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Artifact Friday: M3 Half-Track




One aspect that has made the United States military a tour de force over the last century has been the dedication to mobility. Tucked away next to one of our hangars at the Arkansas Air and Military Museum is an icon of mobile warfare. The M3 Half-Track combined high mobility with modularity. This means that the M3 Half-Track could be outfitted to fit any scenario and combat the enemy quickly. The Half-Track was produced by several different companies including Autocar, Diamond T, and White Motor Company between 1941 and 1945. In these short years roughly 53,000 were produced. The M3 could reach a modest 45mph and a range of 200 miles using its White 160AX 6-cylinder gasoline engine. The M3 Half-Track was developed as a larger and more reliable version of the M2 Half-Track, a modified M3 Scout Car. The introduction of tracks on the rear made for better navigation over difficult terrain like snow or mud. It also increased the load capacity of the vehicles by distributing the weight over a wider rear suspension. 

As for their use in combat, the M3 Half-Track was utilized in several roles. One, of course, was


transportation. Half-tracks were used to quickly move troops to where they needed to be. This way, they could arrive fresh and ready for combat. They were also frequently used to tow artillery pieces. Half-tracks were also used by armored units to carry spare parts, ammo, and maintenance personnel for tanks. This was used heavily during Operation Torch, the Allied mission to sweep across North Africa. Other versions of the M3 Half-Track included weapon systems such as anti-aircraft guns. These guns could follow the infantry and help keep enemy aircraft at bay. Finally, other M3 Half-Tracks were armed with various cannons ranging from 75mm to 105mm.

This turned them into fast-moving anti-tank guns.  

The M3 Half-Track in our possession has the markings of the 3rd Infantry Division painted on the front bumper. Seeing as the 3rd Infantry Division was among the first American units to engage in offensive operations, it is likely our M3 Half-Track has seen North Africa, Italy, Austria, France, and Germany. This also includes pivotal battles such as Anzio, the Colmar Pocket, and Nuremberg. Everyone can agree that a tour like this makes for an impressive track record. 

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