Friday 21 March 2014

M3A1 Full Impressions

A while ago, I posted a partial review of an M3A1 Stuart tank sent to the Soviet Union. Yuri Pasholok posted more impressions of this vehicle.

M3A1 Stuart tank during winter trials in December 18th, 1942 - February 21st, 1943

Same tank in 1945.

The serial number, in case you doubted the one painted on the hull. The serial number in Kubinka is erroneously written as 3011745.

And now, to the actual impressions.

"As a result of gunnery trials, it was discovered that:
  1. The cramped crew space, inconvenient locations of the turning and firing mechanisms, wobbling of the armament and rapid oscillations of the tank make it impossible to aim on the move without the use of the hydraulic stabilizer.
  2. When aiming with the mechanical controls, it is not possible to use the electric firing mechanisms. The mechanical mechanism does not provide timely firing of the weapon.
  3. The sight is not tightly fixed to its mount. When pressing on it, it moves vertically by a distance corresponding to 450 yards on the sight scale.
  4. The insignificant size of the sight markings make fire correction and aiming difficult.
  5. Firing on the move without the stabilizer allows for a rate of fire of 3.5 rounds per minute. The use of the stabilizer increases the rate of fire to 5-6 RPM and increases precision of fire.
  6. The hydraulic turret turning mechanism is insufficiently sensitive, and does not allow for rapid target acquisition.
Evaluation of the crew workspace:
  • Commander: The commander is placed in the turret, to the left of the gun. He is also the gunner. The commander is tasked with observation of the surroundings, location of targets, fire correction, and directing the actions of the crew.
    It is impossible to use the sight of the artillery system due to its very low position. Using the mechanical aiming mechanisms is inconvenient, and rapidly tires the gunner. The workspace does not allow for 360 degree observation.
  • Loader: The loader is placed in the turret to the right of the gun and machinegun. Access to the machinegun and ammunition stored in the fighting compartment is inconvenient. Access to the ammunition stored on the floor of the tank is impossible without aid of other crew members.
Evaluation of the combat, tactical, and usability characteristics of the M3 light tank model 1942
  1. The tactical and usability characteristics of this tank are equal to those of the M3 light model 1941.
  2. The cramped workspace, poorly placed mechanisms, and wobbly gun lower the combat qualities of the tank.
  3. The hydraulic mechanism does not provide accurate aiming of the gun due to its poor sensitivity.
  4. Using the hydraulic stabilizer in motion increases the rate of fire to 5-6 RPM and increases the precision of fire.
  5. The small size of the periscopic sight markings make aiming and fire correction difficult.
  6. The telescopic sight is placed very low. It is not possible to use it to fire the gun.
  7. Access to ammunition in the fighting compartment is inconvenient. Ammunition in the hull can only be accessed with help from other crew members.
  8. The coaxial machinegun may fire accurately only with the use of tracer rounds. The gun sight does not have a machinegun scale. 
  9. The machinegun in the driver's compartment allows for unaimed fire with the use of tracer rounds.
  10. Due to high effective engine power, the tank moves quickly in all winter road conditions, and maneuvers well.
  11. It is necessary to supply this tank with spurs for winter driving. Put spurs on each track link (66 spurs per track). Otherwise, the tank will shake when moving on roads in poor condition. This shaking leads to malfunctions in the tank, tires out the crew. Shaking the crew in the turret impedes the use of observation devices and gun sight. The spur attachment method is not reliable."
The last page has already been covered here, except two more points:

"6. Separating the receiver and transmitter in the turret platform bays makes working with the radio inconvenient.
7. The loading assistance device on the model 1942 tank is rationally placed and useful."


  1. Russians trained to fire on the move?

    1. Yes