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M2A1
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Light Tank M2A11-6
M2A1: General
Date of first acceptance 1935 Total acceptances 19
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal Crew
4 men:
  • Commander in turret left
  • Gunner in turret right
  • Driver in hull left front
  • Assistant driver in hull right front
M2A1: Dimensions
Combat weight 18,790lbs
8523kg
Height over cupola roof 92"
230cm
Length 163"
414cm
Gun overhang forward 0"
Width over side stowage 94"
240cm
Tread 72"
180cm
Ground clearance 15"
38cm
Fire height 72"
180cm
Turret ring diameter 44.1"
112cm
Ground pressure, zero penetration 9.4psi
.66kg/cm²
M2A1: Armament
Type Mount Ammunition Traverse
.50cal M2HB MG M7 in turret 1800 rounds 360°
(manual)
.30cal M2HB MG Coaxial to .50cal MG 4700 rounds 360°
(manual)
.30cal M2HB MG Ball mount M8 in right bow Manual
M2A1: Armor
Assembly
Riveting
Hull
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Upper front .625"
1.6cm
17°
Middle front .625"
1.6cm
69°
Lower front .625"
1.6cm
21°
Sides .5"
1.3cm
Rear .25"
.64cm
Top .25"
.64cm
90°
Floor .25"
.64cm
90°
Turret
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Front .625"
1.6cm
Sides .625"
1.6cm
Rear .625"
1.6cm
Top .25"
.64cm
90°
M2A1: Automotive
Engine Continental R-670-3, -3C, -5; or W-670-7, -8; 7 cylinder, 4 cycle, radial gasoline
Horsepower Net: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 250@2400 rpm
R-670-3C, W-670-8: 235@2400rpm
Gross: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 262@2400rpm
R-670-3C, W-670-8: 248@2400rpm
Torque Net: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 584 ft-lb@1800rpm
Gross: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 590 ft-lb@1700rpm
Fuel capacity 50gal
190L
Transmission Sliding, constant mesh, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Steering Controlled differential, steering levers
Brakes Mechanical, external contracting
M2A1: Suspension
Type Road wheels Track return rollers
Vertical volute spring 2 bogies/track;
2 wheels/bogie
2/track
Drive sprockets Idlers Shock absorbers
14-tooth front drive Adjustable idler at rear of track None
M2A1: Track
T16E1
Outside guide, double pin, reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 62 Ground contact length 86"
220cm
T16E2
Outside guide, double pin, non-reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 62 Ground contact length 86"
220cm
M2A1: Performance
Max level road speed 45mph
72kph
Max trench 48"
120cm
Max grade 60% Max vertical obstacle 24"
61cm
Min turning diameter 42'
13m
Max fording depth 43"
110cm
Cruising range ~120mi, roads
~190km, roads


The light tank M2A1 can be differentiated from the combat car M1 by the vehicles' turrets: the light tank's was cylindrical in cross-section with an extention for the weapons, while the turret of the combat car was either D-shaped or octagonal. The light tank also had a cupola on the left rear of the turret roof. The M2A1's sliding mesh transmission was later replaced by a synchromesh model.

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Light Tank M2A21-3,5-6
M2A2: General
Date of first acceptance 1935 Total acceptances 237
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal Crew
4 men:
  • Commander/gunner in left turret
  • Gunner in right turret
  • Driver in hull left front
  • Assistant driver in hull right front
M2A2: Dimensions
Combat weight 19,100lbs
8660kg
Height over cupola roof 92"
230cm
Length 163"
414cm
Gun overhang forward 0"
Width over side stowage 94"
240cm
Tread 72"
180cm
Ground clearance 15"
38cm
Fire height 72"
180cm
Turret ring diameters Left turret: 35.3"
Right turret: 29.5"
Left turret: 89.7cm
Right turret: 74.9cm
Ground pressure, zero penetration 9.6psi
.67kg/cm²
M2A2: Armament
Type Mount Ammunition Traverse
.50cal M2HB MG
--OR--
.30cal M1919A4 MG
.50cal: M9,
.30cal: M9A1;
in left turret
1625 rounds .50cal ~180°
(manual)
.30cal M2HB MG
--OR--
.30cal M1919A4 MG
M2HB: ball mount M14,
M1919A4: ball mount M12;
in right turret
4700 rounds .30cal ~180°
(manual)
.30cal M2HB MG
--OR--
.30cal M1919A4 MG
M2HB: ball mount M8,
M1919A4: ball mounts M10 or M13;
in right bow
Manual
M2A2: Armor
Assembly
Riveting
Hull
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Upper front .625"
1.6cm
17°
Middle front .625"
1.6cm
69°
Lower front .625"
1.6cm
21°
Sides .5"
1.3cm
Rear .25"
.64cm
Top .25"
.64cm
90°
Floor .25"
.64cm
90°
Turrets
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Front .625"
1.6cm
Sides .625"
1.6cm
Rear .625"
1.6cm
Top .25"
.64cm
90°
M2A2: Automotive
Engine Continental R-670-3, -3C, -5; or W-670-7, -8; 7 cylinder, 4 cycle, radial gasoline
Horsepower Net: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 250@2400 rpm
R-670-3C, W-670-8: 235@2400rpm
Gross: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 262@2400rpm
R-670-3C, W-670-8: 248@2400rpm
Torque Net: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 584 ft-lb@1800rpm
Gross: R-670-3, R-670-5, W-670-7: 590 ft-lb@1700rpm
Fuel capacity 50gal
190L
Transmission Sliding, constant mesh, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Steering Controlled differential, steering levers
Brakes Mechanical, external contracting
M2A2: Suspension
Type Road wheels Track return rollers
Vertical volute spring 2 bogies/track;
2 wheels/bogie
2/track
Drive sprockets Idlers Shock absorbers
14-tooth front drive Adjustable idler at rear of track None
M2A2: Track
T16E1
Outside guide, double pin, reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 62 Ground contact length 86"
220cm
T16E2
Outside guide, double pin, non-reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 62 Ground contact length 86"
220cm
M2A2: Performance
Max level road speed 45mph
72kph
Max trench 48"
120cm
Max grade 60% Max vertical obstacle 24"
61cm
Min turning diameter 42'
13m
Max fording depth 43"
110cm
Cruising range ~120mi, roads
~190km, roads


The M2A2 had twin turrets placed side-by-side on the hull and was very unofficially dubbed "Mae West," since the turrets gave the tank a passing resemblence to the actress. A vision cupola was installed on the left turret for the tank commander. On early tanks the turrets were shaped like those of the light tank M2A1; that is, they were cylindrical with an extension on the front for weapon mounting. Later tanks had turrets comprised of flat vertical armor plates: seven for the small turret and eight for the large turret. Later tanks were also fitted with flat, rather than rounded, engine covers. The constant mesh transmission was later replaced by a synchromesh model.

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Light Tank M2A31-3,4-5
M2A3: General
Date of first acceptance 1938 Total acceptances 73
Manufacturer Rock Island Arsenal Crew
4 men:
  • Commander/gunner in left turret
  • Gunner in right turret
  • Driver in hull left front
  • Assistant driver in hull right front
M2A3: Dimensions
Combat weight 21,000lbs
9500kg
Height over cupola roof 92"
230cm
Length 174.5"
443.2cm
Gun overhang forward 0"
Width over side stowage guard rails 98"
250cm
Tread 72"
180cm
Ground clearance 14.5"
36.8cm
Fire height 72"
180cm
Turret ring diameters Left turret: 33.2"
Right turret: 27.3"
Left turret: 84.3cm
Right turret: 69.3cm
Ground pressure, zero penetration 9.3psi
.65kg/cm²
M2A3: Armament
Type Mount Ammunition Traverse
.50cal M2HB MG M9 in left turret 1579 rounds ~180°
(manual)
.30cal M1919A4 MG Ball mount M12 in right turret 2730 rounds ~180°
(manual)
.30cal M1919A4 MG Ball mount M12 in right bow Manual
M2A3: Armor
Assembly
Riveting
Hull
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Upper front .875"
2.2cm
17°
Middle front .625"
1.6cm
69°
Lower front .875"
2.2cm
21°
Sides .625"
1.6cm
Upper rear .625"
1.6cm
Lower rear .625"
1.6cm
19°
Top .375"
.953cm
90°
Front floor .5"
1.3cm
90°
Rear floor .25"
.64cm
90°
Turrets
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Front .875"
2.2cm
Sides .625"
1.6cm
Rear .625"
1.6cm
Top .25"
.64cm
90°
M2A3: Automotive
Engine Continental W-670-9; 7 cylinder, 4 cycle, radial gasoline
Horsepower Net: 250@2400rpm
Gross: 262@2400rpm
Torque Net: 584 ft-lb@1800rpm
Gross: 590 ft-lb@1700rpm
Fuel capacity 54gal
204L
Transmission Sliding, constant mesh, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Steering Controlled differential, steering levers
Brakes Mechanical, external contracting
M2A3: Suspension
Type Road wheels Track return rollers
Vertical volute spring 2 bogies/track;
2 wheels/bogie
2/track
Drive sprockets Idlers Shock absorbers
14-tooth front drive Adjustable idler at rear of track None
M2A3: Track
T16E1
Outside guide, double pin, reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 67 Ground contact length 97"
246cm
T16E2
Outside guide, double pin, non-reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 67 Ground contact length 97"
246cm
M2A3: Performance
Max level road speed 36mph
58kph
Max trench 60"
152cm
Max grade 60% Max vertical obstacle 24"
61cm
Min turning diameter 42'
13m
Max fording depth 43"
110cm
Cruising range ~100mi, roads
~161km, roads


The distance between the bogies on the light tank M2A3 was increased, as was the distance between the turrets. This greater distance between the bogies, combined with longer stroke volute springs, improved the vehicle's ride. Also, the M2A3's rear hull was redesigned to ease engine maintenance, its gear ratios were increased, and its engine cooling was improved, among other changes. The transmissions in M2A3s were also swapped out for a synchromesh model.

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Light Tank M2A41-8
M2A4: General
Date of first acceptance May 1940 Total acceptances 375
Manufacturers
  • American Car & Foundry Co.
  • Baldwin Locomotive Works
Crew
4 men:
  • Commander/gunner in turret left rear
  • Loader in turret right rear
  • Driver in hull left front
  • Assistant driver in hull right front
M2A4: Dimensions
Combat weight 25,600lbs
11,600kg
Height over AAMG mount 104"
264cm
Length 174.5"
443.2cm
Gun overhang forward 0"
Width 97.25"
247.0cm
Tread 72"
180cm
Ground clearance 16.5"
41.9cm
Fire height 76"
193cm
Turret ring diameter 46.75"
118.7cm
Ground pressure, zero penetration 11.4psi
.800kg/cm²
M2A4: Armament
Type Mount Ammunition Traverse Elevation
37mm Gun M5 M20 in turret 103 rounds 360°;
20° in mount
(manual)
+19° to -6°
(manual)
.30cal M1919A4 MG AA mount M20 behind turret 8470 rounds 360°
(manual)
Manual
.30cal M1919A4 MG Coaxial to 37mm gun 360°;
20° in mount
(manual)
+19° to -6°
(manual)
.30cal M1919A4 MG Ball mount in right bow Manual Manual
.30cal M1919A4 MG Fixed in each sponson None None
M2A4: Armor
Assembly
Riveting
Hull
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Upper front 1.0"
2.5cm
17°
Middle front .625"
1.6cm
69°
Lower front 1.0"
2.5cm
19°
Sides 1.0"
2.5cm
Upper rear 1.0"
2.5cm
Lower rear 1.0"
2.5cm
20°
Top .25"
.64cm
90°
Front floor .5"
1.3cm
90°
Rear floor .25"
.64cm
90°
Turret
Rolled face-hardened steel
Location Thickness Angle from vertical
Gun shield 1.0"
2.5cm
0° to 14°
Front 1.0"
2.5cm
10°
Sides 1.0"
2.5cm
Rear 1.0"
2.5cm
Top .25"
.64cm
75° to 90°
M2A4: Automotive
Engine Continental W-670-9A; 7 cylinder, 4 cycle, radial gasoline
Horsepower Net: 250@2400rpm
Gross: 262@2400rpm
Torque Net: 584 ft-lb@1800rpm
Gross: 590 ft-lb@1700rpm
Fuel capacity 54gal
204L
Transmission Synchromesh, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Steering Controlled differential, steering levers
Brakes Mechanical, external contracting
M2A4: Suspension
Type Road wheels Track return rollers
Vertical volute spring 2 bogies/track;
2 wheels/bogie
2/track
Drive sprockets Idlers Shock absorbers
14-tooth front drive Adjustable idler at rear of track None
M2A4: Track
T16E1
Outside guide, double pin, reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 67 Ground contact length 97"
246cm
T16E2
Outside guide, double pin, non-reversible rubber
Width 11.6"
29.5cm
Pitch 5.5"
14cm
Shoes/track 67 Ground contact length 97"
246cm
M2A4: Performance
Max level road speed 36mph
58kph
Max trench 60"
152cm
Max grade 60% Max vertical obstacle 24"
61cm
Min turning diameter 42'
13m
Max fording depth 43"
110cm
Cruising range ~70mi, roads
~110km, roads


M2A4 was based on M2A3. The new tank's single flat-sided octagonal turret was fitted with a vision cupola in the left rear part of the turret. M2A4's W-670-9A engine differed from the W-670-9 by the addition of an engine governor.

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References

  1. Hunnicutt, R.P. Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank, volume 1. Navato, CA: Presidio Press, 1992.
    Reprinted with permission from Stuart, R.P. Hunnicutt ©1992, available from Presidio Press, 505B San Martin Drive, Suite 160, Navato, CA 94945.

  2. AGF Board No. 2. Development of Armored Vehicles, volume 1: Tanks. 1947.

  3. Chamberlain, Peter, and Chris Ellis. British and American Tanks of World War Two. Frome, England: Cassell & Co., 2000.

  4. Miller, David. The Illustrated Directory of Tanks of the World. Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing Co., 2000.

  5. Siemers, Cary. "USA's Light Tanks." World War II Tanks & Vehicles and Advanced Squad Leader. 25 Nov 2000. 10 Dec 2000 <http://www.shadowsfolly.com/WWII/USA/LightTanks.htm>.

  6. Kirk, William. "Light Tanks." TANKS! 21 Jun 2000. 7 Dec 2000 <http://mailer.fsu.edu/~akirk/tanks/UnitedStates/lighttanks/LightTanks.html>. TANKS!

  7. Tank Data, vol. 2. Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD: US Army Ordnance School, Jul 1958.

  8. FM 23-80 37-mm Gun, Tank, M5 (Mounted in Tanks). Washington, DC: War Department, 25 June 1941.



Last updated 24 Apr 2014.

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