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HELP SOLVE THE MYSTERY?
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00
Jochen Vollert has sent us a photo from his archive of a very peculiar and hitherto unknown variant of the Bedford MW and asks if any reader knows for what purpose it was built.
The photograph seems to have been taken while the truck was in service with the Afrikakorps and shows that an aircraft engine (can any aircraft buff tell us what type?) has been mounted at an angle over the rear wheels. A mesh cage would seem to have been installed to protect bystanders from the revolving propeller which, presumably, has had its tips cut off since it would dissect the chassis otherwise. However, why was the engine not mounted the other way round with the prop overhanging the rear?
The small tank mounted above the engine would have allowed fuel to be gravity fed, but what was the purpose of the nose cone fixed to the engine’s rear? Indeed, what was the point of the entire contraption?
Too late for one war, too early for another, and quickly retired from US service, the M24 Chaffee was nevertheless well-regarded. John Blackman profiles the type and takes a close look at Chris Till’s fine example
When the United States entered WW2 in December 1941, its armoured formations were reliant on light tanks – mainly of the M3 family – and even as M3 and M4 medium tanks became available, the light tank continued to play a major role. Indeed, US Army doctrine of the time placed the light tank in the vanguard of an attack, undertaking armed reconnaissance and harrying the enemy much as mounted cavalry would have done decades prior.
Even if flaws in that particular approach (and in the tanks themselves) had not been detected by observing how British Army M3s fared in the Western Desert, it was made painfully obvious when the US Army employed the improved M5A1 in Tunisia following Operation Torch in November 1942. It was learnt the hard way that the Stuart – as the M3/M5 light tank was known – was outclassed in terms of both the range and hitting power of its 37mm gun and the amount of protection offered by its relatively thin armour against superior enemy anti-tank guns.