Light Tank M24 Chaffee
The M24 "Chaffee" proved itself as one of the finest light tanks of World War II. The "Chaffee" design struck a fine balance between the conflicting demands of heavy firepower and armored protection against the conflicting need for speed, easy deployment and mobility. Designed by Cadillac and built by both Massey Furgeson and Cadillac, the M24 was suited for economical mass production as well.
America's earlier battle experience in North Africa and Italy with the "Stuart" demonstrated the need for greater firepower against the Germans. From its inception, the "Chaffee" broke new ground in the use of leading edge technologies. Despite this, the tank proved itself rugged and reliable in combat from the very start.
The M24’s purpose built 75mm gun gave more power than the 37mm in the previous light tanks. The gun’s recoil mechanism produced a very short recoil stroke. This allowed a cannon of this large caliber to be used in the confines of a light and compact tank turret. Another first, the torsion bar suspension and a new unconventional transmission system.
The "Chaffee" first saw action in Europe in late 1944 as a replacement for the M5 "Stuart". The “Chaffee” was fast, mobile and well armed with a 75mm main battle gun and three Browning machine guns; one 50 cal. and two of 30 caliber. The M24 crewed only four soldiers, with the assistant driver doubling as a loader. Named after the first American armored force commander, Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, the tank went into production in April, 1944. It was not until the Battle of the Bulge that the M24 had reached the troops in sufficient numbers for widespread use. Like the Russian T-34, the M24 performed well in mud and on the snow of the cold 1944-1945 winter because of its wide tracks.
Yankee tankers embraced the M24.