U.S.Medium Tank »M3 General Lee«
The first M3 Medium tanks, called »M3sredni« or »M3s« by the Russians, reached the Northern ports still in late 1941.
The were all of the early production series, starting in July 1941, rubber-tracked and petrol-engined.
The hull was riveted, huge escape hatches were installed on both sides and the armament still consisted of the short-barreled M2 75mm and M5 36mm gun.
As they were still lacking the gyro-stabilization system, no counterweights were necessary nor installed.
The new tanks didn't cause an enthusiasm to their new users as they had some severe drawbacks :
With a crew of seven, these drawbacks eventually resulted in the nickname »Grave of Seven Brothers«.
- The rubber tracks eventually caught fire in combat and weren't suitable on sandy ground.
- When aiming an enemy tank. the whole tank had to be moved around.
- The silhouette was rather tall and thus an easy German target.
- When the hull was struck by a shell, even if it did not penetrate the armor, it would result in rivets popping off into the interior of the tank and causing high crew casualties.
Nevertheless, the first Red Army tank regiments were equipped with the new tank still in early 1942 and, for the first time in larger quantities, took part at Shukov's unsuccessful »Operation Mars« in May 1942.
On this occasion, some M3s were captured by German troops and at least one, the famous »147« shown here, was brought to Kummersdorf proving ground for testing and evaluation.
In total, 1386 M3s, mainly petrol-engined, were sent to Russia through the northern ports and Iran, of which roughly 1200 reached their destinations.