- For the Steel Division II unit see SD2:M5A1
M5A1 is a United States Tank unit.
An upgraded variant of Light Tank M2 created by the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, the Stuart boasted thicker armor, improved suspension, a new gun recoil system accomodating the 37mm M5 gun (M6 in later variants), and no less than five Browning M1919A4 .30-06 machine guns. Although designated as a light tank, it was a match for German and Japanese tanks when it entered production in 1941, equal in armor and weapons to the Panzer III Ausf. G and superior to the dominant Type 95 Ha-Go. Its one drawback was the high silhouette, owing to the radial engine and the elevated crankshaft. Used in a combat role by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, the Stuart was relegated to scouting, screening, and support duties in 1942 due to the increasing sophistication of enemy tanks.
The M5 Stuart was introduced that year, boasting twin Cadillac V-8 engines and Hydra-Matic transmissions, a redesigned hull, and was overall quieter, cooler, and roomier. Despite its lack of firepower at that point, the M5 retained the 37 mm gun and remained in production until 1944, where it was replaced by the M24 Chaffee. A total of 22 744 M3 and M5 Stuarts were produced in dozens of variants. Surplus Stuarts would trickle into national armories after the Great War, eventually making it one of the most widely used tanks in history. The M5A1 was the most numerous variant produced, with 6 810 units.
3rd Armored was one of the two American Armored Divisions that remain with the heavy armored division composition. Originally 32nd and 33rd Armored Regiments had two Medium Tanks Battalions along with a light Tanks Battalion equipped with M5A1. But the Regiments were reorganized to have each battalion have one light and two medium companies.
4th Armored's armored battalions has three medium tank companies supported by a light tank company equipped with M5A1.
101st Airborne had Co D, 70th Tank Battalion and 759th Tank Battalion attached during periods of the Normandy Campaign. Each light tank company has three platoon of 5 M5A1 along with a command section of two M5A1.
741st Tank Battalion during the Normandy Landing along with 745th Tank Battalion that supported 1st Infantry had a D Company that had 16 M5A1 light tanks.