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M42 in Yad la-Shiryon museum, Israel.
|Type||Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Weight||24.8 t (loaded)|
|Length||5.82 m (19 ft 1 in)|
|Width||3.23 m (10 ft 7 in)|
|Height||2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)|
|M2A1 40 mm twin anti-aircraft gun|
|1 × M1919A4 7.62 mm machine gun|
|Engine||6-cylinder air-cooled gasoline
500 hp (375 kW)
|160 km (99 mi)|
|Speed||72 km/h (45 mph)|
The M42 40 mm Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun, or "Duster," is an armored light air-defense gun built for the U.S. Army from 1952 until December 1959. Production of this vehicle was performed by the tank division of the General Motors Corporation. It used components from the M41 light tank and was constructed of all welded steel.
A total of 3,700 M42s were built. The vehicle has a crew of six and weighs 22,500 kg (49,500 lb) fully loaded. Maximum speed is 45 mph with a range of 100 miles. Armament consists of fully automatic twin 40 mm M2A1 Bofors, with a rate of fire of 2x120 rounds per minute (rpm) and either a .30 caliber Browning M1919A4 or 7.62mm M60 machine gun. The 500 hp, six-cylinder, air-cooled, gasoline engine is located in the rear of the vehicle.
Although the M42 Duster was initially designed for an anti-aircraft role, it proved highly successful when used in the Vietnam War against unarmored ground forces.
During the course of the Korean War, the U.S. Army decided to phase out all vehicles based on the M24 Chaffee chassis, such as the M19 Gun Motor Carriage 40mm Anti-Aircraft, in favor of designs that utilized the chassis of the M41. Since the 40mm guns were still seen as an effective anti-aircraft weapon, the turret of the M19 was simply mounted to the M41 chassis with few changes except a partial redesign to accommodate the larger turret ring of the M41 and designated as the M42.
Service history 
Production of the M42 began in early 1952 at GM's Cleveland Tank Plant. It entered service in 1953 and replaced a variety of different anti-aircraft systems in armored divisions. In 1956, the M42 received a new engine and other upgrades along with other M41 based vehicles, becoming the M42A1. Production was halted in Dec. 1959 with 3700 examples made during its production run.
Sometime in the late 50s, the U.S. Army reached the conclusion that anti-aircraft guns were no longer viable in the jet age and began fielding a self-propelled version of the HAWK SAM instead. Accordingly, the M42 was retired from front line service and passed to the National Guard with the last M42s leaving the regular Army by 1963, except for the 4th Bn, 517th artillery in the Panama Canal Zone, which operated two batteries of M42s into the 1970s.
Vietnam War 
The HAWK missile system performed poorly in low altitude defense. To ensure some low altitude anti-aircraft capability for the ever increasing amount of forces fielded in Vietnam, the Army began recalling M42A1s back into active service and organizing them into air defense artillery (ADA) battalions. Three M42A1 equipped ADA battalions were sent to Vietnam, the first of which arrived in late 1966.
Despite a few early air kills, the air threat posed by North Vietnam never materialized, and ADA crews found themselves increasingly involved in ground support missions. Most often the M42 was on point security, convoy escort or perimeter defense. The "Duster" (as it was called by U.S. troops in Vietnam) was soon found to excel in ground support. The 40mm guns proved to be effective against massed infantry attacks.
Post Vietnam 
The last M42A1 equipped ADA units left Vietnam in 1972 and the Duster was returned to the National Guard. The U.S. Army maintained multiple National Guard M42 battalions as a corps level ADA asset until the system was retired in 1988.
- United States of America: US Army, US National Guard
- Greece: Hellenic Army, from surplus German stocks.
- Japan: Japan Ground Self Defense Force
- Jordan: Phased out
- Lebanon: 15 M42A1 Dusters in service with the Lebanese Army (1958–1984), passed on to the Army of Free Lebanon, Lebanese Arab Army, Tigers Militia, Guardians of the Cedars, Kataeb Regulatory Forces, Lebanese Forces
- Pakistan: Pakistan Army, 123 In Service.
- Taiwan: Republic of China Army, Republic of China Marine Corps
- Thailand: Royal Thai Army
- Turkey: Will be replaced by a new FNSS 2x35mm ACV
- Venezuela: Venezuelan Army, retired from service in 1989, AMX-13/M41E1 Ráfaga since 1998
- M42A1: received the AOSI-895-5 engine (500 hp).
- Type 64: Taiwanese light tank variant produced by combining turrets of decommissioned M18 tank destroyers with surplus M42 hulls. Compartments over the track guards for spare Bofors gun barrels were replaced with storage boxes of the stock M41 tank. One battalion worth (50+) of conversions were made.
- AMX-13/M41E1 Ráfaga: Venezuelan self-propelled AA gun variant produced by combining turrets of decommissioned M42A1 Dusters towers (M41E1) with surplus AMX-13M51 hulls, with improvements in fire control for night operations and on original chassis. One anti-aircraft battery worth of +/-10 conversions was made.
See also 
- Cole, Frederick (Bill) (30 April 2011). "4th Missile Bn (Hawk-AW) 517th Artillery Panama Canal Zone". www.517thartillery.org. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
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