M41 Walker Bulldog

Overview

M41 Walker Bulldog

In common with its predecessor the M24 Chaffee, the M41 was a light tank. It named after General W.W. Walker who was killed in an accident in Korea. Its importance in terms of the Cold War is its widespread distribution to other countries where it formed their main armoured equipment for part of that period.

The vehicle was designed round the engine, a Continental or Lycoming petrol engine, delivering 500 brake horse power. Also incorporated into the design was a 76mm gun which was about 2ft longer than the 90mm tank gun of World War Two. So the vehicle, for a light tank, was very heavily armed and mobile, and the armament was better than some of that fitted to “hit and run” tank destroyers of Second World War.

The downside to this of course, as with any light tank, was the armour. With a maximum of 38mm, the same as the M24, and the fact that the M41, to an untrained eye, looked like any other tank meant there would always be the temptation to use it as a main battle tank to the detriment of the crew. At the time of the vehicle’s design there was a shortage of cast armour, (its introduction coincided with the outbreak of the Korean War), so much use was made of welded armour in its construction. A four man crew was used instead of the five in the M24, a bow-gunner/co-driver being deemed an unnecessary luxury. The initial design was also notable for incorporating an early autoloader, although this was dropped in production.

The M41 had a very distinctive appearance, the long extended turret being reminiscent of its contemporary the M47 medium, with a ‘T’ shaped blast deflector and prominent bore evacuator at the muzzle end of the 76mm gun.

Production of the M41 was concentrated at the Cleveland Tank Arsenal, a former Second World War Two Air Force plant which had been sub-let after the war for the purpose of storing dried beans! These were removed and the plant set up in 1950, urgency being lent by the start of the Korean War.

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