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Type Light tank
Place of origin United States
Produced 1944–August 1945
Weight 18.4 tonnes (40,500 lb)
Length 5.56 m (18.24 ft) (w/ gun)
5.03 m (16.5 ft) (w/o gun)
Width 3 m (9.84 ft)
Height 2.77 m (9.08 ft)
Crew 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)
Armor 9.5–25 mm (0.37–1.49 in)
armament 1 × 75 mm Gun M6
armament 1 × .50 cal Browning M2HB machine gun
2 × .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine gun
Engine 2 × Cadillac Series 44T24, 16 Cylinder
300/220 hp (220/164 kW)
Power/weight 16.09 hp/tonne
Suspension Torsion Bar
range 161 km (100 mi)
Speed 56 km/h (37 mi/h) (road)
40 km/h (25 mi/h) (off-road)
The Light Tank M24 was an American light tank used during World War II and in postwar conflicts including the Korean War. In British service it was given the service name Chaffee, after the United States Army General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr., who helped develop the use of tanks in the United States armed forces.
The first M24s reached Europe in December 1944 (actually, the U.S. 2nd Cavalry Group (Mechanized) received thirty-four M-24 Chaffee’s in November 1944 while in France, 17 each being issued to F Company, 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion, and F Company, 42nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion, all of which were rushed to the southern sector of the Battle of the Bulge in December). Two of them took part in the Battle of the Bulge with the 740th Tank Battalion of the U.S. First Army. The M24s were intended to replace the Light Tank M5 which were used entirely for scouting and screening along the flanks of the main armored forces. They were slow in reaching the front line combat units, and by the end of the war many armored divisions were still mainly equipped with the M5. Some armored divisions did not receive their first M24s until after the end of the war. Reports from the armored divisions that received them prior to the end of hostilities were generally positive. Crews liked the improved off-road performance and reliability, but were most appreciative of the 75 mm main gun, as a vast improvement over the 37 mm. The M24 was not up to the challenge of fighting German tanks, but the bigger gun at least gave its crews a chance to fight back when it was required. The M24′s light armor made it vulnerable to virtually all of the German tanks, anti-tank guns, and hand-held anti-tank weapons. The contribution of the M24 to winning the war in Europe was insignificant, as they arrived too late and in too few numbers to replace the worn out M5s of the armored divisions.
In the Korean War, M24s were the first U.S. tanks to see combat against the North Korean T-34-85s. The M24 fared poorly against these much better-armed and armored medium tanks. M24s were more successful later in the war in their reconnaissance role, when they were supported by heavier tanks such as the M4, M26, and M46.
Like other successful World War II designs, the M24 was supplied to many armies around the globe and was used in local conflicts long after it had been replaced in the U.S. Army by the M41 Walker Bulldog. France employed its M24s in Indo-China in infantry support missions, with good results. They employed ten M24s in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. In December 1953 ten disassembled Chaffees were transported by air to provide fire support to the garrison. They fired about 15,000 shells in the long siege that followed before the Viet Minh forces eventually conquered the camp in May 1954. France deployed also the M 24 in Algeria. The last known time the aging tank saw action was in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where some 66 Pakistani Chaffees stationed in Bangladesh were easy prey for the Indian Army T-55s, PT-76s and anti-tank teams. Although both Iran and Iraq had M24s prior to the Iran–Iraq War, there is no account of their use in that conflict.
In the mid-70s Norway upgraded some of their M24s, installing a 90-mm French gun, modern fire controls and a diesel engine. These vehicles, known as NM-116, served in the Norwegian Army until 1992–93.
Similarly, the Chilean Army upgunned the tank during the mid-80s to the IMI-OTO 60mm Hyper Velocity Medium Support (HVMS) gun, with comparable performance to a standard 90mm gun. Chile operated this version until 1999.
Uruguay continues to use the M24. These Uruguayan Chaffees have been modernized with new engines and 76mm guns which can fire APFSDS rounds, according to one web site.