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In the build-up to entering the war, US Army planners knew they would need a 75mm-armed tank to overcome the latest German panzers. Of the proposed designs which could be produced quickly, none had a turret big enough to hold a 75mm gun.
As a temporary solution, the hull of a pre-war M2A1 medium tank was modified to take a short M2 75mm gun in a limited traverse sponson in the right front of the hull, while retaining a 37mm gun in the turret.
This odd, ungainly vehicle was far from perfect, but it was nevertheless an effective tank that filled a much-needed role at a crucial time.
The Allies have the fascists on the run in North Africa, but the fight is not over yet. The United States is the newest army to enter the war. They boast some of the best tanks in the world, backed up by well-equipped infantry, either marching to battle on foot or riding in half-tracks, and the latest deadly tank destroyers. Their troops are inexperienced, but they have trained hard and are eager to prove themselves. They will need to learn quickly, as they face a cunning and battle-hardened enemy.Click here to find out more about Fighting First...
Later production runs of the M3 Lee replaced its M2 75mm gun with the longer-barrelled M3 75mm—the same as the weapon in the M4 Sherman. Both guns fire the same ammunition, but the extra 68cm (26-inch) length gives the M3 a higher muzzle velocity, making it a more effective tank killer.
As new tanks are issued to replace those lost in combat, it is not unusual to see a mix of tanks armed with short and long guns fighting together in the same platoon.