- "Chaffee! Let's go Duel!!"
The Light Tank M24 is an American light tank used during the later part of World War II and in postwar conflicts including the Korean War and, with the French, in the War in Algeria and the First Indochina 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. While long removed from American and British service, it is still found in service as a light tank in third-world countries, along with other hardware from that era.
British combat experience in the North African campaign identified several shortcomings of the M3 Stuart light tank, especially the performance of its37mm cannon. A 75mm gun was experimentally fitted to an Howitzer Motor Carriage M8 - an M3 tank with a larger turret - and trials indicated that a 75 mm gun on the M5 light tank development of the M3 was possible. The M3/M5 design was dated though, the 75 mm gun reduced storage space, and the armor was insufficient.
The T7 light tank design, which was initially seen as a replacement, grew in weight to more than 25 short tons taking it out of the light tank classification, and so was designated as the Medium Tank M7. The weight increase without increased power gave it unsatisfactory performance; the program was stopped in March 1943 to allow standardization on a single medium tank - the M4 medium. This prompted the Ordnance Committee to issue a specification for a new light tank, with the same powertrain as the M5A1 but armed with a 75 mm gun.
On October 15, 1943 the first pilot vehicle was delivered. The design was judged a success and a contract for 1,000 was immediately raised by the Ordnance Department. This was subsequently increased to 5,000.
Production began in 1944 under the designation Light Tank M24. It was produced at two sites; from April at Cadillac and from July at Massey-Harris. By the time production was stopped in August 1945, 4,731 M24s had left the assembly lines.
289 M24s were supplied to British forces under Lend-Lease, and two to the Soviet Union.