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The M41 Walker Bulldog was an Americanmarker light tank developed to replace the M24 Chaffee. It was named for General Walton Walker who died in a jeep accident in Koreamarker. On 07 November 1950, the US Ordnance Committee Minutes (OCM) issued item #33476, redesignating the heavy, medium, and light tank classifications to classifications according to armament; the 120mm (heavy) Gun Tanks, 90mm (medium) Gun Tanks, and the 76mm (light) Gun tanks.

History

While the M24 Chaffee was a successful design, its main gun was not effective enough against well armored opponents. Although the primary mission of light tank was scouting, Armored Force wanted one with more powerful armament. The development of the new tank, T37, began in 1947. The vehicle was designed to be air-transportable, and the desired anti-tank capabilities were provided by installing a long 76 mm gun with an advanced rangefinder. In 1949, with the adoption of a less ambitious rangefinder, the project's designation was changed to M41. Production started in 1951 at Cadillac's Cleveland Tank Plant, and by 1953 the new tank completely replaced the M24 in the United States Army. Initially it was nicknamed "Little Bulldog", then renamed to "Walker Bulldog" after General Walton Walker, who was killed in a jeep accident in Koreamarker in 1950.

The M41 was an agile and well armed vehicle. On the other hand, it was noisy, fuel-hungry and heavy enough to cause problems with air transport. In 1952 work began on lighter designs (T71, T92), but those projects came to naught and were eventually abandoned.

The Walker Bulldog saw limited combat with the U.S. Army during the Korean War, but for the most part, the conflict served as a testing ground to work out the tank's deficiencies, especially with its rangefinder. At the time, it was designated as the T-41, and was rushed to the battlefield even before its first test run. This was due to the fact that the North Koreans were supplied with Soviet T-34 tanks, which were superior to the M-24. By 1961, one hundred fifty were delivered to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to supplement their Type 61 medium tanks.

Vietnam War

In 1964 the M41 light tank was selected to replace the ARVN (Army Republic of South Vietnam) M24 Chaffee light tank, which they had inherited from the French, who in turn had received from the United States during the French Indochina War (aka 1st Indochina War 1946-1954). The first M41A3s arrived in January 1965, equipping five ARVN squadrons by the end of the year. The Walker Bulldog was an instant success with South Vietnamese armor crewmen, who found the M41's interior to be just perfect for their stature, which had been a principal criticism by US armor crewmen who had been assigned to the vehicle. This, combined with the tank's mechanical reliability, simplicity, and excellent handling made the Bulldog a worthy war machine.

In 1971, the ARVN and US Forces commenced Operation Lam Son 719, a disruption of communist supply lines in neighboring Laos; a combination of armor and airmobile attacks on three axes into enemy held territory. The ARVN 1st Armor Brigade, accompanied by two airborne battalions and two cavalry regiments penetrated approximately 4 miles into Laos on 08 February, enemy reaction was swift and violent, with this first engagement between NVA and ARVN tanks, the 17 M41's destroyed 22 communist tanks; six T-54's and sixteen PT-76's, at no loss to themselves. By 1973, over 200 M41 light tanks remained in service with the South Vietnamese Army.

Other Operators

The M41 has been also exported to Brazilmarker (300), Spainmarker (180) Chilemarker (60), Dominican Republicmarker (12), Guatemalamarker (10), New Zealandmarker (10), Somaliamarker (10), Taiwanmarker (675), Thailandmarker (200), Tunisiamarker (10) and other countries. Many of these tanks were upgraded to prolong their life. Some are still in service.Thai M41s were used in the Thailand coup d'├ętat in September, 2006.

Legacy

In 1969 the US Army began replacing the M41 by the advanced, but troublesome, M551 Sheridan light tank, which had a gun/missile capable of destroying any heavy tank, could swim, and was air drop capable. The chassis of the M41 was used for the M42 Duster, which mounted two 40 mm anti-aircraft guns. It was also built up into the M75 Armored Personnel Carrier, one of the first enclosed box-shaped personnel carriers; that vehicle in turn would be the pattern for the M113 APC, which would become the most widely produced US armoured combat vehicle.

Variants

M41A3.
  • M41 (1951).
  • M41A1 (1953) - Hydraulic turret traverse instead of the electrical one. The more compact system allowed to increase 76 mm ammunition stowage from 57 to 65 rounds.
  • M41A2 (1956) - Production tanks with fuel injected Continental AOS 895-3 6-cylinder gasoline engine replacing the earlier carburator fuel system. This designation also applied to earlier M41s that had their engines upgraded to the fuel injection system.
  • M41A3 - M41A1 tanks that had their engines upgraded to fuel injection.
  • M41 DK-1 - Danish upgrade. New engine, thermal sights, NBC protection, side skirts.
  • Type 64 (Experimental) - Taiwanese development modified to local manufacturing techniques with improved fire controls, a 520hp diesel engine, co-axial machinegun replaced with T57 7.62mm GPMG, and applique turret armors and sideskirts. Did not enter mass-production and is not to be confused with another M42-based light tank conversion bearing the same designation.
  • M41D - Taiwanese upgrade. New locally produced gun, new targeting systems, Detroit Diesel 8V-71T diesel engine, reactive armor.


  • M42 Duster (1952) - Self propelled anti-aircraft defense weapon system based on the M41 chassis. Two Bofors 40 mm guns were mounted in the turret.


Also Brazilian, German, Spanish, Uruguayan upgraded variants, usually with a larger gun and/or a diesel engine. Another upgrade package for the M41 was developed by the Nimda Group, Israel, solely for export.

Current and Former Operators

  • - 42 M-41 (1960 - 1979)
  • - 135 M-41 (1958 - 1974)
  • - 286 M-41B and M-41C
  • - 60 M-41
  • - 56 M-41DK (1953-1998)
  • - 12 M-41B
  • - 12 M-41DK
  • - 7 M-41 (1965 - 1970s)
  • - 30 M-41
  • (Taiwanmarker) - 675 M-41 and M-41D Republic of China Marine Corps and Republic of China Army
  • - 22 M41UR. Modifications include a 90 mm Cockerill cannon and a Scania DS-14 diesel engine


See also



References

  • Starry, Donn A. General. "Mounted Combat in Vietnam." Vietnam Studies; Department of the Army, first published 1978-CMH Pub 90-17.
  • Dunstan, Simon. "Vietnam Tracks-Armor In Battle 1945-75." 1982 edition, Osprey Publications; ISBN 0-89141-171-2.
  • Hunnicutt, R. P. "Patton: A History of the American Main Battle Tank." 1984 edition, Presidio Press; ISBN 0-89141-230-1 (vol 1).
  • Hunnicutt, R.P. "Sheridan: A History of the American Light Tank, Volume 2" 1995 edition, Presidio Press; ISBN 978-0891415701. (This book contains a chapter on the M41).


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