M-3 Lee Tank, Chrysler #4356, july 1942

original # U.S.A. 3029014.
Chrysler produced 4356, july 1942

M3 Lee: The First Combat Ready American Medium
This was the first version of the tank and used a riveted hull with the R975 radial engine powering it, the suspension and tracks were very similar to the M2 medium. Early production tanks had an M2 75mm instead of the improved M3 gun. These tanks had a counterweight mounted on the shorter barrel, so the gun could still work with the stabilizer. All Lees had a turret with a 37mm M5 gun. The early production version had two hull mounted, fixed .30 caliber machine guns, another mounted coaxially with the 37mm gun, and another in a small turret mounted on top of the 37mm turret for the commander. The 37mm and 75mm guns were stabilized, though some early production tanks didn’t receive them.

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They built nearly 5000 of these tanks. The M3 was improved on the production line with things like removal of hull machine guns, and hull side doors, along with thousands of minor changes to smooth its production. The mini turret mounted M1919A4 was not a popular feature, and was hard to use, but it remained on all Lees and were only deleted from the Grant version produced exclusively for the British.

If this version had a major flaw, it would be the riveted armor plates could shed rivets on the inside of the tank and these rivets bounced around like a bullet. This was bad for the crew, but, rarely resulted in a knocked out tank. A field fix for this was welding the rivets in place on the interior of the tank. Most of the M3 Lees produced went to the British, but the US 1St Armored Division used them in combat in North Africa, they saw no use in later campaigns in the ETO or MTO, other than the ones converted into recovery vehicles. 4924 produced. Many Lee tanks continued to see service with the Australians and British in the far east. These tanks, though not even close to perfect, performed well when introduced, and were a fearsome weapon with a lot of firepower against the Japanese.

source http://www.theshermantank.com/

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Original historical photos

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