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M3 Stuart

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Light tank, M3 and M5
M3A1 Stuart (T37765) at Tankfest 2023
TypeLight tank
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1941 (1941)–present
Production history
DesignerU.S. Army Ordnance Department
Unit cost$32,915 (M3A1), $27,057 (M5)[1]
Produced1941 (1941)–1944 (1944)
No. built22,744 M3 and M5
VariantsSee Variants
Specifications (M5A1, late production [3])
Mass33,500 lb (15.20 metric tons)
Length15 ft 10.5 in (4.84 m) with sand shields and rear stowage box
Width7 ft 6 in (2.29 m) with sand shields
Height8 ft 5 in (2.57 m) over anti-aircraft machine gun
Crew4 (commander, gunner, driver, assistant driver[2])

Armor0.375 to 2.0 in (9.5 to 50.8 mm)
37 mm Gun M6 in Mount M44
147 rounds
3 × .30 caliber (7.62 mm) Browning M1919A4 machine guns
6,750 rounds
EngineTwin Cadillac Series 42
220 hp (160 kW) at 3,400 rpm
Power/weight13.14 horsepower per short ton (14.48 hp/t)
4 speeds forward, 1 reverse
SuspensionVertical volute spring suspension (VVSS)
Fuel capacity89 U.S. gallons (340 liters; 74 imperial gallons)
100 mi (160 km)
Maximum speed 36 mph (58 km/h) on road

The M3 Stuart/light tank M3, was an American light tank of World War II. An improved version of the tank entered service as the M5 in 1942 to be supplied to British and other Commonwealth forces under lend-lease prior to the entry of the U.S. into the war. Afterwards, it was used by U.S. and Allied forces until the end of the war.

The British service name "Stuart" came from the American Civil War Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart and was used for both the M3 and the derivative M5 light tank. Unofficially, they were also often called "Honeys" by the British, because of their smooth ride.[4] In U.S. use, the tanks were officially known as "light tank M3" and "light tank M5".

Stuarts were first used in combat in the North African campaign; about 170 were used by the British forces in Operation Crusader (18 November – 30 December 1941). Stuarts were the first American-crewed tanks in World War II to engage the enemy in tank versus tank combat when used in the Philippines in December 1941 against the Japanese.[5][6] Outside of the Pacific War, in later years of WWII the M3 was used for reconnaissance and screening.


An M3 going through water obstacle, Ft. Knox, Ky.
An M3 going through water obstacle, Ft. Knox, Ky.

Observing events in Europe and Asia during World War II, American tank designers realized that the light tank M2 was becoming obsolete and set about improving it. The upgraded design, with thicker armor, modified suspension and new gun recoil system was called "light tank M3". Production of the vehicle started in March 1941 and continued until October 1943.

By the standards of the era for light tanks, the Stuart was fairly heavily armored. It had 38 mm of armor on the upper front hull, 44 mm on the lower front hull, 51 mm on the gun mantlet, 38 mm on the turret sides, 25 mm on the hull sides, and 25 mm on the hull rear.[7] Like its direct predecessor, the M2A4, the M3 was initially armed with a 37 mm M5 gun and five .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns: one coaxial with the main gun, one on top of the turret in an M20 anti-aircraft mount, another in a ball mount in right bow, and two more in the right and left hull sponsons. Later, the main gun was replaced with the slightly longer M6, and the sponson machine guns were removed.

The M3 and M3A1 variants were powered by an air-cooled radial engine, either a gasoline-fueled 7-cylinder Continental W-670 (8,936 built) or a 9-cylinder Guiberson T-1020 diesel (1,496 built).[8] Both of these powerplants were originally developed as aircraft engines. Internally, the radial engine was at the rear and the transmission at the front of the tank's hull. The driveshaft connecting the engine and transmission ran through the middle of the fighting compartment. The radial engine's crankshaft was positioned high off the hull bottom and contributed to the tank's relatively tall profile.[9] When a revolving turret floor was introduced in the M3 hybrid and M3A1, the crew had less room. A further 3,427 M3A3 variants were built with modified hull (similar to the M5), new turret and the Continental W-670 gasoline engine.[10] In contrast to the M2A4, all M3/M5 series tanks had a trailing rear idler wheel for increased ground contact, whereas on the M2 the idler wheel was off the ground and did not aid in suspension.

M5 Stuart[edit]

M5A1 Crews from Company D, 761st Tank Battalion, stand by awaiting call to clean out scattered German machine gun nests in Coburg, Germany

To relieve wartime demand for the radial aero-engines used in the M3, a new version was developed using twin Cadillac V8 automobile engines and twin Hydra-Matic transmissions operating through a transfer case. This version of the tank was quieter, cooler and roomier; the automatic transmission also simplified crew training. The new model (initially called M4 but redesignated M5 to avoid confusion with the M4 Sherman[11]) featured a redesigned hull with a raised rear deck over the engine compartment, sloped glacis plate and driver's hatches moved to the top. Although the main criticism from units using the Stuarts was that it lacked firepower, the improved M5 series kept the same 37 mm gun. The M5 gradually replaced the M3 in production from 1942 and, after the M7 project proved unsatisfactory, was succeeded by the light tank M24 in 1944. Total M5 and M5A1 tank production was 8,884; an additional 1,778 M8 75 mm howitzer motor carriages based on the M5 chassis with an open-top turret were produced.

Production of M3 and M5[12]
Month M3 series M5 series
March 1941 1
April 1941 127
May 1941 211
June 1941 221
July 1941 253
August 1941 281
September 1941 309
October 1941 400
November 1941 338
December 1941 410
January 1942 378
February 1942 363
March 1942 418
April 1942 544 3
May 1942 619 16
June 1942 711 60
July 1942 762 127
August 1942 694 268
September 1942 620 449
October 1942 944 593
November 1942 199 605
December 1942 1,587 737
January 1943 104 401
February 1943 443 400
March 1943 475 402
April 1943 475 293
May 1943 475 260
June 1943 475 283
July 1943 475 351
August 1943 500 403
September 1943 47 198
October 1943 251
November 1943 348
December 1943 473
January 1944 490
February 1944 458
March 1944 513
April 1944 344
May 1944 134
June 1944 24
Total 13,859 8,884

Light-tank doctrine[edit]

Light tanks were issued to tank battalions (one of the four companies was a light tank company), light tank battalions and cavalry reconnaissance squadrons. The original role of the light tank in these formations was similar to medium tanks and they were expected to engage enemy armor with AP rounds and enemy positions with HE rounds. As a result, tank gunnery training for light and medium tankers was common.[13]

US Army Field Manuals written before 1944 clearly show that light tanks were to be part of an armored assault on enemy positions, and examples of fire on enemy armor were in these manuals.[14] When pursuing an enemy, light tank battalions were expected to move parallel with enemy columns and, together with accompanying infantry and engineer units, seize "critical terrain that will block hostile retreat".[15] Despite the fact that light tank platoons were not expected to function as a reconnaissance unit, they could be used for reconnaissance purposes.[16] In this role, they were expected to remain behind the main reconnaissance force as the support element and augment the firepower whenever enemy contact was made.[17]

Combat history[edit]

[It] is apparent that a Light Tank Battalion, armed with only 37mm guns, unless very skillfully employed with Infantry, will suffer severe casualties in men and material. The Light Tank still has to depend on speed, maneuver, and selection of suitable targets if it is to be of very much use. In spite of the fact that the training of this Battalion was not pointed toward reconnaissance lines, we have been able to accomplish our missions with a Cavalry Reconnaissance Group with a much greater degree of success than in any other assignment to date.

— Major Loyal Fairall in After action report, 759th Light Tank Battalion, July 44 thru March 45[18]
An M5A1 passing through the wrecked streets of Coutances, Normandy
An Australian Stuart I during the final assault on Buna
A British M3 (Stuart I) knocked out during fighting in North Africa

War in North Africa and Europe[edit]

British and other Commonwealth armies were the first to use the light tank M3, as the "Stuart", in combat.[19] From mid-November 1941 to the end of the year, about 170 Stuarts (in a total force of over 700 tanks) took part in Operation Crusader during the North Africa Campaign, with poor results. This is despite the fact that the M3 was superior or comparable in most regards to most of the tanks used by the Axis forces. The most numerous German tank, the Panzer III Ausf G, had nearly identical armor and speed to the M3,[a] and both tanks' guns could penetrate the other tank's front armor from beyond 1,000 m (3,300 ft).[20] The most numerous Italian tank (and second most numerous Axis tank overall), the Fiat M13/40, was much slower than the Stuart, had slightly weaker armor all around, and could not penetrate the Stuart's front hull or turret armor at 1,000 meters, whereas the Stuart's gun could penetrate any spot on the M13/40. Although the high losses suffered by Stuart-equipped units during the operation had more to do with the better tactics and training of the Afrika Korps than the apparent superiority of German armored fighting vehicles used in the North African campaign,[20] the operation revealed that the M3 had several technical faults. Mentioned in the British complaints were the 37 mm M5 gun and poor internal layout. The two-man turret crew was a significant weakness, and some British units tried to fight with three-man turret crews. The Stuart also had a limited range, which was a severe problem in the highly mobile desert warfare as units often outpaced their supplies and were stranded when they ran out of fuel. On the positive side, crews liked its relatively high speed and mechanical reliability, especially compared to the Crusader tank,[21][22] which comprised a large portion of the British tank force in Africa up until 1942. The Crusader had similar armament and armor to the Stuart while being slower, less reliable, and several tons heavier. The Stuart also had the advantage of a gun that could deliver high-explosive shells; HE shells were not available for the 40 mm QF 2-pdr gun mounted by most Crusaders, severely limiting their use against emplaced anti-tank guns or infantry.[23][b] The main drawback of the Stuart was its low fuel capacity and range; its operational range was only 75 mi (121 km) cross country,[24] roughly half that of the Crusader.

In the summer of 1942, the British usually kept Stuarts out of tank-to-tank combat, using them primarily for reconnaissance. The turret was removed from some examples to save weight and improve speed and range. These became known as "Stuart Recce". Some others were converted to armored personnel carriers known as the "Stuart Kangaroo", and some were converted into command vehicles and known as "Stuart Command". M3s, M3A3s, and M5s continued in British service until the end of the war, but British units had a smaller proportion of these light tanks than U.S. units.[citation needed]

Eastern Front[edit]

The other major Lend-Lease recipient of the M3, the Soviet Union, was less 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 use as a 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 Rasputitsa muddy conditions of spring and autumn 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.[citation needed]


One of the more successful uses of the M5 in combat came during the Battle of Anzio when breaking through German forces surrounding the beachhead. The tactics called for an initial breakthrough by a medium tank company to destroy the heavier defenses, followed by an infantry battalion who would attack the German troops who were being left behind the medium tanks. Since many hidden fortifications and positions would have survived the initial medium tank assault, the infantry would then be confronted by any remaining fortified German troops. Behind the infantry came the M5s of a light tank company, who would attack these positions when directed to by the Infantry, usually by the use of green smoke grenades.[25]

In the 1944 Liri Valley campaign, the official history of the 18th Battalion (New Zealand) notes that in the campaign (a war of movement) the regiment discovered that the Stuart recce tanks were an enormous advance on scout cars, and could go where not even jeeps could go. They carried commanders and engineers, and medical orderlies, and they could explore flanks while the Shermans forged ahead. They carried mobile wireless links and transported supplies up hilltops; they had a dozen different uses.[26]

Pacific and Asia[edit]

Republic of China army operating the M3A3 Stuart on Ledo Road

The U.S. Army initially deployed 108 Stuart light tanks to the Philippines in September 1941, equipping the U.S. Army's 194th and 192nd Tank Battalions. The first U.S. tank versus tank combat to occur in World War II happened on 22 December 1941 during the Philippines campaign (1941–1942) when a platoon of five M3s led by Lieutenant Ben R. Morin engaged the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 4th Tank Regiment's Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks north of Damortis. Lt. Morin, with his 37mm cannon locked in recoil maneuvered his M3 off the road, but took a direct hit while doing so, and his tank began to burn. The other four M3s were also hit, but managed to leave the field under their own power. Lt. Morin was wounded, and he and his crew were captured by the enemy.[27] M3s of the 194th and 192nd Tank Battalions continued to skirmish with the 4th Tank Regiment's tanks as they continued their retreat down the Bataan Peninsula, with the last tank versus tank combat occurring on 7 April 1942.[28][29]

As the Japanese 15th Army was threatening southern Burma toward the end of February 1942, 7th Armoured Brigade of the British Army landed at Rangoon with 114 M-3 Stuarts bearing the green rodent of the "Desert Rats". They supported 17th Indian Division and 1st Burma Division on the retreat until they managed to escape to India in April.[30]

Australian assault on pillbox, January 1943, Papua, Giropa Point

Due to the naval nature of the Pacific campaign, steel for warship production took precedence over tanks for the IJA,[31] creating by default an IJA light tank that performed admirably in the jungle terrain of the South Pacific. By the same measure, although the US was not hampered by industrial restrictions, the U.S. M3 light tank proved to be an effective armored vehicle for fighting in jungle environments.[32] At least one was captured in the Philippines.[33]

With the IJA's drive toward India within the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, the United Kingdom hastily withdrew their 2nd Royal Tank Regiment and 7th Hussars Stuart tank units (which also contained some M2A4 light tanks[34]) from North Africa, and deployed them against the Japanese 14th Tank Regiment. By the time the Japanese had been stopped at Imphal, only one British Stuart remained operational.[35] When the U.S. entered the war in 1941, it began to supply China with AFVs, including M3 Stuarts, and later M4 Sherman medium tanks and M18 Hellcat tank destroyers, which trickled in through Burma.

Although the U.S. light tanks had proven effective in jungle warfare, by late 1943, U.S. Marine Corps tank battalions were transitioning from their M3/M5 light tanks to M4 medium tanks, mostly for the much greater high-explosive blast effect of the M4's 75mm gun, which fired a much larger shell with a heavier explosive payload.[36]

Obsolescence and replacement[edit]

When the U.S. Army joined the North African Campaign in late 1942, Stuart units still formed a large part of its armor strength. After the disastrous Battle of Kasserine Pass, the U.S. quickly followed the British in disbanding most of their light tank battalions and reorganizing medium tank battalions to include one company of light tanks, where the Stuarts mostly performed the traditional cavalry missions of scouting and screening; for the rest of the war, most U.S. tank battalions had three companies of M4 Shermans and one company of M3s or M5/M5A1s.[37]

A Marine Captain inspects an un-exploded Type 99 mine attached to his M3A1 Stuart during the Battle of Munda Point in August, 1943

In Europe, Allied light tanks were given cavalry and infantry fire support roles since their light main armament was not competitive against heavier enemy armored fighting vehicles. However, the Stuart was still effective in combat in the Pacific Theater, as Japanese tanks were both relatively rare and were lighter in armor than even Allied light tanks.[38][39] Japanese infantrymen were not well equipped with anti-tank weapons, and as such had to use close assault tactics. In this environment, the Stuart was only moderately more vulnerable than medium tanks.[citation needed]

Though the Stuart was to be completely replaced by the newer M24 Chaffee, the number of M3s/M5s produced was so great (over 25,000 including the 75mm HMC M8) that the tank remained in service until the end of the war, and well after. In addition to the U.S, UK and Soviet Union, who were the primary users, it was also used by France (M3A3 and M5A1), China (M3A3s and, immediately post-war, M5A1s) and Josip Broz Tito's Partisans in Yugoslavia (M3A3s and few M3A1).

With the limitations of both the main gun (see below) and armor, the Stuart's intended combat role in Western Europe was changed significantly. Light tank companies were often paired with cavalry reconnaissance units, or else used for guarding or screening, and even used in supply or messenger roles for medium tank units.[c]

Limitations of the 37mm gun[edit]

On 9 December 1944, the 759th Tank Battalion advanced on a hill near Bogheim but was subjected to a counter-attack by German forces, including a heavy self-propelled assault gun, which took "over 100 direct hits" at ranges as low as 75 yd (69 m) with "no appreciable damage".[41]

In January 1945, a report to General Eisenhower concluded that the Stuart was "obsolete in every respect as a fighting tank" and that it would not "turn the German fire [n]or [would] the 37mm gun damage the German tanks or SP guns".[42]

Post World War II use[edit]

An M3A3 during the Chinese Civil War, 1949
Dutch M3A3 and M3A1s column at Kemajoran, Batavia in November 1946.

After the war, some countries chose to equip their armies with cheap and reliable war surplus Stuarts. The Chinese Nationalist Army having suffered great attrition as a result of the ensuing civil war, rebuilt their armored forces by acquiring surplus vehicles left behind in the Philippines by the U.S. forces, including 21 M5A1s to equip two tank companies.

The M5 played a significant role in the First Kashmir War (1947) between India and Pakistan, including the battle of Zoji-la pass fought at an elevation of nearly 12,000 ft (3,700 m).

M3A1 and M3A3s were used by British forces in Indonesia during the Indonesian National Revolution, where they suffered heavy losses due to the Stuart's thin armor plating.[43] They were used until 1946, when the British left. The M3A1 and M3A3s were then passed on to the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, which used them until the end of the fighting before passing on the tanks to the Indonesian Army. The tank saw action during the Darul Islam rebellions in Aceh and Java, Republic of South Maluku rebellions in South Maluku, PRRI rebellions in Sumatra, Permesta rebellions in Northern Sulawesi and the fighting against the 30 September Movement.[44]

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Portuguese Army also used a small number of M5A1 light tanks, out of a total of 90 received as military aid from Canada in 1956, in the war in Angola, where its all-terrain capability (compared to wheeled vehicles) was greatly appreciated. In 1967, the Portuguese Army deployed three M5A1 light tanks – nicknamed "Milocas", "Licas", and "Gina" by their crews – to northern Angola, which served with the 1927th Cavalry Battalion commanded by Cavalry Major João Mendes Paulo, stationed at Nambuangongo. The vehicles were mostly employed for convoy escort and recovery duties and limited counterinsurgency operations against National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) guerrillas, who dubbed them "Elefante Dundum". "Milocas" was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1969, while "Gina" and "Licas" were withdrawn from active service in 1972, the former being sent to Luanda and the latter ended up in 1973 as an airfield security pillbox in the Portuguese Air Force's Zala airfield.[45] Period photographs show some modifications to the basic design, namely the omission of the bow machine gun, re-installed on a pintle mount in the roof of the turret, and a small searchlight fitted in front of the commander's cupola.[46]

During the four-day long Football War of 1969, El Salvador invaded Honduras in an all-out-war strike using the M3 Stuart as the main battle tank. El Salvador captured eight major cities before the Organization of American States arranged a ceasefire.

The South African Armoured Corps continued to use M3A1s in a reserve role until 1955. Some were refurbished locally in 1962 and remained in service as late as 1964. The fleet was withdrawn in 1968, owing to parts shortage.[47]

The M3 Stuart is still on the active list in the Armed Forces of Paraguay, with ten of the tanks being overhauled in 2014 to provide a training capability.[48]


US variants[edit]

Light tank M3 in Fort Knox, 1942
Light tank M3A1 in Yad la-Shiryon Museum, Israel
Light tank M3A3 at the Belgrade Military Museum, Serbia
Early production light tank M5A1 at Worthington Tank Museum
75mm Howitzer motor carriage M8 on display at the Musée des Blindés
A M3A1 Stuart tank at Aberdeen Proving Ground
M3A1 Stuart with Canadian Ronson flamethrower on Saipan
  • M3 (British designation "Stuart I")
5,811 vehicles were produced.
1,285 M3s had Guiberson diesel installed and were called "Stuart II" by British.
Late production M3s were fitted with turret developed for M3A1, though without turret basket. These tanks were dubbed "Stuart Hybrid".
  • M3A1 (Stuart III)
4,621 were produced from May 1942 to February 1943.
New turret with turret basket and no cupola. Gun vertical stabilizer installed. Sponson machine guns were removed.
211 M3A1s with Guiberson diesel were called "Stuart IV" by British.
  • M3A3 (Stuart V)
3,427 produced.
Put into production to integrate hull improvements brought by the M5 into the M3 series. Turret with rear overhang to house SCR-508 radio. Welded hull with sloped armor, 20° in from the vertical, on front and sides.
  • M5 (no British designation)
2,074 produced.
Twin Cadillac engines. Redesigned hull similar to M3A3, but with vertical sides and raised engine deck. Turret as for M3A1.
  • M5A1 (Stuart VI)
6,810 produced.
M5 with the turret of the M3A3; this was the major variant in US units by 1943.
1,778 units produced between September 1942 and January 1944.
Based on M5 chassis. The gun was replaced with the 75 mm M2/M3 howitzer in open turret and a trailer hook was fitted so an ammunition trailer could be towed. Provided fire support to cavalry reconnaissance squadrons.
  • T6 Armored Recovery Vehicle
Armoured recovery vehicle based on the chassis of an M5A1. Project was discontinued in 1943 in favor of the M24 Chaffee-based T6E1.[49]
  • T16 4.5-inch Gun Motor Carriage
Self-propelled 4.5-inch gun based on the chassis of an M5. Project was discontinued in 1943.[50]
Self-propelled gun based on M3 chassis. 75 mm M1A1 pack howitzer was mounted in a boxy superstructure. The project started in September 1941 and was abandoned in April 1942. Only two were produced, 75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M8 was chosen to be produced instead.
  • T27 / T27E1 Mortar Motor Carriage
M5A1 with turret replaced by superstructure in which an 81 mm mortar was installed. Also carried .50 (12.7 mm) cal Browning M2HB machine gun. The project was abandoned in April 1944 because of inadequate crew and storage space.
  • T29 Mortar Motor Carriage
Design similar to T27, with 4.2 inch (107 mm) mortar. Was abandoned for the same reason.
  • T56 Gun Motor Carriage
Self-propelled gun based on M3A3 chassis. The engine was moved to the middle of the hull and a 3-inch (76 mm) gun was mounted in a superstructure in the rear. The project started in September 1942 and was abandoned in February 1943.
  • T57 Gun Motor Carriage
Variant of T56 with Continental engine of the Medium Tank M3. Also dropped in February 1943.
  • T81 Chemical Mortar Motor Carriage
M5A1-based 4.2 inch (107 mm) chemical mortar carrier.
  • T82 Howitzer Motor Carriage
Self-propelled 105 mm howitzer based on M5A1 chassis. Development began in 1943. Two prototypes built and tested in August 1944 at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Project was discontinued on June 21, 1945.
  • M3 with Maxson Turret
Anti-aircraft variant developed in 1942. Was armed with four .50 (12.7 mm) cal. machine guns in a turret developed by Maxson Corp. The project was rejected because of the availability of the M16 MGMC.
  • 155 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage T64
Self-propelled howitzer based on lengthened M5 with 155 mm howitzer M1. One built, but replaced by the M41 Howitzer Motor Carriage based on the light tank M24 chassis.[51]
  • 40 mm Gun Motor Carriage T65
Anti-aircraft vehicle based on lengthened M5A1 with Bofors 40 mm gun. Not proceeded with but ideas used in developing M19 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage using the light tank M24 chassis.
  • 20 mm Multiple Gun Motor Carriage T85
Anti-aircraft vehicle based on same chassis as T65 (M5A1). Armed with quad Oerlikon 20 mm cannons.
  • M3/M5 Command Tank
M3/M5 with turret replaced by small superstructure with a .50 (12.7 mm) cal. machine gun.
  • T8 Reconnaissance Vehicle
M5 with turret removed and mounting for .50 (12.7 mm) cal machine gun.
  • M3 with T2 Light Mine Exploder
Developed in 1942, was rejected.
Flame thrower installed instead of the hull machine gun.
  • M3A1 with E5R2-M3 Flame-gun
Flame thrower installed in place of hull machine gun.
  • M5 Dozer
M5 with dozer blade. Turret was usually removed.
  • M5 with T39 Rocket Launcher
T39 launcher with 20 7.2-inch (18 cm) rockets mounted on the top of the turret. Never reached production.
  • M5A1 with E7-7 Flame Gun
Flame thrower installed instead of the main gun.
  • M5A1 with E9-9 Flame-throwing equipment
Prototype only.
  • M5A1 with E8 Flame-gun
Turret replaced by boxy superstructure with flame thrower in a smaller turret. Prototype only.

UK variants[edit]

Dutch turretless M3A3 Recce version, in Indonesia
  • Stuart Recce
Reconnaissance vehicle based on turretless Stuart.
  • Stuart Command
Stuart Kangaroo with extra radios.
  • Stuart artillery tractor
Another turretless variant similar in appearance to the Recce and Kangaroo. Used to tow the Ordnance QF 17 pounder.[52] Not to be confused with the US M5 Tractor.

Brazilian variants[edit]

X1A at Conde de Linhares Military Museum, Rio de Janeiro

In the 1970s, the Brazilian company Bernardini developed a series of radical Stuart upgrades for the Brazilian Army.

  • X1A
Based on M3A1, this design had new engine (280 hp (210 kW) Saab-Scania diesel), improved suspension, new upper hull armor, fire controls and DEFA 90 mm gun in a new turret. 80 vehicles were produced.
  • X1A1
An X1A with improved suspension with three bogies (instead of two) each side and raised idler.
  • X1A2
Based on the X1A1, this version retained almost nothing of the original Stuart as even its hull was redesigned. The vehicle weighed 19 short tons (17 t), had crew of 3, was armed with 90 mm gun and powered by Saab-Scania 300 hp (220 kW) diesel. 30 vehicles were produced in 1979–1983.

Yugoslav partisans variants[edit]

Yugoslav partisans received Stuarts from the British Army. In 1945, obsolete as tanks, many were modified to carry specialized armament:


3 M3 Stuart tanks at the Independence Day military parade in Asunción (Paraguay) in 2001
A row of captured M3 Stuart tanks of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Most of the IJA's M3 Stuarts were captured either in the US-controlled Philippines or in British Burma in WWII.
An M5A1 Stuart used by the Republic of China Armed Forces is referred to locally as "The Bear of Kinmen" (Chinese: 金門之熊) because of its outstanding performance against the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the Battle of Guningtou following the Chinese Civil War and the exit of the Nationalist forces to Taiwan.
A former Rhodesian Army Stuart tank on display at the Zimbabwe Military Museum in the city of Gweru.

Current operators

  •  Paraguay — 10 in service (5 M3 and 5 M3A1) and 4 in storage in 2014.[54]

Former operators

Surviving examples[edit]

75mm Howitzer motor carriage M8 on display at the Musée des Blindés
X1A at Conde de Linhares Military Museum, Rio de Janeiro
The Ontario Regiment Museum has an operational M3 Stuart.
M3A3 at the Musée du Mur de l'Atlantique, Ouistreham
Indonesian Army retains one M3A1 Stuart in operational condition used for historical theater show.[66]
Light tank M3A1 in Yad La-Shiryon Museum, Israel
M3 of the Philippine Army in outdoor Static Display at the Philippine-Korea Friendship Center.Bayani Road, Taguig City. [67]
Light tank M3A3 at the Belgrade Military Museum, Serbia
An M5A1 Stuart used by the Republic of China Armed Forces is referred to locally as "The Bear of Kinmen" (Chinese: 金門之熊) because of its outstanding performance against the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the Battle of Guningtou following the Chinese Civil War and the exit of the Nationalist forces to Taiwan.
United Kingdom
Early production light tank M5A1 at Worthington Tank Museum
M3 Stuart Diesel at Bovington Tank Museum
United States of America
A M3A1 Stuart tank at Aberdeen Proving Ground
A M3A1 Stuart tank (Lady Lois) at Stuart Tank Memorial Association, Berwick, Pennsylvania
A M3A1 Stuart tank on the town green of New Milford, Connecticut
A former Rhodesian Army Stuart tank on display at the Zimbabwe Military Museum in the city of Gweru.

In the media[edit]

Marker in Berwick, Pennsylvania, where more than 15,000 Stuart tanks were manufactured
  • The 1941 US military propaganda short film The Tanks Are Coming features the M3 and its manufacturing process.
  • The 1945 Mexican film comedy "Un día con el diablo" (A Day with the devil) uses several Mexican Army M3s.
  • Modified Stuarts were used in the movie Attack! as German tanks.
  • An M3 was the center piece of The Green Hornet episode "Seek, Stalk, & Destroy".
  • A "24k gold" M3 was created from gold bullion in the Batman episode "Penguin's Disastrous End". It was stopped with the "Batzooka".
  • Season 5 of the TV series The Twilight Zone had an episode "The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms" featuring an M3 Stuart and its crew going back in time to the Battle of Little Big Horn.
  • "Haunted Tank" was a DC Comics feature that appeared in G.I. Combat starring an M3 Stuart. It ran from 1961 to 1987. The tank was "haunted" by the ghost of J.E.B Stuart, who gave cryptic warnings to the crew.
  • An M3 was featured in the movie Under Fire as a Nicaraguan National Guard tank.
  • The M3 was added to the 2006 strategy game, Company of Heroes, by the Opposing Fronts expansion as a buildable unit for the British.
  • A heavily modified M5A1 Stuart was featured in the movie Tank Girl as the eponymous heroine's tank.[citation needed]
  • A M5A1 Stuart tank was featured in the James Bond movie Licence to Kill. The tank opens fire on the Chinese hideout in the fictional country Isthmus, and saves Bond.
  • The sole operational M3A1 Stuart of the Indonesian Army were featured in the movies Darah Garuda [id] (Blood of Eagles) and Hati Merdeka (Hearts of Freedom), part of the Merah Putih (Red and White) trilogy, as Dutch tank.[66][68]
  • An M3 or M5 was used as a prop German tank in the propaganda film that Steve Rogers was in part way into Captain America: The First Avenger.[69]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The M3 actually had thicker front and turret armor, while the Panzer III had slightly thicker side armor.
  2. ^ However, by late 1942, the Crusader received the 57 mm QF 6-pdr gun, significantly improving its anti-tank characteristics and giving it HE capability[citation needed]
  3. ^ "At approximately 1720 hours on June 1st (the light tank) company... was called upon to move to the vicinity of 032465 (Velletri) to form an armored guard for the 85th Division C.P.. Three other light tanks of the company were used as liaison between the medium tanks companies of the regimental command post. This use of light tanks proved to be the most effective way of maintaining communication between the tanks and infantry regimental headquarters."[40]
  1. ^ Zaloga, Steve (15 May 2015). Armored Champion. Stackpole Books. p. 39. ISBN 9780811761338.
  2. ^ TM-9-732-M5-Manual, p. § 6.
  3. ^ "Light Tank M5 Stuart". afvdb.50megs.com.
  4. ^ "Light Tank M3 Stuart". 28 November 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  5. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 395
  6. ^ Zaloga (Armored Thunderbolt) p. 301
  7. ^ Zaloga 1999, p. 31
  8. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 127 and p. 153
  9. ^ Fletcher, David (1989). The Great Tank Scandal: British Armour in the Second World War - Part 1. HMSO. ISBN 978-0-11-290460-1.
  10. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 164
  11. ^ Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 17
  12. ^ Official Munitions Production of the United States by Months, July 1, 1940-August 31, 1945. Washington, D.C.: United States Civilian Production Administration. 1947. p. 226.
  13. ^ Armored Force Field Manual FM 17-12, Tank Gunnery, April 22, 1943 p. 18-19
  14. ^ Armored Force Field Manual FM 17-30, Tank Platoon, October 22, 1942, p 44
  15. ^ Armored Force Field Manual FM 17-33 The Armored Battalion – Light and Medium, September 18, 1942, p 112
  16. ^ Armored Force Field Manual FM 17-30 Tank Platoon, October 22, 1942, p 55-56
  17. ^ Cavalry Field Manual FM 2-30, Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized, August 28, 1944, p. 2
  18. ^ After action report, 759th Light Tank Battalion, July 44 thru March 45 (Report). p. 9 – via Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library.
  19. ^ Hunnicutt (1992) p. 391
  20. ^ a b Zaloga 1999, p. 10.
  21. ^ Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 9-12
  22. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 391–394
  23. ^ Ian Hogg (1996), Tank Killing, page 138-139, Sidgwick & Jackson ISBN 1-885119-40-2
  24. ^ Zaloga 1999, p. 31.
  25. ^ Training memorandum number 2: lessons from the Italian Campaign Archived 2020-01-27 at the Wayback Machine, page 47 of 162, March 1945
  26. ^ "Beyond the Liri (page 491)". NZETC. 2023.
  27. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 395 & 396
  28. ^ Zaloga, (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 13, 14
  29. ^ Zaloga (Armored Thunderbolt) p. 301 & 302
  30. ^ Daniel Ford, Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942 (Warbird Books, 2016), p. 192
  31. ^ Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 15
  32. ^ Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 33
  33. ^ a b "Captured Stuart". Archived from the original on 2021-07-28. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  34. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p.396
  35. ^ Zaloga [page needed]
  36. ^ Zaloga (M3/M5 Stuart) p. 34
  37. ^ "T/O&E 17–25 Tank Battalion (18 November 1944)" (PDF). militaryresearch.org. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  38. ^ Hunnicutt (Stuart) p. 475 M2A4 had 1" thick armor/p. 478 M3 had 114" thick armor
  39. ^ Zaloga (Japanese Tanks) p. 29 plate D, "Type 95 had 12 mm thick armor"
  40. ^ Headquarters 760th Tank Battalion, "Operations in Italy 1944", Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library, p. 108, archived from the original on 7 November 2019{{citation}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ After action report, 759th Light Tank Battalion, July 44 through March 45 (Report). 4 May 1945. p. 27. Archived from the original on 17 September 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2017 – via Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library.
  42. ^ Zaloga, Steven J. (2004). US Armored Divisions – The European Theater of Operations, 1944–45. Battle Orders 3. Osprey. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-84176-564-8.
  43. ^ Padi, Mata. "M3A3 Stuart: Light Tank Legendaris Yang Masih Punya "Gigi"". Facebook (in Indonesian). Facebook.com. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  44. ^ "M3A3 Stuart: Light Tank Legendaris Yang Masih Punya "Gigi"". Indomiliter/. Indomiliter.com. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  45. ^ Alexandre Gonçalves, Odissea em África – Os M5A1 em Angola, in Cadernos Militares do Lanceiro n.º3, Lisbon 2010, pp. 83–91
  46. ^ Manuel A. Ribeiro Rodrigues, The Overseas Campaigns 1961–1974 – Guinea-Angola-Mozambique – Army (I), Edições Destarte Lda., Lisbon 2000 (Bi-lingual edition) ISBN 972-8496-14-1, pp. 53–55.
  47. ^ "Lesakeng". South African Armour Museum. 2012-12-06. Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  48. ^ de Cherisey, Erwan (29 December 2015). "Paraguay keeping M3 Stuart, M4 Sherman tanks in service". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  49. ^ Hunnicutt, p 368.
  50. ^ Hunnicutt, p 337-338.
  51. ^ Hunnicutt, p 337–339, 502.
  52. ^ Zaloga, Steven J.,M3 & M5 Stuart Light Tank, 1940–1945. Osprey Publishing. p.43
  53. ^ a b c d e Thers, Alexandre (February 2013). "Le Blindorama: La Yougoslavie, 1930 – 1945". Batailles & Blindés (in French). No. 53. Caraktère. pp. 4–7. ISSN 1765-0828.
  54. ^ IHS Jane's (1 January 2016). "Paraguay keeping M3 Stuart, M4 Sherman tanks in service". Tank and AFV News. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  55. ^ Handel, Paul. "M3 Stuart Light Tanks In Action In New Guinea". Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  56. ^ Chamberlain, Peter; Ellis, Chris (2002) [1972]. Tanks of the World: 1915–1945. London: Cassell & Co. p. 239. ISBN 0304361410.
  57. ^ "M-3 Stuart Italiano Cobelligerante - Zimmerit Forum". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-01-25.
  58. ^ Plowman, Jeffrey (1985). Armoured Fighting Vehicles of New Zealand 1939–59. Christchurch: JEP Publications. p. 132.
  59. ^ https://www.moore.army.mil/Armor/eARMOR/content/issues/2021/Fall/4Condeno21.pdf
  60. ^ Magnuski, Janusz (1996). Wozy bojowe PSZ 1940–1946 (in Polish) (I ed.). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Lampart. pp. 44–49. ISBN 83-86776-39-0.
  61. ^ Greg Kelley; Jason Long. "Romanian Armour in World War Two". Archived from the original on 26 September 2003.
  62. ^ Mark Axworthy, Cornel I. Scafeș, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945, p. 221.
  63. ^ Mahé, Yann (February 2011). "Le Blindorama : La Turquie, 1935 – 1945". Batailles & Blindés (in French). No. 41. Caraktère. pp. 4–7. ISSN 1765-0828.
  64. ^ Finance Office, War Department (1946), "Section III-A Ordnance-General Supplies", Quantities of Lend-Lease Shipments, pp. ix, x – via Hyperwar Foundation
  65. ^ Kočevar, Iztok (August 2014). "Micmac à tire-larigot chez Tito: L'arme blindée yougoslave durant la Guerre froide" [The Yugoslav armored arm during the Cold War]. Batailles et Blindés (in French). No. 62. Caraktère. pp. 66–79. ISSN 1765-0828.
  66. ^ a b "Tank Gaek Bertahan Hidup". Historia – Majalah Sejarah Populer Pertama di Indonesia. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  67. ^ https://pvao.gov.ph/military-shrines/philippine-korea-friendship-center/
  68. ^ "'Hati Merdeka' Banyak Adegan Perang di Laut". okezone.com (in Indonesian). 22 September 2010. Archived from the original on 4 May 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  69. ^ Shaffer, Joshua (31 December 2022). "The Tank in Captain America". Discovering The Magic Kingdom. Retrieved 31 December 2022.


External links[edit]