The Type 61 Tank, also known as the M61 Main Battle Tank, is a ground weapon from 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 was the main battle tank of the Earth Federation Forces, and a wide selection of variants were created for troop transport and deployment.
Technology & Combat Characteristics
The Type 61 Tank was developed and adopted in UC 0061, replacing the Type 43, which had been the main battle tank of the Earth Federation Forces until then. The size of the body gradually increased over the course of development, exceeding the original plans. This was due to the drive system being switched from a combustion engine to electric, an increase in the number carried shells, and installing an automatic loading system. The automatic loader is located at the bottom of the turret basket and feeds both guns, with turret crew compartment on top of the loader. In the standard model, the turret is crewed by a gunner and a commander, who are separated from the driver's compartment in located in the forward hull by the automatic loader. The tank's main weapon is the pair of 155mm cannons, while a 12.7mm machine gun mounted on the commander's cupola provides basic defense against infantry and aircraft. Around UC 0079, various improvements were made to the Type 61's electronics and armor. In addition, on-site renovations are often carried out in consideration of the characteristics of the deployment area.
After the Zeon forces introduced the Zaku as its mainstay mobile suit in the One Year War, the Type 61 became largely obsolete, as Minovsky interference heavily undermined the tank's tactical communication abilities and 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. The tank's size and its angle of attack also presented issues, as Zaku IIs were able to target the vehicle's thinner top armor while the Type-61 lacked enough gun elevation to reliably hit key components of the mobile suits at close range. Despite their age and lack of mobility, Type-61s nonetheless saw extensive use in Federation ground campaigns, typically providing supporting fire for advancing GMs.
A slightly different version of the Type 61 Tank's concept was used in the research and development of a prototype for the Earth Federation's first mobile suit, ultimately resulting in the RX-75 Guntank.
- 150mm Smoothbore Cannon
- For use against armored opponents, the Type 61 Tank is armed with two massive 150mm cannons in its turret. These guns are primarily aimed and fired by the tank's gunner, though the commander can also operate them if the gunner is incapacitated. Both cannons are fed via an automatic loader at the bottom of the turret basket. The use of an automatic loader is likely because manually loading two cannons would require an additional crew member, further increasing the vehicle's size to compensate.
- 12.7mm Machine Gun
- A machine gun is mounted on the tank commander's cupola. As the tank lacks a coaxial machine gun in the turret, this weapon is normally the tank's only means defense against enemy infantry and, to a limited extent, aircraft. However, the tank commander is left largely exposed while operating the machine gun.
Special Equipment & Features
- Smoke Dischargers
- Three simple, mortar-like grenade launchers are mounted on each flank of the tank's turret. These launchers fire special grenades that generate smoke upon detonation in mid-air to conceal the tank from its opponent's line of sight. The smoke could also be used as a means 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).
Notes and Trivia