M24 Chaffee

Overview

M24 Chaffee

By 1942 the then existing American Light Tanks were suffering from being under-armed and armoured, even for their primary role of reconnaissance, let alone infantry support or use as a surrogate medium tank, which was frequently occurring.

Fortuitously, designers were able to take advantage of the availability of a new 75mm gun designed for the B25 Mitchell bomber. This was a lightweight, short recoil design, not as powerful as the equivalent fitted to other tanks but a real step up for a light tank. A new Torsion bar suspension system, three man turret and commander’s cupola helped create a balanced and effective design which was reminiscent of a scaled down medium tank rather than a light tank. First produced on April 1944 the vehicle was in use by the Ardennes battle in December.

Post-war, the M24 was supplied to many NATO and aligned countries, primarily through the Mutual Defense Aid Program (MDAP). Although in no sense a medium or main battle tank, the design was modern, robust and easy to maintain. It therefore became the primary equipment of many of these countries until its replacement, the M41 Walker Bulldog, became available.

Post Second World War it was used operationally in Korea until the arrival of M4 and M26 vehicles; it was also famously air-dropped in pieces during the Dien Bien Phu siege in December 1953. They were also used by South Vietnam, during the early stages of the Vietnam War and by Pakistan in the Indo/Pakistan conflicts.

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