World War Two US tanks and armour {**}
translation
TANKS ENCYCLOPEDIA
The ultimate tank database
M1 combat car
The M1 combat car, first modern tank in US service, came into production in 1937. In 1941, they served all as training machines.

M2A4 at Guadalcanal
The M2 were the first truly operational US light tanks and especially the M2A4, main production light tank, which was the sole among the four types which actually took part in combats, especially in the pacific (like here at Guadalcanal) with the USMC. It was only removed from active duty there by 1943. All the others, the preserie M2A1, the M2A2 "duplex turret" or "Mae West", and upgraded M2A3 were kept for training in USA.

M2A1 medium tank
The M2 medium tank was the first of its kind in USA. Despite 112 beeing produced by Rock Island arsenal, they were seen as obsolete by 1941 and phased out as training tanks for the duration of the war. They never left the territory.

M5A1 Stuart
The M3 light tank and its variants throughout the first part of the war, and later the M5, were the workhorse of the US military light tank force during ww2.

M3 Lee
The M3 Lee/Grant were the first medium tanks largely available to the allies and USA during the first part of the war, from 1941 to 1943. The British used them extensively against Rommel forces in Africa, and they served well also in several asiatic and pacific campaigns, well until 1945. But by 1943 on the western theater, they have been replaced by the M4 Sherman.

M4 Sherman
The M4 Sherman was really the most prolific and good all-around tank the US industry could offer by 1942. The full force of its production became obvious in late 1943, when swarms of M4s were seen in action anywhere the US Army, USMC, British and Commonwhealth fought until the end of the war. A legend in itself, with many variants and countless derivatives, and a career which spans decades during the cold war.



Comparison graphics of US tanks (in preparation)

WW2 US ARMOR

Light, medium & heavy tanks, armoured cars.
Up to 500 000+ armoured military vehicles by sept. 1945

Introduction :

At the end of WW1, US Expeditionary force was given some 144 Renault FT French Tanks, and a licence for production to US standard as M1917 tank. But this reorganisation of production took such time, that only a few were shipped back in france and operational before the capitulation. Nevertheless, this new weapon prove its ground. An embryo of tank force, the Tank corps in France, and the Tank Service in USA, were set, the first by Samuel Rockenbach, assisted by Georges s. Patton, the second headed Ira Clinton Welborn, assisted by Dwight d. Eisenhower. Patton has already gained some experience, directing a squadron of three armoured cars during the Punitive expedition engaged against Pancho Villa insurrection. At the end of the war, one of these units, the 301 geavy tank bataillon, was equipped with British MkIV-V and this led to a cooperation on a new design, which ultimately led to the Liberty (MkVIII) tank. Along with lighter M1917 tanks, thy formed the core of US Tank force during the twenties. Georges s. patton and Dwight Eisenhowver, both played a great role in formulating tactical doctrines, and organisation.

US Tank development in the interwar.

The Tank service retained its Mark VIII Liberty and M1917, with no intermediate medium model, until 1928, when a new directive was appointed for a medium tank, and a new light model, usable by cavalry. At the same time, William B. Christie, an american car engineer devised a new, revolutionary tank suspension system, with a dual purpose train, wheels allowing to still running without its tracks. However, his project, quickly dubbed the "flying tank" never reached production in the US, because after trials it never filled all requirements of the Army and US marine corp. However the design was not lost and served as a basis for many successful models abroad, in Britain (cruiser tanks) and Soviet Union (BT series and T34). New designs planned in 1929, culminated however with the M1 "armoured car".

Light tanks:

M1 Combat Car :

113 built. This early development was the basis of all M3-M5 "Stuart" lineage, through the M2, they formed the backbone of US light tanks. The M1A2 was upgraded with a 37mm gun by 1940.

M2 :

700 built in four variants. Closely related to the M1A2, it was mostly produced as the M2A2, which saw service in the pacific and Africa, before beeing replaced by the mass-produced M3.

M3 Stuart :

13860 built. The M3 was a replacement and a large-scale production, which formed the core of US light tanks during ww2.

M5 Stuart :

8885 built. Later version with a modified hull and new Cadillac engine and transmission. Armour was reinforced, but the armament did not evolved.

M24 Chaffee :

4731 built (and 720+ variants) Latest develomment of US light tank, this was a better armoured and armed light tanks, which served in 1944-45, and until the late seventies.

Medium tanks:

M2 medium tank :

112 built. With the M2A1 wartime production serie, this was the earliest put in service, in 1939. They were retained in the homeland as training machines.

M3 Lee/Grant :

3258 built. This long awaited model entered service as fast as possible with British units fighting in North Africa through lend-lease, was phased out in 1942, but served until 1945 in asia. It was mobile, well armed and protected, but the high silhouette and main gun in sponson were serious flaws. It was a transition model.

M4 Sherman :

49 234 built. This mythical machine replaced the Lee/Grant and remains the most prolific tank of the western world. But it was a compromise and has some flaws as well, especially when opposed against German late tanks of 1943-45.

Heavy tanks :

As pragmatic planners, the US military never seriously envisioned heavyweight breakthrough machines, as tanks were traditionally attached the cavalry. As far as speed and easy production were main concerns, only war experience in Europe -which came with the need of more penetrating power and increased protection - advocated for all-better medium tanks, specialized tank-hunters and ultimately to the first wartime US heavy tank. The only U.S. Army super-heavy tank ever produced, was the experimental T28.

M6 Heavy Tank :

40 built in 1941. Considered obsolete by 1944, they never left home, serving as training machines, for propaganda movies and war bond shows.

M26 Pershing :

Around 2000 built. But only 20 deployed in the Germany a few weeks before the end of the war. The development of this tanks started in 1942, but delays and the army and ordnance opposition and modifications delayed the production until december 1944. It was well protected and fitted with a 90mm. It remained a solid base for cold war US tank development, including the early T29 and T30.

T28 super-heavy tank :

Two built. Experimental machine fitted with a very long barrel 105mm, in order to deal with the most formidable german tanks in the western European theater. The first was ready when the war ended. The second was scrapped in 1947.

Tank destroyers :

War experience quickly showed the limitations of the Sherman, facing german armour, as soon as Tunisia. This was epitomized both in Italy (after Italy surrendered) and in France (after D-Day). The main limitation was the lack of range and penetrating power of the regular 75mm Sherman main gun.Obvious solution was to choose the British 6-pdr (which was added later to the Sherman Firefly), and to develop a new tank based around this gun and especially designed for the task of tank-hunter.

M10 Wolverine :

6706 built. Ordnance "3-inch Gun Motor Carriage, M10". Based on a Sherman chassis and drivetrain, with an open top turret fitted with a high velocity M7 76mm.

M36 Jackson :

1772 built, in 1943-45. Fitted with the 90mm M3 high velocity gun, a very effective soution which was the only one adequately fit to deal with German armor by 1944. .

M18 Hellcat :

2507 built in 1943-45. Conceived from scratch with its proper suspension and powerful drivetrain, it was lightning fast and fitted with the effective 76mm M1A2 AT.

Gun Motor Carriages :

This part does not includes M3 Half-track GMC versions; HMC tanks only.

M8 Scott :

1778 built. M5 based GMC fitted with a 75mm short barrel howitzer.

M7 Priest :

3490 built, in 1943-45. Fitted with the 105mm M1/M2 howitzer, its tall silhouette earned this model the nickname "Priest".

Armoured scouts & transports :

Something as mythical as the JEEP will not be seen there, as it was unprotected. The White company however, produced three models in vast quantities, carrying troops, guns, and all kinds of derivatives, including tank destroyers, GMCs and AA support vehicles.

M3 Scout car :

20 918 built. Main US heavy scout car. Was armed with 30 cal. and 50 cal. Machine-guns.

M2 Half Track car :

13 500 built (+3500 M9 lend-lease versions). Was used for towing the 105mm Howitzer and its crew.

M3 Half Track car :

43 000 built. Standard armoured troop transport of the US Army and USMC. Up to 28 subversions and adaptations.

M8 Greyhound :

8523 built. Standard issue 6 wheels WD armoured scout car.


Links


No website dedicated to US armor in ww2, so far ?