Author: CounterMAN (ASIA)
CounterMAN from the Vietnamese community on ASIA forums contacted me with his rather interesting article about the deployment of the M24 Chaffee during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Here it is. I took the liberty of fixing some of the worst typos and mistranslations (the article was originally in Vietnamese).
About the French’s tank on A1 hill – Dien Bien Phu – M24 chaffee
On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory 05/07/1954 – 05/07/2014, VietNam Community Team proudly present the article about “the witness of history”, still lying around Muong Thanh field, Dien Bien Phu – M24 Chaffee, American light tank, supplied to the French Army.
The Light Tank M24 was an American light tank used during World War II and in postwar conflicts, including the Korean War and was used by the French in the war in Algeria and the First Indochina War. In British service, it was given the service name Chaffee, after the United States Army General Adna R. Chaffee, Jr., who helped to develop the use of tanks in the United States armed forces.
M24′s wreck on A1 hill, Dien Bien Phu
Total weight was about 18 tons, 5,56 meters lenght (including the main gun), 2,77 meters height and 3 meters width. M24 did have 9 to 24mm of armor. With such a paper thin armor, M24 couldn’t withstand a shell impact from any German tank or AT weapon.
Destroyed M24 on Dien Bien Phu field (present day)
The M24 had a 5 man crew: Commander, Gunner, Loader, Radio operator and Driver. The driver and radio operator positions were in the front part of the hull. The commander, loader and gunner positions were in the turret.
M24 on Muong Thanh field with 5-man crew – Spring 1954
- Main gun 75mm gun M6 L/40 with 48 shell.
- 1 MG 50.cal Browning M2HB 12,7mm (440 bullets) above turret
- 2 MG Browning M1919A4 7,56mm (3750 bullets)
- 2 × Cadillac Series 44T24, 8 Cylinder
- 110 bhp each (220/164 kW total)
Operational range :
- 161 km (100 mi)
- 56 km/h (35 mph) on road
- 40 km/h (25 mph) off-road
After WW II, M24 was supplied to many armies around the globe and was used in local conflicts long after it had been replaced in the U.S. Army by the M41 Walker Bulldog. The French employed their M24s in Indo-China for infantry support missions. They employed ten M24s in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. In December 1953, ten disassembled Chaffees were transported by air to provide fire support to the garrison.
The French unit, that used the M24 at Dien Bien Phu was the 3rd Company of the 1st Light cavalry Regiment (3/1 RCC), with 1 command tank named Conti and 3 Divisions ( 3 tanks per division)
Bleu Division : Bazeille, Douaumont, Mulhouse.
Rouge Division : Ettlingen, Posen, Smolensk.
Vert Division : Auerstaedt, Ratisbonne, Neumach.
Bleu and Rouge were stationed at the central area, Vert was stationed at the south area – Isabelle.
French troopers assemble the M24 at Muong Thanh Airport – 1954
Most of them were destroyed by Viet Minh artillery or captured by Viet Minh troops.
M24 used to carry the image of President Ho Chi Minh – Victory Day 7/5/1954
After Dien Bien Phu Operation, Viet Minh captured 10 tanks (including the destroyed tank), but only 3 have been restored. Two of them were moved to Hanoi to be shown during the parade of Viet Nam’s Independent Day on 02/09/1955. Those tanks were likely the Mulhouse and Auerstadt.
Captured M24 in VPA’s training course
M24 turret in Ho Chi Minh Museum – Ha Noi
M24 Chaffee in World of Tanks
Introduced in Patch 6.7, the Chaffee is one of “The Thee”: T-50-2 – VK2801 – M24 Chaffee. Nowadays, the Chaffee is the last remaining tank of “The Three”, as the T50-2 has been replaced and the VK2801 has been nerfed. It’s just a Tier V LT, but the M24 does have the MM spread and strength of a tier VI LT, even better than most tier VI LT’s nowadays (T21, AMX12t, 59-16, VK2801, MT-25). A natural passive scout, M24 Chaffee does have another nickname: “Mini Patton”, because it has the perfect ability to fire on the move, very high viewrange (400m, equally with some tier IX tanks) and is a good damage dealer. All of these pro’s compensate for M24′s weakness: below average top speed (56km/h) and average acceleration (25hp/t).
In near future, M24 will likely suffer the fate of VK2801 and T-50-2.
(SS: I removed the last part about the alleged fate of the M24, because it’s not true).