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As well as serving with US armoured divisions in the light battalions of the armoured regiments, thousands of M3 Light Tanks were supplied to Britain and the Soviet Union.
The British codenamed the tank 'General Stuart', after the famous American Civil War cavalry commander, and the name caught on with US troops as well.
The M3 Stuart was mechanically reliable, and even though it had lighter armour and a smaller gun than the latest German panzers, its small size and high speed made it well suited to probing enemy defences and fighting a free-wheeling and tactical style of moving battle.
Watching the unfolding events in Europe, American tank designers realized that the Light Tank M2 was becoming obsolete and decided to review options for improving it. The upgraded design, with thicker armour, modified suspension and new gun recoil system was called "Light Tank M3". Production of the vehicle started in March 1941 and continued until October 1943.
Like its predecessor, the M3 was initially armed with a 37mm M5 gun and five .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns: coaxial with the gun, on top of the turret in an M20 anti-aircraft mount, in a ball mount in right bow, and in the right and left hull sponsons. Later, the gun was replaced with the slightly longer M6, and the sponson machine guns were removed. For a light tank, the Stuart was fairly heavily armoured. It had 38 mm of armour on the upper front hull, 44 mm on the lower front hull, 51 mm on the gun mantlet, 38 mm on the turret sides, 25 mm on the hull sides, and 25 mm on the hull rear.
Internally, the radial engine was at the rear and the transmission at the front. The prop shaft connecting the two ran through the middle of the fighting compartment. The radial engine, having its crankshaft high off the hull bottom, contributed to the tank's high silhouette. When a revolving turret floor was introduced in the M3 hybrid and M3A1, the crew had less room. In contrast to the M2A4, all M3/M5 series tanks had a trailing rear idler wheel for increased ground contact.
Please note: Miniatures are supplied unpainted and some assembly may be required.
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