The Army’s recent pursuit of a new light tank design to address a never-filled gap in capabilities caused by retiring the M551 Sheridan and the XM8 Buford Armored Gun System has made headlines lately. But, at one point, the U.S. Army had some good light tanks.
The M3/M5 Stuart and the M24 Chafee both served in World War II, with the latter also seeing action in Korea and Vietnam. The light tank’s job back in World War II and Korea was to carry out reconnaissance missions and to provide support for infantry units. The light tank wasn’t meant to fight other tanks.
America’s ultimate light tank came about during the Korean War, the M41. The M41’s biggest advantage over the M24 was a more powerful powerplant. According to MilitaryFactory.com, the M41 had one 500-horsepower engine as opposed to the two 110-horsepower engines of the M24. This enabled it to go 45 miles per hour — significantly faster than the M24’s 35 — even as it added six tons of weight. The M41 was named “Walker Bulldog,” after a general who died in a vehicle accident during the Korean War.
The Walker Bulldog’s crew of four had a 76mm main gun, an M2 .50-caliber machine gun, and a 7.62mm machine gun to deal with enemy threats. The tank didn’t have a long career in United States service, however, largely due to the fact it was too large for reconnaissance and lacked the firepower to fight tanks.
Still, it was widely exported. South Vietnam purchased many, which fell into the hands of North Vietnam when Saigon fell. Taiwan has a few hundred in service, thanks to an extensive modernization effort that has included implementing reactive armor and better guns, like the 90mm Cockerill.
Learn more about this forgotten “bulldog” light tank in the video below.
(Dung Tran | YouTube)