Chaffees in Uruguay

Hello everyone,

today, we’re going to have a look at some of the armored vehicles, that served in the army of Uruguay. Despite being a relatively small country in the region, Uruguay nevertheless has an interesting force of various armored vehicles, usually from USA and eastern Europe. Its first tanks were 40 M3A1 Stuart light tanks, recieved on 25.11.1944 from the USA. Two units were equipped with them – 4th Cavalry Regiment (Regimiento de Caballería N°4) in Montevideo and, later, 2nd Regiment in Durazno.

After the war, Uruguay signed the Uruguay Military Aid Program contract with the USA in order to modernize its army. The army (Ejército Nacional Uruguayo), based on it, bought, amongst other things, 17 M24 Chaffee light tanks in order to improve its armored forces, because the Stuarts, armed with their 37mm guns, were considered inadequate. The Chaffees came from the US Army stores in Korea and arrived on 30.9.1957. They were attached to the 13th Infantry Batallion (Batallón de Infantería Nº13) in Montevideo – this batallion then changed its name a year later to 13th Armored Infantry Batallion (Batallón de Infantería Blindado Nº13). It was organized into a tank company (Compañía de Tanques) with three platoons (5 tanks each) and a command section (2 tanks). Apart from the Chaffees, the army also recieved an M47 armored recovery vehicle, that was transferred to the 4th Cavalry Regiment, that later changed its name to the Mechanized Cavalry Regiment (Regimiento de Caballería Mecanizado).


The tanks appeared in public for the first time during a military parade on 5.4.1958 and in following months, they were used mainly for training. Several years later, one tank (No.16) was equipped with an indigenous dozer blade (designed and produced by Alférez Otto Gossweiler) in order to participate in urban combat operations during the Tupamaros movement fighting between 1968 and 1973.


In 1982, Tensa company from Argentine developed an upgrade kit for the Chaffee. It was offered to Uruguay and one tank was indeed modified using this kit, but the project was unsuccessful and the remaining tanks were not modified. The vehicles however did need upgrades badly (especially the engines) and so between 1983 and 1987, a Brazilian company was hired to switch the original Cadillac 44T24 engines for the diesel Saab Scania DN-11 180hp engines. With these, the Chaffees actually remained in service until 2012-2013 or so, when they were replaced by Brazilian heavily modified M41 Walker Bulldog tanks.

This is not too unusual in the region – South America has long tradition in using extremely modified old vehicles – a perfect example of this would be the X1 Brazilian model, which in fact is a heavily modded Stuart.

Source: (in Czech)

26 thoughts on “Chaffees in Uruguay

  1. So SS, you are saying that if someone had 2 M1A1 Abrams, a couple of T-90s and some Leclerc french tanks he will totally own the Uruguayan army :)) ?

    • Well, the entire point of keeping such old stuff around is that noone in the region actually does have ultra-modern tank forces :) And against various bandits and rebels, this old stuff is more than enough.

      • That should be a good thing because that means there is not much hostility among them, at least not enough to start a arms race. They got better things to spend on the little money they got. Brasilian World Cup not included amongs those better things…

        • Brazil seems to be of the opinion it needs the A-Bomb and some nuclear powered submarines … in case some native indians get unruly maybe!?

          • Big nations want big guns. It’s partly a self-esteem issue (the French keep wanking over their nuclear carrier) and partly a world recognition, because it’s true that when you have better weapons it’s a show of power and stability.

      • “Well, the entire point of keeping such old stuff around is that noone in the region actually does have ultra-modern tank forces :) And against various bandits and rebels, this old stuff is more than enough.”

        Not only that, but also, Uruguay only shares borders with two countries; Argentina and Brazil, both of which are much bigger (Uruguay has like 3 or 4 million inhabitants, while Argentina has 41 and Brazil like 180, IIRC), and neither of these share hostilities with Uruguay to boot.

        In short, there’s no point in spending money in an army which will do no more than to keep control of the country’s borders and territory, and keep criminals at bay ( if shit gets serious). Especially with such a limited amount of funds a country like Uruguay would have.

        • This reminds me of the dumb plot from Black Ops II :) … If they make this South American alliance today, the ‘muricans will face Stuarts, Chaffes, and other funny stuff … they will fight a enemy that is a mixture of american and other nations weaponry, from 50 years ago. No wonder people got wtf about the Black ops II plot…Brazilians in space :) …

          Or on another note: Good thing those americans buffed their army so much…who knows what those pesky Canadians on mooseback from the north and flaming burritos from the south would do :).

          Joke aside, it is good that Uruguay does not spend a crap load of money on military force when they are in need of something else.

          P.S : Honduras for world champion :D

          • Eh, I wouldn’t underestimate. I mean, they’ve recently got many modernized Leopard 1′s, which can still harm modern MBT’s. Not to mention that Brazil is also growing, military-wise. Argentina’s Army is probably decent, but it’s AF and Naxy is a terrible joke.

            • I live in Argentina. Don’t worry, Argentina’s army is pretty much worthless. Bad leaders, bad training, equipment that doesn’t work, an airforce that is basically a few dozens of planes without enough spare parts to fly. :P.
              … The Brazilians, on the other side… Those guys are going to go on a rampage one of these days. There wouldn’t be any S.American country capable of stopping them, anyway.

              • as another Argentinian i must correct something here, yes we have bad equipment, old tanks and such but the training and dedication of our men in the armed forces is not inferior to any other country in the world, it is just that past actions and the present conditions dont allow people to see the true colors of the people actually in the armed forces

      • bandits and rebels… you really are miss informed, true there are guerrillas in Colombia and such but those are on the most tropical areas of south America closer to central America, Uruguay and for that matter Argentina, chile, Peru and and Paraguay don’t have such problems, even Brazil with all its drug traffic problems doesn’t employ their army for those purposes, the main reason we even have an army these days (im from Argentina by the way) is because its a vestige from other times of tension wich are gone and forgotten

    • It is pretty much the same as for the question ‘why not every nayion with access to a see has aircraft carriers’ – each nations suits its military to its posible enemies. If thatvis adequate, things look good for Uruguay.

  2. Just people control “warfare”… South America have principaly armored cars with machinegun or canon
    look Mexican’s M8 greyhound or Brazilian’s wheeled-canon … Better vehicles for counter-guerrilla /policing in downtown, favellas or tormented lands …

    • Not really. Many of the big deal Hispanic countries have more or less well equipped forces. Chile, for example, has arguably the best equipped army around, with Leopard 2′s and all those shiny toys. Brazil and Venezuela (It having been a military dictatorship-ish) have pretty well equipped and big armies, as well.
      On the other end of the spectrum, we have countries like Argentina, Paraguay or Bolivia that are pretty much defenseless, at least compared to their neighbours.

      • But the Argentinians have their guachos and the tango … they can go far with those ;-)