M3 Stuart / Light Tank, M3
M5 Stuart / Light Tank, M5
Designed by the U.S. Army Ordnance Department and built by the American Car and Foundry Company, part of the Cadillac division of General Motors (GM). Delivered to the U. S. Army and officially designated Light Tank, M3. In British or Commonwealth service, nicknamed "Stuart" or "General Stuart" after the the U. S. Civil War Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart.
During 1942, production switched to a redesigned version known as the M5 Stuart / Light Tank, M5 was developed using a
twin Cadillac V8 automobile engines instead of a radial engine. This model was originally designated the M4 but renamed M5 to avoid confusion with the M4 Sherman Medium Tank. This version was less noisy, cooler and had an automatic transmission so was easier to learn to drive. Also, it had a redesigned hull with sloped glacis plate and driver hatches moved to the top. Production ceased in 1944 in favor of the newer M24 Chaffee / Light Tank, M24.
World War II
At the start of World War II, the M3 Stuart was provided to the Allies as part of defense aid and lend-lease. Used by the British and Commonwealth and was used in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific until the end of the war. Also, both the M3 Stuart and M5 Stuart were provided to the Soviet Union but deemed to be poorly armored and under-gunned. Regardless, used by the Red Army on the Eastern Front between 1941 until 1944. The M3 Stuart was also provided to Nationalist China via Burma.
By September 1941, a total of 108 M3 Stuart tanks were in the Philippines and assigned to the U. S. Army 194th Tank Battalion and 192nd Tank Battalion. The first American tank versus tank combat occurred on December 22, 1941 when five M3s led by Lt. Ben R. Morin engaged Type 95 Ha Go Light Tanks from the 4th Tank Regiment north of Damortis. On April 7, 1942 the last tank versus tank combat happened on the Bataan Peninsula before the surrender of American forces.
The M3 Stuart was also used by the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) in the Pacific including on Guadalcanal and New Georgia campaign. By late 1943, both the U. S. Army and U. S. Marine Corps transition to the M4 Sherman Medium Tank.
M3 (Stuart I)
The M3 was the initial production version of the tank. A total of 5,811 were built with 3,427 built by American Car and Foundry with 2,433 of these going to Allies as part of lend-lease and defense aid with the rest retained by the U. S. military. Designated "Stuart" or "Stuary I" in British and Commonwealth use. The later production of M3s were fitted with the new turret developed for M3A1 without turret basket and were dubbed "Stuart Hybrid" models.
M3 (Stuart II)
A production variant of 1,285 M3 with a Guiberson diesel engine. Designated "Stuart II" in British and Commonwealth use.
M3A1 (Stuart III)
The M3A1 was the first update to the hull with a new turret with a turret basket and no cupola. Also a vertical stabilizer for the gun and sponson machine guns were removed. A total of 4,621 were built between May 1942 until February 1943.
M3A1 (Stuart IV)
A production variant of M3A1 with a Guiberson diesel engine. Designated "Stuart II" in British and Commonwealth use.
M3A3 (Stuart V)
Had a heightened round tube above the turret. 3,427 produced
M5A1 (Stuart VI)
M5 with the turret of the M3A3; this was the major variant in US units by 1943. A total of 6,810 were produced.
A total of 22,744 M3/M5 Stuarts of all models were built between 1941 to 1944.