Locust from Bastogne
The history of the tank with a promising name Locust began in February 1941st, when the American military decided that they need a light tank that can be transported by air. The orders for development of the new vehicle were issued to the Marmon-Herrington Company, General Motors and to John Christie. Even though the Christie’s portfolio had a “flying tank” design since the 1930s, the option proposed by Marmon-Herrington was chosen as the winner. It was that design which eventually was taken into service as the Light Tank M22.
The welded armored hull of the tank had rational inclination angles — however, in the second half of WWII, armor up to 25 mm thick did not give any serious protection, even when placed at an angle. A similar situation was with the gun — a tank version of the light anti-tank gun M3, which in 1943 in the army was already considered obsolete for battles in Europe.
However, the main problem of the airborne M22 was that the Douglas C-54 Skymaster, which the American Air Force had, could only transport it in disassembled form — the turret in the cargo compartment, and the hull under the fuselage. The tank, which still needs to be assembled behind enemy lines, did not correspond well to the generals' dreams of armored locusts flying from the sky.
The British were more fortunate — they had a transport glider «Hamilcar», which could fit even the assembled M22. It was the British who sent the Locust into battle in March 1945 during the operation to cross the Rhine. Of the eight M22s sent, one tank was destroyed along with the brought down glider and another was buried under the ruins when the glider that carried it crashed into the farm during landing. Of the six remaining, one tank broke down and supported the assault forces with fire from a position. Another one — the tank of Lieutenant Kenward — was “lucky” to meet the German Panther. The outcome was predictable. The remaining four tanks supported the British paratroopers as much as possible until the German attacks on the landing zone ceased.
This was the only time the M22 was used in combat during World War II.
The photo review shows photographs of the M22 tank located in the Belgian Bastogne Barracks Museum in Bastogne.