M Light Tank

Classification. Main characteristics of the M551 light tank include—

• An oval-shaped track and road wheel pattern.

• A combined hull, turret, and gun pattern.

Side-View Identification. M551 light tank characteristics visible from both sides include—

• A rear engine and rear exhaust, whose plume may be directed upward or rearward.

• A low profile: low hull and a small, low, flat turret.

• A wedge-like shape, with the wedge pointing to the vehicle's front and visible between 800 and 1,200 meters.

• Warm, slack tracks and (at short ranges) five evenly spaced road wheels.

• A short gun tube that can be seen when the gun has recently fired.

Front-View Identification. M551 light tank characteristics visible from the front include—

• A wide, low turret, whose sides extend almost over the tracks, providing a unique front view.

• Warm tracks separated by a cool hull, visible as two red spots.

Effects of Motion. The M551 light tank's direction of movement may indicate the location of its engine. Other characteristics that observers could see when the M551 light tank moves include—

• A transport system that becomes warmer and more visible during movement.

• A slower bounce than a lighter vehicle.

Distinguishing Features. The M551 light tank has a wide, low turret (front view) and a wedge shape (side view). Otherwise, its signatures are difficult to distinguish from those of a T-62 tank.

Figure I-3. M551 light tank.

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