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The Medium Tank M3 was an American tank used during World War II. In Britain, the tank was called by two names based on the turret configuration and crew size. Tanks employing US pattern turrets were called the "Lee", named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Variants using British pattern turrets were known as "Grant", named after U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant.

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An M3 Lee at Fort Knox in 1942.


Design commenced in July 1940, and the first M3s were operational in late 1941. The U.S. Army needed a medium tank armed with a 75mm gun and, coupled with the United Kingdom's immediate demand for 3,650 medium tanks, the Lee began production by late 1940. The design was a compromise meant to produce a tank as soon as possible. The M3 had considerable firepower and good armor, but had certain serious drawbacks in its general design and shape, such as: a high silhouette, an archaic sponson mounting of the main gun preventing the tank from taking a hull-down position, riveted construction, and poor off-road performance. Its overall performance was not satisfactory and the tank was withdrawn from front line duty — except in the remote areas of the Asian Theater where it was used by British forces until mid-1944 or possibly later — as soon as the M4 Sherman became available in large numbers. In spite of this, it was considered by Hans von Luck superior to the best German tank at the time of its introduction, the Panzer IV.

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