STUART LIGHT TANKS IN 1945

Discussion in 'Trux Discussion Area' started by JDKR, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Under 'Reconnaissance' in Trux the 1943 Establishment for an armoured recce regiment lists it as having a recce troop, but equipped with scout cars rather than Stuarts. Mike then goes on to say, 'It seems that they actually used an organisation with three squadrons of Cromwell cruiser tank plus a reconnaissance troop of light tanks'. My question is, in 1945 were the recce troops of armoured recce regiments definitely using Stuarts? As they were being used as the fourth armoured regiments rather than as recce regiments I'm sure they probably were but I would be grateful for any views. Going on...

    Turrets on or off? In my venerable copy of Armoured Fighting Vehicles of the World, Vol 3 British & Commonwealth AFVs 1940-1946 published by Profile Publications, Duncan Crow tells me on p.296 that the use of Stuarts as gun tanks (i.e. turret with 37mm left on) was confined to the armoured recce regiments of armoured divisions but that the recce troops of armoured regiments used them with the turrets removed. Is this correct and was there such clear delineation?

    Many thanks

    John
     
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  2. SDP

    SDP Senior Member Patron

    Recce Troop of 3RTR used them with turrets removed in 1945 (ref: Fred Preston photo collection. John: I think I sent you a Dropbox link a few months ago. Will email you the link anyway. Photos are FP13F and FP38F).

    Steve.
     
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  3. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Thanks Steve and you did send me the link. Yes, quite clearly 3 RTR recce troop used them without turrets. Photo FP03F was useful too as it shows a Long Tom being towed by a Mack NO 6 x 6 whereas the only other photo I had seen showed Long Toms being towed by Scammell Pioneers. Bit spotterish, I know!
     
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Just for the record, my unit, the 4th Queen's Own Hussars used the turretless Honeys as Recce vehicles whilst using Priest and Sherman Kangaroos for carrying infantry.

    My own tank was such a vehicle with a crew of Driver, myself as Loader/Wireless Op and the SSM as tank commander

    Ron
     
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  5. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    It's a bit of a twisted tale re the Armd Recce Regts. As noted, the original WE (II/156/1) was based on Armd Recce Regts having Tps of two cruiser and two light tanks, while HQ Sqn had an Inter-com Tp with scout cars, and also a Recce Tp likewise equipped. That model of Regt was used in Italy by both 1st and 6th Armd Divs.

    Meanwhile, in 21AG, Monty directed that Armd Recce be able to conduct the same duties as an Armd Regt proper, so the Armd Recce Regts went onto the standard Armd Regt WE (II/151/3). That changed the equipment of the Recce Tp to light tanks, the I/C Tp retaining scout cars.

    As things turned out though, the three Armd Recce Regts all did things a bit differently. The Northants Yeo, for reasons I'm not sure of, went to Normandy with their Recce Tp still equipped with scout cars. That same format was retained by 15th/19th Hussars when they took over the same role in Aug44. The 2nd Welsh Guards took their Stuarts to Normandy, but they re-equipped the Recce Tp with Cromwells, I presume using the surplus created by the introduction of the 17-pr Challenger. The 8th Hussars in 7th Armd Div I think stayed true to II/151/3. There was also a unit that mixed scout cars, carriers and Stuarts in its Recce Tp (the 'Skins' was it?).

    I'm intrigued as to just how many Armd Regts in 21AG actually took a crowbar to their Stuarts and did away with the turrets. The general opinion seems to be it was the first thing units did in the field, but I don't know it was in NWE. Stuart Hills' 'By tank into Normandy' details him commanding the Recce Tp of his Regt with turrets still attached into 1945. I don't know it was something that Canadian, Polish or Czech units copied either.

    As Ron mentions, it was seemingly the 'done thing' in Italy; there's a very interesting thread somewhere on here detailing discussions in that theatre on the subject of making it standard procedure.

    Gary
     
  6. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    The Canadian Army had both Stuart V (M3A3) and Stuart VI (M5A1) gun tanks on strength in NW Europe. But the Stuart, with its 37 mm gun, was completely outclassed as a gun tank. Therefore they were used as reconnaissance vehicles only. It was found that the removal of the turret turned it into a very fast reconnaissance vehicle. The weight saved increased the speed and the profile was lowered considerably. Most of the Canadian Stuart Vs (M3A3) were used with the turret discarded and they built up a good reputation. They were quite popular as recce vehicles, ammunition carriers, ambulances and troop carriers. Most, if not all Stuart Recce Vehicles used in NW Europe were based on the M3A3 or Stuart V, but a Stuart VI Recce was never in the books. I cannot say when the practice began but the 5th CAD was using turret less Stuarats in Italy as well.

    Bergen op Zoom Oct. 44

    stuart oct44boz.jpg
    5th CAD April 1945
    stuart_v_recce 5th 45.jpg
     
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member Patron

    Spotterish is good!

    Mack NO had trailer air brakes for the Long Tom. I don't think the Scammells did.
     
  9. idler

    idler GeneralList

    I don't know if it affected all or some regiments, but 8th Hussars had Chaffees towards the end of the campaign. Google is also awash with pics of a 1/35 model marked up as 22 Armd Bde with a 52 serial which, by my calculations, was 1 R Tks. They appear to have kept their turrets!
     
  10. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Bill Bellamy was 2IC of 8th Hussars recce troop and in his book 'Troop Leader' he says (p. 192), ' ...The troop was equipped with the American Chaffee tanks, Honeys, Jalopys and scout cars...', so a fair mix. Was a 'Jalopy' a Dingo? There is a picture in the book showing a Stuart passing PWs in Hamburg. As Bill was 8th Hussars I presume the Stuart was one of theirs. Although the top of the Stuart is covered in kit, it certainly appears to be turretless. I think I can feel a spreadsheet coming on!
     
  11. SDP

    SDP Senior Member Patron

    Always a bad sign.....so go for it. Dick Taylor has a spreadsheet with many tank names and numbers on it so there is hope.
     
  12. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    Ron,

    I think that's the thread, though it seems to have been merged and half the pics have been deleted. The second report included on page 6 could be the one I was thinking of, though I had in mind it was from 1943 not May44.

    I must admit I wasn't thinking about Canadian experience in Italy when saying I wasn't sure if they followed turretless practice, I was referring to NWE. And of course that's where the Cdn Armd units from Italy transferred to in early 1945.

    A long while back someone mentioned to me that the Westminster Regt (the Motor Bn of 5th Cdn Armd Div) adopted the surplus Stuarts of the 3rd Cdn Armd Recce Regt (GGHG), when the latter converted from Armd Recce Type "B" to a standard Armd Regt WE on moving to NWE. AFV returns for 21AG do show the 5th Cdn Armd Div as having a lot more Stuarts on strength than the 44 needed for unit entitlements in Mar-Apr 1945. I can't remember who gave me the snippet but perhaps someone knows a bit more; seemingly the Westminster's used the turretless Stuarts as tows for their 6-pr atk guns.

    I hadn't seen the ref to 8th Hussars having such a mixed bag of AFVs in their Recce, and will have to try and find the Regt with the equally eccentric mix of stuff.

    Re the Chaffee, the first time they show up on 21AG returns is 31st March 1945, with a single example with 7th Armd Div, then another one with Gds Armd two weeks later. By the end of April 7th Armd had 7, Gds Armd had 8 and 4th Cdn Armd Div a single one. Gds Armd Div reported 15 just before VE-Day. UEs across all 21AG were given as 110, but no indication which ten Regts would be eligible.

    Gary
     
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