Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

M5A1 Steward light tank

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by Buten42, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Washington State
    The M5A1 Stuwart had a 4 man crew--I believe there was the driver, gunner, loader and the tank commander.
    I read somewhers the driver was given foot commands by the commander--a tap on the left shoulder with the foot for a left turn etc.
    How did the driver know what to do when they were buttoned-up?
     
    Kendusimmus likes this.
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    752
    Likes Received:
    453
    Location:
    The Old Dominion
    The TC would have to have some very long legs. No, the M-5 had an intercom system; it wasn't necessary to kick the driver in the head to get his attention. Crew positions were driver, ass't driver/MG gunner, ass't loader, and TC/gunner. Both the driver and ass't driver had a periscope (what some call 'vision blocks' but were actual fixed periscopes complete with padded rests for the user's forehead - - I believe the M-3/5 series "Stuart" used the M-6 type model periscope, but I could be wrong) in their respective overhead hatches allowing wide-angle forward vision. Additional periscopes were located on the turret top, one on each hatch and one left side even with the TC's hatch. The periscope on the loader's hatch faced to the rear.

    Exterior vision was probably no worse than any other buttoned up tank of the period; the intercom meant no one got kicked.

    Added later . . . I neglected to mention, mostly because I didn't think of it until Lou posted his pictures, that the TC's position was on the right (facing forward) side of the turret. The driver sat on the left side of the driver's compartment. Makes the "foot method" of directional control even more, ummm, awkward as it would require the TC to stretch diagonally across the turret compartment and into the driver's. Positions were

    4 3
    2 1

    where
    1 = TC/Gunner
    2 = Loader
    Both located in what was called a Turret Basket
    3 = Ass't Driver/Bow MG Gunner
    4 = Driver
    Both located in the Driver's Compartment
     
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    13,436
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
  4. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Washington State
    I could have sworn I read somewhere about the foot signals--anyway, not important. The intercom makes more sense. My brother began in N. Africa as a driver in a light tank and became a gunner and finally a tank commander. I just wanted to get an idea what he must have experienced in the different positions. Must have been cramped, smokey, sweaty, loud and horrific under fire. Don't look like much cushion on the seats either. Thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for.

    And thanks Lou for the pictures and the link--wish there was a real one around to look through. Saw on at the Patton musium a few years back but they didn't let you go into them.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    7,665
    Likes Received:
    1,627
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Buten42,

    Your probably read that about the M-3 Stuart, and possibly the early M3A1 Stuarts. An intercom system was first fitted to the M3A1 Stuarts, but I am not sure when.

    The touch signals as prescribed in FM 17-5 Armored Forces Drill - January 18, 1943

    b. Touch signals.-Touch signals are used by a tank commander to direct the driver. They are given with the foot or hand.
    (1) Move forward.-Several taps between the shoulder blades.
    (2) Increase speed.-Repeat "move forward" signal more rapidly. The taps are continued until the desired speed is acquired.
    (3) Decrease speed or halt.-Steady pressure between the shoulder blades. Pressure is continued until the desired reduced speed is attained or the vehicle is halted.
    (4) Move in reverse.-Tap repeatedly on the back of the driver's head (helmet).
    (5) Change direction.-Press on the driver's right (left) shoulder to turn right (left). The driver continues to turning until pressure ceases.


    An excellent interview with an M-5A1 Stuart tank commander can be found here:
    Dale Stuart Albee: Digital Collection: Veterans History Project (Library of Congress)
    just click on the "Complete Interview" link.
    Some notes
    *This is a .rm file so you will need some form of RealPlayer(download free at the RealPlayer website: http://www.real.com/realplayer)
    *Dale Stuart Albee was in the horse cavalry before the war, this takes up the first 1/2 hour of the interview.
    *He was also in the ETO, so no information on the African campaign.
     
    Buten42 and LRusso216 like this.
  6. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    13,436
    Likes Received:
    2,116
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for posting this video. It does make sense, and kind of vindicates the memory of Buten42.
     
  7. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    11
    I seem to remember reading about commanders using their feet to direct drivers in US light tanks before as well. Without going through all my books on M3/M5 tanks, here are a couple links to sources that reference tank commanders directing drivers through shoulder tapping here and here.
     
  8. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Washington State
    Had time for half the interview-will listen to the rest today--I'm amazed at the memory and detail. Mr. Albee is amazing.
    Thanks for the link.
     
  9. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Washington State
    The "firm kick in the back" to stop sounds like it would be the best policy to keep going--maybe that's why the breakout in Normandy went so well :D
    Thanks for the link--had a lot of good information. Sometime some of the information that goes in stays there--not often, but sometime.
     

Share This Page