The end of WW2 and the early Cold War years saw the need for a more powerful tank than the Sherman and Pershing tanks. The first Patton tanks (M46) were converted Pershings which saw service in Korea. As the Cold War intensified, the M47 with a more effective 90mm gun and turret went into mass production (9000 built) and countered the Soviet build up.
The M48 entered service in 1953 and the M47s were sold off to allies whose armies were being rebuilt.
The original M48 had serious deficiencies. Nevertheless over 12000 of numerous variants (MY8A1/A2/A2C) came into service. These were followed by the M48A3 which the Marines took to Vietnam.
In the late 1950s the Americans overcame their aversion to diesel power and the M60 with its British designed 105mm gun came into service. By 1982 over 15000 units had been built in four basic models.
Simultaneously 200 of the M48A5 with the 105mm gun went into service with the Army Reserve and National Guard and friendly foreign armies.
To complicate matters, countries such as Israel made their own modifications to M48s which remained in service until the late 1990s.
As this fascinating book reveals Pattons were made into specialist role vehicles, be they anti-aircraft, flame throwers, recovery, combat engineer.