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  • 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.

     Updated: 3/16/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    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.

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    Half-Track Personnel Carrier M3 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1941
    Type: Multi-Purpose Armored Personnel Carrier
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): White Motor Company / International Harvester / Autocar / Diamond T / Army Ordnance Depot - USA
    Production: 41,169

    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

    Operating Crew: 3
    Length: 20.28 feet (6.18 meters)
    Width: 7.28 feet (2.22 meters)
    Height: 7.41 feet (2.26 meters)

    Operating Weight: 10 tons (9,299 kg; 20,501 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
    Nightvision Equipment: None

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x White 160AX 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine developing 147 horsepower.

    Maximum Road Speed: 45 mph (72 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 175 miles (282 km)

    Armament and Ammunition

    1 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun OR 1 x 0.30 caliber M1919A4 medium machine gun. Also any personal passenger weapons could come into play.

    Other mission specific variants included:
    1 x 81mm mortar
    1 x 57mm anti-tank gun
    1 x 75mm field gun
    1 x 105mm howitzer
    2 or 4 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns (AA)
    2 or 4 x 20mm Bofors cannons
    2 or 4 x 40mm Bofors cannons

    700 x 12.7mm ammunition OR 7,750 x 7.62mm ammunition

    Global Operators / Customers

    Australia; Argentina; Belgium; Brazil; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; Czechoslovakia; Cuba; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Israel; Italy; India; Japan; Laos; Lebanon; Mexico; Nazi Germany; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Pakistan; Peru; Philippines; Portugal; Poland; South Korea; South Vietnam; Soviet Union; Spain; Thailand; United Kingdom; United States; Yugoslavia

    Model Variants

    T14 - Prototype Army Designation appearing in 1931; White Scout Car M2 hull with Kegresse half-track suspension system.

    Half-Track Car M2 - Base Production Model based on the T14 prototype; production beginning in 1941 and operational service by May of that year.

    Half-Track Personnel Carrier M3 - Lengthened hull; dedicated personnel carrier variant developed from the M2; White 160AX engine.

    Half-Track Personnel Carrier M3A1 - Circular pulpit gun mount introduced

    Half-Track M3A2 - Designed as mortar carrier, APC or air defense system.

    Half-Track M3 - Communications Variant

    Half-Track M3 - Ambulance Variant

    Half-Track M3 - Artillery Tow Vehicle

    Half-Track M3 - Mortar Carrier

    Gun Motor Carriage M3 - Self-Propelled Gun Platform; fitted with 75mm main gun (M1897A4).

    M16 MGMC - Quad-50 Air Defense Variant; 4 x .50 caliber heavy machine guns.

    Half-Track Personnel Carrier M5 - Alternative production methodology; Lend-Lease production model.

    Half-Track Personnel Carrier M5A1 - M5 with M49 machine gun mount

    Half-Track Personnel Carrier M5A2 - M5 and M5A1 combination production

    Half-Track Car M9

    T-12/M3 GMC - 75mm Gun Motor Carriage

    T12 HMC - 75mm or 105mm Pack Howitzer

    T48 GMC - 57mm Gun Motor Carriage

    T30 HMC - M1A1 75mm Gun Motor Carriage

    T38 HMC - T7 105mm Pack Howitzer

    T19 HMC - M2A1 105mm Howitzer

    M21 MMC - 81mm Motor Mortar Carriage

    T21 - 4.2 inch mortar carrier (never produced)

    M13 MGMC - 2 x 12.7mm machine gun AA variant.

    M16 MGMC - Shielded 2 x 12,7mm gun AA variant.

    M16A2 MGMC - Addition of rear door to hull.

    M17 - Based on M5 chassis for Lend-Lease to Soviet Union.

    T58 - Quad-Fifty mount with electrically powered turret (prototype)

    M15 CGMC - 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns fitted above 37mm autocannon with added crew protection.

    M15A1 CGMC - 2 x 12.7mm machine guns fitted under 37mm autocannon.

    M15 Special - Fitted with 40mm Bofors L/50 guns.

    Various other minor prototype versions as well.

    M3 Mk.A - Israeli Variant based on M5; RED-450 powerplants; various machine guns on M49 mount.

    M3 Mk.B - Israeli Variant based on M5; used as command carriers.

    M3 Mk.C - Israeli Variant based on M3; fitted with M1 81mm mortar.

    M3 Mk.D - Israeli Variant based on M3 mortar carrier; fitted with 120mm Soltam mortar system; first appearing in 1960.

    M3 TCM-20 - Israeli Variant based on M3 and M5 half-track series; fitted with Israeli-made TCM-20 turret mounting twin 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS404 cannons on Maxson turret systems.