The 105mm gun tank T96 was a design for a long term replacement for the Heavy Tank T43 (M103), but work on the design was abandoned after it became clear that the gun would fit on the Medium Tank T95, under development at the same time.
The T96 emerged from the Question Mark III Conference of June 1954, one of a series of meetings between the users and designers of armoured vehicles, aimed at produced the next generation of armoured vehicles of all types. At the time the Heavy Tank T43 was under construction, although the first version wasn’t satisfactory. The conference examined four short term projects and two long term projects. One of the long term projects was the TL4, which would carry a smooth bore 105mm gun T210 in a rigid mount in a fully rotating turret. The rigid mount discarded the normal recoil mechanism used with tank guns, and instead relied on the weight and solidity of the vehicle itself to absorb the recoil forces.
Ford was given a contract to develop the TL-4 concept, as the 105mm gun tank T96. Drawings and a model were produced, showing a tank with six large road wheels on each side and a crew of four. The driver would side in the nose of the hull, protected by thick armour. The remaining three crewmen would operate the large turret. The commander sat at the rear of the main turret, under a fully rotating cupola/ machine gun turret. The gunner was just in front. The loader stood on the floor of the main fighting compartment.
Work on the T96 was going on alongside the development of the Medium Tank T95, which began in 1955. The T95 was being developed to replace the Medium Tank M48 Patton, and originally was armed with either the 90mm gun from the M48 or a 105mm gun.
It soon became clear that the T96 turret would actually fit on the T95 chassis, and the two projects were merged. The T95E4 combined the chassis and hull of the T95 with the 105mm armed turret from the T95. Four prototypes were ordered, but the T96 turret was never actually completed, so they were to be built with alternative turrets. There we also plans for a T95E6, which would have carried a 120mm rifled gun in the T96 turret, but that was never built. The entire programme was cancelled in 1960, and work moved onto the M60, an improved version of the M48 Patton, armed with a new 105mm gun.