The Chaffee was developed as a replacement for M3/M5 Stuart tanks. After initial combat in North Africa, British forces noted many shortcomings in the Stuart, most notably the performance of its 37mm cannon.
History of the Artifact
The Chaffee was built around a light version of the 75mm gun, also used in B-25 attack aircraft. While the M24 used the same powertrain as the M5 Stuart, the Chaffee’s angular all-welded hull was one inch thick on the front, the sides of the crew compartment, and the turret. Thinner armor covered the engine compartment and floor.
The first M24s faced combat during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. They slowly replaced Stuart-equipped units for the rest of the war and beyond. After the fighting ended, the light and small Chaffee was chosen to be the tank used by occupational forces in Japan.
Chaffees when into combat again in the opening phases of the Korean War in 1950, fighting bigger and more powerfully-armed Soviet-built T-34s. Eventually, the M24s were replaced by M41 Walker Bulldog light tanks. M24s served in combat again with the French in French Indochina (Vietnam) and Algeria, while other Chaffees were employed by foreign armies, including British, Dutch, and Greek forces.
A total of 4,731 Chaffee tanks were built by Cadillac and Massey-Harris.