M24 Chaffee

The Light Tank M24 was an American light tank used during World War II and in postwar conflicts including the Korean War.

By 1942 it had become evident that the 37mm gun was inadequate for the needs of America’s light tanks, and indeed as a main armament of any tank. After several failed attempts to install a 75mm Gun into the existing M5 Light Tank (which had suffered from a lack of crew space and poor cooling) work commenced in April 1943 on a completely new Cadillac Light tank design. A prototype was completed by October 1943 and production commenced in April 1944 with deliveries being commenced to the US Army in Europe later in that year. The new Tank was given the name Chaffee in honour of General Adna R. Chaffee ‘Father of the US Armoured Force’ who had died in August 1941.

The M24 Chaffee was armed with a light weight high velocity (2,050 feet per second) 75mm M6 gun adapted from aircraft use in the turret. The M6 Gun had an elevation of +15˚ and a depression of -10˚. 48 rounds of 75mm ammunition was carried in the tank. The turret was shared with a Coaxial 0.31-in Browning machine-gun. A 12.7mm M2 "Mr Deuce" Anti-Aircraft machine-gun with 440 rounds of ammunition was frequently mounted on the turret cupola.

The twin 5,720cc V-8 Cadillac petrol engine was the same powerplant as used successfully in the M.5A1 light tank (but the Transmission was Manual rather than Automatic) and the torsion bar suspension system (with five rubber-tyred medium size road wheels per side) was that used on the M.18 Gun Motor Carriage. A crew of five was carried, of which the driver sat at the front left-hand side, with the co-driver-cum-radio operator on his right, where he controlled a ball mounted 0.31-in Browning machine-gun in the glacis plate. Separate emergency driving controls were provided for the co-driver. The Commander, Gunner and Loader occupied the turret.

The M.24 saw only limited service during World War II, being employed only at the very end of the North West Europe and Pacific campaigns of 1945. Nevertheless it proved to be a fast (34.16 mph or 55 km/h), efficient reconnaissance vehicle despite being only lightly armoured (Maximum 38mm). It was in the Korean War that the M.24 realised its full combat value, with its agility for reconnaissance, coupled to being well-armed for battle.

Between April 1944 and June 1945 some 4,070 M.24s were built, by the Cadillac Division of General Motors (3,300 vehicles) and Massey–Harris (770 built). Many were later supplied as Military-Aid to several countries and many of these were still in service for many decades after the War. In addition the M.24 chassis would form the basis for a number of related vehicles including the M.37 and M.41 Howitzer Motor Carriages and the M.19 Gun Motor Carriage self-propelled Anti-Aircraft Tank, although the US Army replaced the M.24 Light Tank in the early 1950s.


The NM116 is a Norwegian utilisation of their stock of elderly M24 Tanks. Introduced into the Norwegian army in 1976 this heavily modified uersion of the M24 replaced the US 75mm gun with a modern 90mm light gun and incorporated such features as infra-red night-fighting and driving equipment, laser detection system and smoke dischargers, thus permitting several more decades of useful service.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Philip Trehitt, Dempsey-Parr, 1999)
Fighting Vehicles (Wordsworth Editions, 1993)
Tanks and other Armoured Fighting Vehicles (B.T.White, Blandford Press, 1975)
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles (Ian V Hogg and John Weeks, Hamlyn, 1980)

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