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Length: 18 feet 2 inches
Width: 9 feet 10 inches
Height: 9 feet 1 inch
Weight: 20.25 tons
Engines: Twin Cadillac 44T24 eight-cylinder engines of 110 hp each with a Hydramatic transmission (eight forward gears and four reverse gears)
Maximum speed: 35 mph
Maximum range: 100 miles
Crew: Five (commander, gunner, loader, driver and co-driver)
Armament: One M6 L/40 75 mm cannon, one .50-caliber heavy machine gun on turret, one .30-caliber coaxial machine gun in turret, one ball-mounted .30-caliber machine gun for co-driver and one M3 51 mm smoke mortar in turret

At the outset of World War II the light tank was essentially a tracked scout with inadequate armor or armament to deal with any larger tank it encountered. Hoping to improve such a tank’s survivability, the U.S. Army Ordnance Department began working with Cadillac in 1943 on a more potent successor to the M5A1 light tank. Their conception, the M24, was a major leap forward, with enhanced armor, torsion bar suspension and a lightweight 75 mm M6 gun in place of the M5A1’s 37 mm weapon. Given the service name Chaffee by the British in honor of pioneering American armor advocate Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee Jr., the tank entered production in April 1944, the first units entering combat in France by year’s end. Cadillac and Canada-based Massey-Harris rolled out 4,731 M24s before ending production in August 1945.

That war’s end proved only the beginning for the Chaffee. In the opening weeks of the Korean War it was the principal tank available to U.N. forces. Although it was no match for the Soviet-built North Korean T-34/85 medium tank, the M24’s compact size, mobility and maneuverability, combined with its hefty armament, made it an asset, not only for reconnaissance, but also for troop support in Korea’s far from tank-friendly terrain. For similar reasons France used the M24 in its wars in Algeria and Indochina, as did the Army of the Republic of Vietnam after the French departed in 1954. Pakistan found it the only suitable tank for deployment in largely riverine East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, only to be outmaneuvered by India’s Soviet-made amphibious PT-76. Twenty-eight countries in all have used the Chaffee, which remains operational in various configurations. MH