|“||They'll be good for making fast strikes, or filling gaps in the line. They're quick.
- Andrew Campbell, The Siege of Bastogne
In April 1943, work began on the designs for a new light tank to replace the M3 and M5. The first prototypes were ready by October of that year and the US Department of Defense placed an order for 1000 vehicles and then 5000 even before testing was finished. The M24 Chaffee was produced to discontinue flaws made by the Stuart and create the equivalent power of a Sherman.
The Chaffee carries a 75 mm high velocity gun adapted from B-25 Mitchell's bomber ground attack cannon, mounted on a large turret with the latest sloped armor; it has been shown this armor can deflect 80% of projectiles encountered on the battlefield. With this advancement the Chaffee has introduced amazing suspension and a powerful engine, which makes it as fast as a Stuart. It has the same gun as the Sherman, more speed than a Sherman, more armor than a Stuart, and the same cost of a Sherman, making this unit very good at taking out infantry and light tanks in combat.
Note that even with a surprisingly good firepower for a light tank, it's sloped armour is still a thin one compared to that of a Sherman, so this unit is not a replacement, if it is an alternate for the Sherman.
Combat experience indicated several shortcomings of the Light Tank M3/M5, the most important of them being weak armament. The T7 design, which was initially seen as a replacement, evolved into a mediocre Medium Tank M7 and was eventually rejected in March 1943, which prompted the Ordnance Committee to issue a specification for a new light tank, with the same powertrain as the M5A1 but armed with a 75 mm gun.
In April 1943 the Ordnance Corps together with Cadillac division of General Motors started work on the new project, designated Light Tank T24. Every effort was made to keep the weight of the vehicle under 20 tons. The armor was kept light, with the glacis plate only 25 mm thick (but sloped at 60 degrees from the vertical). A new lightweight 75 mm gun was developed, a derivative of the gun used in the B-25H Mitchell bomber. The gun had the same ballistics as the M3, but used a thinly walled barrel and different recoil mechanism. The design also featured wider (16 inch) tracks and torsion bar suspension. It had relatively low silhouette and a three-man turret.
On October 15, 1943 the first pilot vehicle was delivered and production began in 1944 under the designation Light Tank M24. It was produced at two sites; from April at Cadillac and from July at Massey-Harris. By the time production was stopped in August 1945, 4,731 M24s had left the assembly lines. Some of them were supplied to the British forces.
- The Chaffee possesses the same gun as the Sherman, greater speed than the Stuart, and armor somewhere in between the two. The Chaffee is great in both roles as a light and medium tank.
- Chaffees, if deployed in numbers can provide great firepower at a reduced cost, and can be effectively complemented alongside medium tanks.
- A group of around five of these can be deadly in their own right. Their high speed allows them to dish out severe damage when attacking lightly defended enemy flanks, and they can quickly speed away when necessary.
- When choosing whether to upgrade the Stuart or Lee first, in most cases it is better to upgrade the Stuart first as the Chaffee has faster production time and moves even faster than the Stuart and already has the benefits that the Sherman has.
- When there are gaps in your defences deploy a couple a Chaffees first and Sherman later for support as the Chaffees are really fast and fill gaps quickly.
Pros & Cons
Medium cal. HE shell
Medium cal. AP shell
.30 cal. Machine-gun