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United States' M3 light tank, "General Stuart", "Honey"

Photos

M3 Light Tank:
United States' M3 Light Tank drawing
Aberdeen Tank Museum

M3 light tank with a seven sided welded turret and a riveted hull:
United States' M3 light tank with a seven sided welded turret and a riveted hull
U.S. Ordnance Dept.
M3 Light Tank captured by the Germans in North Africa:
United States' M3 Light Tank captured by Germans in North Africa
U.S. Army in World War II - Pictorial Record, 1951, pg 56

M44 gun mount:
United States' M44 gun mount
U.S. Ordnance Dept.
M3 light tank with rounded homogeneous welded turret:
United States' M3 light tank with rounded homogeneous welded turret
U.S. Ordnance Dept.

M3 light tank's pistol port and protectoscope:
United States' M3 light tank's pistol port and protectoscope
U.S. Ordnance Dept.
M3 Light Tank in Casablanca:
United States' M3 Light Tank in Casablanca
U.S. Army in World War II - Pictorial Record, 1951, pg 28

M3 light tank's rounded homogeneous turret:
United States' M3 light tank's rounded homogeneous turret
U.S. Ordnance Dept.

Design

With events in Europe in 1940, the Army realized the M2 was inadequate and the decision was made to modernize it. A new design with thicker armor was standardized on July 5, 1940. Production started in March 1941 at the American Car & Foundry. It was based on the M2A4, but had thicker armor that was homogeneous rolled and the idler wheel was placed on the ground to act as another road wheel to help distribute the weight.

Initially the engine was the Continental but shortages caused it to be replaced by the Guiberson T-1020 diesel, and fitted into 500 M3s.

Tracks could often last 1,000 miles, whereas other models required replacement at 500 miles.

During production the riveted turret was replaced by a welded one 7-sided one. Also in early 1942 an all welded hull was produced.

It had volute spring suspension with the rear idler on the ground. This reduced the ground pressure and gave support to the rear of the tank.

Layout

The engines were in the rear with the drive going to the front sprockets, which was controlled by differential steering. The rear idler was located on the ground which helped in supporting the rear of the M3.

Crew

The driver was on the left and the hull gunner/assistant driver on the right. They could see out through windshields in their hatches.

The gunner and commander/loader were in seats that were in the M3's turret basket.

Engine

Internally the M3 carried 56 gallons of fuel. Some tanks had two 25 gallon external tanks added, and these were jettisonable once combat started.

Production

  • M3: 5,811, ~6,000
    • Production: 1941 - ?, 1941 - August 1942, March 1941 - August 1942
    • Manufacturer: American Car Foundry
  • M3A1: 4,621
    • Production: May 1942 - February 1943
    • Manufacturer: American Car Foundry
  • M3A1 Diesel:
    • Manufacturer: American Car Foundary
  • M3A3: 3,427
    • Production: December 1942 -
    • Manufacturer: American Car Foundry
  • Total: 13,859
    • Production: - October 1943

Variants

  • M3: Production started in March 1941 right after the last M2 was produced. In July 1943, the Ordnance Committee declared it obsolete. From mid-1941 a gyrostabilizer was installed with the gun. Had cupola on the left side of the turret. There was a sponson on each side of the vehicle which had a .30 caliber machine gun installed. The radios were in the left sponson and were usually the SCR508.
  • M3A1:
  • M3A1 Diesel:
  • M3A2: Was going to be made welded like A1 but never produced.
  • M3A3:
  • M3 Command Tank: Removal of turret and putting welded box superstructure with .50 cal MG on mount.
  • M3 with Maxson Turret: In 1942 a quad Maxson .50 cal machine gun turret was put on in place of the turret. Rejected as similar equipment was on half-tracks.
  • M3 and T2 Light Mine Exploder: In 1942 a T2 mine exploder on a boom was developed and rejected as too unwieldy.
  • M3 or M3A1 with Satan Flame-gun: Produced in Hawaii for use by USMC. Gun was removed and flame thrower was installed. Capacity was 170 gallons and range of 40-60 yards. 20 converted in 1943. Used at Saipan, Tinian, and Guam.
  • M3A1 with E5R2-M3 Flame-gun: Flame thrower put in place of hull machine gun. 10 gallon capacity. Used at Saipan, Tinian, and Guam.
  • M3E2: Cadillac engines. Became the M5.
  • T18 75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage: Design started in September 1941. It was to provide a close support vehicle for the M3. Two test vehicles with mild steel superstructures were sent to the Aberdeen Proving Ground. This project was abandoned in April 1942 as it was unsatisfactory with it's high profile and being nose heavy.
  • T56 3" Gun Motor Carriage: Project started in September 1942 to mount a 3" in a modified M3A3 chassis. The gun was placed in the rear, and the engine was moved to the center. Had limited crew protection and was very heavy. Project dropped in February 1943.
  • T57 3" Gun Motor Carriage: Same as the T56, but with an up-rated Continental engine from the M3 medium. Project dropped in February 1943.

Usage

Russia, China, New Zealand, and France received some as well.

United Kingdom Use

  • Stuart I: M3 with Continental engine.
  • Stuart II: 500 M3s with Guiberson diesel.
  • Stuart III: M3A1 with Continental engine.
  • Stuart IV: M3A1 with Guiberson diesel.
  • Stuart V: M3A3.
  • Stuart VI: M5 and M5A1.
  • Stuart Kangaroo: Removed turret and added seats.
  • Stuart Recce: As Kangaroo but with various machine guns on pindle mounts.
  • Stuart Command: As Kangaroo but with extra radios.
  • Stuart 18 pdr. SP: At least one Stuart had it's turret replaced by an 18 pdr field gun.

Used in Burma, New Guinea, Iraq, Britain, NW Europe, Italy, and North Africa.

Experience in Africa

Some vehicles also had two 25 gallon jettisonable fuel tanks mounted on the side of the rear deck based on British experience in North Africa.

Sturdiness

During the retreat in Burma in 1942, Stuarts of the 2nd Royal Tanks went 2,400 miles in eleven weeks with very little maintenance.

First Action

M3s were used by the 8th King Royal Irish Hussars in August 1941 in Egypt. Fought their first battle at Sidi Rezegh on November 19, 1941.

Organization

There were 72 M3s in a Marine Light Tank Battalion.

British Service:

Nicknamed "Honey" by British calvary regiments. 84 sent to 8th Army in July 1941.

The British were reported to like this tank at the time of its introduction. It could go about 10-20 mph faster than their own or enemy tanks, and required less maintenance.

Specifications

  M3 (Stuart I), M3 light tank
Crew Commander, gunner, driver, co-driver
4
Radio SCR-245
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 27,400 lb, 28,440 lb
12.2 tons, 12.3 tons, 13 tons
12,428 kg, 12,927 kg
Length 14.8', 14' 10", 14' 10 3/8", 14' 10.75"
4.5 m, 4.53 m, 4.54 m
Height 7' 6.5", 8' 3", 8.3'
2.3 m, 2.5 m, 2.65 m
Width 7.3', 7' 4"
2.2 m, 2.25 m, 2.46 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 16.5"
0.42 m
Ground contact length 117"
Ground pressure 10.47 psi, 10.5 psi
0.7 (kg/cm2), 1 (kg/cm2)
Turret ring diameter 46.75"
Armament  
Main 37 mm M5 or M6 L/56
37 mm L/56
37 mm M5
37 mm
OR 37 mm M6
Secondary  
MG 5: MG
2: MG
2: 7.7 mm MG
3: .30 cal Browning MGs
MG - coaxial 1: 0.3" M1919A4
1: .30 cal Browning M1919A4
1: .30 cal Browning MG
MG - hull 1: 0.3" M1919A4
1: .30 cal Browning M1919A4
1: .30 cal Browning MG
MG - antiaircraft 1: .30 cal Browning M1919A4
1: .30 cal Browning MG
0.3" MG
MG - sponsons 2: .30 cal Browning M1919A4
2: .30 cal Browning MG
2: .30 cal Browning MG in sponsoons
Side arms 1" .30 cal M2 tripod mount
1: .45 cal submachine gun
Hand grenades
Quantity  
Main 103, 83
103: APC M51B1, APC M51B2, HE M63, Canister M2
Secondary  
MG 6,400-8,270, 5,435, 8,270
Side arms .45: 500, 500 - 540
Grenades: 12 (4: Fragmentation Mk II, 2: Offensive Mk IIIA2, 4: Smoke WP M15, 2: Thermite Incendiary)
Armor Thickness (mm) 10, 51, 10 - 45, 15 - 43
Hull Front, Upper 1.5", 1" - 1.5"
38.1
Hull Front, Lower 5/8" - 1.75"
Hull Sides, Upper 1", 1"@0°
25.4
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 1", 1"@0°
25.4
Hull Top 3/8"
9.5
Hull Bottom 3/8" - 0.5"
6.4 - 12.7
Turret Front 1.5"
38.1 m
Turret Sides 1.25", 1.25"@0°
25.4
Turret Rear 1.25", 1.25"@0°
25.4
Turret Top 0.5", 0.5"@90°
9.5
Engine (Make / Model) Continental W-670-9A, Continental Wright, Continental W-670, Continental
OR Guiberson, Guiberson T1020, Guiberson T1020-4
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Air
Cylinders 7
Continental: Radial 6, 7 , Radial
Guiberson: 9
Capacity  
Net HP 250, 250@2,400 rpm
Continental: 250, 250@2,400 rpm
Guiberson: 220@2,200 rpm
Power to weight ratio 18 hp/ton, 20.4 hp/ton
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) Synchromesh
5 forward, 1 reverse
Gear ratios - 1st gear 5.37:1
- 2nd gear 2.82:1
- 3rd gear 1.72:1
- 4th gear 1.09:1
- 5th gear 0.738:1
- reverse 6.19:1
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system 12 volt
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Continental: Gasoline
Guiberson: Diesel
Octane Continental: 80
Cetane Guiberson: 50
Quantity 54 gallons, 56 gallons internal, 50 gallons jettisonable tanks
151 liters
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand
Speed - Road 35 mph, 36 mph
57.9 kph, 58 kph
Speed - Cross Country 15 - 20 mph, 20 mph
32 kph
Range - Road 70 miles, 135 miles
112 km, 112.6 km, 120 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius 21'
13 m
Elevation limits -10° to +20°
Fording depth 3'
0.9 m, 0.91 m
Trench crossing 6'
1.8 m, 1.83'
Vertical obstacle 2'
0.61 m
Climbing ability 60%
Suspension (Type) Vertical volute and trailing idler
Volute Springs
Wheels each side 4
Wheel size 20x6
Return rollers each side 3
Tracks (Type) Rubber block
Length  
Width 11 5/8"
295 mm
Diameter  
Number of links 132 or 134
Pitch 5.5"
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread 6' 1"
  Stuart II
Crew  
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight  
Length  
Height  
Width  
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Guiberson T-1020
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders  
Capacity  
Net HP  
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Gear ratios  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Cetane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road  
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Wheel size  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. Panzer Truppen The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  3. British and American Tanks of World War Two, The Complete Illustrated History of British, American, and Commonwealth Tanks 1933-1945, Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, 1969
  4. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. The American Arsenal, 1996
  7. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  8. Battle Winning Tanks, Aircraft & Warships of World War II, David Miller, 2000
  9. Tank Data, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, 1968?
  10. Airfix Magazine Guide #26 American Tanks of World War 2, Terry Gander and Peter Chamberlain, 1977
  11. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  12. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site