Half-Track Personnel Carrier M3 Multi-Purpose Armored Personnel Carrier
The M3 half-track became synonymous with the American involvement in World War 2 - serving across all major theaters of the conflict.
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No image of the American military effort in World War 2 is complete without the appearance of the M3 Half-Track vehicle. The M3 appeared in large production numbers and was the Allied counter to the German SdKfz 251 series half-track of similar scope and function. The M3 served primarily a personnel carrier, shuttling infantry to and from the front, but could easily double in other battlefield required roles such as MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC), equipment carrier, weapons platform and general light reconnaissance. The M3 became the definite Allied half-track of note and was used throughout the war where its hybrid truck-tank design could traverse the most unforgiving of terrains. Its forward axle was of a twin wheeled design with its aft section supported through a track-and-wheel assembly. This particular half-track series was used by all major Allied forces (including the Soviet Union via Lend-Lease) and saw continued use in the post-war years with the growing nation of Israel and a rebuilding France.
The basic half-track concept was originally showcased by the British in World War 1. By then, however, the combination of tracks an automobile-style wheels seemed impractical when fully-tracked or six-wheeled vehicles with four-wheel drive was favored. The half-track saw a comeback of sorts in the interwar years, primarily during the 1930's, where development peaked on both sides of the ocean. The German Army made extensive use of such vehicles in their route of enemy forces via the "Blitzkrieg" and the Americans took particular note of a French-made design known as the Citroen Kegresse P17. Such was the American interest in the French system that several of the French forms were purchased for additional hands-on testing and evaluation.
The P17 was soon spawned into the "T14" army half-track prototype of 1931. The T14 - produced primarily by the Army Ordnance Depot among others - was nothing more than a White Scout Car M2 series chassis melded to the Kegresse half-track suspension system. The resulting design proved adequate enough to become the newly-minted "Half-Track Car M2". Production of the Half-Track Car M2 was already underway by 1941 with Europe already embroiled in what would become known as "World War 2" since September of 1939.