Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tanker's Tuesday: Lee/Grant

A Lend-Lease stopgap tank

If the Lee/Grant never achieved the fame of the Sherman, this was due to its very roots and the role it played during the war. Born as a replacement for the unsuccessful M2 Medium Tank (1938), which never left the American soil, the M3 was designed and equipped in a rush. When war broke out in Europe in 1939, the USA was far from ready to enter the fray. Its tank design was evolving through a peacetime, post-crisis context, and tactical thinking was inherited from WWI. 400 tanks were available then, mostly light M2 models. The result of the blitzkrieg in France came as a real surprise, and immediately triggered a complete re-thinking of US tank design. Shortly after the battle of Britain was over, war was raging in North Africa. The British industry was not able to deliver enough tanks to defend both the homeland and the empire, and notably its vital crossing points, like the Suez Canal. As the Lend-Lease act was passed, on March, 11, 1941, President Roosevelt famously declared that USA should become the “arsenal of democracy”. And the M3 Lee quickly turned into its most tangible symbol.


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