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The M2 and M3 Half-tracks, known officially as the Carrier, Personnel Half-track, was an American armored personnel carrier widely used by the Allies during World War II.   

The Cavalry branch of the US Army found that their wheeled armored scout cars had trouble in wet terrain due to their high ground pressure. In 1938, the White Motor Company began development of an improved vehicle.  By 1940, the vehicle had been standardized as the M2 Half-Track car. The M2 design was recognized as having the potential for general mechanized infantry use, which spawned the larger bodied M3 Half Track.

Both the M2 and M3 were ordered into production in late 1940, with M2 contracts let to Autocar, White and Diamond T. The first vehicles were received by the Army in 1941.

The M2 was supplied to artillery units as the prime mover and ammunition carrier for the 105mm howitzer, and to armored infantry units for carrying machine gun squads. It was also issued to armored reconnaissance units as an interim solution until more specialized vehicles could be fielded.

The first M2s were fielded in 1941, and would be used in the Philippines, North Africa, and Europe by the U.S. Army, and around the Pacific by the Marines.  Between 1942 and 1943, both the M2 and M3 would receive a number of modifications to the drive train, engine, and stowage, among other things.  Total production of M2 and derivatives by White was about 13,500 units. Over 40,000 M3 units were produced.  The museum’s vehicle is a M2A1 variant that was built in 1941.

Specifications

  • Weight: 20,000 pounds
  • Length: 20 ft, 2 5/8 in
  • Width: 6 ft, 5 ¼ in
  • Height: 7 ft, 5 in
  • Personnel: driver plus 12 passengers
  • Armor: ¼ to ½ in
  • Engine: White 160AX 147 horsepower
  • Operational range: 200 miles
  • Speed: 45 mph on road, 28 mph off road
  • Range: 175 miles

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