was built around the M3 Lee chassis, but using the later, more effective running gear of the M4 Sherman. Incorporating a US copy of a French designed M1917/18 M1 155mm gun, the M12 was intended to support advancing infantry units by providing continuous artillery support and therefore needed to be highly mobile, hence its mounting on a tracked chassis. The vehicle itself had an armoured section at the front for the driver and commander, with the gun firing crew occupying the open fighting compartment at the rear of the vehicle. The rear also featured a large hydraulically operated spade, which when lowered, dug into the ground, making for a more stable firing platform. When this was raised, it made a rather convenient seat for the firing crew.
As an infantry support weapon, the M12 was intended to be used in an indirect firing role, operating from concealed positions behind the front lines, hurling the guns huge shells onto enemy positions which were some way in the distance. This was not always the case and when Allied units were advancing at pace through former German occupied Europe, the M12 was regularly used in a direct firing role, right in the thick of the fighting. The busy fighting compartment only had storage space for around 10 projectiles and their propellant, so the M12 would usually be deployed with additional ammunition available from its concealed firing position, or had the support of a supply vehicle. One such vehicle was the M30, which looked for all the world like an M12 with the gun removed – this vehicle could transport everything the M12 crew needed for a busy day of action and as the pace of the Allied advance in Europe quickened, the services of the M12 crews would definitely be in great demand.
Expected: Autumn 2020