Locust I - "One of our worst foreign tanks"

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fig1
Fig 1. Locust I in front of a Hamilcar Glider, 1945.

Overview
Locust was a light tank of the British Army from 1945 to 1946. It replaced the Tetrarch, and was deployed by 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in the closing months of World War 2. Designed in the United States, Locust had a short but violent career with the British before being transferred to Belgium and Egypt. Its largest-scale deployment would be by the Egyptian Army in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Development
In 1941 the War Office requested that the United States design an airborne tank, transportable by glider, for service with the newly-formed British 1st Airborne Division. The Tetrarch currently in service was judged unsuitable as it had not been designed as an airborne tank, and that a specialised vehicle was required.

Prototypes were submitted to the United States Ordnance Department by J. Walter Christie and the Marmon-Herrington Company, with Marmon-Herrington’s wooden prototype being approved as the Light Tank T9. With their previous experience designing trucks, half-tracks, armoured cars, and the CTLS light tank in service with the US Marine Corps, Marmon-Herrington was seen as a reliable choice.

In April 1942 the T9 prototype was tested at Fort Benning, Georgia. With the prototype exceeding the 7.9 ton weight requirement, a number of features including the power traverse, stabiliser, and bow machine guns were removed. In November 1942 two revised prototypes designated T9E1 were successfully tested, with one being sent to the United Kingdom. The British were found to be very happy with the design and placed an order. In total, 230 vehicles would be shipped to Britain.


fig2
Fig.2 The T9 prototype, with bow guns visible.

British Service
Technical issues delayed production until April 1943, and in 1944 the T9E1 was accepted by the United States Army as the Light Tank, M22. The British, typical of their style, named it Locust. British modifications of the Locust included stowage modifications, and a smoke grenade discharger either side of the turret. The 37mm Littlejohn adapter was tested but appears not to have been deployed in combat.

Initial deployment of the Locusts was delayed to due transmission problems, and they were not ready for Operation Overlord. Eventually replacing 6AARRs Tetrarchs and Cromwells in early 1945, 8 Locusts were deployed by Hamilcar glider during Operation Varsity in March 1945. Two tanks were lost during the landing, and of the six surviving tanks one was taken out by a German tank destroyer. The remaining five tanks supported the parachute infantry but their 37mm HE was generally as insufficient as it had been earlier in the war. Only two of the eight tanks survived Varsity in operational condition.

In May 1945, 6AARR returned to the UK, leaving their vehicles in Germany. The Locusts found some use with the Royal Artillery as command and reconnaissance cars, but after 1946 would never be used again by the British Army, and were sold or given to other countries. Belgian Locusts had their armament removed and were used as command vehicles, while the Egyptians had 50 Locusts formed into several light armour companies, replacing their previous Light Tank Mk VIs. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War a number of the tanks were destroyed or captured during Operation Assaf, in particular on 6 December when 5 of 12 Egyptian tanks were lost. Three Locusts captured from Egypt were retained in IDF service until 1952.

Specifications
Crew: 3
Combat Weight: 7,438 kg
Width: 2.26 m
Length: 3.94 m
Height: 1.80 m
Engine: Lycoming O-435-T 7.1 litre H6 petrol (162 hp @ 2,800 rpm)
Speed (Road): 64 km/h
Speed (Cross Country): 48km/h

Armament
Main Armament: M6 37mm Gun
Coaxial Armament: .30 Browning Machine Gun

Ammunition
M74B1 37mm AP
M51B1 37mm APCBC
Shot 37mm APSV Mk II
Shell 37mm HE Mk II

Armour
25.4mm (nose, turret) to 9.5mm (side), RHA and CHA

Sources
TM 9-724 Technical Manual, Light Tank T9E1, 17 Nov 1943
TM 9-1724A Technical Manual, Ordnance Maintenance, Engine and Engine Accessories for Light Tank T9E1, 6 Aug 1943
TM 9-2800 Technical Manual, Standard Military Motor Vehicles, 1 Sept 1943
Tanks Encyclopedia - Light Tank (Airborne) M22 Locust
Paradata - 6th Airborne Armoured Recce Regiment RAC
Tank Chats #87 | Locust | The Tank Museum
Tank Archives - Light Tank M22: Steel Locust
WW2 Vehicle Database - M22 Locust Light Tank

6 Likes

Also FYI the picture you used of the Locust is one of the Little John-modified Locusts.
image

Here’s a random image of a normal one
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3 Likes

That T9 prototype looks like a fun option for the US as well… +1

2 Likes

Smokes for the M22? Awesome!

2 Likes

Whats the Little John device if i might ask but summarized.

1 Like

A squeeze bore adaptor, there’s a suggestion specifically for the Locust with it

1 Like

Squeezebore adapter for the 2pdr, (and 37mm) think APDS but the sabot is flattened instead of discarded.
tumblr_inline_pnyuk0D96J1qapn73_1280
Adds a good chunk of penetration.

5 Likes

Ah interesting, the other suggestion says that the modified barrels are rendered useless without the LJ adapter installed. Might be true, might not.

Thank you for the advice!

Other suggestion guy here, while i dont know 100 percent if it is true that the shortened barrels were worthless without the adaptor on, it is a simple logic arguement to make for that. A 37mm without the adaptor has less armor pen to begin with and would have even less once the shortened barrel is taken into account, so it is inferior for AP. If you removed the adaptor it could now shoot HE, sure, but at a lower velocity than a unmodified 37mm. At that point, why not just use a regular locust for HE fire support?

In my suggestion I have a screenshot from newsreel footage showing a littlejohn adapted tank being loaded into a glider for Operation Varsity to prove they were used in combat. We also have pictures of standard locusts at Varsity, so pretty clearly the standard ones were used for HE infantry support (and AP where applicable) while the littlejohns would have a more dedicated AT role.

Thinking about it, the question is what modification has to be done to the barrel to allow the LJ to be fitted? Cutting, weakening, threading, etc, might have a minor or major effect on firing without the adaptor, depending on how much work is actually required.

The influence on the HE of velocity is less important than the calibre, evidenced by the lower velocity of most HE rounds.

I think the rule was one or two LJs per troop of 4 vehicles?

Also the rumour that SV ammo was found to be more effective even without the LJ, so presumably the effect on the barrel was actually negligible.

Added HE and APSV ammunition following research. The APSV blueprint is marked “Not for manufacture”, but could be included in game for flavour to act as a 37mm APCNR.

+1, including the Little John adapter.

That T9E1 also looks like a highly interesting vehicle that would be worth a suggestion

1 Like

Littlejohn would be interesting but maybe troublesome to implement, as it limits you to only the APSV round. I’d support it as a Premium or Event vehicle but this suggestion is for the British service Locust without the LJ.

The one with the bow guns is the T9, the T9E1 is just an M22 prior to reclassification in Sept 1944. Could be a Premium for USA.

You can support the it in the M22 Littlejohn suggestion.

1 Like