The US M42 Duster Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun

The T41A1 entered production at the Cadillac’s GMC Cleveland Tank Plant in Ohio during mid 1951 as the M41 Little Bulldog. The name was soon changed to the M41 Walker Bulldog after General Walton Harris Walker. The M41 was the first post war light tank to enter production, replacing the M24 Chaffee, which had served in WW2 and all its variants.

One of these variants was the M19. This vehicle had a turret mounting a pair of the successful Swedish Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft guns, which had been very popular during WW2. They still were highly effective against the new jet aged fighters that were being deployed during the early 1950’s, so the decision was made to mount this turret, with its Bofors guns on to a modified M41 hull and designated The US M42 Duster Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun.

During the Vietnam War, it earn’t the nickname the ‘Duster’ and was referred to as the M42 Duster during the remainder of its service with the US Army.

It entered production with GMC in 1952 and in 1956, production swapped over to the M42A1, which had a new 500hp AOSI-895-5 engine. 3700 vehicles were manufactured when production ended in late 1959.

As newer anti-aircraft missile systems started to enter service in the US, the M42 started to be withdrawn from service and passed to the US National Guard. However M42’s were recalled back in to service during the Vietnam War, were their role doubled up from low altitude AA, to engaging land based targets, such as infantry and structures. At the end of the War, these vehicles were sent back to the National Guard, where they retired in 1988.

The US M42 Duster Anti-Aircraft Gun Specifications

Weight: 24.8ton (loaded)
Length: 5.82m
Width: 3.23m
Height: 2.85m
Crew: 4 to 6
Armour: 9 to 25mm
Primary armament: M2A1 40 mm twin anti-aircraft gun
Secondary armament: 1 x M1919A4 7.62mm machine gun
Engine: 6-cylinder air cooled gasoline 500hp (375 kW)
Power/weight: 22.2 hp/ton
Suspension: torsion bar
Operational: range 160 km
Speed: 72 km/h

The US M42 Duster Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun Operators

United States of America: US Army, US National Guard, finally retired in 1988
Greece: Hellenic Army, from surplus German stocks.
Japan: Japan Ground Self Defence Force
Republic of China Army, Republic of China Marine Corps
Thailand: Taiwanese light tank variant produced by combining turrets of decommissioned M18 tank destroyers with surplus M42 hulls. Compartments over the track guards for spare Bofors gun barrels were replaced with storage boxes of the stock M41 tank. One battalion worth (50+) of conversions were made.
Turkey: Will be replaced by a new FNSS 2x35mm ACV
Venezuelan Army, retired from service in 1989. AMX-13/M41E1 Ráfaga is produced by combining turrets of decommissioned M42A1 Dusters with surplus AMX-13M51 hulls. With improvements in fire control for night operations and on original hull. One battery of converted vehicles were made.