M4A3 76mm Sherman on assault raft on the Rhine

M4A3 76mm Sherman on assault raft on the Rhine

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M4A3 76mm Sherman on assault raft on the Rhine

Here we see a M4A3(76) Sherman medium tank on an assualt raft about to cross the Rhine. The difference between tanks and tank destroyers seems to have caused some confusion during the war, and the original caption with this photo described it as a tank destroyer. The Sherman hull is clearly visible, and the M36B1 was based on that hull, but this can be identified as a Sherman by the open hatch on the turret roof. The M36B1 had an open topped turret, with no hatches.

Sherman Fire Control: How the Sherman aimed its Main Gun.

The Sherman tank went through a series of fire control changes each an improvement over the last. The first tanks lacked telescopic sight mounted on the gun mount. The only site was incorporated into the gunner’s periscope, and it wasn’t magnified. Since the periscopes were all interchangeable, updating the older tanks was easy at least were the periscope was concerned.

The final fire control setup the Sherman gunner had at his disposal was pretty impressive by the standards of the time. He was in a hydroelectrically driven turret that rotated fast he had very nice periscope setup with 1x and 6x scopes hooked into the gun with strong linkage. He also had a telescopic sight to work with and the gun was stabilized. This was a vast improvement over the unmagnified reticle on the first production models.

The Lee used a unique setup the 75mm gun was aimed with an M1 periscope, with an M21A1 periscope built into it. The 37mm was aimed with an M2 periscope with an M19A1 periscope built in. Both the 37 and 75 mounts were stabilized. The prototype M6 Sherman used its own unique sight built into the sight rotor on the top of the turret, this was only used on a small number of production Shermans tanks.

Let’s look at the various periscopes and telescopes the Sherman used through its long life. Let’s start with a look at the various versions of the periscope sights the production Sherman and the TDs based on the chassis below.

When the Sherman Tank was initially created, it was designed around US theory about how medium tanks, and full-track armored vehicles in general, should be utilized on the battlefield. In US doctrine, the medium tank's job was to assist infantry in the assault and provide a base of fire to fight from. Taking on enemy tanks were the job of purpose-built tank destroyers. The UK, which was a major user of the Sherman, differed in doctrine - tanks were expected to engage enemy tanks.

The wide array of special duties that a tank could be used for were just being explored by armies around the world in the early 1940s. Theories of what vehicles were supposed to be engaging enemy tanks changed as vehicles like the Shermans often found themselves up against enemy armor, and consequently some of the most important initial changes centered around upgunning the basic vehicle. Improving the vehicles mobility, protection, and creating specific variants for infantry support roles soon followed. Similar modification of the main armament would be done by the British who received a number of Shermans during the course of the war. Turning earlier variants of the Sherman into Armored Personnel Carriers or "Kangaroos" was also common, as was turning them into recovery vehicles.

More radical variants followed, first with experiments with flotation screens in preparation for the invasion of Europe by Allied forces in 1944, and later by the addition of rocket launching equipment mounted on the turret. Extensive work on creating mine clearance devices to be attached to Shermans or out of Shermans in some fashion was also conducted up until the end of the Second World War.

After the end of the Second World War, large numbers of surplus Shermans were supplied to other nations, but primarily to South America and the Middle East. Israel became the largest post-war user of Sherman tanks, conducting extensive modifications to keep them in front line service right up into the early 1970s as tanks, mobile artillery pieces, armored ambulances and more. Many saw action in the 1973 October War. Similar modifications and purchases of Israeli-modified Shermans were done in South America where they served on as the last fighting Shermans right up until 1989.

#49 The Tank Divisions: US Armored Divisions

There were two types of US Armored Division during WWII. The Light type and the Heavy type, I will detail out the differences between the two below. Armored Divisions were not meant to be assault troops, that was left to the Regular Infantry Divisions, the Armored Divisions were meant to rush through an breakthrough and romp and stomp as far into the enemy’s guts as they could, hopefully taking key objectives and cutting off large amounts of enemy troops.

A light US Armored Division was made up of three Tank Battalions, three Armored Infantry Battalions, and three Armored Field Artillery Battalions. These were broken up into three Combat Commands, A, B, and R. Each of these had a Tank Battalion, an Armored Infantry Battalion, and an Armored Field Artillery Battalion and each one was commanded by a Colonel. Commands A and B were the primary combat force of the Division and R was the reserve. The Battalions could be swapped around between A, B, and R(sometimes called C) depending on strength and fatigue levels.

The Light Armored Division would also have a large number of service battalions and smaller units attached to make the Division as self-sustaining as possible:

One Armored Engineer Battalion

One Armored Medical Battalion

One Armored Reconnaissance Battalion

One Armored Ordnance battalion

One Armored Signal Company

A CIC Detachment

A Division Supply Train (made up of trucks)

A Division Artillery Battalion

A MP Platoon

A Tank Destroyer Battalion Could be assigned

An Armored AA Battalion Could be assigned

These units could be broken down into smaller, usually company sized sub units and assigned to the Combat Commands depending on the needs of the missions. The Armored Division was intended to be a self-contained unit with all the assets needed to support and move itself around a theater. A light Armored Division had an authorized strength of just about 11,000 men, the Heavy Division had 14,500.

The main difference with a Heavy Armored Division was they had eight Medium Tank Battalions, instead of just three. They also had more light tanks, with two full light tank battalions, instead of three companies. Only a two Armored Divisions retained the heavy designation and organization through the whole war, the 2 nd and 3 rd . I have not been able to find a TO&E for a Heavy Armored Division that included an Authorized strength, but it would have to be several thousand men more than a normal AD. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I’m pretty sure the Heavy Armored Division was done away with in a 1942 revision of what an Armored Division was, but a pair retained the Heavy TO&E for reasons I’m not sure of yet, but I will find out.

The Armored Divisions were meant to exploit a major breakthrough won by the regular Infantry Divisions. In many cases they were not used this way, and often got thrown into the lines as the enemy was faltering, using a single Combat Command to help secure the breakthrough while the rest of the Division rushed through the breach. No Armored Divisions saw use in the Pacific, but the Sherman sure did. The Sherman was really the heart of the US Armored Division, and its mobility and reliability really served it well there, it allowed US Armored Divisions to make very long runs once broken through, and it would limits on fuel supplies, not the tanks mechanical reliability that slowed it down.

1 st Armored Division: Old Ironsides

Active 1940-1946, Reactivated 1951-Present

The oldest US Armor Division. It saw a lot of action in WWII, born on July 15 1940 at Fort Knox.

The 1 st AD spent its early years figuring out what an Armored Division was going to be, and when they figured that out, they trained in the US until mid-summer of 1942 before shipped off to Northern Ireland, after a short stay they were off to England. They were not there long, before they were shipped off to northern Africa for participation in Operation Torch. The 1 st AD would be the first US Armored Division to see combat.

They would participate in the capture or Oran, and the infamous Kassirine Pass, and then would fight to the end of the war in Italy. The primary tank early on would have been the M3 Lee and M3 light. By the Italian campaign it was the M4 and M4A1, small hatch 75 tanks, with M5 lights. Late in the Italian campaign they would have gotten second gen 76mm Shermans.

1st AD Subunits: 1st Tank Battalion, 4th Tank Battalion, 13th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Infantry Battalion, 11th Armored Infantry Battalion, 14th Armored Infantry Battalion, 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 91st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 81st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, 141st Armored Signal Company, 501st CIC Detachment.

Campaigns: Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley.

The 1 st AD had 1194 men KIA, 5168 WIA, and 234 DOW. They captured 41 villages or urban centers. 108,740 Germans gave up to the 1 st AD. The 1st AD earned 1 Distinguished Service Cross, 1 Distinguished Service Medal, 794 Silver Stars, 2 Legion of Merit, 35 Soldiers Medals, 1602 Bronze Stars, and 3 Air Medals. They were moved to Germany Shortly after the war to serve as part of the occupation forces and were disbanded in 1946. They were reactivated in 1951 and are still an active duty division to this day.

2 nd Armored Division: Hell on Wheels

Active 1940-1995

The second US Armored Division put together and it saw just about as much as the first. This was one of only two Heavy Armored Divisions all others were converted to the later ‘light’ TO&E. Formed at Fort Benning on 15 July 1940, on the same day as the 1 st .

They shipped out for use in Torch, but were kept in reserve until the invasion of Sicily. They saw a fair amount of action on Sicily, and after were shipped back to England to be used in the Normandy landings. The 2 nd AD was landed on Omaha Beach on June 9 th and fought in northern Germany until the end of the war, including the Rhineland, Ardennes and Central European Campaigns.

2nd AD Subunits: 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 66th Armored Regiment, 67th Armored Regiment, 17th Armored Engineer Battalion, 82nd Armored Recon Battalion, and the 142cnd Signal Company.

There was also the 14th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 78th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 92nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion, and the 48th Armored Medical Battalion.

Campaigns: Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe.

The 2 nd AD Combat statistics: had 1102 KIA, 5331 WIA, 253 captured, 7116 non battle casualties, for a total of 13,867 casualties. They were in combat for a total of 223 days and earned 21 DCS, 13 Legions of Merit, 1954 Silver Stars, 131 Soldiers Medals, 5331 Bronze stars and 342 Air Medals. They took a grand total of 76,963 POWs.

3 rd Armored Division: Spearhead

Active 1941-1945, reactivated 1947-92

Also maybe known as the Third Herd, but may be post WWII. The 3 rd saw combat from Normandy to the end of the war in Europe. They were formed on 15 April 1941 at Camp Beauregard in Louisiana. They trained in California at Camp Young, until January of 1943, when they moved to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania. They would train on there while waiting to deploy overseas.

The 3 rd AD arrived in Europe on September 15 th 1943, they debarked in the Liverpool an Bristol area and trained there and on the Salisbury Plain preparing for the invasion.

They would first see combat almost a month after the June 6 th landings in Normandy. They would fight in the hedgerows, including at Saint Lô. Later in the same campaign they would help close the Falaise Gap. They participated in both the Battle for the Hurtgen Forrest and the Battle of the Bulge. They would continue to fight into Germany, helping with the taking of Cologne, and Paderborn, and with reducing the Ruhr Pocket. They liberated the Nazi Death Camp at Dara-Mittelbau, and finished with the battle of Dessau. They went into reserve to the end of the war. It did a short stint as an occupation force before being deactivated in November of 1945. It was later reactivated in 1947.

3rd AD Subunits: 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, 32nd Armored Regiment, 33rd Armored Regiment, 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion, 83rd Armored Recon Battalion, 143rd Armored Signal Company, 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 67th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion, and the 45th Armored Medical Battalion.

WWII Campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe.

The 3 rd AD WWII Combat Data: spent a total of 231 days in combat, with 2540 KIA, 7331 WIA, 95 MIA, and 139 captured. They had a total number of Battle Casualties of 10,105, Non-Combat Casualties 6017, and a combined total of 16,122. They took 76,720 POWs. They earned 17 Distinguished Service Cross, 23 Legion of Merit, 885 Silver Stars, 32 Soldiers Medals, 3884 Bronze Star, 138 Air Medals, and 3 Distinguished Flying Cross.

4 th Armored Division: The no name AD!

Active 1941-1972

One of the few Armored Division that never adopted a name, it also developed a reputation. The 4 th was often used as the spearhead for Paton’s Third Army and it was a tough outfit. Their motto was ‘They Shall Be Known By Their Deeds Alone’. Activated on April 15 th 1941 at Camp Pine (Later named Fort Drum), New York. It would train at Camp Forrest in Tennessee, and then was shipped to California for further training at the Desert Training Center. They would be housed at Camp Ibis, near Needles California during this period. By June of 1943 they would be at Camp Bowie, Texas, for more training in the Piute Valley. They were then off to Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts for winter training. Finally, in December of 1943, they were on their way to Europe, England specifically to prepare for the June of 44 invasion of Normandy.

The 4 th AD debarked in Normandy on July 11 th 1944, at Utah beach and was in combat by the 17th. They saw action in Operation Cobra, and rampaging across France, they would see action in the Battle of the Bulge, spearheading Patton’s 3 rd Army’s attack north to hit the Germans attacking Bastogne. They would see action in all the major fights in the ETO to the end of the war. They did a tour as occupation forces before being shipped back to the ZI to be deactivated.

The 4 th AD spent 230 days in combat and lost 1238 KIA, 4246 WIA, 503 MIA, and 1 man captured. This totaled out to 5988 Battle Casualties, they also had 4508 Non Battle Casualties, and total of 10496. The 4th took 90,364 POWs.

5 th Armored Division: Victory

Active 1941-1945, reactivated 1950-1956

Another Divisions that saw combat from Normandy to the end of the war in Europe. The 5 th AD was activated at Fort Knox, in Kentucky. Like many units after forming and some initial training, the shipped out for Camp Cooke California. They spent a lot of time on Alert for Japanese attacks in their early training there. Next up was training in California’s Mojave desert. They were on their way to Tennessee by March 24 th for more maneuvers. They would be there until July, and then they moved to Pine Camp N.Y. for some winter training. The 5 th last stop before deploying to England was Indiantown Gap, PA, where they left their vehicles and were trucked to Camp Kilmer NJ, to wait for their ship.

The 5 th were in England by February 24, 1944, and they were stay there until they deployed to Normandy on July 26. They were assigned to Patton’s Third Army, as “General Patton’s Ghost Troops”, and would fight in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns.

The 5 th AD was in combat 161 days, and had 547 KIA, 2768 WIA, 177 MIA, and 62 captured for a total of 3554 battle related casualties. The 5 th also had 3592 non-battle casualties, for a total of 7146.

6 th Armored Division: Super Sixths

Active 1942-1945, reactivated 1950-1956

The 6 th was activated at Fort Knox on February 15 th 1942. The 6 th spent time at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas training then went on Maneuvers in Louisiana and then they were off to sunny California for training at the Desert Training Center in Mohave CA, and then off to Camp Cooke also in Ca. They were shipped by train to the east coast and loaded onto ships for transport to England, arriving in February of 44.

The 6 th was landed on Utah beach on July 18 th as part of Paton’s 3 rd Army. They participated in the Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns.

The 6th spent a total of 226 days in combat. They had 1169 KIA, 4198 WIA, 152 MIA, and 7 captured for a total of 5526 battle casualties, they also had 7290 non battle casualties.

The Combat history of the Super Sixth: 182 pages, ok scan with a lot of very good info. NEW BOOK!

7th Armored Division: Lucky Seventh Active 1942-1945, reactivated 1950-1953

This AD started combat in northern France and ended it in Germany. They were a part of Paton’s third Army

8th Armored Division: The Thundering Herd Active 1942-1945

The 8 th AD has a very nice website linked above. I spend a lot of time on the Thundering Herds website, and it’s good stuff.

9th Armored Division: The Phantom Division Active 1942-1945

This AD came in toward the end and only fought in three major campaigns. They did help secure some key bridges over the Rhine River though.

10th Armored Division: The Tiger Division Active 1942-1945

They saw combat for a short time, three campaigns, but had a pretty cool nickname.

You can read their unit history here: Impact, the battle history of the Tenth Armored Division NEW BOOK!

11th Armored Division: Thunderbolt Active 1942-1945

Another late comer they saw enough action to see how disgusting the Nazi Germans were when they liberated Mauthausen Concentration Camp

12th Armored Division: The Hellcat Division Active 1942-1945

This AD came in late in the war but saw a good amount of action.

13th Armored Division: The Black Cats Active 1942-1945

These guys were in combat for 16 days, and fought in two major campaigns.

14th Armored Division: The Liberators Active 1942-1945

15th Armored Division: This AD was a Phantom Division, not a real AD

16 th Armored Division: Armadillo Active 1943-1945

The M4 Periscope sight

The Periscope M4 it had an M38 telescope with ballistic reticle inside, but no magnification. The M4 was not well liked, and the mount it fit in was made from sheet metal and was a little flimsy. The linkage that attacked it to the gun wasn’t very robust and could be knocked out of alignment annoyingly easily. On early Shermans, this was a big complaint, since they did not have a direct telescope yet. You couldn’t really take advantage of the M3 75mm guns range with this sight setup either since it had no magnification. The later better periscopes like the M4, M4A1 and M8 series would all fit in the old mount though.

Stateside Edit

The successes of the German armored units in Poland and France underscored America's need for an effective armored force. The tank battles of North Africa and Russia in early 1942 caused the US Army to recognize the need to drastically increase the number of its armored units. The 8th Armored Division was activated on 1 April 1942 at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with "surplus" units of the recently reorganized 4th Armored Division and newly-organized units. The division served as the first official military guardian of the gold vault at Fort Knox. From 1942 to 1944 it functioned as a training command stationed at Camp Polk, Louisiana. During this period the 8th supplied trained personnel to the 9th through 14th Armored Divisions. In September 1943 the division completed reorganization from the old style triangular division to the new 'light' armored division, as per War Department Letter AG-322, in preparation for activation as a combat unit. The light format armored division was made up of three combat commands referred to as Combat Command A (CCA), Combat Command B (CCB) and a smaller unit called Combat Command Reserve (CCR). Units could be assigned to one of the combat commands at need, creating a very flexible formation. [1]

During December 1943, the division participated in the D Series of exercises in Texas. The D Series were small scale maneuver problems designed as a precursor to the full scale Sixth Louisiana Maneuver Period. The D Series included exercises to simulate contact with the enemy and included recon, movement to contact, engineering and minefield clearing problems. The 8th completed the D Series and participated in the Sixth Louisiana Maneuver Period from February through April 1944 as part of the Red Force. [1]

From the period of April through October 1944, the division conducted post-maneuver training, losing a number of trained personnel to other units and absorbing and training their replacements. At the end of October the 8th received movement orders to Camp Kilmer, New York in preparation for shipment overseas. On 6 November 1944 the division left Camp Kilmer and boarded ships in New Jersey for the United Kingdom. The ships arrived in Southampton on 18 November and the division moved to Tidworth Camp, joining the newly formed Fifteenth Army. [1]

England, France and 'The Bulge' Edit

After some additional training and acquisition of new equipment at Tidworth, England, the 8th Armored Division landed in France, 5 January 1945, at Le Havre and Rouen. The division assembled in the Bacqueville area of upper Normandy as part of the (then) still secret Fifteenth Army and was placed in reserve. In mid-January the division was seconded to the Third Army and raced 350 miles (560 km) across France through heavy snow and ice to Pont-à-Mousson to help stem the German drive for Strasbourg, part of the German Operation Nordwind It was at this point that the division was assigned the call-sign 'Tornado'. A detachment of the 88th Armored Cavalry undertook the division's first combat action – a reconnaissance of the best route to contact with the enemy. The division, finding the enemy already halted and beginning to fall back, took part in the Third Army drive against the Moselle-Saar salient. The 8th supported the 94th Infantry Division's attack on Nennig, Berg and Sinz, 19–28 January 1945 aimed at reducing the salient between the Saar and Moselle Rivers. [1]

Belgium and The Netherlands Edit

Nennig and Berg were defended by elements of the German 11th Panzer Division specifically the 110th, 111th and elements of the 774th Panzer Grenadier Regiments. German losses in action against 8th Armored units were 5 Panzer IV tanks, 72 prisoners and many dead and wounded. 8th Armored losses were 3 M4A3 Sherman tanks, 4 Halftracks and heavy personnel casualties. [1]

From Berg, the 8th continued their advance through Sinz and more heavy fighting. German losses were 8 tanks, 1 anti-aircraft gun, 1 anti-tank gun and 1 halftrack. Division losses were an additional 6 tanks destroyed and 4 disabled as well as heavy personnel casualties. The week's action resulted in the loss of 50% of the personnel the 110th and 111th Panzer-Grenadier Divisions had brought into the Saar-Moselle triangle. [1]

The division moved to Simpelveld, the Netherlands for rest and refitting absorbing approximately 200 replacements. The 8th was now part of the Ninth Army and continued refitting and replacing losses during the first half of February 1945. On 19 February the division moved to Roermond, the Netherlands to relieve the British 7th Armoured Division in the vicinity of Echt and launched a diversionary attack as part of Operation Grenade, pushing the enemy north of the Heide woods and east of the Roer River. [1]

The Roer to the Rhine Edit

On 27 February, 8th Armored crossed the Roer River via the Hilfarth Bridge which had been captured by the 35th Infantry Division. CCA headed for the town of Wegberg. CCB moved through Sittard, Gangelt, Geilenkirchen, Randerath, and Brachelen to arrive at the Hilfarth Bridge and crossed after CCA. CCA tanks and infantry destroyed fifteen pillboxes, captured Tetelrath, and crossed the Schwalm river while CCB attacked and captured the towns of Arsbeck and Ober Kruchten. [1]

On 2 March – CCA captured Lobberich, moved through the 35th Inf. Div. and secured the town of Wachtendonk at the confluence of Niers River and Nette River. Co. C of the 53rd Engineers worked through the night to bridge the Niers River which was holding up the advance on Moers. [1]

3 March CCB moved through CCA area and captured Aldekerk while CCR captured Saint Hubert, Vinnbruck and Saelhuysen in their advance toward Moers. The Division received orders to cease forward movement as it was 'pinched out' by the 35th Inf. on the right and the 84th Inf. on the left. [1]

CCB was detached and assigned to the 35th Inf. Div. so an attack could be mounted in the direction of Rheinberg and Wesel to prevent the Germans from crossing the Rhine River. CCB attacked Lintfort and Rheinberg with the 35th. Heavy fighting, primarily against the 130th Panzer Division, took place in and around Rheinberg resulting in 199 divisional casualties and the loss of 41 tanks while the Germans suffered 350 men killed and 512 taken prisoner. The area (nicknamed '88 Lane') was under direct anti-tank and heavy artillery fire so each house had to be cleared by dismounted infantry. By 7 March a foothold was secured at Grunthal, a road crossing (B 57/B 58) in the vicinity of Alpen. [1]

The same day the US 9th Armored Division captured a bridge over the Rhine at Remagen. The 130th Panzer Division was pulled out of the Wesel area and moved south to counterattack. By 9 March CCB of the 8th secured the town of Ossenberg as well as the towns of Borth and Wallach. CCB was relieved at 2400 and ordered to the Venlo, the Netherlands, rest area, the relief being completed on 10 and 11 March. [1]

The division was assigned to cleanup operations in the rear areas of the Rhineland which had been bypassed during the movement to the Rhine River. During this period the division became the first US or British unit to uncover the existence of the secret Werwolf organization when several cleverly camouflaged bunkers were discovered, each containing 12 to 15 fully equipped German soldiers. [1]

On 22 March division artillery units moved into firing positions in preparation for the assault on the east bank of the Rhine River as part of Operation Plunder. On 23 March all artillery units commenced firing over 130,000 rounds preceding the initial crossing of the Rhine River to be made by the 30th Infantry Division. [1]

The Rhine to the Ruhr Edit

On 24 March 18 Tank Bn of the 8th Armored Division was ferried across in support of the 30th Infantry prior to the Division's crossing. An 18th tank was the first across the Rhine in the 9th Army area and assisted in the capture of Spellen, the first town captured east of the Rhine by 9th Army. The division was the first armored division to cross the Rhine in the 9th Army area, crossing at bridge sites 'G' and 'H'. [1]

The 8th received orders on 27 March to secure the road running from Hamm to Soest. CCA attacked on the left flank and captured Im Loh then moved on to bypass Dorsten. Heavy house to house fighting slowed the attack. New orders were received late in the next day to capture Dorsten so that the Lippe River could be bridged allowing armor to move northward. [1]

In the meantime, CCR, located near Bruckhausen launched an attack on Zweckel and Kirchhellen to the south on 28 March. The 116th Panzer Division was defending both and the approaches had been heavily mined. CCR captured Zweckel in the afternoon and launched an attack on Kirchellen which was secured by nightfall. An advance unit of the 80th Tank battalion that had been surrounded in Kirchellen since early that morning was relieved. [1]

CCA captured Dorsten early the next morning and CCB moved in to secure the area so CCA could join CCR in their advance to the east towards the town of Marl. Marl was cleared by nightfall. CCA then swung southeast from Dorsten heading for Polsum. CCR attacked and captures the towns of Scholven and Feldhausen. On 29 March the German 180th Volks Grenadier Division and the 116th Panzer Division withdrew and set up new defensive lines running through the fortress town of Recklinghausen. [1]

CCR crossed the Rappholtz-Muhlen Canal on 30 March and captured Buer-Hassel. Co. C, 53 Armored Engineers built a bridge across the canal in just 44 minutes. The next day CCR captured Kolonie Bertlich. Heading east, it passed through Westerholt and Langenbochum, engaging the German defenses in Recklinghausen only 2,500 yards (2,300 m) away. [1]

On 31 March the division was relieved by units of the 75th Inf. Div. The 8th crossed the Lippe River, and assembled at Selm. The 8th received orders on 1 April from XIX Corps to set up two spearheads for an attack to the east, the 2nd Armored and 30th Infantry in one and the 8th Armored and 83rd Infantry in the other. CCA was assigned to attack Delbrück, CCB to attack Paderborn. [1]

The 8th launched its attack on schedule but CCB was soon stalled by fierce German resistance at Neuhaus. On 3 April fighter-bombers (known as Jabos by the troops) of the US 9th Air Corps provided close air support in the Teutoburg Forest and Neuhaus areas. CCR and moved up to attack Elsen to help CCB repel a strong German counterattack launched from Sennelager. CCA attacked Sennelager directly in an attempt to reduce a German strongpoint. [1]

At the end of 3 April the division was relieved by the 83rd Inf. Div. and received orders to attack towards the west to help reduce the Ruhr Pocket. [1]

Ruhr Pocket Edit

The success of the Rhine crossing operations by Allied forces encircled approximately 430,000 German soldiers of Army Group B comprising 21 divisions of the Wehrmacht, trapping them in an area that came to be known as the Ruhr Pocket. The Twelfth Army Group was tasked with reducing the pocket. [2]

On 3 April 8 turned 180 degrees in response to orders into the Ruhr Pocket and CCR attacked west toward Recklinghausen. CCR captured the towns of Stripe and Norddorf, and continued through Vollinghausen, Oberhagen, and Ebbinghausen before stopping for the night in front of Horne. The next day CCA attacked Erwitte. The US 9th Air Force continued to provide close air support as the division continued into the Ruhr Pocket through heavy fighting in the Lippstadt area. [1]

Col. Wallace, the commander of CCR, was captured by German forces during the night of 4 April. On 5 April Col. Vesely assumed command of CCR and continued to attack westward capturing the towns of Horne, Klieve, Schmerlacke and Serlinghausen. At the end of the day, CCB relieved CCR and attacked westward toward Soest capturing the towns of Schallen and Lohne while CCA continued attacking south capturing the towns of Anroechte, Mensel, Drewer, and Altenruthen. On 6 April, CCB made a 25-mile (40 km) 'end run' around Soest to the outskirts of Ost Onnen to cut off a German breakout path from the Ruhr pocket. [1] [2]

While CCB blocked the German withdrawal near Ost Onnen, CCA cleared the area north of the Moehne River so glider troops could be landed in case of a break-out attempt in that area. They captured the towns of Wamel, Brullinggsen, Ellingsen, and Westendorf. CCR, in the meantime, outposted all roads northeast of Soest to facilitate an attack on the town by the 94th Inf. Div. [1]

On 7 April the eastward movement of the US 2nd Armored Division and the westward movement of the 8th Armored created a gap of 180 miles (290 km) between the two fronts. This would allow German forces to briefly cut off the US 2nd Armored. [1] Troop A, 88th Reconnaissance Squadron captured the Moehne Talsperre Dam on the 7th to prevent the Germans from flooding the Moehne Valley. CCB began an attack on Werl in the afternoon and captured Gerlingen. The burgomeister of Ost Onnen surrendered the town later that day. The following day CCR moved to secure the road between Werl and Wickede and captured the towns of Parsit, Bremen, Vierhausen, Schluckingen and Wiehagen capturing 238 German soldiers, 1 Tiger tank, and 3 88 mm anti-tank guns. CCB captured Werl by late afternoon after heavy resistance during the day. They then captured Ost Buederich by the end of the day. [1] [2]

By 9 April, The threat of a German breakout had passed due to the buildup of allied troops in the area. CCB moved on Unna capturing Holtun and Hemmerude. The following day CCB continued the attack on Unna and captured Lernen. A ten-minute air strike was laid on Unna to soften it up. The Germans moved reinforcements, including Hitler Youth into Unna from the Muelhausen garrison. [1] [2]

On 10 April CCR advanced 7,000 yards (6,400 m) in fierce fighting and secured Stentrop, Bausenhagen, Scheda, Beutrap Wemen, and Fromern. The following day CCA joined the attack on Unna and CCB went into reserve. CCB had suffered 198 casualties this period. The next day CCR captured Hohenheide and Fröndenberg after an air strike drove 4 German tanks out of the town. The town of Billmerich was also captured. Unna finally fell that afternoon after another air strike. The Germans lost 160 personnel, 2 tanks and a battery of 88's. This surrender was the end of organized resistance from the 116th Panzer Division. [1]

CCA continued cleaning up operations in Unna while CCR captured the towns of Hengsen, Ostendorf, Ottendorf, and Dellwig. CCA was relieved on 13 April and ordered to move east of Unna across the Weser River to the vicinity of Wolfenbüttel. CCA had lost 2 tanks, 1 halftrack and 1 jeep during these operations. CCB was assigned to protect right flank of the 2nd Armored and the 83rd Inf. Div. as they moved east. They move 170 miles (270 km) to Wolfenbüttel. Later CCR was relieved and ordered to move to the vicinity of Denstorf. On the drive west, CCR suffered 203 casualties and lost 11 tanks, 3 jeeps, 9 halftracks. The German forces lost 6 Mark V Panther tanks, 4 20 mm guns, 1 large railroad gun, and 3 tons of small arms. [1]

Central Germany Edit

After leaving the Ruhr Pocket on 13 April the division moved east. The 8th participated in the liberation of the Halberstadt-Zwieberge concentration camps near Langenstein (see below). Most of CCB moved on to Halberstadt with some units remaining in Wolfenbüttel until the rest of the Division arrived. On 14 April the remaining units of the Division began moving to an assembly area in the vicinity of Braunschweig with CCA going to Wolfenbüttel and CCR going to Denstorf. [1]

For the period of 15–18 April CCB cleared the area near the Hartz Mountains of remnants of the 11th Panzer Army while CCA began moving to Seehausen to support the attack on Magdeburg by the XIX Corps. CCR moved from Denstorf to Braunschweig and continued screening the rear areas. [1]

CCB completed clearing resistance from the edge of Forest Heimburg south of Derenburg while units of the 2nd Armored relieved CCR allowing it to move into the vicinity of Stroebeck in preparation for reducing resistance in Blankenburg. On 19 April CCA was relieved and returned to Wernigerode from Seehausen where it in turn relieved the 330th Inf. Reg. of the 83rd Inf. Div. CCB moved to Westerhausen and CCR moved to Aspenstedt to clear the remaining woods around Blankenburg. The next day the division began to attack Blankenburg. At 1000 hours a 13 plane squadron attacked Blankenburg and immediately afterward the burgomeister was contacted about surrendering after a show of force. By nightfall, most of Blankenburg had surrendered except for a few strongpoints that comprised fanatical resisters unwilling to lay down their arms or soldiers who had not yet received word to surrender. [1]

On 21 April CCR cleared the woods south of Blankenburg and linked up with elements of the 1st Inf. Div. of the First Army. By 22 April the last organized resistance ended with the capture of Gen. Heinz Kokott, commanding officer of the 26th Volks Grenadier Div and brother-in-law of Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler. [1]

During the period of 23 April through 8 May the division was assigned an area of 90 kilometers long by 30 kilometers wide and went into occupation duty. Some additional cleanup was required of small pockets of resistance as stragglers were found. [1]

Zwieberge concentration camps Edit

The 8th liberated Halberstadt-Zwieberge, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, between 12 and 17 April 1945 during its drive through central Germany. The area around the city of Halberstadt housed a number of Buchenwald subcamps that had been established in 1944 to provide labor for the German war effort, including Halberstadt-Zwieberge I and Halberstadt-Zwieberge II. More than 5,000 inmates were incarcerated in these two subcamps, where they were forced to hollow out massive tunnels and build underground factories for Junkers Aircraft of Aircraft Motors Construction Company, which produced military aircraft. [3]

Buchenwald administered at least 87 subcamps located across Germany, from Düsseldorf in the Rhineland to the border with the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in the east. Prisoners in the satellite camps were put to work mostly in armaments factories, in stone quarries, and on construction projects. Periodically, prisoners throughout the Buchenwald camp system underwent selection. The SS staff sent those too weak or disabled to continue working to the Bernburg or Sonnenstein killing centers, where they were killed by gas. Other weakened prisoners were killed by phenol injections administered by the camp doctor. [3]

Of interest is that all details regarding the camp were sealed and classified by the US Government presumably because of the camp's involvement with an improved version of the V-1 flying bomb. In 1997, the information was declassified through the efforts of a former 8th Armored Division officer, Dr. Bernard Metrick. The records confirmed the role of the division in liberating the camp and the division's flag was added to those on display at the U.S. Holocaust Museum honoring those who liberated the death camps. [4]

The general end of hostilities unfortunately did not mean the end of casualties for the 8th Armored. On 1 May the 58th Inf. lost two men to snipers who had to be killed since they would not surrender. The next day the 58th Inf. lost an officer and three more men when a powder plant blew up in Munchshaf. Sabotage was suspected. It is believed that these were the last official wartime casualties of the division. [1]

Post war Edit

From 8 May through 30 May the division remained on occupation duty and continued to clean up stragglers and small pockets of resistance. On 30 May the division was assigned to Third Army. It was relieved by units of the British Army and began its move to the city of Pilsen in western Czechoslovakia. From 1 June through 19 September, many men were sent home under the point system. Those remaining were sent to various I & E (Information and Education) training schools. Very little other training was done. [1]

On 19 September the division began the 600-mile (970 km) trip to Camp Oklahoma City near Rheims, France for deployment home. On 26 October the division traveled 180 miles (290 km) from Camp Oklahoma City to Camp Phillip Morris at Le Havre, France and the Division was officially dismounted. The division was inactivated on 13 November 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia by Gen. Charles F. Colson. [1]

There is an official 8th Armored Division memorial at the American Cemetery in the city of Margraten, The Netherlands [4]

Casualties Edit

  • Total battle casualties: 2,011 [5]
  • Killed in action: 393 [5]
  • Wounded in action: 1,572 [5]
  • Missing in action: 5 [5]
  • Prisoner of war: 41 [5]

The nickname of the 8th Armored Division, the "Thundering Herd", was coined before the division went to Europe in late 1944. It was also known as the "Iron Snake" late in the war, after a correspondent for Newsweek likened the 8th to a "great ironclad snake" as it crossed the Rhine River in late March 1945. The division is also sometimes referred to as Tornado – its wartime tactical call sign. [6]

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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Mon May 19, 2014 2:25 am

Farewell ceremony for soldiers of the Red Army with the Banner of Victory before sending it to Moscow. In the foreground - Soviet SU-76 self-propelled guns.

Salute to Victory over the Moscow Kremlin.

Soviet and American soldiers during a meeting on the Elbe.

Berliners on a destroyed street.

Portrait Guard Sergeant OS Marenkinoy and Guard Lieutenant NP Belobrova separate from the company sniper 3rd Shock Army.

Portrait cadet Military Institute of Foreign Languages ​​Davydovna Valerie Bortz (1927-1996) in Berlin.
Valeria Davydovna Bortz - one of the few who after the defeat of 'Young Guard' escaped arrest and survived. When the arrests began, she tried together with Oleg Koshevoi, Sergei seal and sisters Nina and Olga Ivantsova cross the front line, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Prior to the arrival of Soviet troops hiding with relatives in Voroshilovgrad.

T-34-85 7th Guards Tank Corps on the road to Berlin

Soviet officers in the captured vehicle BMW 319 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Soviet soldiers in front of the Reichstag taken. Trailer trucks in the Soviet 152-mm cannon sample 1910/30 period.

Not a clue..wont translate all likelyhood its Berlin

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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Mon May 19, 2014 2:33 am

Portrait of a commander of a separate company sniper 3rd Shock Army Guard Lieutenant NA Lobkovsky.

Soldiers and tanks T-34-85 12th Guards Tank Corps, 2nd Guards Tank Army in Berlin.

Berlin residents and dismantled ruins of a destroyed building.

Soviet officer on the steps of the ruined Reichstag.

Burned German cars on the streets of Berlin. In the foreground image burned cars 'Kyubelvagen' Type 82 (Volkswagen Tour 82 Kubelwagen), Horch (Horch) 108 type 40.

Soviet photojournalist Senior Lieutenant Anatoly Arkhipovich Arkhipov (1913-1950, second from right) offers photographed Berlin girl.

Portrait of a German girl in the street destroyed Berlin.

Civilians carry their belongings with strollers on the streets of Berlin.

The commander of the 61st Army Hero of the Soviet Union Colonel General Pavel Belov (1897-1962), left, in Berlin.

View of the Landwehr Canal in Berlin after the end of fighting.

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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Mon May 19, 2014 2:39 am

Dead German soldiers and tank T-34-85 55th Guards Tank Brigade on the streets of Berlin.

Soviet sergeant-at radio signaller RB-M Release of 1942-1943 during the fighting in Berlin.

Soviet medium tank T-34-85 55th Guards Tank Brigade of the 7th Guards Tank Corps 3rd Guards Tank Army with troops on the armor crossed the river in Poland.

On the turret image of two rings and the number 252: the first digit 2 indicates membership of the machine to the 55th Guards Tank Brigade, two rings indicate belonging to the 7th Guards Tank Corps. By aft tank armor plate attached two large smoke bombs BDSH.

Padded and burning Soviet T-34 tank.

German soldiers in shelters dug in anti-tank ditch slopes at Lohshtedskogo forest, one of the many lines of defense against sea fortress Pilau.

Employees of the Luftwaffe (presumably technical staff) talk with civilians on the island of Crete.

Berliners escaping from street fighting, going away from the Soviet troops.

Soviet officers at the monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I in Berlin.

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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Sat May 24, 2014 7:20 pm

German mechanized division during the rest stop in the Soviet city. In the foreground ammunition armored Sd.Kfz. 252 (leichte Gepanzerte Munitionskraftwagen), used in batteries assault guns. Behind him assault gun StuG IIII Ausf. C-D. Astern assault gun worth captured British car Morris-Commercial. In the right part of the photo car Kfz. 1.

Soviet long-range bomber Er-2 ACh-30B engines and a tanker truck on the basis of American-made Studebaker US6 on the airfield.

Hauptmann German soldier Wehrmacht awards Iron Cross 2nd class in the trenches on the Eastern Front. Judging by the Gothic letter 'P' on the shoulder straps, the soldiers belong to the anti-tank units.

Tank M4A3 (75) W 5th Division U.S. Marine Corps on Iwo Jima.

T-34-85 (manufactured UVZ number 183) 5th Guards Tank Corps, 6th Guards Tank Army with wounded soldiers on the armor on the road.

Tankers Wehrmacht tank Pz.Kpfw.III give salute Finnish officers led by General Hjalmar Siilasvuo (Hjalmar Fridolf Siilasvuo, 1892-1947). District Raatskoy road (Raatteen tie).

Group of tank destroyers 7th Artillery Battalion 1st Proletarian Brigade People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (NOAYU).

U.S. Medium Tank M4A2 (76) W 'Sherman' of 761-th separate tank battalion passes over the bridge in Vic-sur-Seille (Vic-sur-Seill). By car, tank crew, consisting of African Americans.

Hungarian soldiers boost the river on a raft on the Eastern Front.

Soviet patrol checks documents for residents of Berlin Berliner alley.
In the background of the photo - Pharmacy 'Amalien Apotheke' (address - Berliner Allee, 196), founded in 1913 and currently serving on.

Heinrich Generalleutnant
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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Sat May 24, 2014 7:28 pm

German soldiers clearing out a soviet dugout.

Crew American medium tank M4 'Sherman' loads ammunition in the car in the jungles of Bougainville (Bougainville). Stretched over the machine camouflage net.

A group of Finnish soldiers with a captured Soviet T-34-85.

Deputy commander of the 7th Guards Tank Corps, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Major General Solomin Jakubowski (1912-1976) on the streets of Moscow.

Marine pehotincy 1st Divisions krigsmarine (1 Marine-Infanterie-Division) VEDUTE fire from 81-mm Mortar (8cm Granatwerfer Model 1934 last lots) in the area Cedeno (currently - Poland gorodok Cedyn - Cedynia).

U.S. Medium Tank M4 'Sherman', France 1944

The body of a Yugoslav partisan, hanged on a tree in Bosnia.

Japanese driver foreman Tadayoshi Koga, who died in the downing of his fighter A6M 'Zero'. Relatively easily damaged when landing fighter, was the first 'Zero' in American hands. Information obtained after the tests were promptly sent to the troops and used in American aircraft.

Physicians 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade Proletarian People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (NOAYU) bandage the wounded.

U.S. Light Tank M5A1 'Stuart' breaks hedges in Normandy.

Heinrich Generalleutnant
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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Sat May 24, 2014 7:38 pm

Making anti tank-urchins on the outskirts of Moscow.

German soldiers adjuster and trucks on Karl Marx Street in occupied Kirovograd.
The central street in occupied Kirovograd. During the Russian Empire street was called the great promise, but in the Soviet period was renamed after Karl Marx. Historic name was returned in 2011.

Battlegrave of a German obergefreiter -parachutist in the mountains of Italy.

Chief of Staff of the French Army, General Jean Joseph Marie Gabriel de Lattre de Tassigny (Jean Joseph Marie Gabriel de Lattre de Tassigny, 1889-1952) at the Berlin Tempelhof airport.

Finnish anti-aircraft gunners near the 20-mm anti-aircraft gun (2 cm FlaK 30, the German production) are watching in Mikkeli (Mikkeli).

Portrait master RKKA South Zapadnogo nadvinutoy in front of GLAZNE pilotke.

Soldiers SS Division 'Nord' landing on the shore in the Arctic.

Unfinished Battleship 'Soviet Ukraine' on the stocks of the plant. Marty in occupied Nikolaev.

Soldiers of the 2nd Polish Corps dismantled mortar shells near Monte Cassino.

Italian officer and a murdered child near the Bosnian town of Gorazde (Gorazde).

Heinrich Generalleutnant
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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Sat May 24, 2014 7:51 pm

Soldiers mortar platoon lieutenant N. Kolomintseva in 82-mm mortar battalion of the sample in 1941 (BM-41) at the firing position during the liberation of Grodno during Operation 'Bagration'.

German tank Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G and Armored Personnel Carrier Sd.Kfz.251 / 1 Ausf.S on the march to walk kontrnastupleniâ the Kharkiv.

The stadium 'Dynamo' during the match between the teams 'CSKA' and 'Dynamo' in Moscow.

Mechanic serves German fighter Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in Finnish airfield Immola. In the sky - commissioned dive bomber Junkers Ju-87 (Ju 87).

burnt Soviet chemical (flamethrower) light tank OT-130.

Damaged battleship Baltic Fleet 'October Revolution'. September 21, 1941 the battleship was hit by three bombs in the bow, in the region of 14-29 frames. Bomb penetrated the middle deck and caused great destruction, but do not damage the vital space ship. September 27, 1941 was hit by a 500 kg bomb. She broke through the middle and upper decks and exploded on the barbet of the second tower of the main fire barbet was destroyed and the tower jammed.

Group portrait of pilots - Victory Parade participants. From left to right in the first row: three officers of third APDD (Regiment-range), the pilots of the 1st Guards APDD: Paul T. Mitnick, pot Alexander, Alexander Bodnar, Voevodin Ivan Ilyich. Second row: Ivan Bychkov, Leonid Kuznetsov, two officers third APDD Polishchuk Hilary S. (third APDD) Sevastiyanov Konstantin Petrovich, Peter F. Gubin.

Residents of Stalingrad with a horse pass near the main entrance of the victim in the battles of the building department.

gebirgjaeger Wehrmacht ferry cars on the ferry across the river Meuse (Maas).(Belgium part of the Maas..)

Australian soldiers photographed with Japanese swords during the surrender of Japanese forces in New Guinea.

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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Sat May 24, 2014 7:59 pm

The commander of the 2nd 101 th tank battalion of the SS (sSSPzAbt 101) obersturmfurerSS Michael Wittmann, 1914-1944, 4th left) SS in the tank Pz.Kpfw. VI 'Tiger'. city of Mons (Mons), Belgium.

Soviet aircraft mechanic helps fasten parachutes crew of Il-2 before departure.

burnt medium tank Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H later release in the battles of Breslau. View on the left side.

Posting in ice icebreaker 'October' leader 'Leningrad' during the Russo-Finnish War. Aboard destroyers project leader 1 'Leningrad' applied a literal designation prewar Soviet destroyers 'N'.

Pilot, 1st Regiment of long-range (1 APDD) Yablokov Yu at the airport at the U-2 aircraft.

Citizens at the exhibition of achievements of national economy (ENEA) in Moscow 1941.

British pilot in the cockpit of a captured German fighter Messerschmitt Bf. 109 in Libya.

Sump destroyed armored vehicles. Right broken German assault gun StuG 40. Presumably district commercial port of Tallinn.

U.S. soldiers inspect the coast of Iwo Jima before landing from ships.

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Re: Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII

Post by Heinrich » Tue May 27, 2014 10:46 pm

T-34 tank sample of 1941 goes on the attack with the support of 45-mm anti-tank gun 53-K. Western Front.

seaplane OS2U 'Kingfišer' (OS2U Vought Kingfisher) on Ford Island in Pearl-Harbor. The backgroundCurtiss SOC Seagul and PBY 'Catalina' (Consolidated PBY Catalina).

German armored personnel carriers in the Kuban steppe. In the foreground is a light armored Sd. Kfz. 250/1.Na the far left in the background are two Sd. Kfz. 250. In the background on the right two armored Sd. Kfz. 251.

U.S. Medium Tank M4A3 (76) W 12th Armored Division of the United States in Schneeberg (Schneeberg).

Operations Chief of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) Artillery General Alfred Jodl (Alfred Jodl) (left), talks with the German representative at the General Staff of the Finnish Army Corps Gen. Waldemar Erfurt (Waldemar Erfurth).

German armored vehicles parked in the North African desert. The first bids for the right - machine communication (leichter Funkpanzerwagen) Sd. Kfz. 250/3. The car sits Wehrmacht Afrika Korps commander, General Field Marshal Rommel E. (Erwin Eugen Johannes Rommel, 1891-1944). Presumably, this staff car Rommel, with his own name 'Greif'. Left communication vehicles - armored Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf.B. The sides of the machine has a design reminiscent of a homemade antenna frame type and a large antenna, which suggests that this machine connection (mittlerer Funkpanzerwagen) Sd. Kfz. 251/3 Ausf.B (possible alteration conventional field Sd. Kfz. 251/1 in Sd. Kfz. 251/3). Last armored left - Sd. Kfz. 251/1 Ausf.S.

Prepare to fly spy plane Pe-2 at the airport Red Hill. Orel-Kursk. Technical team, from left to right: Moiseenko mechanic trainee Citrine Vorovskii trainee mechanic armament Machnev.

U.S. soldiers with the support of medium tanks M4A3 'Sherman' 12th Armored Division in the U.S. Krautosheyma in Germany.

Marshal Georgy Zhukov (1896-1974) talks with British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887-1976) near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin after the ceremony.

German submarine sailors wash dishes in the compartment.


Frontal Armor Thickness

The Chieftain said that Sherman's frontal armor is usually listed as 2 inches thick, while the frontal armor of a Tiger I (Figure 3) is usually listed a 100 mm (4 inches) thick.

Figure 3: Tiger I Tank of WW2 (Source: Bundesarchiv).

While the Tiger I's armor is not sloped, we can see that the M4 Sherman's frontal armor is sloped at 56° (as shown in Figure 1). According to The Chieftain, this means that the M4 Sherman's effective armor thickness is really 3.6 inches relative to a horizontal strike and is roughly comparable to the frontal armor on a Tiger I.

Figure 4 shows how The Chieftain got his answer of 3.6 inches of effective armor thickness. The key formula here is .

Figure 4: Effective Armor Thickness of an M4 Sherman.

Unfortunately, the M4 Sherman did not use sloped armor for its sides, but at least the frontal armor was sloped, thus making more effective use of the 2 inch frontal armor plate. While I am very familiar with the sloped armor on the T34 and Panther tanks, I had never thought about the M4 Sherman's armor being sloped.

The Sherman's sloped armor had significant advantages when facing opponents armed with 50 mm or 57 mm main guns (e.g. PzKpfw III). However, these advantages vanished when faced with opponents armed with 75 mm or 88 mm main guns (e.g. Panther and Tiger I) because of armor overmatch, which occurs when the shell diameter is greater than the armor thickness. When armor is overmatched, the slope plays minimal role. For a good description of how overmatch affects the level of armor protection, see Appendix A.

Armor Quality

The fact that the bulk of Sherman production used CHA rather than RHA like the Tiger I meant that an inch of Sherman armor was less capable than an inch of Tiger I armor. The exact difference is difficult to estimate – some folks claim that CHA could be penetrated 500 meters further away than RHA.

Threat Faced

You really need to evaluate the Sherman's protection relative to the threat it faced. A Tiger I's 88 mm main gun could penetrate a Sherman from ranges beyond typical visual ranges, while a Sherman could not penetrate a Tiger I's frontal armor even at close range. Thus, the level of crew protection in a Sherman is not really comparable to that of a Tiger I.

Theater Characteristics

The Sherman appears to have performed well in the Pacific Theater where Japanese tanks were few and were relatively light. It also performed well in Africa, where it mainly dealt with PzKpfw IIIs and PzKpfw IVs. It received good grades in the Italian campaign where the mountainous terrain force the Sherman into more of a mobile artillery role. However, the Normandy campaign did not play to the Sherman's strengths of reliability and mobility. In the Normandy Campaign, the Sherman faced a well-led opponent who out-gunned and out-armored it. This meant that the Sherman could only depend on its remaining strength – its vast numbers.

25 mind blowing colourised images of WWII

The crew of a British Light Tank Mk.VIB having a “brew up” and cooking their Christmas dinner beside their vehicle, in Libya, North Africa. 31st of December 1940. (note – they are sitting on fuel or water containers and using a cut in half, empty can (a “flimsy” – the infamous 4-Gallon non-returnable petrol tin) for heating the food, referred to at the time as a “Banghazi Fire”. The tanker seated in the middle is holding a can of ‘Pilsner Lager’.)

(© IWM E 1501)
Capt. G Keating – No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit.

The Mk VIB was also used in the North African campaign against the Italians late in 1940 with the 3rd Hussars and the 7th Armoured Division. Late in 1940 the British had 200 light tanks (presumably the Mk VIB) along with 75 cruiser tanks (A9, A10, A13) and 45 Matilda IIs. An attack by the 3rd Hussars on 12 December 1940 resulted in the tanks getting bogged down in salt pans and severely mauled. The 7th Armoured Division had 100 left on 3 January 1941 and 120 tanks on 21 January at which time they were used in flanking far into the rear and gathering up scattered Italian troops, sometimes joining or leaving the main attacks to the Cruiser and Matilda II tanks. The 2nd RTR continued to battle the Italians with light tanks as late as 6 February 1941.

(Colourised by Benjamin Thomas from Australia) coloursofyesterday

A British Sherman VC ‘Firefly’ (Medium Tank, M4A4) of ‘C’ Squadron,The Staffordshire Yeomanry, 27th Armoured Brigade in the vicinity of Lebisey Wood, north of Caen, Normandy. 7th -13th of June 1944.

“C” Squadron in the Lebisey area was being shelled fairly heavily. Lieutenant Winterhalder was killed when his tank was hit in an engagement with two enemy tanks near the crossing of the anti-tank obstacle. The infantry, too, had suffered serious casualties during their heavy fighting and, since the Norfolk and Warwickshire Regiments were not available to assist in clearing Lebisey Wood, being still engaged in mopping up the strong-point farther back, it was decided to withdraw from that area and consolidate behind the anti-tank obstacle. At last light the Regiment leaguered west of Bieville and, in spite of numerous snipers in the adjacent woods, was not seriously disturbed during the night. On the whole, the day had gone really well for the Regiment. Apart from the loss of five Shermans of “B” Squadron to the fire of a German 88-mm. gun, only two tanks had been hit during the encounter with the enemy armour and neither of them had been put out of action. The Regiment had destroyed seven enemy tanks and disabled two others, all of them Mark IV Specials. Also on the credit side was the fact that a reasonably firm bridgehead had been established, the occupation of the high ground by the tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry enabling the follow-up personnel and armour to land over “White” beach without observation by the enemy, apart from the air.

At first light on 7th June the Regiment, less “A” Squadron, moved forward again on to the ridge and took up battle positions facing south and south-west. “A” Squadron were detailed to assist the Norfolk and Warwickshire Regiments in an attack to clear Lebisey Wood and penetrate to the open ground beyond, but it had been heavily reinforced by the enemy during the night and all the attacks were unsuccessful, the infantry again suffering heavy losses. At last light the operation was abandoned and “A” Squadron returned to the Regimental area while 185th Infantry Brigade consolidated north of the anti-tank obstacle.

There was no change in the position on 8th June and it was possible, from the various reports coming in, to form some sort of view of the success of the whole operation. The Canadians, landing on the right of the Division, had run into fierce resistance on D Day and had been unable to advance. On the 7th and 8th, however, they had forced their way forward and by noon on the 8th had linked up with the right flank of the British sector. Farther west again, the Americans had sustained heavy casualties during their landings, but had fought their way ashore and established a reasonably secure bridgehead. The capture of Bayeux on the 8th was an important success in the fighting that was then going on to link up the initial bridgeheads behind a continuous line covering the whole of the landing area. For the next few days the Staffordshire Yeomanry remained in long-range support of the infantry and in observation duties from the high ground near Periers-sur-le-Dan. The Reconnaissance Troop was active during this period with extensive patrolling towards Lebisey Wood, and on the l0th lost one Honey which was knocked out when advancing along the main road, Lance-Corporal Humphreys being killed. On 12th June the Staffordshire Yeomanry relieved the East Riding Yeomanry in the area of Cambes and made contact with the Canadians on their right flank. There was heavy enemy mortar fire during the day which caused a number of casualties. During 14th June a small probing sortie was sent out on the left flank of the Regiment’s front under Major Farquhar, but the leading Honey in the Reconnaissance Troop was hit at close range by anti-tank fire and Major Farquhar ordered the patrol to return. On the following day the Staffordshire Yeomanry moved back to their previous positions near Periers-sur-le-Dan and remained in that area for the next three weeks. (Staffordshire Yeomanry in Normandy – WarChronicle).

(nb. Each regiment marked their tanks with symbols a triangle for ‘A’ squadron, a square for ‘B’ squadron and a circle for ‘C’ squadron, Staffs Yeo in yellow. The number 󈧸’ on a red square background indicated the Staffs Yeomanry)

(Colourised by Royston Leonard UK) pages/ Colourized-pictures-of-the- world-wars-and-other-perio ds-in-time/182158581977012

Private G.R. MacDonald of The Toronto Scottish Regiment (M.G.) 2nd Canadian Infantry Division Support Btn., giving first aid to injured French children in Brionne, Haute-Normandie, France on the 25th of August 1944.

The 2nd Canadian Corps had reached the line of the River Risle east of Bernay, which was captured on the 24th August. Under orders issued by General Simonds on the 22nd of August, th ey were moving on the left, through Brionne, directed on Bourgtheroulde. The 3rd Division was in the centre, moving by way of Orbec upon the Elbeuf area. On the right the 4th Canadian Armoured Division was following the axis Broglie-Bernay-Le Neubourg, directed on the region about Pont de l’Arche. The advance was being led and covered by the 18th Armoured Car Regiment (12th Manitoba Dragoons) and the divisions’ reconnaissance regiments.

Resistance to the 2nd Corps had so far been insignificant the enemy was chiefly intent on getting away, and such opposition as he offered was merely delaying actions by rearguards which withdrew as soon as strong pressure was applied. Indeed, the most memorable feature of these days was the tumultuous and heartfelt welcome which the liberated people gave our columns. The historian of the 10th Brigade wrote later, “Will Bernay ever be forgotten? Bernay where the people stood from morning till night, at times in the pouring rain, and at times in the August sun. Bernay where they never tired of waving, of throwing flowers or fruit, of giving their best wines and spirits to some halted column. . . .” But in every town and hamlet the reception was much the same. It was an experience to move the toughest soldier . (nb. We believe that this could be the same Private George Robert MacDonald (Service Nº F/97949) of the 11th Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps attached to the 2nd Div., who was sadly KIA in the Bedburg area of Germany on the 19th of February 1945 (aged 21).

(Colourised by Royston Leonard UK) pages/ Colourized-pictures-of-the- world-wars-and-other-perio ds-in-time/182158581977012

Two US 1st Army medics give first aid to an injured French dog they had found amid the ruins of Carentan in Normandy, France on July the 1st 1944.

The “Memphis Belle” and crew, 7th of June 1943.

They are, left to right: Tech. Sgt. Harold P. Loch of Green Bay, Wis., top turret gunner Staff Sgt. Cecil H. Scott of Altoona, Penn., ball turret gunner Tech. Sgt. Robert J, Hanson of Walla Walla, Wash., radio operator Capt. James A. Verinis, New Haven, Conn., co-pilot Capt. Robert K. Morgan of Ashville, N. C., pilot Capt. Charles B. Leighton o f Lansing, Mich., navigator Staff Sgt. John P. Quinlan of Yonkers, N. Y., tail gunner Staff Sgt. Casimer A. Nastal of Detroit, Mich., waist gunner Capt. Vincent B. Evans of Henderson, Texas, bombardier and Staff Sgt. Clarence E. Wichell of Oak Park, Ill., waist gunner.

The aircraft was one of the first B-17 United States Army Air Corps heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds.

The Memphis Belle, a Boeing-built B-17F-10-BO, USAAC Serial No. 41-24485, was added to the USAAC inventory on 15th July 1942, and delivered in September 1942 to the 91st Heavy Bombardment Group at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine. She deployed to Prestwick, Scotland, on 30th September 1942, to a temporary base at RAF Kimbolton on 1st October, and then to her permanent base at Bassingbourn, England, on 14th October. Each side of the fuselage bore the unit identification markings of the 324th Bomb Squadron (Heavy) – DF: A.

Captain Robert Morgan’s crew flew 29 combat missions with the 324th Bomb Squadron, all but four in the Memphis Belle.

The aircraft was the namesake of pilot Robert K. Morgan’s sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan originally intended to call the B-17, Little One, after his pet name for her, but after Morgan and his co-pilot, Jim Verinis, saw the movie ‘Lady for a Night’, in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle, he proposed that name to his crew. Morgan then contacted George Petty at the offices of ‘Esquire’ magazine and asked him for a pinup drawing to go with the name, Petty supplied ‘Girl on a phone’ from the magazine’s April 1941 issue.

The 91st’s group artist Corporal Tony Starcer reproduced the famous Petty girl nose art on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her suit in blue on the aircraft’s port side and in red on the starboard. The nose art later included 25 bomb shapes, one for each mission credit, and eight swastika designs, one for each German aircraft claimed shot down by the crew of the Memphis Belle. Station and crew names were stencilled below station windows on the aircraft after her tour of duty was completed.

After the war, the Memphis Belle was saved from reclamation at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma where she had been consigned since 1 August 1945, by the efforts of the mayor of Memphis, Walter Chandler, and the city bought the B-17 for $350. She was flown to Memphis in July 1946 and stored until the summer of 1949 when she was placed on display at the National Guard armoury near the city’s fairgrounds. She sat out-of-doors into the 1980s, slowly deteriorating due to weather and vandalism. Souvenir hunters removed almost all of the interior components. Eventually no instruments were left in the cockpit, and virtually every removable piece of the aircraft’s interior had been scavenged, often severing the aircraft’s wiring and control cables in the process.

As of 2014, the aircraft is undergoing extensive restoration at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

Note: The “Hell’s Angels” B-17 (41-24577) of the 303rd Bomb Group completed 25 combat missions on 13 May 1943, becoming the first B-17 to complete the feat, one week before the Memphis Belle.

#38 The Shermans Flaws: What Was Wrong With The Tank, and Stayed Wrong.

The Shermans Flaws: Yeah, I know the Sherman Had Flaws. It Just Had So Many Fewer Than Any German Tank!

The Sherman tank, like anything man produces, was series of compromises to meet the US Army’s design specifications. The Sherman was also designed by a country with little tank making experience. The British, who were already at war, helped a great deal with the Sherman design with feedback from their combat experience. Some of the lessons learned about the Lee/Grant design did not come in time to affect the very early Sherman design, but improvements made it into the production line fairly fast.

Let’s start with the early Shermans, and by early, I mean all small hatch hull tanks. The automotive systems on all the early Shermans were good. All the major issues with the four major power plants had been resolved in the Lee. This is true of on the early VVSS, it was replaced with the heavy duty VVSS used first on the M3A4. The narrow tracks were a flaw, in soft terrain and mud the Sherman with VVSS, and 16-inch tracks, was at a disadvantage compared to the Pather, but this flaw was resolved in two ways before the end of the war. The first was duckbill end connectors on the 16-inch tracks, lowering ground pressure, and then HVSS came along in late 44, with 23 inch wide tracks that resolved the problem completely, the HVSS Sherman could go anywhere a Panther went, without risk of breaking down constantly.

The Powertrain was so good it remained largely unchanged throughout the Sherman production run, I would say it was pretty close to flawless. The very early Shermans had direct vision ports, this was solved pretty quickly on the production line in most cases, and the tanks produced with the DV ports had upgrades that could be installed in the field to solve the problem of them being a weak point in the frontal armor. The complicated multi-piece front plate was not great, since the welds took extra time to manufacture, and they were ballistic weak spots as well it was simplified on late production small hatch tanks by reducing the number of plates and was replaced by a single plate when they updated the hull with the large driver and co-drivers hatches.

The 75mm M3 gun was good though some would argue it was a flaw, based on its lack of ability to pen the front of the Panther and Tiger tanks. For the first year or more, the Sherman saw combat its gun was very good for both anti-tank work and infantry support. German tanks, even in the mid part of the war were relatively rare compared to AT guns, and the 75 M3 was a much better gun for taking those out. The US Army did see a need to improve the AT performance and began working on installing the M1 76mm gun into the Sherman, and they began this process before the Tiger or Panther showed up. By the time the Panther showed up in large numbers, Shermans with 76mm guns were showing up in large numbers as well. So this flaw was addressed as well, though, not fully, since the M1A1 gun was not all that it was cracked up to be. The truth is, by the time the US was facing Panthers on a regular basis, the crews in them were so green, and the tank itself so complicated and hard to fight, even Sherman 75s had little trouble handling them.

Yes, its early ammo storage was a flaw, storing ammo in the sponsons, and all around the base of the turret basket made it easy to brew the tank up with an ammo fire. They figured this out, and changed the ammo configuration and put it all in armored boxes. Most tanks already issued received these changes in kit form. When the large hatch hull went into production, for the most part, these tanks got wet storage in the hull, under the turret basket, with water jackets. This location proved to be a very good place for the ammo, and fires in penetrated Shermans went down drastically. The location was far more important than the wet part of the storage, and it was dropped post-war. Some crews objected to the changes in ammo storage, a pre quick fix Sherman with 12 to 14 ready rounds within easy reach of the loader could pump out a very large volume of fire for a fairly long time, the new ammo layout really slowed the rate of fire down in a sustained fight. Because of this, some crews ignored the new ammo regulations and stored as much loose ammo as they could in the turret basket. These crews were willing to risk the higher chance of catastrophic fire, to keep that higher sustained rate of fire.

Some like to say it’s reliance on gas engines was a flaw, most of the people who like to point this out don’t understand that the Sherman had a diesel version, and American gas-powered tanks were no more likely to burn than anyone’s gas-powered tanks and were much less prone to fire than German tanks like the Panzer IV, it was the worst of the war, all German tanks were gas powered as well. Hell for most of its life, the Panther didn’t need any help from the allies to light itself on fire. I do not call the US Armies reliance on gas a flaw, it was a choice, the US Army could have kept all the A2s if they wanted diesel tanks. In fact, from the automotive standpoint all the motors the Sherman used, even the A57 multibank, were more reliable than any motor the Germans produced for use in a tank.

The armor, here you can make a pretty good argument the tank was flawed. It had better armor than all other mediums in its weight class, but that, of course, won’t save it from guns like 75mm L70 or the 88mm L71 guns. No tank in its weight class could, nor could the heavier German tanks like the Tiger or Panther for that matter. In most cases, medium tanks don’t have enough room left in their design to take much more weight of armor. This is one of the things that ruined the Panther, all the extra weight from armor, but no upgrades to the powertrain.

Now, the Sherman design is a special case, the powertrain, and suspension were so well designed they could take the extra weight of more armor, without compromising reliability. The Jumbo, and all the field mods, including the field mod Jumbos like Thunderbolt VII, an M4A3 76W HVSS tank, that had extra armor cut from knocked out Shermans onto its hull and turret, prove it. The Army was aware it could take these upgrades, as the Jumbo program, and their toying with add-on armor kits shows. Even the Jumbo couldn’t stand up to the 88L71 for long, and more armor than the jumbo tanks had, would have compromised the tanks automotive bits. So the armor was good enough, because armor that could stop the big AT guns it was facing was not practical, and would have caused automotive problems. But the basic Sherman could have had significantly thicker armor without affecting the Shermans reliability or producibility. This would have made an already good tank better, but there also may be reasons why they couldn’t, the War Production Board always had a say in these things, maybe they didn’t want to shift over more steel production when they were desperate for it in the Landing Craft/Ship program, when talking about American War production, you can never consider just that item, because they didn’t every program fought for priority in the system.

No, to really get into the Shermans flaws, you have to look at the things that could not be addressed with simple upgrades. The tanks height, front drive, and sponsons, and all these had to wait until the T20 series ended in the M26. The front drive and suspension from the M2/M3 series got carried over to the M4 series because they hadn’t even solved the turret ring problem, so they really hadn’t spent much time looking into rear drive. Men and women were designing these tanks and their parts on drafting tables using slide rules. The Greatest Generation and the one before they were so good at math it’s mind-boggling. The tanks designed to replace the Sherman all used rear drive, with the motor, tranny as one big unit in the rear of the hull. These designs also eventually got torsion bar suspension, but it was deemed so little of an improvement in the M4 series as to not be worth changing production lines, but it was good for the newer tanks. There is some debate about torsion bars being the best way to go, the US Army said yes, and every tank up until and including the M1 Abrams use torsion bars. This was not the only choice, the British used improved, but very Sherman like Bogie systems on the Centurion and they upgraded that tank for decades. The torsion bar system takes up space in the hull, bogie type systems don’t and bolt on suspension is easy to repair, torsion bar systems are notoriously not easy to fix on any tank that has them. I’ve read M48 repair crews in Vietnam would use C4 to blow the axle stubs out of the hull, instead of doing it the normal way, to save time.

Tiger II and M4A3 76 W Sherman side by side, that Tiger may not run, but the Sherman surely does. They share the same design flaw, the powertrain in the front, the motor in the back, with a drive shaft running through the fighting compartment. This forces the turret basket up and the whole tank to be taller. Also, note that both tanks have sponsons, these were largely eliminated from future tank designs by everyone because they add volume to the hull the dilutes the overall armor thickness. Final note, that Sherman has all its ammo stored in the floor in wet ammo racks, the Tiger II has its ammo in the sponsons and rear of the turret. In dry unarmored racks. Making the Tiger prone to catastrophic ammo fires, it seems like Nazi tank designers didn’t learn that lesson very well. The Tiger II may look impressive, but its combat record is not, if you read accounts not written by Nazis. The first losses on the eastern front were to the humble T-34-85, and they killed several of these silly beasts without loss.

The Shermans tallness, one of its real flaws, though one that’s always exaggerated, was also caused by the Shermans front-drive layout. This was because this layout required a drive shaft from the motor, to the tranny to run through the fighting compartment, thus forcing the turret basket up and making the tank taller, and in the Shermans case the first engine choice the R975 was a big motor, and forced a large tall engine compartment on the design. There was not much that could have been done to solve this problem short of putting one of the T20 series into production, but they wouldn’t have produced a tank that was really much better. This was a design flaw all the German cats, and pretty all German tanks had. They don’t have the R975 as a reason, they were just bad at engine layout and cooling systems and wasted a lot of space there.

The final flaw is a minor one, the hull having sponsons added area that had to be protected with armor. Had they been eliminated, their weight in armor could have been added to the front of the hull and turret making for slightly more armor, but a much more cramped tank. This is a pretty minor flaw overall, and the Sherman would be the last US tank design to have them.

So overall all, the majority of the Shermans flaws were solved over its production life. The ones that couldn’t be were resolved in the next tank design. I have to say, all in all, that’s a very small list of serious flaws and it is far outweighed by the Shermans pluses. This does nothing but reinforces my view that the Sherman tank was the best tank of the war.

If you came by this article from that terrible Cracked article, 5 Things about War you thought were true because of War movies , forget the garbage you just exposed yourself to and stick around and read up on the most important allied tank of the war, the M4 Medium Tank, AKA the Sherman.

Then stick around, you can actually learn something from this site.