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M-24 Chaffee Light Tank

The M-24 Chaffee Light Tank represented a superb combination of armor protection, firepower, speed and reliability. The low, sleek and well armed M24 Chaffee Light Tank is said to be the best light tank design of World War II, state-of-the-art or ahead of its time. It began production in 1943 but saw only limited action in WW II. The M24 was replaced in U.S. service by the M-41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank in the 1950s but served with U.S. allies in the Korean War, French-Indochina War and the Vietnam War. The M-24 Chaffee remained in service in many countries until the late 1990's.

The M-24 Chaffee was developed to correct several problems in the M-3 Stuart light tank. Notably, the armor protection was increased through the use of thicker angled plates, the main gun was increased to 75mm, and a torsion bar suspension was used for the first time in an American tank. 4,415 M-24's were produced by the end of World War II by Cadillac and Massey-Harris.

M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at the 1st Armored Division Museum, Baumholder, Germany
M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at the 1st Armored Division Museum, Baumholder, Germany.

Today in WW II: 3 Sep 1939 Great Britain and France declare war on Germany, supporting Poland against the Nazi invasion.  More 
3 Sep 1942 Japanese attack at Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, repulsed; they evacuate their force by sea [3-6 Sep].
3 Sep 1943 Allied invasion of Southern Italy begins with British landings in Calabria.
3 Sep 1944 Anne Frank and family sent to Auschwitz concentration camp.
3 Sep 1945 Gen. Wainwright receives the surrender of Gen. Yamashita, the Japanese commander in the Philippines, at Baguio.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Characteristics of the M24 Chaffee Light Tank

The M24 Chaffee had a 75mm main gun, two .30 cal. machine guns and one .50 cal. machine gun. Its twenty tons could travel 35 mph on the road or 25 mph cross country, powered by twin Cadillac 44T14 110 hp gasoline engines.

Crew 5
Weight 20 tons
Height 8ft 1-1/2in
Width 9ft 8in
Length 18ft
Engine Twin Cadillac 44T24's
Horsepower 110 hp (each)
Fuel gasoline
Transmission Automatic
Road Speed 35 mph
Range 100 miles
Main Armament 75mm gun M6
Secondary Armament 50 Cal M2 MG
Coaxial MG 30 Cal M1919A4 MG
Bow MG 30 Cal M1919A4 MG

M-24 Chaffee Light Tank in use by French military in Indochina (Vietnam)
M-24 Chaffee Light Tank in use by French military in Indochina (Vietnam).

M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX
M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX.

M-24 Chaffee Light Tank.  Photo: Courtesy of John Buckley
M-24 Chaffee Light Tank. Photo: Courtesy of John Buckley.

M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
M-24 Chaffee Light Tank at 4th Infantry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.