Lend-Lease M2A4 Light Tank Arrives in United Kingdom

British Royal Ordinance Corps assembles and inspects the M2A4 light tank "Al Capone" that recently arrived via American Lend-Lease. A development of the cavalry concept of mechanized warfare, the M2A4 was lightly armored (no more than one inch or 25mm) and armed compared to British tanks. It had an M5 37mm (1.46 inch) main gun and eight .30 caliber (7.62mm) M1917 Browning machine guns. The small square holes in the turret are pistol ports for firing small arms. Production of the M2A4 was contracted to American Car and Foundry in Berwick, Pennsylvania, in May 1940 and remained in production until March 1941. 375 M2A4s were built. The M2A4 contract was given to a commercial manufacturer instead of a Federal arsenal, like previous American tank designs. With the fall of France in June 1940, the United States Army recognized that mass production of munitions was imminent, more than the small government arsenals could provide. Only thirty-six M2A4s were sent to Britain before they were replaced with M3 light tanks, which the British called "Stuart" and later nicknamed "Honey" for its superior road performance to British cruiser tanks. Four of the thirty-six M2A4s were sent to Egypt for training crews that would receive the M3 Stuart. With the passage of the Lend-Lease Act on March 11, 1941, British ordinance procurement placed orders for 100 M2A4s. The first shipment, including the tank seen in this view, arrived in June 1941. The rest of the order was filled with M3s. Britain used the M2A4 for home defense and training. The United States Marine Corps used M2A4s in combat at Guadalcanal. As late as November 1943, seven M2A4s were in use to train 4th Canadian Armoured Division tankers in England.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives and Records Ad
Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Sunday, June 1, 1941
United Kingdom