Wednesday, February 17, 2016

US Stuart Light Tank in Soviet service with a Towed Gun

A Soviet M3 Stuart tank (supplied through Lend-Lease) with a towed 152mm field howitzer, destroyed at the Second Battle of Kharkov (Ukraine) in May 1942. By December 1941 it did look as if Russia just might collapse. It was around this time that Russia started to receive substantial numbers of M3s. As it turns out, they're not too happy with the tank, considering it under-gunned, under-armored, likely to catch fire, and too sensitive to fuel quality. The M3's radial aircraft engine required high-octane fuel, which complicated Soviet logistics as most of their tanks used diesel or low-octane fuel. High fuel consumption led to a poor range characteristic, especially sensitive for reconnaissance vehicle. Also, compared to Soviet tanks, the M3's narrower tracks resulted in a higher ground pressure, getting them more easily stuck in the spring and autumn mud and winter snow conditions on the Eastern Front. In 1943, the Red Army tried out the M5 and decided that the upgraded design was not much better than the M3. Being less desperate than in 1941, the Soviets turned down an American offer to supply the M5. M3s continued in Red Army service at least until 1944. The Soviets appreciated the high reliability of American tanks.

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