Designs for this World War II medium M3 Lee Tank began in July of 1940. At this time, both the US Army and Great Britain were in need of a good medium tank. When the United States joined in the war, the M2 tanks they possessed were already obsolete.
Additional Information on the M3 Lee Tank
The newly designed M4 Sherman Tank of WWII with a 75 mm gun would provide the needed tank support for both countries. However, the turret mount on the M4 was going to take longer to manufacture than the M3s hull mounted gun. Great Britain’s need for tanks was so great, despite the obvious flaws in the M3, production would move forward on this design. The first M3 WWII prototype would be completed in March of 1941 with production models being made available to Great Britain by July of that same year.
Design variations on the British model included thicker armour and the addition of a wireless radio. This design also had a simpler hatch vs. the cupola used by the United States. The addition of the radio would mean one less crew member (6) than the original model (7). Confusion set in as the name for both the medium tank and the previous light tank was M3. Thus, the newer M3 with the radio received the name General Grant (after General Ulysses S. Grant) and the previous light model would become known as the General Lee (after the Confederate Army’s General Robert E. Lee).
A total of 6,258 of these M3 Lee WWII Tanks were produced throughout their production history from August of 1941 through December of 1942.