History of the Chaffee Tank

This WW II Chaffee Tank was named after Army General, Anda R. Chaffee, Jr.  General Chaffee was instrumental in developing the use of tanks for the United States.  The tank first saw service during World War II and was used in conflicts thereafter such as the Korean War, and by the French during the Algeria and Indochina wars.  The M5 Stuart tank was used extensively in WWII, but the tank aged quickly, became obsolete and therefore was replaced by the M24 Chaffee.

The Chaffee was first used in Europe in the latter part of 1944.  Of the initial 34 tanks to reach the battlefront, 17 were issued to the 2nd Calvary Recon Battalion of F Company and 17 were issued to the 42nd Calvary Recon Battalion.  The tanks were sent immediately to fight in the infamous Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944.  The 1st U.S. Army received two of these tanks, which were assigned to the 740th Tank Battalion.   However, getting these tanks to the combat units on the front was slow, so many of the units were still using the obsolete M5 Stuart until the end of the war.

The main improvement of the Chaffee over the M5 Stuart was its performance in the field.  The Chaffee tank was much more reliable and had a 75 MM gun – compared to the Stuart’s 37 MM gun.  The Chaffee, being a light tank with light armor, could not stand up against the strong German tanks though, making it vulnerable to antitank guns and handheld weapons.  The Chaffee did not play a major role in winning the European war, as they were received too late.

The Chaffee tank was also used during the Korean War that began in 1950.  These light tanks took on the medium T34-85’s Russian tanks that were better armed.  The Chaffee’s role became more successful during the conflict by providing reconnaissance to other armored units that were equipped with M26 and M46 Patton tanks.

After being replaced by the M41 bulldog tank, named the Walker, after General Walton Walker who was killed in Korea, many Chaffee tanks were supplied to France to assist in its conflict in Indochina.  In December, 1953 the Battle of Dien Bien Phu was supplemented by a number of Chaffee tanks that provided fire support.

The Chaffee tank saw action in the Indo – Pakistani War of 1972 where they were no match for the heavy armor of the Indian Army.  This action is believed to be the last one that the Chaffee tank participated in.

Produced:  1944–August 1945

Specifications of Chaffee Tank

  • Weight:  40,500 lbs.
  • Length:  18.24 ft.
    • 16.5 ft. (w/o gun)
    • Width:  9.84 ft.
    • Height:  9.08 ft.
    • Crew:  5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)
    • Armor:  0.37–1.49 in

Main armament

  • 1 × 75 mm Gun M6 with 48 rounds

Secondary armament

  • 1 × .50 cal Browning M2HB mg w/440 rounds
  • 2 × .30-06 Browning M1919A4 mg w/3,750 rounds