The Stuart m3 light tank was an American tank that was used during the early part of World War II (WWII); the tank got its name from General J.E.B. Stuart and was the first tank to be used by Americans in WWII in tank to tank combat.
HISTORY OF THE STUART M3
The Stuart m3 tank was actually an upgraded version of the previous m2which was developed as a support tank following World War I (WWI). The m2 was lightweight and well-known for its speed and reliability, it was equipped with a 37 mm main gun and at least 5 machine guns, a bow mount, a coaxial mount, turret roof mount, and two in the right and left sponsons; but it was completely outclassed by the time it was being used in the 1940s as its light armor could not stand up to the German tanks so it was given a secondary role in the war and was used mainly for the training of tank crews.
Then came the m3 to replace its outclassed predecessor; the m3 had improved armor and combat weight but maintained the m2’s 37 mm main gun along with its machine guns. The 37 mm gun stayed with the Stuart series throughout its lifetime except in cases where the tank was used for reconnaissance, in which case the main gun might be removed to make the tank lighter and more 7.62 mm machine guns were used.
In all the Stuart light tank had five variations throughout its lifetime: Stuart I, Stuart II, Stuart III, Stuart IV, Stuart V and the Stuart VI; Stuart I was a gasoline engine while Stuart II was diesel, Stuart III and IV distinguished gasoline and diesel engines just as their predecessors, however they featured a gyro stabilized main gun and power traverse turret assembly unlike the first two Stuarts. Stuart V brought armor improvements not seen on its predecessors and Stuart VI was based on the then new m3 design and featured a twin-Cadillac engine and a re-engineered turret; later on Stuart VI became the M5.
DESIGN OF THE STUART M3
The m3 weighed 14.7 tonnes (32,400 lbs) and carried a crew of four: the commander, the gunner, the driver and a co-driver, while it traveled at speeds of 58 km/h (36 mph) on road and 30 km/h (18 mph) off-road. The m3 was powered by a radial engine at the rear end of the tank while the transmission to the driving sprockets was at the front; the prop shaft that connected the two ran through the middle of the tank’s fighting compartment so that there was little space for the crew. Later a turret floor was introduced that gave the crew even less room.
As mentioned before, the upgraded m5 had an upgraded Cadillac engine and also featured a redesigned hull but maintained the use of the 37 mm gun. Eventually it replaced the m3 in 1942 until it too was replaced by the m24 in 1944; it was called the m5 instead of m4 so as not to be confused with the m4 Sherman.