M10 Achilles

Achilles Mk. IIc is a tank destroyer and not a “real” tank, like for instance the Leopard 1, though it is an armoured vehicle specially designed to fight enemy tanks.

The Achilles IIc on display at the museum was rebuilt in England during WWII. It was fitted with the British Ordnance Quick Firing 17 Pounder (76.2 mm (3 inch)) gun. This gun was originally developed as a towed armoured gun. However, the “17 Pounder” as it is colloquially known, is a large and heavy gun which is difficult for the crew to handle in the terrain.

Therefore, the British Army was keen to find a vehicle that could make the gun self-propelled, and the choice fell on the American M10 tank destroyer. The M10 was originally equipped with an American M7 gun, which however did not have the same armour-piercing capabilities as the 17 Pounder. The 17 Pounder was also incorporated into the M4 Sherman tank (where it was used under the name Sherman Firefly), the Sherman has also been used in the British Army. The 17 Pounder was the Allies’ best gun for fighting enemy tanks during World War II.

The M10 tank destroyer is based on the M4 Sherman tank. Thus, many components, including the engine and undercarriage, etc., are used on both vehicles. This provides logistical advantages when different types of vehicles share components.

48 used Achilles Mk. IIc were delivered to the Danish Army in 1955. They were formally in service in local defence units until 1989. In Danish service the Achilles IIc was used under the designation “M10 Achilles”.

In order to understand the tank destroyer as a weapon type, it is natural to compare it to a tank, such as the M4 Sherman, which is also on display at the museum. A tank destroyer is specifically designed to fight tanks. It is therefore generally lighter, faster and better armed than a tank, which must be able to serve a variety of purposes. A tank is thus typically slower but better armoured, while having a gun that can be used for more purposes than just fighting enemy tanks.

The tank destroyer as a weapon type is no longer used in the Danish Army. Modern tanks such as the Leopard 2A5 can be used for many different purposes, and it is therefore no longer suitable to have a weapon type with such a narrow range of applications as a tank destroyer has.

The vehicle on display is fully operational.

M10 Achilles Mk. IIc
Country of origin: USA (modified in Great Britain)
Type: Tank destroyer
Speed: 48 km/h
Range: 225 km
Weight: 30 tons fully loaded
Width: 3.04 m
Height: 2.56 m plus machine gun
Length: 5.97 m vehicle / 7 m cannon at 12 o’clock
Crew: 5
Armament: 17 Pounder cannon (76.2 mm (3 inch)) ; .50 Cal (12.7 mm) machine gun
Engine: 2 pcs. General Motors 6046 Series 71 6-cylinder 7 liters diesel, 275 HP in total
Transmission: –
Year of introduction: 1955
Phased out year: 1989