Light Tank M3A1 »Stuart«, standard production series
During early February, 1943, the Russian winter counteroffensive, starting around Stalingrad 2.5 months ago, had almost driven the Germans out of the Kaukasus.
The latter found themselves encircled on the Taman peninsula and pressed against the Black Sea shores.
In order to outflank the German defense, the Northern Kaukasus Front launched an amphibious landing operation at the Ozereika bay.
30 »M3L« M3A1 tanks of the 563rd Independent Tank Batallion were loaded on three ferries (World War One »Bolinder« of Swedish origine) heading for the beaches.
However, instantly discovered by the German and Roumanian troops, the operation ended in a disaster with the loss of all tanks.
The vehicle shown, participating in the landing, is the standard production version, with
- welded hull, rounded at the rear,
- sponson machine guns omitted and openings plated over,
- armoured tank filler caps and
- stowage bin on the front right fender.
Special Thanks to Mr. Claude Gillono, France, for providing precious information.
Hunnicutt, »Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank«, volume 1,
Forty, Tanks in Detail 2, M3-M3A1-M3A3, Stuart I to V
Shillito, »Armour in Focus, M3 Series Light Tank«
Ozereika Bay, Feb 04, 1943 : 10 M3A1 on Bolinder
Ozereika Bay, Feb 04, 1943 : M3A1 littering the shore