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Old 02-29-2008, 11:35 AM
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Default M3 / M5 General Stuart Light Tank

The M3 Stuart Light Tank's roots can be traced back as far as the 1920's. American development of the weapon system was progressive, with few in production during a no-conflict season. The earliest light tank designs began as the Light Tank M2 series featuring a well-armed 37mm main gun. It was the events in Europe during the opening years of the Second World War that prompted American Army officials to develop the M2 design further, seeing it that the M2 - as it stood - needed better armor protection for survivability in the inevitable need should the US go to war in Europe. The M2 series still served a purpose as tank crew trainers however.
With the M2A4 Light Tank being the last of the M2 series design, the US Army used that as the basis for the M3 series, including an updated suspension system to carry the extra load of armor being added. Full scale production of the M3 series began in 1941 and reached a feverish peak once the United States officially entered the war in Europe.
In it's earliest incarnations, the M3 Stuart was built with riveted construction, eventually giving way to a welded turret and hull design in later versions.
Basic armament for the M3A1 variant had a 37mm main gun, a co-axial 7.62mm machine gun and four other .30 caliber (7.62mm) machine guns. One machine gun was for anti-aircraft defense and another was used exclusively by the driver.
The M3 Stuart proved a reliable weapon and ventured with the US Army wherever it was needed. Foreign recipients of the tank included Great Britain, whom viewed the 'light tank' as a bit large for a light tank, but preferred it none the less because of its reliability. Soviet forces also acquired it under the Lend-Lease Act.
By 1944, the combat value of the M3 Stuart was drastically diminished, and it went on to serve other roles including reconnaissance and as a development platform for mine clearing and the like. Some had their turrets completely removed for concealment advantages and armed with extra machine guns instead.
The M3 served from the African Theater of War and onwards. The M5 Stuart was a derivative of the original M3 series, featuring a more powerful engine in the form of two Cadillac engines.
5,811 M3 Stuart Light Tanks were built for the war.
Specifications for the M3A1 Stuart Light Tank:
Designation: M3 General Stuart
Might Be Known As: M3 Stuart Light Tank / M5 Stuart Light Tank
Classification: Light Tank
Service Date: 1942
Weight: 12.927 tons
Length: 14 feet, 10.75 inches
Height: 7 feet, 6.5 inches
Width: 7 feet, 4 inches
Maximum Speed: 36 mph
Maximum Range: 70 miles
Crew: 4
Armament: 1 x 37mm main gun; 4 x .30 caliber (7.72mm) machine guns
More Pictures of the M3 / M5 Stuart Light Tank:
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