A full-sized, operational World War II M16 Halftrack – with Quad .50 cal Gun Mount – is on display at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL. This WWII armored vehicle is located in the museum directly across from the WWII German Outpost and Farmhouse Diorama.
History of the WWII M16 Halftrack
With a need to replace the M13, the M16 Halftrack of WWII was developed and became what some would regard as the most crucial weapon of World War II Antiaircraft Artillery. Development first began in December of 1942. Along with the aesthetics of the carriage’s classic lines, this halftrack is also known for its weapon – the quad fifty machine gun (M45D) – nicknamed “Meat Chopper”. The M45D was mounted on a Maxson turret with 4 M2HB machine guns. Traversing at 60 degrees per second and 400-500 rounds per minute, the two cargo boxes at the rear of the vehicle (along with additional ammo chests that were carried on the vehicle) stored enough ammunition to allow the M16 eight minutes of sustained fire.
One of the modifications for this WW II vehicle was the installation of a pedestal for the gun mount. This was coupled with hinged armor panels along the sides and rear. These panels could then be dropped, which allowed the guns to depress for low-angle fire. All this could be done without interference from the halftrack’s sides. The use of interrupter switches on this World War II vehicle prohibited these guns from firing when entering the driver’s compartment area. Sitting at a 45 degree angle, the gunner could also adjust the seating to his height. This allowed the gunner to rest his elbows against the seat (or his body) while aiming, resulting in stability, control and minimum fatigue. The gunner was not only shielded from the front against small arms fire by a shield of armor plate, he was also able to follow the sight in any position without moving. With the success of this carriage, it became standardized for self-propelled automatic weapons battalions. The maximum speed of the M16 was approximately 40 MPH on level ground.
The M16, while developed and used during WW II, was used post war as well. The United States army used the M16 until 1958; and even into 1980, twelve countries were known to still be using this epic World War II vehicle.