Military Review

The ballad of the tank M3 "Lee / Grant." Creation history (part one)

The United States entered World War I only at its very end, which gave them many different benefits. But the US military believed that the war would continue until 1919, and from this followed the logical conclusion that they would need to win Tanks: both heavy breakthrough tanks and very light tanks - “cavalry”. British Mk vehicles met the first requirement, while the second - light French FT-17 tanks. On their basis, American engineers (along with English) developed and then launched the Mk VIII tank - in fact, the crown of heavy tank building during the First World War, and then the very light and miniature two-seat tank "Ford M 1918", known in Russia as the "Ford Z-ton." Both the one and the other designers created, taking into account both their own combat experience and the experience of the British and French. Knowing the capabilities of their industry, the Americans did not stand on ceremony: they immediately ordered 1500 Mk VIII tanks, named "Liberti" (Liberty) or "International" (International), since this tank was created on two continents at once, and an entire armada of 15 Ford M tanks 000. " But by the time the armistice was signed, only one Mk VIII tank and only 1918 Ford M 15 vehicles managed to make it. After that, their production ceased, and why is understandable.

The M3 tank is the work of the late Vyacheslav Verevochkin. There lived a man like this in Russia, at home, with his own hands creating tanks “on the go” and with the quality that you see in this photo. But ... people on planet Earth, unfortunately, are dying. Although on the other hand, what is created by their hands remains.

General Rockenback made an attempt to reorganize the tank units of the US Army so that they become an independent branch of the military. His proposals were supported by such military commanders as George Patton, Sereno Brett and Dwight Eisenhower. But ... the majors are the majors. Then nobody listened to them. Moreover, in 1920, the United States Congress adopted an important document - the National Defense Act, which prohibited the creation of tank units as a separate branch of the military. Well, those tank units that already existed were transferred to the infantry.
However, new machines were developed, built, and tested. For example, in 1930 an experimental T2 tank appeared. With a weight of 15 tons, which corresponded to the assignment issued by the military, a powerful aviation motor "Liberti" in 312 hp This tank was armed as follows: a 47 mm cannon and a heavy machine gun in the hull, and a 37 mm cannon and another coaxial rifle machine gun were mounted in the turret. The tank featured an engine in the front and a “door” in the back of the hull, like the British had on the Vickers Medium Mk I tank, so it was very convenient to climb into this tank.

Tank T2.

Indeed, outwardly, he was very similar to the English medium 12-ton tank "Vickers Medium Mk I", and in fact he was chosen as the promising prototype of the future US medium tank. Built tanks went to a mixed mechanized unit at Fort Eustis in Virginia. This experimental unit consisted of military vehicles, cavalry and artillery on a mechanical thrust. Then another tank unit was created at Fort Knox in Kentucky. But all these experiments did not give any real results.

The whole early American tank park.

At that time, John Walter Christie, a talented designer of armored cars, worked in the US, as an “eccentric” —as the American military nicknamed him, a man with all his talents, and maybe just because of them, he was very unsociable and extremely keen. He proposed to the Department of Armaments a number of samples of its wheeled-tracked tanks and self-propelled guns. Army officers, distinguished by their traditional incredulity, purchased from him only five tanks to participate in military trials, but after them his cars were rejected. Although the designs of Christie in other countries have found their second life! His ideas were used in England, the USSR and Poland. As is known, it was in the USSR that around 10 thousands of wheeled-tracked tanks of various modifications were produced, starting with the BT-2 and ending with the diesel BT-7M, which were based on the design of the Christie tanks. After all, even on the legendary T-34 was his suspension. And it was also used on all British cruiser tanks, including the Covenanter, the Cruzadeer, the Centor, the Cromwell and the Comet.

The ballad of the tank M3 "Lee / Grant." Creation history (part one)

"Ford M. 1918". Front view.

So, in a long search, 30-s have passed. It was built a whole family of medium tanks TZ, T4, T5 and also their modifications, but none of these machines went into the series.

Projection "Ford M. 1918".

This photo gives a clear example of how closely it was in this tank.

But then came the 1 of September 1939 of the year and the Wehrmacht’s tank wedges for some 18 days passed through Poland and met with the same arm wedges of the Red Army, which entered Western Ukraine and Belarus, on the other side. And the further war in Europe, which ended with the rapid defeat of the French army and the catastrophe at Dunkirk, vividly showed the United States that the war was on the threshold, and that it would not be possible to sit out across the ocean. It means that we will have to fight seriously. And how can you fight without modern tanks?

"Ford M. 1918" in the General Patton Museum.

Driving wheel

And here at once all the US military and senators saw the light and saw that their country was very far behind in the development of their tank forces. Actually, they simply do not. That's how it is! And because the reaction to this was followed very quickly. As early as July 1940, General George Marshall and General Staff issued an order to General Edna R. Chaffey to remove all armored units from infantry and cavalry formations and to form two tank divisions together with support battalions at once. June 30 The National Army Development Program is adopted on 1940, and on July X, General Chaffey began to form new armored units. All tanks were released to him and no one else. To arm the new divisions, it was planned to immediately release 10 tanks, while the release should have been 1000 vehicles per day.

Tank Christie 1921 model year under test.

The medium tank M2А1 of model 1939 of the year, which was an improved version of the tank M2, was urgently adopted. The car was designed by the Rock Island arsenal and was a further development of the same experienced T5 tank. Weighing in 17,2 t, the M2 had one inch thick armor protection (25,4 mm), armed with the 37-mm M6 gun and seven (and one more spare) 7,62-mm “Browning” M1919 A4 machine guns, located around the entire perimeter of the hull, as well as in the tower. The Wright Continental R-975 engine had nine cylinders and power in the 350 hp, which gave the tank a speed of 26 mph (or 42 km / h). М2А1 received armor 32 mm thick - as a matter of fact, like in German tanks, a larger turret and engine in 400 hp Weight increased, but the speed remained the same. Nevertheless, all these tricks did not lead to any particularly positive results: the tanks remained old-fashioned, had high straight sides and were not very well-armed for the cars of their class, since the army had already produced light MXXUMX tanks with exactly the same 2 -mm gun and quite powerful machine gun armament.

Medium tank M2. Interestingly, the tank had a crew of 7 people: the driver, the commander-gunner, loader and 4 machine gunners. Moreover, the tank attached two tripods for machine guns - remove, install and fire from the ground and there were two hatches on the roof of the sponson and two pins for machine guns and anti-aircraft fire! The tank had seven machine guns! Record amount for single-turreted tank. Five could fire simultaneously on the course!

In June, Lt. Gen. William Nadsen, 1940, who founded the General Motors Corporation and KT Keller, the president of the Chrysler corporation, who part-time led the national defense program, agreed that they would not release M2X1 at their facilities, since this requires a complete restructuring of the entire production. They decided that they would earn much more on the production of cars for the army. They decided to transfer the order for the tanks to two concerns: “American Locomotive company” and “Baldvin.” But then, quite unexpectedly, the Congress allocated for them producing 21 million dollars, including financing and building a new tank factory, then KT Keller hurried to reassure General Wesson, the artillery commander of the US Army, that his corporation was ready to produce any tanks, and it was agreed that an 18 tank would be produced in 1741 months. Thus, Chrysler received the entire month of 4,5 to restructure its production and to present the construction project of an independent arsenal from other suppliers.

Then it was like this: in Rock Island, two M2А1 experimental machines (different from the base model with inclined tower armor) were built, and General Wesson allowed the Chrysler engineers to study them, which was done. And not just done: the engineers did everything what was required for their company to manufacture these tanks! As early as July 17, the 1940 of the Chrysler company’s M2А1 was estimated at 33,5 thousand dollars. This price artillery committee adopted as a "floating". Then, over the month, the contract was carefully worked out and 15 August was already signed. The 1000 tanks M2А1 company had to transfer to the US Army by the beginning of August 1940, and their production was to begin no later than September of the next 1941 year. This period was designated by the concern "Chrysler" itself, having considered one month to be quite a sufficient period to prepare for the release of a new product.

First, "Chrysler" made two wooden layout M2А1 according to the drawings, which were obtained from Rock Island. But already 28 August 1940, the army canceled the old order for 1000 tanks М2А1, despite the fact that they did manage to make 18 units. Some of these tanks were sent ... to Western Sahara. Find information about their participation in hostilities failed. It is known that in 1941, one of the tanks received a flamethrower instead of a gun, and a tank with a combustible mixture was installed on it in the stern. The machine was assigned the index M22, but it remained a prototype.

Aberdeen polygon. Tank M2 average.

At that time, the discussion on the possibility of arming the M2A1 75-mm cannon (which, by the way, was envisaged in the design of the Т5EXNNXX tank), ended, and by its results a completely new and "unplanned" tank was created. The design department of the Aberdeen Proving Ground prepared all the necessary project documentation in just three months. The tank was given the designation M2 and the proper name is "General Lee", in honor of General Robert Edward Lee (3-1807), which during the Civil War of the North and South 1870-1861. in the USA he was commander-in-chief of the southerners army.

Aberdeen polygon. Tank М3 "General Lee".

The creators of the M3 tank placed the 75-mm gun in the onboard sponson in the right side of the hull, like on the French tank "Schneider" of the First World War. It was the simplest solution, since the installation was like ship's guns, the machines to which were well worked out. In addition, the 76-mm gun installed in the tank was very powerful, and the designers were not sure whether it would work well in the turret. This showed a certain amount of uncertainty of American designers and in their abilities, but in addition also unwillingness to abandon the usual views on tanks, as on mobile pillboxes that were supposed to fire, standing motionless. Above they installed a cast rotating turret, sliding it to the left, and in it they installed an 37-mm gun, pairing it with a machine gun. A small turret on top also received a machine gun, which the tank commander could use both for self-defense from infantry and for firing at aircraft.

(To be continued…)

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  1. igordok
    igordok 4 July 2016 09: 00
    Good video from the series Look into the tank. In the commander’s cabin of the M3 Grant.

  2. Nick1953
    Nick1953 4 July 2016 09: 22
    The engine is in the front and the leading ones are in the back. Hence the cardan along the entire "body" as on the "Volga"
    "Merkava" and "Armata" are followers. "Everything new is well forgotten old." Or not forgotten ...
    1. inkass_98
      inkass_98 4 July 2016 10: 32
      Quote: Nick1953
      Hence the cardan along the entire "body" as on the "Volga"

      All the German tanks of the Second World War were with cadans, just the opposite - the drive went to the front drive rollers. Yes, and in World War I they made tanks with a universal joint, only with a front engine compartment, with a drive to the rear rollers, see the layout of the light tank LK I.
    2. Arikkhab
      Arikkhab 10 July 2016 21: 54
      I wonder where you found the "cardan" on the Merkava? there the engine is in front and the "drive" is also front
  3. Amurets
    Amurets 4 July 2016 09: 46
    It seems to me that the author decided to write a history of American tank building. If so, then I support this idea. I already have a book by this author "Tanks are unique and paradoxical." The beginning of the creation of the US tank forces was never really described, except for the work of designer Christie. Thank you. This is interesting, since there was more or less detailed work on the creation of tanks at the end of the 1st World War and the use of the experience of England and France in the creation of US tanks. Then there was a failure on the work on tanks in the USA, except for Christie tanks. And only after the beginning 2nd World War articles about US tanks appear.
  4. booki
    booki 4 July 2016 09: 48
    Quote: Vyacheslav Shpakovsky
    The creators of the M3 tank put a 75-mm gun in the side sponson on the right side of the hull, like on the French Schneider tank.

    And even a French cannon. There was an American M2 cannon, it is 30 klb. American version of the French cannon Canon de 75 modèle 1897. In Russia and the USSR, this cannon was slightly rearranged into a 76,2 mm caliber. The performance characteristics of such an "American" and a Soviet 30 klb three-inch model practically did not differ. And due to the higher quality shells, the armor penetration of such guns was about 40 klb. Soviet three-inch shoes.
    Sherman M4 tanks (early 1942) no longer had such low-powered guns. But on the Soviet T-34/76 they were put until the summer of 1944. And they fed field artillery to the very end of the Second World War.
  5. Tsoy
    Tsoy 4 July 2016 10: 33
    M3 Lee in the Red Army.
  6. AK64
    AK64 4 July 2016 11: 03
    I will throw

    It was a great tank

    Vecheslav Slb
    1. ICT
      ICT 4 July 2016 18: 39
      Quote: AK64
      I will throw

      the fan then turned off lol
  7. Warrior2015
    Warrior2015 4 July 2016 11: 31
    Quote: AK64
    It was a great tank

    Dear Andrey, could you decipher what is excellent for whom and when? For example, the Germans did not consider him excellent at all, they considered him easy prey (high silhouette and weak armor).
    1. super.ufu
      super.ufu 4 July 2016 12: 19
      Quote: Warrior2015
      Dear Andrey, could you decipher what is excellent for whom and when? For example, the Germans did not consider him excellent at all, they considered him easy prey (high silhouette and weak armor).

      "Didn't count" but used it.
      1. super.ufu
        super.ufu 4 July 2016 14: 55
        minusers as always)))
    2. AK64
      AK64 4 July 2016 14: 12
      Dear Andrey, could you decipher what is excellent for whom and when?

      This is a long time to write. Maybe in the evening...

      For example, the Germans did not consider him excellent at all, they considered him easy prey (high silhouette and weak armor).

      At the beginning of the war, the size of the tank was considered an asset, because it allowed to hide behind more infantrymen. The size became a drawback only when the distances of the tank / anti-tank battle increased somewhere to 1000m. For at 300m for the anti-tanker it’s all the same, shoot at 2 m or at 3m - at 300m he gets into the wheel rim. But at 1000m the error in determining the distance is already beginning to affect, and a half a meter should already be considered.

      The main advantage: mechanical reliability typical of the then American products. I did not break on trifles.
      The reservation was quite adequate: the German 37mm endured, and the German 50mm and T-34 holes too.

      The main disadvantage of Lee \ Grants is the very limited traverse of the main gun. This, of course, is serious ...

      Another drawback is the use of rivets
  8. kugelblitz
    kugelblitz 4 July 2016 11: 52
    The only place where they showed themselves well, North Africa. There the enemy was corresponding, Italian M13, deuces and triples of Germans.
    The British appreciated the reliability, compared with the fragile Liberty of the Crusaders. But if there were enough Rods and fours with 75 mm long-barreled guns, then Ronson's lighters would burn throughout the desert.
  9. Alex
    Alex 4 July 2016 14: 24
    Vyacheslav, thanks for the article. Interesting and informative. Waiting for the next part.
  10. 52
    52 4 July 2016 17: 22
    There are more pictures and photographs, the history of the tank building by the p.i.nd.d.sost.a.s.a. is generally known, but little-known facts are only welcome! IMHO.
  11. dzvero
    dzvero 4 July 2016 17: 42
    The article plus is informative and written accessible. By the way, about M3 there is a well-known resource (quote below):

    History of the Sherman Tank

    "... Nevertheless, the army needed a medium tank with powerful armament. Some of the designers, whose brother fought in England on Hurricane, suggested increasing the number of machine guns to twelve, but it was already clear to everyone that the main weapon of the tank should be The question remained open - where this cannon should be located. Some of the designers, the so-called "towerists", believed that according to the latest trends, the cannon should be located in the tower. The rest, the "korpusniki" in their opinion, the best place for a 3-inch gun would be some small protrusion on the hull. As a result, a compromise was made. Two cannons were placed on the tank, the larger one in the hull, and the one that smaller - in the tower. At the same time, the evil "korpusniks", in order to laugh at the "towers" on the night before the tests attached to the tower one more turret, smaller, with a machine gun. b. The tank was named the MXNUMX "General Li", although many objected, believing that this could be seen as a Chinese influence. This time, none of the members of the commission shot himself, and only one fainted, which was considered a good sign. The tanks were sent to Africa, where Rommel was driving the British at this time, stopping only to smear himself with sun cream and drink some water. Driven to Cairo, the British politely accepted the overseas gift, although no one would know what they had in their hearts. The effectiveness of the tank exceeded all expectations: in the first combat clash, the crews of the three newest Pz IIIJs died of laughter and the battlefield remained with the British. The tank was respectfully called "Egypt's Last Hope", to which one of the tankers gloomily remarked that if Egypt can only hope for THIS, then the Empire is the end. Soon American tank crews appeared on the theater of operations. After fighting a little, they demanded that they be given a tank with one cannon, but in the tower. Many engineers objected to such a revolutionary design rework, rightly pointing out that it would no longer be possible to play baseball in such a tank, and projects to equip a shower tank would finally sink into oblivion. But the tankers stood their ground, pointing out that they were ashamed to fight in a tank, which their English and German colleagues laugh at. General Patton took the side of the tankers, promising to shoot the Chief Designer with his beloved revolver with a mother-of-pearl handle, and the engineers, having groaned, finally issued a tank of a normal design. "
    1. kalibr
      4 July 2016 20: 14
      You know, nowhere in American books, including among Hunnicut, I have not seen this ...
      1. AK64
        AK64 4 July 2016 20: 31
        / with reproach / Vyachesla-a-a-av ....

        There is such a Vanyatko Koshkin. So this, it seems, is precisely his evil lutherary fantasies.

        It has nothing to do with reality, of course
      2. igordok
        igordok 4 July 2016 22: 35
        Quote: kalibr
        You know, nowhere in American books, including among Hunnicut, I have not seen this ...

        You are right, this is more like an after-event joke.
      3. dzvero
        dzvero 5 July 2016 08: 54
        Blame missed the emoticon paste crying
        This, of course, is a parody, but in my opinion it well illustrates the inertia of the thinking of tank designers in the USA in the case of the M3.
        1. AK64
          AK64 5 July 2016 09: 37
          This, of course, is a parody, but in my opinion it well illustrates the inertia of the thinking of tank designers in the USA in the case of the M3.

          The amers did not have any "inertia of thinking": "inertness of thinking" presupposes the presence of a certain "tradition" to which they hold. In the United States, there was simply no tank tradition at that time.

          Grant / lee were stub, "temporary tank". It was originally sculpted as a "temporary solution" to develop something more or less normal, and at the same time to work out the mechanical part. It is precisely as "temporary" that Lee / Grant should be treated by assessing him.

          So, for temporary it turned out to be a surprisingly successful tank (which speaks in the main way about the high general level of the then Amer’s engineering) - at the time of its launch, it was best german, except, perhaps, C grade with a long 50mm gun. Yes Yes. It's better. Total German. And best of all is English.

          The fact that the Koshkins (not about the designer Koshkin, about the author of this libel), etc. they don’t understand this ... Well, what will you do here?

          Why is "better"?
          (1) Extreme mechanical reliability for the time. (With a general seemingly "mediocrity" and simplicity of all solutions, for simplicity they used a bunch of ready-made, already existing elements from civilian technology)
          (2) Adequate protection: opposed the standard enemy anti-aircraft defense - 37mm. Well, only HF and Matilda could resist 50mm.
          (3) Armament: At the time of development, from satisfactory to very good. Disadvantage: limited traverse angle of the main gun. But on the other hand, there are two guns, and the main one at that time (the 1940th!) Was powerful. (Let me remind you that a similar F-34 gun was not immediately put on the T-34, but only in the spring of 1941.) By the way, this American (French girl) with an American armor-piercing shell hit the Tiger aboard. F-34 did NOT.
          (4) All kinds of appliances, gadgets, radio and more: at the best level.
          (5) All ergonomics, crew comfort and more: five points.
          (6) The safety of the crew, and the ability to leave a wrecked tank - is not comparable with anything, better than anyone else.
          (7) 6-7 crew members are extra eyes for observation and hands.

          (1) said heavily restricted gun traverse
          (2) rivets
          (3) growth. And this is debatable: according to the realities of that time, growth is more likely plus or minus.
  12. family tree
    family tree 4 July 2016 22: 41
    Drive wheel

    Amendment. Guide roller, or sloth, the old way. Drive wheel, or rear sprocket. We look forward to continuing hi
  13. The comment was deleted.
  14. Fei_Wong
    Fei_Wong 5 July 2016 04: 27
    I once wrote a couple of articles about Christie's tanks for the forum magazine WoT: Blitz (and, at the same time, about the personality of Christie himself, naturally).
    If you are interested, please take a look (there are also some very rare photos):журнал-молния-пятый-выпуск/page__
    pid__55413 # entry55413журнал-молния-шестой-выпуск/page_
    _pid__60649 # entry60649
    1. faiver
      faiver 5 July 2016 16: 03
      interesting articles :)
  15. Ilya
    Ilya 9 July 2016 17: 55
    Quote: AK64
    I will throw

    It was a great tank

    Vecheslav Slb

    "How America gave Russia M3s -
    There is a lot of noise, little sense, he went up to the sky.