The Type 61 or M61 main battle tank is a type of ground weapon in the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam. It was fielded by the Earth Federation in U.C.0061 and saw service up until at least U.C. 0079. The Type 61 tank featured dual 150mm cannons and a 12.7mm machine gun, as well as eight smoke dispensers. There were also a wide selection of variants made for transport and troop deployment.
Technology & Combat Characteristics
The Type 61 in many ways follows the traditional layout defined centuries ago, with the notable exception of having twin cannons. An automatic loader is located at the bottom of the turret basket to feed both guns, with turret crew compartment on top of that loader. Turret crew in baseline models includes a gunner and a commander, who are cut off from the driver's compartment in the forward hull by the autoloader. Minimal close-in defenses against infantry or aircraft are primarily provided by a 12.7mm machine gun mounted on the commander's cupola; the stowage basket at the turret's rear can serve as a platform for another 7.62mm machine gun, but a crewman must exit the tank altogether to operate that second machine gun, or alternatively another personnel outside of the tank's crew complement (an accompanying infantryman, for example) can man the platform.
After the Zeon forces introduced the Zaku as a mainstay war machine in the One Year War, the Type 61 acquired a reputation of obsolescence, as Minovsky interference heavily undermined the tank's tactical communication abilities and also reduced its observation and targeting capabilities to line-of-sight optics. Another disadvantage was that mobile suits were more agile and could outmaneuver armored units at close distances, sometimes dodging APDS rounds outright. Size and angle of attack were also problems, as Zakus were easily able to target the vehicle's thinner top armor, whereas the Type-61 lacked enough gun elevation to reliably hit key components of the Zaku at close range. Despite their age and lack of mobility, Type-61s nonetheless saw extensive use in Federation ground campaigns from Odessa to Jaburo, typically providing supporting fire for advancing GMs.
- 150/155mm Smoothbore Cannon
- In (almost single-minded) pursue of firepower against armored opponents, this tank is initially armed with two massive 150mm cannons in its turret. These guns are aimed and fired by the tank's gunner (although conceivably the commander can take over in case the gunner should be incapacitated) and fed via an autoloader at the bottom of the turret basket. This weapon is apparently capable of indirect barrage-fire for increased range, allowing the tank to function as a mobile field artillery of sorts.
- Mounting two guns, however, necessitates a large turret ring, which sticks out of the tank's upper hull sides like a sore thumb, a vulnerability that can be exploited by a flanking enemy. The use of autoloaders is in fact likely meant in part to keep the already-enormous size of the tank in check, as the need to properly position and accommodate a Human loader's station for each gun will lead to a further increase of the turret ring diameter, while forcing a single loader to service both guns will result in excessive fatigue for the loader under combat conditions.
- The upgraded A5 version has these guns replaced by a pair of more-powerful 155mm weapons, which along with other additional equipments lead to an unfortunate consequence of turret crew being reduced to just the tank commander, who now must be distracted with the burden of operating the main guns. This undermines the commander's normal contribution to the tank's situational awareness.
- 12.7mm Machine Gun
- A heavy machine gun is mounted on the tank commander's cupola. As the tank apparently lacks any co-axial machine gun in the turret, this weapon is often its only mean (another 7.62mm machine gun can be added to the turret rear) of providing close-in protection against enemy infantry attempting to assault the tank and, to a very limited extent, aircraft. Unfortunately, the gun mount appears to be a simple pintle mount that requires the tank commander to expose him/herself to the outside to operate.
Special Equipment & Features
- Smoke Dischargers
- Four simple, mortar-like grenade launchers are mounted on each flank of the tank's turret. These special grenades can generate smokes upon detonation mid-air to conceal the tank from its opponent's line of sight. Also, it could be used as a mean to communicate with allies.
After Zeon initiated their Earth Drop Operation in March U.C. 0079, Type 61s soon began to become the norm for protecting ground transports from attacks by the Magella Attack Tanks and were crucial in the Capture of Odessa and Defense at Jaburo where the Federation armor took most of the burden. Type 61 was one of the most heavily deployed military hardware in the One Year War, and also among the greatest casualties. While their battlefield anti-MS performance seems to be greatly lacking, improper tactics that negated the advantages of traditional tanks can often arguably be blamed for such heavy losses. While massive as a tank, they have a much-smaller frontal visual projection than mobile suits and can therefore be easily camouflaged for ambush operations. Concentrated firepower from larger tank formations can be very effective in suppressing enemy positions (as evident in the Odessa Campaign), complicating enemy reactions and consequently making it easier to exploit the range of the tank guns with even degraded fire control. The tank's smaller size is also an advantage in hit-and-run missions, especially on harassing raid on Zeon supply depots (which are often undermanned in defense), or between the tight, narrow streets of urban warfare. Before the formal introduction of Federation's RGM-79 GM mobile suits, Type 61s were Federation's backbone of resistance in their bitter 9-month stalemate against the Principality of Zeon.
In the strategy games series Gihren's Greed, the Type 61 functions as the Earth Federation Forces' only ground unit until the Project V is completed. As in the series, the Type 61s are no match for mobile suits in equal numbers. However, because they take up much fewer resources than mobile suits, it is possible to recapture large areas of Earth territory from Zeon by the sheer weight of numbers. Needless to say, when in the war's focus shifts into space, the Type 61's importance become moot (though the RB-79 Balls perform a similar function spacewise).
Variants & Upgrades
Type 61 "M61A5 MBT"
A variant was shown in the MS IGLOO 2 — the M61A5 MBT aka Type 61 5+. The main dual cannons are upgraded to 155 mm caliber smoothbore capable of firing a variety of ammunition including but not limited to APFSDS, flash-and-concussion round, and HEI. Side skirt armor and tool box can also be installed as optional equipment on the tank. The M61A5 includes equipments considered to be state-of-the-art to the Federation at the time of Type 61's rollout, including autoloader and satellite data link system. As a result the total crew number is reduced to two only - a driver and a tank commander, of which the latter must now function as the gunner as well.
Notes and Trivia
|MS IGLOO 2 Mechanics|
RGM-79［G］ GM Ground Type | RTX-440 Ground Assault Type Guntank
6×6 Cargo Truck | M353A4 Bloodhound | M72 Lakota | Type 61 Tank
Big Tray-class | Heavy Fork-class
|Aircraft / Spacecraft|
Dragonfly | FF-X7 Core Fighter
|Principality of Zeon|
MS-05B Zaku I | MS-06J Zaku II Ground Type | MS-07B-3 Gouf Custom | MS-09B Dom
B.M.C. Z78/2 | HT-01B Magella Attack | Magella Eins | PVN.3/2 Sauropelta | PVN.44/1 Weasel | Russel 1/12 Zebu
DFA-03 Dopp | PVN.4/3 Wappa
|Transporter / Supply Ship|
H.L.V. | Komusai | Papua-class
|Cruiser / Mother Ship|
Gaw | Musai-class