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M24 Chaffee (Light Tank, M24) Reconnaissance Light Tank (1944)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 4/2/2013

Though appearing in the latter years of World War 2, the Light Tank M24 Chaffee found its true calling in the Korean War.

The Light Tank M24 Chaffee was the successor to the M5 Stuart light tank. Though appearing late into the Second World War, the Chaffee would nonetheless find its role in the Korean War soon after and become a common sight in armor groups around the world thanks in part to the adaptability of the chassis. In the end, the Chaffee would earn a favorable reputation and become one of the earliest American tank designs to field a competent main gun capable of addressing the increasing danger of German battlefield armor, despite being classified a light tank and designed for reconnaissance duties.

The Chaffee was employed by reconnaissance units in Europe and the Pacific during World War 2, with the initial design stemming from a battlefield need to field a tank capable of mounting a 75mm main gun. The days of the 37mm main gun were long gone with the advancements being made to armor technology in World War Two so the progression of mounting such a large-caliber weapon was a natural one. Design was first attempted with existing M5 light tanks but it was soon apparent that an entirely new design would be needed to field such a weapon.

The Chaffee appeared in first form with the T13E1 in 1943, sporting twin Cadillac engines in much the same fashion as the preceding M5 light tank. The turret and gun were of all new design and construction which evolved into the T24 designation. From there, the system was eventually accepted into service by 1944 as the Light Tank M24 with the "Chaffee" designation being bestowed on it by British-serving M24 units.

The M24 Chafee feature a suspension system similar to that of the M18 Tank Destroyer. Beyond the same Cadillac engines of the M5 Stuart series, the M24 Chaffee was a unique design, fitting five personnel into its light tank design. Two 7.62mm machine guns were provided for self-defense along with the 75mm main gun. One would be a box mounted machine gun and the other a coaxial mount. An anti-aircraft 12.7mm heavy machine gun was pintle mounted on the turret. Smoke screens were generated through the use of a 51mm smoke grenade-launching mortar. For a "light" tank classification, the M24 Chaffee was a heavy hitter, retaining speed and agility qualities at the expense of light armoring.

Over 4,000 M24 Chafee tanks would be built throughout the war for American and British units alike. The tank proved to be reliable, fast, agile and provide enough firepower for it to be effective on the motorized front. It would become one of the first Allied tanks to cross the Rhine River into Germany and would later see action in the Korean War, staying in service with a multitude of countries well into the 1970s thanks to engine upgrades and modernization programs taken up by its owners.

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Picture of M24 Chaffee (Light Tank, M24)
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Specifications for the
M24 Chaffee (Light Tank, M24)
Reconnaissance Light Tank

Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Cadillac / Massey Harris - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1944
Production: 4,731

Focus Model: M24 Chaffee (Light Tank, M24)
Crew: 5

Overall Length: 17.98ft (5.48m)
Width: 9.68ft (2.95m)
Height: 8.04ft (2.45m)
Weight: 19.9 US Short Tons (18,070kg; 39,838lbs)

Powerplant: 2 x Cadillac 44T24 V-8 100hp gasoline engines.

Maximum Speed: 35mph (56 km/h)
Maximum Range: 99 miles (160 km)

NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None

1 x 75mm main gun
1 x 12.7mm machine gun on pintle mounting
2 x 7.62mm machine guns in bow and coaxial mounts
1 x 51mm smoke mortar

48 x 75mm projectiles
420 x 12.7mm ammunition
4,125 x 7.62mm ammunition

T13E1 - Developmental Model Designation

T24 - Initial Series Designation

Light Tank M24 - Official Service Series Designation.

M19 - Air Defense System (2 x 40mm Bofors guns)

M41 Gorilla - 155mm Howitzer platform

M37 - Howitzer gun Carriage for mortar carriage or 4 x 12.7mm air defense remote contolled turret.

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