M3 Lee was a medium tank of WWII in use by USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, oUnited Kingdom and Soviet Union
Was successfully used in campaigns in North Africa its main advantage was the speed, but with an almost ridiculous armor, soon became obsolete in front of the formidable German tanks.
DescriptionEditIn the medium tank class, improvements in the M2A1 resulted in a completely redesigned tank, known as the M3 medium. By 1939 it was apparent that the 37 mm gun mounted on the M2A1 tank was not powerful enough. Experiments began immediately to enable installation of a 75mm pack howitzer on the M2 tank, resulting in the gun being mounted in a sponson on the right-hand side. Production of the resulting M3 Lee tank began in August 1941, and continued through December 1942.
When World War II began in 1939, the United States lagged far behind the major European states in the development of tank technology and armored warfare doctrine. The fall of France in May 1940 awoke and alarmed the United States. The German army had defeated France in a matter of weeks through the use of a new operational doctrine based on fast-moving, massed armoured formations supported by air power.
America's leaders became convinced that the U.S Army needed a new main battle tank at least equal to that employed by the Germans and that it had to adopt German operational doctrine. To that end, in July 1940 the War Department authorized the development of a new medium tank, and it also authorized the organization of the first armoured divisions. By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States had five armoured divisions organizing and training for war in Europe.
The first American main battle tank employed in combat in World War II was the M3. The British fought with this tank in North Africa as early as 1941. The M3 was the result of a crisis atmosphere that was prevalent immediately following the fall of France. It is likely that no tank in history ever went from design to production faster than the M3. As furnished to the British under lend-lease, this first model of the M3 medium was known as the General Lee, which is sometimes confused with the later General Grant. The Grant was essentially the same vehicle except for its lower silhouette, achieved by removing the cupola from its turret.
The British named the M3 the Grant or Lee tank, depending on the version. The tanks purchased by the British from Press Steel and Pullman had a British-designed turret and were designated the Grant I. The name Lee was given to standard M3 variants. The M3 was the Lee I, the standard M3A1 was the Lee II, and so forth. The M3A5 was called the Grant II and supplied under the Lend Lease Act of 1941.
During the design of the M3, the Army’s artillery branch had insisted that the tank’s main armament meet artillery performance standards. The 75 mm gun had to be able to fire 4,000 rounds before the tube’s replacement, just like a field gun, despite the fact that no tank could be expected to last in combat long enough to fire a fraction of that volume. As a result, the M3 and the following M4 Sherman went into action with a low-velocity gun.
Its major defect was its gun mount: the 75-millimeter gun was carried in a sponson in the right front of the hull and could traverse only 15 degrees to each side—a major disadvantage in tank battles. However, the M3 was only an interim measure. Production ceased in late 1942, when the M4 went into full production.
|Other Designation(s)||Medium Tank M3 Lee|
|Production Quantity||4924||Production Period||Jun. 1941-Aug. 1942|
|Type||Medium Tank||Crew||6 or 7|
|Length /hull (m)||6.12 or 5.64*/5.64||Barrel Overhang (m)||0.48 or 0*|
|Width (m)||2.72||Height (m)||3.12|
|Combat Weight (kg)||27900||Radio Equipment||SCR508|
|Primary Armament||75mm Gun M2 or M3 (hull mounted)||Ammunition Carried||75mm: 50|
|37mm Gun M5 or M6 (turret)||37mm: 178|
|Traverse (degrees)||75mm: 30° (15 L or R)||Elevation (degrees)||75mm: -9° to +20°|
|37mm: Hydraulic (360°)||37mm: -7° to +60°|
|Traverse speed (360°)||75mm: Manual||Sight||75mm: n.a.|
|37mm: 18°/sec.||37mm: n.a.|
|Secondary Armament||3 x .30 caliber MG M1919A4 (turret, coaxial with 37mm, bow)||Ammunition Carried||9200|
|Engine Make & Model||Wright (Continental) R975 EC2||Track Links||79/track|
|Type & Displacement||R9, 15.9 liters||Track Width||40.6 or 42.1 cm|
|Horsepower (max.)||400 hp@2400rpm||Track Ground Contact||373.4 cm|
|Power/Weight Ratio||14.3 hp/tonne||Ground Pressure||12.6 psi|
|Gearbox||5 forward, 1 reverse||Ground Clearance (m)||0.43|
|Fuel||Gasoline (Petrol)||Turning Radius (m)||18.9|
|Range on/off road (km)||193||Gradient (degrees)||31°|
|Mileage (liters/100 km)||412 on road||Vertical Obstacle (m)||0.61|
|Fuel Capacity (liters)||796||Fording (m)||1.0|
|Speed on/off road||34 km/h||Trench Crossing (m)||2.3|
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