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If you're intent on playing it, unlock the APHE and then the HEAT-FS, both are equally useful (HEAT for front on engagements, APHE for anything to the side). The armor scheme is ok, you have decently rounded turret armor but it has a huge LFP which will kill everything inside if penetrated. Basically play hull down. The gun is extremely bouncy while moving, so you're going to have to be stationary when shooting.
Their mobility (for what they are..) I suppose is OK, but the complete lack of even a basic stabilizer puts them at quite a disadvantage on the move.
As Ship says above... The M46 is probably what you should stick with until you get to the M60A1 AOS, RISE, and TTS models.
Fundamentally, there is no advantage to having the M47 other than a smaller turret profile (At cost of 0,3 BR), the M48 has a stronger hull (At the cost of 0,3 BR), and then there's no real point to the M60 if you could instead just research the A1 who has a nicer turret-face and a stabiliser.
They have decent armour which can stop shots from people who do not know how to aim at weak points. The lack of stabiliser renders the entire series rather inadequate at close quarters. At long range, there also also opposing tanks that are better.
Provided you've already researched everything through Rank 4, your best lineups are going to be 8.0 and 9.3 (RB)
If you plan on stopping to enjoy 8.0 -- You want the M60A1 AOS, the Bradley IFV, T95E1, and the M163, probably in that order (I never bothered to research the T95E1, so I can't really comment on how good or bad it is. I feel like I don't see a ton of them, but when I do... they seem to do OK.). Additional bonus for the M901 Wall-E (Nice thermals, if you can hide the tank behind cover and only expose launcher), and the T54E1 premium is pretty slick, too. Other 8.0's (M551, M60A2) can be useful, but I do not feel they are as good as the first 4 vehicles I have listed.
Or plan on stopping at 9.3 -- MBT-70, XM803, M3A3 Bradley, M247, and M60A3 TTS. Additionally, XM-1 premium can be nice.
If your goal is simply "the race to top-tier", I would prioritize the HT line leading into the Abrams, followed by the SPAA line (And, not getting the MBT-70 unless you had to, if you do not plan on playing a lot of 9.3). Don't bother with the TD line, Pattons, or LT line until later.