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Weapons of World War Two

M3 Half Track armored personal carrier

M3 Half Track armored personal carrier

A color photo taken by a war correspondent in 1967 during the victorious Israeli advance on the Yom Kippur War shows a long column of half-track personal carriers, loaded with soldiers of extenuated appearance, but clearly satisfied. Other photos, rather older, but not less famous, still bring to life the images of the Allied columns marching on the desolate roads of Sicily or amidst the snow of the Ardennes in 1944. Among those memories of more or less far war deeds there is a common factor: the half-track vehicle that transports the soldiers is the same type of APC (Armored Personal Carrier), more commonly known as Half Track, which caracterized the North American and Allied infantry during the Second World War.

Even more, it is not improbable that some vehicle taken in the photo of the Yom Kippur were one of those appearing in the photos from the preceding conflict, and which, having survived the war, were sold by the United States Army to the foreign armies. Indeed, the career of those very useful vehicles, adopted for the first time in 1940, was so long and appreciated that decades after the war many of them continued operating.

The origin of those vehicles dates back to 1939, when the High Staff of the United States Army started to take interest on the process of mechanization according to which the Wehrmacht was about to become the most modern and powerful force in the world. Indeed, the responsibles of the sector did not catch exactly, at least regarding combat vehicles, the constructive and operative concepts of which the Panzerwaffe had made its hallmark; but they intuited the extraordinary importance of the mechanization of infantry, and when entering the war, albeit not having excellent tanks, United States had a vast motorized park whose functionality would be felt in innumerable occasions.

The base vehicle for transporting the infantrymen was a derivative of the "fusion" of two already existing vehicles: the M3 Scout Car and the half-track M2. Of the first one it had been taken the characteristic bodywork, to which the traction system of the M2 had been applied. Of the resulting vehicle, denominated APC M2, would be almost immediately made a version of larger capacity, the M3, and then it would start to be introduced in the basic project a great variety of modifications which, after few years, would give origin to more than 70 models of derivative vehicles.

The Half Track, which protected those who it transported with plates of a maximum thickness of 13 millimeters, presented interesting technical solutions. For example, it was fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks, of aeronautical type, prepared for not losing fuel when being perforated by small caliber projectiles, and with a high safety degree in respect of normal fuel tanks. Before the housing of the engine (a White M160 AX of six cylinders) there was a roller which had the purpose of preventing the APC from sticking the nose in the ground when crossing deep ditches. Capable of carrying a group of ten (M2) or thirteen (M3) men, the APC would be always a very reliable vehicle with multiple possibilities of utilization.

Year: 1940

Weight: 7.25 tonnes

Length: 6.40 meters

Width: 2.20 meters

Height: 2.16 meters

Ground clearance: 28 centimeters

Maximum armor: 13 millimeters

Engine: White M160 AX of 144 horsepower

Maximum speed: About 80 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 360 kilometers

Crew: 13

Armament: One 12.7-millimeter machine gun

Ammunitions: 330 of 12.7 millimeters

Maximum surmountable step: About 30 centimeters

Maximum surmountable slope: 60 degrees

Fording: 90 centimeters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

SU-85 tank destroyerAirspeed HorsaHornet aircraft carrier

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