M24 Chaffee (Light Tank, M24) Reconnaissance Light Tank
The American M24 Chaffee Light Tank appeared during the latter stages of World War 2 and saw considerable service in the Korean War that followed.
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The Light Tank, M24 "Chaffee" was the chosen successor to the M5 "Stuart" light tank line which began with the pre-war M3 Stuart series. The M24 supplanted the M5 in service during 1944 and fought on into the final months of the war in 1945. The series became a much-improved light tank offering for the United States Arrmy and saw subsequent action in the Korean War (1950-1953) as well as the Vietnam War (1955-1975). As a light tank design, the M24 was frequently assigned armed reconnaissance duties and supported infantry actions when required. Its main gun armament allowed it to compete against certain armored vehicles and fortifications but it was not a direct-action tank system when facing off against the heavier German Panzers.
The Chaffee was employed by American reconnaissance units in both European and the Pacific theaters during World War 2 (1939-1944). Its design stemmed from the need to equip Army forces with a light-class tank capable of mounting a 75mm main gun as the days of the 37mm tank were now long gone (the Stuarts fielded a 37m main gun). Advancements in armor design also furthered improved forms of light, medium, and heavy-class tanks the world over. Early work into a more advanced and capable light tank as handled through modifying existing M5 Stuarts but it quickly became clear that an all-new light tank chassis, hull and turret design would be need.
A pilot vehicle emerged as the T13E1 in 1943, sporting twin Cadillac 44T24 8-cylinder engines of 110 horsepower each - in much the same fashion as the preceding M5 light tank. The engines were mated to a Hydramatic transmission system which now ran through a manual transfer case ultimately netting the vehicle eight forward and two reverse speeds. The turret and gun were of all new design and construction and the vehicle sat atop a proven torsion bar suspension system for the necessary cross-country capabilities. As with the M5, the M24 gave both the driver and assistant driver steering and drive controls. The running gear included five double-tired road wheels to a hull side with three track return rollers used. The drive sprocket was at front with the track idler at rear. The engine also resided in a rear compartment, forcing the gun turret at midships and the driver at front-left. The assistant driver at front-right in the hull also managed a ball-mounted 0.30 caliber machine gun.