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Doctrine and use of Light Tanks in WWII

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by JCFalkenbergIII, Jan 11, 2009.

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  1. razin

    razin Member

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    Ist use of M4 was by Marines on Tawara Nov 20th 1943. C Company 1 Marine Amphibious Corps Tank Bat. but only two managed to get into action, most being lost near the beach by swamping- one being destroyed by Navy aircraft, one or two may have been lost to enemy weapons on the beach.

    Within a month Ist Marine Tank Bat. was re-organised as a Medium Bat with one company of light tanks M3s being replaced by M5A1 but they were still heavily involved in the fighting. Separted Tank Bat. supporting Army infantry Divisons on Bouganville were similarly equiped with M4s from about the same time.

    M3 (probably M3A5s) were used by the Army on the Gilberts at the same time as the landings on Tawara.
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Exactly. The M3/M5 was the main tank in use until 1943 and was still in use afterwards till the end of the war. My question is what were thier main use in the Pacific? Infantry support since the odds of encountering Japanese tanks were almost rare? And with that in thought what would the ammunition load would be?
     
  3. razin

    razin Member

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    Many books mention the canister Shot M2, it seems very common even to the extent that New Zealand forces had some 2pdr rounds for their Valentine tanks converted to take the M2s canister for their operation on Green Island. As to the standard AP round there would still be a place for them in dealing with re-enforced bunkers and fox holes whereas the HE round might just burst externally- the 37mm HE shell is not a great deal more advanced than the Mle 1916 HE shell as fitted to the 6 ton tank.

    I found a mention in a British book callled the Black Bull by Patrick Delaforce (11th Armoured Div at War) of M22 locust being used as FOO/Control tanks for M10C (17pdr on M10s) SPG regiments in the later part of the NWE campaign.

    Steve
     
  4. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    I have read that the M3/M5 tanks were used for infantry support too. The 37mm cannister round was very effective against personel and the Japanese didn't have much in the ways of a real anti-tank weapon, the Stuarts were perfectly adequate to do that job.
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Since the odds of meeting any Japanese tanks was very low it makes sense that infantry support would be the main mission with recon use being low also.
     
  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    "In the European theater, the light tanks had to be given secondary roles since they could not survive against most enemy AFVs. The only place where the Stuart was still adequate was the Pacific Theater, as Japanese tanks were both relatively rare and, when met, were weakly armored and armed. Japanese infantrymen were poorly equipped with anti-tank weapons and tended to attack tanks using close-assault tactics. In this environment, the Stuart was only moderately more vulnerable than medium tanks."

    M3 Stuart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    And also the use of light tanks armed with flamethrowers seemed to be more of use in the Pacific too.
     
  8. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Light tank

    Light tanks tend to be smaller, faster, and lighter vehicles, and cheaper to produce. The weight of a 'light' tank increased markedly during WWII. For example, the M24 Chaffee was a purpose-built light tank of late WWII, but weighed more than the Panzer III, a mainstay medium tank from 1939-43 but obsolete at the time the Chaffee was introduced. Some light tanks are able to move over land rapidly compared to heavier tanks and are maneuverable through obstacles such as jungle thickets, while maintaining lethality against enemy infantry. The Imperial Japanese Army exploited this ability of their light tanks during the Battle of Malaya. However, many other light tanks are no more mobile than their heavier cousins, in part because the emphasis on economy meant they often were powered by standard light truck engines rather than the larger, heavier, but much more powerful medium tank engines.
    Light tanks were quite common at the start of World War II, being the main element of German, Polish and French formations in the Polish and French campaigns, but during the war were relegated to reconnaissance roles because of the increasing firepower of tanks and anti-tank weapons. Some were amphibious, and some, like the Tetrarch, were small enough to be airlifted to battle. They were often preferred over armoured cars for scouting. The Soviet Union even built an experimental winged tank which ultimately was never put to practical use.
    The USSR experimented with giving infantry units detachments of light tanks (e.g., the T-70) to provide armoured support. The idea was a failure because the tanks' armour was readily penetrated by German anti-tank weapons, and their firepower was inadequate for fighting other tanks or destroying field fortifications.
    The French WWII-era Light Tank (Char L├ęger) type was generally similar to other nations' light tanks of the period. Since it was intended to be used for infantry support rather than scouting, it was slower than most light tanks, giving it the weaknesses of the type, but no compensating advantages. The French intended the Armoured Reconnaissance (Automitrailleuses de Reconnaissance) and Armoured Combat (Automitrailleuses de Combat) for scouting and light combat roles.
    After WWII, light tanks continued in the reconnaissance role for some time, thanks to their modest cost and potential for amphibious capabilities, but were eventually replaced by infantry carriers and armoured cars in most roles. Light tanks still have some use on the modern battlefield, primarily in the reconnaissance role (such as the Alvis Scimitar) or for use in operations where a main battle tank would be impractical."

    Tank classification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    "Improvised mechanized units have been used by the Japanese in China repeatedly with considerable success. Such units, while probably without elaborated tables of organization and equipment, are organized on the basis of expediency and availability of materiel with the usual reconnaissance, ground-holding, shock, and supply components which characterize the mechanized brigades and divisions of foreign armies."

    Lone Sentry: Japanese Light Tank (WWII Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 31, Aug. 12, 1943)
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    And then there are the tankettes that some used !! LOL
     
  11. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    It looks like early in the war the Poles,French.Italians and Japanese made use of quite a few tankettes. The Europeans more for recon then the Japanese.
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The thread has served its purpose and will be closed
     
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