M24 "Chaffee" Light Tank
The U.S. M24 "Chaffee" light tank first reached the ETO late in 1944 as the replacement for the woefully obsolete M5 "Stuart" light tank. For its part the M5 remained in service with frontline U.S. armored units throughout the Second World War, however by 1944 its light armament and light armor protection made it a death trap for its crew. As such, although the M24 was admittedly not much better armored, it's 75mm main gun represented a marked increase in hitting power over the M5's inadequate 37mm main gun. The M24 is emblematic of how much tank's grew in size and weight during World War II. For example, the M24 "light tank" weighed approximately 20 tons; comparable to an average size pre-war medium tank such as the 1939 era version of the Panzer III.
Despite the M24's late introduction into the Second World War its manufacturer, General Motors' Cadillac Division, still managed to produce 4,731 by August of 1945. In addition, the M24 enjoyed a long service life with both the U.S. Army and other army's around the world. For instance, the US fielded the M24 during the Korean War, although it suffered badly against North Korean T-34/85 medium tanks supplied by the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, even through the end of the 20th Century heavily upgraded M24's remained in front line service with several South American armies.
Picture Courtesy of Steven Mercatante