Category Archives: Data

Sherman Tank Site News, POST 11: New post, and new Manuals to download.

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

I also just put up new post on the A-65 V12, Chrysler’s unadopted monster Tank motor. 

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!

Watch David Fletcher talk about the Vc Firefly

#27 Sherman Data: The Post For Charts, Tables, And Reports

Sherman Data:  The Devil In The Details

This section will contain a lot of images of documents that provide useful information on the Sherman tank.

Info from Survey of allied Tank Casualties in WWII (Courtesy of Priory_of_Sion)

Summary:

Basic Breakdown of Causes of Tank Losses:

Average Range of Gunfire/Panzerfausts:

Placement of Gunfire Hits:

Caliber of Enemy Gunfire:

Mine/Tank Exchange Rate:

Crew Casualties by Position:

Sampling of Tank Losses:

Causes of Vehicles Destroyed V Vehicles Disabled:

Distribution of Gunfire Hits (aspect):

M4 Production figuresM4 production list

page012-013

Extract from report to HQ Second Army from Col A.G.Cole. DDof A

post-7344472-0-08824400-1405881061

#26 Sherman Books: The Place I Got Some Of My Sherman Info.

Sherman Books: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Massive update!!!

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There have been a lot of books published on the Sherman, or WWII American Armor over the years. I have read an awful lot of these books, and I am still working to acquire more. I have all the books listed below and have read them at least once so this section can be considered part of the sources too. Anyway, from writing this section, it becomes very clear there is one very prolific writer who has spread truth about the Sherman, and done it in a hell of a lot of books.  That man is Steven Zaloga, who has to be one of the most prolific writers on the Sherman tank and American Armor, if not the most, in publishing history, and he is good.  It’s odd; one of the best writers seems to be overshadowed by the worst, Belton Cooper, the true villain in the slander of the Sherman.

It seems odd to me, most often when I have a conversation with a normal person about the Sherman tank(my wife says I’m weird for doing it), if they have heard of the Sherman, and read a book on it, they’ve read Death traps, and have never heard of Steven Zaloga, R.P. Hunnicutt, or Harry Yeide.  Maybe it’s marketing, every Barnes&Noble, Borders, or other chain bookstore always had Death Traps, and any number of books on German tanks, but nothing by Zaloga and I completely missed the window Hunnicutt’s books were available, and never saw them in book stores, but I did get my copy of Deathtraps at a B&A. It wouldn’t be until his beautiful, book by Stackpole publishing, Armored Thunderbolt came out, that I saw Zaloga in a book store.  Of course, now I haven’t been in a real bookstore in two years, and order most of my books online, and Steven Zaloga is all over the internet.

 

Let’s talk about books! While the Internet gods were frowning on me, I did a ton of reading.

 

Sherman, A History of the American Medium Tank by R.P. Hunnicutt: The Bible!

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This book is the bible on Sherman history. It has now been reprinted and is available for 69.99 for a softbound copy, and 79.99 for a hardback. Spend the extra ten bucks, and buy it now, before it goes out of print again. Now that this book can be had for under 200$, it really is a must buy if you have any interest in the Sherman tank or US medium tank design up to the Sherman.

This is a massive book, about twice the size of Armored Thunderbolt, but well worth the money. The books complement each other since Sherman really focuses on the Sherman, and it gets really down into the details on each Lee and Sherman sub model. There are spec sheets in the back for each tank, the guns, and production number charts and tables showing who got what tanks via lend lease, very exciting stuff!

This book, along with Armored Thunderbolt, and Son of a Sherman, are the three must have Sherman books. The book comes in at 576 pages and covers the design history of each model of Lee, and Sherman, and most of the vehicles that used the M3/M4 chassis. It is filled with illustrations, and this is where I wish I had spent a little more money for the hard cover. Assuming the paper quality would be better on the hardcover books, and I’ll confirm that before I buy Firepower.

 

Tanks In Hell, A Marine Corps Tanks Company On Tarawa, By Oscar E. Gilbert and Romain Cansiere: A fantastic new look at the Marine tank use on Betio

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This book turned out to be a great read. It covers in detail the battle for the island from the perspective of C Company First Corps Medium Tank Battalion, the only medium tank company there.  Not only does it go into great detail on the Company’s actions, but it gives a solid history of the unit before and after the fight. It documents far better than anything else I’ve read, the use of Shermans by the Marines on Tarawa and is very much worth the price. It has detailed information on what happened to each and every Sherman tank the Company along with maps showing exactly were each tank went.

 

Armored Thunderbolt, The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II, by Steven Zaloga: Great book, and the best bang for the buck if you want to learn about the Sherman and the politics behind it!

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I would say this is the best book on the market for the history of the Sherman, and an objective view on its performance. It does not get bogged down in the little details that can dominate a book on the Sherman, but covers the history of why and how it was developed very well. It is also filled with tons of very high quality black and white photos of the Sherman from all points in the war, including the pacific. If there is one book you can buy about the Sherman, this is a very good choice.

It also looks at the M4 Shermans performance, and after presenting a thorough case for why, concludes the Sherman tank was actually a better tank than the heavier German tanks it faced. A conclusion I agree with, and that is backed by data in the book.

 

Son of Sherman Volume 1, the Sherman Design and Development, by Stansell and Laughlin: Get This Book before It Goes Out Of Print, It’s That Awesome, to late it’s out of print, but still not insanely overpriced

SonofSherman

If you want to know about the huge number of detail changes between and within model models of the Sherman, with illustrations to show you exactly how all the details differ, or you are a tank modeler and care less about the history, and more about the details of the changes in the design, this book is for you. Or you are a fan of the tank in general and buy any book on the tank you can get your hands on. Either way, buy this book. Do it now while it is still in print and a reasonable price, once it’s out of print, I bet the price gets crazy.

Well, now it’s to late to buy it while it’s in print.  Still, you can find new and used copies for 50 to 60 bucks, so it’s still not overpriced yet, but if you love the Sherman, and or build models of it, or just want to understand all the minute details, you should buy this book ASAP. I liked this book so much, when one copy got slightly damaged by a cat, I bought another, and it’s still wrapped in plastic, un-opened.  It’s a very large book with a huge number of detail pictures taken of surviving Shermans, with a lot of very useful detail drawings, showing all the minor changes made to each model of Sherman as they were produced.

 

M4 Sherman at War, by Green and Brown:  An Ok Book with Some Good Info, and Some Not So Good Info.

M4atwargreen

If this book can be had cheap, or is the only book you can afford, it’s ok, otherwise, this books is really not great though. It still pushes the silly Ronson myth. It also fails to really cover the Panthers true flaws that make it an inferior tank to the Sherman. It does have some nice photos, and a really great Marine radio transcript. It has a lot of good color photos and is high quality paperback book.

 

Armored Attack 44&45 by Steven Zaloga: These Books Are Packed with Photos of the Sherman tank

AA44 AA45

This is two books, with the same title; one covers 1944 the other 1945. These books show off Zaloga’s huge picture collection and there are so many photos of Shermans in US Army use you can really exercise your Sherman spotting skills with these books. Also a must have for a detail focused modeler, these books are hardbound with high quality paper and very clear photos.

I’ve personally spent hours looking through these books looking for caption info, since many of the pics in it are somewhat common NARA photos, and I have them up on the site. These books are also filled with less common photos as well and are worth the money.

 

Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Pacific, by Oscar Gilbert: A Must Read For Sherman Tank And Marine Tank Enthusiast.  

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This book covers the Marines tank battles through the whole of World war II. These books go into great detail about where, when, and how the Marines used tanks in the war. This books are a must read if you want to understand why the way Marines used tanks differently from the way the Army in Europe used them.  He also published books on the Marines use of Armor in Korea and Vietnam.

 

The Infantry’s Armor, and Steel Victory by Harry Yeide: If You Want to know about the Independent Tank Battalions, These Are the Books

Infantrysarmor Steel

These two books cover the separate tank battalions tasked with only supporting infantry and not assigned to tank divisions.  The Tank battalions saw service in the ETO, PTO and MTO and in most cases used the M4 series while doing it. They worked in a different way than the armor divisions tankers, getting down and dirty with the doughs, often supporting the same regiment for months.

These books are very good reads, and a must have for anyone who really wants to get into what a Sherman tank was used for. Some of the separate tank battalions really had interesting stories. Some accomplished amazing things; others suffered terrible ordeals and others both.

 

Another River, Another Town, a Teenage Tank Gunners Comes of Age in Combat – 1945, by John P. Irwin

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I read this book a long time ago, and what stood out was the author and his tank crew ended up crewing the one and only super Pershing. The book is 176 pages, so a pretty quick read.  John Irwin was a teenager when he went through this, so the book is also about a kid who had a lot to learn about everything. Since I’m doing so much reading because the internet is down, I think I’ll read through this one again.

Tanks on the Beaches, by Robert M. Neiman and Kenneth W. Estes: A more intimate look at a Marine Tankers life

tanksonthebeaches

This book was really interesting, and an entertaining enough book to keep your interest. If you want a look into what it was like to be an Officer and tanker in the US Marine Corps during WWII, this is a great book for you. This is more of a personal view of the war, and Neiman had a very interesting career in the Corps.

Commanding the Red Army’s Sherman Tanks, the WWII Memoirs of Hero of the Soviet Union, Dmitriy Loza, edited and translated by James F. Gebhardt

redarmyshermans

This 173 page book is a little dry, and I suspect it’s because it was translated from Russian, but it a very interesting look at the Sherman use with the Soviet Union, and the career of Dmitry Loza, Hero of the Soviet Union.  This is a great look into both the life of Soviet tankers, and their use of the M4A2 Sherman.

Cutthroats, the Adventures of a Sherman Tank Driver in the Pacific, by Robert C. Dick

cutthroats

This book is 247 pages and follows the author’s service in a Sherman in the pacific. Robert C. Dick had a much different experience than his Army comrades in Europe, and surprisingly from his Marine cousins in the pacific! This is a personal account of war, and is not packed with technical info on the tanks, but it is a very interesting window into the life of an Army tanker in the PTO.  A great weekend read, I highly recommend it.

Warrior Series 78, US Army Tank Crewman 1941-45, European Theater of Operations 1944-45, By Steven Zaloga

osprey us tanker eto

This book is less a detailed look at Sherman tankers, and more the story of one very famous tanker, Creighton Abrams, who commanded the 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division, and is the namesake of the M1 Abrams MBT. It does have little sections on crew equipment, and other items to help flesh the book out a little. Still a very interesting read, and Abrams up armored Sherman was even the subject of a whole Dragon model kit, extra armor and all, the tank was named Thunderbolt VII.

Warrior Series 92, US Marine Corps Tank Crewmen 1941-45 by Kenneth W Estes:

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Another book in the Osprey Series, this one ‘Warrior series, volume 92’, and I think really aimed at modelers. These books are all fairly short, and are meant to give a brief look into what gear and vehicles Marine tankers used during WWII. It does this well, and Mr. Estes knows his Marine history. The Marines used a lot of Shermans, and this covers their use, and is a decent overview.

Battle Orders 10, US Tank and Tank Destroyer Battalions in the ETO 1944-45: Tank info for Tank Geeks

BO10

This series focuses more on unit structure than the tanks themselves. That said, you can’t really know what a Sherman tank was used for, if you don’t know about the units it was deployed in.  This one covers the TO&Es of Tank, tracked TD and towed TD battalions and their tactics and was really a huge help with the Battalion section of this site.

This book is filled with very interesting charts and tables to and a fair number of pictures. Well worth the price if you want to get into the details of tank and TD units.

Battle Orders 21, US Armored Units in North African and Italian Campaigns 1942-45: More Tank info for Geeks

BO21

Much like Battle Orders 10, this one gets down into how the armored units used in North Africa and Italian Campaigns. This one looks over a longer time period, and has detailed tables for the earlier Lee based tank battalions and halftrack based TD units.  This book has lots of charts and tables so you can really dig into what an armored unit was composed of, other than just tanks.

Panther VS Sherman, Battle of the Bulge 1944, By Steven Zaloga

PantherVSherman

This book disappointed me a little.  I’ll read through it and take notes next time. From memory, when he talks about replacing the final drives in the panther, he says the transmission had to be pulled, when it would be the sprockets, final drive housing and several road wheels.  He doesn’t point out exactly why he thinks the Panther was more technologically advanced than the Sherman, but it’s clear he thinks so.  The Panther had a powerful AT gun, and good frontal armor, everything else was just poorly designed garbage waiting to break.

The Sherman had several features so advanced the Germans could not copy them, the stabilizer, the turret drive, the reliable motors, transmissions and final drives. The transmission and final drives were good enough to work unchanged in design all the way through the M50 and M51. Even the large turret and hull castings were beyond the Germans.

Ultimately he concludes the Sherman was the better tank, so I guess it all works out in the end. Not a bad book for the price and it’s really only in deep technical areas he goes wrong, so overall worth the time and money.

Panzer IV VS Sherman France 1944, By Steven Zaloga

PIVVSherman

This is another book in the VS series, this one a little better than the Panther V Sherman book. Same format, lots of decent pics, and a better conclusion.  Worth it if you can get it for a good price.

The Panzer IV and Sherman are much close tanks in capability and weight, so they make for a more interesting matchup. The Panzer IV was a better tank than the later Panther and Tiger tanks, if only because it was reliable enough to be around when needed.

 

Armor at War Series 7001, the M4 Sherman at War, The European Theatre 1942-1945, by Steven Zaloga

AAWS7001

This is one of those pictorial paperbacks from the mid-90s, I picked up a ton at a garage sale, and though not the best for technical details, it does a good job for what it was designed to do.  These books are aimed armor modelers, who want close in detail shots with unit info so they can copy the subjects.  The book is 72 pages with a color drawing section, was published back in 1995.

This book is long out of print, so I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it, but if you stumble on it used and cheap, it’s a nice book to have if you like Sherman pictures. Many of these pictures can be found in other books, online, and even on this site, and in much higher resolution, but they have proved useful in improving my image captions.

Armor at War Series 7002, D-Day, Tank Warfare, Armored Combat in the Normandy Campaign, June-August 1944 by Steven J. Zaloga and George Balin

AAwSdday

This AaWS books covers the Normandy Campaign.  It is not nation specific, so you get tanks from everyone, but there are an awful lot of Shermans in here. British Shermans, Polish Shermans, French Shermans, American Shermans and a whole lot of knocked out German tanks.  Since this one is not focused on the Sherman, there is less here for the Sherman enthusiast, but it is still an interesting book, I just wouldn’t go out my way to find it if you just want Sherman photos.

Armor at War Series 7003, Tank Warfare In Korea 1950-53 by Steven Zaloga and George Balin: Shermans and other Tanks in Korea

AAWS7003

Another book out of Concord Publication Company of Hong Kong, this one covering Korea, and published in 1994, and very typical of the series.  The Sherman tank was used a lot in Korea, but only the M4A3 version, and for the most part HVSS tanks, with some rare exceptions.

These books have a short history section and then are filled with well caption pics. In this books case, if it had Armor, and was in Korea, it’s in the book.

Armor at War Series 7004, Tank Battles of the Pacific War, 1941-1945 by Steven J. Zaloga

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This AaWS book is an early one, published in 1995, but it is 72 pages of awesome. This book, as the title suggests, covers tank battles in the pacific, which means Shermans and Lees, and some light tanks here and there. There are several good books covering Armor use in the Pacific, and this books is a great companion to any of them, you will likely find higher resolution versions of photos the others books only had bad low resolution versions in them.  There is also a good number of photos of the modifications the Marines did to the Shermans for Iwo Jima.  Long out of print, this can still be found used for around $20, and new for $40 or so and for a Shermanaholic, this is a very nice book. For a bonus, this one even covers Chinese use of the Sherman M4A4 at the end of the war, and Lee use in Burma.

Armor at War Series 7005, U.S. Tank Destroyers in Combat 1941-1945, by Steven Zaloga: TDs and most are based on the Sherman

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This is another ‘Armor at War’ book, this one covering US Tank Destroyers for the whole war. Lots of very nice, well captioned, pictures. This one is not totally Sherman oriented like the others practically are, but as we know, the M10 and M36 are based on the Sherman.  Long out of print, if you can find it cheap it’s worth it. This one is 75 pages and came out in 1996.

Armor at War Series 7008, Tank Battles of the M id-East (1) the Wars of 1948-1973 by Steven Zaloga

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This AaWS book covers the battles that took place in the Middle East, mostly the wars with Israel, and its war of independence. The Israeli’s were big Sherman users, though early on, the Shermans they had were a pretty rag tag group, thrown together from hulks from all over the med. This led to at least one large hatch hull tank with an early stubby mantlet 75mm turret.

Armor at War Series 7009, Tank Battles of the Mid-East (2), the wars of 1973 to present, by Steven Zaloga

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This one is typical AaWS, with 73 pages and the color drawing plates with a small history section. There are still a few Sherman based vehicles that show up in this book, and that’s why it got mentioned here. Ok so maybe there is only one Sherman pic in this one, which still counts.

Armor at War Series 7032, US Amtracs and Amphibians at War, 1941-45 by Steven Zaloga and George Balin: Shermans can Swim!

AAWS7032

This one seems like an odd choice for a section about Sherman books, but as we know, they had amphibious Shermans, and they are covered in this book. This is a typical AaWs book with 73 pages, a small history section, a color plate section, and lots of pictures, with detailed captions.

Armor at War Series 7036, The M4 Sherman at War (2), The US Army in the European Theater 1943-45, by Steven Zaloga: More Shermans, more War

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This book is a follow on to 7001, reviewed above and is pretty much the same thing with different photos, and came out in 2001.  All the things said about the first one apply. There are some nice pictures of up armored Shermans I have not seen in many other places in here so it is worth the look if you love looking at old photos.

Armor at War Series 7038, US light Tanks at War, 1941-45 by Steven Zaloga: Light Tanks are not Shermans, but they did work together

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Lots and lots of pictures of light tanks with a few pages of history on them, a nice source of pictures for any modeler and an interesting afternoon read. It focuses on the M3 and M5 lights, but other models like the M24 show up too.  It has a nice color panel with drawings of various famous lights.

Armor at War Series 7042, Panzers of the Ardennes Offensive 1944-45 by Tom Cockle: The Bulge from the German perspective

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This book comes in at 73 pages and was published in 2003, and gives the German perspective on the Battle of the Bulge. There is a few pages of text on the battle, and then a lot of pictures of the German tanks and other units involved, and my impression from looking through it was, almost all of it was knocked out, broken down or abandoned.  There are a surprisingly large number of Sherman pics, both functional and knocked out.

Armor at War Series 7045, The Battle of the Bulge, by Steven Zaloga

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AaWS 7042 covered the Bulge from the German side, this one is more American and allied centric. Typical of the series, it has tons of black on white photos with informative captions and a small section of color drawings and a small history section. This one has some interesting photos of Creighton Abrams’s Thunderbolt tanks, since he upgraded through a lot of Shermans while in command of the 37th tank Battalion.  

Armor At War Series 7046, US Tank Battles in Germany 1944-45 by Steven Zaloga: More US Armor pictures!

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Another Concord Publication with a short history section, and lots of pictures. This one has some late war tanks like the M24 Chaffee, and M26 Pershing. It also has a fair number of German tanks pictured as well.

Armor at War Series 7050, US Tank Battles in France 1944-45, by Steven Zaloga

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This AaWS book is pretty typical of the series, this one covering the battles in France, from D-Day in Normandy until operation Nordwind and the approach of the Westwall. Lots of Shermans, lots of other American Armor, and lots of knocked out and broken down German Armor.  This one also has the color drawing section and a history section in the beginning, and is 74 pages.  One interesting thing mentioned in this one, in the color drawing section, is a French Jumbo Sherman used by the 2e Escadron, 2e Regiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique, 6th Army Group, Alsace, 1945. I’ve never read anything about that before.

Armor at War Series 7051, US Tank Battles in North Africa and Italy, 1943-45 by Steven Zaloga

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This is another one in the AaWs books, this one on US tanks in the MTO. This one has a lot of images of the M3 Lee in US use.  This is another one I found extra interesting since most coverage of WWII really focuses on Western Europe. A mix of Sherman and Lee is desert and mountain terrain can be found in this one, along with just about all the armored vehicles used by the US Army.  There are also a fair number of photos of knocked out Tiger tanks, some abandoned ones too, and a few broken down. One of these Tigers was knocked out in a close range duel with an M4A1 75 Sherman, commanded by Lieutenant Edwin Cox of the 752 tank battalion. He was awarded the Silver Star for the action, this is detailed out on page 61.

Armor at War Series 7052, US Armored Funnies, Us Specialized Armored Vehicles in the ETO in WWII, by Steven Zaloga

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This Concord Publication is on US Funny tanks, things like Recovery vehicles, Prime movers, Combat Engineer Vehicles, Mine Clearing tanks, Bridging Tanks, Amphibious Tanks,  CDL tanks, Flame tanks and Rocket tanks. It has the same 73 page format with lots of pictures and a few color drawings.  If you want to produce a funny in plastic, or just want to know what they looked like, or see them in action, this is a great little book.

Armor at War Series 7055, Panzers in the Gunsights, German AFVs in the ETO 1944-45 in US Army Photos, by Steven Zaloga

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In one way this is your typical Concord Publication, 74 pages, a few color drawings, a little history section and a lot of pictures with detailed captions.  What sets this one apart is the pictures of German tanks, knocked out or captured by the US Army. Several of these captured tanks survive today in museums, or holding lots waiting for one.  One aspect that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who actually knows about German armor, but might be to those with more superficial knowledge on the subject, is how many were abandoned due to lack of fuel or just breaking down, and there is a lot of photographic evidence of it in this book.

Armor at War Series 7062, British Sherman Tanks by Dennis Oliver:  A very nice pictorial overview

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This book is a lot like the previous two ‘Armor at War books’ on the Sherman, but this one covers British use. This book had a lot of Sherman photos I have not seen before in it. It came out in 2006, and is 73 pages and well worth it if you want an exclusive look at UK Shermans.  If your building a Sherman used by the UK from plastic, you’ll want this book.

Armor at War Series 7068, British Armor in Sicily and Italy, by Dennis Oliver

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Like AaAs 7062m this one covers British Armor, just not the Sherman exclusively and in Italy and Sicily. Many of these images I had not seen before, and that is the real value of these books. This book, even though it is not specifically about the Sherman, is packed with pictures of the Sherman and things based on its chassis.

New Vanguard 3, Sherman Medium Tank 1942-45, by Steven Zaloga and Peter Sarson: This book covers both the 75 and 76 tanks, but not overly well

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This book is an early New Vanguard book and shares a lot with NV 73, that focusses just on 76mm Shermans. I would say this is the least useful New Vanguard or Vanguard book on the Sherman at this point. The subject material and pictures can be found in later works.

New Vanguard 57, M10 and M36 Tank Destroyers 1942-53, By Steven J. Zaloga

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This NV book covers the M10 and M36 in its typical format, 50 or so pages some color drawings and a cutaway. It covers the history of US tank destroyers up to the M10, including the ones that never made it into production, and all the models of the M36.  This also covers the Achilles or M10C, and post war use of both TDs.

New Vanguard 73, M4 (76mm) Sherman Medium Tanks 1943-65 by Steven J. Zaloga: Typical NV book on the 76 Sherman

NV73

This book is part of Osprey’s New Vanguard series, volume 73 in fact. This book is pretty short, but gets a decent amount of the 76mm Sherman story into it.  These books are really aimed at modelers, and people into less detailed history. It does have some great charts in it.  I bought this book years ago as a young teen while building models.  Well worth the price if you can get it for less than 15 bucks.

New Vanguard 123, Swimming Shermans, Sherman DD amphibious tanks of World War II by David Fletcher: Nice info on how to make a tank float

NV123

Fifty one pages on this history of the Sherman DD, but not just the Sherman, but pretty much all DD tanks, since they led up to the Sherman. Very British centric, but they really did all the work on the DD Shermans, so it makes sense. Even though they used different versions of the Sherman for DDs than the US, the US versions are covered.  Typical of the new vanguard series, best if bought cheap considering the size, but they do pack a decent amount of info in, in spite of the size limits.

New Vanguard 141, Sherman Firefly by David Fletcher: Info on the Firefly

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This 52 page book covers the history of the Firefly in surprising detail. It’s also very fair to the design compromises that had to be made for the tank to work. Well worth the money if you want a more detailed look into the history of the Firefly than this site gives.

Vanguard 15, the Sherman Tank in British Service1942-45, by John Sandars: A very informative little book

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I found this book really informative, since most of my Sherman history reading has been very American centric. This book is 52 pages and was first published in 1982, and gives a surprisingly fair view of the Sherman considering the time period it was written.

This book like all Vanguard books ‘regular’ and ‘new’, have a format, and that includes a color drawing section. The cover art on this one is notable for how horrible it is. I mean it is one of the worst drawings of a Sherman firefly I have ever seen, but luckily the content is much better than the cover art. It has a very interesting section on British crew opinions and some very interesting drawings made by crews during the war.   If you can find this book for a reasonable price, it’s a good one.

Vanguard 26, The Sherman Tank in Allied Service by Steven Zaloga: About as much info as you can pack info 51 pages on the Sherman

V26

This book comes in at 51 pages, and was published in 1982, with that in mind, his later works have both updated information, and more of it, but this book was pretty darn good for when it came out. Typical of the Vanguard books, it has a color drawing section and covers the Shermans use into Korea.  Long out of print, a nice find, if found cheap.

Osprey Modelling 35, Modelling the US Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank, by Steven Zaloga

OM35

This book, along with the recommended kits and paints etc., would be all you need to create a work of art in plastic. Mr. Zaloga is a very talented modeler, and this book is his attempt to show us regular folks how to produce a good looking Sherman kit.  I only wish I had known about these when I got back into building kits again.

These books are great if you want to really improve your plastic modeling skills and see how to fix flaws in some older Sherman kits. They come in at 86 pages, review the quality of many different 75mm Sherman kits and give an overview of the 1/35 scale 75mm Sherman plastic scene, though it is a tad out of date now since it’s over a decade old, and there have been many improvements to the available Sherman kits out there.

Osprey Modelling 40, Modelling the US Army (76mm) Sherman Medium Tank by Steven Zaloga

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This book is the follow up to his book on modeling the 75mm Sherman. This one was published in 2007, and includes a little info on Tasca suspensions, but predates their full kits or their change to the Asuka brand name. This covers improving the better kits on the market, a small history on the tanks, and some very advanced techniques for improving or even scratch building things for your Sherman kits.  Steven Zaloga is an extremely talented modeler, and he shares step by step some of his best methods for producing these amazing kits.

Tanks Illustrated No. 11, Patton’s Tanks, by Steven Zaloga: A picture book on Patton’s tanks

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This book has a short intro, and then focuses on photos of the various units Paton commanded and some personal pictures of the man. It was published in 1984 and is 66 pages. It follows Patton and his various commands through the whole war, and has many interesting pictures I have not seen before. If you can find it cheap it is not a bad book for what it is.

Warmachines N4, Military Photo File 555, Israeli M4 Sherman and Derivatives, by Francois Verlinden and Willy Peters

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A very interesting book on Israeli Shermans and all the things they used the hulls for. This book will be very useful when I expand the Israeli Sherman section.  One thing to keep in mind about this book is, it uses Israeli designations for their tanks, and does not take into account, just like Israel in most cases, what the tank was to start with in US designation.  An example of this is all M1A1 Armed Shermans are called Sherman M1s whether it’s an M4A1 or M4A3.  This book would be very useful for anyone trying to build an Israeli Sherman, but is only 37 pages, and I’ve never heard of the publisher or seen other books by them.

Squadron/Signal Publications 6038, Armor in Korea, a pictorial History by Jim mesko

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This book is 80 pages and was published in 1984. It covers armor used in Korea by all the participants. It has a small color plate section. These books are aimed at modelers and were found mostly in hobby shops. They are filled with photos with detailed captions.  The Sherman was still in heavy use in Korea, and there are many pictures and captions of it being used in this book.  It covers their use with Tiger faces painted on them and why it was done. Well worth it if you can find it cheap.

Squadron/Signal Publications 6090, U.S. Armor Camouflage and Markings World War II, by Jim Mesko

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Anyone who has spent any time in a Hobby Shop with a plastic model section has probably seen books by Squadron/Signal. They have had an ‘At War’ Series of books for years covering just about everything military. They were not particularly long books, but they were cheap, and had lots of detail shots aimed at the plastic modeler.  This book is a larger format soft cover, with more info, covering US Armor markings, MTO, ETO and the PTO for the war. This book come in at 67 pages and has a color drawing section highlighting specific common vehicles.

Squadron/Signal Publications 2016, Sherman in action, Armor NO. 16 by Bruce Culver

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This is your classic Squadron Signal paperbound book on the Sherman, lots of black and white photos covering each model of the tank.  These books were all around 49 pages and had a color drawing centerfold. Back in the day the ran 5 or 6 bucks and were the perfect cheap book to go with that new model kit. Most including this one are still in print.  These books have very basic info, but it’s generally accurate.

Squadron/Signal Publications 2033, M3 Lee/Grant in action, Armor NO. 33 by Jim Mesko

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This is the Armor book on the M3 Lee, like its Sherman counterpart reviewed above; it’s filled with black and white photos, most showing good detail. These books are aimed at being a cheap way for a modeler to get some good photos and basic info on their subject. The small amount of technical info in generally accurate as are the captions.  I bet sales on these books have dropped off since the internet really took off, you can find all the info and just about all the photos online and in higher resolution. These books will always have a soft spot for me, since I still have all the ones I bought with Christmas and birthday money as a kid in the 80s!

Squadron/Signal Publications 2036, U.S. Tank Destroyers in Action, Armor Number 36 by Jim Mesko

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This 51 page book on US TDs is pretty good for what it is. It covers the M3 75mm GMC, the M6 37mm GMC, the M10, Achilles IIC, the M36 and M18 Hellcat.  This book cleared up what an M6 was, I ran into a reference to it in another book but had never heard of it. It saw very short use in North Africa, but slightly longer use in the PTO apparently. This book has a two page color drawing insert and for its size is packed with good info.

Squadron /Signal Publications 2038, U.S. Self-Propelled Guns in Action, Armor NO. 38 by Jim Mesko

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This 52 page book covers the M7, M12, M40 and M43, plus the Sexton. It has the 2 page color insert standard to this series and a lot of black and white photos with good captions. It also has line drawings of specific components to help modelers with fine details.  All these SPG are based on the Sherman, so that’s why this one is here. It does also cover the Chaffee based M37/M41 SPG as well.

Squadron /Signal Publications 5701, Walk Around M4 Sherman, armor walk around number 1, by Jim Mesko

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These books are the same format as the in action books, but with more pages, and close up pictures so you can really see the details of the tanks components. This one came in at 79 pages it still falls short of really covering all the details on the Sherman. It’s not really the fault of the book, the subject just has such a huge scope, you really need a book the size of Son of a Sherman to cover it.  If you can’t find, or afford Son of a Sherman, this is a good alternative.

Squadron /Signal Publications 6096, Tank Warfare on Iwo Jima, by David Harper

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This 98 page book covers the tanks used on Iwo Jima and I have to say, it is a pretty awesome book. Not only does David Harper cover the tanks, but how the tank crews lived, and how they worked in the rear on the tanks. I had never heard of the ‘bachelor pad,’ basically a bunker made under the tank, when they were not on the line, where the slept, they would careful back out of these spots in the morning, so they wouldn’t have as much setup when the days fighting was done.

The tank use on Iwo Jima was extensive, and more than one Marine Tank Battalion saw action there. The fact the Sherman played a key role in the Marine Island assaults is usually not covered very well, but this book does a great job. The Japanese knew just how important the Sherman was, and went to great lengths to destroy disabled Shermans, how they did is covered in here as well as all the modifications the Marines made to their tanks to safeguard them, and has a lot of photos of these modifications. This book is really a must have

Images Of War SPECIAL, M4 Sherman, by Pat Ware

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This book is a real mixed bag. I’ve never bought any of the books in the series, since picture books generally are pretty fluff filled if you want hard info, and I already have a lot of Sherman pictures.  I got an Amazon gift card from my mom for my Birthday, and decided to have a look and bought a used copy through them. It has a lot of images with captions, that are mostly correct, and I don’t recall any huge errors in the technical stuff, but I read it awhile back and will have to re review to make sure. The section on the Sherman in combat is just bad. It’s full of all the old, bad, junk history spawned by the late 60s and 70 board games and junk books like Death Traps.

The truth about WWII tank warfare has been made a lot more clear in the past few years, and books like this that continue to push the old inaccurate information should be revised.  With that in mind, I would not recommend spending the 25$ price for this book. If you see it cheap used and want a decent picture book, then maybe, but it should be very cheap if you go this route. The book comes in at 137 pages.

The Sherman, an Illustrated History of the M4 Medium Tank, by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis.

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This book was first published in 1967 or 68, and may be the first book dedicated to a specific type of tank, and was put out by Arco publishing. It is a nice little book on the M4 with a surprising amount of info packed into a small packed. I picked up my copy for a few bucks used, and wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy it if I saw it cheap again.

 

Death Traps, by Belton Cooper: This book is Crap.

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Here is a great review on the subject by R. Forczyk: Death Traps, a poorly written memoir by Belton Y. Cooper promises much, but delivers little. Cooper served as an ordnance lieutenant in the 3rd Armor Division (3AD), acting as a liaison officer between the Combat Commands and the Division Maintenance Battalion. One of the first rules of memoir writing is to focus on events of which the author has direct experience; instead, Cooper is constantly discussing high-level or distant events of which he was not a witness. Consequently, the book is riddled with mistakes and falsehoods. Furthermore, the author puts his main effort into an over-simplified indictment of the American Sherman tank as a “death trap” that delayed eventual victory in the Second World War. For the full review, click here.

Here is the Chieftains take.: The important part: Death Traps is not a reliable source. Don’t cite it. Or the History Channel show based on it.

My opinion on the book is that it is both a bad book from a historical perspective, and writing perspective, since it’s a hard book to read. Most of the book is just boring. Belton Cooper had a tough job, but it was also not very entertaining, and he didn’t focus on the aspects of his job that could have been. He focuses on a lot of personal speculation presented as fact, and the truly interesting things like his experiences with the M26 Pershing, and the Super Pershing are not covered in great detail. This book isn’t worth it unless it’s one of those penny plus shipping deals, and even then read it was a large grain of salt.

#24 Silly Myths And Fun Facts About The Sherman and Lee: The Same Old Falsehoods Can Be Combated By Facts

Silly Myths: Things You Don’t Want To Say, At A Cocktail Party, Or Clam Bake.

The Sherman was gas powered and a fire trap, German tanks had diesels, and they called it a Ronson.

As we know from this document, not all Shermans were gas powered. We also know the Sherman was no more prone to fire than any other tank, including German tanks. We know that the Sherman, when it did burn, the fire was most often caused by an ammunition fire, and not fuel fires. This was solved with wet ammunition racks making the Sherman the least prone to burn tank of the war. We should also know that all German tanks were gas powered as well, and very prone to ammo rack fires, and in many case gas fires caused by poor designs, and horrid quality control, and slave labor factory workers. Early Panthers were so prone to fire, they tended to catch on fire just getting off train cars, or going over terrain that tilted the hull .

After several searches by groups on several forums no one has been able to find a add from the Ronson company that uses the Lights the First Time, Every Time phrase. See this thread, and this thread the original that spawned it. You can find some info here too. They have many links to period and non-period ads, but no Ronson add even close. So far, no one has been able to produce war time documentation of that saying actually being used. Some flame thrower equipped Shermans were called “Zippos”, but because of the flame thrower, not for a tendency to ignite. There was also a British Flamethrower named a Ronson, so that may have added to the post war, poorly documented history that started it.

No this name really seems to stem from a one pop history book, and a bad docudrama on the history channel that stars the man most responsible for the Sherman’s PR problem, Belton Cooper.  He, along with the table top Wargaming makers of the 60, 70 and 80s. This coupled with several Hollywood films like Patton, and The Battle of the Bulge, the Sherman had taken a serious hit on its war winning reputation. Even some big name historians included the slogan in their works, even while trying to repair the tanks soiled reputation. It is possible it was called a Ronson or Zippo during the war in a widespread way, but so far, no one, even when challenged has been able to find any proof.

It’s well known soldiers bitch, and often suffer from grass is greener syndrome. When your Sherman happens to bounce a few rounds off a Panthers frontal before another Sherman took it through its thin side or turret side armor, it’s going to be disconcerting, what the Chieftain of the WOT forums calls a significant emotional event, and these things can shake your confidence in your tank, in particular, if your new to the job, and or don’t know all the problems the Germans crews had to deal with to keep the tracks fighting. If crews complaining about their gear, actually makes it bad in all cases, then there is very few items of military gear considered good. I know there are several videos out there of WWII vets talking about the Sherman having thin armor and being a death trap, but in many cases, these guys were not even tankers.  I’ve read many accounts of Sherman crews loving their tanks. They knew that tank was a hell of a lot safer in most conditions than having to be outside it fighting on foot. Many of these man have a deep affection for the Sherman, and there are pictures of these men crying when they see one again.

The Sherman tank had its share of flaws, and the Army and the guys who designed it worked very hard to improve the design throughout the war. In retrospect, a better gun is the only big design flaw you can pin down as a serious problem. Even so, the war would not have changed much if the Army had forgone development of a new gun for the Sherman the whole war, and it would probably have only cost a few more lives.  Even to the final days of the war, especially in the final days of the war in Europe, the 75mm gunned Sherman was an effective weapon against infantry and soft targets. More so than the 76mm armed Shermans, and only exceeded by the 105 tanks, since German armor was so rare, and the main threat to tanks was panzerfaust, Panzerschreck, and AT guns, the 75mm armed Sherman may have been more effective and shortened the war. That said, a 90mm armed Sherman would have been RAD!

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The Only Shermans to come with HVSS suspension had 76mm M1A1 guns.

As has been mentioned in this very document, HVSS suspension was pretty common on M4A3 75 W tanks produced in 1944. Several hundred if not thousand got HVSS suspension. We also know the M4 105 was produced with HVSS, as was the M4A3 105.  This can all be confirmed through the wonderful Sherman Minutia site.

But lets prove it wrong with a pic. 

The Sherman was made to be basic, cheap and easy to produce, and not last, they were not high quality vehicles. 

This simply is not true. The Sherman was an advanced tank for its time. It incorporated a gyro stabilized gun, a full set of advanced FM radios(the most advanced tank radios in the world, and a generation ahead of the German junk), and an auxiliary motor for charging the batteries, and sloped armor. The design could use either a cast or welded upper hull, without changing the other parts, and that’s pretty amazing considering the tank was designed with slide rulers. Every part of the Sherman was well produced, finished, and reliable in its dimensions.  The design with minor modification could accept 5 different motors. The design had five reliable motors to choose from, and even the worst was more reliable than German motors.

The design tolerances were so close, parts manufactured at any factory, would work on any Sherman. That may not sound like a big deal, but at the time it was, and the Germans could not produce tanks in the same way, and this was a huge advantage for the allied tank forces. Many of their tanks required hand fitting of parts. The early Shermans were all finely fitted, with beveled edges on the armor plate and all castings finely machined. The interiors included cushions for crew comfort and each crewman had at least one periscope.  The huge castings used to make the upper hull of the M4A1 were a technological feat as well and not reproducible by any of the Axis nations.

The Sherman was certainly not built to be easily worn-out and replaced. One of the reasons the basic 75mm M3 was chosen was because it had a 1000 round or more barrel life. All the motors were good for more than 5000 miles.  The transmissions and final drives more than that, and that’s miles, not kilometers, like with the Panthers 150 kilometer final drives or 1500 kilometer transmission or 2500(lol maybe, I’m being nice) kilometers on the motor.  You could get up to 2500 miles on most of the track models the Sherman used. The road wheels were easily replaced and rebuilt, and the springs in Shermans are holding up fine to this day on most of the ones still around.  The Brits put 2500 miles on M4A4 in a single test if I recall right, 10,000 miles on most of the motors in the A57 wouldn’t be impossible if no one was blowing the tanks up.

For such a reliable tank, it was designed with ease of maintenance in mind and it was relatively easy to swap out the motor or transmission/final drive. The suspension units bolted on, so replacing one damaged beyond repair was very easy, or easy by tanker standards.

These tanks also took upgrades well, being up gunned with guns up to 122mm, and re-engine with more modern motors. The French and Israelis did most of the work in this area and these tanks will be covered in their own section. The point is, no other basic tank chassis lived as long as the Sherman did, with some South American nations keeping theirs in use well into the 80s or later since a few have recently been reactivated for training use. This same tank design was easily adapted into civilian uses as well, something I don’t think many other designs can claim with Shermans being used in Construction, logging and drilling and a few other industries.

Cheap tanks rust away, they don’t run for decades, often on the same drivetrain parts. Complicated poorly engineered tanks like the panther or tiger are still around, most locked away in a museum in non-running condition. A few of those museums bring out the German monsters every once in a while, and drive them a few hundred meters, maybe more for the more reliable Tiger I design, and then store them away, praying they get enough in donations to keep the German steel monster running after the damage done that year by running and driving the damn thing. The Shermans at those museums start right up, run, get used in movies, and then get put back on display without the drama and worry that it won’t start up the next time.  There are a few rich men who own a running Panther, or some other German Tank, but they are rare, and the tanks are in many ways better than new, and still probably won’t make it past 150 kilometers before they have to overhaul the final drives.  There are a hell of a lot more well off men that own Shermans, and can afford to drive them around whenever they feel like it.

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US tank production wasn’t optimized, and their supply system was overburdened by the number of different sub types of tanks they used. With the Sherman in particular using four different power packs.

This myth is absurd. The main reason the United States produced Shermans with four different power packs, was they thought the bottleneck in producing the tank in great numbers would be outstripping of the supply of R975 radial engines. That never really happened, in part because the Army had three other viable engines, and produced them all. They were able to keep this from complicating the supply situation to much by limiting who got what models, with the US Army using version with the R975, the Brits using the diesel and A57 multibank, and the Russians getting only M4A2s variants. They had enough surplus production in R975 production; they built a factory for the M7, another tank that would have used the motor, and one for the M18 that also used it. The M7 was canceled but a lot of M18s got produced.

This never hurt tank production speed in any way, and since the continental US was damage free, shipping parts between factories was easy enough. The US had a massive rail system, and was still producing locomotives. When the Army started to move to the M4A3 as its primary tank they released more M4 and M4A1 tanks to their allies. The US actually had a tank production surplus, and was able to close down all but the best three tank producers. Hell, they even built a factory to produce the M7 medium tank and then never built it. These are the types of errors you can make when your country is an untouched industrial powerhouse.

The only reason you can say tank production wasn’t optimized is because it was never maximized after the first panicky year of the war. This wasn’t because it couldn’t have been increased, or any production problems, it was from the US war production board looking at tank needs and deciding we had more capacity then needed and cutting it back.  The US produced tanks for just about everyone, and could have produced more, if there had been more nations that needed them.

The 76mm armed Shermans were good, but they were like super rare, and not common until well into 45. Plus the extra weight of the 76mm turret made them slower.

The levels of 76 armed tanks steadily increased after their introduction during Cobra. They went from a low of 6.7% in august of 44 to 30.1% in December, to 41% by April of 45. The extra weight did have a minor impact on off road mobility, by duckbill end connectors and the increasingly common HVSS tanks after December of 44, this is a minor issue. M4A1 76w Shermans were sitting in depots in England, on D-Day, because no one wanted to introduce a new vehicle at the last minute because there was no time to train on them, and no one saw an urgent need for them.

Tanks like this were showing up by operation Cobra, by the battle of the Bulge they were nearing 30% of the US medium tanks in europe.

You know if you had to fight in a tank in WWII, you would want to be in a Tiger or Panther!

This is a very common argument  or myth that comes from German Armor “fanboys” also known as the infamous ‘Wehraboo’, and they will sometimes be shocked if you say no, as if they thought the info about the Sherman being a better tank was all lies, and when faced with the ‘truth’ of combat you would have to choose their favorite German tank. This is a really silly argument, but a very common one, so I’ll cover it.

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So first off, let’s go over the German side, one, no matter what tank choice I was given, I would not fight in or for Nazi Germany. Moral problems with German tanks set aside there still isn’t a Nazi tank I would want. The PIII is to limited and inferior to the Sherman in all ways, the PIV is inferior to Sherman 75 in all ways let alone the 76 armed Shermans. The Panther was unreliable junk, maybe if I really wanted to avoid combat, it might be a good  choice, but it stands a good chance of killing you in a fire caused by its poorly designed fuel system or carburetors.

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No, if I had any tank to pick from it would be the M26 Pershing. This tank made it to the war pretty late, so many German army “fans” will object cause it so little combat, but there were more M26s produced before the wars end the Tiger IIs. They will also try and say it was an unreliable vehicle. The unreliable part gets played up to much on the M26, it’s real problem was it was underpowered.

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The M26 Pershing would not have seen production if it had not met a basic level of automotive reliability the Army could find acceptable, the Army would not have started building it if it had not met basic reliability requirements in testing. It was not as reliable as the M4A3 because the design was not as old, and the engine was overburdened, a design problem..

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This M26 Pershing is the only known Zebra Mission survivor that also took part in the capture of the Remagen Bridge. It is was with the 9th AD and is not fully restored tro running condition.

I’ve also read the Zebra mission tanks that made it over before the end of the war were lavishly supported and amazingly reliable.  It had some issues in Korea, some caused by poor replacement parts or lack of them, and others from lack of skill on the driver’s part, and lack of experience in the crews. At the beginning of the Korean War, when the Marines got issued M26 tanks for the first time they got less than two weeks to train on them. Like the panther, the Pershing had to be driven well, a jerky driver could cause fan belts to break or slip off the cooling fans overheating the motor.  The Panthers problem was much worse, if the driver wasn’t smooth, he could destroy the final drives in the panther very quickly, if he used features of the vehicle he could destroy the transmission. Neither of these problems is as simple as putting the fan belts back on and adjusting them.

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This M26 Pershing.

The M26 usually won’t be allowed by the ‘fan’, so my next choice would be an M4A3E8 76W tank. Because these were the best Shermans produced. They had a great motor for a tank in its weight range, and it had a decent gun, and ok armor. Its armor could be upgraded in several ways as well, as we’ve shown with sandbags, concrete or armor plate from other tanks. Because of the large hatches, the escape hatch and the wet ammo racks, the late production Sherman was about the safest tank of the war to be in while it was being shot at. While in this tank, it would be the poorly crewed, unreliable Panther, or mythical lottery tank the Tiger, no, I would fear the German 75mm AT guns, and really big mines, and crazy hardliner Nazi holdouts with AT sticks. Not the Cats.

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Fun Facts: Stuff to make German Armor Fans Cry.

The M4A1 Sherman Was So Advanced In Design; The Germans Could Not Have Produced A Copy. (The M3A1 Lee as well)

Even if they had been given the blue prints. They simply lacked the technology to make a large casting like the whole upper hull of a tank. This type of casting was leading edge technology in the 1940s and the US was a world leader, the Germans, were not. They probably couldn’t even cast the standard 75mm turret.

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A tank like this M4A1 would have been impossible for Nazi Germany to copy. They were just to far behind in tank manufacturing technology.

The Germans also had nothing like the gun Stabilization system the Sherman had, and the Lee also had for its 37mm gun. The Germans also had a lot of trouble producing tank engines in the 400 to 500 hp range that were reliable enough for tank use. The US had four to choose from.

The Germans liked the Sherman and T-34 so much they rebuilt any they captured and used them in combat.

It was not uncommon for the Germans to have whole tank units filled with captured and slightly reworked T-34s and M4A2 tanks. The Sherman would be a refreshing surprise on the reliability front, and probably as easy to keep running as their native PIII and PIV tanks.  They had whole company size units made up from these captured tanks.

They also liked to convert these captured tanks into ARVs, since their native armor was such a automotive disaster and couldn’t take the added stress of recovering tanks.  In the west, they also used captured allied tanks, and there are pictures of just about every model and sub model of Sherman with Nazi markings.

Nazi Germany never developed and deployed ‘Funny’ Tanks, no dozer blade kits, no mine clearing tanks, no floating tanks not even a good ARV.

There are several reasons for this. For dozer blade systems, their tank automotive systems were just not reliable enough to take the extra weight. The Shermans M1 Dozer kit added more than 7000 pounds to the tanks weight. This would have immediate failures on Panthers or PIV drivetrain if they tried to install similar kits.  The Panzer III might have been able to take the extra weight, but the PIII had really gotten long in the tooth by 44.

For mine clearing, it was common practice for the Nazis to march Russian prisoner or civilians through mine fields to clear them, so maybe a mine clearing vehicle wasn’t top priority.  I don’t think marching civilians or POWs across fields would set of AT mines, but maybe they did the same thing with civilians in cars or trucks? In any case, any mine clearing conversions would have to be very stripped down to take the added weight of any of the mine clearing contraptions that have been tried over the years.

They did modify tanks for use as ARV, but used captured tanks, and never developed a good ARV on their own. The same automotive reliability problems that prevented the Germans from producing a tank dozer or any kind of a mine clearing tank probably prevented them from using their own designs as ARVs as well. The Germans main tank recovery vehicles were large 18 ton half-tracks equipped with a bunch of special towing and recovery gear, and tank transporter trucks.  With a good winch, some strong anchor points and pulleys, you can pull a lot of weight. They also used any captured ARVs, and would often modify a T-34 or Sherman for use as an ARV because these tanks were both reliable, and had automotive systems that could handle the extra wear and tear ARVs go through.

There is an exception, the Bergepather, a dedicated ARV based on the Panther chassis, which worked ok by Nazi standards. It did have many of the same problems the Panther had, since it used the same drivetrain.  Now, because it had the turret removed, it was much lighter, but it also had a big heavy PTO winch installed where the turret normally resided. It used the turret drive to power it, meaning the Panthers motor, for maximum pulling power, you running the Maybach at max RPM, and we all know how that goes. It was also designed for a wonky form of recovery, were it backs up the knocked out tank, hooks up its cable, then drives out the full length of the cable, lower the spade, and slowly while straining the motor, drag the dead tank right back up to the rear of the Bergepather and then repeat until it was out of the danger zone and could be loaded on a truck.  It could also just hook up and tow a tank out if the terrain wasn’t too bad.  It used a large wooden block as a pusher bar, instead of having the spade in the front, so it would be useful for more than just as a towing anchor, anyway, it used the same goody overlapping wheels, with all the problems that came with them, for no advantage at all on an ARV. They did give it more fuel tanks, so it had a better range, and since it weighed slightly less, the automotive components had a chance of lasting a big longer, but still not a great ARV.

For floating tanks, well, they tried deep fording tanks, and possibly even underwater ones, but never floating ones. In my opinion, without complete air superiority, and the quick capture of a large port, the Germans couldn’t take England. They are very close to mainland Europe, making the need for a huge number of ships slightly smaller, but really not much. Then you have to look at the German Navy, and ocean going cargo capacity. They would lack all the specialized ships the Allies came up with the make amphibious landings viable.  They had no huge transport fleet. No specialized LSD, no LSTs, no LCT, LCM, LCI, and not battleships or other capital ships worth a damn. For amphibious warfare, you need a real fleet, not a pair of over rated battleships and fat useless cruisers.

 

Sources: Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga, Yeide’s The Tank Killers, The Infantry’s Armor, and Steel Victory, Sherman by Hunnicutt, Combat Lessons, The Rank and file, what they do and how they are doing it 1-7, and 9. Archive Awareness, Oscar Gilberts, Marine Tank Battles in the Pacific, WWII Armor, Ballistics and Gunnery by Bird and Livingston, Tigers in the Mud, by Carius, D.W. to Tiger I, and Tiger I & II combat tactics by Jentz, Panther Tank by Jentz, Panther and its Variants by Speilberger, Panzer III and its Variants and Panzer IV and its variants by Speilberger, The Sherman Minutia Site, Son of a Sherman by Stansell and Laughlin, M4 Sherman tank at war by Green, Tanks are a Might Fine Thing by Stout, the Lone Sentry,  DOA Army Battle Casualties and Non Battle Deaths in WWII, FKSM 17-3-2 Armor in Battle, FM17-12 Tank Gunnery, FM17-15 Combat Practice firing, FM17-30 The Tank Platoon 42, FM17-32 The Tank Company medium and light, FM17-33 The Armored Battalion, FM17-67 Crew Drill and Service of the Piece M4 Series, Another River, another town by Irwin, Tanks on the Beaches by Estes and Neiman, Cutthroats by Dick, The Myth of the Eastern Front by Smelser and Davies, Tank Tactics by Jarymowycz, Panzer Aces by Kurowski, Commanding the Red Army’s Shermans by Loza, The French Panther user report, Wargaming’s Operation Think Tank Videos .  

 

#20 How The Sherman Compared To Its Contemporaries:  Well, it did very well!

Did American Tank Design Stand up?   It Did Just Fine.

The Sherman compared well to the other tanks in its weight class. It even fared well against vehicles much larger when you take in the whole . The US spent a lot of money lavishly equipping these tanks, even the lend lease tanks shipped with sub machine guns for the crew and vinyl covered, sprung, padded seats, a full tool set, basically all the same things a Sherman issued to the US Army would come with, without the US radios.  lend lease Shermans got the British No. 19 set. Though sometimes the tanks lost things while in the shipping network.  The Sherman was not designed to be comfortable for its crew, ergonomics wasn’t a thing back then, but due to way it was designed and built, it was fairly comfortable as tanks of the time go.

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The Sherman in this photo is a M4A1 75 supporting the 30th Infantry Division near St. Lo, July 1944, during Cobra. The knocked out tanks are German Mark IV tanks

They were not cheaply built, and had finely fitted hulls, with beveled armor and a lot of attention to detail that was not dropped in favor of production speed in many cases until very late in the production run, but function was never compromised on. The Sherman tanks also had multiple generators, including one that had its own motor, so the tanks electrical system and turret could be run and not drain the battery, they had a stabilizer system for the main gun, and all tanks had high quality FM radios. Quality control at all Sherman factories and sub-contractors was tightly monitored, and superb. Parts were not modified to fit if they did not match the specifications and didn’t fit, they were discarded, if to many parts had to be discarded, the contractor was dropped. Sub-assemblies as big as turrets and hulls or whole tanks needing overhaul were shipped between factories and no parts had problems interchanging between factory models. One factory could rebuild another factories tank using its own parts with no problems at all. These were all very advanced features in in tank designed in the early 40s and the Germans the most advanced of the Axis nations, really couldn’t come close, instead they produced over armored, over gunned, un reliable tanks that could not be used in fast paced offensive actions.  The Nazi Germans could really only dream of having a tank arsenal like CDA or FTA.

It is also easy to discount the Sherman tanks combat value if you look at the production numbers versus the tanks it fought. Sure, the United States produced a huge number of Sherman tanks, but they supplied them to an awful lot of countries through lend lease. The British, Canadians, French, Russians, Chinese, Poland, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few nations. You also have to keep in mind,  thousands of Shermans were used in the united states for training, and some never saw combat or left the US, the ones that did were remanufactured later in the war and then `sent to Europe. The Sherman was built in great numbers, but not in such numbers that the Germans would see anything like 10 to 1 odds in most battles. In a few key battles the Germans managed to muster more tanks than the allies.  The Sherman was also used in large numbers against Japan.

 

German Tank three or PIII: The Best Tank The Nazis Ever Produced.

PIIIF, an mid production model of the tank with a short 50mm gun. This was the main tank in use during the north African campaign, and had a lot of trouble with the Shermans armor.

This tank fought from the first days of the war and really was a great little tank. To bad the Sherman, all models, outclassed it in just about every important way. The Sherman had better armor, firepower, and similar mobility. Even with its most potent gun, a long 50mm, the PIII had trouble with the Grant and Lee, let alone a M4. In the mythical but often argued about on the internet, one on one tank battle, the Sherman stomps the Panzer III every time. This chassis was at the end of its life as a tank with the 50mm.  Larger guns or more armor could not be fitted to it. It was a good tank, but nowhere near as good as a Sherman, but to be fair, it was at the end of its development life and the M4 was just beginning its long, long life with many countries around the globe, that would span decades.

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I knocked out III at El Alamein, those side hatches in the hull and turret side were weak points. .

The three biggest problems with the PIII design were the small turret ring, the suspension limit on taking more weight, and the automotive systems power, and ability to be upgraded and take more weight and the complicated design. As we know, the Shermans automotive components were able to take on a lot more weight with no real issues, it’s turret ring was HUGE, allowing it to be up gunned much more readily, and all its motor choices could handle extra weights without causing much drama or concern.  German tank designer and the industry that made them was just to primitive to produce vehicles with that much growth potential, hell, they were struggling to get motors and automotive systems to meet the base specs of their designs and be even remotely reliable, and largely failing at it, and the few good vehicles like the PIII are overshadowed by the really bad ones that had great post war PR  campaigns (Tiger, Panther, Tiger II I’m looking at you!).

J morel of the Tank III, with a more powerful 50mm gun, this was the peak of this tanks usefulness. As good as this tank was, it was still overly complicated, and required more hours to build than better designs. 

In many ways this was the best tank Germany produced during the war. This was one of the tanks used the short time the Germans really did things in the war; this is the tank that took them to the outskirts of Moscow. And it was a great little tank; its turret ring was just too small to fit a real gun. They solved this with the StuG, but I’ll cover that later. They produced 5774 of them. It did have teething troubles, because it was a tad complicated, but unlike many later Nazi designs, the bugs were worked out and the design became one of their most reliable armored fighting vehicles. Not Sherman reliable, but about as close as a German vehicle would get.

This tank continued to be used throughout the war, and was up gunned to a short 75mm howitzer for infantry support once its use as a tank became limited. The ones not converted to use the short 75 were probably used for parts, and or converted to Stug IIIs. You have to give it credit for being a good looking little tank too, that kind of think is important to model making companies!

 

German Tank Four or PIV: Boxy and primitive, but it got the job done.

Tank 4 G, this version of the P4 had a better gun, but still had many problems, granted most of these couldn’t be solved without a major overhaul of the design.

The PIV was a closer match to the Sherman in size and capability, but still inferior in most important ways, and it was a complicated design that wasted a lot of man hours on welding. It had weaker, un-sloped armor, in a complicated hard to produce configuration. Its suspension used leaf springs and was inferior to the Shermans VVSS suspension. It had weak enough side armor, without the use of skirts, the tank could be penetrated by Russian anti-tank rifles, and the Russians had a lot of AT rifles. It started off with a low power 75mm gun that had no chance of hurting a Lee or Sherman, and was later up gunned with a 75mm similar to the one mounted on the Sherman, but slightly better.

At this point the PIV became a serious threat to the Sherman, the main tank threat for the whole war The Sherman still held all the cards with better overall armor, mobility, reliability, spotting,  gun handling(getting that first shot off) and crew comfort. The Sherman design had room to grow and would take a whole new turret and a whole slew of larger guns. The PIV was at the limits of what the hull could handle, and its turret ring was too small to accept more powerful guns, though the gun it received in the improved models was a good gun. The final version of this tank, the J was a simplified version that lacked a power turret drive or skirts, it was not to improve the combat ability, and it was done to speed up production because the Germans were desperate for more armor. Nazi Germany produced 8569 of these tanks, from 1937 to 1945.

One weakness the PIV suffered was the suspension. It was fragile and prone to breaking in rough terrain. The leaf spring setup also offered limited travel and really was the most limiting feature of the tank.  The Sherman was reputed to be much better in rough and mountainous terrain. If you just look at a good picture of the PIV, and count the welds, and look at how complicated the thing looks, and then consider all the man hours needed to build the thing, you see just how much time would have to be wasted making the complicated hull, in particular for a Nation like Germany that had to depend on welders, and not welding machines to put the hulls together.

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A knocked out and burning PIV, this is the typical condition the tank was found in after it ran into Shermans. 

This tank allowed the Germans to use maneuver warfare, and it wasn’t tied to the rail system, because it was much more reliable than the Panther or Tiger. One argument ‘wehraboo’, (for those not in the know, a wehraboo is a German WWII Army, Armor, Airplane or Ship fanatic, who believes anything and everything German was the best in WWII. You can find these people trying to push the often mythical abilities of Nazi war machines, while ignoring any evidence to the contrary, these chaps often have deep seated pro-Nazi feelings, and in some cases of the worst offenders, are out and out neo Nazis. They can often be found on game forums for any WWII game talking about how the 262 was the best fighter of the war and the King Tiger could penetrate an M1 Abrams, often misspelling the names like this Aberhams.or making other ridiculous claims like the Nazi Navy was good or the Holocaust is overblown) like to make is, Nazi Germany couldn’t really have produced more Panzer IVs and StuGs because they didn’t have the manpower to crew them.

The counter to point to that argument is, if the Germans had not produced the two ridiculous heavy tanks. Tiger 1&2, the huge maintenance tail these vehicles required could be broken up; a tiger company had the same number of mechanics and maintenance personnel and their transport, as a full Battalion of PIV or III tanks.  You could take all these men, and put them into units that didn’t bleed resources, when Nazi Germany had few to spare.

They also could have manned these new units with all the men they put in the many captured tanks they used. They used large numbers of T-34 and M4A2 Shermans captured from the USSR. They should have stuck with the tanks they considered producing that were closer to these, the VK3001 (d) was almost a direct copy, Germanized to make it much harder to build and work on of course.  This tank looked a lot like the T-34 that inspired it, but apparently fears of friendly fire losses because it looked to much like a T-34 and a lack of aluminum to make the copy of the diesel the T-34 used, were probably the real reasons this tank didn’t get produced.

It turns out; the Daimler Benz proposal died for several reasons, the main being that several Nazi industrialists under Spear convinced Hitler getting a tank into production fast was more important than the tank being the best tank able to be put into production. This coupled with a propaganda campaign run by those same Nazi lackeys,  against the Daimler Benz proposal, spelled its doom.  Hitler, convinced by their arbitrary date of production argument, decided on the MAN proposal with its frontal armor increased. It would be the “Panther” tanks, we all know and love. I guess it’s really a good thing the Nazi industrialists were a bunch of clowns, greedy opportunists, and strait up lackeys to even worse men, or the Germans might have had a decent tank.

At any rate, they didn’t produce the right tank; they produced a pair of heavy tanks, and a medium as heavy as a heavy that wasted far more resources than ever could be justified by these tanks propaganda inflated war records. They probably best served in a propaganda role since they had truly fearsome reputations, but once they were met in combat a few times that wore off and the American and British tankers found ways to beat them, like just making them drive around a bit until they broke down or ran out of fuel.

 

German Tank VI Tiger: The Premier Fascist Box Tank, Great For Plastic Model Companies, But Not So Great As A Tank.

This tank had a big weight ‘advantage’ over the Sherman, it being a heavy tank and all, but for the most part, was so rare it had almost no impact on the war. In fact most of the SS units that used this tank lied so much about its prowess there are some doubts it got even 1/3 of its actual kills its Nazi crews claimed. It also had to be moved by train giving it limited useable tactical mobility, and these tanks sucked up the maintenance, supply and rail resources of a much larger unit.

The US Army faced very few of these tanks. When they did face them, they didn’t prove to be much of a problem. From North Africa to Italy and Normandy and beyond, the Tiger was a non-factor when facing US Shermans. Of the 31 sent to north Africa, one was captured after it was knocked out, or the crew got scare, and the British still have it!  The claims of it being a big factor in the Sid Bau Zid battles were false,  and they didn’t achieve much of note in Sicily and Italy. In or  Normandy they only saw action against the British, and commonwealth forces, where the true value Tiger is clouded by German propaganda and the military’s tendency to overclaim across the board, but especially bad in SS units.

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A  tiger knocked out, it’s sad these Nazi propaganda machines are so popular today, and the prowess is so overblown. 

The Sherman had an fire control advantage allowing it to spot the huge Tiger first in most cases, it could out maneuver the bigger tank, and its guns could take it out from the sides and back, or if it got lucky, even the front. The Sherman did face this tank in British hands, but we will cover that later. It’s safe to say the way the Brits used the Sherman was different, and riskier and resulted in much higher tank loses. They were far less concerned about tank losses, than men in general, and the Sherman was a fairly safe tank.

The tiger ultimately did the Allies a favor by making it into production. It just wasted men and resources that could have been turned into more PIVs and STUGs. It was more of a propaganda tool, used to prop up the home front by lying about the prowess of the tank and their Aryan crews, like Michael Whitman, who was not nearly as good as the Nazi histories would have you believe.  In fact he got himself and his crew killed by trundling off all alone, probably looking for more imaginary Nazi glory.

Living, well, recently living, tank aces like Otto Carius have admitted many of their “kills” were added for pure propaganda reasons. SS unit kill claims were often discounted by half by the regular German Army and even that was probably being generous since there was no effort to confirm the kills. Most authors who write books about German tanks take these kill claims at face value. When someone bothers to compare the kill claims to the units they faced with the Soviet, American or UK records, more often than not, they were not even facing the claimed unit, and often it was not even in the same area. When they did get the unit right, the losses rarely come close to matching up. Even a nation trying to be honest often gets kill claims wrong, but Nazi Germany liked to use inflated numbers to help soothe a restless population that was starting to see the error of supporting Hitler’s foolish war.

If you’re feeling the urge to angrily post a comment about how I’m a Sherman fanboy and unfair to your favorite Nazi box tank, take a breath, and keep reading, cause you’re only going to get angrier. (Boy has this part proven true , and I’ve gotten much flak for my evaluation of the Tiger) As always, the Wehraboo makes  claims, but never backs them up with any sources or actual facts, just check the comments here.

Now let’s cover some of its many flaws. It was really big and heavy, limiting what bridges it could use. This size and weight problem affected a lot of things, automotive reliability, how easy it was to spot, how it was shipped the amount of fuel it needed.  The gun was decent, but for a tank of its size the 88mm seems pretty weak, and it wasn’t even the good one, the 88mm L71.  Can we say ‘bad at designing cooling systems’? Just look at the rear deck and then a cutaway of a tiger and marvel at how much space the radiators and cooling ducts take. Now let’s talk about its suspension. There is nothing wrong with torsion bar suspension; it’s still popular today on tanks and other AFVs, where the Germans went wrong is the road wheels. The interleaved and overlapped road wheels were incredibly stupid, making maintenance or damage repair on the suspension a nightmare. Another huge problem for a vehicle that depended on rail transport, to be transported on German train cars, the normal tracks had to be removed, and a narrower set installed, then the combat tracks put back on at the destination. This was a huge hassle and time waster for the crew at the very least. The turret drive was a laughable contrivance using PTO from the engine and transfer case, meaning the tank had to be running, and at high RPM to rotate the turret at full speed.

Another thing to note is these tanks were essentially hand built.  Some people assume that means painstakingly hand crafted, and it’s sort of true. The Germans wasted a lot of time on finish items to make the tanks look nicer. I’m not sure if this was some need for the Germans to have nearly ‘perfect’ weapons, at least appearance wise, or if it was a way for the German tank industry to charge more for the tanks and make more money off the Nazi regime, but it doesn’t matter, the result was the same, a lot of wasted man hours on stuff that didn’t improve the tanks combat.

On a Sherman tank,  just like your car, when they needed a spare part, they put in an order and quartermaster corps sent one to them through the supply system if one wasn’t in stock at the local spares depot they would order the part from the next level up. When the part came, in most cases it would fit, and only if damaged caused a problem would hand fitting be needed. This was not the case for the Tiger, or any other German tank, for several reasons, the main being the Germans liked to fiddle with the tanks on the line making it rare for any to be truly the same. For the Germans, most parts would need adapting to the individual tank, making field repairs a difficult job, part of this was because they had so many different sub variants between major variants, and parts for early variants may not work on a later one or would need adapting to work. On the Tiger there are so many things they changed, big and small through the short production run that parts for earlier tanks would practically have to be custom fit.  It is clear the testing period was not long enough and as they fixed problems found in the field they incorporated it in the ‘line’ instead of holding off until all the changes could be lumped in at once not slowing production, or improving the parts in a way that didn’t require a line change or were backwards compatible.  On top of that, the Germans just didn’t produce many spare parts. And what they did produce was cut way back later in the war as they ‘optimized’ production by cutting spare parts production.  The lack of spare parts meant many parts came from cannibalization, but even then the parts would have to be adapted since the tanks changed so much.

Only 1347 of these tanks were even built. Numbers were not needed to kill these wasteful and stupid tanks, but they were nice to have anyway, when one did actually make it to a fight.  This tank had zero positive effect on the war for the Germans, they helped win no battles, and it just wasted resources, both material and industrial, and helped the Nazi’s lose the war that much faster. It would be nice if that’s why so many people admired these tanks, for their monumental stupidity and thus indirectly helping the good guys win, but no, it’s because it was “cool looking, or had the best armor ever, or was a technological marvel only defeated by hordes of subhuman scum”, or other completely untrue, Nazi propaganda myths about these terrible tanks.

For another view on the Tiger, check out: Germany’s White Elephant.

Another link here about the Tiger, and another, and another view about how the Sherman compares

German Tank V Panther: Bigger, Less Boxy and Less Reliable, Nazi Germany’s Fail Tank.

 

This was the first version of the Panther, the version so bad it would light on fire if the hull got tilted to much, no joke, because the fuel system leaked into the rubber lined engine compartment and when the hull tilted, fuel would hit the exhaust manifolds. That was just ONE of the problems with this junk heap.

Much has been said about this tank, and most of the positive stuff is just, well, there’s no way to say it other than this, it’s strait up bull shit. The panther was a ‘medium’ tank as big and heavy as any heavy tank of the time. What kept it from being a heavy was its pathetic lack of armor for a tank of its size. The side armor was so weak Russian anti-tank rifles could and did score kills on these tanks through it. This is why later models had side skirts covering the thin side armor above the road wheels, left uncovered it was vulnerable to these AT rifles, and the area wasn’t small either, pretty bad design right there.

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Tank V knocked out, or broken down, hard to tell, also not the poorly secured side skirts to protect against Russian AT rifles. 

Here is a list, off the top of my head, of the Panthers problems: It liked to catch fire due to a fuel system that leaked in more than one way. The hull didn’t let the fuel drain, making the fire problem worse, so it could cross deep rivers. The motor had a tendency to backfire or blow up and cause fires as well. The cooling system was very complicated, a damaged fan or clogged duct could cause a fire. Tilting the hull to much could cause a fire because gas that had leaked out of the leaky fuel system was in pools in the bottom of the sealed hull, and would hit exhaust pipes,  the early tanks had a waterproof liner, to give them a “deep fording” ability. The feature  was a sham, just to line Nazi industrialists pockets, all later removed from production. It was found the radiators were vulnerable to damage, so plates were added above the armored grates on the engine deck. All these add-ons just pile more weight on an already overstressed, and unreliable, automotive system.

A Panther G, the best version of the Panther, that still had 150 kilometer final drives. It also still had a blind gunner. This version suffered from the worst build and armor quality. This version still had a very weak and slow turret drive. This version had a derated engine to keep it from breaking down so fast. I could go on.

Let’s move away from the fire problems and move onto the turret problems. To rotate the turret, you had to rev the engine up. The engines were fragile. You want full traverse speed; you needed to be redlining the engine. This is because they used a Power Take Off system and tied the turret drive to the engine. This was a really bad way to design a turret drive. If you want a good laugh, go find a diagram of the Tiger or Panthers turret drive system and marvel that it worked at all. It didn’t work if the tank was on even a mild slope. The drive was so weak in these cases it couldn’t even hold the gun in place on said slope.  I’m sure if you took a electric driven hydraulic or just strait electric system it would weigh a lot less than all the parts they had to use to make the PTO system work, and not even well. This system only ‘worked’ when the Panther was running. The Sherman had a backup generator that could operate the tanks electrical system, including the turret traverse system. German tankers could only dream of such luxuries, well the ones that didn’t get to crew captured Shermans.

While we’re covering the Panthers turret, let’s talk about the gun, gunner, and commander. One of the commander’s jobs is to find targets for the gunner and get him onto them. The commander has pretty good all-around views from the turret with his nice cupola. The gunner is stuck with just his telescopic sight. He would need up to several minutes in some cases to find the target the commander was trying to get him on due to him not having a wider view scope and the commander having no turret override. The gun was a good AT gun, but not a great HE thrower, since the HE charge was smaller to accommodate thicker shell walls to keep the shell from breaking up at the higher velocities. It’s HE was far from useless though. The turret was very cramped for these men as well. And the turret sides and rear had very thin armor. The Shermans 75 would punch right through it at very long ranges with AP and even HE rounds could knock the panther out by cracking the plates and spalling the crew to death.

Some more tidbits on the Panther, its automotive systems were terrible. They were designed for a 30 ton tank, and even for that, they were not that robust. The motor and tranny would get at best, 1500 kilometers before needing to be replaced. The tracks, 1000, the suspension would start to break down around 800 or less with lots of off road use. The front dual torsion bars breaking first, and then the extra stress from the extra frontal armor kept killing them. The true Achilles heel of the automotive parts was the final drives, and their housings. The housings were weak and flexed under load, allowing the already weak gear train to bind and then destroy itself. The best they ever got these final drives to last, on the G models of the tank, was 150 kilometers on average! Replacing them was a major chore that would keep the tank down at least a day. This was confirmed in a report on post war use by the French, using captured and new production tanks. You can find it here.  Even if you tripled this life, it wouldn’t be very good, the life of these parts on the Sherman are essentially unlimited, if maintained and undamaged.

We haven’t even talked about the ridiculous road wheel system that only insane people would put on a combat vehicle.  A late war British report on a captured early model Panther said at higher speeds the suspension was terrible and essentially became solid, making for a awful off road ride. You can find the report here. The report is very interesting, if not very flattering to the Panther. Another report by the Brits on the Panther can be found here, and this one is equally damning.

It is a total myth that you needed five or more Shermans to take out one Panther or Tiger. If a Panther makes it to the fight, it’s a formidable tank, and in particular when set up as a long range anti-tank pill box they could be deadly, if they had pre ranged the area they expected the attack from even more so. When called upon to be part of a mobile tank force, they failed, and they failed hard. In many cases they would lose three or more Panthers to one Sherman.

By the time the Sherman crews of the US Army started to see Panthers in bigger numbers, they were the elite tankers and the Germans the amateurs, with the vast majority of the German crews only receiving basic training on the Panther. It showed in just about every battle. The Sherman handled these supposedly better tanks just fine. While the poorly trained, green, Nazi crews struggled with their tanks, a bad driver could cause a mechanical failure almost instantly, thanks MAN. It makes you wonder how many Panther crews did just that to avoid fighting.

In all the ways you need a tank to be good, the Sherman tank was better than the Panther.

For another view on why the Panther was just not a good tank for anything other than looking at, this post. Some of this is based on my readings of Germany’s Panther Tank by Jentz. If you get past looking at all the pretty pictures, it has a pretty damning combat recorded in that book as well.

The Germans managed to build around 6000 of these mechanical nightmares. The final production version of this tank, the G version only solved the final drive housing issues, the weak gears were never solved, and this is why the post war French report was so damning. They were not even operating them under combat conditions.  The United States produced more M4A4 tanks at CDA, and that was just the M4A4, that single factory also produced composite hull Shermans, M4 105s,(all of them) M4A3 105(all of them), M4A3 76 tanks and M4A3 76 HVSS tanks in large numbers as well. The Nazis could only dream of having a tank as reliable as the M4A4, or a single factory that could crank out so many great tanks like CDA or FTA

StuG III:  Short, Stubby and Underrated

This armored fighting vehicle more than just about any other was a real threat to the Sherman. The Germans built a lot of these vehicles. Since it was just about the most common AFV, the Sherman ran into it much more often than tanks like the Tiger and Panther.

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The StuG was not as good of a vehicle as the PIV from a combat perspective, since it lacked a turret, but it was very good for what it was used for and a much cheaper vehicle to make. It was very popular, and when it was time to cease production, German generals threw a fit and kept it in production. They didn’t say a word when the Tiger I production was stopped.  Speilberger has a good book on this tank, it covers the PIII tank and its variants including the StuG. The book is titled, Panzer III and its variants.

The StuG, was up gunned with the same gun as the Panzer IV and was good at AT work and infantry support. Its low profile helped it stay hidden and it was mobile enough to be able re-locate and get to trouble spots. It had ok armor and was well-liked by its crews. Cheaper, easier to build, and very effective for the price, it’s no wonder it doesn’t get much attention it deserves, and Germany industry tried to kill it, and when the PIII chassis stopped production, they made a version on the PIV chassis, but it was a little bigger and not as good.

 

Tiger II: Boxy, Fat, Stupid, Unreliable, Overly Complicated and Overrated

The Tiger II, was not a very good tank. Only 492 were built, and its impact on the war was less than marginal. Everything said about the Tiger I applies to this tank, just more so. It weighed more at 68 tons but used the same engine. So it was a huge, under powered, waste of resources. The US Air Force bombing campaign actually had an effect on this tanks production. The factory was heavily damaged and about half the total production was lost  in the bombing raid.

This tank was a non-factor in the war, and the first ones lost on the eastern front were knocked out by a handful of T-34-85s, they never even spotted. The US Army ran into a few as well, and dispatched them without much trouble. They were so slow, ungainly and problem prone, during the battle of the bulge, they were left at the rear of all the column’s, and barely made it into any of the fights.

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Tiger II knocked out.

The early turrets had a big shot trap and were filled with ready racks, easy to ignite. The production turret got rid of the shot trap but did nothing for how cramped it was, but they did forbid the use of the turret ammo racks. The gun was extremely hard to load when not level.   It was an accurate and deadly gun though. The trouble, like with all the cats, was getting it to the fight.

German armor fans like to talk about how influential the Panther and Tiger designs were, but as far as I can tell, they really had zero real impact on future tank design. In fact the Panther and Tiger series were technological dead ends that no one copied and only the French spent any time playing with the engine tech and guns. The thing that stands out for me about German tank design is they never figured, out like all the other tank making countries, that putting the motor and final drives in the back of the tank, was better than putting the tranny and final drives in the front, and having the motor in the back, and a driveshaft running through the fighting compartment was a bad design feature. This was a drawback the Sherman shared, but all future medium tank designs dropped this and went to the whole power pack in the rear setup. From the T20 series on, though the T20 tanks never went into production because they were a small improvement over the Sherman, they all had rear motor/tranny/final drives. This tank layout still dominates current tank design. The Nazi design teams seemed unable to come up with a design using this layout, other than their aborted copy of the T-34, the VK3001/3002DB tanks.

This is the tank they should have built

Let’s Talk About A Few Russian Tanks: The Soviet Union Knew A Thing Or Two About Building Tanks.

The Sherman may have face the T-34 in limited numbers during WWII, since the German captured a lot of them on the eastern front, so it’s possible it faced the T-34, and maybe even the T-34-85. This wouldn’t be the best matchup because the Germans using second hand equipment would be at a disadvantage. A few years later in Korea, the Sherman would face the much improved T-34-85 and it would be a closer match.

T-34: The Soviets Tank Of Choice For the Early to Mid Part Part of WWII

Let’s take a look at the T-34, the early model with a four man crew and 76mm gun. This tank was designed before the M4, and has some advantages and disadvantages over the M4. The T-34 had better soft ground mobility and a better motor once the bugs were worked out. But is lacked a dedicated gunner, and that really increases the work load on the tank. The guns were about equal. Any version of the Sherman would have a reliability edge from the start, but the T-34 would catch up.

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T-34-76 1943

The Soviet Union received a fair number first gen Shermans, all M4A2 models and liked them. They considered it a fine substitute for the T-34, and the crews felt it was more comfortable than their T-34. I would give the M4 the overall edge in tank quality looking at the first gen tanks.

A rather beat up T-34-85
A rather beat up T-34-85
T-34-85: The Improved T-34 That Would See Use For Decades

This later version of the T-34 had an enlarged three man turret with an 85mm gun. This model of the T-34 was a better tank than the 75mm first gen Shermans, but about equal the later models with the 76mm gun. The M4A3 76 HVSS tanks would prove to be more than a match for the T-34-85s they met in Korea, and would really come down to crew quality.

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The T-34 chassis would be used in many varied armored vehicles, a lot like the Sherman, but not as extensively. The Christie suspension would be a limiting factor. The internal springs of the design would take up to much space for the advantages they offered and torsion bar, or bolt on suspension like used on the centurion would out live the Christie suspension.
The T-34 tank and the many vehicles that sprang from its basic chassis is a fascinating subject, far to complicated to cover in a few paragraphs on another tanks web page. It really deserves its own page like this dedicated to its design. I don’t know enough about the T-34 to do it, but I hope someone gives it a try.

Sources: Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga, Yeide’s TD and two separate tank battalion books, Sherman by Hunnicutt, Combat Lessons, The Rank and file, what they do and how they are doing it 1-7, and 9. Archive Awareness, Oscar Gilbert’s, Marine Tank Battles in the Pacific, WWII Armor, Ballistics and Gunnery by Bird and Livingston, Tigers in the Mud, by Carius, D.W. to Tiger I, and Tiger I & II combat tactics by Jentz, Panther Tank by Jentz, Panther and its Variants by Speilberger, Panzer III and its Variants and Panzer IV and its variants by Speilberger, The Sherman Minutia Site, Son of a Sherman by Stansell and Laughlin, M4 Sherman tank at war by Green, Tanks are a Might Fine Thing by Stout, the Lone Sentry, TM9-731B M4A2, TM9-731G M10A1, TM9-745 GMC M36B2, TM9-748 GMC M36B1, TM9-750M3, TM9-752 M4A3, TM9-754 M4A4, TM9-759 M4A3, Land mines, TME9-369A German 88MM AA Gun, TME30-451 Handbook on German Armed Forces 1945, TM9-374 90mm Gun M3, FM5-20 Camouflage, FM5-20B Camouflage of Vehicles, DOA Army Battle Casualties and Non Battle Deaths in WWII, FKSM 17-3-2 Armor in Battle, FM17-12 Tank Gunnery, FM17-15 Combat Practice firing, FM17-30 The Tank Platoon 42, FM17-32 The Tank Company medium and light, FM17-33 The Armored Battalion, FM17-67 Crew Drill and Service of the Piece M4 Series, Another River, another town by Irwin, Tanks on the Beaches by Estes and Neiman, Cutthroats by Dick, The Myth of the Eastern Front by Smelser and Davies, Tank Tactics by Jarymowycz, Panzer Aces by Kurowski, Commanding the Red Army’s Shermans by Loza, The Radionerds website, The French Panther user report, Wargaming’s Operation Think Tank Videos, all the info in the data and links sections.  Historical Study, German Tank Maintenance in WWII