Medium Tank M3 Lee

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Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

General info

M3 Lee in the Garage.

The M3 Lee is a Rank I American medium tank with a battle rating of 2.7. It is one of the first American tanks to be released with the American ground tree in Update 1.45 "Steel Generals". The M3 Lee gives the player a substantial upgrade in firepower and armour compared to the M2 Medium and M2 Lights with a combination of 37 mm and 75 mm cannon on the tank. The two guns make this tank awkward and hard to control for a new player, but will give you an edge when mastered properly.

The main purpose, usage and tactics recommendations

General play style

The multiple cannons allow for different combinations of attack. The 37 mm gun on the full 360° traverse turret allows for a diverse role on the M3, with its high-velocity and effective round for long-range fighting, but with a fast reload for close-quarter encounters. The 75 mm on the sponson mount has the same penetration level as the 37 mm, but with a very high post-penetration damage with the right ammo at the cost of lower velocity, and thus a shorter battle range. The limited traverse on the 75 mm mount also means it is not as flexible as the turreted 37 mm. With these two cannon, you can focus on a close-range combat with the two cannons fighting a single tank, or engage two separate tanks at a longer range. Closer range combat is supported by the M3's adequate sloped frontal armour, able to withstand most enemy fire at its battle rating. It is recommended to set the keys to allow separate firing of the cannons for maximum effectiveness.

Vehicle characteristics

The M3 Lee is most well recognized for its tall profile and two cannons. The suspension resembles that of the M4 Sherman, the only notable difference being the return rollers' positions. The hull front is also stepped into two plates, where the upper is closer to vertical. The large sponson on the right side (if you are inside it) carriers the main 75mm gun; note that with 2 crew, it is the operational gun. The 37mm gun is in a turret, mounted with a leftward offset, and has a small MG cupola on top.

Tactics

Different guns mean different styles of play. You can also play it as a tank destroyer, using its sponson gun to take shots at medium range and its 37mm to cover your flanks and make longer range snipe shots. You can also use it as an assault tank, quickly advancing on points while switching between the powerful 75mm gun and the faster-firing 37mm. It is also possible to completely ignore the 37mm and focus solely on the 75mm as it is a far more effective gun with its HE filler in its APCBC, as well as being easier to manage for newer players. In all game modes, you should assign the three gun profiles to different keys, this will allow you to aim using the sights of the three guns separately, allowing you to actually hit things at range with the 75mm gun. Since your 75mm is in a side sponson it is also possible to approach cover to where only your 75mm is showing, allowing you to fire with most of your tank hidden.

Specific enemies worth noting

Being at BR 2.7, you have a possibility of facing long-barrelled Pz.Kpfw. III, and Pz.Kpfw. IV, as well as T-34s, and (rarely) the Chi-Nu II. The ZiS-30 is also very deadly, as its gun is competitive even at 5.7. Your 75mm gun can reliable penetrate all of these tanks at short range (save the T-34), whereas your 37mm will require some particular shot placement.

Counter-tactics

When combating this tank, avoid its 75mm gun by flanking the vehicle, then get in close and hug the sides or rear of the vehicle to prevent them form turning and sparing you the fire from their 37mm gun. Aim for the large superstructure, a solid penetration will knock out all 6 crew members or make the ammunition combust. Note that firing through the side hatch usually warrants an instant kill owing to the lack of sloping and ammunition storage.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Ability to use two guns: a 37mm and a 75mm - which is unique as well as useful at this rank.
  • Acceptable frontal armour.
  • Side mounted 75mm gives the ability for some unique tactics.
  • 75mm gun is comparable to the ones mounted on the later Sherman tanks.
  • Despite the tall profile, the "wedding cake" design of the turret has thick sloped armour, providing extra protection to make up for it's height.
  • 6 crew members, harder to kill.
  • Has three different turret. The 75 mm sponson, the 37 mm, and the .30 cal mounted above the 37 mm turret, and all of them can be controlled differently through key mapping.
  • Very effective when using weapon selection as one turret can cover the other when it's reloading.
  • 75mm is good for stationary

Cons:

  • Tall profile, big target.
  • Losing crew members mean losing functionality of one of the turrets.
  • 75mm sponson weapon does not allow for hull-down combat.
  • Tall position of turret restricts gun depression.
  • Slow traverse speeds make it easy for a light or a particularly speedy medium tank to sneak around the sides.
  • Weak side armour.
  • Very awkward to use for new players.
  • Driver's port is a weak spot.

Specifications

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Arcade Realistic Simulator

Armaments

1 x 37 mm Gun M5 (113 rounds)
1 x 75 mm Gun M2 (50 rounds)
2 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (6,000 rounds)

Main armament

1 x 37 mm Gun M5 (on the turret)
  • Ammunition Capacity: 113 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -7°
  • Gun Elevation: 60°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 10.71°/s (Stock), 14.8°/s (Upgraded), 18.0°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 19.9°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 21.2°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 3.77s (Stock), 3.33s (Full Crew), 3.07s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 2.9s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
1 x 37 mm Gun M5 (on the turret)
  • Ammunition Capacity: 113 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -7°
  • Gun Elevation: 60°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 10.7°/s (Stock), 12.6°/s (Upgraded), 15.3°/s (Upgraded + Full Crew), 16.92°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 18°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 3.77s (Stock), 3.33s (Full Crew), 3.07s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 2.9s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
1 x 37 mm Gun M5 (on the turret)
  • Ammunition Capacity: 113 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -7°
  • Gun Elevation: 60°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 10.7°/s (Stock), 12.6°/s (Upgraded), 15.3°/s (Upgraded + Full Crew), 16.92°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 18°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 3.77s (Stock), 3.33s (Full Crew), 3.07s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 2.9s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
Ammunition
Ammunition Penetration in mm @ 90° Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Fuse delay in m: Fuse sensitivity in mm: Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
Normalization At 30° from horizontal: Ricochet:
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m 0% 50% 100%
M74B1 90 89 69 50 37 27 AP 883 0.87 N/A N/A N/A -1° 47° 60° 65°
M51B1/B2 79 78 69 59 51 43 APC 883 0.87 N/A N/A N/A +4° 48° 63° 71°

Secondary armament

1 x 75 mm Gun M2 (on sponson mount)
  • Ammunition Capacity: 50 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -9°
  • Gun Elevation: 20°
1 x 75 mm Gun M2 (on sponson mount)
  • Ammunition Capacity: 50 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -9°
  • Gun Elevation: 20°
1 x 75 mm Gun M2 (on sponson mount)
  • Ammunition Capacity: 50 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -9°
  • Gun Elevation: 20°
Ammunition
Ammunition Penetration in mm @ 90° Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Fuse delay in m: Fuse sensitivity in mm: Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
Normalization At 30° from horizontal: Ricochet:
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m 0% 50% 100%
M72 shot 96 95 81 66 54 45 AP 588 6.3 N/A N/A N/A -1° 47° 60° 65°
M48 shell 10 10 10 10 10 10 HE 448 6.3 0.4 0.5 666 +0° 79° 80° 81°
M62 shot 79 78 72 65 58 52 APCBC 588 6.8 1.2 20 63.7 +4° 48° 63° 71°
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Screen radius
in m
Screen time
in s
Screen hold time
in s:
Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
M89 Smoke 259 3 13 5 20 50
Ammo racks
Ammo racks of the M3 Lee
  • The 37mm currently also uses the 75mm racks as last two racks and three racks (x) are not used at all. The 75mm currently doesn't use any ammo racks
Shell
calibres
Full
ammo
1st
rack empty
2nd
rack empty
3rd
rack empty
4th
rack empty
5th
rack empty
6th
rack empty
7th
rack empty
8th
rack empty
Recommendations Visual
discrepancy
Main
Secondary
128
65
122 (+6)
65 (+0)
104 (+24)
 
86 (+42)
 
69 (+59)
 
52 (+76)
 
35 (+93)
 
18 (+110)
 
(+127)
 
Turret empty: 104 (+24) Yes

Tertiary armaments

1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (turret coaxial)
1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (cupola turret)

Crew

  • Commander
  • Gunner 1
  • Loader 1
  • Gunner 2
  • Loader 2
  • Driver

Total: 6 Crew members

Armour

Armour type:

  • Rolled homogeneous armour (Hull, Turret roof)
  • Cast homogeneous armour (Turret, Transmission area)
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull 38.1 mm (54°) Front Glacis
50.8 mm (15-55°) Transmission area
50.8 mm (29°) Driver port
38.1 mm (0-57°) Hull gun mount
38.1 mm (0-22°) Top
38.1 mm Bottom
38.1 mm (1-14°) Top
38.1 mm (15-53°) Bottom
12.7 mm
Turret 50.8 mm (11-65°) Turret front
38.1 mm (1-82°) Gun mantlet
50.8 mm (0-66°) 50.8 mm (1-54°) 22.2 mm
Armour Sides Roof
Cupola 50.8 mm 50.8 mm

Notes:

  • Suspension wheels are 15 mm thick, bogies are 10 mm thick, and tracks are 17 mm thick.
  • Hull doors and vision ports are 38.1 mm thick.

Engine & mobility

Weight: 27.7 ton

Max Speed: 43 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 620 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 22.38 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 763 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 27.54 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 43°
Weight: 27.7 ton

Max Speed: 39 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 354 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 12.78 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 400 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 14.44 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 41°
Weight: 27.7 ton

Max Speed: 39 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 354 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 12.78 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 400 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 14.44 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 41°

Modules and improvements

Tier Mobility Protection Firepower
I Tracks tank module.jpg Parts tank module.jpg Horizontaldrive tank module.jpg APCBC M51B1B2 tank module.jpg
II Suspension tank module.jpg Brakesystem tank module.jpg FPE tank module.jpg Adjustmentoffire tank module.jpg APCBC M61 tank module.jpg
III Filters tank module.jpg Crewreplenishment tank module.jpg Elevationmechanism tank module.jpg
IV Transmission tank module.jpg Engine tank module.jpg Artillerysupport tank module.jpg Smoke M89 tank module.jpg

Recommendation:

History of creation and combat usage

Development

The current main tank in US inventory in 1940 was the M2 medium tank, but the Battle of France showed that such a tank was not going to be capable to go against the German Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs and their Panzer Divisions. With the Western Allies now embroiled in the North African campaign against the Germans and Italians, the Allies needed a good tank capable of going against the Panzer tanks, and they needed it quickly.[1]

The new tank design took elements from the M2 Medium, using the chassis and its VVSS suspension system. Part of the requirement for the new tank was to mount the more powerful 75 mm cannon. However it was discovered that the United States does not have a turret design that can mount the 75 mm gun. But turret development takes time, and a new tank capable of fighting the Germans was needed now. Taking elements from French designs such as the Char B1, with its two cannon mounts, the American designers decided that the 75 mm, if can't be mounted on a turret, should be mounted on a sponson design on the hull. This design was tested on the M2 medium tank as the T5E2. Ordnance approved it as combat-capable and the design was approved as the M3 Medium. The M3 Medium design had two cannons, the 75 mm on the hull sponson mount, and a 37 mm with a coaxial machine gun on a turret, a cupola on the turret had its own machine gun. The M3 Lee's 75 mm gun however presented a huge advantage over contemporary tank armaments as the 75 mm could fire high-explosive rounds for fortifications and artillery pieces, yet could fire a shell with a high enough velocity for anti-tank purposes.

The M3 design's faults was the high profile and the sponson mount for its armament. The M3 was 10 ft. 3 in. tall, a foot taller than the M2 medium tank. The 75 mm on a sponson mount meant that the main armament of the tank had a limited traverse compared to a rotatable turret and forced the tank to reveal much of its body in order to aim the gun at the enemy. The M3 Medium was also constructed out of rivets (which increased spalling) and had a smooth track design which reduced ground traction. Despite these disadvantages, the Allies happily accepted them as they were critically low on tanks, and German Colonel Hans von Luck considered them superior to the Panzer IVs from his experience in Africa.

The initial batch of M3 Lees were given to the British for their campaign at North Africa. The British experience with the M3 design pointed out most ofits flaws, but they were concerned with the lack of radio in the turret and a lacking in armour, with which they requested a redesign. The new design had a new cast turret with room for a radio, the hull had thicker armour, and the turret cupola's machine gun was removed for a simple hatch. The modified M3 also required one less crew member due to the radio now being in the turret for the commander rather than for a radio operator. The British ordered 1,250 of these modified M3 medium tanks.

On August 1941, production officially started on the M3 Mediums, though the armour was thicker than initials batches of the tank due to its combat experiences. A majority of these were completed at Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Of the total 6,258 M3s built between start up to the end of production in December 1942, 2,855 units went to the British and 1,386 went to the Soviet Union. Other users of the M3 were the Australians and Indians in the Pacific Theater. The M3 Mediums arriving in British arsenal caused confusion as the same "M3" designation was given to the M3 Light Tank, plus there were two different design types of the M3 Mediums. This set off the tradition of naming American tanks after generals, where the M3 medium tank earned the Lee for the initial Americans design, Grant for the British redesign, and the M3 light tank and its successors earned the Stuart.

Combat usage

Combat experience with the M3 Lee was complicated, but favorable. In Africa, the Lees and Grants in British and American service surprised the German forces when they could withstand the 50 mm KwK 38 L/42 gun and 75 mm KwK 37 L/24 howitzer armament on the Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs. The M3 Lee proved reliable and adequate in armour protection in British and American service. The Soviet's experience with the M3 Lee was less favorable, as their T-34 tanks were much better in combat performance. The Soviets euphemistically called it a "grave for six men" and the Lee tanks were relegated to the secondary fronts or repurposed as armoured personnel carriers. In the Pacific, the M3 Lees were lent to the Australians and Indians, which proved vastly superior to the Japanese tanks in service. The high gun elevation on its 37 mm turret and machine guns proved effective in knocking Japanese sniper off from trees. The only American use of the M3 Lee at the Pacific Theater was during the Battle of Makin Island.

The M3 Lee served fine as a stop gap solution for the American tank development. They performed very well on the combat field and proved very reliable. However, once a 75 mm turret was finally designed, the M3 Lee was redesigned to use it, and the resulting tank was the M4 Sherman, which will go on to replace the M3 tanks in the Allies as they are withdrawn from service. Even if it wasn't, the M3 was becoming obsolete due to newer German tanks being deployed, such as the Panther, Tiger I, or improvement of of old chassis like Panzer IV Ausf. G and StuG III Ausf. F. Its obsolescence was a consequence of its own rather unique development and anachronistic design, limiting this medium tank's service life to a mere two years in Allied hands. However it lived on until the end of World War II in some modifications such as tractor and recovery vehicle. The chassis and running gear were adapted by the Canadians to develop their Ram medium tank.[1]

An anecdote

"The 75 (mm gun) is firing. The 37 (mm gun) is firing, but it is traversed round the wrong way. The Browning (machine gun) is jammed. I am saying ‘Driver advance’ on the A set and the driver, who can’t hear me, is reversing. And as I look over the top of the turret and see twelve enemy tanks fifty yards away, someone hands me a cheese sandwich.” —British Lieutenant Ken Giles, tank commander of a M3 Grant[2]

Screenshots and fan art

Skins and camouflages for the M3 Lee from live.warthunder.com.

The M3 Lee (right) and M3 Grant (left) in the North Africa Theater.

Additional information (links)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Zaloga Steven. M3 Lee/Grant Medium Tank 1941-45 Great Britain: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2005
  2. Bell, Chris. "Fury: All You Need to Know about Life in a Tank." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2017. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/11167575/Fury-all-you-need-to-know-about-life-in-a-tank.html>
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us_m3_lee.png

Icon-country-usa.png M3 Lee
Nation USA
Type Medium tank
Rank 1
Battle Rating
2.7
2.7
2.7

   Metric✓       Imperial   

   Metric       Imperial✓   

Characteristics
Weight
27,700 kg
61,068 lb
Number of Crew 6
Hull armour thickness
50.8/38.1/38.1/12.7 mm
2.0/1.5/1.5/0.5 inches
Statistics
Engine power (stock)
620 hp
354 hp
354 hp
Engine power (upgraded)
763 hp
400 hp
400 hp
HP/ton ratio (stock)
22.38
22.74
12.78
12.98
12.78
12.98
HP/ton ratio (Upgraded)
27.54
27.99
14.44
14.67
14.44
14.67
Max speed
43 km/h
26.7 mph
39 km/h
24.0 mph
39 km/h
24.0 mph
Main Weapon
1 x 37 mm M5 Cannon
Ammo stowage 113 rounds
Vertical guidance -7°/60°
Secondary Weapon
1 x 75 mm M2 Cannon
Ammo stowage 50 rounds
Mount Hull mounted
Vertical guidance -9°/20°
Horizontal guidance -15°/15°
Tertiary Weapon
1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 Machine gun
Ammo stowage 3,000 rounds
Mount Coaxial
1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 Machine gun
Ammo stowage 3,000 rounds
Mount Cupola
Vertical guidance -10°/60°
Economy
Required RP 46,000 RP
Vehicle cost 170,000 SL
Crew training cost 49,000 SL
Max repair cost*
530 SL
690 SL
750 SL
Free repair time (Stock)
53m
1h 10m
1h 32m
Free repair time (Upgraded)
17m
23m
30m
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