It was the successor of the earlier M2 Half-Track and it came in a number of variants. Such variants included an ambulance, the M4-M21 Mortar Carrier which all had mortars mounted in the back, the T19 howitzer motor carriage which is fundamentally a M3 Half-track with a 105 mm howitzer on top, and the M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage which includes the Quad 50 anti-aircraft machine gun.
This system was made out of four .50 Browning M2HB machine guns. The M3 was powered by a White 160AX engine and was quite vulnerable to enemy mines due to the lack of protection the floor plates provide. The M3 also carried a winch and included a mount for a .30 M1919A4 Browning or a .50 M2 HB Browning. In total the M3 could carry about 13 men including the driver and its top speed was around 72.4 km/h. The weight of the M3 was around 9,071 kg and the length was 6.1 meters.
The M3A1 Half-Track did not differ very much from the original M3 and neither did the M3A2. The M3A1 was accepted in 1943 and could carry the same amount of passengers and crew as the original M3.It also could mount the same machine guns as the original M3 and it had the same 227.1 liter fuel storage capacity. One characteristic that differed it from the original M3 was that it wasn’t water cooled. The M3A2 was slightly heavier than the original M3 and M3A1 though.
The M5 along with the M5A1 and M5A2 essentially were Lend-Lease versions of the M3 Half-Track. The armor on most of the half-track was around 8-10 mm. The engine was a petroleum powered, 143 hp, International RED 450B engine. The M5 had a 4 forward, 1 reverse transmission and it could carry the same amount of fuel as the original M3 Half-Track.
The top speed of the M5 Half-Track was 61.1 km/h (38 mph). The more common M5A1 had a new ring mount and it could carry around 13 passengers. The weight of the M5A1 was 9,752.2 kg and the length was about the same as the M3 and M5. The rest was the same compared to the M5 and the M5A2 was also practically the same besides the fact that it had a weight of 10,205.8 kg (22,500 lb). The M5A2 was also more like the M3A2 only it was more of a Lend-Lease version. The M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage or M16 MGMC is one of the most famous versions of the M3 Half-Track. It had a crew of 5 and it was fundamentally the same compared to the M3 besides its modifications and weight of 8,981.1 kg (19,800 lb).
Its nickname was the "meat chopper" and it was favored particularly in the Pacific. Another variant of the M3 that was used as anti-aircraft was the M15 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage. It had a 37mm gun and two .50 MGs mounted together with the 37mm and it could spew out a large array of fire. The M15 and its counterpart the M15A1 had a crew of 7, but the M15A1 had a different type of 37mm gun and the M15A1 was lighter along with more space for the gun operators. The M4, M4A1, and M21 Mortar Carriers were all fairly similar and they all were based on an M3 chassis.
The M13, M14, and M17 Gun Motor Carriage were all basically the same besides some differences. They all had a quad in the back and each began production in different years. The final variants were the T19 howitzer motor carriage and the T48 Gun Motor Carriage were versions of the M3 that could be used against tanks. The T48 had a 57 mm gun and a crew of 5 and the T19 had a 105 mm gun, but it saw little use in Tunisia. Being based on the M3 Half-Track, they had several similar qualities.
The M3 was put into production in 1939 and was standardized in 1940. The M3 and its variants were used by the United States Military and British Common Wealth Troops. M3s were used in the Battle of Normandy and other battles in the European Theater. They were also used in the Pacific Theater and in North Africa. Around 41,000-42,000 M3s were produced from 1939-1944. This includes all different types of variants.
- ↑ http://www.olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_m3_halftrack.php
- ↑ http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=71
- ↑ http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/halftrackm3.html
- ↑ http://www.wwiivehicles.com/usa/half-tracks/m3.asp