|This page is about the American light tank M5A1. For other versions, see M5 Stuart (Family). For other uses, see M5 (Disambiguation).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The Light Tank M5A1 Stuart is a rank II American light tank with a battle rating of 2.3 (AB) and 2.7 (RB/SB). It was one of the first American tanks to be released with the American ground tree in Update 1.45 "Steel Generals". An improvement over the earlier M3 Stuarts with better front sloping armour, it helps the light tank keep up to date with the evolving tanks of the time.
Survivability and armour
The M5 is surprisingly durable as a light tank. The sloped armour when angled is effective against low-calibre tank guns like those equipped on the M3A3 or M2s. The turret is small, making it harder to hit the gunner. Speed will be essential to avoiding being shot by larger calibre guns, as the side armour may richochet enemy shells if you are lucky. The engine is very exposed, but this does come with the benefit of it providing additional protection from APHE shells that hit the rear of the vehicle. If ambushed and unable to get to cover, the rear is your best last ditch option to survive.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
- Cast homogeneous armour (Gun mantlet, Lower glacis)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 28.5 mm (49°) Front glacis
63.5 mm (33-37°) Lower glacis
|28.5 mm|| 28.5 mm (46°) Top
25.4 mm (1°) Middle
25.4 mm (20°) Bottom
|Turret|| 44.4 mm (11-13°) Turret front
50.8 mm (2-43°) Gun mantlet
|31.75 mm (1°)||31.75 mm (1°)||12.7 mm|
- Suspension wheels, bogies, and tracks are 15 mm thick.
- Tracks are placed on the turret side and rear that can provide about 10 mm of extra armour.
- An extra 12.7 mm RHA metal plate is present on the right side of the turret near the pintle 7.62 mm machine gun.
- A 5 mm Structural steel box is present, mounted on the vehicle rear.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
The M5A1 Stuart is armed with a 37 mm cannon as its main armament, the same gun as the preceding M3A3. While being at 2.3, the gun still packs a fierce punch if aiming at the correct area and firing at the correct distance. It is a small calibre fast-firing gun with a maximum penetration of 84 mm at 100 m (M51B1 shell), being able to penetrate most of the opponents it will face. The penetration power and gun accuracy drop a lot beyond 500 m and become unreliable past 700 m. The gun is equipped with a vertical stabiliser, giving the M5A1 Stuart a huge advantage in some cases as you can fire precisely while moving, but keep in mind that it activates only when the tank is driving under 10 km/h.
While it lacks the post-penetration damage to disable most enemies in one shot, it can quickly finish them off with its fast reload. Knowledge of enemy vehicle layouts is essential with ammunition lacking post-penetration explosive damage. Make sure to target modules and crew positions to maximise the damage. Disabling the enemy gunner on your first shot will be critical to win engagements as you'll most likely need several shots to destroy an enemy vehicle.
|37 mm M6||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
The M63 SAPHEI acts as a very weak APHE shell, penetrating only a small amount of armour before exploding. This may remedy the lack of post-penetration damage, however the weak penetration will always be a problem. You may want to pack a few of these shells if you intend to patrol flanks, where meeting lightly-armoured and open-topped vehicles is more likely.
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|147||135 (+12)||111 (+36)||56 (+91)||1 (+146)||No|
- Racks disappear after you've fired all shells in the rack.
The M5A1 Stuart has two 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine guns, one being coaxial to the main gun and the other roof mounted on the right side of the turret. The two machine guns can quickly incapacitate the exposed crews on some vehicles or do some serious damage to those low-passing planes. However it lacks the ability to effectively damage even lightly armoured vehicles due to its low penetration of only 10 mm.
|7.62 mm M1919A4|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
The M5A1 Stuart preserves the Rank I style of fighting. With very good mobility and fast reload, the light tank can speed to an optimal position on the enemy's side and riddle them with the 37 mm cannon. It is recommended to attack from the flanks as the weak armour on the Stuart makes it vulnerable to the newer enemy guns that can penetrate the armour with ease.
With the fast reloading 37 mm cannon, the M5A1 Stuart can deliver some good-hitting rounds if shooting at the flank at the enemies. A frontal engagement is possible but detrimental as Stuart's thin armour makes any incoming shot lethal. If coming up to heavily armoured vehicles like the KV-1, load the M74B1 AP round for maximum penetration. In the case the M5A1 does come across a KV-1, the recommended course of action to take it out is to get in a point-blank range and fire at the turret ring or engine rear, otherwise, there is no way for the Stuart's 37 mm to penetrate the armour.
With its weak overall armour, most enemies are able to penetrate the M5A1 Stuart. A specific concern should be to vehicles with a high rate of fire weaponry such as the SPAA, which might be able to penetrate through weak points around the Stuart with enough effort. Enemies with strong shells like the Panzer IV with it's short 75 mm and its HEAT rounds could also destroy the Stuart with ease.
With its speed and relatively small size, as well as the ability to scout, the Stuart can be used as a reconnaissance vehicle. Even if you cannot penetrate heavily armoured opponents, you can help your allies by scouting the opposing tanks. This, combined with its decent firepower, makes the Stuart an amazing scout vehicle.
Enemies worth noting
- Sd.Kfz.234 (Family) - When your opposite team has Germany, you might want to reconsider the option of capturing a point straight away, since the German Sd.Kfz.234 series are very likely to be there first. The Sd.Kfz.234/2 (also known as the Puma) is a turreted 8-wheel vehicle with a small profile, extremely high on-road speed and a powerful 50 mm gun. But it cannot turn in place, has a very slow turret traverse and only 8 mm of side hull armour, so a good tactic is to circle with it and utilise your rather quick turret traverse and fast reload. In an intense tank "dogfight", you want to aim with the greatest care, as your 37 mm shells won't do much damage, so even a slight miss will result in the failure of knocking out the enemies' crew. The Sd.Kfz.234/3 and Sd.Kfz.234/4, although being equally deadly, are turretless. You can use some quick turns to avoid their guns or tear through the thin armour plate protecting their gunners with your 7.62 mm MG. Note that the penetration of the MG isn't great, so aim for their side armour.
- T-34 (all variants) - The M5 can sometimes face the T-34 tank. They possess 76 mm cannons that fire APHE rounds with massive amounts of explosive filler - disabling the Stuart in one shot most of the time. The T-34s are also very mobile and will often be the first medium tanks to get to the battlefield. To boot they have very strong frontal armour, the UFP is immune to the 37 mm M6 carried by the M5A1. Against those foes, try to shoot at their weaker sides. If a head-on encounter is inevitable, the driver's hatch can be exploited, knocking out the driver, gunner, and often the engine, leaving the enemy completely debilitated, easy to finish off. The turret cheeks can also be exploited on the 1940 and '41 models. The turret ring should be targeted on the '42 and '43 models.
Pros and cons
- High top speed, good acceleration especially on flat terrain
- Better handling than its predecessors, quick turning speeds
- Sloped armour can deflect some shots from small calibre projectiles
- Good rate of fire
- Gun can penetrate most tanks of this rank
- Can quickly rotate in place while not in forward or reverse motion
- Roof mounted .30 cal is useful for engaging aircraft
- Has access to scouting ability
- Crew of four means that any lost crewmembers will be felt
- Exposed engine and fuel tank, prone to fires
- 37 mm AP rounds does not contain HE filler
- AP Shots often fail to fragment when penetrating other vehicles
- Relatively tall for a light tank, a challenge to find adequate defensive positions
- 37 mm cannon has low penetration which makes it difficult to fight enemy tanks at its BR
- Little armour; can easily be penetrated by enemy tanks
- Although its armour is better than the previous Stuarts, the higher battle rating means plenty more vehicles can penetrate it
- Weighs three more tons than its predecessor, noticeably slower acceleration
The American light tank design prior to World War II, the M2 light tank, was seen as obsolete after observing Germany's Panzer forces tear through Europe. The design was to be upgraded with more armour, a better suspension, and a new gun recoil system. The revised version was designated the Light Tank M3, and given the name "General Stuart" by the British, which becomes part of the name. At its basis, the light tank had a 37 mm cannon with a similar layout as the M2 light tank, with the radial engine at the rear and the transmission on the front, though the radial engine was in high demand so the Guiberson diesel T-1210 were fitted in some models to substitute the engine. The design used the VVSS bogie system seen on previous American tank designs. The tank had a crew of four: driver, assistant driver, gunner, and commander, who doubled as the loader.
The first variant of the M3 Stuart light tank was very similar to the M2 light tanks. It had five machine gun armaments scattered around like the M2 but featured better armour and a better cannon with the 37 mm M6 cannon. The design did not have a turret basket for the crew and it was constructed out of rivets, which increased the chance of spalling in the tank. Nevertheless, the first variant M3 saw about 5,811 units produced. The second variant, the Light Tank M3A1 Stuart, featured a new turret with no cupola on it, plus an added gun stabilizer. The machine guns on the hull sides were removed, so now the total machine guns were reduced from five to three. The design also featured a welded armour design to remove the weakness of riveted armour. 4,621 of this variant was produced from May 1942 to February 1943. The most used variant, the Light Tank M5A1 Stuart, had a completely redesigned hull and turret, with the hull most notably having a full sloping frontal armour than the previous designs. This variant had about 6,810 units produced. All in all, the Stuart light tank design and its variants were produced in massive quantities from March 1941 to October 1943 with a total of 25,000 units produced.
The British were the first to use the M3 Stuart in Africa in 1941, using it in Operation Crusader. However, the result ended with heavy losses, due to the better training the German Afrika Korps had compared to the British tank doctrine. The encounter also pointed out many flaws in the Stuart, mainly the cramped interior and limited operational range, but was praised for its high mobility and reliability when compared to the British contemporary designs. In 1942, the Stuarts were generally kept as recon units rather than combat units, and some were even modified to improve speed and range by removing the turret, and others were converted to armoured personnel carriers and command vehicles. Though the British used it extensively, it was still in small proportion compared to American usage. The Soviet Union was also another user of the Stuart tanks but found it unfavourable due to their own logistics, plus it was not made to withstand the Russian Rasputitsa or even the winter. The Soviet eventually turned down any more offers for the Stuart by 1943. The Stuarts also supported the British and Chinese forces in Asia against the Japanese Army, and also France and Yugoslavia in Europe against the German Wehrmacht.
The Americans used it widely in both operational theatres. In the Pacific, the Stuarts were the first tanks America used in a tank vs. tank operation against the Imperial Japanese Army, where five M3s fought Type 95 Ha-Gos in the Phillippines. Though the Stuarts were newer than the Japanese tank designs by about five years, they were seen as equal in performance and firepower, but the Stuart benefited by the support of the American industry arm. The Stuarts served in the Pacific slightly better than its heavier counterparts such as the M4 Shermans due to its lighter weight and manoeuvrability in the poor jungle terrain, but the Stuarts in the Pacific were gradually replaced by M4 Shermans. In Europe, the Stuarts formed a large part of the American tank battalions, though following the British path by sidelining the Stuarts from combat duties after heavy losses and to serve alongside Shermans as scouting units. A typical tank battalion for the US Army consisted of three companies of Shermans and one of the Stuarts. The Stuarts, other than scouting, were also used in cavalry roles and infantry support since their cannon are unable to compete with the German tank designs. Despite their dwindling capabilities in battle, the Stuart was kept in service up until the end of the war due to the large production numbers.
After World War II, the Stuarts were given out as cheap surplus, countries such as China, India, and Pakistan picked up a few and used them in their conflicts. Portuguese also picked up a few Stuarts for the war in Angola, and the South African Corps continued using the Stuarts until 1955, where some were still kept in service until 1968 due to available parts. Today, Paraguay is still a user of the Stuart light tanks, though as the only tracked armour used in the country.
The Stuart light tank design was also quite versatile that it was made into different variants for different roles on the battlefield. It served as an infantry support vehicle as to the 75 mm GMC M8 and experiments were also taken to see if it could be adapted to an anti-aircraft gun and a flamethrower as well. However, the Stuarts were becoming an ageing design with inferior armour, cramped interior layout, and a small 37 mm gun, so a program to replace the light tank began in 1943 and became the M24 Chaffee, which would eventually replace the Stuarts mostly after World War II.
In November 1942 the M5 Stuart light tank was outfitted with an M3A3 turret, resulting in the Stuart series' final modification. The bulwark was made standard, different from the M5, and a safety hatch was added to the hull floor in addition to a new periscope in the turret. The tank commander got a second turret rotator and the ability to control the turret separately from the gunner. Late model M5A1s were characterized by armoured cover for the anti-aircraft gun emplacement and an equipment case on the back of the hull. In addition, stamped weight-bearing rollers began to be used in the running gear.
M5A1s were produced by Cadillac and American Car & Foundry (beginning in September 1943). By June 1944 a total of 6,810 had been made, making the M5A1 modification the most popular.
At the time of the Normandy invasion the US army primarily used M5A1s, though it was difficult for them to get through the Normandy hedges. Even equipped with special hedge-clearing equipment, light tanks often got stuck due to their under-powered engines, making them easy prey for German anti-tank guns. Thinner than on medium tanks, their armour made them especially vulnerable to panzerfausts. The battles of summer 1944 saw heavy losses in light tank companies. The casualty rate decreased during the fall somewhat, primarily because they played a lesser role and division commanders tried to keep them out of battles where they might face stronger opponents. In contrast to the Americans, the British used M3A3s and even M3A1s in addition to the M5A1 in Europe. They predominantly played a reconnaissance and command role.
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
|USA light tanks|
|LVT||LVT(A)(1) · LVT(A)(4)|
|M2||M2A2 · M2A4 · M2A4 (1st Arm.Div.)|
|M3/M5 Stuart||M3 Stuart · M3A1 Stuart · M3A1 (USMC) · M5A1 · M5A1 TD · ▃Stuart VI (5th CAD)|
|M24 Chaffee||M24 · M24 (TL)|
|M18 Hellcat||M18 GMC · M18 "Black Cat" · Super Hellcat|
|M41 Walker Bulldog||M41A1|
|M3 Bradley||M3 Bradley · M3A3 Bradley|
|Wheeled||M8 LAC · T18E2 · M1128 · M1128 Wolfpack|
|Other||M8A1 GMC · T92 · T114 · HSTV-L · CCVL · XM8 · AGS|