Military Review

Uncle Sam's cars: the history of US tank building

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On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I. A week later, American General John Joseph Pershing arrived in Europe. He perfectly understood the importance of combining firepower with mobility and, in fact, initiated the creation of the US armored forces.


However, proposals to organize the production of combat vehicles have been received by the American military before. In 1915, a businessman with the last name Lowe presented a draft of a 30-ton tank based on the Willock tractor. Two years later, the Holt tractor company presented a car very reminiscent of the British "Little Willie". The Minnesota-based Pioneer Tractor Company also had a proposal. The car received the nickname "Skeleton" because of the design of the chassis. Nevertheless, the brainchild of factory engineers did not arouse any enthusiasm among the military.

After Pershing proved the need to create tank units, the US command had no other options but to purchase combat vehicles from other countries. The light tank fleet was formed from the French Renault FT-17. At that time, these were some of the best cars in the world with a layout that later became classic.

Heavy tank units were planned to be armed with Mark VIII Liberty vehicles. This Anglo-American development was a typical diamond-shaped tank with wide tracks. The 10-meter vehicle weighed 39 tons and was armed with two 57 mm Hotchkiss guns. The crew of the car consisted of 8 to 11 people. There were about 100 of these tanks in the US Army, but the numerous advantages of the Renault FT-17 meant that the Mark VIII Liberty never took part in the fighting.

After the end of the First World War, there were no large tank formations in the United States for 20 years. Despite this, funds were allocated for the improvement of technology. In 1924, a project appeared for a small 7-ton tank with a non-standard layout called the T1. The turret of the car was located aft, and the engine was in front. As armament, 37 mm cannons and 7,62 mm machine guns were offered. In total, there were about 5 modifications of the car, however, due to design flaws, all of them were rejected.

After the closure of the light tank program, the Americans spent another 7 years in design. Among others, the T2 LT was tested on a Vickers suspension. It was planned to be armed with machine guns or small-caliber automatic cannons. And although the vehicle did not go into production, the designers used the accumulated experience to create a small series of the M2 LT light machine gun tank with a new suspension. After him, the Americans released the M2A4. The modification was mobile, maneuverable and received cannon armament. The production of this tank continued until 1941.


М2А4

In parallel with the T1 light tanks, the US developed the M1921 medium tank with improved armor and optimal dynamics. The vehicle weighed 23 tons and was armed with a 75 mm howitzer in a rotating turret. The cannon allowed a direct hit from a high-explosive projectile to completely destroy a light tank. However, after seven years of development, the tank never went into production due to its high cost.

With the onset of the Great Depression, the US command revised the armored concept. Now it was planned to equip the units with lighter, more mobile, and most importantly, cheaper equipment. In April 1934, Captain Rairey proposed a tank project with four machine gun sponsors and a new 37mm cannon in a rotating turret. After several modifications, the car received 25mm armor and a Continental engine, allowing it to reach speeds of up to 31 mph on the highway. In the summer of 1939, the M2 tank was finally put into service.

World War II forced the US government to change its views on armored forces. The Americans began work on more advanced vehicles, the first of which was the M3 medium tank. But this is completely different история.
For more details on the history of American tank building before the start of World War II, see the video from the creators of the famous game World of Tanks.

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  1. rocket757
    rocket757 2 March 2021 08: 29
    +6
    They learned that it is not the gods who burn the pots, in the end ...
    The main result!
    1. Destiny
      Destiny 2 March 2021 09: 44
      +8
      And the result is almost 50 thousand M4 Sherman units.
      1. rocket757
        rocket757 2 March 2021 10: 03
        +5
        A powerful industrial base, but when it was spurred on by large orders, it was put on a military track ...
        By the end of the war, they began to make serious, advanced technology ... this cannot be taken away from them.
      2. Alex_1973
        Alex_1973 2 March 2021 22: 43
        0
        Destiny
        And the result is almost 50 thousand M4 Sherman units.
        "Quantity" does not always equal "quality". For me personally, my grandfather, who went through the Finnish and the Second World War, was an authority, and so his opinion was that of all Lend-Lease, Studebakers and stew were useful, but the tanks were complete shit. And I believe him more than any Xperd, all the more homegrown.
        1. Narak-zempo
          Narak-zempo 2 March 2021 23: 24
          -1
          And "Thompson" did not break 2 quilted jackets.
          1. Alex_1973
            Alex_1973 2 March 2021 23: 33
            +1
            Narak-zempo (Glass wool, faithful Putin)
            And "Thompson" did not break 2 quilted jackets.
            Well, let's say your ISK and BM-13 "Katyusha" will not break through, apparently. So, adieu to you with a brush ...!
            (Glass wool, faithful Putin)

            By the way, you would not be so fired, with such a nickname, obviously inadequate!
            1. Narak-zempo
              Narak-zempo 2 March 2021 23: 35
              -1
              And I also put it +.
              Now I will cancel
              1. Alex_1973
                Alex_1973 2 March 2021 23: 38
                0
                Narak-zempo (Glass wool, faithful Putin)
                And I also put it +.
                Now I will cancel
                I spit deeply and smear on your "+" or "-", especially since with your rating you can only scream in the "busy" toilet. And I'm not here for the plus signs, so calm down, your "+" and "-" are not hot and not cold to me.
                1. Narak-zempo
                  Narak-zempo 2 March 2021 23: 40
                  -1
                  Quote: Alex_1973
                  with your rating

                  And here they don't like the truth - that's why there is no rating.
        2. Baron pardus
          Baron pardus 3 March 2021 07: 28
          0
          In Sherman's case, quantity did not interfere with quality. So, for M4 with 76mm cannon .. a) Radios are better than on T-34-85. b) Vision devices are BETTER than on the T-34-85. c) Armor penetration of armor-piercing and sub-caliber shells is BETTER than on the T-34-85. d) The rate of fire is HIGHER. e) Ammunition HIGHER. f) The high-explosive fragmentation effect of the T-34-85 is better. g) M4 - stabilizer. T-34-85 - NO. h) M4 - Wet styling. T-34-85 No. i) Height of the Silhouette. T-34-85, 2.45m, M4A3E8, 2.7 meters. The difference is 30cm. Not so much. Comfort of the crew - Sherman is the leader. I would have gone into battle in a Sherman rather than a T-34-85. My grandfather (who was Russian) fought on a Valentine tank. He did not say anything but good about this tank. And quiet, and low, and an accurate cannon, at which Shtug (and his grandfather knocked out two of them in the forehead) from 800m penetrates. The armor is reliable. It was a good tank. Loza did not say anything but good about the Sherman (though he had a Sherman with a 76mm cannon). By the way, the French even managed to push 105mm into the Sherman. He showed himself very well in Israel. And against the T-34-85 and against the T-54. I won't remind you that Sherman had a fuel tank in the fighting compartment. I have seen enough of a photo of the T-34 with the upper armored plates that were vysheblin to the devil (detonation of diesel vapors in the fighting compartment). No thanks. If I had a choice, I'd rather be on a Sherman. Yes, the side armor is worse. I'll tell you a secret. KVK40 and PAK40 from 800 meters absolutely anyway you have 45mm armor on board at an angle of 45 degrees or 40mm armor without tilt.