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    M-3 "General Lee"

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    lockie
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    M-3 "General Lee"

    Post by lockie on Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:54 am

    I've read in the magazine: M3 Medium Tank vs Panzer III: Kasserine Pass, 1943 (Duel)

    the next sentence that driver of the M-3 "General Lee" was almost completely blind under battle conditions, coz he hadn't sight on his forward hatch. It sounds a very surprising.


    Here is text:
    The driver's compartment inside the British M3 Grant. The interior of the M3 Lee would have been virtually identical. It was remarkably spacious due to the atypical hull design. Note in particular the large open front visor. However, this let in blowing sand when on the move and would have to be closed. Thus when the tank was in action the driver's only view would be through the tiny slit to his left.
    The driver was another hard worker. He steered using two hand-operated breaking/steering levers plus had to manually shift gears with a hand lever and clutch pedal. Additionally, there was the usual strain of driving, observing, and paying attention to the commander's "backseat driving." Good drivers steered their own course, seeking cover and clear routes. During motor marches to the front and even during combat, other crewmen might relieve the driver. Often drivers were spared watch duty to ensure their rest.


    An American tank crew from the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Armored Regiment, in Tunisia, February 1943. At more than ten feet tall, the M-3 General Lee “looked like a damned cathedral coming down the road,” one tanker complained.


    Last edited by lockie on Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:56 pm; edited 4 times in total

    Tanker
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    Re: M-3 "General Lee"

    Post by Tanker on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:42 pm

    It is surprising. I guess they just relied on the commander tapping his shoulders to direct him.

    I know that fragments of bullets can enter those slits. WWI tankers had special wire net face masks to protect the face and eyes.
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    lockie
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    Re: M-3 "General Lee"

    Post by lockie on Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:36 am

    I'd like to continue on with M3 Lee/Grant stories. This time it'll be VANGUARD SERIES EDITOR: MARTIN WINDROW
    The LEE/GRANT Tanks in British Service, Text by BRYAN PERRETT


    The turret for both was high and upright, although there was a slope down the front of the Lee version. In the Grant the turret housed the 37mm gunner, the loader/operator, and the commander. In the Lee there was a separate small turret for the commander on top. This rotated with, or separately to, the main turret and had a so-called AA .30 or .50 Browning MG. This made the Lee nearly a foot higher than the Grant, which was already quite high enough. Both Lee and Grant had a co-ax .30 Browning mounted with the 37mm. The Lee had a loader as well as an operator on the "second floor", bringing the crew up to seven.
    The tank had very few good points, although I should say that the engine was reasonably reliable, as were American engines in general throughout the war. It had at least a 75mm gun, which was not very effective or accurate, with which to compete against the Germans, at that time equipped with the Mark III with a 50mm gun, which was a lot better than our 37mm, and the Mark IV with a short 75mm.
    As regards bad points, the vehicle was cumbersome, wasteful in manpower, and had poor armour. The radios were pretty useless at this stage of the war. I think they only went down to troop leaders in any case, and there were quite a lot of hand signals (cavalry) between tanks.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Stewart, Royal Scots Greys.


    It was as comfortable as such a vehicle could be and, although it could sulk, refuse to obey commands, treat its crew abominably and generate heat that would have made a baker or boilerman homesick, the relationship was generally amicable.
    Mechanically it had few vices. The Wright radial engine stood up magnificently to treatment for which it was never designed and produced power sufficient to push 28 tons of steel up hillsides, which made mules wish they had been posted elsewhere. I can recall no occasion when it let me down at a critical moment. The transmission and steering were adequate and trouble free. The only design weakness, if I remember correctly, was the parking brake, which would have been inadequate to hold a Fiat 500.
    Its faults were all too obvious. The roar of the engine and the squeaking of the volute springs were such as to destroy any element of surprise—the springs particularly could be heard at a considerable distance. The tank's height and the angling of its armour made it a relatively easy and vulnerable target for anti-tank weapons.
    On the other side of the coin, for the roles in which we were employed the two weapon systems provided us with advantages which would not have been available had we been equipped, for example, with Shermans. The ability to produce formidable fire power in two directions at once was comforting not only to the tanks' crews but also to the infantry, with whom we worked in such close support.
    The support equipment was generally effective — the power traverse for the turret seldom failed, the radio was good and the tracks had a surprisingly long life considering the fact that the pads were rubber. Visibility when closed down was tolerable, which was a good thing, as the slaughter of tank commanders on Nunshigum taught us all that it was most unwise to have one's head out of the turret when in close combat.
    It was, of course, a very greedy vehicle fuel-wise and the process of pouring up to 140 gallons of aviation spirit from 4-gallon cans was a wearisome affair—particularly as, in the nature of things, this was more often than not done at night.
    When in action, the interior became rather unpleasant. The atmosphere was heavily polluted by the fumes from the guns, and the floor of the turret and the 75mm sponson became cluttered with cartridge and shell cases. Fortunately, we were never under such constant pressure that we were unable to open up for a few minutes, giving time to clear the air and throw out the expended cases.
    Ian Morgan, troop leader, 3rd Carabiniers.
     

    For its size it was a very handy, mobile, and fast vehicle. The whole squadron could be on or offloaded from transporters in a matter of minutes. It was a good climber, viz Nunshigum and Kennedy Peak. It had tremendous fire power with its 75mm and 37mm guns and four machine guns, and was therefore a good weapon in support of infantry. Mechanically it was very sound and for repairs its engine could easily be removed and replaced. Its real weakness was that it caught fire so easily due to the light armour plating over the petrol tank and the high octane fuel it consumed. This made it a death-trap, particularly for the driver and the wireless operator. The speed with which it could brew up made it impossible, on more than one occasion, for any of the crew apart from the commander to escape.
    Major Desmond Murphy, squadron leader, 3rd Carabiniers.

     
    It wasn't at all easy to get hull down. This must have mattered a lot in the desert, but wasn't such a serious problem in Burma as the Japanese anti-tank guns were no danger except at close range. Ammunition stowage was also a problem as both 37mm and 75mm had to be carried. In Burma we took risks concerning the proportions of High Explosive to Armour Piercing that would not have been acceptable in the Western Desert. Unfortunately, the big crew meant heavy casualties, if a tank brewed up.
    Major-General Ralph Younger, former commanding officer, 3rd Carabiniers.


    The deception plan for Second Alamein called for many tanks to be disguised as lorries. The Grant obviously fell into the Heavy Goods class! (RAC Tank Museum)


    Last edited by lockie on Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    lockie
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    Re: M-3 "General Lee"

    Post by lockie on Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:53 am

    As we can see the tank consist of mostly a negative points: inaccurate 75mm gun, weak armor, flammable engine, which leads tank to the death-trap for the crew and a huge fuel consumption. Even radio-equipment didn't effect communications, coz tankers preferred to communicate with signals as it was in cavalry.  As additional unpleasant moment there was a terrible heat, which produced by engine.
    BUT inspite on the many issues, engine had a great feature - easy repairing/replacing. There was also a positive moment: tank was good as supporting unit for the infantry, especially the work of two turrets, which could shoot at different targets.
    In SF tank wasn't implemented completely, but it's still enjoy to play with it.

    PS
    In a way `M3 Lee` reminds me somehow old style tank.
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    33lima
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    Re: M-3 "General Lee"

    Post by 33lima on Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:52 pm

    I think there was a vision slit in the driver's front hatch/visor so i'm not sure why they say he had only the slit to his left. And it's normal for a tank driver to rely a lot for directions, on his tank commander.

    I believe the slits had 'bullet proof' glass and were not just open slits.

    The big advantage of the Grant - and it was a big advantage - was its gun. For the first time, every tank in a squadron had a gun which could fire a decent HE round - before only the Close Support tanks in Squadron HQ, with their 3 inch howitzers, had this. Before the Grant, British tanks could only spray AT guns with MG fire or try for a lucky direct hit with an AP round. Distant AT guns could now be engaged successfully, by lobbing HE rounds, perferably from outside the effective range of the AT gun, with a near-miss being good enough. Plus the 75mm had a reasonable AP performance, for mid-1942, compared to the 2-pounder.
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    woofiedog
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    Re: M-3 "General Lee"

    Post by woofiedog on Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:14 pm

    I believe the slits had 'bullet proof' glass and were not just open slits.

    But I wonder if some of the tankers removed this glass, in regards to sand/etc collecting and blocking any sight from these ports?

    From the book "M3 Medium Tank vs Panzer III: Kasserine Pass 1943".

    M3 Grant/Lee Tank.

    On both sides of the superstructure were escape hatches with inset observation/pistol ports. These ports were fitted with bulletproof glass vision blocks called protectoscopes.

    Panzer III Tank.

    There were vent/pistol ports on the forward sides and a slpit door escape hatches on both sides of the turrents rear sides, each with a vision port. The vision ports/slits were protected by bulletproof glass blocks.

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    Re: M-3 "General Lee"

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