There's no question the M-1A1 tank was a big winner on the battlefields of the Persian Gulf war. But the people who helped build it wonder whether it will fall victim to budget battles.

"I can read the handwriting on the wall," General Dynamics worker Fred Robinson said as he sat inside a bar near the company's Lima Army Tank Plant."The government wants to end production in two years," Robinson said. "The war isn't going to change that. I know me and some of the guys might lose our jobs. There's nothing much I can do about that."

Donald Gilleland, a General Dynamics spokesman, said he is hopeful the tank's performance against the Iraqi army's Soviet-built T-72 tanks may translate into new orders from the United States or elsewhere.

"There's nobody I know that has a crystal ball to predict what will happen," he said. But Gilleland noted the Army is still planning to reduce production at the Lima plant from 60 to 30 tanks a month and suspend production at an assembly plant in Detroit in September.