News post 13: Lots of small things, mostly cleaning up Sherman drawings.
The Sherman tank site has been up for 2 years, and is all paid up for the coming year. I have content coming out my ears, and the speed things go up is all based on my free time. Unfortunately, free time has been scarce, but that should be getting better. Thanks for all the comments and feedback!
I’m going to list of some new things here and then post a bunch of drawings from various manuals i’ve cleaned up and improved.
I uploaded a bunch of new unit histories as well, and there are several new pages.
I downloaded this PDF, Report on The New Weapons Board 1944, someplace, but since I don’t remember where I hosted it too. The report documents the feedback the troops gave to the board on the various weapons they demonstrated.
The report was put together in early 44 to document feedback from the troops on current weapons, and proposed improvements, and replacements. There is a good amount of information on the M4 medium tank, and US Armor in general. Most of the combat feedback comes from the fighting in Italy, and North Africa.
The report also sheds an interesting light, and gives evidence for the view that the US Army didn’t consider the improved early Sherman bad, and only wanted it replaced with something much better. It also gives some interesting insight into the Shermans and what condition they were in when they got to the using units.
Feedback on current equipment and changes.
The first thing is this to note about the Sherman is the first mention of it is praise for the current models. This quote stands out, “No new type is desired unless the improvement in military characteristics is sufficient to warrant the changes and defects in the present standard tanks are avoided.”
They did have a list of improvements they did want either done to the Sherman, and to make sure the follow on model, the T20 series incorporated them.
They wanted a 76mm gun like the 3-inch gun on the M10. The news of the 76mm M1 series and the new Shermans mounting the gun interested the troops a lot. They brought an M4E6 76mm Sherman.
Improved suspension and tracks. It turns out the rubber block tracks with no chevron were not well liked, and wore out very quick in rock, hilly terrain. The steel chevron blocks with rubber backs were well like and lasted much longer. This feedback is mostly from the ETA, the mountainous and rocky landscape was hard on tanks and even the Sherman had some issues. The complaints about the suspension had more to do with width than durability.
They wanted armored air cleaners on the M4 and M4A1 tanks. It turns out the Air cleaners mounted under the overhang on the rear hull of the M4 and M4A1 tanks were prone to damage, and this damage was not expected, and didn’t pick up until Italy so there was a shortage. All other models had the air cleaners inside the hull. Some units added improvised armor and some was added later in the production runs.
Better ballistic angle around the front of the transmission housing. The old three part differential is what they are talking about. Most early shermans had this type, and the armor was thinner than the later cast single piece units. There were two cast versions, an early thinner, but still no worse than the three piece unit, and a later improved thicker one. There was a demand for add on armor over this area, but it was never approved.
More power. Yet, when the M4A3 Ford GAA powered Shermans came online, they did not want to swap them in as replacements, and only wanted whole units who trained on them stateside first to be issued the improved tanks. The M4A4 and M4A2 were not big enough improvements to switch to those motors.
Diesel engine. The US Army rejected the GM 6046, claiming it was not as reliable as the R975, but all the nations that did use this motor liked it.
They wanted better sights and fire control equipment. Many tanks in the MTO and NATO(North African Theater of Operation) had not gotten the M34A1 gun mounts with telescopic sights. The mount for the periscope sight had not seen major improvements, though there were field mods to make it work. The using arm was enthusiastic about the changes in the second gen Shermans fire control, but wanted even more advanced features, like range finders, and improved telescopes, since the current ones shot loose to!
There is also other tank related info.
The M3 75mm Gun – Though well liked for infantry support and deemed to be reliable and durable, the using arms almost universally felt the German 75mm PAK 40 guns were much better anti tank weapons, and a high velocity 76mm gun was in demand.
75mm ammunition – these fixed rounds came unfixed, sometimes even in their travel packaging. They wanted this fixed. They wanted the WP shells ballistics to match the ballistics of the common HE shell.
Large caliber cartridge cases – Steel cases for the 75mm rounds for the M3 gun were well received and proved more durable. This was not the case for 105mm howitzer rounds.
105mm howitzer armed tanks – This was not a popular notion because the M7 105mm GMC was inaccurate in direct fire when used close assault. The new weapons board did not agree, and plans for this vehicle were already in motion, and it would be well liked once issued.
Tank Officers – they wanted a tanker in the high level headquarters to advise Division and higher level officers the best way to use tanks. AA and Tank destroyer officers were already an accepted part of these HQ staffs.
the 17-pdr gun – There was more interest in using this gun in M10s, since the install was much simpler, the Sherman install was complicated, and cramped and the Army was leary.
Tank Tracks – They show up again and the plain rubber block tracks could wear out in 250 miles in rock terrain, and lacked good off road traction, and the using arm felt they were only good for training on roads. The T54E1 steel chevron type was preferred and much more durable, but the T48 rubber chevron would work in the MTO but wore out faster than steel types. The T49 bar cleat was also not good on sidehill terrain. The using arm wanted a wider center guided track in the MTO because the side guided tracks on the Sherman were prone to throwing on irregular and rocky side slopes. Extended end connectors were well received by the using arms.
Tank Suspension – Sherman suspension was found to be durable, with few volute springs failing. The biggest problem was the bogie wheels, since the rubber tires had an erratic failure rate, and unlike the spring failures, usually sidelined the tank.
Ammunition stowage – They using arms were not interested in changes that reduced the number of ready rounds. The turret ready racks were very popular and crews did not like their removal with the ‘quick fix’ mods. They were willing to risk the higher fire chance, for the faster rate of fire the early storage setup allowed. The crews did not get their way on this one, at least until the M26 went into production.
The Radios – They wanted a better radio in the M32 recovery vehicles and better, more comfortable headphones for the armor crews.
The M10 GMC – This TD was very popular, and received high praise all around. There usering arm did not require a replacement, just improved M10s. ♠ One thing to note, most M10 GMCs in MTO lacked the Azimuth indicator and range quadrant. Since the M10s get used as artillery a lot in the MTO, they would like replacements to have them.
Replacement gun tubes – The using arms were very annoyed, that all type of gun barrels from machine gun and mortar, to tank and artillery were dispensed at a very miserly rate. The using arm argued replacement barrels should be bought at the rate that took into consideration how much ammunition for the same weapon was produced.
Improved fire control for all relevant vehicles – They wanted built in range finders, or portable ones supplied. Better periscope and telescope sights and all vehicles that could be used for indirect fire to receive the full suite of tools to perform the task. Up to reading this, I had never heard that some Shermans did not get these automatically. I’m not sure why some Shermans and TDs didn’t have the Azimuth indicator M19 and elevation quadrant M9. Maybe the crews dumped them to save space, maybe the tanks were rushed and built and approved without them I’ll try and find out. T hey mention 75% of the tanks in England had these items, but less 50% had them in the MTO. Tank units were much more commonly used for indirect fire in the MTO than they would be in the ETO.
Engines – The R975C-1 was getting around 200 hours before needing replacement. This was fine with the using arm, though they would like 60 to 100 more horsepower. The R975 needed little maintenance to reach the expected 200 hours and many run much longer. The lack of liquid cooling system has some advantages.
Powertrain – There was a higher than expected rate of clutch failure in the desert campaigns. The clutch system was also improved on the production like with improved leverage to lower the clutch pedal pressure. Many MTO units did not receive the improved clutches or linkages. The better clutches lead to better transmission life and better shifting, and even without the improved clutches, transmission life went up in Italy. The powertrain offered excellent service and generally outlived the engines by several overhauls if not damaged.
Crew comfort – the Driver and Co-drivers seats in the Sherman were found to be ok, but higher seat backs were requested along with deeper seat cushions. The Gunners seat was found to be ok, but could use the same improvements as the drivers seats but the Command and Loaders seats were deemed all but useless. These would be improved in the later models of the Sherman and various TDs. Crews do not use their seatbelts, fearing it complicating bailing out, and more padding inside was not wanted because the crews felt it was a fire hazard. The M4 and M4A1 tanks were praised for good ventilation. There was also some discussion about the value of turret baskets, and if they were needed at all.
Ammo Storage – The early Sherman ready racks in the turret were well liked by the using arms, but they felt the sponson and hull ammo racks were no good and didn’t support the 75mm Shells enough. They would often separate and dump a bunch of gun powder inside the tank making a deadly mess to clean. The using arm tends to stuff the tank with extra rounds, adding to the shell durability problems. These problems would be addressed in the second gen improved hull tanks.
General storage – The current storage space on the Sherman was deemed ok, but better, easier to access bins were requested. They also wanted any storage in the floor to be resistant to getting filled with dirt or water.
Machine guns – The bow machine gun see a lot of use, but it’s usefulness would be improved by a sighting system. One was in the works, but not at the point of this report. The M1919 machine guns, both bow and co-ax were reliable as long as the crew was careful with the ammo. Long road trips could vibrate rounds loose in the belts and cause problems, but under normal conditions this was rarely a problem with well trained crews. The crews wanted a better adjustment method for matching the co-ax gun to the gunners site, the current one was not very good. The .50 AA mount was not well liked or considered important. Requests were made for better mount for ground targets.
Turret hatches – The current split hatch was deemed ok, but the crews like the looks of the new all around cupola, and were also enthusiastic about a loader’s hatch on the new 76 armed tanks.
Armor – There does not seem to be a consensus on how much armor a tank should have by the using arms. Armored Force troops felt the current level on the Sherman was fine, but wouldn’t mind more as long as it did not negatively affect flotation, maneuverability, and speed. ♠The British generally wanted heavier armor than the US Army. ♠♠Combat in Italy showed the differential was taking more hits than anything, and another request was made for add-on armor for the area.
Sand Shields – The general consensus on these was they were useless in any theatre and needed to be redesigned. They needed to be easier to install, and designed to not trap mud.
Flotation – The using arms wanting tanks around 10 pounds per square inch. This was very optimistic, since even the HVSS Shermans came in around 11 PSI, the basic 75 vvss Sherman around 13. It seems the Germans flooded fields in Sicily and Italy and they retreated, and Shermans got bogged down most of the time. They offered the suggestion of just stretching the Sherman, since more length would help, and the British M4A4 tanks, the longest production Shermans had no maneuverability issues.
Maneuverability – In the US Army there was a desire across the board for more maneuverability, in tanks. One thing to keep in mind though is the tanks in the MTO were older and most had single anchor steering brakes, the double anchor made the tanks easier to maneuver requiring less lever pressure. The ability to skid turn was not something US troops seemed interested in.
Accessories – The troops had a lot of feedback here. ♠ The instruments and gauges in medium tanks were not good quality, if they worked they didn’t work long. Oil pressure gauges fail, and no one worries about the motor until both oil pressure gauges die and a low oil pressure light comes on. This seems to be US feedback, I don’t recall hearing complaints from the Brits about Gauge quality. I wonder if the different tank plants sourced gauges from different companies. ♠♠ The compasses on US tanks would not stay calibrated. This would be a very anoying problem. ♠♠♠ Armor for the air cleaners on the M4 and M4A1 comes up again. ♠♠♠♠ The Auxiliary giving good service, and are well liked, but the using arms would like the area area the fuel tank filler for the Aux motor be waterproofed better. They also noted replacements were hard to come by.
Modifications – ♠ The jist on this one was, in many cases modifications can be seen by inspecting a vehicle, but in others, access panels or more might have to be removed to check. The using arms proposed a record imprinted a brass plate, attached to the vehicle, listing all the modifications that had been applied. ♠♠ They also wanted to emphasize that they did not want any modifications that would not ‘materially increase the efficiency of the vehicles’
Development – The using werte curious about the items in development, and finding out a large organization was working to improve almost everything was a morale booster. There was also interest in the T-20 series and if any test vehicles would be sent over for some congress.
Information and feedback on future equipment.
The M4E6 or pre production M4A1 76w – ♠ This improved version was well liked by everyone who checked it out. The bigger turret was a big hit, though not much bigger, it seemed roomier. ♠♠ The improved fire control gear was very well liked and considered an ‘outstanding improvement’. The 76mm gun was well liked, and every seemed to agree needed. ♠♠♠ The only real concern was the less effective HE round, but it was hoped they would make a better one.
The M18 76mm GMC – The first and bad impression this vehicle lefts was it had no armor, and seemed very mechanically complicated. The fire control gear was well liked. When the vehicle was demonstrated, the tracks and unthrowable tracks also got a lot of attention. No one was sure if the speed would be useful, but the maneuverability was well liked. ♠ The same story with interest in deployment, not as a replacement vehicle, but fulling trained units from the ZI would be ok. ♠♠ This vehicle was not wanted by M10 units already deployed. Units equipped with it in the ZI then deployed were better received, the M10 was still more popular. An M10 with a 90mm gun was the prefered replacement.
M4A3 75W – Even though the Ford GAA was a big improvement, it was not enough of an improvement take them on as replacement vehicles. They were fine for them to be brought with units already fully trained on them.
The M1 Dozer blade kit – This kit was an instant hit, and would have many uses, including clearing rubble after heavy artillery reduced a strong point. Currently this has to be done by an un armored bulldozer and casualties were high. it was hoped they would work well enough to help tanks dig in or SPG prepare a position. ♠ Through testing, they found this kit could be installed on any Sherman tank type.
This report goes into detail in the appendixes listing all the items demonstrated, and where they were demonstrated. They also include data on how many of the various items demonstrated were ordered by the various theatres.
I think it’s pretty clear the MTO was a backwater. The general shortage of spare parts in the MTO, and a shortage of personnel to staff the proper echelons of repair and salvage system are also indicators of this. As they got read for the June of 44 landings, the troops in England would be getting top priority and supplies and spares.
There is a lot of info on other weapons like artillery and small arms, not directly Sherman related and therefore, uncovered here. The report is definitely worth a download and re through. I think it offers a good insight into the thinking involved on not swapping to 76mm armed Shermans before the Normandy landings.
Sherman Tank Site: News Post 12, things have been changing, its all behind the scenes.
I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of manuals, and they are all great for gathering info on the Sherman, because you can almost always read them. The picture quality varies a huge amount depending on how it was created. There are some very common and easy to find Sherman manuals with terrible pictures. For example the two I have on the M4A3, and the manual on the Ford GAA, both were probably photocopied multiple times, then scanned on a really early scanner.
This means, the pictures at best, are mostly black blobs, and even the text isn’t great. All isn’t lost with these, as the line drawings usually come through ok. In some cases the manuals being sold online are these terrible photo copies printed into a cheap book with no improvements to the quality at all.
Some of these manuals have been scanned in by people with decent scanners, and these though much larger, have much nicer photo quality. Even if the scans are good, the original has to be good as well, and in some cases that’s really mixed. I have several, scanned at very high resolution, making them restorable, to some degree.
I’ve done the most work on the Ford GAA imaged I have, and the tranny. Here is a selection of the ones I’ve done, but not all. Check out the power train and GAA pages for all of them. These are relaxing to do, and I have a ton to work with so keep checking around the site!
Sherman Tank Site News, POST 11: New post, and new Manuals to download, more updates to come.
Spring and summer are always my busy season at the day job, so the amount of time I’ve had to really spend on the site has been a little limited. I have been collecting data for further Sherman posts, and part of that is technical and field manuals. I’ve collected a bunch of new ones and they are all available on the downloads page
As the summer comes to a close, I should have more time to dedicate to the site again, so watch for more posts, more often in the coming months. I am also considering setting up some form of donation page, things are a little tight right now, and It would be nice to offset some of the costs, and or have a little money to pic up a couple of pricey manuals.
Check out this cool video of Nicholas Moran AKA the Chieftan, talk about why the Sherman was the best COMBAT TANK of WWII.
Thanks for checking out the site, and any feedback given!
The Chrysler Engine that could have been: The A-65 V12, if the war had gone on, there could have been some hotrod Shermans.
Chrysler Corporation had a big impact on the war, and US Tank production. They produced the first, and the model for the others, Tank Arsenal CDA. They also came up with the A-57 multibank tank motor, that powered a significant number of Sherman tanks. They produced this fantastically complicated, but also reliable motor in a very quickly, and even though the US Army and Marine Corps thumbed their noses at it, it was well liked by the British.
Chrysler on their own dime came up with a water cooled, V12, tank motor, and offered it to the Army. It took them about a year to come up with three trial motors. These 1568 cubic motors started out at 650 horsepower at 2600 RPM and 1485 pounds of torque at 1600 RPM on the test stand. They came in around 3840 pounds, but there was a proposed all aluminum version that have dropped nearly 1000 pounds. Designing and producing the prototypes, cost a grand total of 358,000 bucks, that’s over 5 million in today’s dollars. During the dyno testing period, they had a few problems with the fan drives, but these were solved with improved oiling and rolling bearings, and these seemed to have solved the problems.
They used an M4A4 as a test vehicle, and had to stretch it another 9 and 1/2 inches to fit the new motor. Installed and ready to roll the thing came in at 69,170 ponds, and a stock M4A4 came in at 69,640 pounds! Installed, the early versions had 549 horsepower, but they upped the compression ratio and got it to 580, and it was improved even more with some carburetion changes. They made the compression change by swapping and a cam change during the in vehicle testing phase. Further testing led to the intake and carb changes. All the while the motor was being swapped in and out, and driving tests done.
The automotive tests were very successful, and that was using the stock powertrain of the Sherman, though with so much power, they decided a gear change would help. By swapping the original 3:53:1 gears for 3:05:1 gears, they A65 was still able to beat an M4A43 in a drag race! The engine was so promising, it’s an interesting mystery why the Army never developed it further. Much like the GAA, there was much more performance potential in this motor, and the Army never took it any further.
I suspect what ultimately killed this motor, was the same thing that killed the GAA, the Army was looking at air cooled motors for the future, because you can save a lot of weight, if there is not liquid cooling system needed.
Special thanks goes out to Chris R, one of our readers and a source contributor, sent me a nice little history on the motor. Thanks again Chris, sorry it took so long!!
Shermans Tanks In real Life: The Planes of Fame of fame Air Museum
Owning and flying WWII airplanes has been a thing much longer than restoring running tanks, and to this day, WWII aircraft tend to get more attention from Americans than armor or ships. That’s changed a lot over the years, and armor is more popular than ever with collectors, museums and the general public. There are several Tank museums or businesses around the country with running Shermans. The one we are going to talk about today is the Planes of Fame Air Museum, it is legendary in the Warbird world, because it has so many interesting and rare aircraft. It also has a long, history, and saved some amazing planes along the way, and one tank.
The Planes of Fame air museum has been around so long, it surely had a hand it kicking off the interest in Warbirds that has been popular in the United States since WWII. My Dad, a Baby Boomer, loved warbirds, and his love transferred right over to me, and I ran with it buying more books on airplanes, and tanks than he ever did, and I still have them al. When I was a kid, we went to the Reno Air Races, and I probably saw Steve Hinton, the President of Planes of Fame flying a racer. There is something about the roar of a warbird flying by that really gives you a sense of what seeing planes like that filling the sky in the mid-40s must have been like. They have a special sound, and hopefully this is a sound we will hear for decades to come.
Planes of fame got started in the 50s when Ed Maloney started collecting airplanes on a minuscule budget, his museums moved around, but really took root at Chino Airport, where Planes of Fame is to this day. Mr. Maloney had fallen in love with airplanes in high school, and just missed WWII. Shortly after the war he began collecting anything with wings on a shoestring budget for his future airplane museum. He was saddened and disgusted to see the warbirds that helped win WWII unceremoniously melted down for Scrap or for a lucky few to rot away on a remote part of an airport. I know the feeling, it makes me deeply sad to see the piles of P-38s bulldozed off a cliff in the Philippines, because flying them home was a waste of time and money…
By the 60s Ed Maloney had achieved his goal of building a museum and around the same time found a Sherman tank on range on Edwards Air Force base while he was scrounging for B-17 parts. He managed to buy the tank for $1! That’s not even the best part of the story! The Sherman, a very early production M4A1 75 tank, still ran! It had been sitting on Edwards for at least a decade untouched, and they got it running. The tanks interior was not gutted, though some things like the hull ammo boxes had been removed a lot of the important parts were still there. They collected more parts over the years, and serious restoration started in the 80s and continues even now.
Ed died in 2016, and it was a huge loss for the aviation community. Sometimes, when a man with a love for, and a collection of things like airplanes or tanks, when the man passes on, his labor of love dies with him, I know of a least two cases. The Littlefield collection only lasted a few years before his widow grew tired of it and donated it to a great museum on the east coast, but to build a place to keep it they sold most of it off, and now can’t build the new facility because of zoning problems. That wasn’t a worry of Ed Maloney, because PoF is a family affair. Steve Hinton, who took thinks over when Ed passed, has been around the place since he was a kid, and his best friend was Ed’s son. I’m also pretty sure Steve married Ed’s daughter! Planes of Fame lives on, stronger than ever, and with another generation working and flying the planes, I think they have a bright future.
Now you might be wondering how a bunch of airplane people can keep a tank working, but trust me, they have guys there who can keep an F4U-1 Corsair, with a magnificent Pratt and Whitney R-2800 running, they can figure out a simple Sherman. The nice thing about a Tank is it handles the weather a lot better than an Airplane, though being stored outside unprotected still isn’t good for them. The Sherman in particular has some very sturdy components, and more often than not, if the powertrain remained sealed up, even after decades on the firing range, if it didn’t get penetrated, they rarely needed much work to be operational again. The engines are a bit less robust, but in a nice warm dry environment, they could last a surprising amount of time as well.
Currently the Planes of Fame M4A1 is about 50% complete, and they restore a little more every year, as money and parts allow. I’m sure in some cases things have to be fabricated. It has a little Joe back auxiliary generator inside, has a working stock electric traverse system, but the stabilizer needs a little more work. The electric firing system works, and though the main gun is de-milled, it can still fire 75mm blanks. A blank firing co-ax M1919 machine gun can be fired with the foot switch, just like the main gun. The intercom is complete and works at all stations, as does all the interior lighting. A place like PoF probably has little trouble keeping the R-975 radial running either.
This summer the turret comes off, new ammo boxes go in and they will complete the interiors restoration. The M4A1 is already a part of their shows, but it is also available to rent, TV, Movies, Weddings, you name it, I could see an M4A1 being a cool addition! I hope to get down there sometimes in the next year or two and check the place out.
If you are in the area and have even the smallest interest in aviation, you owe yourself a trip to Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California. The Sherman tank is of course going to see all on its own, but they also have a real Japanese Zero, with its correct engine and it flies! Even crazier? It was used in the Ben Aflack movie Pearl Harbor! Steve did all the flying, but they wouldn’t let him shoot Ben down for real!
Sherman Tank Site News, April of 2017 edition: Data Part II, Data Strikes again.
The Sherman data sheets have been a very popular addition to the site, so I decided to gun and engine data sheets as well. One motor Data Sheet is done, and the others are in the works. There are all kinds of new images and info in the various pages on the Shermans guns.
We also have a new layout to the website, instead of a lot of hard to find posts with an Index that was hard to find things in, we now have set pages, of the main menu.
Coming soon will be the Sherman Transmission, differential and final drive data sheet. I will also be filling out the individual Sherman model pages over the next few days. There is only so much I can do in a day!
Thanks for being interested in the site for all the guys who have commented and sent me interesting info. More great information on the Sherman tank is on the way.
Post # 68 The Chieftain’s Hatch does the M4A1, we review it: A great Hatch!
The video comes in two parts.
The subject of the video is Black Magic, a small hatch, late production M4A1 if the turret came on it, though the turret or gun mount could be from other tanks. When it comes to restored Sherman tanks, I think being concerned about matching numbers is not a thing that seems to be worried about, and since it was so well designed and built, parts readily interchange. This sherman started life as a canadian Grizzly, basically totally the same as an M4A1 with an extra small hatch in the hull floor.
This tank has almost all the quick fix upgrades, the extra armor over the hull ammo boxes but lacks the cheek armor on the turret, and the turret may, I can’t tell for sure, have the cast in cheek armor, meaning it almost for sure didn’t come on the hull. It also lacks the armor plates added in front of the driver and co drivers positions, that the Chieftain calls “sheet metal”. It also has some late Sherman stuff, either added by the restorers, or by a depot rebuild later in the tanks life. The spot light, and ‘gun crutch’, or travel lock as normal people use were not on most small hatch shermans. Also the all around vision cupola would not be found on these tanks during WWII.
The Tom Jentz tangent.
The Idea that the Sherman was no more reliable than any other tank, well, I don’t buy it. I like Mr Jentz’s work, and to some degree, his books helped inspire this site, since there was so little info on the web with really detailed info on the Sherman other than the Sherman Minutia site. I don’t think he really knows much about the Sherman if he thinks tanks like Panther and Tiger just needed more spare parts to be as reliable as the Sherman, it is a ridiculous idea. I do not think there was a single part on the Sherman that had a 500 kilometer life span, and that’s double the Panthers final drives.
First:The Chieftain himself has done Hatch posts on reports from the British, about how much more reliable, the M4A4 Sherman was than the Cromwell, even when both had full crews working to keep them running. both tanks were run thousands of miles, something late war German tanks could not do.
Second: Inone of his own Hatches talks about the French experience with the mighty panther showed they averaged 150 kilometers per final drive set! Much less if the crew was hard on them. There was no major automotive component including the oil, that had to be changed every 150 kilometers on any model of Sherman.
Third: This will focus on the Panther, since it was a major part of Germany’s late war armored force, and how terrible it was. This tank didn’t have just one flaw that should have disqualified it for production it had at least five. It was generally poorly reliable across all its automotive components, along with the final drive, 2500 kilometers for the motor and 1500 for the tranny were hugely optimistic and most of these tanks broke down and or were destroyed before they had to refuel. You had to take the whole drivers and co drivers compartment apart and the top of the hull off to change a transmission! Don’t get me started on the weak turret drive system that Rube Goldberg would have loved. The ‘wonderful’ dual torsion bar suspension and interleaved road wheels would cause any maintenance nazi to find the nearest US Line and surrender instead of working on it!
. . .
Another thing to note, you can see the holes drilled vertically in the suspension bogies, these are the tops of the holes the bolts that hold the suspension caps on go into. They were covered up with body filler by the factory, but on most restored and old Shermans the filler is gone, and they don’t fill the holes.
Note: the odd groove in the center of the rear Hull casting, this wasn’t done on all M4A1 tanks, and may have been unique to General Steel castings.
On the problems with the R975, I have not heard of complaints about the engine being easy to blow, and would be very surprised if the throttle wasn’t governed to prevent it. On having to crank the engine before starting, I have it on good authority, that the crew could just start the tank and run it for a few minutes every 45 minutes to an hour to avoid having to hand crank the motor.
Many of units removed the sand shields in ETO to prevent problems with mud.
The Commanders vane site is an early version bolted to a late war vane site pad. The tank has the early style gunner’s periscope. The gunners periscope is missing the linkage going down to the gun. The radio looks like a 528. Note the Armored doors on all the ammo boxes and ready rack. The tank is missing a lot of interior storage, it may have been removed in preparation on shipping the tank out to it’s new owners.
I‘m no expert, but I think the Chieftain confused a .30 cal ammo bin for the 75mm ammo bin right next to his shoulder for the location of an SCR-506, I just can’t see a WWII radio fitting in the tiny box! You can see how sparsely filled the interior is, as issued the tank would be stuffed full of items to help fight it, live with it, or keep it running. The Chieftain shows just how easy even a small hatch Sherman was to get out of, the the Loader was still going to have some issues though. I wish he would have tried the belly hatch out, but maybe it’s welded shut or something.
He covers the small floor hatch on the Grizzly tanks, and you get a nice shot of the early escape hatch. They also show the generator mounted on the rear of the transmission in one of the shots, briefly. You can also see the full turret basket’s mesh screening that separated the turret crew from the hull crew. Part of the quick fix was to cut this all out. I suspect most of the inconsistencies in the tanks details are due to the restoration crew using the Sherman parts they could get their hands on. Very few people would even notice or know it had the wrong commanders hatch, or even whole turret.
A note on the tank, it belonged to a the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, a fancy name for the collection of a man named Jacques Littlefield. He had a passion for armored vehicles of all types but really liked tanks. He restored many to full functionality, including working main guns and machine guns on some tanks. Owning a working tank cannon is easier than you would think, and far easier than getting the paperwork approved to own machine guns in California, and Jacques Littlefield did both. He employed a restoration crew with world class skills and did some amazing restorations, including a Panther A that was impossibly damaged, but still brought back to life. That Panther was his crowning achievement, and he was a real mover and shaker in the international military vehicle restoration scene, seeing that tank run was one of the last things he achieved, because cancer claimed him shortly after.
The MVTF was supposed to make sure the collection of vehicles, that were a labor of love his whole life, lived on when he passed. Unfortunately the location of the MVTF, Portola California, on a large chunk of very private property, with very limited parking really presented some problem. The collection was used often while it was there, by TV productions like Myth Busters, and was a staple for the Wargaming Staff for their productions, and occasionally opened up to groups of vets, or other interested people. There were other difficulties with the location, and ultimately the collection was donated to the Collings Foundation. They reportedly decided to keep 40 of the most significant vehicles and auction the rest off. The money from the auction was going to be used to build a facility in Stowe Massachusetts, but due to zoning issues, the permits were not provided, leaving the vehicles they did keep in limbo.
I‘m sure the Collings Foundation, a really amazing Charity, they keep many rare WWII aircraft, and cars, including race cars running, has a plan for the rest of the tanks. Their website only lists the Panther in their collection, I hope that doesn’t mean they sold the rest when the museum fell through. That’s not a criticism of the CF, they I’m sure know their business far better than I do, and they really are a top notch group of people. Just browse that site to see the airplanes they’ve gotten flying. The only real B-24 liberatorand a working F-4 Phantom are just two of the notable planes!! If you know anything about aviation, you know just how complicated and expensive keeping an aircraft like a Phantom flying is, especially if you don’t have the resources of the U.S. Navy or Air Force backing you.
I have to say, this is one of the best Chieftain’s hatches they have done. Granted, I’m a tad biased, since it was on the Sherman, well a Grizzly made into a later model small hatch Sherman anyway, and the Chieftain really has gotten pretty good with the Sherman and its sub variants, and even has a book on US WWII TDs on the way.
I decided I needed more hard numbers, the kind of data that makes non tank nerds eyes roll up in their heads, stuff like how many spare periscopes were issued with an early war M4A1! One of the best way to do this is through tank Data sheets, as found in the back of many books on tanks. I used Hunnicutt’s Sherman book for some, but others I’ve made using the Hunnicutt ones as a template and then using data from the Technical Manual for the tank.
That’s not all though, I decided the gun Data sheets in Hunnicut were really interesting, so I started replicating those, but with an improved format, and slightly more data. These gun Data Sheets can be found here, Main Guns: THings that go BOOM! All the guns the Sherman tank used are covered, and more are coming.
In the works are Data Sheets for each Sherman tank motor, and several experimental models. These Data sheets will have much more detailed info on the motor, and will include interesting images from the manuals for the motors.
Also in the works as dedicated pages for these data sheets, the beta test of the gun version is up and can be found here. Next up will be ones for each tank model and then motor.
Also note the latest post on the Ram tank, The Ram: The Shermans awkward Canadian Cousin. This post covers the Canadian and British attempt to come up with a better Sherman before the Sherman design and prototype was done. I’ve been sent some very interesting documents, some are included in the post.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Sherman information!
We are starting the new year off with a bang! I’ve gotten several new books, reviews coming soon, and a lot of detailed, and I mean knitty gritty detail on the Sherman coming. We’ve also had some very kind contributions that are waiting to be added, one a fascinating Chrysler tank motor that almost made it, and some personal stories of tanking in a Sherman.
Another area that saw a massive update with the Sherman specification sheet section. It has grown from three, to sixteen, originally it had one for an M4 75, an M4A4 and the Easy 8, not it has a pair of M3 Lees and a ton of others including a Vc firefly!
Thanks to reader and friend of the site Bobby C from down under, I have a pair of very interesting PDFs on the 6 pounder mount on the RAM. The massive image of a storage diagram below is from that very doc!
The Lee was a bit of a red headed step child, except it had a soul, and no one really wanted it. Even before production started, both the US Army, and British, working with Canadians, was working on a replacement design. The British did not like the dual purpose M3 75mm gun on a cruiser tank, they wanted a tank with their 57mm six pounder gun, because it had slightly superior AP performance, and their cruiser tanks were assigned the task of fighting other tanks, not infantry. The American Tank designers and Army Officers didn’t agree, and planned on using the M3 75mm gun and their stubbornness led the Brits to try and beat them to the punch, and they did, but the punch wasn’t there, literally.
The model they sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds for the US Army to test, was a MK I model with a 37mm gun. This was in June of 1941, while the Sherman pilot was probably being built, and the pilot Sherman arrived in early September. They did this because they had some problems with a suitable mount for the 57mm 6 pounder. They probably sent one with a 6 pounder later, but I’m sure once the US Army had the Sherman pilot, most of the interest in the Ram would have died off, since there was zero chance of the RAM II winning out over the Sherman. They did produce nearly 2000 of them though, and the chassis was used in other roles, most notably as an APC and Command Tank.
It is interesting it saw no combat use as a tank, it was certainly better than the Lee, at least on paper, but the Lee soldiered on in secondary theaters, the Ram was never given a shot. Like the Lee, it went through some fairly major changes during its production run. The Ram started life with a little machine gun turret on the front, where the driver should be, just like the Lee’s commanders cupola. This would be a feature it shed; getting a more traditional bow mounted machine gun, late in the run. It was still on the wrong side though. It had side doors, with a little DV port, armored flap, like the Lee. The view port was replaced with a ventilator, and then the whole door was removed. They also removed the periscopic sight for the gunner and replaced that with a ventilator as well.
Since the RAM was based on the Lee, it was pretty much Lee from the top of the treads down, and used the same R975 radial the basic M3, and M4 and M4A1 tanks used. It used the same suspension as the early Shermans and Lees, with the single overhead roller and could use the same VVSS tracks as the Sherman. It was certainly better or equal to any tank the Brits had with the same gun, but by the time it was available in numbers, the Sherman was as well, and it was superior tank, and because of its larger turret ring, had room to grow because it could take bigger guns.
It wasn’t all a waste of time, and steel, the hulls were used for Kangaroo APCs, and a number were built or converted to command or observation post tanks, and they were used as ammo carriers. The Ram also made a good training tank allowing Shermans to be sent to combat units. The observation or command version was interesting. They removed the main gun, and put a dummy in its place, put in extra seats, so six men could fit, added an observation port, map table and extra radios. The APC and Command versions saw extensive use by Canadian troops in the ETO.
In November of last year the site went live, but I was learning how to the page building stuff worked, and I really didn’t have the complete setup until December. Over the year I’ve had a lot of people contact me about it, and gotten a lot of feedback from the comments and in emails and changed a thing or two as a result. I’ve gotten many comments correcting image captions, and I am always happy to get those. I’ve also gotten a small number of negative comments, and the most negative I left out, but I responded to just about everything. That’s just life on the internet.
Let’s talk about some boring numbers, the first two months the site was live last year it saw 6708 visitors, they checked out 76k pages over just over 18k visits, and downloaded about 20 gigs from the site. This year has seen a lot of growth. So far this year, we have had 94k unique visitors, and they visited 259k times and checked out 714,000 pages and they downloaded over 2100 GBs of data. Most of it came in through Google, but the Sturgeons House, Reddit, Atlas obscura, World of tanks forums and War Thunders forums and of course Facebook have brought in traffic too, enough to be noticeable. Who knew the Sherman tank was all that interesting.
Of the documents available for download, the most popular almost every month is odd, and the same file. The file is, the Index for the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. This is just the index of the various report subjects in the survey. Three hundred and twenty four pages of index. Why this document is popular is a mystery to me. I do have a few of the reports, either ready to host when I get around to it, or already hosted. This month so far it’s only in the number three spot. Number two and three are normally one of the technical manuals on a tank like the M4A3, TM9-752 currently number two, or 9-750 number one this month so far, it’s on the M3 Lee.
I could go on about stats but I won’t because although I find it amusing, I don’t think the rest of the world cares that Sherman tank Interior lights was a popular keyword search for months.
Since this site is my hobby, and a labor of love, how fast the content comes out is based on how much free time I have and how life is going. This year has been a pretty rough one, it started out ok and I could crank a lot stuff out, and had already had a lot of content on hand from the forum thread that started this all. Once the site was up, I found even more resources, and have so much to do, I’ll be posting stuff about the Sherman and it’s users for years, but the pace is going to depend on how good 2017 is to us. 2016 was great for me. I lost a dog, labs don’t normally reach 18 but she almost did. That coupled with some family and health issues, things slowed down a tad over the summer.
The site is all paid up for another year, and I have a lot of content to work on, and life is cooperating for now too so the pace should pic up. If I ever exhaust my resources on the Sherman, I can move onto the WWII F4U Corsair, or P-38 Lightning fighters.
So to wrap this up, let all look forward to a good new year.
Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This post will cover the Sherman related images in “The War Against Germany And Italy, Mediterranean and adjacent areas”.
As we talked about in the last post on The Army has a series of History books they published shortly after the war nicknamed the Green books. You can find them all on the US Army Official History site the “Green Books” in PDF format. Most of these books have minimal photos, but they put out a pair three picture books and this post will cover the one on Italy, Southern France and North Africa.
This book, like the one on the northern European Campaign was not the highest quality scan, so the picture quality is not great. It is good though, and you can make out a good amount of detail in them. There are also fewer Sherman photos, because the Sherman was not as usable in Italy, because of the terrain, but it was still a very common item on the battlefield in the MTO. The book starts off with some images from the Torch landings and covers the fighting in Tunisia.
This concludes the photos I found relevant from CMH 12-2. The book is packed with a lot of other photos of things not Sherman related, and since you can download them for free, if you are interested in WWII history, download them and have a look. I found many of these images I had not seen before.
Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: The “Green Books”, had three picture editions! Part 1
The United States Army isn’t all about fighting and defending the country, they also try and document their own history. That’s where the US Army Center of Military History comes in. It is an actual place, located at Fort McNair in washington DC, with a library and Archive. If you would like to visit, check out the website first, because they have a ton of info online and you might not have to make the trip to find what you are looking for. One of the things one the website is an online library that contains the whole set US Army Official History books, known as the “Green Books” in PDF format.
The Website has a lot of depth, and I still have not found everything of interest. Just poking around on it today I found an index of all the History PDFs they have up. If you are interested in US history, give the Army’s history website a serious look. In some cases this just links to a page listing info about a book they have, but no PDF. Or in other cases links to a store where the book is on sale and or a combo of these. Look carefully, most seem to be available for free even if there is a pay version.
Of interest to this site are the books in the Pictorial Record section, on the Green Jacket books. It contains three books, The War against Japan,The war against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and adjacent areas, and The War Against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas. These books are picture books spanning the whole war, in the area the book’s title mentions.
In part one, we are going to look at The War Against Germany: EUrope and Adjacent Areas, because I figured this one would have the most Sherman photos, and I was right, there are a lot. Not as many as I though were already up on the site, and in most cases I left those out since I have better version up. These images are not great quality, but also not horrible, and it varies a little up and down, but they are interesting.
That’s all folks, these images were all taken by the Army during the war and the books sold by the government originally and now are all up for free and used images that would all be public domain anyway, these images all should be public domain.