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Top Gun: 1942

June 1942. "Crewman of an M-3 tank, Fort Knox, Kentucky." Or could it be Fort Dix? Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the OWI. View full size.

June 1942. "Crewman of an M-3 tank, Fort Knox, Kentucky." Or could it be Fort Dix? Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the OWI. View full size.


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The M3

The M3 was a major player in the British North Africa campaign. In that campaign it came in two basic types: the Lee, which had a British designed turret and the Grant which had the original American turret. The British turret was cast, had thicker armour, and a "bustle" in the back of the turret for a radio set. It also dispensed with the cupola on top of the turret. In the photo from "Sahara" the cupola is where the crewman on the far right is emerging from.

The British bought 2,855 of the M3s, although what they originally wanted was for American manufacturers to build the British Matilda and Crusader types.

While the M3 was finally withdrawn in Europe by the time of the Sicilian Campaign the type was lived on in several variants: as a Tank Recovery Vehicle, as a Prime Mover (artillery tractor), and most notably as the basis for the M7 Priest self-propelled gun. They took the basic design of the M3, opened up the top and mounted a 105 mm howitzer in the center of the vehicle to the left of the sponson that originally held the 75 mm gun on the tank. The sponson area became the "pulpit" for the gun commander. When supply problems for British owned Priests became too great (the British generally didn't use the 105 mm gun) they removed the gun and used these "Defrocked Priests" as some of the first armoured personnel carriers.

Russian Nickname

The Red Army got a bunch of these via Lend Lease and their nickname was 'A coffin for 7 brothers'.

As far as their use later in the war, I think the soldiered on in the CBI until quite late in the conflict.

M3 M4 M5 confusing ain't it

gen81465, I'm afraid the M3 Medium Tanks were not deployed in Central Europe. Certainly not in the Battle of the Bulge. They were replaced fully by the M4 Sherman by that time.
The last campaign the M3 Lees were used in was the Invasion of Sicily if I recall correctly. (I don't think they were used in Italy at all)

And as far as I know most if not all the M3 light tanks were replaced by the M5 light tank in the Armored Divisions by the time of the Invasion of Normandy.

I like the 1943 film "Sahara" better than the remake with Jim Belushi. hahaha.

Re: Yank in a Tank

Your subject line reminds me of the old Hoagy Carmichael song; the one that still holds the official Guiness Worlds Record for the longest song title: "I'm a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu Mama Doin' Those Beat-o, Beat-o Flat-On-My-Seat-o, Hirohito Blues". My uncle Marshall served in WWII in the 750th Tank Battallion; fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was wounded. Many of the tanks used in the battle were newer M-5's, but there were also numerous M-3's.


Ft Benning Georgia is now home to the armor, thanks to Base Realignment and Closure Act.

Great for us, maybe not so great for Ft Knox

Yank In A Tank

My father trained at Fort Knox in the First Armored Division in the 1940-1941 timeframe before the war began. His unit was one of the first to go over to North Africa in 1942. He was a commander of an M3 tank. These tanks were not as effective as what the Germans were using at the time and our units suffered many casualties. My father's wartime exploits were actually the of a feature article in the September 1943 issue of the American magazine. The article was titled, "Yank in a Tank."

No Comparison

This guy really looks dashing on that tank, but he's no Michael Dukakis.

My dad

My Dad, God rest his soul, was stationed at Fort Knox before being sent to North Africa during WWII. This is not a picture of Dad, but it is a beauty of a picture!

Swingin' Dix

For me, Fort Dix will always occupy a soft spot (har har), because that's where I was discharged from the Army in 1970. Fort Knox, on the other hand, is where my father was inducted 29 years before that.

Believe me, the pun has been around a long time. It's probably one reason why the base has now been renamed "JB MDL Dix," which can't even be pronounced.

Fort Knox it is, I'm saying.

This almost certainly was taken at Ft. Knox, which from 1940 until 2010 was the home of U. S. Army Armor. I spent six months there (54th Armored Infantry), which were three of the happiest weeks of my life. The excellent 1943 Humphrey Bogart film,"Sahara", featured an M-3 tank named Lulu Belle. Here are two images related to Ft. Knox: Bogart on top of Lulu Belle - can I say that? - and what I paid to rent Piper Cubs as a member of the Knox Aero Club. Yep, four bucks an hour. Of course, money meant nothing to me then, seeing as how I was only five years old. Oh, look at that, I already was signing my name in cursive.

[Three suggestions: Look at picture. Read caption again. Listen for sound of joke going over your head. - Dave]

1941 not 42

They can't fool me, that's Dan Aykroyd in 1941!

Armor base

I don't know about Fort Dix, but Fort Knox is an armor base! My father's MOS in the Marine Corps was armor (tanks, mostly). Fort Knox is Army, but there are always a few Marine tankers stationed there, too. My dad was stationed at Fort Knox twice, when I was a tiny baby and when I was in Jr. High. It's a great place!

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