Light Tank M2 (USA)

Light Tank M2 (USA)

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Light Tank M2 (USA)

The Light Tank M2 was the standard American light tank of the late 1930s, but it was obsolete by the time the United States entered the war and saw very little combat. A handful of M2A4s were used by the Marines on Guadalcanal, but elsewhere they were only used as training machines. The main significance of the M2 was that it was the basis of most US light tank designs until 1944, including the M3 and M5 Stuart tanks that were used in large numbers in most theatres of the war.

In 1920 responsibility for tank development in the US army was given to the infantry, on the assumption that tanks would continue to be infantry support weapons. Two types of tanks were to be developed - light tanks under 5 tons that could be carried on a truck and medium tanks between 5 and 15 tons in weight. Needless to say the light tanks quickly outgrew the 5 ton limit.


The first light tank to be produced was the Light Tank T1 of 1927. This was a two-man tank armed with a 37mm gun in a turret mounted at the back of the vehicle and a .30in machine gun in the hull. The engine was carried at the front of the vehicle. Even the Light Tank T1 weighed 7.5 tons. Two variants on the T1 appeared in 1929. The T1E1 had a modified nose while the T1E2 had heavier armour and a more powerful engine. The T1E3 followed, with the same basic layout but better suspension.

The T1E4 of 1932 was a dramatically different design. The basic layout was changed. The engine was moved to the back and the final drive to the front. The turret was placed in the middle of the tank, but still carried the 37mm gun. This basic layout would be used in the majority of US light tanks until 1944.

In June 1933 work began on a new tank project. The aim was to produce a light tank for the infantry and a combat car for the cavalry (the US cavalry wasn't meant to operate tanks, so called its armoured vehicles combat cars). The two designs were to be as similar as possible, and the eventual vehicles (the Light Tank M2 and Combat Car M1) would use the same suspension and basic fuselage, but with different turrets and other minor changes). Both designs were to be produced by the Rock Island Arsenal.

Both vehicles were developed from the T1E4. Next in the infantry series was the Light Tank T2 of 1933-34, which shared the same layout as the earlier tank, but with a new turret that carried one .50in machine gun and one .30in machine gun. This was a rather odd looking turret with a circular central section and a square gun house at the front. The T2 and the similar Combat Car T5 were both demonstrated in 1934.

Next was the T2E1 of 1934-35. This was similar to the T2, but with volute spring suspension instead of the double leaf spring articulating bogie suspension of the earlier vehicle. The new suspension was adopted after tests with the Combat Car proved it was the superior design. The T2E1 was standardised in 1935 as the Light Tank M2A1, but were only produced in small numbers (either 9 or 20 depending on the source).

The next variant, the M2A2, introduced a new twin turret design. The idea was that each gun would be able to hit a different target, making the vehicle more flexible. The two turrets were mounted side by side in the centre of the tank and must have been fairly cramped. The M2A2 was followed by the M2A3, which had thicker armour, a longer hull and other detail improvements.

The most important version of the M2 was the M2A4. The twin-turret M2s hadn't performed well when compared to the single-turret Combat Car M1, and the machine gun was starting to look under-powered as a tank main gun. In 1938 the Chief of the Infantry asked for a light tank armed with a 37mm gun. A new single turret was designed for the M2, armed with a 37mm gun and a .30in machine gun. This design was standardised in 1939, and was one of the first tanks to benefit from the increased sense of urgency after war broke out in Europe. The production contract was given to American Car & Foundry, who produced 365 vehicles between April 1940 and March 1941. Work then moved onto the Light Tank M3 (Stuart), which was largely based on the M2A4 but with a number of improvements.


In the late 1930s the M2 was used to equip both independent armoured battalions and the armoured divisions, but by 1940, when the Infantry and Cavalry tank units were united in the Armored Force the M2A1, M2A2 and M2A3 were all obsolete and were only used for training. Only the M2A4 was still in use with some combat units.

The M2A4 saw combat on Guadalcanal. It was part of the equipment of Co.A, 1st Marine Tank Battalion, when that unit landed on the island in August 1942. There was very little tank-vs-tank fighting on Guadalcanal, and the M2A4s were used to support infantry attacks on Japanese strong points. The Japanese had very few anti-tank guns, so had to resort to desperate measures, including attempting to swamp the American tanks. The Americans were forced to operate in pairs, using the machine guns on one tank to keep Japanese infantry off the other.

By the end of the Guadalcanal campaign the last M2A4s had been withdrawn, and the Marines were using the M3 and an increasing number of Medium Tank M4 Shermans.

A number of M2A4s went to Britain, where they were used as training vehicles while the similar Light Tank M3 was used in combat. It is possible that some diesel engined M2A2E3 tanks were used in Burma, where a British unit equipped with the M3 was sent after the fall of Singapore



The M2A1 was the first production version and carried two machine guns in a single large turret as well as a third in the hull.


The M2A2 saw the single turret replaced with two turrets carried side-by-side, each carrying one machine gun.


The M2A3 had the same turret layout as the M2A2, but with improved suspension, a 11in longer hull, thicker armour and a number of detailed improvements to the engine and gears. Around 200 of the M2A2 and M2A3 models were produced.


The M2A4 was also armed with three hull mounted machine guns. One was carried in the front of the hull, and the other two were mounted in sponsons built into the side of the hull on either side of the turret. These were also forward firing guns and were remotely controlled by the driver. They were also installed on the Light Tank M3, but were often removed in service.


The T2E1 was the prototype for the M2A1


The T2E2 was the prototype for the M2A2


The M2A2E1 was an experimental version of the M2A2 that was given a Guiberson diesel engine.


The M2A2E2 was used to test some of the modifications that were introduced in the M2A3.


The M2A2E3 had a GM diesel engine and modified suspension with a trailing idler wheel, as also used on the Combat Car M2.


The M2A3E1 was an experimental tank with a Guiberson 9-cylinder diesel engine installed.


The M2A3E2 had experimental Electrogear transmission installed


The M2A3E3 had a GM diesel engine and modified suspension.

Stats (M2A4)
Production: 365
Hull Length: 14ft 6in
Hull Width: 8ft 1.25in
Height: 8ft 2in
Crew: 4 (commander, driver, co-driver, gunner)
Weight: 23,000lb/ 11.5 US tons
Engine: 250hp Continental W-670 gasoline engine
Max Speed: 25-30mph (road), 18mph cross-country
Max Range: 130 miles road radius
Armament: One 37mm gun and one .30in machine gun in turret, three .30in machine guns in hull, plus mounting for anti-aircraft gun on turret roof
Armour: 6mm to 25mm

Light Tank M2 (USA) - History

Guide Lamp Division of General Motors in World War Two
Anderson, IN
1906- 1984
Rest in Peace

Updated on 10-27-2020.

Guide Lamp was one of two GM Divisions located in Anderson, IN. Its core product lines before and after the war were headlights and tail lights for General Motors vehicles.

Guide Lamp won the Army-Navy "E" award on September 9, 1942, and added stars on May 15, 1943 and December 7, 1943. It added two more stars of unknown dates for a total of five Army-Navy "E" awards.

Guide Lamp World War Two Production Statistics: (8,500,000) total of headlamps, tail lamps, dome lamps, blackout lamps and signal lamps (3,400,000) Stimsonite reflector units (22,000) Bell Aircraft P-39 Airacobra spinner noses (1,000,000) water jacket sleeves for Allison aircraft engines (36,750,000) cartridge cases for 37mm, 40mm, 90mm and 105mm constructed of both brass and steel (1,600,000) .50 caliber Browning machine gun barrels (682,163) complete M3 and M3A1 submachine guns.

The M3 Submachine Gun:
1943 - 85,130 M3
1944 - 343,372 M3
1945 - 178,192 M3
1945 - 15,469 M3A1
Total Production of M3 - 606,694
Total Production of M3A1 - 15,469

Not shown in the Guide publication below are the 1,000,000 FP-45 .45 caliber "Liberator Pistols" that it built in three months during 1942 at it was totally top secret. The 300 women that built them worked in a part of the Guide factory on the west side of Anderson in an area that was completely walled off for security purposes. The workers were sworn to secrecy and even their husbands and boy friends did not know what they were doing. The one shot weapons were supposed to be air dropped to the Resistance in occupied countries during the Second World War but were never used. Probably as well as a weapon in untrained hands, and even trained hands, can be more dangerous to the user than the target. In any event with it being so secret it obviously did not end up in the Guide Lamp WWII history. This was an GM Inland Division design but Guide did all the final assembly, Frigidaire Division of GM chambered the barrels and Saginaw Steering Gear Division of GM made barrel bushings and along with Detroit Transmission Division made barrel collars. This was a true cooperative effort among the five GM Divisions and a host of other outside sub-contractors.

This photo from World War Two shows a portion of the military headlight production line at Guide Lamp.

As seen at the Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH. Author's Photo.

This pristine Guide Lamp built FP-45 is on display at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN. Author's photo.

Even more interesting is the reverse side, which has been cut away. Author's photo.

The M3 Submachine gun as seen at the World War Two Museum in New Orleans, LA. Author's photo.

Many of the M3s on display in museums are reproductions. Not this one as "Guide" can be seen stamped on the magazine receiver. Author's photo.

This Guide built M3 submachine gun is on display at the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis, IN. Author's photo.

One can see the actual "Guide" stamped on this one as well. Author's photo.

Brian Mulcahy took this photo of a halftrack along the Normandy beach in 2013. It is one of many relics on display in the area. Halftracks were produced by Autocar, Diamond T, International Harvester and White Motor Company during the war. Photo courtesy of Brian Mulcahy.

The halftrack has the original Guide Lamp Division of General Motors headlight in it. Many of the vehicles that landed at Normandy were equipped with Guide Lamp headlights, taillights and blackout lamps. Photo courtesy of Brian Mulcahy.

This M4A1 Sherman tank on display in Foster Park in Kokomo, IN has two Guide Lamp blackout lights on it. Author's photo added 2-7-2019.

The two Guide Lamp blackout lamps are 49 miles from where they were built in Anderson, IN. Author's photo added 2-7-2019.

This Guide blackout headlamp is on the driver's side of the tank. Author's photo added 2-7-2019.

This blackout lamp is on the assistant driver's side of the tank. Author's photo added 2-7-2019.

This M5A1 Stuart Light tank was on display at the 2014 Indiana Military Museum's World War Two Days. Author's photo added 10-27-2020.

The blackout lamp is on the driver's side of the tank. Author's photo added 10-27-2020.

Author's photo added 10-27-2020.

The lamp above the headlight is what is known as a black-out lamp for driving at night with the headlights turned off. Having done this once in a training exercise my recommendation is to eat lots of carrots beforehand to improve one's night vision. I considered myself lucky to have not hit the vehicle in front of me and also to have stayed on the road. Author's photo.

This is one is a Guide built black-out lamp. As mounted on a Chevrolet 1.5 ton truck as seen at the 2013 Wings over Houston Airshow. Author's photo.

The Guide blackout lamp can be seen on the drivers side of the truck. There was only one per vehicle. Author's photo.

This 1942 Dodge WC-51 3/4 ton 4x4 truck photographed at the Urbana Grimes Airport in Ohio has a Guide Lamp blackout lamp on it. Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Pictured here at the 2014 Spirit of St. Louis Air Show is Diamond T M3 halftrack built during the Second World War. Author's photo.

The left tail light was manufactured by Guide. The right was by another manufacturer. Author's photo.

Author's photo.

Typical of one of the 8.5 million lamps produced by Guide for military vehicles during World War Two. This on is on an American Bantam built 1/4 ton trailer seen at the 2013 Great Georgia Airshow. Author's photo.

The Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis, IN has one whole room dedicated to military products built in the state during WWII and since that time. Here is a Guide built Blackout Lamp. Author's Photo.

Also on display is this WWII military tractor lamp. Author's Photo.

This is a nose cone on a Bell P-63 Kingcobra being restored. This would be very similar if not identical to the 22,000 nose cones that Guide stamped out for the Bell P-39 Airacobra. While the P-63 was a little bigger aircraft the nose cones may have been the same. The P-63 is being restored by the Dixie Wing of the CAF and was seen at the 2013 Great Georgia Airshow at Peachtree City, GA. Author's photo.

Guide built one million water jacket sleeves for Allison V-1710 aircraft engines like this one on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Author's photo.

This is an Browning M2 .50 caliber machine as photographed by the author at the US Army Basic Training Museum at Fort Jackson, SC. Guide made 1.6 million barrels during the Second World War.

Guide's page in the history of American Industry at War
This gives an excellent overview of what Guide Lamp did by those who worked there during the Second World War.

BAE Systems Unveils New Light Tank for US Army

On April 22, 2020, BAE Systems has demonstrated its newest light tank that developed for the U.S. Army Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. The new light tank was showcased during visit of Secretary of the Army, Hon. Ryan D. McCarthy, and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Joseph M. Martin, at the General Dynamics facility in Detriot, Mi. U.S. Army leadership visited General Dynamics and BAE Systems facilities in Detroit to inspect several promising military programs that continue to progress despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Technically, BAE Systems Mobile Protected Firepower is a tank, but the U.S. Army does not like the term “light tank. Secretary of the Army, Hon. Ryan D. McCarthy visit BAE Systems and inspect BAE’s Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF)

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract worth up to $376 million for the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) phase of the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program and rapid prototyping effort with low-rate initial production options. BAE Systems’ solution combines new technology with proven capability to provide the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) with a highly agile, armor-protected platform that delivers overwhelming and precise firepower for use across the spectrum of terrains and operations. Under the contract, one of two awarded ahead of the Government’s down-select to a final contractor, BAE Systems will produce 12 prototype vehicles during the EMD phase.

The vehicle leverages investments the Army made in the M8 Armored Gun System, including its low-profile design, and proven technologies like the M35 105mm cannon, and an auto-loading ammunition system that allows the gun to fire at a rate of 12 rounds per minute. The M8 was developed by United Defense since bought by BAE in the early 1990s and offered to the Army in 1996 as a replacement for the M551 Sheridan light tank used by airborne forces. The program was canceled a year later and the mission ultimately was taken up by the M1128 Mobile Gun System, which is essentially a 105mm tank cannon mounted on a Stryker wheeled fighting vehicle. BAE Systems Mobile Protected Firepower (M8 Armored Gun System)

The BAE Systems MPF is the result of more than 30 years of research and development for an optimized, rapidly deployable, light combat vehicle designed specifically to support light infantry. It also integrates scalable armor and innovative survivability subsystems to protect the vehicle and crew from threats on the future battlefield. The vehicle employs situational awareness systems adding to the highest levels of survivability and crew protection. The compact design allows for multiple vehicle deployment on a C-17 and exceeds the Army’s transport requirement and it is sustainable within the IBCT. The U.S. Army plans to equip its first unit with MPF vehicles in 2025 and eventually purchase 504 units. BAE Systems Mobile Protected Firepower (M8 Armored Gun System)

General Dynamics Land Systems Unveils New Light Tank

On April 22, 2020, General Dynamics Land Systems has demonstrated its newest lighyt tank that developed for the U.S Army Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. The new combat vehicle was showcased during visit of Secretary of the Army, Hon. Ryan D. McCarthy, and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Joseph M. Martin, at the General Dynamics facility in Detriot, Mi. U.S. Army leadership visited General Dynamics and BAE Systems facilities in Detroit to inspect several promising military programs that continue to progress despite the COVID-19 pandemic. General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, will now provide 12 preproduction vehicles and two ballistic hulls and turrets scheduled for March-September 2020. General Dynamics Land Systems Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF)

The Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) is not the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV), which may eventually replace the Abrams tank and Bradley. The MPF would fill a capability gap left when the M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle was retired from regular service in 1996. About the same time that the M551 was retired, the Army was developing an M-8 Armored Gun System to replace it but eventually cancelled to free up funding for other programs. In December 2018, the US Army Contracting Command selected BAE Systems Land & Armaments and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) to deliver 12 MPF prototypes apiece to the service for operational testing and evaluation under two rapid prototyping contracts that totaled more than $750 million.

WWII's Artillery Workhorse: The 37mm Cannon

This extensive service record comes despite the fact that the 37mm was effectively obsolescent as soon as America entered the war in December 1941.

The men of Lieutenant Edwin K. Smith’s antitank platoon, 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division peered over the gun shields of their 37mm cannon at the column of Vichy French armored cars approaching their roadblock. It was 9 am on November 8, 1942. The platoon had been ordered to man a roadblock near the town of El Ancor, protecting the flank of the 26th Regiment during its landing as part of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa.

It was a tense moment Smith’s orders were not to fire unless fired upon. Would these French soldiers fight or not? The question was soon answered when a burst of machine-gun fire stuttered from one of the armored cars. The American return fire was instant. Two of the 37mm guns started banging away, hitting the lead armored car. All three French vehicles fired their own cannon and machine guns at the telltale muzzle flashes of the American guns. Another hit on the leading car set it afire, and moments later a skillful shot from an American 37mm some 1,800 yards away hit the rear armored car, setting it alight and trapping the middle vehicle.

The crews of the burning vehicles abandoned them, taking cover in a drainage ditch. Unable to move, the crew of the middle car did the same. This took the will to fight out of the Vichy troops, who surrendered. The gun crews and their 37mm cannon had just been introduced to combat in North Africa.

The M3 37mm antitank gun was one of the main antitank weapons of the United States in the early years of World War II. It was produced in larger numbers than any other American antitank gun and served through the entire war. This extensive service record comes despite the fact that the 37mm was effectively obsolescent as soon as America entered the war in December 1941.

America’s 18,702 M3s

The cannon’s story begins in the late 1930s as the United States began searching for a more powerful tank-killing weapon. At the time the antitank companies of U.S. infantry regiments were equipped with .50-caliber machine guns, admittedly quite effective against the thinly armored light tanks that were the standard for armored vehicles at the time. Experience gained during the Spanish Civil War forced an evolution in tank design, bringing heavier medium tanks to the forefront. As the United States watched from the sidelines, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, each supporting a different Spanish faction, upgraded their own weapons. The Germans adopted the PAK 36 37mm cannon this drew increased American interest, and the Army acquired one for testing in early 1937.

In May of that year representatives from the artillery, infantry, and cavalry branches came together at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to discuss their respective needs for the weapon. The infantry favored a lighter weapon that could be operated by one soldier while the artillerymen favored crew-served cannon. Prototypes were authorized by September 1937, and testing continued through 1938 as the various problems normal to weapons development were overcome.

Several different gun designs and carriages were tested, with the winner being accepted on December 15, 1938, as the M3 37mm cannon mounted on the M4 carriage. It is normal to classify guns and carriages separately as over time a carriage may be used as a platform for more than one type of cannon. When mated together, the complete weapon will generally be referred to by the model number of the gun.

As with many American weapons developed in the sparse fiscal environment of the late 1930s, the M3 did not enter actual production until the end of 1940 as war clouds began to loom and belated preparations were put into motion. Manufacture began slowly, with only 340 guns made in 1940 and 2,252 the year after. America was rearming, but at a snail’s pace. The attack on Pearl Harbor would change that.

With the war against the Axis under way, production was vastly expanded. Quotas were set for all manner of war material. For antitank guns the goal was set at 18,900 weapons by the end of 1943. In actuality, the factories far exceeded this goal. During 1942 and 1943, some 27,343 antitank guns were built with 37mm cannon accounting for 16,110 of this number. Total production of M3s would reach 18,702.

25 Rounds Per Minute

The M3 37mm cannon was a 53.5-caliber weapon, meaning the length of the bore was 53.5 times its diameter. Overall length was 154.5 inches with a width of 63.5 inches and a height of 37.8 inches. It weighed 912 pounds, light enough to be manhandled by its four man crew for short distances. A set of towing straps was provided to make it easier for the soldiers to pull the gun and carriage. The cannon could be traversed 30 degrees to either side of center and could be depressed 10 degrees or elevated up to 15 degrees.

The M3 could fire 25 rounds per minute of a variety of ammunition types. There were two types of armor-piercing rounds. The initial solid steel shot could penetrate 36mm of armor at 500 yards while the improved ballistic-capped round pierced 61mm at the same distance. High explosive and canister rounds were also available. The canister round was for anti-personnel use and functioned like a large shotgun shell, firing 122 3 /8-inch steel balls to an effective range of 250 yards.

The new weapon saw use from the beginning of the war. It was issued both as an antitank gun and a tank cannon. The M2 “combat cars” used early in the war—the light M3/M5 Stuart tank series, and the medium M3 Grant/Lee tanks as well as the M8 armored car—all carried 37mm guns, and those 37mm cannon produced as tank guns were augmented by the numbers noted above that were produced for carriage mounts.

For infantry use, the 37mm equipped the antitank platoons of each battalion in an infantry regiment, three guns each. There was also a regimental antitank company with nine guns, for a total of 18 guns per regiment. The Army’s Tank Destroyer Branch made limited use of the 37mm in a self-propelled mounting called the M6. This was a ¾-ton Dodge truck mounting the 37mm on the rear bed. Intended as a stopgap vehicle until dedicated tank destroyer designs could be fielded, a handful of M6s saw service in North Africa in tank destroyer battalions. These units mixed their companies with a platoon of M6s and two platoons of M3 gun motor carriages, a half-track carrying a 75mm weapon.

The M6 had a relatively high silhouette for the diminutive caliber of its gun, and it had no protection for the crew other than a gun shield. It was almost suicidal to use them in modern combat against the Germans, and most company commanders quickly learned to keep their M6s at the rear of their columns. They were replaced at the end of the Tunisian campaign.

The M3’s Baptism of Fire

In its towed version, the 37mm was first used in combat in the Pacific where some were deployed during the Philippine fighting of early 1942. When the Marines went to Guadalcanal, they brought their M3s with them they proved invaluable against not only Japanese tanks but in breaking up infantry attacks with explosive and canister rounds. At the Battle of the Tenaru River on August 21, 1942, a Japanese force commanded by Colonel Kiyono Ichiki attacked Marines defending along the line of the Ilu River (the Marine’s maps had mislabeled the Ilu as the Tenaru). Just after midnight the Marine pickets heard the approaching Japanese infantry and fell back across the river to warn their comrades. Among the Marine firepower were several 37mm guns that the crews loaded with canister rounds. The Japanese launched their attack with mortar fire and an infantry charge.

The Marines responded, their M3s discharging blasts of steel balls that cut through jungle foliage and human flesh alike. The fighting was hand to hand in some places. After an initial repulse, Ichiki sent in a second attack that bogged down in barbed wire. Small arms and cannon fire poured down on the hapless Japanese, slaughtering them. A Marine counterattack finished the night’s bloody work, leaving nearly 800 Japanese dead. Colonel Ichiki committed suicide.

Two months later, the Americans again used their 37mm guns in action against an attack by the Japanese Sendai Division. Due to a communications error, the Japanese launched their attack a day too soon, hitting the western side of the Marine perimeter. This attack included nine Japanese tanks positioned along a coastal road with infantry behind them, all ready to advance over a sandbar separating the two antagonists.

How The US Military Became A Tank-Killing Machine

In the 1970s, the United States produced what might be considered one of the worst anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) of all time. The M47 Dragon was slow, quirky and took forever to reach its target.

But less than twenty-five years later, the United States produced one of the best anti-tank missiles in the world, the Javelin. How did the United States manage to turn around its infantry anti-tank program so quickly?

Infantry anti-tank weapons were a relatively weak area of the U.S. military throughout most of the Cold War. While the BGM-71 TOW was an excellent vehicle-mounted ATGM for its time, it was not readily infantry-mobile. The tripod, launch unit, and sight for the TOW weigh in at more than 200 pounds.

Lighter anti-tank duties fell to the M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon rocket launcher, M47 Dragon light ATGM and the M67 90mm recoilless rifle. The M47 Dragon began to replace the M67 after its adoption in 1975, but the M67 stuck around in specialized roles.

But what made the M47 Dragon bad?

The primary reason is the Dragon’s propulsion system. Instead of a simple arrangement of a continuous burn rocket motor and fins, the M67 Dragon featured many rings of tiny rocket engines which “popped” off in short bursts to adjust the missile’s flight path.

This lead to a myriad of downsides. The missile’s guidance was erratic, with the missile jumping around in flight as the bursts fired off.

The bursts were loud and distinctive—they would warn a target that a Dragon had been fired and was closing on them.

Finally, in certain environmental conditions, the bursts could leave a trail of smoke puffs , which could give away the position of the gunner.

The burst-engine method didn’t even make the missile fast. In fact, it was slower than most of its counterparts, taking over eleven seconds to reach its effective range of 1 kilometer out.

Guidance itself was accomplished by tracking an infrared flare on the rear of the missile, similar to the TOW. This meant that the Dragon could be defeated by the Soviet and Russian Shtora active protection system.

The Dragon was usable at night, but doing so required an additional night-sight that needed even more equipment. Canisters of freon were used to cool the night sight’s sensors, but this only was effective for two hours.

The United States would upgrade the M47 Dragon into the Dragon II and Super Dragon, which boosted the range and penetrating power of the missile. But these upgrades didn’t solve the primary flaw of the Dragon, the propulsion system.

By the 1980s, the United States was looking into replacing the Dragon. The program was initially called the Advanced Anti-Tank Weapon System–Medium. (AAWS-M)

After a competitive process that ruled out a laser-beam riding missile and a fiber-optic link missile (similar to the Israeli Spike), the Texas Instruments entry won the contract and began developing the Javelin.

A U.S. Marine attached to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment – “The Lava Dogs” fires a Javelin at an enemy tank during Lava Viper aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hi., May 29, 2015.Marines of Weapon Company train on anti-armor procedures while at Lava ViperU.S. Maine Corps/Ricky S. Gomez

Practically every aspect of the Javelin builds upon a flaw of the M47 Dragon.

Gone is the old night sight that required bottles of coolant. A self-cooling day/night thermal sight with multiple modes of zoom is a key part of the Javelin, the Command Launch Unit.

The missile itself has a thermal seeker as well, as opposed to being simply controlled by the firing post. This makes it significantly more resistant to Shtora-style active protection systems.

The long delay between missile launch and impact for the Dragon was likely a large factor that led to the selection of the Javelin for AAWS-M. The Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile, which means that the gunner can immediately move after firing, cutting out the missile flight time factor almost completely with regards to the crew repositioning.

The top-attack trajectory and conventional rocket engine greatly reduce the chances that an enemy tank will see or hear a Javelin launch, compared to a Dragon launch.

Overall, the Javelin was better than the Dragon in practically every way. In contrast to the Dragon, which was only exported to a handful of countries, the Javelin has been a major success worldwide (despite its cost) with major sales to the UK, France, and Australia.

T49 Light Tank – US upcoming tier 8

now that the fuss about the new graphics is over, we’re going to have a look at the upcoming tier 8 light tank candidate, the T49.

Basically, the T49 was a prototype M41 Walker Bulldog with a 90mm gun (crew of 4). In the late 40′s and early 50′s, it was recognized that a 76mm gun is no longer enough to combat modern Soviet medium tanks, specifically the T-54. And so, in January 1950, a commanding officer of Detroit Arsenal recommended developing a light tank with a 90mm gun, specifically to install a 90mm smoothbore gun on the M41 chassis. This 90mm gun was a new weapon, designated T123. It started as a smoothbore, but after bad tests results, when it came to accuracy, it was modified with shallow rifling, creating the T123E3 gun. Two of these were mounted in the production M41E1 turrets and this combination was redesignated T49. The turret was modified too: it was somewhat higher and it was equipped with a stereoscopic rangefinder. Further modification were made when in the ammo stowage compartment. The gun itself could fire three types of rounds: HE, HEP (HESH) and HEAT rounds.

The two T49′s were sent to Aberdeen, where they were tested between May 1954 and May 1955. The tests of the vehicle were somewhat satisfactory, but the gun still had issues with the ammunition used: specifically the HEAT round was very inaccurate, making the HEP (HESH) round the preferred way to deal with armor. There were some other issues too and as a result, the army lost interest in this vehicle. The prototypes were stored in Aberdeen – I am not sure whether they still exist or were scrapped.

It’s worth noting that the T49 is not the “only” 90mm Walker Bulldog project – Cadillac made a proposal to arm the Walker Bulldog with a 90mm M41 gun from the M48 Patton in November 1958. At this point however, the army was focusing on creating new and superior light tank and so this project never passed beyond the drawing boards.

In World of Tanks

This vehicle was confirmed by Storm to be the American tier 8 light tank and from what I can gather, it was a good choice, especially given its upgrade possibilities (you’ll like them, trust me). First, some basic overview of the tank. Please note that due to its shallow rifling, the T123E3 gun is actually acceptable for World of Tanks.

As you can imagine, the T49 is not exactly well armored – after all, it’s a light tank. Its armor was made of RHA steel and welded. The turret was cast.

- upper frontal plate: 25mm at 60 degrees (50mm EFF)
- lower frontal plate: 32mm at 45 degrees (45,2mm EFF)
- sides: 25-19mm
- rear: 13-19mm
- roof: 19mm
- floor: 10 or 38mm

- front turret: 25mm at 18 deg (26,3mm EFF)
- mantlet: 32mm
- sides: 25mm
- rear: 25mm
- roof: 19-13mm

Not exactly a game breaking armor, but solid.

Well, here, we have a bit of a problem. I haven’t found any penetration data on the 90mm T123 (the gun itself is L/50 apparently) and even if there were some available, calculating the HESH effect is always really messy. What we know is that it fired:

- T91 HE round at 731 m/s
- T142E3 HEP (HESH) round at 792 m/s
- T108E45 HEAT round at 853 m/s

What I was able to find out is that based on the US reports, the T108E45 HEAT round was able to penetrate between 349mm and 377mm (depending on charge used) – classic gold round. Other than that, we know that the vehicle carried 46 90mm rounds, the gun elevation was -9,5/+19,5 degrees and it could fire 10 rounds per minute.

Either way, when it comes to the Cadillac proposal to arm the Walker Bulldog with the M41 90mm gun, the gun is actually in the game already (M48′s stock gun), so we know how it would behave in the game:

DAM: 240/240/320
PEN: 173/263/45
ROF (balance parameter): 9,52 RPM
Acc: 0,36
Aim: 2s

That however would be unhistorical (although it would probably make a much better stock gun than the quirky T123E3).

The vehicle weighed 24,1 tons and was powered by a Continental AOS-895-3 supercharged V6 engine with the power output of 500 hp, giving it the power-to-weight ration of 20,74 hp/t. Not bad. Its maximum speed was 72 km/h. While the power-to-weight isn’t that awesome for a light tank, it has a potential of being very fast.

I kinda imagine this vehicle in the game as something like current Chaffee. Quite tall, good passive scout, good firepower and hulldown capability, but the agility probably won’t be completely stellar. Sounds like a solid tank for now, right?

That’s right, a tank needs its second turret and more guns. There is but one option in this case:

You are looking at the XM551 (prototype Sheridan) turret mounted on a M41 chassis. Very little is known about it other than in July 1962, XM551 test bed turret was mounted on the M41 chassis for the evaluation of firepower and tests. These tests took place in Aberdeen – they started on 23.8.1962, with 590 rounds being fired from the 152mm gun-launcher.

Now, you might say: “But Silentstalker, how is this possible, SerB said ‘no rocket launchers in WoT!’ and this gun fired the Shillelagh missiles!” – well, there is a trick around that. You see, by the time this test bed was built, the Shillelagh missile was not yet developed, so in this case, the gun is really just a 152mm gun.

Considering how little is known about this vehicle, its parameters will be mostly speculative. Most people are probably interested in the 152mm XM81 gun-launcher. Basically, it’s a big HEAT lobber. It’s main round is the XM409 HEAT round, weighing 22,6 kg. It had the muzzle velocity of 689 m/s and it was capable of penetrating 177mm at 60 degrees (in WoT terms it’s like 205 PEN I think). Other than that, it can fire a HE round too (M657, 23,4kg). An APFSDS round was also developed for the 152mm gun, but that is way beyond WoT timeframe and had nothing to do with the project. In the Sheridan turret, it would have the elevation of -10 to +20 and could fire 4 rounds per minute. Prototype Sheridans (XM551 pilots) carried 20 rounds of 152mm ammunition.

As for the turret itself, it was made from steel (only the Sheridan hull was aluminium!), so no problem there, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any actual turret armor thickness values. Not even Hunnicutt has them, strangely enough. It’s reasonable to assume that the Sheridan turret armor is quite thin though, around 30mm.

Hunnicutt – A History of the American Light Tank Vol.2: Sheridan

The US Army’s New Tank

Light Tanks have played a vital role in modern warfare as scouts and infantry fire support vehicles. In the 1960s, The US Army adopted the M551 Sheridan Light Tank as a scout vehicle and a tank that could be parachuted behind enemy lines. The M551 was light enough that it could be dropped from a C-130. However, the tank was not without issues, for one it’s 152mm main gun was too much for the 15-ton tank and when the MGM-51 Shillelagh guided anti-tank missile was fired, often the sensitive electronics would be put out of whack.

Most of the kinks were eventually worked out, and the M551 was appreciated by the light units that otherwise would have been without armor support. Still, the M551 left the US military wanting a better vehicle and so the development of the XM8 Armored Gun System was commenced, and the vehicle type classified as the M8. Defense cutback in the mid-1990s stripped funding for the M8 and also pulled the last battalion of M551 Sheridans from the 82nd Airborne. The decision would prove extremely short-sighted as the Global War on Terror commenced in 2001, and American Light Infantry cried out for armored vehicles and armored fire support.

Light Tanks For Everyone, Except the US Army.

Light Tanks are seeing a new lease on life in the service of many foreign nations. The Russians drop their paratroopers inside light Infantry Fighting Vehicles alongside light tanks armed with 125mm guns. The Chinese and even the British Army have adopted new light tanks for their infantry formations.

In today’s tense geopolitical climate, the possibility of light infantry forces of major nations facing off with each other in a modern conflict is real. With this reality, the need for tanks lighter than Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) has become a priority for Infantry and Airborne forces the world over. Nations are literally spending billions of dollars on the development, and production of light tanks. In fact in some nations, light tank development has superseded MBT development.

The US Army And It’s Light Tank

The US Army hates the term light tank. The reasons are politically and congressionally motivated, often budget related. So the US Army is calling their new tank a Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle, MPF for short. It’s still a light tank, but don’t tell them that. In 2016 the Army requested prototypes for a new Light Tan-, er, MPF to meet the firepower support needs of light infantry and expeditionary forces such as the 82nd Airborne.

From that initial inquiry, two contenders have emerged, General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems. BAE is offering a modernized version of their old M8 AGS, while General Dynamics is hoping their Griffin based on the AJAX tank recently adopted by the British Army.

According to a recent article from Popular Mechanics,

General Dynamics Land Systems’ vehicle is the Griffin, a modified version of the British Army’s new Ajax tracked reconnaissance vehicle equipped with a version of the M1A2 Abrams tank turret. BAE will produce an updated version of the M8 Buford (see top), an air-droppable light tank the Army flirted with buying in the 1990s but ultimately cancelled. A third competitor, designed by SAIC, was not chosen to proceed in the competition. The Army will buy 504 of the new vehicles—about enough for eight battalions.

Watch the video: M2 Light Tank 14 KILLS 1 VS 9 WoT Gameplay (August 2022).