|For other uses, see Light tank.|
The Light Tank is the smallest and quickest tank in the game; its small footprint and high speed allow it to dodge enemy tank shells if directed properly. It is among the fastest armoured tracked vehicles in the game, only beaten by the APC and the Minelayer. Like other armoured tracked vehicles, it can run over infantry and it is well suited to this due to its speed.
The light tank is armed with a 75mm gun, which fires a HEAT projectile against hostile targets. Compared to the main guns of other tanks, while a single shot from the 75mm gun causes the least damage, the damage tradeoff is not much compared to the 90mm of the medium tank. Moreover, 75mm gun also has the fastest reload and this gives the Light tank the highest damage output rate.
However, the Light tank's relatively weak armour means that it cannot match Soviet tanks in one-on-one duels without extreme micromanagement to avoid return fire. A Light tank can also be instantly destroyed by a full discharge from a Soviet Tesla Coil. Allied commanders often combine medium and light tanks, using medium tanks to absorb enemy damage, which helps prolong the survivability of the light tanks in order to exploit their higher rate of fire and quickly destroy targets.
The light tank's firepower, speed, low price and fast production often make this tank a weapon of choice of many Allied commanders and many would opt for this vehicle as their main battle tank of choice over their heavier cousins.
Light tanks are cheap and quick to produce, allowing Allied commanders to have numerical superiority in armour vs. armour engagements.
The high speed of light tanks makes them useful as scouts or raiders, ideal for hit and run attacks on weak positions or single high value targets. Because of this, they complement well with the Ranger and the APC. Light tanks can use their speed to dodge enemy tank fire and other projectiles with ease and overwhelm enemy forces when en masse. This is often the case especially when fighting against heavy tanks and mammoth tanks. Therefore, under the right hands, the light tank alone can suffice as a competent and capable main battle tank over its heavier brethren.
However Light tanks cannot withstand too much punishment. Their medium armor can take some small arms fire and explosives adequately but they don't match well against heavier caliber fire and can easily be destroyed by base defenses like the Soviet Tesla Coil.
The Light tank is first available in mission Ten to One.
Red Alert Universe
Behind the scenes
The light tank is depicted by two different vehicles. In cinematic cutscenes, it bears some resemblance to the M41 Walker Bulldog, which is indeed a light tank from the 1950's with a marginally-effective anti-armour ordnance of 76mm caliber and just enough protection against small arms fire, while the sidebar image erroneously portrays an M2 Bradley IFV, due to Westwood simply re-using a render of Nod's light tank from Tiberian Dawn.
It would make much more sense for the Light tank to be depicted as a World War II or early Cold War era tank, as the M2 Bradley and similar Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) were only developed in the late 1970's, and are also technically not tanks. The M2 Bradley's main weapon is a 25mm chain gun; there is also a co-axial machine gun next to it and a pintle-mounted .50 caliber M2HB Browning machine gun by the commander's hatch, giving it a limited anti infantry capability. IFVs are much less heavily armed and protected than main battle tanks, nonetheless when equipped with larger cannons or anti-tank guided missiles they can pose a significant threat to all but the heaviest armoured fighting vehicles. However, IFVs are not supposed to go into battle against enemy tanks, in contrast to in-game where the Allies initially only have light tanks to go toe-to-toe with Soviet heavy tanks.
Besides the M41 Walker Bulldog, another possible contender for an Allied light tank is the M24 Chaffee, a light tank from the late-WWII period which had a 75mm cannon and was the immediate predecessor to the M41. There are also many European tanks which very well could have served in this role at the time, including the British Cromwell tank, which was a very fast tank at its time and also lightly armoured with a 75mm gun, the Comet tank which had a much more effective 76.2 mm gun, and the French AMX-13 with a 75 mm auto-loading gun. The German Panzer IV with its 7.5cm cannon, although classified as a medium tank in the 1940's, could have been reclassified as a light tank in Red Alert's timeline. The Panzer III/IV, a design proposed during WWII which was meant to combine the best aspects of the Panzer III and Panzer IV, is also a likely possibility, especially as a successor to the Panzer III shown in historical footage during a RA2 cutscene.
The game designers' choice in giving heavy tanks to the Soviets and light tanks to the Allies may have had historical precedent in the Western European theatre of 1944-45; the American M4 Sherman medium tank had weaker armament and protection than the German Tiger I heavy tank, however the the Allies used the M4's numerical superiority and speed to make up for this shortcoming.
- Medium tank, higher-grade Allied tank which supplemented the Light Tank later in the war
- Heavy tank, Soviet counterpart