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M3 General Lee Medium Tank

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Written by Eugene Boldyrev
Created Saturday, 24 September 2005 19:26
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 09:25

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 (USSR) and through Iran.

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.

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 sand, that's the problem to make it move. Due to 75 mm gun mounted in a mask instead of turret we are forced to turn tank to the left and right to make a shot so it sink in the sand deeper and deeper and cause more and more problems during gunfire and maneuvring».

It is necessary to note, that neither USA, nor the UK used the M3 «Lee» tanks so intensively as Russians, because battle tension in Africa and Western Front was rather from the East Front. The Russians didn't re-paint those tanks but used with its US painting. They only replaced US white stars with Soviet red stars. All other desidnations and tech inscriptions left as is (ie in English).

Model M3A3 M3A5
Crew, men 6 6
Combat weight, kg 28,600 29,100
Length, m 5.64 5.64
Width, m 2.72 2.72
Height, 3.12 3.12
Armor, mm 57-12 57-12
Âîîðóæåíèå 1×75mm Main Gun,
1õ37mm Gun
3×7,62mm MG
1×75mm Main Gun,
1õ37mm Gun
3×7,62mm MG
Engne General Motors 6046, 340 h.p. General Motors 6046, 340 h.p.
Max speed, km/h 29 29


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