This 1941 M3 Stuart Tank is a BaT double take
What’s the deal with military auctions infiltrating Bring a Trailer? No complaints here. The addictively sociable auction house is always full of surprises; however, that typically entails a jaw dropping JDM or record-breaking Duesenberg. No less, a 1941 M3 Stuart Tank has somehow made its way onto the site thanks to a seller (Wob) who’s sold several other outliers of WW2 ilk on the platform recently, like a NSU Kettenkrad and M4A1 Sherman. Both brought in six-figure sales. With three days to go, can this M3 Stuart join them?
The M3 Stuart was officially a “Light Tank” (less than 28,000 pounds) widely used by U.S. and allied forces. The legend suggests it was nicknamed “Honey” by Brits due to its relative speed, agility, and reliability in the field. According to the seller, after manufacture this particular example made its way to Australia, where it was used in training duty for over five years. In retirement, it remained in the land down under for nearly 80 more, before the current owner imported it home to the States.
Following almost a decade of light-tank development, the M3 series was born in the summer of 1940. As part of the Lend-Lease Act with Great Britain, the tank first saw war in the harsh North African terrain in November 1941. Americans found the M3 (and its much-improved M3A1 version) to be reliably competent machines to maneuver in the Pacific Rim, where jungle warfare made for tighter turns. However, the M3 was always troublesome to weaponize, and they were often outmatched in combat, especially in Europe against heavy firepower. This reality forced many M3s to become reconnaissance units, particularly when the more refined M5s and M4s (Sherman) joined the ranks by 1943.
This M3 is powered by a 668-cubic-inch Continental W-670 seven-cylinder gas radial engine, which replaced an original Guiberson radial diesel engine. The W-670 was used in an impressively versatile array of machines of the age, including aircraft. Due to the configuration of the radial in the M3, space was much tighter in the cockpit than that of the M5s that later enjoyed a Twin Cadillac engine upgrade in the powertrain.
Four-man crews operated the M3, although the seller has commented that it can be driven solo with the front hatches open. In this way, the M3 Stuart is one of the friendlier tanks to operate for any novices out there looking to fortify their family compound.
Sitting at a bidding price of less than $75,000, this early M3 has a lot of ground to make up if we’re going to compare it to the more advanced M5A1 that sold for $220K three years ago on BaT. Perhaps a more apt target would be this M3A1 that RM Sotheby’s sold out of the Littlefield Collection in 2014 for $155,250. Either way, we’re delighted to see such a healthy enthusiasm and appetite for historical combat items in this day and age, no matter where they spring up.