Domestic literature often calls the M3 weakly armoured and poorly armed. This evaluation is surprising, especially when you compare the tank to the Soviet T-70. In order to truly evaluate the American tank in the Soviet Union, we must consult archive documents.
Lapses in Shipments
As with British tanks, information on technical characteristics of American tanks was incomplete and outdated. Some kind of modern data appeared in September, but a comical situation occurred with the Light Tank M3. Somehow, data about this tank and the prospective Light Tank T9 (future M22) was mixed into one. Its mass was 7-10 tons, armour was 30 mm thick, and crew consisted of 3-4 men. The maximum speed of this "combined" tank was 80 kph, and it was armed with a 37 mm cannon and three machineguns.
The main tank of the American army was considered to be the M2A4, even though production of that tank ceased in March of 1941. This assumption became the foundation of a mistake that was later cited by many armoured historians. More on that later.
The real characteristics of the Light Tank M3 were received in the USSR only on November 13th, 1941. They were sent to the Deputy People's Commissar of Foreign Trade A.D. Krutikov by Colonel Faymonville, a member of the American embassy in Moscow. Faymonville played an important role in the shipment of tanks to the USSR, later earning the rank of Brigadier General.
According to documents, an agreement was made by on October 9th, 1941, to purchase 94 Light Tanks M3 along with ammunition and spare parts. A full set of parts was to be shipped with every three tanks, and one gun, machinegun, and set of optical devices for every 20 tanks. A month later, the issue of American specialists who would assist with the usage of tanks. This was beneficial for the US, as their specialists could collect information that would help them further improve the tanks.
- The tanks can be lit on fire easily, as the gasoline engine is easily accessible for incendiary fluid.
- The rubber track links will wear quickly when driving on stone roads or mud and rock terrain in dry weather, and a tank with these tracks would not be able to move at all in mud, or would drive very slowly at a speed of 3-5 kph."