Category Archives: engines

Sherman Tank Site: News Post 12, pictures and cleaning them up, a lot of them.

Sherman Tank Site: News Post 12, things have been changing, its all behind the scenes.

I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of manuals, and they are all great for gathering info on the Sherman, because you can almost always read them. The picture quality varies a huge amount depending on how it was created. There are some very common and easy to find  Sherman manuals with terrible pictures. For example the two I have on the M4A3, and the manual on the Ford GAA, both were probably photocopied multiple times, then scanned on a really early scanner.

This means, the pictures at best, are mostly black blobs, and even the text isn’t great. All isn’t lost with these, as the line drawings usually come through ok.  In some cases the manuals being sold online are these terrible photo copies printed into a cheap book with no improvements to the quality at all.

Some of these manuals have been scanned in by people with decent scanners, and these though much larger, have much nicer photo quality. Even if the scans are good, the original has to be good as well, and in some cases that’s really mixed.  I have several, scanned at very high resolution, making them restorable, to some degree.

I’ve done the most work on the Ford GAA imaged I have, and the tranny. Here is a selection of the ones I’ve done, but not all. Check out the power train and GAA pages for all of them. These are relaxing to do, and I have a ton to work with so keep checking around the site!

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

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

#68 The Chrysler Engine that could have been: The A-65 V12, Chrysler’s home designed tank motor.

The Chrysler Engine that could have been: The A-65 V12, if the war had gone on, there could have been some hotrod Shermans.

Chrysler Corporation had a big impact on the war, and US Tank production. They produced the first, and the model for the others, Tank Arsenal CDA.  They also came up with the A-57 multibank tank motor, that powered a significant number of Sherman tanks. They produced this fantastically complicated, but also reliable motor in a very quickly, and even though the US Army and Marine Corps thumbed their noses at it,  it was well liked by the British.

Chrysler on their own dime came up with a water cooled, V12, tank motor, and offered it to the Army.  It took them about a year to come up with three trial motors.  These 1568 cubic motors started out at 650 horsepower at 2600 RPM and 1485 pounds of torque at 1600 RPM on the test stand.  They came in around 3840 pounds, but there was a proposed all aluminum version that have dropped nearly 1000 pounds.  Designing and producing the prototypes, cost a grand total of 358,000 bucks, that’s over 5 million in today’s dollars. During the dyno testing period, they had a few problems with the fan drives, but these were solved with improved oiling and rolling bearings, and these seemed to have solved the problems.

They used an M4A4 as a test vehicle, and had to stretch it another 9 and 1/2 inches to fit the new motor. Installed and ready to roll the thing came in at 69,170 ponds, and a stock M4A4 came in at 69,640 pounds!  Installed, the early versions had 549 horsepower, but they upped the compression ratio and got it to 580, and it was improved even more with some carburetion changes. They made the compression change by swapping and a cam change during the in vehicle testing phase. Further testing led to the intake and carb changes.  All the while the motor was being swapped in and out, and driving tests done.

The automotive tests were very successful, and that was using the stock powertrain of the Sherman, though with so much power, they decided a gear change would help. By swapping the original 3:53:1 gears for 3:05:1 gears, they A65 was still able to beat an M4A43 in a drag race!  The engine was so promising, it’s an interesting mystery why the Army never developed it further.  Much like the GAA, there was much more performance potential in this motor, and the Army never took it any further.

I suspect what ultimately killed this motor, was the same thing that killed the GAA, the Army was looking at air cooled motors for the future, because you can save a lot of weight, if there is not liquid cooling system needed.

Special thanks goes out to Chris R, one of our readers and a source contributor, sent me a nice little history on the motor.  Thanks again Chris, sorry it took so long!!

Sources:  Sherman, by Hunnicutt, and 1943 A-65 Tank Engine History

#35 Shermans In Motion

Sherman Related Videos 

This is the Post I’m going to put interesting video content I find on the Internet.

The Motors: All The Sherman Production Motors Being Run

Video of all the major tank motors running. I’ll add more videos as I find them.

R975 running.

https://youtu.be/NIJPzCOQZKM

GM 6046 running.

A57 being run.

Ford GAA being run up.

 

Tanks in motion: Sherman Tanks on Film, Either Modern Restorations or Period Videos. 

Here is an older video of an M4A1 that was restored and had new tracks installed.  They really put this tank through the paces and it’s worth it even if the music is a bit dated.

 

Here’s a short video of an M4A4 driving around.

The M4 105 Dozer, a video dedicated to just it! bonus includes Sherman drifting! They look like they are having so much fun in this video! Well until they bust it! This video is a BLAST!!!!

Shermans and a M31 ARV gutted and made to look like a M3 Lee again.

This was a Normandy Memorial day in 2013 I think. In this video, we see an M4A1 75 start up and then drive off, almost stalling.  Then later we get to see an M4A1 76w driving around.  Interesting how close they let people get to moving tanks.  Parked nextr to it is an M10 tank destroyer.

This is another Normandy D-Day Memorial, 2014. The Video starts off with an mid production small hatch M4A1 75, with a later production M10 behind it and then an M18.  After that an small hatch M4a2, and then the Fury M4A2 76 HVSS tank.

Ontario Regiments Museum’s M4A2 76 W HVSS tank driving around!

A video of a restored M4A1 driving in circles firing off its main gun, I’m sure modified to fire on propane as a noise maker.

A very long video, POV from the co drivers spot, on a restored, small hatch M4A1.

Restoration Videos

Here is a video of a restored Firefly Vc, a Sherman M4A4, with the a working A57 multibank motor, getting new tracks.  This may not look tricky, but these men are all risking losing fingers or toes, or worse, if someone messes up.

Video of a Very nice looking M4 105, with dozer blade being used to recover a M4A4 in very bad shape.

A start to finish ‘flower pot’ restoration on an M4A1.

A resto mod on a M4A1, with more footage of that nice M4 105 dozer.

A restoration going on in Texas.

 

#33 The Sherman Of The Future: Advanced Sherman UpGrades That Almost Made It Into Production.

The Sherman Of The Future:  So Many Very Interesting Technological Marvels Almost Made It Into The Sherman

This is a long one guys, but well worth the read if you like geeky old technology stuff

The US Army was always looking for ways to improve the basic Sherman tank. Some of these didn’t pan out because they just were not that much better than the basic M4, or the US Army had no interest, or the war ended production of the Sherman before an improvement could be fully developed, or in some cases, just added to the production lines.  These ranged from whole new tanks based on the M4, like the T14, or in some ways like with the T1/M6, to improved guns, engines/transmissions to aiming devices.

Let’s start with Armor:  Add on kits, they got developed, but were never used.

Wooden mockup CDA
Wooden mockup CDA

 

Bolt on armor kits: CDA was asked to develop a set of bolt on armor for the Sherman, there are pictures of wooden mockups, but this program was canceled before the second gen large hatch hulls started production. At this point the best source for info on this program is R.P. Hunnicutt’s Sherman. He does not note why it was cancelled. It seems like with the success of the M4A3E2 Jumbo, and it’s only marginal effect on the reliability of the automotive components of the Sherman, this would have been a hit with the troops.

Up armored differential covers: There was another program to improve the armor of the early differential covers. Both the early three part bolt together designs, and the early one piece cast designs, were found to have areas more vulnerable to penetration than the rest of the differential cover. They came up with add on armor for each type. After testing these kits were found to be good enough to make the differentials the best protected front area of the tank after installation. The Army approved them, but no evidence of any being used has been found. The final production cast differential cover was improved and would not have needed these kits. That may have been the reason the kits didn’t get used, since they could just use the ultimate production casting when doing rebuilds.

plasticsherman armor shermanspikes

Plastic armor and spikes: When the threat of AT sticks like the panzerfaust become more prominent, an add-on armor kit made from called the HCR2 plastic armor kit was developed. It was made from a mixture of quartz gravel and a mastic compound made from wood flour and asphalt. It was held on by cables, and could be jettisoned with ease. The armor from this kit protected the Shermans turret well, but sponson penetrations could still happen. It also offered a little extra ballistic protection. It also did not cover the front of the hull or turret.

Another attempt to defeat shaped charged weapons involved installing spikes in lengths varying from 7 to 8 inches all over the armor. The idea behind this was to break up a heat warhead before it could detonate properly.  Testing on this continued after the war.

Now let’s talk about improving the tanks less passive defenses:  Improved Machine Guns and Flame Projectors!

The vulnerability of the Sherman, like any other tank, to close infantry assault was a problem the U.S. Army was always looking to solve.  This is why the Sherman prototype retained the .30 caliber mini turret on the commander’s hatch. This was a hard to use and unpopular cupola, that did not make it onto any production Shermans, but that wasn’t for lack of trying on the US Army’s part.

Improved ball mount with sight: The first thing we will cover is the improved ball mount for the co-driver/BOG. What they did was come up with linkage at connected the bow mounted .30 caliber machine gun to the gunners periscope. The co driver’s periscope would have a telescopic sight much like in the gunners periscope. The linkage and sight allowed much more accurate use of the bow mounted machine gun. Only the cessation of production on the Sherman stopped this one. It would have been useful if we had to invade Japan.

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Line drawing of the sight for the bow machine gun. This image came in from our reader Whelm, thanks again Whelm!

M3 grease gun adapter: Another interesting defensive device they came up with was a special adapter for the M3 grease gun that allowed the gun to be hooked up to a curved barrel extension fitted to a standard rotating periscope mount. Then a special periscope with sight could be installed and the M3 fired and aimed from inside the tank. It was found to be accurate enough to engage targets within 33 yards of the tank. I suspect this one didn’t make it into production because it seems like more trouble tank it would be worth, but it is still an interesting idea.

Co-ax M2 and M1919: A more conventional way was the installation of a M2 .50 caliber Machine gun, alongside the .30 caliber M1919 machine gun, mounted coaxially with the main gun. This would have worked out better if one of the advanced guns mounts using a concentric recoil system had made it into production. I’ll cover these mounts later in this post.

The T121 twin machine gun mount: This mount replaced the all-around vision cupola on the commander’s station with this rather large twin machine gun mount. The mount could take the M2 or M1919. This was a remote power turret and could be operated without being exposed. This mount missed the war, and development continued on it post war.  It was very tall, almost as tall as the Sherman turret by itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fragmentation grenade mounts, mines and pipe bombs: The Army decided to try mounting these to tanks and test how they would work to combat close in enemy infantry as a kind of last resort weapon. This did not work very well and only the grenades were found to have an effective fragmentation effect. They all risked damage to the tank so they were dropped. Shielding to protect the tank made them even less effective.  None of these worked as well as having close infantry support, and the idea was dropped.

aaaaav5y6EJ0phosprojectpr phosprojector

The Scorpion/Skink anti-personnel flame projectors: This might have seen use if the war had gone on. This is just the type of thing to use on Japanese suicide troops if they have scared or killed off all your close infantry support. This system had four self-contained, phosphor based, flame projectors mounted at each corner of the tank. Each one could let off 20 to 30 bursts of the flaming phosphorus in a fan from each device, giving great coverage all around the tank. They could be fired off individually or all at once from inside the tank.

Now let’s talk about to vehicles that almost made it to production: The M4 Improved and T14.

M4 Improved M4 Improved2 M1 improved and M7

The M4 Improved or the idea behind an improved M4 started just about as the time the first production Shermans were rolling off the line. The proposed new tank design that came along was very interesting but not deemed enough of an improvement to change up the production lines.

Since the tank didn’t make it into production, you would think it would be hard to have an idea what one would have looked like. Normally that would be the case, but the game World of Tanks has added the M4 Improved as a premium tank, and they did a beautiful HD model for it.

The proposed M4 I would have used the same M3 75mm gun, with a welded turret, and an improved hull with thicker, sloped armor. It also used a modified version of the M6 heavy tanks suspension, a complicated precursor to the HVSS suspension installed on late production Shermans. It would have used the 625 horse power Wright G200 motor. Considering the US Army would have just been getting their hands on their first Soviet T-34, I think you can see the influence the T-34 had on the M4 Improved. The wide tracks and extra slope in the side armor being the most prominent.

Even though the improved Sherman had some big flaws, like putting the gas tanks under the turret floor, many of the improvements would be refined and make their way into the later improved Shermans. The suspension is clearly the father of the HVSS suspension, and the tracks probably showed the advantages of center guided tracks over end guided, at least on suspension that wide.

The T14 Heavy tank: They even made a few of these things.

033-1024x685 14485009400_649955abf0_b

On March 30th 1942 representatives from Chief or Ordnance, Aberdeen Proving Ground and the British Tank mission had a conference to discuss tank stuff.  The need for an assault tank was established at this conference, pushed for by the British. The US Army had no interest in an assault tank at that time. It was decided the US and British would each produce a pair of pilot tanks, and then the better of the two would be put into limited production.  The Brits would go on to produce their assault tank on the Cruiser VIII, and the US would use the M4 as the basis for theirs.

By Juned they had finished the requirements, design, and wooden mock up, and American Locomotive Company was contracted to build two real tanks. Pilot 1 was finished in July of 43, and the second one was done a month later.  The pilot tanks used nearly the same suspension that was proposed for the M4 improved the horizontal volute spring suspension out of the M6, and the same M3 75mm gun the standard M4 carried.  It also carried an M2 .50 caliber machine gun in the bow, and a 1919 coax with 75mm gun. It would have also had either a M1919 or M2 for AA use mounted on the commander’s hatch.

The Tank used a Ford GAZ V8, an slightly uprated GAA. Other than the motor, and a final drive gear ratio change, the automotive components were standard Sherman fare.  The tank came in at 47 tons, and had a pretty good armor. The Armor was much better than the standard Sherman, but not as good as the later Jumbo, and there was really nothing the US Army found interesting about the tank. The design was supposed to have the provision to take bigger guns, and it had the same 69 in turret ring as the Sherman, but it also had problems.

It was a dog, the GAZ had trouble moving the 47 tons around. The track system was not very good at this point. Tracks were easily thrown in testing, the tanks armored skirts made getting the tracks back on a pain. Even with the wide tracks it wasn’t very mobile. It did have a scope for the BOG to aim his gun with, so it had that handy feature going for it.

Pilot one was shipped off to Fort Knox for further testing, and pilot 2 was sent to England. It is still there, and it seems to be in ok condition. It’s at the Royal Armored Corps Tank Museum at Bovington Camp in Dorset. None ever saw any kind of combat, and the program was canceled in 1944 after no one showed any interest in the tank.

Practically space age improvements that almost made it: Sherman advanced gear, multi axis stabilizers, better gun recoil systems, better trannys and motors.

Concentric recoil systems: The Army had seen how good a concentric recoil system was from the one used on the M24 Chaffee.  Late in the war they had Rock Island Arsenal working on a similar mount for the 76mm M1A2 gun. A normal tank gun recoil system has a pair of cylinders on both sides of the gun to absorb the recoil energy of the gun. These systems are pretty bulky.  A concentric system uses one larger hollow cylinder and the gun is mounted inside it, this works better and saves space, it was named the combination mount T103.  There wasn’t much of an advantage in combat, but it would have allowed more room in the turret for other gear and ammo. It also would have left room for the M2. 50 Caliber machine gun being mounted along with the regular co-ax  gun.   This system was being tested and was doing well, when the war ended, ending any chance of seeing the mount on new production Sherman tanks.

The rigid gun mount: Yeah, just what it sounds like, the tank is the recoil system.

The rigid gun mount: A rigid system has a lot of advantages; it takes up way less room in the turret. The gun doesn’t retract into the crew space on firing making it safer, and you don’t need any kind of recoil guard. A rigid system is probably lighter too, but the mount has to be pretty beefy to handle the loads.  They designed the gun mount to take both the M3 75, and M1A2 76 guns, and it was tested with both.

The gun was mounted in a lightweight turret, and then onto an M10 hull. Test firing showed the stabilizer and turret race bearing took no damage, but the turret hold down bolts had stretched, and some threads were stripped.  Larger stronger bolts would solve that problem, and when installed in the heavier Sherman turret, would absorb the recoil better than the light weight turret it was tested on.

Can we all guess what killed this one off? Yep, the end of the war, boy, if the Japanese had held out, they would have been real sorry.

The two axis stabilizer: Two axis stabilizers almost made it in.

The Army had seen through battle experience crews trained in the use of the Shermans stabilizer had a advantage over the ones who didn’t. Unfortunately during WWII it was all to common to find units who were not in the systems use. So a very advanced system, something the Germans could not match during WWII, often went unused because of poor training.

The late production stabilizer in Shermans was simplified and easier to use. Experiments at Fort Knox found there was some backlash in the system, and they solved it at first with weights, and then later with a minor modification on how the stabilizer worked.

Once the elevation stabilizer was improved, the Army started to look into and azimuth stabilizer.  International Business machine had a design and it was tested at Aberdeen in late 43. At first the design did not work well, but after a series of modifications, they got the system working well enough to test. At the same time Ordnance came up with their own design, using off the shelf components, and it was ready for testing around the same time.

During the testing they used M4A3 75 tanks, a standard tank, and then one with each IBM and ordnance systems. The crews would be rotated through all three tanks to eliminate crew experience in one tank changing the results. The IBM system worked better than the ordnance system, but the ordnance system was much easier to adapt to the Sherman already in the field.

If you sensed a theme here, then you know what’s coming, the war ended before any of these two axis systems could see combat use. The Ordnance system was fitted to a 76mm Sherman and testing of the system continued after the war, comparing it to the Vickers system the Brits came up with. The Ordnance system needed to be beefed up and made more resistant to vibration, and what was learned here was probably passed on to later designs like the M26.

Better Motors: Motors that never had a chance or almost made it

V65

Chrysler’s A65:

This was a huge V12 that Chrysler designed on their own dime. It was 1568 cubic inches, was gas powered and made 650 gross horsepower, and 580 net HP, and was water cooled. A test installation was done to an M4A4, and they had to lengthen the hull another 9 an ½ inches to fit the mammoth motor. The tank only weighed around 500 pounds more with the motor in. The tank was a real hot rod, and climbed hills better and out accelerated the standard M4A4. Even after dropping the final drive gear ratio from 3:53:1 to 3:05:1, and it still out climbed and accelerated the standard M4A4 and even the M4A3.

After 400 miles of testing, the engine was pulled and examined and found to be in perfect running order.  The project closed with the Army recommending further study on engines in this power range.

Vb184gmdesiel

General Motors Corporation V8-184 diesel engine:

GM developed this as tank motor, it was based on a large marine diesel cut in half, and was still very large. This V8 diesel motor came in 1470 cubic inches and 3750 pounds. It made 600 gross horsepower at 1800 rpm and 1910 foot pounds of torque at 1000 rpm. The motor ran at a 16.8:1 compression ratio.

One test versions of this motor were installed in M4A3 hull, and tested. It was called the M4Y at first, then when ordnance started testing it, it was re-designated and M4A2E1. The tank had to be stretched 11 inches, and lost a little ground clearance to a bulge in the belly needed to fit the engine. They put 2914 miles on this test vehicle and it was another hot rod. It had much more power than any other Sherman but the A65 powered one. Some minor mechanical failures happened during the test, but nothing major or out of the ordinary that couldn’t be fixed. Nothing needed any kind of major redesign to support the motors power.

Much like with the A65, diesels in this power range were going to be studied due to the success of the M4A2E1.

Caterpillar D200A air Cooled Radial: The motor that made it into 75 Shermans

rd1820rear rd1820front

This motor used a large number of Wright G200 components, and modified it with a bunch of Caterpillar parts. At some point I may go into detail on how they did this, but for the moment, if you really want to know, the section in Hunnicutt’s Sherman book starts on page 167.

This motor made 450 horsepower at 2000 rpm and 1470 foot pounds of torque at 1200 rpm.  Good, but not great.  It did perform well enough to get into production, but after only 75 M4A6 tanks production was cancelled and the tank was regulated to stateside training use.  This motor was no hotrod power plant like the other two, but I had to fit it in somewhere.

. . .

A few other diesel designs were tried, but none worked as well as the V8-184, and they were all dropped early in their design period.  There is also one motor we have not covered, the motor that powered the M4A6, the Caterpillar G200A air cooled radial.

One thing to note about all the high horse power Sherman tanks, none of their other drive train components saw major modification, because they did not fail.  So a transmission and final drive designed for a 400 horsepower 30 ton tank, had no trouble taking 650 horsepower from the monster motors above, or any trouble handling the 42 tons of the M4A3E2 Jumbo.  To me that says, well designed, in that it was very overbuilt, and lasted a very long time. The Transmissions and final drives just kept on working, and all the post war Sherman modifications used the same old tranny and final drive.  That’s the kind of engineering that people should consider to be great. Not some German, garbage tank, named after a cat, which broke down every 150 kilometers.

Now let’s talk about transmissions, final drives and other automotive tidbits: The stuff that makes the tank go.

 

Like with the motors, many different transmissions and final drives were experimented with. Nothing was so ground breaking it made it into production, but much of it helped develop transmissions and final drives in later tanks. There were other automotive odds and ends we’ll cover too.  Starting with …

The high speed revers transmission: This transmission modification came out of the desire to speed up the Shermans reverse speed. The reverse gear ratio was 5.65:1. This was almost as high as the ‘Granny’ gear used in first gear. This meant the Shermans speed in revers was rev limited to a 2 to 3 miles per hour max in reverse. The tank was geared this was so it could climb a hill in reverse if it had to. There are cases on tight roads or trails in forests or cities you can’t get the tank turned around.

The first thing they tried to solve this was raising the gear ratio, and this did speed up reverse, but it made it extremely hard to climb any hill or incline.

The way they solved this problem was by adding a secondary planetary gear box to the back of the transmissions. This allowed the whole transmission to be reversed, allowing all five speeds to be used backing the tank up. This new add on gear box including a new low level oiling system that reduced the oil capacity from 43 to 20 gallons. This modification lowered the operating temp of the tranny and transmitted 25 more horsepower to the sprockets.

The drive shaft mounted generator had to be moved and the drive shaft had to be shortened, but that was the extent of the modifications needed. The shorter drive shaft also worked better, deflecting less, so the universal joints lasted longer. After testing the transmissions for nearly a year they were enthusiastically endorsed as far superior to the stock unit.  Can  you guess why these wonderful transmissions didn’t make it into the Sherman? You guessed it, the war ended and Sherman development and production stopped.

Next up, automatic, or semi-automatic transmissions, because driving a stick is hard:

The Spicer 95, General Motors 3030B Torqumatic, and the Model 900T, were all considered for use in the Sherman. The Spicer unit was in testing as the war ended. The 3030B was discontinued by GM before it could be tested.  This was the transmission used in the T20 and T20E3. The 3030Bs replacement was the 900T, but it was in high demand from the M18 Hellcat program. They went back and used Spicer 95s to test the concept. By mid-1944 GM was able to more than handle demand from the M18 program and was able to furnish test transmissions.  Two M4A3 tanks were modified and re-designated M4A3E3. They were then sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground for testing against the Spicer 95 equipped M4A1E3 and M4A3E1 from the early tests. The tests were promising, but the end of the war, and the cross drive transmission in the works really killed this one off.

The Cross Drive Tranny/Differential: Work on this new type of transmission/final drives started in early 43. What would be developed from it would be the standard transmission for post war US tanks. It was designed for not just use in the Sherman but later model tanks as well.

Shermancrosdrive

Model EX100 Cross Drive Tranny: This was the first cross drive tested the US and it went into a M4A3 Sherman. The installation on the Sherman required a large whole to be cut in the upper part of the Transmission cover, and a large bulged armored cover was placed over it, to fit the new transmission. This cover was called the “manhole cover”, by engineers and the tank maintainers.  The was an automatic transmission using a torque converter, with electric steering and braking, and all in a much more compact unit than the Shermans current transmission/final drive setup. There were of course problems, and since work on this started late, when they solved the problems, it was no longer for use in the Sherman.

Suspensions: The ones that didn’t make it, I might throw a bit in about wider tracks here too.

Seemly like every other part of the tank there were extensive tests of various types of suspension on the Sherman. When we talked about it before we only covered the suspension that made it into production.

Early HVSS: This was an attempt to increase spring life but used the same width track. This was also the suspension used on the T20, T22, and T22E1. These units had shocks in the front and rear bogie units, and they made the ride more smooth and had a favorable effect on gunnery and overall ride. It did not however offer enough improvement for any slowdown in the production lines so it was never mass produced.

Christie Style: A heavily modified version of a Christie type suspension was tried on one tank. The springs were installed on armored boxes under the sponsons but outside the hull. It showed it was feasible, but no one was really interested. Christie suspension may be the most overrated suspension for a tank ever.

M4A2e4
M4A2e4

Torsion Bar: In March of 1943, Ordnance recommended a design and construction of a Sherman tank with wide tracks and torsion bar suspension. This type of suspension had been seen on German tanks like the PIII and Stug, Russian tanks like the KV series. Two M4A2E4 tanks were produced for testing. These tanks borrowed a lot from the T20E3, since it was getting a torsion bar suspension a too and it would use the same 24 inch wide track. The suspension offered few advantages over the HVSS system that reached production and the test vehicles had a lot problems with things breaking. It did provide valuable information about the torsion bar suspension that would go on to be used in later tanks, and it had a very low 10 psi ground pressure.

World of Tanks gave the in game version of this tank away to the North American Beta testers when the game went live,  and it’s always been one of my favorite in game tanks.

Leaf Spring: Yeah, just like what it sounds, paired leaf springs, six per side and it didn’t work well. It didn’t go far either

T16 Halftrack truck “Centipede”: This suspension was overloaded and didn’t work well, and looked really odd.

Heavy Tractor T22:  Looked a little like a combo of the early VVSS suspension and late HVSS, but overloaded and it did not go anywhere.

Odds and ends: Weird stuff I couldn’t fit anywhere else.

This section is going to cover the numerous odds and ends that don’t fit elsewhere, anything from the proposed crew compartment cooling system, to the auto mapping system etc.

Let’s start with…

The Odograph: This was a early auto-mapping/navigation system that used a magnetic compass and data from the speedometer drive to keep track of the vehicles movement on a chart. This worked well enough in a jeep, but all the steel of the tank messed with the magnetic compass. Once we were no longer fighting in the desert where navigation could be troublesome support for this program fell off. They installed this in the M4A1E2 and had it working, showing just what 40s tech could do.  This project led to further development of magnetic compasses for the Sherman and tank use in general, so the program was not a waste of time.

The crew compartment cooling system: There was a project to put a crew compartment cooling system on the Sherman. This was very early in the tanks production, and an M4A1 was selected as the test vehicle and re designated to M4A1E2. The lined the interior with insulation, and put an evaporative cooling system in. The system did not work all that well, and demand for it dropped off when the fighting moved out of the desert. The project languished and was eventually canceled.

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The infrared night driving system: The infrared night driving system was tested in in 1942; the system consisted of a set of infrared head lights, which could not be seen by the naked eye, and an infrared detecting viewing device that replaced his periscope for the driver. The system worked, but not well enough to see any kind of service use. It would be another decade or so before anyone produced a reliable system.  The US and Russians tried them out first and very late in the war, the Germans came up with a system like it, that they quickly dropped after tests.

The US actually had a man portable version of this that could be mounted on a rifle size weapon. Both systems were still considered experimental when the war ended.

 

Sorry this section ended up being so long, and I didn’t include everything, I had to stop somewhere after all. 4757 words.

#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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

WM4

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

2038

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.

#16 The Sherman’s Motors: Four Motors Made It Into Production.

The Sherman Motors: Why So Many, And Why The Weird Ones?

The Sherman had four different motors that made it into production tanks. The R975 radial, The GM 6046 ‘twin’ diesel, the A57 multibank, and the Ford GAA V8.  There was also a Caterpillar motor they were playing I cover in the Shermans of the Future section.

There are several reasons the US went with the radial aircraft engine instead of a dedicated tank power plant, and this was mostly due to lack if money to develop tanks and their drivetrains between wars. When the US got serious about tank motors, there were a limited number of choices and the R975 was the best one. Then they turned to the US auto industry for other motor ideas, but only after war was clearly looming.

GM came up with their twin bus motor, the 6046 and it was well liked right from the beginning. Then Chrysler came out with the nutty but fantastic A57. The US Army didn’t like either, and didn’t want to even use them for training. If the British hadn’t been willing take the A57 versions, the Army would have regulated them to training use only. It wouldn’t be until Ford figured out the bugs in the GAA V8 that the US Army would make the switch from the R975. R975 powered M4s and M4A1s would serve with the US Army until the end of the war in just about every unit that used Shermans though, and they would not be phased out until after the war.

Post war many A4 tanks would have R975s put in them, or in much rarer cases, the 6046.  Parts for the A57 became rare post war, and people who knew how to keep them working were probably rarer. I’m pretty sure almost all A4s used post the 50s were converted to one or the other of these motors. Conversions to the Ford GAA were not done as far as I can tell, I think because the US Army was stingy with this model and spares for it, so they could keep for their own use or close allies.

The Continental R975 C1/C4: The Motor the Sherman was designed around
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R975 without the fan and other accessories. Courtesy of the Sherman Minutia site.

The Continental R975 C1/C4:
Type: 9 cylinder, 4 cycle, radial
Cooling system: Air       Ignition: Magneto
Displacement: 973 ci    Bore and stroke: 5×5.5 inches Compression Ratio: 5.7:1
Net Horsepower:C1/C4 350/400 hp           Gross Horsepower: C1/C4 400/460 hp
Net Torque: C1/C4 800/ft-lb/940/ft-lb       Gross Torque: C1/C4 890ft-lb/1025ft-lb
Weight: 1137 lbs dry    Fuel: 80 Octane gasoline     Engine Oil Capacity: 36 quarts

This motor was a license built version of the Wright R-975 built by Continental for tank use. It had been around nearly ten years and used in civil aviation before the army started putting it in tanks, starting with the M2 medium in 1939 and would go on to produce more R-975s than Wright ever would, 53,000 motors total. The military version put out more horsepower than the civil version as well.  This was a solid and reliable tank motor, but not ideal. It was a little underpowered, and had to be revved up a lot to get the tank moving. The Army considered this a superior choice over the 6046 diesel and A57 motors, probably because it required a lot less maintenance than the other two motor choices.  This motor would be swapped into M4A4 hulls by the French post war, the French would use the A4, and A2 with the original motors during the war.

Another reason the motor was not idea was the shape, the R975 is wide and tall, and this dictated how large the rear hull of the tank had to be.  The only motor larger was the A57, and it was huge. There are still a lot of Shermans still running with this motor, either in civilian collections, or museums that keep running tanks.

The General Motors 6046: The Motor GM Came Up With To Power The Sherman
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GM 6046 diesel, note the 6-71 roots type super charger. Image courtesy of Sherman minutia site.

The General Motors 6046:
Type: 12 cylinder, 2 cycle, twin in-line diesel
Cooling system: Liquid Ignition: compression
Displacement: 850 ci     Bore and stroke: 4.25×5 inches Compression Ratio: 16:1
Net Horsepower: 375    Gross Horsepower: 410
Net Torque: 1000 ft-lbs Gross Torque: 885-lb
Weight: 5110 lbs. dry     Fuel: 40 cetane diesel oil    Engine Oil Capacity: 28 quarts

First used in the M3A3 and M3A5 and then in the M4A2. This motor tied two GM super charged truck diesels together on a common crank case. The motors could be run independently, so if one was damaged the other could be used to get the tank back to a repair depot, or to keep fighting. The engine weighed more than the R975, but had better torque characteristics, and the tanks with this motor handled low speed operation better because of the superior torque.

M4A2 6046 motorKeyfor M4A2 pic

This version was ruled out for use by the Army because they didn’t want to complicate the tank supply chain by adding another fuel to it. This motor was well liked by its users, and the only version of the Sherman the Soviet Union would take via lend lease were the ones powered by this motor.  The Army testing of this motor found it was as reliable as or more so than the R975.

M4A2 6046 underside

This motor would run and drive the tank if one of the diesels failed. It has also been reported the Russians would use the ability to only run half the motor to sneak the tanks closer to German lines without being heard. They were impressed with how quiet the Shermans tracks were.

The early draw backs to this motor were tied to its air cleaner system for the motors; they would clog quickly and required a lot of maintenance. Getting the two clutches for the motors synchronized was difficult on early tanks with these motors as well and this made for short clutch life.  There were some other teething troubles with the fuel injectors and other problems, but these would all be solved early in the M4A2 productions, including improved injectors, air cleaners, and clutch system.

The US Army hadn’t wanted to use tanks with this motor in combat, but they ended up doing so, since this motor also powered the M10.

 The Chrysler A57 Multibank: The Motor Chrysler Came Up With To Power Tanks, It Was Crazy, And It Worked!

Multibank_5

The Chrysler A57 multibank:
Type: 30 cylinder, 4 cycle, multibank
Cooling system: Liquid Ignition: Battery
Displacement: 1253 ci   Bore and stroke: 4.37×4.5 inches Compression Ratio: 6.2:1
Net Horsepower: 370    Gross Horsepower: 425
Net Torque: 1020 ft-lbs   Gross Torque: 1060 ft-lbs
Weight: 5400 lbs. dry      Fuel: 80 octane gasoline     Engine Oil Capacity: 32 quarts

This motor was a bit of an orphan in US Service. It powered the M3A4 and M4A4. The Army used the motor for training, and tried to pawn a few off on the Marines. That lasted about two months at the Marine Tank School. The ever growing need for tanks by the British ultimately solved what to do with the tanks that ended up with this motor. They would end up taking nearly 8000 of them. Chrysler sent tech reps to England with these tanks and showed the maintenance crews how to keep them running.  This worked well and the engines served their purpose with little trouble. Often powering the best pure AT version of the Sherman, the Sherman VC firefly.  This motor saw a lot of use, during the war, and after with many countries being given Firefly Shermans to help out their recovering militaries. Some even ended up in South America, but I’m not sure what versions. This is my favorite Sherman motor because it’s so absurdly complicated, it’s almost German, but it actually worked, so not German at all.

M4A4 labeled image front A57one water pump

This motor was fairly robust, and would continue to run and allow the tank to move with three of the five cylinder banks not working. This would make the tank severely underpowered, but would be useful to get it back to the repair yard or onto a dragon wagon. I’m sure it was much more common to have one of the five not operating right, and that level of power loss would be an annoyance, but wouldn’t keep the tank from fighting if it was really needed.

a57 top multipump

m4a4 a57 throttle linkage
The A57 Carb Linkage

During the war Chrysler really went to bat to keep these motors working well. Since it was based off a motor already long in production, spare parts were readily available. I’m not sure how long support for the motor lasted after the war. I doubt it was very long, and American car parts were probably not easy to acquire to keep these motors running. Because of this, the M4A4, more than any other model seems to have its engine replaced in post war service.  I’ve read about the twin diesel and the R975 being swapped in.  There are a few M4A4s around in Europe with running A57 motors, both fireflies if I recall right.  You have to love anyone willing to keep one of these motors running.

a57 single pump right side a57 right side multiopump

Daily maintenance could be done with the motor in the tank, carburetor and timing adjustments, fluids and filters and things like that. If anything major needed to be fixed, one of the motors had a bad piston or valve, or even something minor like a big vacuum leak on the intake of one of the motors, or even a leak in the cooling system, the whole motor would have to be pulled. Chrysler knew this, and made getting the motor in and out as easy as possible, including huge lifting eyes built on the common block to help lift the motor out.  The British probably had several depots setup to rebuild A57 power packs that were in need of major work, and Chrysler made a lot of spare motors and parts to support the motor.

a57side single waterpump A57 side view multipump

To be fair, many serious problems with the other tank motors would require pulling the motor to fix them as well.

The Ford Motor Company GAA V8: The Best Sherman Motor

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The Ford GAA:
Type: 8 cylinders, 4 cycle, 60 degree V8
Cooling system: Liquid           Ignition: Magneto
Displacement: 1100 ci              Bore and stroke: 5.4 x 6 inches Compression Ratio: 7.5:1
Net Horsepower: 450 Gross Horsepower: 500
Net Torque: 950 ft-lbs               Gross Torque: 1040 ft-lbs
Weight: 1560 lbs. dry                Fuel: 80 octane gasoline Engine Oil Capacity: 32 quarts

The Ford GAA only made it into one Lee as a test bed. But it powered a lot of Shermans, both large and small hatch. It would go on to be the motor of choice for the US Army for the rest of the war, and in the next tank, the M26. Just look at the numbers above and compare them to the rest of the motors. The GAA is really a much better motor for a tank in the Shermans weight range. This tank was not lend leased to the other allies in large numbers if at all. The USSR may have gotten one to evaluate, the UK too, but the Army wanted to switch over to this and stop using R975 powered tanks. After the war, the only Shermans they kept were M4A3 76 w tanks, and over time they converted as many of these to HVSS suspension as possible. They went as far as swapping T23 turrets from M4A1 76 W tanks onto M4A3 75 hulls. The army would produce several other gas powered tank engines, but none would really shine like this one did in the Sherman.

The motor started life as a V12 Ford had designed to compete with the Rolls Royce Merlin, after a deal to produce the RR engine fell through. Ford was incensed that a deal could not be worked out and decided build his own V12 aircraft motor. When he tried to sell it to the Army he was turned down, but later when the army needed tank motors he used the V12 as a basis for the V8, by removing 4 cylinders. As a tank motor, it was under very low stress putting out only 500 horsepower, and could have been really upped in horsepower with a few tweaks.

This motor does not get much credit for how advanced it was. The much talked about, and unreliable as hell,  German Maybach HL 230 P30, the motor used to power the Tigers, and Panther tanks, was not nearly as advanced, or as reliable as this amazing V8. This V8 is apparently the largest gas powered all aluminum V8 ever produced. It has some very advance features, even for a modern V8, like a one piece cast aluminum block with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder a true, dual, overhead, cam, motor or DOHC. It had a very innovative 8 way power drive system for its accessories, like the generators, fuel and water pumps, and two magnetos. The motor used no belts or chains, everything was gear and shaft driven.

M4A3 firewall diagram engine in place m4a3 engine compartment rear

This motor saw post war use in civilian hands, from powering logging equipment, to use a stationary pump motors. The most interesting post war use is in pro tractor pulling and hotrod use. These installations in most cases just update the intake and exhaust using modern carbs, but in one crazy case down in Brazil they have updated a GAA with coil and spark plug and crank sensor` computerized ignition, fuel injection and twin turbos, and just 8 pounds of boost it makes 1500 hp, with a higher boost number the engine is capable of 3000 HP. For more info on these modifications and some pics, check out this link.   

GAA Data Sheet

Ford GAA V8 Data Sheet

gaa ignition wiring diagram GAA throttle linkage

Sources:  Sherman by Hunnicutt,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, , 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, TM9-1725 R975 C4, TM9-1731B Ford motors(GAA, GAF, GAN), TM9-1750F A57 Multibank

 

#2 Basic Sherman History: The Previous Tanks That Led To the Best Tank Of The War

Basic Sherman History: The combat RV, AKA the M3 Lee 

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Brit Crew of an M3 Grant, camping out in the Combat RV in Egypt. No, I don’t know why several are naked.

To really know why the Sherman was designed the way it was, you have to know about the M3 Lee. The M3 was the predecessor of the M4. It was based on M2 medium, the US Army’s only foray into modern medium tank design at the time, and modifying it was the fastest way a tank could be designed with a 75 mm M3 canon fitted. The US lacked the jigs to make a turret ring big enough for a turret to house a gun that large; the Lee went into production while the turret ring problem was being solved, by mounting the gun in a sponson mount, and beefing up the rest of the tank a bit, and removing a machine gun or two. It had become clear to the US Army that the 75mm canon would be needed based on feedback from the British, and observations of how the war was developing in Europe.

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M3 Lee airborne on the test course at Aberdeen

One of the reasons for the reliability of the M4 design was the use of parts that started their design evolution in the M2 medium and were improved through the M3 production run. Over the life of M3 Lee and M4 Sherman the designs were continually improved as well, so a final production, M3, or M4A1, bared little resemblance to an initial production M3 or M4A1, yet many parts would still interchange. This is one of the reasons the Israelis had so much success updating the Sherman to the M50 and M51, these tanks used early small hatch hulls, that never had HVSS suspension installed, but the hulls took the updated suspension with few problems.

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A rare surviving, if rusting away outside, is surviving, M2 Medium tank, I think this tank is now being restored by the Army!
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M3 Lee prototype being tested at Aberdeen Proving ground

When the Lee went into production, though it was far from an ideal design, it still outclassed the German and Italian armor it would face, and its dual purpose 75mm gun would allow it to engage AT guns with much more success than most of the British tanks it replaced. It was reliable, and well-liked by its users, and produced in pretty large numbers. When the British got enough Shermans, the Lees and Grants were sent to the Far East and saw use until the end of the war fighting the Japanese. The Lee excelled at infantry support, since it had a 37mm canon that could fire canister rounds, along with the 75mm gun and a lot of machine guns. Many of these Lee tanks ended up in Australia after the war.

Another universal complaint about the Lee was once all the guns were firing, there was not enough ventilation, and the crew if forced to stay inside for long periods operating the weapons had even been reported to pass out on occasion. The Sherman would all more armored ventilators, but still not enough, until the later versions for the best in crew comfort.

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Lee in the desert, maybe California, maybe North Africa

Lee variants:  The Combat RV

M3 Lee being used in training pre WWII.

M3 Lee: The First Combat Ready American Medium

This was the first version of the tank and used a riveted hull with the R975 radial engine powering it, the suspension and tracks were very similar to the M2 medium.  Early production tanks had an M2 75mm instead of the improved M3 gun. These tanks had a counter weight mounted on the shorter barrel. All Lees had a turret with 37mm M5 gun. The early production version had two hull mounted, fixed .30 caliber machine guns, another mounted coaxially with the 37mm gun, and another in a small turret, mounted on top of the 37mm turret for the commander.

Lee double hull MGs
Lee bow machine guns

They built nearly 5000 of these tanks. The M3 was improved on the production line with things like removal off hull machine guns, and hull side doors. The mini turret mounted M1919A4 was not a popular feature, and was hard to use, but it remained on all Lees, and were only deleted from the Grant version produced exclusively for the British.

M3 Lee ammo chart
Lee ammo chart

If this version had a major flaw, it would be the riveted armor plates could shed rivets on the inside of the tank and these rivets bounced around like a bullet. This was bad for the crew, but, rarely resulted in a knocked out tank. A field fix for this was welding the rivets in place on the interior of the tank.  Most of the M3 Lees produced went to the British. 4924 produced.

I’ve read other sources that said the Lee and Grant tanks did not shed rivets and this was a myth.

 

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Cast M3A1 Lee, note the curved cast upper hull

M3A1 Lee: A Lee, But with a Cast Hull

This version of the Lee had a cast hull, and R975 radial power. It was really the same as the base Lee in most respects including improvements. 300 built. These cast hull tanks have a very odd and distinctive look. They look almost like a M3 Lee was melted. This hull casting was huge and more complicated than the M4A1 casting. Most of these tanks were used in the United States for training. 300 produced.

 

M3A2 Lee with a welded hull.

M3A2 Lee:  A Lee, Only Welded

This Lee had a welded hull and the R975 powering it. 12 built. This version was more of a ‘proof of concept’ on welding a hull than anything.

 

M3A3 Lee: A Lee With The 6046

Another welded hull but this one powered by the GM 6046 Twin Diesel. 322 built, like the base Lee, with the same improvements. This is the first vehicle the 6046 was used in, and most of the bugs were worked out on this model. 322 built. Some of the problems with the motor were air cleaners that needed cleaning to often, and a complicated oiling system.  Crews preferred it, when running right, to the R975.

 

M3A4 Lee: A Lee With The Fantastic A-57 Motor

This version had a riveted hull and was powered by the A-57 multibank motor. This motor was so large the hull had to be stretched for it to fit; it also required a bulge in the top and bottom of the hull to fit the cooling fan. They also had to beef up the suspension, and the suspension units designed for this would become standard units on the Sherman. This would be the only version of the Lee with the improved bolt on offset return roller VVSS, otherwise this tank was very much like the base M3. 109 built. This motor’s bugs were worked out on this tank and would go on to power a large chunk of Sherman production.

 

 

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Monty’s M3A5

M3A5 Grant: A Diesel Lee, Made For the Brits, with a New Name and Turret

Another welded hull, powered by the GM 6046 Twin diesel with a new bigger turret to house British radios. 591 built. This new turret deleted the small machine gun turret on the roof of the 37mm turret. This version was used only by the British. The famous General Montgomery’s personal M3A5 is on display in England, at the Imperial War Museum in London. 591 produced.

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M3 Grant moving past a burning Nazi tank

. . .

 

The majority of Lee and all Grants saw service with the British, and many Lees went to the Soviet Union. They were generally well liked by both nations and more reliable than most of its British and German contemporaries.  These tanks were better than the enemy tanks they faced until the Germans up gunned the Panzer IV series. When they were replaced with M4s of various types the M3 were shipped to the Far East for use in Burma and New Guinea, where they would be used until the end of the war. The Japanese had no tank that could take on a Lee, let alone a Sherman. Using soldiers as suicide bombers, and mines still worked though, there was also a pesky 47mm AT gun, but it was rare. The 37mm gun firing canister rounds was a nice to have in thick vegetation.

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They saw limited use in the US Army’s hands some seeing combat in North Africa, because US combat units lost their Shermans to replace British losses, and a few were used in the PTO. The Sherman owes it success to the lessons learned producing the Lee and from its use in combat.  The 75mm gun and automotive systems, even the more complicated ones, would be perfected in the Lee and re-used in M4, and the Sherman only had one motor not tested in the Lee first.  Many of the Lee variants were produced at the same time and the numbering system was more to distinguish between hull and engine types, not to model progression like in aircraft, and other tanks.  This practice was carried over to the M4 series as were all the engines used in the Lee.

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Many people familiar with the way the United States designated aircraft during the war figure it was carried over to tanks and think an M3A1 was an improved M3, and an M3A2 was an improved A1. This is not the case, as many of these versions were produced at the same time, and they all received the same sets of improvements, though some factories took longer to implement things than others though.

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This M3 Lee is on maneuvers in the States, is probably with the 741st Tank battalion. The Photo is a staged publicity shot.

The M4A1 went into production as soon as the jigs for the turret ring were produced and ready to be used. Production actually started on the cast hull M4A1 first, with the welded M4A2 following right behind it. Like the Lee, there were many version of the Sherman in production at the same time. There are many photos of Lee’s coming off the production line, with Shermans in the line right behind the last Lee, so there was no real gap in production between the two tanks at most of the factories.

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The crew of an M3 Lee looks over their new 75mm ammo, the projectiles were German, put onto American or French cases, since there was a shortage of AP in North Africa
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Soviet Lees, note the track grousers

Sources: Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga, Sherman by Hunnicutt,  TM9-750