75 Armoured Personnel Carrier

Unarmoured Vehicles

M76 Otter – Amphibious Cargo Carrier

M113 NASA – Armoured Rescue Vehicle