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Light Tank, M3


The Light Tank, M3 was based on the Light Tank, M2A4, and entered into series production in 1941-03, and was used by the USA, as well as the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease agreement. It was declared obsolete in 1943-07, when it was replaced by more modernised versions. The Light Tank, M3 was used in North Africa with success. Originally, both the hull and the seven-sided turret were riveted, but the design was updated first with a welded seven-sided turret and later with a rounded, welded turret. The final version was entirely welded. Late models also included a gyro stabiliser. Both a gasoline and a diesel powered version was made, the latter having the nomenclature Light Tank, M3 (Diesel).

The Light Tank, M3 was first updated to the Light Tank, M3A1, which used the late-model Light Tank, M3 turret, with some changes, such as omitting the commander's cupola, adding powered turret traverse (as opposed to the earlier, hand-traversed turret) and a traversable roof periscope, as well as other minor modifications. It was standartised in 1941-08. The hull was the early, riveted hull (a version with a welded hull was authorised under the name Light Tank, M3A2, but never entered production). The Light Tank, M3A1 was declared obsolete in 1944-07, with the diesel version - the Light Tank, M3A1 (Diesel) - being declared obsolete in 1943-07.

The Light Tank, M3A3, a modified version of the Light Tank, M3A1, was standartised in 1942-08 (later changed to being a limited standard in 1943-04). The turret was improved to include a radio bulge, improving the fighting compartment space, and the glacis armour plate was increased in both thickness and structure (by moving the driver's hatches to the roof, adding periscopes to compensate for the loss of direct vision). The hull was welded, and a more streamlined design, adopted from the Light Tank, M5, was introduced. The original design was generally heavily improved, by providing more periscopes for better vision, as well as improving steering and fire protection and making several other minor modifications.

Technical Details

Light Tank, M3
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics
Weight 12.4 t
Length 4.53 m
Width 2.24 m
Height 2.51 m
Armour (range) 10-38 mm
Speed (max) 58 km/h
Primary weapon 37 mm tank gun (1)
Secondary weapon .30 cal. Browning Machine Gun (3)


Light Tank, M3A1 in North Africa
Frontal view of a Light Tank, M3A3

Further Reading


  1. Office of the Chief of Ordnance. Catalogue of Standard Ordnance Items : Volume I - Tank and Automotive. 1945.