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M5A1 (Stuart VI) Light Tank. 1941- 43.
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Moscow. Kubinka Tank Museum.

The M3 Stuart, formally Light Tank M3 was an American light tank of World War II. It was used by British and Commonwealth forces prior to the entry of the USA into the war, and thereafter by US and Allied forces until the end of the war. The name General Stuart or Stuart given by the British comes from the American Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart and was used for both the M3 and M5 Light Tank; in British service it also had the unofficial nickname of Honey. To the United States Army the tanks were officially known only as Light Tank M3 and Light Tank M5.
Observing events in Europe, American tank designers realized that the Light Tank M2 was becoming obsolete and set about improving it. The upgraded design, with thicker armor, modified suspension and new gun recoil system was called "Light Tank M3". Production of the vehicle started in March 1941 and continued until October 1943. Like its direct predecessor, the M2A4, the M3 was armed with a 37 mm M5 gun and 5 .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns: coaxial with the gun, on top of the turret in an M20 AA mount, in a ball mount in right bow, in the right and left hull sponsons.

To relieve the demand for the radial aero-engines used in the M3, a new version was developed using twin Cadillac V-8 automobile engines. The new model (initially called M4 but redesignated M5 to avoid confusion with the M4 Sherman) also featured a redesigned hull with sloped glacis plate and driver’s hatches moved to the top. Although the main criticism from the using units was that the Stuarts lacked firepower, the improved M5 series kept the same 37 mm gun. The M5 gradually replaced the M3 in production from 1942 and was in turn succeeded by the Light Tank M24 in 1944.

Combat history

Light Tank M5A1 passes through the wrecked streets of Coutances.
An Australian Stuart I during the final assault on Buna.
A British M3 (Stuart I) knocked out during fighting in North Africa.The British Army was the first to use the Light Tank M3 as the "General Stuart" in combat. In November 1941, some 170 Stuarts took part in Operation Crusader, with poor results. Although the high losses suffered by Stuart-equipped units during the operation had more to do with better tactics and training of the Afrika Korps than the apparent superiority of German armor in the North African campaign, the operation revealed that the M3 had several technical faults. Mentioned in the British complaints were the 37 mm M5 gun and poor internal layout. The two-man turret crew was a significant weakness, and some British units tried to fight with three-man turret crews. The Stuart also had a limited range, which was a severe problem in desert warfare as units often outpaced their supplies and were stranded when they ran out of fuel. On the positive side, crews liked its high speed and mechanical reliability, hence its unofficial nickname of Honey. The high speed and high reliability distinguished the Stuart from cruiser tanks of the period, in particular the Crusader, which composed a large portion of the British tank force in Africa up until 1942.

From the summer of 1942, when enough US medium tanks had been received, the British usually kept Stuarts out of tank-to-tank combat, using them primarily for reconnaissance. The turret was removed from some examples to save weight and improve speed and range. These became known as "Stuart Recce". Some others were converted to armored personnel carriers and were known as "Stuart Kangaroo", and some were converted command vehicles and known as "Stuart Command". M3s, M3A3s, and M5s continued in British service until the end of the war, but British armor units had a smaller proportion of these light tanks than US units.

The other major Lend-Lease recipient of the M3, the Soviet Union, was even less happy with the tank, considering it undergunned, underarmored, likely to catch fire, and too sensitive to fuel quality. The narrow tracks were highly unsuited to operation in winter conditions, as they resulted in high ground pressures that sank the tank into the snow. Also, the M3’s radial aircraft engine required high-octane fuel, which complicated Soviet logistics as most of their tanks utilized diesel. However, the M3 was superior to early-war Soviet light tanks such as the T-60, which were often underpowered and possessed even lighter armament than the Stuart. In 1943, the Red Army tried out the M5 and decided that the upgraded design wasn’t much better than the M3. Being less desperate than in 1941, the Soviets turned down an American offer to supply the M5. M3s continued in Red Army service at least until 1944.

In US Army service, the M3 first saw combat in the Philippines. Two battalions, comprising the Provisional Tank Group fought in the Bataan peninsula campaign. When the American army joined the North African Campaign in late 1942, Stuart units still formed a large part of its armor strength. After the disastrous Battle of the Kasserine Pass the US quickly followed the British in disbanding most of their light tank battalions and subordinating the Stuarts to medium tank battalions performing the traditional cavalry missions of scouting and screening. For the rest of the war, most US tank battalions had three companies of M4 Shermans and one company of M3s or M5/M5A1s.

In the European theater, Allied light tanks had to be given cavalry and infantry fire support roles since their main cannon armament could not compete with heavier enemy AFVs. However, the Stuart was still effective in combat in the Pacific Theater, as Japanese tanks were both relatively rare and were generally much weaker than even Allied light tanks. Japanese infantrymen were poorly equipped with anti-tank weapons and tended to attack tanks using close-assault tactics. In this environment, the Stuart was only moderately more vulnerable than medium tanks. In addition, the poor terrain and roads common to the theatre were unsuitable for the much heavier M4 medium tanks, and so initially, only light armor could be deployed. Heavier M4s were eventually brought to overcome heavily entrenched positions, though the Stuart continued to serve in a combat capacity until the end of the war.

Though the Stuart was to be completely replaced by the newer M24 Chaffee, the number of M3s/M5s produced was so great (over 25,000 including the 75 mm HMC M8) that the tank remained in service until the end of the war and well after. In addition to the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union, who were the primary users, it was also used by France, China (M3A3s and, immediately post-war, M5A1s) and Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia (M3A3s and few M3A1).

After the war, some countries chose to equip their armies with cheap and reliable Stuarts. The Republic of China Army, having suffered great attrition in terms of armors as a result of the ensuing civil war, rebuilt their armored forces by acquiring surplus vehicles left behind in the former PTO by the US forces, including 22 M5A1s to equip two tank companies. They would have their finest hours during the Battle of Kuningtou, for which the tank came to be known as the "Bear of Kinmen" (金門之熊). The M5 played a significant role in the First Kashmir War (1947) between India and Pakistan, including the battle of Zoji-la pass at an incredible altitude of nearly 12,000 ft. The vehicle remained in service in several South American countries at least until 1996.

During the 60s and 70s, the Portuguese Army also used some in the war in Angola, where its all terrain capability (compared to wheeled vehicles) was greatly appreciated.

Production history
Produced 1941-1943
Weight 14.7 tonnes (32,400 lb)
Length 4.5 m (14.8 ft)
Width 2.46 m (8.1 ft)
Height 2.3 m (7.5 ft)
Crew 4 (Commander, gunner, driver, co-driver)


Armor 13 – 51 mm
armament 37 mm M6 in M44 mount
174 rounds
armament 3 x .30-06 Browning M1919A4 MG
7,500 rounds

Engine Continental W-670-9A, 7 Cylinder air-cooled radial
250 hp (186 kW)
Power/weight 17.82 hp/tonne
Suspension Vertical volute spring
range 120 km (74 mi)
Speed 58 km/h (36 mph) (road)
30 km/h (18 mph) (off-road)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Soviet WWII Ground-Attack Aircraft Ilyushin Il-10 ‘Shturmovik’. Poland. 1945. Советский штурмовик Ил-10. Польша 1945 г.
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Image by Peer.Gynt
The original aircraft is exposed in Central AirForce Museim, Monino.

Ilyushin Il-10 (Cyrillic Илью́шин Ил-10, NATO reporting name: "Beast") was a Soviet ground attack aircraft developed at the end of World War II by the Ilyushin construction bureau. It was also license-built in Czechoslovakia by Avia as the Avia B-33.

From the start of Eastern Front combat in World War II, the Soviet Air Force (VVS) used the successful ground attack aircraft Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik, powered by the Mikulin AM-38 inline engine. As the war progressed, the Soviets laid plans for that aircraft’s successor. The main goal was to increase speed and maneuverability at low altitudes, mainly to evade small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery, which was the main threat for ground attack aircraft, and to remove some of the Il-2’s faults. The most promising project was a modern, light and maneuverable close assault aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-6, developed by Pavel Sukhoi’s bureau from 1942. At the same time, Sergei Ilyushin developed a heavier aircraft, the VSh or Il-8 M-71, derived from the Il-2 design, and on which it was partly based. Both projects were powered by the prototype M-71 radial engine, which did not enter production.

In 1943, Ilyushin started work on a new aircraft, Il-1, which was to be a 1- or 2-seat heavily armoured fighter-interceptor, meant mainly for fighting enemy bombers and transports. The Il-1 was similar to the Il-2 design, but was more modern, compact, and powered with a new Mikulin engine: the AM-42. But the VVS gave up the idea of heavy armoured fighters, due to their low speed, which was not enough to intercept modern bombers. As a result, Ilyushin decided to turn the Il-1 into a two-seat ground attack plane, with the designation changed to Il-10 in early 1944 (odd numbers were reserved for fighters).

At that time, Ilyushin also finished a prototype of a heavier ground attack plane, the Il-8, using the same engine, and more closely derived from the Il-2. It carried a higher payload (1,000 kg/2,204 lb), but had lower performance than the Il-10. Both types first flew in April 1944, the Il-10 proving greatly superior to the Il-8, which had poor handling. The Il-10 successfully passed trials in early June 1944.

The third competitor was a new variant of the Sukhoi Su-6, also powered by the AM-42 engine. After comparative tests, the Il-10 was considered the winner and was chosen as the new ground attack plane, despite some opinions that the Su-6 was a better aircraft, notwithstanding inferior performance and payload, with better gun armament. Notably, the Su-6 prototype was tested with maximum payload, causing lowered performance, while the Il-10 was tested with normal payload. Some advantages of the Il-10 came from its technical similarity to the Il-2.
On 23 August 1944 the Il-10 was ordered into serial production by decision of the State Defense Committee (GKO) as a new ground attack plane.[5] Its armament was initially similar to late model Il-2s, with two 23 mm VYa-23 cannons and two ShKAS machine guns in the wings, and a 12.7 mm UBT machine gun for a rear gunner, and 400 kg, or a maximum 600 kg of bombs. Unlike the Il-2 and Su-6, it was not initially meant to carry rockets.

Production of the Il-10 started in Kuybyshev’s factories No. 1 and No. 18. The first production aircraft flew on 27 September 1944 and 99 aircraft were produced by the end of 1944. Early series aircraft showed teething problems, most notably engine faults and fires. Most problems were eliminated by 1945. Aircraft produced from April 1945 onwards could carry four unguided air-to ground rockets. Aircraft produced from 1947 onwards were fitted with stronger armament, consisting of four 23 mm NS-23 cannons in the wings and a 20 mm cannon for the rear gunner. Il-10 production ended in 1949, after a run of 4,600 aircraft; in the last two years, they were produced in factory No. 64.

Between 1945 and 1947, 280 UIl-2 or Il-10U trainer variants were produced. The rear gunner’ cockpit was replaced with a longer instructor’s cockpit with dual controls. Its performance and construction were similar to the combat variant apart from armament, which was reduced to two cannons, two rockets, and a standard load of bombs.

In 1951, the Czechoslovak firm Avia secured a license to make Il-10s, with the designation B-33. The first one flew on 26 December 1951. Initially, their engines were Soviet-built. From 1952 onwards the engines were also produced in Czechoslovakia as the M-42. Besides the combat variant, a Czechoslovak trainer variant also entered service under the designation CB-33. In total, 1,200 B-33s were built by 1956.
In 1951, due to experience acquired during the Korean War, the Soviet Air Force decided that propeller ground attack aircraft might still be useful, and decided to renew Il-10 production in a modified variant, the Il-10M, which first flew on 2 July 1951. It was a bit longer, with a wider wingspan, and larger control surfaces, with a fin under the tail. Four of the more recently developed NR-23 cannons were mounted in the wings, while the payload stayed the same, and newer navigation equipment was installed, giving partial all-weather capability. Speed decreased slightly, but handling improved. Between 1953 and 1954, 146 Il-10Ms were made, all but 10 in Rostov-on-Don’s factory No.168.

In total, 6,166 of all Il-10 variants were made, including those built under license.

Trials of Il-10s mounted with more powerful AM-43 and AM-45 engines took place, but proved unsuccessful. Ilyushin next designed a lighter close support aircraft, the Il-16, with improved performance and similar armament. It first flew on 10 June 1945. A short run entered production, but the project was cancelled in 1946 due to the AM-43 engine’s unreliability.
Technical description

The airframe featured one engine, two-seat, monoplane, with a metal-covered frame. The plane was highly armoured. The front part of the fuselage, with the cockpit, was a shell of armour plates 4–8 mm thick; the thickest, 8 mm, were under the engine, there was no armour above the engine. The front windshield was made of armour glass 64 mm (2.5 in) thick. Also armoured was: a roof above the pilot, side window frames in the pilot’s cab, a wall between crew seats, and a rear wall behind the cab. Total armour weight was 994 kg, including its attachment. The wing consisted of a central section, with two bomb bays, and two detachable outer panels. The undercarriage was retractable. The main wheels folded to the rear after rotating by 86°.

Early Il-10s had two 23 mm VYa-23 autocannons (150 rounds each) and 2 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns (750 rounds each) fixed in wings, and a 12.7 mm UBT machine gun in a rear gunner station BU-8, with 150 rounds. The horizontal angle of the rear machine gun field of fire was 100°. From 1947, the aircraft were armed with four NS-23 23 mm cannons in the wings (150 rounds each) and 20 mm B-20T cannon in a rear gunner station BU-9 (150 rounds). The IL-10M had four 23 mm NR-23 cannons in wings (150 rounds each) and 20 mm B-20EN cannon in a rear gunner station BU-9M (150 rounds). Avia B-33 had four 23 mm NS-23RM cannons in wings and 20 mm B-20ET cannon in a rear gunner station BU-9M.

The normal bomb load was 400 kg, maximum load was 600 kg. This could be small fragmentation or anti-tank bomblets, put in bomb bays, or four 50–100 kg bombs in bomb bays and externally under wings, or two 200–250 kg bombs attached under wings. Small bomblets were put directly on bomb bay floors, in piles. A typical load was 182 (maximum 200) 2 kg AO-2,5-2 fragmentation bombs, or 144 PTAB-2,5-1,5 anti-tnk HEAT bombs. Apart from bombs, four unguided rockets RS-82 or RS-132 could be carried on rail launchers under wings. Avia B-33s were also fitted to carry other rocket types. Late Soviet aircraft could carry ORO-82 and ORO-132 tube launchers. In the tail section was a DAG-10 launcher with 10 anti-aircraft or anti-personnel grenades AG-2 (after being thrown, they would fall with parachutes and then burst, but were not widely used in practice).

The Il-10 engine was a 12-cylinder inline V engine Mikulin AM-42, liquid-cooled, power: 1,770 hp continuous, takeoff power: 2,000 hp. Three-blade propeller AV-5L-24 of 3.6 m diameter. Two fuel tanks in the fuselage: upper 440 l over engine, ahead of the cockpit, and lower tank of 290 l under the cockpit. The aircraft had a radio set and a camera AFA-1M in a rear section of the fuselage.
Operational history

In October 1944, the Il-10 first entered service with training units in the Soviet Air Force. In January 1945, the first Il-10 combat unit entered service with the 78th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment, but it did not enter action due to unfinished training. However, three other Il-10 units managed to take part in the final combat actions of World War II in Europe. They were the 571st Assault Aviation Regiment (from 15 April 1945), the 108th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment (from 16 April 1945), and the 118th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment (on 8 May 1945). About a dozen aircraft were destroyed by flak or engine breakdowns, but the Il-10 appeared to be a successful design. One was shot down by an Fw 190 fighter, but a crew of the 118th Regiment shot down another Fw 190 and probably damaged another. On 10 May 1945, the day after the official Soviet end of the war, (Victory Day), there were 120 serviceable Il-10s in Soviet Air Force combat units, and 26 disabled ones.

After the USSR reentered the war against the Empire of Japan, with the invasion of Manchuria, from 9 August 1945, one Il-10 unit, the 26th Assault Aviation Regiment of the Pacific Navy Aviation, was used in combat in the Korean Peninsula, attacking Japanese ships in Rasin and rail transports.

After the war, until the early 1950s, the Il-10 was a basic Soviet ground attack aircraft. It was withdrawn from service in 1956. At the same time, work on new jet-powered dedicated armoured ground attack planes (like the Il-40) was canceled, and the Soviets turned to multipurpose fighter-bomber aviation. The Il-10 and its licensed variant, the Avia B-33, became a basic ground attack plane of the Warsaw Pact countries. From 1949 to 1959, the Polish Air Force used 120 Il-10s (including 24 UIl-10), and 281 B-33s. In Poland, the B-33 was modified to carry 400 l fuel tanks under its wings. From 1950 to 1960, Czechoslovakia used 86 Il-10s, including six UIl-10s, and about 600 B-33s. From 1949 to 1956, the Hungarian Air Force used 159 Il-10s and B-33s. From 1950 to 1960, the Romanian Air Force used 14 Il-10s and 156 B-33s. Bulgaria also used these aircraft.

In the late 1940s, 93 Il-10 and UIl-10s were given to North Korea. They were then used in the 57th Assault Aviation Regiment during the early phase of the Korean War. They were initially used with success against the weak anti-aircraft defense of South Korean forces, but then they suffered heavy losses in encounters against the USAAF fighters and were bombed on the ground themselves. After several weeks, about 20 remained. In the summer of 1950, North Korea received more aircraft from the USSR. The North Koreans claimed to sink a warship on 22 August 1950 with Il-10s, but it was never confirmed.

From 1950, Il-10s were used by the People’s Republic of China, in two regiments of an assault aviation division. They were used in combat during a conflict with the Republic of China, (Taiwan), over border islands in January 1955. They remained in service until 1972. From 1957, Yemen used 24 B-33s.

General characteristics
Crew: 2, pilot and gunner
Length: 11.12 m (36 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 13.40 m (44 ft)
Height: 4.10 m (13 ft 5 in)
Wing area: 30 m2 (322.9)
Empty weight: 4,675 kg (10,305 lb)
Loaded weight: 6,345 kg (14,000 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 6,537 kg (14,410)
Powerplant: 1 × Mikulin AM-42 liquid-cooled V-12, 1,320 Kw (1,770 hp)

Maximum speed: 550 km/h at 2,700 m; 500 km/h at ground level (340 mph at 8,860 ft / 310 mph)
Range: 800 km (500 mi)
Service ceiling: 4,000 m (13,123 ft)
Wing loading: 211 kg/m2 (43.2 lb/ft2)


2 × 23 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 auto cannons in wings, 150 rounds per gun
2 × 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns in wings, 750 rounds per gun
1 × 12.7 mm UBST machine gun in the BU-9 rear gunner station, 190 rounds
Up to 600 kg (1,320 lb) of various weapons as described in the text.