Debut: April 2017

 




   

.: Bruce Hands' Stuart US Light Tank M3

Brand:

Tamiya
#35042

Scale:

1/35

Modelling Time:

?? hrs

PE/Resin Detail:

none

Comments:

"Fun, for an old kit."

M3 Stuart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For the medium tank, see M3 Lee.
Light Tank M3
Stuart m5a1 cfb borden.jpg
M5A1 at Base Borden Museum, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario, Canada.
Type Light tank
Place of origin United States
Production history
Designer U.S. Army Ordnance Department
Manufacturer American Car and Foundry
Cadillac division of General Motors
General Motors
Massey-Harris
Produced 1941–1944
No. built 22,744 M3 and M5
Variants See Variants
Specifications (Light tank M5A1, late production [1])
Weight 33,500 lb (15.19 metric tons)
Length 15 ft 10.5 in (4.84 m) with sand shields and rear stowage box
Width 7 ft 6 in (2.23 m) with sand shields
Height 8 ft 5 in (2.56 m) over anti-aircraft machine gun
Crew 4 (Commander, gunner, driver, assistant driver)

Armor 0.375 to 2.5 in (9.5 to 63.5 mm)
Main
armament
37 mm Gun M6 in Mount M44
147 rounds
Secondary
armament
3 × .30 caliber (7.62 mm) Browning M1919A4 machine guns
6,750 rounds
Engine Twin Cadillac Series 42; 220 hp (164 kW) at 3,400 rpm
Power/weight 14.48 hp/metric ton
Transmission Hydramatic
4 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Suspension Vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS)
Fuel capacity 89 US gallons (340 liters)
Operational
range
100 mi (160 km)
Speed 36 mph (58 kph) on road

The M3 Stuart, formally Light Tank M3, is an American light tank of World War II. It was supplied to British and Commonwealth forces under lend-lease prior to the entry of the U.S. into the war. Thereafter, it was used by U.S. and Allied forces until the end of the war. The name "General Stuart" or "Stuart" given by the British comes from the American Civil War Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart and was used for both the M3 and the derivative M5 Light Tank. In British service, it also had the unofficial nickname of Honey after a tank driver remarked "She's a honey".[2] To the United States Army, the tanks were officially known only as "Light Tank M3" and "Light Tank M5". Stuarts were the first American-crewed tanks in World War II to engage the enemy in tank versus tank combat.[3][4]

Development

Observing events in Europe, American tank designers realized that the Light Tank M2 was becoming obsolete and set about improving it. The upgraded design, with thicker armor, modified suspension and new gun recoil system was called "Light Tank M3". Production of the vehicle started in March 1941 and continued until October 1943. Like its direct predecessor, the M2A4, the M3 was initially armed with a 37mm M5 gun and five .30-06Browning M1919A4 machine guns: coaxial with the gun, on top of the turret in an M20 anti-aircraft mount, in a ball mount in right bow, and in the right and left hull sponsons. Later, the gun was replaced with the slightly longer M6, and the sponson machine guns were removed. For a light tank, the Stuart was fairly heavily armored. It had 38 mm of armor on the upper front hull, 44 mm on the lower front hull, 51 mm on the gun mantlet, 38 mm on the turret sides, 25 mm on the hull sides, and 25 mm on the hull rear.[5]

A M3A1 going through water obstacle, Ft. Knox, Ky.
A M3A1 going through water obstacle, Ft. Knox, Ky.

Internally, the radial engine was at the rear and the transmission at the front. The prop shaft connecting the two ran through the middle of the fighting compartment. The radial engine, having its crankshaft high off the hull bottom, contributed to the tank's high silhouette.[6] When a revolving turret floor was introduced in the M3 hybrid and M3A1, the crew had less room. In contrast to the M2A4, all M3/M5 series tanks had a trailing rear idler wheel for increased ground contact).

M5 Stuart

To relieve the demand for the radial aero-engines used in the M3, a new version was developed using twin Cadillac V-8 automobile engines and twin Hydra-Matic transmissions operating through a transfer case. This variation was quieter, cooler and roomier. Owing to its automatic transmission, it also simplified crew training. The new model (initially called M4 but redesignated M5 to avoid confusion with the M4 Sherman[7]) also featured a redesigned hull with sloped glacis plate and driver's hatches moved to the top. Although the main criticism from the units using it was that the Stuarts lacked firepower, the improved M5 series kept the same 37 mm gun. The M5 gradually replaced the M3 in production from 1942 and, after the M7 project proved unsatisfactory, was succeeded by the Light Tank M24 in 1944.

Combat history

Light Tank M5A1 passes through the wrecked streets of Coutances.
An Australian Stuart I during the final assault on Buna.
British M3 (Stuart I) knocked out during fighting in North Africa.
Republic of China army operating the M3A3 Stuart on Ledo Road

War in North Africa and Europe

The British Army was the first to use the Light Tank M3 as the "General Stuart" in combat.[8] From mid-November 1941 to the end of the year, about 170 Stuarts (in a total force of over 700 tanks) took part in Operation Crusader during the North Africa Campaign, with poor results. This is despite the fact that the M3 was superior or comparable in most regards to most of the tanks used by the Axis forces. The most numerous German tank, the Panzer III Ausf G, had nearly identical armor and speed to the M3 (the M3 actually had thicker front and turret armor, while the Panzer III had slightly thicker side armor), and both tanks' guns could penetrate the other tank's front armor from beyond 1,000 meters.[9] The most numerous Italian tank (and second most numerous Axis tank overall), the Fiat M13/40, was much slower than the Stuart, had slightly weaker armor all around, and could not penetrate the Stuart's front hull or turret armor at 1,000 meters, where the Stuart's gun could penetrate any spot on the M13/40. Although the high losses suffered by Stuart-equipped units during the operation had more to do with the better tactics and training of the Afrika Korps than the apparent superiority of German armored fighting vehicles used in the North African campaign,[10] the operation revealed that the M3 had several technical faults. Mentioned in the British complaints were the 37 mm M5 gun and poor internal layout. The two-man turret crew was a significant weakness, and some British units tried to fight with three-man turret crews. The Stuart also had a limited range, which was a severe problem in the highly mobile desert warfare as units often outpaced their supplies and were stranded when they ran out of fuel.

On the positive side, crews liked its relatively high speed and mechanical reliability, especially compared to the Crusader tank,[11][12] which comprised a large portion of the British tank force in Africa up until 1942. The Crusader had similar armament and armor to the Stuart while being slower, less reliable, and several tons heavier. The Stuart also had the advantage of a gun that could deliver high-explosive shells; HE shells were not available for the QF 2 pdr mounted by most Crusaders, severely limiting their use against infantry[13] (however, by late 1942 the Crusader received the QF 6 pdr gun, significantly improving its anti-tank characteristics and giving it HE capability). The main drawback of the Stuart was its low fuel capacity and range; its operational range was only 75 miles (cross country),[14] roughly half that of the Crusader.

In the summer of 1942, the British usually kept Stuarts out of tank-to-tank combat, using them primarily for reconnaissance. The turret was removed from some examples to save weight and improve speed and range. These became known as "Stuart Recce". Some others were converted to armored personnel carriers known as the "Stuart Kangaroo", and some were converted command vehicles and known as "Stuart Command". M3s, M3A3s, and M5s continued in British service until the end of the war, but British units had a smaller proportion of these light tanks than U.S. units.

The other major Lend-Lease recipient of the M3, the Soviet Union, was less happy with the tank, considering it under-gunned, under-armored, likely to catch fire, and too sensitive to fuel quality. The M3's radial aircraft engine required high-octane fuel, which complicated Soviet logistics as most of their tanks used diesel or low-octane fuel. High fuel consumption led to a poor range characteristic, especially sensitive for reconnaissance vehicle. Also, compared to Soviet tanks, the M3's narrower tracks resulted in a higher ground pressure, getting them more easily stuck in the spring and autumn mud and winter snow conditions on the Eastern Front. In 1943, the Red Army tried out the M5 and decided that the upgraded design was not much better than the M3. Being less desperate than in 1941, the Soviets turned down an American offer to supply the M5. M3s continued in Red Army service at least until 1944.

War in the Far East – CBI and Pacific

The U.S. Army initially deployed 108 Stuart light tanks to the Philippines in September 1941, equipping the U.S. Army's 194th and 192nd Tank Battalions. The first U.S. tank versus tank combat to occur in World War II, began on 22 December 1941, when a platoon of five M3s led by Lieutenant Ben R. Morin engaged the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 4th Tank Regiment's Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks north of Damortis. Lt. Morin maneuvered his M3 off the road, but took a direct hit while doing so, and his tank began to burn. The other four M3s were also hit, but managed to leave the field under their own power. Lt. Morin was wounded, and he and his crew were captured by the enemy.[15] M3s of the 194th and 192nd Tank Battalions continued to skirmish with the 4th Tank Regiment's tanks as they continued their retreat down the Bataan Peninsula, with the last tank versus tank combat occurring on 7 April 1942.[16][17]

Due to the naval nature of the Pacific campaign, steel for warship production took precedence over tanks for the IJA,[18] creating by default an IJA light tank that performed admirably in the jungle terrain of the South Pacific. By the same measure, although the US was not hampered by industrial restrictions, the U.S. M3 light tank proved to be an effective armored vehicle for fighting in jungle environments.[19] At least one was captured in the Philippines.[20]

With the IJA's drive toward India within the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, the United Kingdom hastily withdrew their 2nd Royal Tank Regiment and 7th Hussars Stuart tank units (which also contained some M2A4 light tanks[21]) from North Africa, and deployed them against the Japanese 14th Tank Regiment. By the time the Japanese had been stopped at Imphal, only one British Stuart remained operational.[22] When the U.S. entered the war in 1941, it began to supply China with AFVs, including the M3 Stuarts, and later M4 Shermans and M18 Hellcats, which trickled in through Burma.

Although the U.S. light tanks had proven effective in jungle warfare, by late 1943, U.S. Marine Corps tank battalions were transitioning from their M3/M5 light tanks to M4 medium tanks.[23]

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