Dependable and Versatile – M3 Half-Track Armored Personnel Carrier in 26 Photos

 
An M3 half-track
An M3 half-track
 
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The M3 Half-Track Personnel Carrier was an open-topped armored car with front wheels and rear tracks. It was actively used by the USA during the Second World War. Serially produced from 1940 to 1945, during the production they released 31,176 units of M3 armored personnel carriers in various models.

1st Army MP and M3 Halftracks with trailers in Ruins of Alterkirchen Germany 1945
1st Army MP and M3 Halftracks with trailers in Ruins of Alterkirchen Germany 1945

The M3 armored personnel carrier has an external resemblance to the M2 armored personnel carrier. The front parts of these cars are identical, but this almost ends the similarities. Both armored personnel carriers have different purposes for use. The M2 was intended as an artillery tractor, and the M3 for the transport of infantry. However, they were often used for non-standard purposes.

M3 Halftrack GMC on the Bougainville Island, in the Solomon Islands, November 1943
M3 Halftrack GMC on the Bougainville Island, in the Solomon Islands, November 1943

The body of the M3 was assembled from sheets of armored steel, its thickness was 6.35 mm. The strongest place was frontal armor, its thickness was 12.7 mm.  For the loading and unloading of the crew, there were 2 side doors and a rear door. Behind the rear seats, there was space for storing rifles.

To improve cross-country terrain, a special roller was attached to the M3 bumper. However, it provided for the possibility, if necessary, to make installation of a winch easier.

M3 Halftrack.  By Alan Wilson-CC BY-SA 2.0
M3 Halftrack.  By Alan Wilson-CC BY-SA 2.0

The armament of an M3 consisted of a Browning M2HB machine gun caliber of 12.7mm and a Browning M1919A4 machine gun of 7.62 mm caliber. As part of the armament a Bazooka rocket launcher was usually stored within the vehicle. The ammunition consisted of 540 rounds of 9 mm caliber, 4,000 caliber cartridges of 7.62 mm, 700 rounds of 12.7 mm caliber, 22 grenades, and 26 anti-tank mines.

A 6-cylinder White 160 AX carburetor engine was installed with 147 hp. Thanks to this engine, an M3 armored vehicle weighing 9.06 tons could accelerate to 72 km/h. The maximum range was 320 km. The vehicle could hold 13 people.

An Israeli modified M3 Half-track, armed with a 20 mm cannon.  By Bukvoed-CC BY 2.5
An Israeli modified M3 Half-track, armed with a 20 mm cannon.  By Bukvoed-CC BY 2.5

It is worth noting that many modifications were made based on the original M3: M3A1, M3A1E1, M3A1E2, M3A1E3, M3A1 command car, M3A2.

M3 Half-track APC  at Shuttleworth Military Pageant United Kingdom. By Tim Felce-CC BY-SA 2.0
M3 Half-track APC  at Shuttleworth Military Pageant United Kingdom. By Tim Felce-CC BY-SA 2.0

The M3 was one of the main US armored personnel carriers during World War II. In the US, it remained in use until the 1950s. Under the Lend-Lease program, only two M3’s were delivered in the USSR, but it was also delivered to other US allies.

In addition to World War II, the M3 was used in the war in Algeria, Indochina and in Korea. Furthermore, it was part of the arsenal of the Israeli army and took part in the wars of 1948, 1956, 1976 and 1982. In 2013, about 20 M3 armored vehicles were still in service in Paraguay.

M3-half-track ambulance
M3-half-track ambulance

 

Interior of an M3 half-track. By Duch-CC BY-SA 4.0
Interior of an M3 half-track. By Duch-CC BY-SA 4.0

 

M3 half-track preserved at the Pinerolo Cavalry Museum. By Raffaele Sergi-CC BY 2.0
M3 half-track preserved at the Pinerolo Cavalry Museum. By Raffaele Sergi-CC BY 2.0

 

M3 Half-track. By Duch -CC BY-SA4.0
M3 Half-track. By Duch -CC BY-SA4.0

 

M3 halftrack, Bridgeport, Washington. By Greg Goebel -CC BY-SA 2.0
M3 halftrack, Bridgeport, Washington. By Greg Goebel -CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Rear view of a M3 Half-track. By Duch -CC BY-SA 4.0
Rear view of a M3 Half-track. By Duch -CC BY-SA 4.0

 

M3 Half-track armored cars Fort Knox.
M3 Half-track armored cars Fort Knox.

 

M3 GMC Halftrack Rolls out of LST onto Cape Gloucester 1943
M3 GMC Halftrack Rolls out of LST onto Cape Gloucester 1943

 

Marines with a GMC M3 half-track in action Iwo Jima 1945
Marines with a GMC M3 half-track in action Iwo Jima 1945

 

M3 half-track from the front
M3 half-track from the front

 

M3 Half track White factory chassis
M3 Half track White factory chassis

 

Allied Troops on M3 Halftrack Greeted by Civilians in Liberated Pioppo Sicily 1943
Allied Troops on M3 Halftrack Greeted by Civilians in Liberated Pioppo Sicily 1943

 

GIs in M3A1 half track attack near Wiezemburg Germany 1945
GIs in M3A1 half track attack near Wiezemburg Germany 1945

 

3rd Division M3A1 Half track with trailer Strasskirchen Germany
3rd Division M3A1 Half track with trailer Strasskirchen Germany

 

US 5th Army Troops in M3 Half Track in Venfron Italy 1944
US 5th Army Troops in M3 Half Track in Venfron Italy 1944

 

US 27th Field Artillery Troops in an M3 Half-track
US 27th Field Artillery Troops in an M3 Half-track

 

M3 Half-track 1942
M3 Half-track 1942

 

US Troops in Action on an M3 half-track in Italy 1943
US Troops in Action on an M3 half-track in Italy 1943

 

German Troops by a burning US M3 Halftrack Battle of the Bulge
German Troops by a burning US M3 Halftrack Battle of the Bulge

 

US Army M3 half-track with 75mm gun
US Army M3 half-track with 75mm gun

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M3A1 half-track of 3rd Infantry Division and 20th Armored Division Takes POWs Munich Germany 1945
M3A1 half-track of 3rd Infantry Division and 20th Armored Division Takes POWs Munich Germany 1945
 
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