M3 Stuart Tanks
M3A1 “Stuart” Light tanks of the 9th Marine Defense Battalion during operations in the New Georgia Campaign (Jun-Oct 43), Solomon Islands.
The Japanese made great use of defending the thick jungle of the islands — building up reinforced bunkers of thick logs — which could mostly withstand the relatively small munitions of the 37mm armed M3A1 Stuarts.
The Japanese defenders also resorted to near-suicidal swarming attacks on the tanks in the confines of the undergrowth.
They would attack them with grenades, use bayonets to try to pry open hatches/view ports, jam poles/logs into the suspension, or use small explosive satchels — all to little effect.
The Marine tankers also adopted tactics to overwatch fellow tanks. When Japanese infantry would swarm onto a fellow tank, follow-on tanks would hose them down with light machine gun fire (.30 cal). Marines reported returning from battle with their Stuarts covered in blood from enemy soldiers.
This was the last widespread use of Stuarts by the Marines as the larger M4 medium tank variants whose 75mm guns were devastating in most circumstances.
Later, Japanese tactics evolved with better anti-tank weapons, mines and AT guns as well.
M3 Stuart Tanks Written by Roy Chow
The M3 Stuart, officially Light Tank, M3:
Armor: 0.375 to 2.0 in (9.5 to 50.8 mm)