Military

World War II's Most Armored American Tanks

270862/flickr

The use of armored tanks dates back to the First World War when the British debuted the Mark I, the first tank used in warfare, in France during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, a battle fought during the Battle of the Somme. These early models were rough and unreliable, with many breaking down or getting stuck. Although only a few vehicles made it through the enemy lines, these imposing tanks had the desired effect, and many soldiers from Nazi Germany either fled in fear or surrendered.

These armored vehicles marked a turning point in battle and these early models paved the way for a new generation of fighting and led other nations to develop their own versions. In the early days, the United States lagged behind other nations in tank design and production, and during the Second World War, they employed the use of light tank series Mark II. The U.S. improved on this early model and introduced the more proficient replacement, the M4 Sherman, a medium tank that was a staple of the Allied Forces and was the most heavily armed tank during the war.

The M4 Sherman was a formidable force on the battlefield. While most of the tanks of that era had smaller main guns ranging from 30mm to 90mm, the M4 was outfitted with a 105mm main gun, a .50 caliber Browning M2 anti-aircraft machine gun, and additional machine guns. However, all of WWII’s tanks would play a pivotal role in deciding the conflict, whether in the fields of Europe or the deserts of North Africa, including the medium tank, the Soviet T-34, which is said to have revolutionized tank design. (These are the 23 countries with the most tanks.)

24/7 Wall St. reviewed a catalog of American tanks from Military Factory to determine World War II’s most armored American tanks. These were ranked based on their main gun and their secondary armaments, and we included supplementary information from the Military Factory regarding the type of tank, year introduced, manufacturer, number of tanks produced, and top speed. We also included some tanks that did not see combat and some prototypes to give the full picture of what U.S. tanks were capable of in the World War II era.

In addition to the main gun, all American tanks were outfitted with a secondary armament of machine guns. Most of these armored vehicles had an American-made Browning machine gun standard — some were Browning M2s and others Browning M1919s, which served in an anti-aircraft, anti-armor, or anti-infantry capacity depending on the caliber. (This is the most powerful U.S. Army vehicle engine.)

Here are World War II’s most armored American tanks:

26. Marmon-Herrington CTLS (CTL)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: .50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine gun, .30 caliber Browning M1919 medium machine gun

The Marmon-Herrington CTLS (CTL) was a light tank/tankette introduced in 1935. Manufactured by Marmon Herrington, there were 875 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 32.9 miles per hour.

25. M1 (Light Tank, M1 / M1 Combat Car)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: .50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine gun with .30 M1919 Browning machine gun in turret

The M1 (M1/M1 Combat Car) was a light tank introduced in 1933. Manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal, there were 113 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 44.7 miles per hour.

24. M22 Locust (Light tank, Airborne, M22)

Source: Max Smith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 37mm M6 main gun, 7.62mm Browning M1919 M4 coaxial machine gun

The M22 Locust (Airborne, M22) was an airborne infantry light tank introduced in 1943. Manufactured by the Marmon-Herrington Corporation, there were 830 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 39.8 miles per hour.

23. Renault Ft-17

Source: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 37mm main gun, 7.62mm machine guns

The Renault Ft-17 was a light tank introduced in 1917. Manufactured by Renault, there were 3,694 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 4.8 miles per hour.

22. M5 Stuart (Light tank, M5) (Stuart VI)

Source: US Army, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 37mm M6 main gun, .30 caliber Browning M1919A4 coaxial machine gun

The M5 Stuart (M5) (Stuart VI) was a light tank introduced in 1942. Manufactured by Cadillac, Massey Harris, American Car, and Foundry, there were 8,884 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 36 miles per hour.

21. M2 (Light tank, M2)

Source: Harris & Ewing, photographer., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 37mm M5 main gun, .30-06 Browning M1919 general purpose machine guns

The M2 was a light tank introduced in 1935. Manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal, there were 696 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 34.8 miles per hour.

20. M3 Stuart (Light Tank, M3)

Source: Geni, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 37mm M5/M6 main gun, 5 x .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns in various mounts

The M3 Stuart was a light tank introduced in 1941. Manufactured by the American Car & Foundry Company, there were 22,744 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 36 miles per hour.

19. Medium Tank M2

Source: User:Fat yankey, CC BY-SA 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 37mm M3 main gun, 7 x .30-06 Browning M1919 machine guns in various mounts

The Medium Tank M2 was introduced in 1940. Manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal, there were 112 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 26.1 miles per hour.

18. Sherman Crab

Source: ajw1970 / Flickr
  • Armament: 75mm main gun, .303 caliber coaxial machine gun

The Sherman Crab was a special-purpose mine flail tank tracked support vehicle introduced in 1942. Manufactured by State Factories, there were 1,000 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 28.6 miles per hour.

17. Sherman DD (Duplex Drive)

Source: richardofengland / Flickr
  • Armament: 75mm M3 main gun, .30 caliber Browning M1919 coaxial machine gun

The Sherman DD (Duplex Drive) was an amphibious combat tank tracked combat vehicle introduced in 1944. Manufactured by State Factories, there were 200 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 28.6 miles per hour.

16. T14 (Assault Tank T14)

Source: Hugh Llewelyn from Keynsham, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 75mm M3 main gun, .50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine gun, .30 caliber coaxial M1919 Browning machine guns

The T14 (Assault Tank T14) was a heavy tank/assault tank project introduced in 1944. Manufactured by the American Locomotive Company, there were 2 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 17.4 miles per hour. This prototype did not see combat.

15. M24 Chaffee (Light Tank, M24)

Source: fun_flying / Flickr
  • Armament: 75mm main gun, 12.7mm machine gun, 7.62mm coaxial machine guns, 51mm smoke mortar

The M24 Chaffee (M24) was a reconnaissance light tank introduced in 1944. Manufactured by Cadillac/Massey Harris, there were 4,731 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 34.8 miles per hour.

14. M3 Lee / M3 Grant (Medium Tank, M3)

Source: No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 75mm M2/M3 main gun, 37mm M5/M6 cannon, .30-06 caliber Browning M1919A4 machine guns

The M3 Lee/M3 Grant (M3) was a medium tank introduced in 1941. Manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation, there were 6,258 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 26.1 miles per hour.

13. M18 Gun Motor Carriage (Hellcat)
Source: Benzene / Wikimedia Commons

  • Armament: 76mm main gun, 12.7mm Browning M2HB anti-aircraft heavy machine gun

The M18 Gun Motor Carriage (Hellcat) was a tank destroyer introduced in 1943. Manufactured by General Motors/Buick, there were 2,507 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 55 miles per hour.

12. Medium Tank T20

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 76mm main gun, .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun, .30 caliber coaxial machine gun, .30 caliber bow-mounted machine gun

The Medium Tank T20 was a prototype medium tank introduced in 1944. Manufactured by the U.S. Ordnance Department, four tanks were produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 24.9 mph miles per hour. This prototype did not see combat.

11. Sherman Jumbo (Medium Tank, M4A3E2)

Source: BonesBrigade at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 76mm main gun, .50 caliber anti-aircraft heavy machine gun, .30 caliber coaxial machine gun, .30 caliber bow-mounted machine gun, smoke mortar

The Sherman Jumbo (M4A3E2) was an up-armored medium tank/assault tank introduced in 1944. Manufactured by Fisher Tank Arsenal, there were 254 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 21.7  miles per hour.

10. M4A3(76)W HVSS Sherman (Easy Eight / M4A3E8)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 76mm high-velocity main gun, .50 caliber Browning M2 anti-aircraft machine gun, .30-06 caliber coaxial machine gun, .30-06 caliber bow-mounted machine gun

The M4A3(76)W HVSS Sherman (M4A3E8) was an upped-gunned medium tank introduced in 1944. Manufactured by Detroit Tank Arsenal/Fisher Tank Arsenal, there were 2,617 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 23 miles per hour.

9. M6 (Heavy tank M6)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 76mm M7 main gun, 37mm M6 coaxial cannon, .50 caliber Browning M2HB, .50 caliber Browning M2, .30 caliber Browning M1919A4

The M6 was a heavy tank project introduced in 1940. Manufactured by Baldwin Locomotive Works, there were 40 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 21.7  miles per hour.

8. M10 Gun Motor Carriage (Wolverine / Achilles)

Source: Raymond Douglas Veydt, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 76.2mm M1 main gun, .50 caliber Browning M2HB anti-aircraft heavy machine gun

The M10 Gun Motor Carriage (Wolverine/Achilles) was a tank destroyer/gun motor carriage introduced in 1942. Manufactured by Ford Motor Company/Fisher Tank Arsenal, there were 6,700 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour.

7. Sherman Firefly (Medium Tank, M4A4)

Source: ajw1970 / Flickr
  • Armament: 76.2mm Mk IV L/55 main gun, .50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine gun, .30 caliber Browning M1919A4

The Sherman Firefly (M4A4) was a medium tank introduced in 1944. Manufactured by State Factories, there were 2,100 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 24.9 miles per hour.

6. M36 Gun Motor Carriage (Jackson / Slugger)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 90mm M3 main gun, 12.7mm M2HB Browning heavy machine gun

The M36 Gun Motor Carriage (Jackson/Slugger) was a tank destroyer/gun motor carriage tracked combat vehicle introduced in 1944. Manufactured by Chevrolet/General Motors, there were 1,772 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 30 miles per hour.

5. M26 Pershing

Source: wsmahar / E+ via Getty Images
  • Armament: 90mm main gun, 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun, 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 7.62mm bow-mounted machine gun

The M26 Pershing was a heavy tank/medium tank introduced in 1945. Manufactured by the Fisher Tank Arsenal/Detroit Tank Arsenal, there were 4,550 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 24.9 miles per hour.

4. T28 Super Heavy Tank (Gun Motor Carriage T95)

Source: Schierbecker, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 105mm T5E1 main gun, .50 caliber heavy machine gun

The T28 Super Heavy Tank (Gun Motor Carriage T95) was a self-propelled gun/heavy tank prototype introduced in 1945. Manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry, two tanks were produced, capable of reaching a top speed of 12 miles per hour. This prototype did not see combat.

3. M4 Sherman (Medium Tank, M4)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 105mm main gun, .50 caliber Browning M2 anti-aircraft machine gun, .30-06 caliber coaxial machine gun, .30-06 bow-mounted machine gun

The M4 Sherman was a medium tank introduced in 1942. Manufactured by the American Locomotive, Detroit Tank Arsenal, and Lima Locomotive, there were 50,000 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 23.9 miles per hour.

2. T29 (Heavy Tank T29)

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 105mm T5E2 main gun, 3 x .50 caliber Browning M2HB in various mounts, .30 caliber Browning M1919 machine gun

The T29 was a heavy tank prototype vehicle introduced in 1944. Manufactured by State Factories, there were 6 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 19.9 miles per hour. This prototype did not see combat.

1. T30 (Heavy Tank T30)

Source: Tank_Archives, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Armament: 155mm T7 L/40 main gun, .50 caliber coaxial heavy machine gun, .30 caliber machine gun

The T30 was a heavy tank prototype introduced in 1945. Manufactured by State Factories, there were 8 tanks produced that were capable of reaching a top speed of 16.5 miles per hour. This prototype did not see combat.

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