Military Vehicles Spotlight: M5A1 Light Tank

M5A1 Light Tank
Museum of American Armor

M5A1 Light Tank – Museum of American Armor

G-103 M5A1 Light Tank

  • Gross Weight: 34,700 lbs.
  • Armament: 37mm main gun, 3 x .30 machine guns
  • Crew: 4
  • Engine: Cadillac Series 42 16-cylinders (8 per engine)
  • Displacement: 692 cu. in.
  • Fuel: gasoline
  • Horsepower: 262
  • Maximum Speed: 36 mph
  • Maximum Range: 100 miles

HISTORICAL NOTE:

The M5 family was developed to provide the Army with a light tank that did not use a radial aircraft-type engine, like the M3 family of light tanks. Cadillac converted an M3 by installing twin Cadillac engines and Hydra-Matic transmissions that drove the tank through a two-speed automatic transfer case. The new power plant and improved hull shape gave the M5 much more interior space than the M3.

Production of the M5 began at GM Cadillac Division’s Detroit plant in April 1942. In August, production was also begun in Southgate, California. Massey Harris had begun building the M5 in July. M5 production ceased at all three facilities in December 1942, with a total run of 2,074.

The M5A1 was an improvement, featuring an enlarged turret similar to the one developed for the M3A3. The M5A1 replaced the M5 on the production lines at all three of the plants mentioned above as well as the American Car. Production of these improved light tanks was completed at all four facilities by mid-1944 with a total of 6,810 units.

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