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A Brief History

M3 Troop Carrier (M16 version)

The Carrier, Personnel Half-track M3 was an armored vehicle used by the United States, the British Empire and the other Allies during World War II. Nearly 43,000 were produced, and supplied to the U.S. Army and Marines, as well as British Commonwealth and Soviet Red Army forces, serving on all fronts throughout the war. Forerunner of the modern infantry fighting vehicle, the M3 Half-Track was of half-French origin. In 1931 the U.S. Army purchased a French Citroen-Kegresse Model P17 half-track as part of a research and development effort for its own design. Working with private firms, the Army Ordnance Department produced the T14 prototype in 1939. In September of the following year the T14 was standardized and accepted for production; it became the M2 and the M3 Armored Personnel Carrier.

Total production of the M3 ran to nearly 41,000 vehicles. 

The M3 was the larger counterpart to the M2 Half Track Car. Ten seats were arranged down either side of the vehicle, with three in the cab. Racks under the seats were used for ammunition and rations; additional racks behind the seat backs held the squad's rifles and other stowage. A small rack for mines was added on the outside of the hull just above the tracks. In combat, most units found it necessary to stow additional food, rucksacks and other crew stowage on the outside of the vehicle. Luggage racks were often added in the field, and very late vehicles had rear-mounted racks for this crew stowage.

The M16 is the anti-aircraft version of the M3 troop carrier.

The basis of the half-track was a truck chassis and drive train. An armored box was placed in the back to provide protection for personnel and armament. This vehicle was equipped with a ditch roll which helped in traversing obstacles. Some vehicles were equipped with a winch in place of the ditch roll. Radiator louvers were used during battles to protect the radiator from small arms fire. The 4 speed transmission, combined with a 2 speed transfer case yielded 8 speeds forward with two in reverse. The levers to the right of the shift lever select high and low range and front wheel drive. The center seat is the jump seat, usually for the gunner. The track is constructed of two steel cables with rubber track molded around them. The rubber gives flexibility to the track while the cables are for reinforcement. The rear idler is used to adjust track tension. The power plant is a White 160 AX, 6 cylinder engine.

The U.S. half-track was first used in the Philippines where several initial design problems arose. The suspension was modified for increased reliability, but one of the main criticisms, the lack of overhead armor, was never changed throughout the life of the vehicle since the added weight decreased mobility. In North Africa the half-track was improved with heavier road wheel springs and heavier springs for the rear idler. At the time of the invasion of Sicily, the half-track had settled into its role as an armored infantry transport vehicle that was able to deliver infantry closer to the battle since they were less vulnerable to rifle fire. The vehicle would hold supplies and infantry field equipment, leaving the infantry unencumbered by heavy field packs. The half-track was highly mobile and could follow tanks quite easily, unlike trucks which were more at home on the road. The half-track was often criticized as too lightly armored, but this could partially be attributed to abuse of the vehicle. Some units used the half-track as an armored assault vehicle which was not its role by design. 

Soldier manning the Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun turret

In combat, one would fire while the other two reloaded the magazines

In the mud of the French battlefield

Troop Carrier Variant