Improved TOW Vehicle M901A11-6

M901A1: General
Total acceptances ~1,800 M901 and M901A1
Manufacturer Emerson Electric Co. Crew
4 men:
  • Squad leader in hull left
  • Gunner in turret
  • Driver in hull left front
  • Loader in hull right
M901A1: Dimensions
Combat weight ~26,000lbs
Height, head erected 134.25"
Length 191.5"
Gun overhang forward 0"
Width over track shrouds 105.75"
Tread 85.0"
Ground clearance 17.1"
Ground pressure, zero penetration 8.3psi
M901A1: Armament
Type Mount Ammunition Traverse Max traverse rate Elevation
Twin TOW missile launcher Targeting head on modified M27 cupola 10 BGM-71D TOW 2, BGM-71E TOW 2A, or BGM-71F TOW 2B missiles 360°
(manual and hydraulic)
35°/sec +35° to -30°
(manual and hydraulic)
7.62mm M60 MG Flexible on cupola mount 800 rounds 360°
-- Manual
Aiming equipment
Daysight/tracker and nightsight AN/TAS-4A for gunner
Night vision
Infrared periscope M19 for driver, nightsight AN/TAS-4A for gunner
M901A1: Armor
Rolled 5083/5086 H32 aluminum armor
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Upper front 1.5"
Lower front 1.5"
Upper sides 1.75"
Lower sides 1.25"
Rear 1.5"
Ramp 1.5"
Top 1.5"
Floor 1.125"
M901A1: Automotive
Engine General Motors 6V53; 6 cylinder, 2 cycle, vee diesel
Horsepower Gross: 212@2,800rpm Torque Gross: 492 ft-lb@1,300rpm Fuel capacity 95gal
Transmission Allison TX-100, 3 ranges forward, 1 reverse
Steering DS200 controlled differential, steering levers
Brakes Differential band
M901A1: Suspension
Type Road wheels Track return rollers
Torsion bar 5 individually sprung dual/track Flat track
Drive sprockets Idlers Shock absorbers
10-tooth front drive Dual adjustable at rear of track On first, second, and last road wheels/track
M901A1: Track
Center guide, single pin, steel with detachable rubber pad
Width 15"
Pitch 6"
Shoes/track Left side: 63
Right side: 64
Ground contact length 105"
Center guide, double pin, steel with chevron rubber pad
Width 14.81"
Pitch 6"
Shoes/track Left side: 63
Right side: 64
Ground contact length 105"
M901A1: Performance
Max level road speed 40mph
Max water speed 3.6mph
Max trench 66"
Max grade 60%
Max vertical obstacle 24"
Min turning diameter 26'
Max fording depth Floats Cruising range ~300mi, roads
~480km, roads

The specifications above are for a vehicle based on the M113A2 APC and serving with Mechanized Infantry; M901s were also based on the M113A1, while vehicles in the Armored Cavalry were crewed by 5 men. The M901 conversion involved fitting a "hammerhead" turret on the commander's M27 cupola which contained two TOW missile launchers and the associated targeting and guidance equipment. The missile launcher targeting head was at the end of a pivoting arm which raised the assembly for firing. When stowed, the turret was aimed down and to the rear of the vehicle; this reduced the ITV's height to 115.75" (294.00cm) for M113A2-based vehicles. Twenty seconds were required for erection of the launcher and engagement of the target; after the first missile hit, the second could be launched in 4.25 seconds if the next target was ≤12.5° away. Reloading was accomplished in forty seconds by tilting the launching apparatus back so that the crew could reach the turret through the carrier's rear roof hatch. When the ITV was modified to fire the TOW 2 series of missiles, its designation was changed to M901A1. The M901A1 also received an upgrade to the gunner's night sight from the M901's AN/TAS-4. The AN/TAS-4A provided poor visibility missile tracking capability, whereas the daysight was used to track the missiles with the AN/TAS-4. M901A3 was equipped with the RISE improvements of the M113A3.

The various versions of the TOW missile are as follows: BGM-71A from 1970 was the basic version with a 5" (13cm) diameter, 5.4lb (2.4kg) explosive weight warhead and a 3,000m (1.86mi) range. BGM-71B from 1976 extended the range to 3,750m (2.33mi). BGM-71C ITOW (Improved TOW) from 1981 used an improved 5" (13cm) 5.0lb (2.3kg) explosive weight warhead and a 265mm (10.4") long standoff probe which allowed the shaped charge penetrator to assume a more efficient shape before it struck the target. BGM-71D TOW 2 from 1983 had a 6" (15cm) diameter 6.8lb (3.1kg) explosive weight warhead and a 345mm (13.6") long standoff probe, along with a new motor and digital guidance strengthened against countermeasures. BGM-71E TOW 2A from 1987 introduced a precursor charge in the standoff probe to defeat explosive reactive armor. BGM-71F TOW 2B from 1991 was a top-attack weapon using two explosively-formed projectiles that penetrated the roof of armored vehicles. TOW 2B lacked a standoff probe.




  1. Hunnicutt, R.P. Bradley: A History of American Fighting and Support Vehicles. Navato, CA: Presidio Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission from Bradley, R.P. Hunnicutt ©1999, available from Presidio Press, 505B San Martin Drive, Suite 160, Navato, CA 94945.
  2. TM 9-2350-259-10 C4 Operator's Manual for Combat Vehicle, Anti-tank, Improved TOW Vehicle, M901--NSN 2350-01-045-1123 M901A1--NSN 2350-01-103-5641. Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army, 10 May 1983.
  3. Crismon, Fred W. U.S. Military Tracked Vehicles. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1992.
  4. Federation of American Scientists. "M901A3 Improved TOW Vehicle." DOD 101. 22 Feb 2000. 28 May 2001 <>. DOD 101
  5. Federation of American Scientists. "M-220 Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile (TOW)." DOD 101. 22 Feb 2000. 28 May 2001 <>. DOD 101
  6. Cullen, Tony, and Christopher F. Foss, eds. Jane's AFV Retrofit Systems 1994-95. Seventh ed. Coulsdon, Surrey: Jane's Information Group, Ltd., 1994.
Last updated 7 Jan 2024.
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