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AMT-WWII_09 – M24 Chaffee Light Tank…

AMT-WWII_09 – M24 Chaffee Light Tank…

The Light Tank M24 was an American light tank used during World War II and in postwar conflicts including the Korean War and with the French in the First Indochina War and war in Algeria. In British service it was given the service name Chaffee, after theUnited States Army General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr., who helped develop the use of tanks in the United States armed forces.

Light Tank M24
M24 Chaffee in Detroit.jpg
Type Light tank
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by See Operators
Wars World War II, Korean War, First Indochina War, War in Algeria, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Production history
Produced 1944–August 1945
Specifications
Weight 18.4 tonnes (40,500 lb)
Length 5.56 m (18.24 ft) (w/ gun)
5.03 m (16.5 ft) (w/o gun)
Width 3 m (9.84 ft)
Height 2.77 m (9.08 ft)
Crew 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)

Armor 9.5–25 mm (0.37–1.49 in)
Primary
armament
1 × 75 mm Gun M6 L / 39
48 rounds
Secondary
armament
1 × .50 calBrowning M2HB machine gun
440 rounds
2 × .30-06Browning M1919A4machine gun
3,750 rounds
Engine 2 × Cadillac Series 44T24, 8 Cylinder
300/220 hp (220/164 kW) total
Power/weight 16.09 hp/tonne
Suspension Torsion Bar
Operational
range
161 km (100 mi)
Speed

56 km/h (35 mi/h) (road)
40 km/h (25 mi/h) (off-road)

Development and production history

Combat experience indicated several shortcomings of the Light Tank M3/M5, the most important of them being weak armament. The T7 design, which was initially seen as a replacement, evolved into a mediocre Medium Tank M7 and was eventually rejected in March 1943, which prompted the Ordnance Committee to issue a specification for a new light tank, with the same powertrain as the M5A1 but armed with a 75 mm gun.

In April 1943 the Ordnance Corps together with Cadillac division of General Motors started work on the new project, designatedLight Tank T24. Every effort was made to keep the weight of the vehicle under 20 tons. The armor was kept light, with the glacis plate only 25 mm thick (but sloped at 60 degrees from the vertical). A new lightweight 75 mm gun was developed, a derivative of the gun used in the B-25H Mitchell bomber. The gun had the same ballistics as the M3, but used a thinly walled barrel and different recoil mechanism. The design also featured wider (16 inch) tracks and torsion bar suspension. It had relatively low silhouette and a three-man turret.

On October 15, 1943 the first pilot vehicle was delivered and production began in 1944 under the designation Light Tank M24. It was produced at two sites; from April at Cadillac and from July at Massey-Harris. By the time production was stopped in August 1945, 4,731 M24s had left the assembly lines. Some of them were supplied to the British forces.

Combat history

The M24 Chaffee was intended to replace the aging and obsolete Light Tank M5 which was used in supplementary roles. The first thirty-four M24s reached Europe in November 1944 and were issued to the U.S. 2nd Cavalry Group (Mechanized) in France. These were then issued to F Company, 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion and F Company, 42nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion which each received seventeen M24s. During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, these units and their new tanks were rushed to the southern sector; two of the M24s were detached to serve with the 740th Tank Battalion of the U.S. First Army.

The M24 started to enter widespread issue in December 1944 but they were slow in reaching the front-line combat units. By the end of the war many armored divisions were still mainly equipped with the M5. Some armored divisions did not receive their first M24s until the war was over.

Reports from the armored divisions that received them prior to the end of hostilities were generally positive. Crews liked the improved off-road performance and reliability, but were most appreciative of the 75 mm main gun, as a vast improvement over the 37 mm. The M24 was not up to the challenge of fighting German tanks, but the bigger gun at least gave its crews a chance to fight back when it was required. The M24’s light armor made it vulnerable to virtually all German tanks, anti-tank guns, and hand-held anti-tank weapons. The contribution of the M24 to winning the war in Europe was insignificant, as too few arrived too late to replace the worn-out M5s of the armored divisions.

In the Korean War M24s were the first U.S. tanks to fight the North Korean T-34-85s. The M24 fared poorly against these much better-armed and armored medium tanks. M24s were more successful later in the war in their reconnaissance role, supported by heavier tanks such as the M4, M26, and M46.

 

The French deployed several M24 tanks during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Like other successful World War II designs, the M24 was supplied to many armies around the globe and was used in local conflicts long after it had been replaced in the U.S. Army by the M41 Walker Bulldog. France employed its M24s in Indo-China in infantry support missions, with good results. They employed ten M24s in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. In December 1953 ten disassembled Chaffees were transported by air to provide fire support to the garrison. They fired about 15,000 shells in the long siege that followed before the Viet Minh forces conquered the camp in May 1954. France also deployed the M24 in Algeria. The last time the M24 is known to have been in action was in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where some 66 Pakistani Chaffees stationed in Bangladesh were easy prey for Indian Army T-55s, PT-76s, and anti-tank teams. Although both Iran and Iraq had M24s prior to the Iran–Iraq War, there is no report of their use in that conflict.

In 1972 the Norwegian Army decided to retain 54 of their 123 M24 light tanks as reconnaissance vehicles after they were substantially rebuilt under the designation NM-116. It was calculated that the NM-116 rebuilding program cost only about a third as much as contemporary light tanks.

This program was managed by the firm Thune-Eureka. The American firm NAPCO developed an improved power-pack based around the 6V53T diesel engine used in the M113 armored personnel carrier mated to an Allison MT-653 transmission. The original 75 mm Gun M6 L / 39 was replaced with a French D-925 90 mm low pressure gun, with a co-axil M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun. The bow gunner position was eliminated in favor of ammunition stowage. A newfire control system was installed, complete with a Simrad LV3 laser rangefinder. Norwegian firms also converted eight M24 light tanks into light armored recovery vehicles to support the NM-116. The NM-116 were retired from service in 1993.

The Chilean Army up-gunned their M24s in the mid-80s to the IMI-OTO 60 mm Hyper Velocity Medium Support (HVMS) gun, with comparable performance to a standard 90 mm gun.Chile operated this version until 1999.

Uruguay continues to use the M24, modernized with new engines and 76mm guns which can fire armour-piercing, fin stabilised, discarding sabot (or APFSDS) rounds.

 

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