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Mid Production M3 (Diesel) - Stuart II

© 1999 J. Hornbostle

As can be seen from this photograph the M3 tanks were equipped with a commander cupola. The positioning of this cupola is curious as it is on the same side of the turret as the gunner's position. Clearly the M3 turret is small and there would seem little advantage in putting the commander behind the gunner, especially as he had to double up as loader which required him to be stationed to the gunner's right. The answer to this puzzle would seem to be that the cupola was actually used by the gunner to acquire targets. This would leave the loader is devoid of any vision devices on his 'side' of the turret apart from the pistol port which is surprising given that the turret traverse wheel was on this side. The gunner, having visually acquired a target from the cupola, would therefore have to shout traversing commands to the loader before assuming his position at the gun. Then using the shoulder rest, he would use the limited traverse of the gun itself to fine lay the gun onto target whilst sighting through the telescopic sight. The M3 did not have a turret basket and consequently the loader and gunner would walk round the hull as the turret was traversed. This could not have been particularly easy with the high drive shaft passing through the centre of the fighting compartment - not to mention problems of fouling the leads connected to the sponson mounted radio.

Absent form this vehicle are the sponson machine guns although the aperture on the left hand sponson is clearly visible. These machine guns had a fixed aim and were fired via a control cable. Apparently the sponson guns were probably more likely to hit their targets than the manually operated bow machine gun (so long as you wanted to shoot in the direction you were facing). The British would usually remove these sponson guns from their M3 tanks to gain extra stowage space (internal and external). The resulting aperture would be plated over. Note the positioning of the aperture towards the inner edge of the sponson. The right hand sponson aperture was similarly place to the outer edge this being necessary due to the way the ammunition fed into the guns.

 


© 1999 J. Hornbostle

 


© 2000 J. Hornbostle

 


© 2000 J. Hornbostle

 


© 2000 J. Hornbostle

 


© 2000 J. Hornbostle

 


© 2000 J. Hornbostle