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Paraguay keeping M3 Stuart, M4 Sherman tanks in service

30 December 2015
A Sherman tank is pictured in storage at the REP. It is one of three delivered to Paraguay in 1980 and is now likely to be brought back to full operational condition and transferred to the RC4 armoured training regiment. Source: Erwan de Cherisey

The M3 Stuart light tank and M4 Sherman main battle tank, both nearly 75 years old, appear to be going back into service with the Paraguayan Army as operational trainers.

Although the Paraguayan Army made a brief use of Italian Ansaldo CV33s, the M3 and M3A1s were its first real tanks. A total of 15 M3s were delivered in 1970 in three successive lots as donations from neighbouring Brazil. Paraguay's Stuart tanks first served with Cavalry Regiment N°3 (Regimiento de Caballería N°3: RC3), part of 1st Cavalry Division (División de Caballeria 1: DC1), headquartered at Campo Grande near Paraguay's capital, Asuncion.

Since then - and aside from their part in the 1989 coup d'état that ousted General Alfredo Stroessner, then President of Paraguay - M3s have occasionally participated in the country's 15 May military parade in Asuncion. For the most part the tanks were mainly out of action, having been stored following a threatened army coup in 1996, until the last several years in which efforts have been made to get a portion of the fleet back in operational condition.

Following delivery in 1980 from Argentina, the Shermans have been attached to the Presidential Escort Regiment (Regimiento Escolta Presidencial: REP) except for a brief period, between 1992 and 1996, during which they served in RC3.

Pictures of the September 2013 Exercise 'Yuquyry' at the Military Academy (Academia Militar: ACADEMIL) showed three Stuart tanks in working condition participating in manoeuvres.

Also in 2013 the Regimiento de Caballería N°4 (RC4) was officially reorganised as the army's new armour school. A Paraguayan military source told IHS Jane's that in 2014 it was decided to re-activate the M3 fleet to provide RC4 with a training tank. Thus, 10 of the original 15 Stuart (one was transformed to a gate guardian at ACADEMIL and four remain in storage) were put through a complete overhaul, had their engines refurbished, were repainted, and received M2 .50-calibre machine guns on a turret pintle instead of the original Browning .30-calibre, before being delivered to RC4.

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