M24 Chaffee - G200 Series of Vehicles
Some info on John Tozer & his quest for information.
I am the long-time owner of a 1937 75 Series Cadillac Imperial sedan, one of six that was assembled in Australia by General Motors Holden from GM Fleetwood parts imported from the USA. I purchased the car as a restoration project in 1987. The car came, not unlike most of these cars from this era here, with an “F” Series (1941) Cadillac flathead V8 installed in it. I say not unlike most cars from this era because hundreds, maybe thousands of these and Series 1G and 3G engines were imported into Australia under the “Lend Lease” arrangements with the USA from March 1941, predominantly for the Australian “Sentinel” Cruiser Tank (ACI – ACIV) development programme. The “F” Series Cadillac engines were almost a “straight swap” for the car engines of this period (1937 – 1942).Their sheer numbers and the fact that they were available still new and very cheaply after the War ended meant that an engine swap was more economical than an engine re-build. As a consequence it was and is very difficult to find Cadillac cars with original engines in Australia.
I had the “F” Series engine completely re-built and that sparked my interest in the Wartime use of Cadillac engines in various other military hardware. I soon located a shop manual for a marinised version of the “F” Series engine in motor launches etc. prepared by General Motors Holden and was able to inspect the “Sentinel” tanks that used three Cadillac engines (two for forward travel, one for reverse) in the Australian Army Tank Museum here. Up to 1942, Australia took a lot of its lead in the supply of armour from its experience in the Western Desert where speed and manoeuvrability were paramount. That meant a serious shortage of appropriate armour when the War for us suddenly shifted to the jungles of the Pacific after Singapore fell at the end of 1941. The experience in the Western Desert drove the Australian Government to invest in the development of the Cruiser Tanks which continued until all manner and number of US armour became available in 1943.
At about the same time as I had my “F” Series engine re-built I started researching my father’s Army service in New Guinea and Bougainville between 1942 and 1946 and learned more about the role that Cadillac played in the production of War materiel. In this way I came across a record of trials of the two US M24 tanks carried out by the Australian Army for the British War Office on Bougainville Island during late 1945 when my father was in service there. I bought a copy of the report on these trials from our National Archives and this is the source for the photos and the text that I have sent you.
The restoration of my 1937 Cadillac continues, although at a reduced pace. My interest in the military use of these engines has continued with renewed determination to try to access the AC3 “Thunderbolt” Cruiser Tank that is part of the Australian War Memorial collection in my home city of Canberra. This tank had three Cadillac flathead V8’s arranged around a common crankcase. It was called a “Perrier Cadillac” engine and developed a huge 330 HP.
M24 with British Registration #330690 was sold in 2006 at the "Melbourne Tank Museum Sale" for $39,550.Even in 2006 this was an extremely low price. Less than $30K US for an M24 that looked mostly complete.
The data collected has been submitted by John Tozer. This is by far some of the rarest information as yet to surface on the M24 series tanks in recent times. I truly appreciate the efforts of John to scan and separate this info into manageable bits so I could bring it to you via the web. Please do not miss the actual movie footage link. Again this is some of the best actual war time M24 footage I have seen. Again thank you to John Tozer & the Australian War Memorial for saving these bits of history for us to savor.