Fort George G. Meade Museum
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Photogragh: M3A1 Light Tank (inside the Museum)
The Light Tank M3A1, part of the Stuart family of tanks, began production in April 1942.  For awhile, the M3A1 was built concurrently with the M3.  This was reflected by the last few M3s having a welded hull while the first M3A1s retained the riveted hull  - before welding became standard.  The major differences between the two vehicles were that the M3A1 dispensed with a cupola and was fitted with two turret hatches; the installation of an oil motor power traverse; and the provision of a turret basket which the M3 had lacked.  Minor modifications included the repositioning of the turret vision ports and, as the series progressed, the removal of the two sponson machine guns, the mountings for which were blanked off.  The M3A1 was manufactured until February 1943.  A total of 4,621 M3A1s, 211 of which were diesel-powered, were built.