The M3 "General Lee" in the USSR
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There were two M3 "Lee" modifications that has been sent to the USSR: the M3A3 and M3A5 with diesel engines. There was about 300 units were sent by two ways: through Murmansk seaport (Russia) and through Iran.


M3 in Vyazma. Autumn 1941.

The M3A3 and M3A5 tanks served in 13th Coprs of 1st Tank Army. The 134th Tank regiment with 4th Guard Cossack Corps were put in action near Mozdok (Caucasus) against the German "F" Corps. The company commander captain P.I.Nikolaenko and the tank commander 2nd lieutenant V.N.Gretzky have won the Hero of the Soviet Union stasus for their brilliant action in 12-14 December 1942 against German troops near Norton village. The "Lee" tanks fought near Kharkov, in Kalmyk steppes, in northern Caucasus.


"The Grave for Six Brothers"

In general, the Russians met the M3 tank without any delight. Having a large silhouette, with extremely poor passableness on Russian roads, with the relatively weak engine (only 340 h.p. while T-34-76 had 450 h.p. engine), besides sensitive to fuel and oil marks, this tank didn't cause any delight at the Soviet tankeers, but the most important drawback was its rubber-metal tracks. During a battle the rubber burned out and tracks collapsed. As a result - tank become immobilized. The Russian tankeers called them as "Grave for six brothers". As an example here is the official report from 134th Tank Regiment commander: "The American tanks in sands works extremely bad, their tracks are continuously falls, tanks sink in the sands, that's why these tanks are so slow. With shooting on the enemy tanks, because of 75 mm gun mounted in a mask, instead of turret, we are forced to turn tank to the left and right, so it quickly sink in the sands and cause many problems during gunfire".

It is necessary to note, that neither USA, nor the GB did not use the M3 "Lee" tanks so intensively as Russians, because battle tension in Africa and Western Front was rather from the East Front.


Soviet M3s on their way to the front. Kursk. July, 1943.


Knocked out M3s. Kursk. July, 1943.

Modification M3A3 M3A5
Crew, men 6 6
Weight, kg 28 600 29 100
Length, m 5.64 5.64
Width, m 2.72 2.72
Height, m 3.12 3.12
Armor, mm 57-12 57-12
Armament 1x75 mm gun,
3x7.62 mm
1x75 mm gun,
3x7.62 mm
Engine General Motors 6046, 340hp General Motors 6046, 340hp
Max. speed, km/h 29 29




Sources:

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