One of the lesser-known, but equally important military vehicles used during World War II and beyond was the halftrack, a combination vehicle that had wheels in the front and tracks in the rear.
It was used by the Allies throughout WWII for many purposes, making it one of the more influential military vehicles in the war.
How Was The M3 Originally Developed?
The M3 halftrack was developed as a larger and more equipped version of the M2 Halftrack-car as an armored personnel carrier for use on the battlefield.
These military vehicles were equipped with an M2 browning machine gun and two M1919 machine guns on board and could transport up to a dozen troops in the rear, an increase of four from the original M2.
Improving on the development flaws of the M2 which was never approved for use in the field, the M3 eventually passed its testing by the U.S. Army in 1941 and put into active service soon thereafter.
What Were The Specs of an M3 Halftrack?
The M3 halftrack in its original design was over 20 feet in length and 7 feet in width, standing 7.5 feet high on its wheels and tracks.
The military vehicle had a gross weight of between 17,650 pounds unloaded, had a 60 gallon gas tank, and could travel 220 miles while fully loaded with twelve troops and a single driver.
The M3 was powered by a V-6 engine, built with ¼” thick armor that protected troops from small arms, and was later equipped with brackets for artillery rifles, storage beneath the seats for ammunition and rations, and racks on the outside of the vehicle for carrying land mines.
What Were Some Design Flaws?
Despite its poor turning radius, which was the main issue with it, the M3 was considered to be extremely reliable and mechanically sound, one of the more reliable of the World War II halftracks and military vehicles.
The other problem with the design was that it was open on top, providing no cover for those riding inside of it.
Referred to as “Purple Heart boxes” at one point in the war for their lack of overhead protection, it was eventually understood that due to their reliability, many troops were using the M3 in ways it was not approved for, resulting in the deaths of many of its passengers.
When used as intended, the U.S. military had great success with the M3, which went on to be the base design for more than twenty five variants as armored personnel carriers, self-propelled guns, anti-aircraft guns, and many other military vehicles.
From the battlefields of World War II, the M3 World War II halftrack would go on to be used throughout the west, the east, and even the middle-east, with the most recent variants still in use in the 1960s in Israel.