One of the most iconic pieces of hardware in US Military history, over 40,000 M3 half-tracks were produced during World War II with many thousands of similar models also being supplied to their allies.
The M3A1 was ideally suited to rushing troops to the front and through gaps in the enemy lines. With a top speed of 45 mph, and armoured enough to keep out most small arms fire, they performed admirably in this role.
They had a crew of three men and could carry ten fully equipped troops. There were many variations on the chassis including tank destroyers, mortar carriers and ambulances, but most frequent by far were the M3A1 with its armament of a heavy .50 cal heavy machine gun and two or more .30 cal machine guns.
Conceived to replace the M3/M5 Stuart light tanks, the M24 Chaffee fought in US service during the later years of WWII and on into the Korean War. The Chaffee also served with British and Russian forces during the Second World War. Reliable, armed with a 75mm gun and with a good off-road performance, the M24 was popular with it's crews.
The Hellcat’s prodigious speed was attained by keeping it’s armour to no more than 1″ thick. Hellcat crews quickly took advantage of the vehicle’s speed to minimise the enemy’s ability to pierce its thin armour. Hellcats used their speed to outflank and penetrate the side and back of the heavily armoured German Tiger and Panther tanks.
The M18 Hellcat saw service in the Western Front in the main. However it also saw action in the Pacific and in Italy. The US military also supplied the M18 to Chinese Nationalist forces opposing the Japanese in the Pacific theatre. As this was something of an overkill situation against weakly armoured Japanese tanks, the Hellcat was more often used in a fire support role.
Post war, the Hellcat would see service with several nations and it is still in use with the Venezualan Army!