|Light Tank M24|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Wars||World War II, Korean War, First Indochina War, War in Algeria, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971|
|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)|
|1 × 75 mm Gun M6 L / 39 |
|1 × .50 cal Browning M2HB machine gun |
2 × .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine gun
|Engine||2 × Cadillac Series 44T24, 8 Cylinder|
300/220 hp (220/164 kW) total
|161 km (100 mi)|
|Speed||56 km/h (37 mi/h) (road)|
40 km/h (25 mi/h) (off-road)
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 the United States Army General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr., who helped develop the use of tanks in the United States armed forces.
Development and production history[edit | edit source]
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 together with Cadillac division of General Motors started work on the new project, designated Light 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[edit | edit source]
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.
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 the mid-70s Norway upgraded some of their M24s, installing a 90-mm French gun, modern fire controls, and a diesel engine. These vehicles, known as NM-116 "Panserjager", served in the Norwegian Army until 1992–93.
The Chilean Army up-gunned their M24s in the mid-80s to the IMI-OTO 60mm Hyper Velocity Medium Support (HVMS) gun, with comparable performance to a standard 90mm gun. Chile operated this version until 1999.
In popular culture[edit | edit source]
M24 Chaffees are featured in:
- 1965 film Battle of the Bulge - Spanish Army examples portrayed American M-4 Sherman tanks.
- The Bridge at Remagen - where their portrayal is historically accurate.
- 20 Million Miles to Earth- Italian Army variants
- 1951 film.
- Jonny Quest as an animated tank in the opening credits(from "The Robot Spy" episode)
- Gojira, and Godzilla Raids Again, serving the JSDF.
- Don Camillo e l'onorevole Peppone, although purported to be a long abandoned German tank, the vicar, Don Camillo, accidentally firing a main round and destroying the local monument to peace.
- In the movie Shoot 'Em Up
- In the movie Patton as US and British tanks
- In the movie Decision Before Dawn as German Medium Tanks
Variants[edit | edit source]
- Light Tank T24 - prototype, was standardized as Light Tank M24.
- Light Tank T24E1 - prototype with Continental R-975-C4 engine and Spicer torque converter transmission. One vehicle was converted from the original T24 prototype and tested in October 1944. The vehicle had superior performance compared to the M24, but suffered from transmission reliability problems.
- M19 Gun Motor Carriage
- Engine moved to the center of hull, twin 40 mm M2 AA mounted at hull rear (336 rounds). 904 were ordered in August 1944, but only 285 were delivered.
- M37 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage
- Carried a 105 mm howitzer M4 (126 rounds). Was intended to replace the 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7. 448 ordered, 316 delivered.
- M41 155 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (Gorilla)
- Engine moved to the center of hull, 155 mm howitzer M1 mounted at rear. 250 ordered, 60 delivered.
- T77 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage.
- Had 6 0.5" machine guns mounted in a new designed turret.
- T9, T13 Utility vehicles.
- T22E1, T23E1, T33 Cargo carriers.
- T42, T43 Cargo tractors.
- Based on the T33, the T42 had a torque converter transmission from the M18 Hellcat. The M43 was a lightened version of the T42.
- Had bulldozer kit installed.
- T6E1 Tank recovery vehicle.
- Norwegian upgrade from 1974-75.
- In mid-1950s, in an attempt to improve the anti-tank performance of the vehicle, some French M24s had their turrets replaced with those of the AMX-13 light tank. Interestingly, AMX-13 variant with Chaffee turret also existed.
- The M38 Wolfhound prototype armoured car was experimentally fitted with an M24 turret.
- Earth Moving Tank Mounting Bulldozer. Bulldozer kit for the M24 series.
Operators[edit | edit source]
- Philippines unknown number of Chaffees, 2 known were on static display in Lingayen, Pangasinan
- Republic of China - Taiwan
- Republic of Korea- 30 Chaffees were used for Training
- Saudi Arabia
- South Vietnam
- United Kingdom
- United States
See also[edit | edit source]
- List of "M" series military vehicles
References[edit | edit source]
- Hunnicutt, R. P. Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank. Novato, California: Presidio Press, 1992. ISBN 0-89141-462-2.
- Zaloga, Steven, and Jim Laurier. M24 Chaffee Light Tank 1943–85 (New Vanguard 77). Botley, England: Osprey Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-84176-540-6.
[edit | edit source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to M24 Chaffee.|
- AFV Database
- M24 variants photo galleries at ww2photo.mimerswell.com
- M24 Chaffee Photos and Walk Arounds on Prime Portal
- TM 9-729 Light Tank M24, 6 February 1951 (PDF)
- Dutch Cavalry Museum has a Chaffee tank in the exposition.
- M24 - CHAFFEE - American light tank armed with 75mm – Walk around photos
- M24 Chaffee - WWII Technical Database at Tarrif.net
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