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Medium Tank M4A1/ Sherman II
The Medium Tank M4A1/ Sherman II was the second version of the Medium Tank M4 to be standardized but the first to enter production. It combined a cast upper hull and a Wright radial engine, and was used by US and UK forces.
The M4 was developed to replace the obsolete Medium Tank M2 and the interim Medium Tank M3, which carried its main 75mm gun in the right of the superstructure. Work on the prototype Medium Tank T6, which had a cast hull, was completed by September 1941, and the type was accepted for production. On 11 December 1941 two versions were given designations - the M4 with a welded hull and the M4A1 with a cast hull.
The M4A1 entered production at the Lima Locomotive Works in February 1942, on a British contract. The first machine to be completed had the same cast hull as the T6, with holes for the side doors, and was given a British War Department number, although it was used for tests in the US. The second machine had the new M4A1 cast upper hull, with the side doors eliminated, and was shipped to Britain. Production of the M4A1 ended at Lima in September 1943
The Pressed Steel Car Company began production of the M4A1 in March 1942, and completed its last M4A1 in December 1943.
Finally the Pacific Car and Foundry Company produced a production pilot in May 1942 before beginning full production. Production ended in November 1943.
In total the three factories built 6,281 M4A1s armed with the 75mm gun.
Between August 1944 and May 1945 2,259 early M4A1s were refurbished, bringing them close to the most modern specifications (see below for details of changes made during the production run). These tanks were then sent to the combat zone.
The Pressed Steel Car Company then began production of the M4A1(76), and completed 3,426 of this model between January 1944 and the end of the war.
The M4A1 used a cast upper hull, with the side doors of the T6 removed to strengthen the hull. On the T6 the driver had his own roof hatch but the assistance driver was meant to use the side doors, so on the M4A1 a second roof hatch was installed. Both roof hatches had periscopes. Periscopes were also added to the split hatch on the turret (for the commander) and on the turret roof (for the loader).
It was powered by the Wright-Continental R975 air cooled radial engine, and had the same engine deck as the M4. This included a flat armour plate mounted 3in above the rear deck to protect the engine air intake (just behind the turret).
The first tanks to be completed had two fixed bow machine guns, a feature that had been eliminated from the official design in favour of a single ball mounted gun. They also used the original Vertical Volute Spring Suspension bogies from the M3, with the return roller directly above the centre of the bogie. The M4A1 used a welded lower hull, and early production vehicles had the three piece differential covering at the front.
The turret had a powered traverse mechanism. The Oilgear hydraulic system was preferred, but Logansport hydraulic and Westinghouse electric systems were also used in order to speed up production.
Production tanks had a 2in thick rotor shield in front of the 75mm mount, designed to prevent small arms fire from damaged the rotor and jamming it in place (a similar feature was added on many M3s). As on the M3 extra ventilation was needed, and three armoured ventilators were installed. One was mounted on the turret roof, one on the top of the right sponson just behind the turret and one on the front of the right sponson. This third ventilator couldn't be used on command tanks, as the space was needed for the antenna for the SCR 506 radio.
During the production run of the M4A1 a series of changes were introduced. The two fixed bow machine guns were replaced with a single machine gun in a ball mount. An anti-aircraft gun could be mounted on a rotating ring on the turret hatch. At first this was a .50in gun, but between September 1942 and April 1943 a .30in gun was used instead. Late production vehicles used the one piece differential cover. Heavy duty suspension bogies were introduced in the summer of 1942. These had stronger volute springs, and the return wheel moved from the top of the central structure onto its own arm.
Early production vehicles had a periscope type gun sight, but this could easily be knocked out of alignment, and it was replaced by a telescopic sight mounted to the right of the gun.
Of the 6,281 M1A1s that were built with a 75mm gun, 942 went to the UK, where they served as the Sherman II, and most of the rest were used by the United States.
Stats M4A1 (Early Production)
Hull Length: 230in
Hull Width: 103in
Weight: 66,800lb combat loaded
Engine: Continental R975 C1, 9 cylinder air cooled radial
Hp: 350hp at 2,400rpm
Max Speed: 21mph sustained, 24mph max
Max Range: 120 miles cruising range, roads
Armament: 75mm Gun M3 and 0.30in MG in turret, 0.5in MG in AA mount on turret, 0.3in MG in bow mount
WWII Sherman Tank
This World War II Sherman M4A1 Medium Tank with 76 mm wet gum was from the Watertown Arsenal. Overhauled 1950 and bears No. 68091.
The tank was dedicated, upon its placement in Memorial Park, to the Men and Women of Huntington County who answered their Country's call. Dedicated November 11, 1958 By the City of Huntington and Battery "A” 138th AAA (AW) BN (SP) Indiana National Guard
[Dedication plaque on the tank:]
To the men and women of Huntington county who answered their country's call dedicated November 11, 1958 by the city of Huntington and Battery "A” 138th AAA (AW) BN (SP) Indiana National Guard
Erected by Huntington County Veterans' Council.
Topics. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: Roads & Vehicles &bull War, World II. A significant historical date for this entry is November 11, 1958.
Location. 40° 52.717′ N, 85° 30.383′ W. Marker is in Huntington, Indiana, in Huntington County. Memorial is on West Park Drive (Business U.S. 24) 0.1 miles west of Dimond Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1125 W Park Dr, Huntington IN 46750, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. In Memory of All Vietnam Veterans (a few steps from this marker) Taps (a few steps from this
The M4's have a vareity of different variants seen throughout different Theatres due to it's strongest perks for being the most versatile Tank of the War. Be it an Up-Gunned Tank, an Asaault Tank, A Tank Destroyer, An Armored Self-Propelled Gun, a Mine Flayer, A Flamethrower Tank, an Amphibious Vehicle or an Armored Recovery Vehicle.
The first Shermans variants that entered combat in WW2 was the M4A1, used by the British during the Second Battle of El Alamein. The Battle ended with a British Victory, although, there were losses of materials and casualties on both sides. The M4A1 features a cast hull with it's Frontal hull in a curved shape and has a Continental R975 Radial engine.
The Second Variant, the M4A2: It is an M4 variant with a GM6046 Twin Inline Diesel Engine and early M4A2 have 57 degrees of Frontal Armor with Driver and Co-Driver Ports visible. It was not used by the US Army but saw use within the US Marine Corps during the Pacific Theatre and it was also sent to the Eastern Front to assist Soviet forces Α] and many saw use within the Red Army Guard Units. The late-M4A2 have 47 degrees angle on it's Frontal hull, thus it features the newer all-around Vision Cupola and the new M1 76mm Main Gun but the engine remains the same due to the Soviets heavily relied on Diesel fuel.
The third variant, the M4A3: A Sherman equipped with the latest Ford GAA V8 Engine that provides 450-500 Horsepower. This M4 variant was only widely used by the United States Army and some found service within the Marine Corps. It's first early-produced variants was the M4A3 (75)D, it has a 57 Degrees Hull was first to be equipped with 75mm Gun, it saw first combat in the Pacific Theatre. The late-War production of the M4A3 came with 47 Degrees Hull.
The first M4A3's with 76mm guns appeared in Operation Cobra around July 1944 during the Normandy Campaign until it's newer variants around December 1944 were fitted with the Horizontal Volute Suspension System that slowly entered into the M4 Production. The HVSS, regardless if it's M4A1, M4A2 or M4A3, were fitted out with these suspensions would be later became known as "E8's", otherwise known as the "Easy Eight".
U.S. Tank Driver posing with his M4A3E2.
The M4A3 Sherman also had a subvariant, an Assault Tank called the M4A3E2 or it's postwar given nickname "Jumbo", which had thicker armor and a revised turret, their role is to break though heavy enemy Fortifications and able to withstand 88mm KwK 38 Guns and 75mm KwK 40 Guns used by the Wehrmacht Army at distances, only 254 were produced and entered the European Theatre by September 1944. One M4A3E2 known as the "Cobra King" became famous for reaching the besieged US Forces in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. It's combat performance by the US Army were regarded as "highly successful" and General Patton demanded more E2 Shermans for his Troops, however, since he forbids Sandbags and Wooden Logs that provides no effective protection, he ordered the engineers to modify over 200 ordinary Shermans into makeshift E2's by welding extra armor salvaged from wrecked Tanks or from other Shermans in reserves. These Field Modifications provided extra protection and an additional boost morale amongst the American Tankers, one famous example like M4A3 76(w) HVSS "Thunderbolt VII" under the command of Colonel Creighton Abrams for featuring a well-protected Sherman with additional armor and hollowed armor welded on the sides that provides protection from German Anti-Tank Rockets.
An M4A3 Up-Gunned variant with a 76mm.
The fourth variant, M4A4: A Sherman was once fitted with a Caterpillar D200A and changed to Chrysler A-57 engine which ran on gasoline and its armor had a thickness of 51mm and angled at 57 degrees, giving about 60mm of relative Thickness. Its weight is around 34 tons and it had a length of about 6.5 meters. These Tanks were produced by Chrysler and it was never used by the US Army in Frontline Combat and were used as Training Tanks, however, these Tanks became Lend-Lease vehicles for the British under "Sherman V", which they deem it as a reliable Tank. By 1944, before D-Day, the M4 Lend-Lease Tanks, including M4A4's were fitted out with 17-Pounder Guns that provides great penetration performance in longer distance against thicker German Armor once the British Intelligence were well aware of the presence of a significant numbers of German Heavy Tanks deployed on Normandy. These M4A4's became the "Sherman V "Firefly"" or known as "Sherman VC", "C" in British nomenclature meant that these Tanks were outfitted with a QF 17-Pounder Guns. In the famous Operation Totalize, the one of the British Commonwealth Fireflies managed to defeat one of Germany's famous Tank Ace, Michael Wittmann.
The fifth variant, M4A5 was actually a Canadian tank known as the Ram, and there was only a small number of M4A5 tanks Β] built and they were not used in combat. The sixth variant, the M4A6, were build with longer hulls but never used in combat. The M4A1 Sherman itself even had a Canadian variant that was called the Grizzly I Cruiser Tank. It had a number of modifications differentiating it. Including increased armor protection.
The M4 had it's own Tank Destroyer Variant, the M36B1, is a Sherman turned into a designated Tank Destroyer and armed with a 90mm Gun. Due to the lack of Hulls produced for the M36 Jackson. The US Tank Destroyer Branch needed much Tank Destroyers as possible to destroy the presence of any Heavy German Armor at the Siegfried Line, they chose the M4A3 Hulls before adding the Jackson Turret, these Armored Vehicles saw combat around October 1944 up until the War's end in Europe.
An M36B1 featuring an M4A3 Hull with an M36 Turret and a 90mm Gun.
The T34 Calliope is a Sherman armed with 114mm M8 Rockets attached to the turret and has 60 tubes containing fin stabilized rockets. It's main purpose role was a Multi-Launcher Rocket Artillery that were meant to take out entrenched infantry, Fortifications and other soft targets in devastating blows.
The M4 "Rhino", during the Normandy Campaign when U.S. Soldiers were experiencing difficulties to cross the French Bocage and running into German Ambush, the Allied Engineers devised a plan to weld Steel Blades that salvaged the Czech Hedgehogs from the Beaches of Normandy before attaching them in front on to the Sherman's transmission housing, the result of this invention provides of it's successful performance of eliminating the Bocage blocking their way by charging head-in first alongside with it's friendly Armored Force and Infantry-alike without costing much time. This device was also used by the British and were called as "Prongs". It played some of its crucial roles in the Normandy Campaign such as Operation Cobra.
A Sherman Rhino is only featured with the blades located on the lower hull.
The M4 105mm Howitzer is an Armored Mid-Ranged Artillery, it takes mainly as a role of an Self-propelled artillery in order to fire directly against Enemy Fortifications and indirectly against Entrenched Infantry while 105mm HE Shells can produce a lot of lethal shell fragments within a deadly 25-foot radius upon impact. It's 105mm Howitzer Gun has a much more superior High Explosive capabilities than that of the M3 75mm Guns.
The Sherman "Dozer", A Sherman Tank with a Dozer attached on it's chassis, meant for removing wreckage and debris from the roads .
The M4 Sherman "Crocodile", a Flametbrower Sherman meant for disabling Enemy Trenches and Fortifications alike. It saw use in the Pacific Theatre by the Marine Corps to take out dug-in Japanese soldiers.
M32 Sherman - A recovery vehicle to tow disabled Tanks and wreckage.
DD Sherman, otherwise known as "Duplex Drive" - It is an Amphibious Sherman with float modifications that was meant to storm the beaches of Normandy. This vehicle was disastrous when the US deployed them far away from the Beachheads and were sunk due to harsh weathers and the strong currents of the tides, Only Two American DD Shermans made it to the beaches. But the British Commonwealth put them on good use by deploying them near the beaches and a good numbers successfully landed. This Tank saw later use to cross the Rhine River at early 1945.
Medium Tank T6 - A Prototype Armored Vehicle that shared the similar shape and function to it's completed successor that will enter combat 13 months later which will become known as the M4 Medium Tank "Sherman". This vehicle was tested on Aberdeen Proving Grounds in September 2nd 1941 and was approved for mass-production with it's newer design and improvements.
How Nazi Germany Used Stolen American Tanks In World War II
In the final days of World War II, as U.S. troops advanced into Aschaffenberg, they encountered stiff German resistance in the form of something familiar: a Sherman tank, one of its beutepanzers, aka “loot tanks,” equipment seized in previous battles. In war, the loot can be as dangerous as anything.
Mark Felton, a prolific military history YouTuber, recently uploaded a new video about the U.S. Army’s unlikeliest of adversaries: M4 “Sherman” tanks. The Sherman medium tank was the most widely used tank of World War II. Designed and manufactured in the United States, it equipped the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps and was lent in large numbers to the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Brazil, Poland, South Africa, Australia, and the Soviet Union.
German troops first encountered the Sherman in North Africa, where M4A1 tanks were captured from the U.S. 1st Armored Division. U.S. Army troops, inexperienced in combat, turned in several less-than-stellar performances during the Tunisian campaign, particularly at the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid , and abandoned tanks and other equipment on the battlefield. The Germany Army shipped at least one Sherman home to Kummersdorf, home of the Wehrmacht’s weapon testing center.
High ranking German officers and engineers took stock of the tank. The video shows a famous photo of Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Reich, sitting in the commander’s hatch, seeing for himself what an American tank was all about. America was not known for its tanks at the time, and Yankee know-how in the fields of tank guns and armor were inferior to those of other countries.
Still, the Americans impressed the Germans by doing well what American cars were known for: the Germans found the Sherman well built, reliable, and comfortable. They were likely less impressed with the Sherman’s short barrel, low-velocity 75-millimeter gun, which was inferior to its German contemporary, the 75-millimeter KwK 40 L/43 that equipped the Panzer IV tank.
The German Army used large numbers of captured enemy tanks, beginning even before the war started 1938 with the Czechoslovakian Panzer 38t . Captured French tanks streamed into German inventories after the fall of France in 1940. French tanks were used on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union, in anti-guerilla operations, and given to weaker Axis partners such as Romania. They were also used to garrison Western Europe against an invasion by the Western Allies and possible landings in France. Polish, Dutch, and British tanks were all collected as spoils of war, with those captured In meaningful numbers converted to beutepanzers.
After Germany invaded the the Soviet Union in June 1941, it captured huge amounts of Soviet equipment. It pressed the Soviet T-34 tank pressed into service, despite the fact it had only a two-person turret and a garbage can-type lid for a commander’s turret hatch, seriously compromising the crew’s visibility. The Germans added a cupola for the commander, allowing him to see in all directions while protected from enemy fire, painted a Balkan cross on the side, and sent it into battle. The Germans may have even used Sherman tanks on the Eastern Front, as the United States shipped more than 4,000 Shermans—with diesel instead of gasoline engines—for use by the Red Army.
Why did the Germans use so much foreign equipment? Hitler and the Nazi leadership were hesitant to fully mobilize the German economy for all-out war. Even the Nazis, hell-bent on world conquest, had to spread out its resources beyond buying military machines. Germany simply didn’t purchase enough tanks to make up for wartime losses. Berlin finally committed to a wartime economy in 1943, only after it became clear that the war with Russia was unwinnable.
Combat performance [ edit | edit source ]
The M4 had a high profile compared to the Cromwell, which supplemented it in British service.
The best anti-tank gun on a World War II combat Sherman was the British QF 17 pounder (76.2 mm) gun, [ citation needed ] a very high-velocity weapon firing APDS shells capable of defeating the heavier German tanks. The 17 pounder had already shown its value in 1943, in Africa as a towed anti-tank gun. It proved an effective weapon against German tanks. [ citation needed ] With the APDS developed for the 17 pounder, the Firefly's performance was increased again. Although the 17-pounder was an excellent anti-armor weapon, initially the HE shell provided was weak, making it a poor general-purpose tank gun. [ citation needed ] However, the HE shell problem was later resolved.
Medium Tank M4A4 Sherman, early production 1-6,25-28
- Commander in turret right rear
- Gunner in turret right front
- Loader in turret left rear
- Driver in hull left front
- Assistant driver in hull right front
M4A4 was known as Sherman V to the British. M4A4 had a longer hull than other Shermans due to its large Chrysler multibank engine, which was five automobile engines combined in a star shape geared to run as a single engine. The A57 was also installed in the medium tank M3A4. The bogies were distinctive on M4A4 as they were spaced farther apart than other Shermans. The centers of M4A4's bogies were 63.625" (162cm) apart, while those of other Shermans were 57" (145cm) apart. There was a rectangular, square-cornered bulge on the rear deck of M4A4 that covered the engine's radiator. The radiator filler cap was in the middle of this bulge, and a thin air inlet grille was between the turret and the radiator bulge. There was also a blister in the floor of the M4A4 to allow the engine cooling fan to fit into the rear compartment. The glacis of M4A4 was simplified from that of M4A2, with five plates welded together rather than the M4A2's seven. All M4A4s were produced with the three-piece final drive and differential housing, and no M4A4s were built with the later 47° glacis configuration. Direct vision slots for the drivers began to be phased out in November 1942 in favor of additional periscopes.
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Development and Use of the M4 Sherman Flamethrower Tank in World War II
M4 Sherman Tank equipped with flamethrower fitted to the bow machine gun ball-mount, circa 1944.
Initial efforts were field improvisations of Auxiliary Mechanized Flame Throwers, based on components of available portable flamethrowers. In October 1943, the Chemical Warfare Service modified the portable flame thrower to fit the bow machine gun ball-mount, creating the first standard tank flamethrower, adapted to M4 Sherman as well as M3 and M5 light tanks. In the field, it took several hours to install fuel reservoirs, but thereafter the operator could remove the machine gun and insert the flame gun in a minute or two. The flame thrower could fire one gallon of fuel per second to an effective range of 25 to 30 yards with oily fuel, 50 to 60 yards with thickened fuel. The CWS procured 1,784 model M3-4-3 bow flame throwers with fuel capacity of 50 gallons for M4 Sherman tanks. These bow-type flame throwers saw action in the European Theater, in the Marianas operation (Guam), on Peleliu, Luzon, and other islands.
Some tank commanders rejected the bow flame thrower because use of the important bow machine gun was lost. An alternative was to mount the flame gun in the turret alongside the periscope. In Hawaii, the CWS, Seabees, and their contractors produced several periscope models, one of which (M3-4-E6R3) went into standardized production in 1945, but was too late for use before the end of the war. A total of 176 units manufactured locally in Hawaii were employed in the Ryukyus campaign (Okinawa).
Development of Main Armament Mechanized flame Throwers began slowly due to the low priority given the project in competition for wartime resources. Few tanks were made available to modify. Tests in mid-1942 with an M3 medium tank helped identify improvements and by the beginning of 1943 there were two fairly satisfactory main armament flame throwers. The first one was developed by CWS as the E7 and a second unit sponsored by the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) called Q (for Quickie), produced under CWS contract by Standard Oil Development Company. In March 1943 CWS arranged a demonstration for Army Ground Forces to decide which of the two models it preferred. Q was selected. The Army decided to place the flame thrower in light tanks, the only tanks available, and a complete system was devised for the M5A1 Stuart. The flame gun, fuel reservoir, and compressed gas cylinders were mounted in a turret basket that was interchangeable with the regular turret basket of an M5A1 tank. The reservoir held 105 gallons of fuel that could be discharged at a rate of approximately two gallons per second. The range with ordinary fuel was 30 to 40 yards, with thick fuel 105 to 130 yards. However, continuing difficulty in obtaining tanks to modify delayed the installation of flame throwers. It was January 1944 before the Armored Board received a weapon for test. By that time, the M5A1 tank was considered obsolete, forcing the CWS and NDRC to start over and design a flame thrower for the M4 Sherman medium tank.
The work went forward slowly because the Army wanted all tanks shipped to the war zones, the CWS lacked engineers for the project, and considerable time was needed to perfect the complex mechanism. Finally representatives of CWS, AGF, ASF, and NDRC agreed that the fastest way to get a main armament flame thrower into action was to have Standard Oil modify the earlier Q, creating a new system known as the Mechanized Flame Thrower E12-7R1, later standardized as the M5-4. This modification was done rapidly, but the M5-4 could not be installed until the spring of 1945 because tanks were still scarce. The war ended before the flame throwing M4 Sherman tank of this design could be shipped overseas. Four NDRC Q model (E7-7) flame throwers mounted in M5A1 light tanks left over from testing were shipped to Manila, Philippines, arriving 3 April 1945, the only flame tanks used in the war that were produced in the US mainland.
The delays in getting flamethrower tanks from the standard sources in the United States, led to a flurry of expedient developments in the field. The most significant effort was in Hawaii, a collaboration between the Army CWS and the Navy, under COL George H. Unmacht, CWS, after Jan 1944. They adapted the Ronson flame thrower, developed in Great Britain in 1941 and improved by the Canadians. NDRC adapted the Q flame unit for the Marine Corps, renamed the Navy Mark I, first five units of which reached Hawaii in April 1944. The first tank, an M3A1 Stuart, was fitted with the Ronson flamethrower and named Satan. Twenty-four Satan tanks were shipped to the Marines and used on Saipan in June 1944, then on Tinian, with good success.
In September 1944, the Tenth Army was planning an attack on Formosa, later canceled. They requested that large capacity flame throwers be installed in fifty-four M4 Sherman medium tanks. In the first model the 43d Chemical Laboratory Company installed a Ronson gun like the one used on Satan. The Tenth Army pointed out that the silhouette was different from the 75mm gun of the regular M4 tank, and this would permit the enemy to selectively target flame tanks. 75mm gun tubes were in short supply only a few salvaged tubes were available. Seabees machined these for the purpose until COL Unmacht obtained authority for additional serviceable tubes.
The new M4 Sherman flame thrower tank, designated POA-CWS "75" H-1 or POA-CWS-H1 (POA for Pacific Ocean Areas, CWS for Chemical Warfare Service, H for Hawaii), used the US Navy Mark 1 flamethrower system, based on the Q design E14-7R2. It was demonstrated to the Tenth Army about 1 November 1944. The weapon used compressed carbon dioxide gas to propel the fuel, had a fuel capacity of 290 gallons, a range of 40 yards with oily fuel and 60 to 80 yards with thickened fuel. Eight M4A3 Shermans modified with the POA-CWS-H1 were sent to the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, for the Iwo Jima operation and 54 were supplied to the 713th Provisional Flame Thrower Tank Battalion for the Ryukyus operation (Okinawa).
M4A1 Sherman medium tank from the 713th Tank Battalion, equipped with POA-CWS-H1 flamethrower (Marine Corps design M4A3R5), firing at the entrance of a cave on southern Okinawa, 25 June 1945.
On Iwo Jima (Feb 1945), Marines found the flame tanks particularly helpful in the later stages of the operation when they had to take a network of caves. By the time the Marines had reached the northern end of the island, flame tanks had proven so useful that demand for them exceeded the supply. On Okinawa the operations took place on the hilly southern portion of the island where Japanese troops had defenses in cliffs, hills, and escarpments. The 713th Tank Battalion carried out more than six hundred attacks, and fired almost 200,000 gallons of napalm thickened fuel.
In another field expedient, troops on Okinawa employed an ingenious hose extension against caves that were out of range of tanks. The Navy donated fifty-foot lengths of fire hose which the men coupled together to form a hose four hundred feet long. They fastened one end of the hose to the fuel reservoir of the tank, and attached an M2-2 portable flame gun to the other end. In action, the M4 Sherman tank parked as close as possible to the target, the operators dragged the hose to a position within range, the tank pumped fuel through the hose, and the nozzleman ignited the fuel and directed the flame at the target. The extension was used with good results on a number of occasions.
During World War II several other significant development projects attempted to improve the M4 Sherman as a flamethrower tank, including the Sherman Crocodile with an armored fuel trailer, the T33 variant converted from M4A3E2 tanks, and an effort at the University of Iowa to produce a Sherman with dual main gun and flamethrower.
Fire-prone tank had to outnumber its foes to win
The M-4 Sherman was the workhorse medium tank of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps during World War II. It fought in every theater of operation—North Africa, the Pacific and Europe.
The Sherman was renown for its mechanical reliability, owing to its standardized parts and quality construction on the assembly line. It was roomy, easily repaired, easy to drive. It should have been the ideal tank.
But the Sherman was also a death trap.
Most tanks at the time ran on diesel, a safer and less flammable fuel than gasoline. The Sherman’s powerplant was a 400-horsepower gas engine that, combined with the ammo on board, could transform the tank into a Hellish inferno after taking a hit.
All it took was a German adversary like the awe-inspiring Tiger tank with its 88-millimeter gun. One round could punch through the Sherman’s comparatively thin armor. If they were lucky, the tank’s five crew might have seconds to escape before they burned alive.
Hence, the Sherman’s grim nickname—Ronson, like the cigarette lighter, because “it lights up the first time, every time.”
In the new film Fury, a single Tiger tank devastates a platoon of Shermans advancing across Germany. Gus Stavros, a World War II veteran who witnessed actual combat between a Sherman and a Tiger outside of the town of Nennig, Germany, said the reality of pitched battle between the two tanks was just as horrifying.
“If you’ve seen movies where the people come out of the tank all aflame—I saw that,” Stavros said during a video interview for a combat oral history sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“The German tank had an 88-[millimeter gun] and it just blew the General Sherman tank to pieces until there was nothing left but smoke and fire.”
The loss of both men and machines is hard to grasp. Simply put, in the heat of battle it was as dangerous inside of a Sherman tank as it was outside of one.
“The 3rd Armored Division entered combat in Normandy with 232 M-4 Sherman tanks,” writes Belton Cooper, author of the appropriately named Death Traps, a study of U.S. armored divisions and their battles in Europe during World War II.
“During the European Campaign, the Division had some 648 Sherman tanks completely destroyed in combat and had another 700 knocked out, repaired and put back into operation. This was a loss rate of 580 percent.”
Yet, the Sherman’s strength was in its numbers. It was one more example of the United States’ industrial prowess during World War II, a time where factory workers and factory output did as much to win the war for the Allies as the soldiers, sailors and airmen in battle.
Companies ranging from the Pullman Car Co. to Ford Motors cranked out nearly 50,000 Shermans, the second-most produced tank during the war. Only the Soviet Union outdid the U.S. in tank production at that time through manufacturing the legendary T-34.
In comparison, the Tiger—clearly the superior tank when compared to the Sherman—was made of costly materials, laboriously assembled and expensive to operate. The Germans manufactured slightly more than 1,300 Tigers.
The Tiger outmatched the Sherman, but the United States always had another Sherman to put in the field.
Whether there was another trained tank crew to man the Sherman was more problematic. But for all of its problems, infantrymen were always happy when a Sherman arrived.
Common roles included infantry support—often times, soldiers would stack up in long lines behind Shermans as the tanks advanced across open fields, leading the assault and letting armor block rounds fired from German MG-42 machine guns or small-arms fire from enemy soldiers.
The Sherman packed decent firepower. Although its 75-millimeter gun was less potent than German tank guns were, it still could fire high-explosive rounds that would level buildings sheltering German troops.
Additional weapons included two M1919 Browning .30-caliber machine guns and a Browning .50-caliber M2 on a coaxial turret mount. Both guns could mow down German infantry or destroy machine gun nests.
In the Pacific, Marines deployed Shermans equipped with flamethrowers to destroy Japanese defensive positions. In the last months of the war when die-hard Japanese soldiers rarely surrendered, shelling pillboxes often didn’t stop the withering fire directed at American troops.
Shermans modified to stream napalm through their gun muzzles blasted Japanese strongholds with jets of flame aimed at the enemy gun ports.
Despite its many weaknesses, the Sherman tank became a mainstay for both the U.S. military and armed forces around the world.
The Sherman tank remained in service with both the Army and the Marine Corps after World War II, and saw action throughout the Korean War. Even after the United States replaced the Sherman with the M48 Patton main battle tank during the 1950s, the Sherman served with U.S. allies until the 1970s.
Heavily-modified “Super Shermans” even saw combat with the Israeli Defense Force during the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The 75mm M3 gun is one of the most powerful tank guns in the Mid-War period - with the Anti-Tank value of 10, it can easily harm any enemy tank except the heaviest ones. Only the Tiger I, the KV-1 and the Churchill have good chances of defending themselves from the shots, though their side and rear armour can also be pierced, depending on dice rolls. The tank's armour is also good for the game period.
The only drawback is the poor crew rating - American crews for Mid-War are Confident Green, which means they succeed in carrying out orders on 5+ roll and the British crews for the same period are Confident Trained with 5+ Last Stand. Due to the crew's rather poor skills, they have to be led cautiously.
Enemy heavy tanks and anti-tank guns are the main threats for the Sherman if approached, they should be attacked in their sider armour or rear, not in the front plates.
The advent of up-gunned German tanks such as the Panther and Tigers proved the M3 75mm gun being obsolete as an anti-tank weapon. It still has chances against late Panzer IV variants and might work well against Panther's side or rear armour, however, its efficiency against heavier vehicles remains low. The new German tank guns pierce Sherman's armour easily, especially the Tigers' 88mm guns or Panther's 75mm L/70 gun. Uparmoured variants are significantly more resistant to enemy fire, though they should also avoid getting shot from bigger guns.
The 76mm gun Tanks
With the Anti-Tank value of 13, the 76mm gun Shermans have greater chances of defeating the enemy tanks. Only the heaviest vehicles, such as the King Tiger or Jagdtiger, maintain frontal armour impervious to the shots still, their side and rear armour (8) remains quite a good target.
An optimal platoon of Sherman tanks should contain four tanks, two of those should be 76mm gun tanks and the remaining two the 75mm gun ones. The 76mm gun tanks are the main firing team against the armoured opponents, while the 75mm gun tanks are supposed to protect the better-armed ones from enemy infantry and weaker vehicles. It is also a good idea to assign hits aimed at the 76mm gun tanks at the 75mm tanks using the Mistaken Target rule.
For games played above the regular 1700 point limit, taking a full five-tank platoon with 76mm guns is even better option, since they provide enough damage to stop even a Tiger I or an IS-2 heavy tanks.