Category Archives: M4A1

#69 Shermans you can see running: The Planes of Fame of fame Air Museum

Shermans Tanks In real Life: The Planes of Fame of fame Air Museum

Owning and flying WWII airplanes has been a thing much longer than restoring running tanks, and to this day, WWII aircraft tend to get more attention from Americans than armor or ships. That’s changed a lot over the years, and armor is more popular than ever with collectors, museums and the general public.  There are several Tank museums or businesses around the country with running Shermans. The one we are going to talk about today is the Planes of Fame Air Museum, it is legendary in the Warbird world, because it has so many interesting and rare aircraft. It also has a long, history, and saved some amazing planes along the way, and one tank.

The Planes of Fame air museum has been around so long, it surely had a hand it kicking off the interest in Warbirds that has been popular in the United States since WWII. My Dad, a Baby Boomer, loved warbirds, and his love transferred right over to me, and I ran with it buying more books on airplanes, and tanks than he ever did, and I still have them al.  When I was a kid, we went to the Reno Air Races, and I probably saw Steve Hinton, the President of Planes of Fame flying a racer.  There is something about the roar of a warbird flying by that really gives you a sense of what seeing planes like that filling the sky in the mid-40s must have been like. They have a special sound, and hopefully this is a sound we will hear for decades to come.

Planes of fame got started in the 50s when Ed Maloney started collecting airplanes on a minuscule budget, his museums moved around, but really took root at Chino Airport, where Planes of Fame is to this day. Mr. Maloney had fallen in love with airplanes in high school, and just missed WWII. Shortly after the war he began collecting anything with wings on a shoestring budget for his future airplane museum. He was saddened and disgusted to see the warbirds that helped win WWII unceremoniously melted down for Scrap or for a lucky few to rot away on a remote part of an airport. I know the feeling, it makes me deeply sad to see the piles of P-38s bulldozed off a cliff in the Philippines, because flying them home was a waste of time and money…

By the 60s Ed Maloney had achieved his goal of building a museum and around the same time found a Sherman tank on range on Edwards Air Force base while he was scrounging for B-17 parts. He managed to buy the tank for $1!  That’s not even the best part of the story! The Sherman, a very early production M4A1 75 tank, still ran! It had been sitting on Edwards for at least a decade untouched, and they got it running. The tanks interior was not gutted, though some things like the hull ammo boxes had been removed a lot of the important parts were still there. They collected more parts over the years, and serious restoration started in the 80s and continues even now.

Image from Air & Space magazine, of Ed Moloney at Planes of Fame.

Ed died in 2016, and it was a huge loss for the aviation community. Sometimes, when a man with a love for, and a collection of things like airplanes or tanks, when the man passes on, his labor of love dies with him, I know of a least two cases.  The Littlefield collection only lasted a few years before his widow grew tired of it and donated it to a great museum on the east coast, but to build a place to keep it they sold most of it off, and now can’t build the new facility because of zoning problems.  That wasn’t a worry of Ed Maloney, because PoF is a family affair. Steve Hinton, who took thinks over when Ed passed, has been around the place since he was a kid, and his best friend was Ed’s son. I’m also pretty sure Steve married Ed’s daughter! Planes of Fame lives on, stronger than ever, and with another generation working and flying the planes, I think they have a bright future.

This image is from Warbird Depot, a great site for the airplane lover! This is the Planes of fame F4U-1 Corsair, one of the earliest flying Corsairs!

Now you might be wondering how a bunch  of airplane people can keep a tank working, but trust me, they have guys there who can keep an F4U-1 Corsair, with a magnificent Pratt and Whitney R-2800 running, they can figure out a simple Sherman. The nice thing about a Tank is it handles the weather a lot better than an Airplane, though being stored outside unprotected still isn’t good for them. The Sherman in particular has some very sturdy components, and more often than not, if the powertrain remained sealed up, even after decades on the firing range, if it didn’t get penetrated, they rarely needed much work to be operational again. The engines are a bit less robust, but in a nice warm dry environment, they could last a surprising amount of time as well.

Currently the Planes of Fame M4A1 is about 50% complete, and they restore a little more every year, as money and parts allow. I’m sure in some cases things have to be fabricated. It has a little Joe back auxiliary generator inside, has a working stock electric traverse system, but the stabilizer needs a little more work. The electric firing system works, and though the main gun is de-milled, it can still fire 75mm blanks. A blank firing co-ax M1919 machine gun can be fired with the foot switch, just like the main gun. The intercom is complete and works at all stations, as does all the interior lighting. A place like PoF probably has little trouble keeping the R-975 radial running either.

This summer the turret comes off, new ammo boxes go in and they will complete the interiors restoration. The M4A1 is already a part of their shows, but it is also available to rent, TV, Movies, Weddings, you name it, I could see an M4A1 being a cool addition!  I hope to get down there sometimes in the next year or two and check the place out.

The real Zero planes of fame has, with the real motor that belongs in it, and it was used in the movie Pearl Harbor, making a not so great movie a must see. Image from the wonderful www.Warbirddepot.com

If you are in the area and have even the smallest interest in aviation, you owe yourself a trip to Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California. The Sherman tank is of course going to see all on its own, but they also have a real Japanese Zero, with its correct engine and it flies! Even crazier? It was used in the Ben Aflack movie Pearl Harbor! Steve did all the flying, but they wouldn’t let him shoot Ben down for real!

Steve Hinton in front of an F-86 Sabre. Image from Warbird News.

Post # 68 The Chieftain’s Hatch does the M4A1, we review it.

Post # 68 The Chieftain’s Hatch does the M4A1, we review it: A great Hatch!

The video comes in two parts.

The subject of the video is  Black Magic, a small hatch, late production M4A1 if the turret came on it, though the turret or gun mount could be from other tanks. When it comes to restored Sherman tanks, I think being concerned about matching numbers is not a thing that seems to be worried about, and since it was so well designed and built, parts readily interchange. This sherman started life as a canadian Grizzly, basically totally the same as an M4A1 with an extra small hatch in the hull floor.

This tank has almost all the quick fix upgrades, the extra armor over the hull ammo boxes but lacks the cheek armor on the turret, and the turret may, I can’t tell for sure, have the cast in cheek armor, meaning it almost for sure didn’t come on the hull.  It also lacks the armor plates added in front of the driver and co drivers positions, that the Chieftain calls “sheet metal”.  It also has some late Sherman stuff, either added by the restorers, or by a depot rebuild later in the tanks life. The spot light, and ‘gun crutch’, or travel lock as normal people use were not on most small hatch shermans. Also the all around vision cupola would not be found on these tanks during WWII.

The Tom Jentz tangent. 

The Idea that the Sherman was no more reliable than any other tank, well, I don’t buy it. I like Mr Jentz’s work, and to some degree, his books helped inspire this site, since there was so little info on the web with really detailed info on the Sherman other than the Sherman Minutia site. I don’t think he really knows much about the Sherman if he thinks tanks like Panther and Tiger just needed more spare parts to be as reliable as the Sherman, it is a ridiculous idea. I do not think there was a single part on the Sherman that had a 500 kilometer life span, and that’s double the Panthers final drives.

First: The Chieftain himself has done Hatch posts on reports from the British, about how much more reliable, the M4A4 Sherman was than the Cromwell, even when both had full crews working to keep them running. both tanks were run thousands of miles, something late war German tanks could not do.

Second: In one of his own Hatches talks about the French experience with the mighty panther showed they averaged 150 kilometers per final drive set! Much less if the crew was hard on them.  There was no major automotive component including the oil, that had to be changed every 150 kilometers on any model of Sherman.

Third: This will focus on the Panther, since it was a major part of Germany’s late war armored force, and how terrible it was. This tank didn’t have just one flaw that should have disqualified it for production it had at least five. It was generally poorly reliable across all its automotive components, along with the final drive, 2500 kilometers for the motor and 1500 for the tranny were hugely optimistic and most of these tanks broke down and or were destroyed before they had to refuel. You had to take the whole drivers and co drivers compartment apart and the top of the hull off to change a transmission! Don’t get me started on the weak turret drive system that Rube Goldberg would have loved.  The  ‘wonderful’ dual torsion bar suspension and interleaved road wheels would cause any maintenance nazi to find the nearest US Line and surrender instead of working on it!

. . .

Another thing to note, you can see the holes drilled vertically in the suspension bogies, these are the tops of the holes the bolts that hold the suspension caps on go into. They were covered up with body filler by the factory, but on most restored and old Shermans the filler is gone, and they don’t fill the holes.

Note: the odd groove in the center of the rear Hull casting, this wasn’t done on all M4A1 tanks, and may have been unique to General Steel castings.

On the problems with the R975, I have not heard of complaints about the engine being easy to blow, and would be very surprised if the throttle wasn’t governed to prevent it.  On having to crank the engine before starting, I have it on good authority, that the crew could just start the tank and run it for a few minutes every 45 minutes to an hour to avoid having to hand crank the motor.

Many of units removed the sand shields in ETO to prevent problems with mud.

The Commanders vane site is an early version bolted to a late war vane site pad. The tank has the early style gunner’s periscope.  The gunners periscope is missing the linkage going down to the gun.  The radio looks like a 528.  Note the Armored doors on all the ammo boxes and ready rack. The tank is missing a lot of interior storage, it may have been removed in preparation on shipping the tank out to it’s new owners.

I‘m no expert, but I think the Chieftain confused a .30 cal ammo bin for the 75mm ammo bin right next to his shoulder for the location of an SCR-506, I just can’t see a WWII radio fitting in the tiny box! You can see how sparsely filled the interior is, as issued the tank would be stuffed full of items to help fight it, live with it, or keep it running.  The Chieftain shows just how easy even a small hatch Sherman was to get out of,  the the Loader was still going to have some issues though.  I wish he would have tried the belly hatch out, but maybe it’s welded shut or something.

He covers the small floor hatch on the Grizzly tanks, and you get a nice shot of the early escape hatch.  They also show the generator mounted on the rear of the transmission in one of the shots, briefly.  You can also see the full turret basket’s mesh screening that separated the turret crew from the hull crew. Part of the quick fix was to cut this all out.  I suspect most of the inconsistencies in the tanks details are due to the restoration crew using the Sherman parts they could get their hands on.  Very few people would  even notice or know it had the wrong commanders hatch, or even whole turret.

A note on the tank, it belonged to a the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, a fancy name for the collection of a man named Jacques Littlefield. He had a passion for armored vehicles of all types but really liked tanks. He restored many to full functionality, including working main guns and machine guns on some tanks.  Owning a working tank cannon is easier than you would think, and far easier than getting the paperwork approved to own machine guns in California, and Jacques Littlefield did both.  He employed a restoration crew with world class skills and did some amazing restorations, including a Panther A that was impossibly damaged, but still brought back to life.  That Panther was his crowning achievement, and he was a real mover and shaker in the international military vehicle restoration scene, seeing that tank run was one of the last things he achieved, because cancer claimed him shortly after.

The MVTF was supposed to make sure the collection of vehicles, that were a labor of love his whole life, lived on when he passed. Unfortunately the location of the MVTF, Portola California, on a large chunk of very private property, with very limited parking really presented some problem.  The collection was used often while it was there, by TV productions like Myth Busters, and was a staple for the Wargaming Staff for their productions, and occasionally opened up to groups of vets, or other interested people.  There were other difficulties with the location, and ultimately the collection was donated to the Collings Foundation.  They reportedly decided to keep 40 of the most significant vehicles and auction the rest off.  The money from the auction was going to be used to build a facility in Stowe Massachusetts, but due to zoning issues, the permits were not provided, leaving the vehicles they did keep in limbo.

I‘m sure the Collings Foundation, a really amazing Charity, they keep many rare WWII aircraft, and cars, including race cars running, has a plan for the rest of the tanks. Their website only lists the Panther in their collection, I hope that doesn’t mean they sold the rest when the museum fell through.  That’s not a criticism of the CF, they I’m sure know their business far better than I do, and they really are a top notch group of people. Just browse that site to see the airplanes they’ve gotten flying.  The only real B-24 liberator and a working F-4 Phantom are just two of the notable planes!!  If you know anything about aviation, you know just how complicated and expensive keeping an aircraft like a Phantom flying is, especially if you don’t have the resources of the U.S. Navy or Air Force backing you.

I have to say, this is one of the best Chieftain’s hatches they have done. Granted, I’m a tad biased, since it was on the Sherman, well a Grizzly made into a later model small hatch Sherman anyway, and the Chieftain really has gotten pretty good with the Sherman and its sub variants, and even has a book on US WWII TDs on the way.

 

 

 

#46 Gallery V, More Sherman Photos, Some Maybe Not As High Res

Gallery V, More Sherman Photos, more Comments, Maybe Fewer Resolutions.

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US Army M4 crew, probably somewhere in the ETO or MTO. The crew are wearing a  HBT coverall that was not all that popular. Later they would would wear the same things the infantry did.  Being color you can see the black on OD green camo used, and a red air ID panel on the back of the tank. The top hat was not standard issue. 
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M4 Crab, with the 739th TB.
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British Sherman V based Crab, 1944.
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M4 Crab Breinig 1944. 
IC Firefly Normandy
A Sherman IC Firefly probably with the British 11th Armored Division, in the town of Putanges, 20 August 1944.
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A captured M4A1 75 tank, an early DV model, being tested by the Nazis. This tank was probably captured in North Africa.
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An M4A4 based Crab up survives to this day  in Canada.
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An M4A2 75 large hatch tank, this is one of the rare dry ammo rack large hatch tanks. It must have been going pretty fast when it hit that mud, note the tanker bar on the left about to fall off.
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An M4A3 76w HVSS tank is climbing up a muddy road in this HUGE image. Note the commander has a 1919 mounted in front of him. The caption says 11th US Armored Division Einheiten Der Germany 1945. You can see a Jumbo and another A3 76 tank , this one VVSS in the background.
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M4 Sherman with a M1 Dozer blade drivers through a whole in the Siegfried lines Tank Trap belt. The tank is a M4 75. 
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Close up of the T34 Calliope, being loaded by the crew, it shows lots of detail of the T34 installation. 
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This is an M4 Sherman in Italy that hit a large Anti tank mine, or maybe a pair of them in the same hole.  The tank is a DV tank, with an M34 gun mount. 
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This picture was taken during the staging in the UK just before 6 June 1944. Note the left-hand tank has the characteristic arm for mounting a dozer blade (barely visible running along the suspension); the hydraulic jack and blade are missing. 741st Tank Battalion after action reports indicate that among the eight dozer tanks they had scheduled to land in Wave 2, one of them, commanded by LT Kotz, did not have a blade attached. The 741st’s tanks on Omaha Beach came in three flavors. B and C companies had DD tanks. Co. A had M4A1 tanks and the tank dozers (six of their own and two from the 610 Engineer Company) were M4A3s, if I am not mistaken. If these are 741st tanks, then the photo was taken at the Portland ‘hards’ in the UK, where they out-loaded. Also note the M8 armored ammunition trailer. Each of the eight LCTs carrying Co. A embarked two standard tanks and a dozer tank. They also carried an engineer gap assault team and towed an LCM behind. Off the Normandy coast, the engineers boarded their LCM and followed the LCT ashore, where the dozer tank was supposed to support and work under the direction of the gap assault team leader. Also, on the way in, the two standard tanks were to fire over the LCT’s bow ramp, providing suppressive fire as they neared the beach. The ammo trailers were there to ensure they had plenty to shoot. One pair of Co. A’s tanks reported firing 450 rounds of 75mm on D-Day. Love your site. Caption Info, thanks to Chuck Herrick.
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M4A3 or A2 76w Sherman somewhere in Europe 1945, that almost looks like Soviet numbering on the side of the turret. 
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A pair of M4 small hatch 75mm tanks coming off an LST-77 at Anzio, Italy, May 1944; note the small barge capsized in the background.
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A line of French Sherman tanks in Paris after the city was liberated by French forces. The tanks are a mix of small and large hatch Shermans, one is a M4 or M4A3 105 and there is a 76 gun sticking out down the row. Vive La France!
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An UK M4 and an M4A1 pass through a fence in an urban area. It could be an M4A4 in front I suppose. 
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M4A4 Crab. 
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Another Sherman Crab. 
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M4A3 based flamethrower tank, probably with the Marines on Iwo Jima.  These tanks used a Navy Mark 1 Flame-Thrower. 
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M4A1 76w with extra plate armor added to the front hull, it’s from the 3rd Armored Division on the outskirts of Korbach 30 March 1945, also note the Commanders and loaders hatches have been swapped. There is also a pair of boxing gloves hanging on the front armor! 
An M4A1 76w and an M4A3E2 Jumbo of the 3rd Armored Division, probably during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. 
14th Armored Division M4A1 76W with sandbags, the tank has a threaded and capped M1A1 gun and the split loaders hatch. 
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M4A1 North Africa, 1943, the tank appears to be rather dirty. 
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M4 based Scorpion mine clearing tank.
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M4 Sherman coming out of a gully, this is a command tank, note the extra antenna on the front right of the hull. 
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Soviet M4A2 75’s crew play an accordion and pal around. This tank is another rare large hatch hull with dry ammo racks, you can make out the armor over the ammo racks on t he side of the hull. Most, it not all of these tanks went to Russia. Also note the drivers side head light and guard are nearly ripped off.  
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A pair of M4A2 76w Shermans serving with the Soviets, these tanks are just like the one above. 
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Crewmen of a M4A3 76w Sherman loads ammo into the floor ammo racks. The manual says the rounds should be stored nose up. 

#44 Gallery III: Even More Random High Res Sherman Photos With Comments.

Gallery III: Even More Random High Resolution Sherman and Lee Photos with Comments.

British or French M4A2 tanks in the desert. Probably training in North Africa. 
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Convoy of tanks, trucks and jeeps from the100th ID, and 781st TB, the photo isn’t detailed enough to get a specific make on the Shermans. 
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This M4A1 76w is from A Company, 20th Tank Battalion , 20 Armored Division. They are on the outskirts of Cailly, France on February 24th, they had arrived in country a few days before and had not seen combat yet. The crew is unpacking and taking inventory of all the gear issued with the tank, they probably received the tank with the back deck covered in the boxes. 
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A group of Doughs gathered around the rear of an M4A3 76w, probably somewhere in Germany in 1945. Note how much stuff they have strapped to the back deck. 
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1st Marine Tank Battalion, Okinawa 1945. notice all the extra stuff on the tank. The Marston matting on the hatch is to keep the Japanese infantry from putting a satchel charge or worse right on top of the periscope, a fairly weak spot. They also had magnetic mines they could put on the side of the tank on I bet  the matting on the side helped prevent that. Wood and concrete was also used. It must be the angle, but the pistol port almost looks like it’s missing. 
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An M10 serving in the 2nd French Armored Division Hallville France November of 1944.
French crew on the background of the tank Sherman M4A2 (76) W of the 2nd company of the 501st Tank Regiment (2 Compagnie de Chars, 501 RCC)
A French M4A3 76w or M4A2 76w of second company of the 501st Tank Regiment. The French used almost all versions of the Sherman, so without seeing the engine deck, I can’t tell for sure what model it is. 
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M4 Sherman tank named Bell of Little rock, and a Lt R Hoffman looking it over, January of 1944, oddly I can’t find out what unit this tank was with. 
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This seems to be concrete going over sandbags. The tank is either an M4A1 76w or an M4A3 76W. If you have any other info on this image let me know.
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M4A4s on the Burma road. How cool is it to see M4A4 tanks on the Burma road? These M4A4s were probably fairly late production A4s, that had been used in the US for training then overhauled and shipped to the UK. Some M4A4 tanks ended up back in US hands in the CBI when a composite US/Chinese tank unit needed some mediums.  Not the lead tank has some kind of windscreen up for the driver and how heavily loaded the tanks are.  
Behind a destroyed British Sherman M4 near Caen in Normandy, a soldier of the Waffen SS watches the enemy line. Date: 1944
Behind a destroyed British Sherman M4 near Caen in Normandy, a fascist  soldier, of the criminal, Waffen SS watches the enemy line. Date: 1944 The Tank if either an Ic or Vc Firefly, probably the latter since it was the most common Firefly type.
M4A2 76w Lend Lease tank
Our Soviet allies(at the time) using a Lend Lease M4A2 76w. I have no idea what unit these Russian Soldiers are from, but if someone does, let me know. I bet they killed a lot of Nazis to get to there, there being somewhere in Germany 1945
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Soviet Lend Lease M3 Lee knocked out. The Germans on it seem to be using it like a jungle gym, though something less wholesome could be going on since some of the fascist, criminal, invaders are in various states of dress.
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During a pre war training exercise this M3 Lee collapsed this bridge. The crew is helping the local kids get across so they can get to school. I love this image!
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This British M3 Grant Crew is setting up to spend the night in the desert, in egypt, in 1942. I do not understand why two of them are naked. Note the .30 1919 on the roof, and the canvas mantlet cover on the 75mm. 
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This is the Production pilot of the M3 Lee, photo may have been taken during the demonstration for the factory workers, where the Lee took out an empty Guard shack by accident, by running it over. 
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Clearly tanks and bridges are not fond of each other. This M4A3 76w HVSS tank seems to have been a tad much for this one. It was also a German bridge, so it was probably complicated, just adequate for the Job, and prone to failure. =D
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Another shot of the prototype Lee at Aberdeen Proving ground.
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Another Lend Lease M4A2 76w being used by the Soviets. These tanks were well liked by the Russian crews, they felt they were very lavishly equipped. They were not fond of the .45 ACP round or the submachine guns that used them, and that these tanks came with. 
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Even more Russian M4A2 76w tanks, the Russian crews called them ‘Emchas’ and they were unhappy to have to give them up when the war ended. In some case they didn’t, and converted them to tractors. 
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Even more even more Russian M4A2 76w tanks, of the various engine types the Sherman could come with, the only ones the Russian would accept were the diesel based  M4A2 tanks. 
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French M4A2 coming off an LST, this one is with the 12e RCC, 2e Division Blindee. This was a very famous French Armored Division commanded by the General Philippe LeClerc. This photo was taken on 2 August 1944, on Utah beach. Vive la France!
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Fascist troops using a knocked out M4 as a resting spot.  These may have been taken in Italy. 
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This huge image is of Sherman M4A2 tanks with the French 12e Regiment De Chasseurs D’Afrique, part of the 2e Division Blindee, commanded by General Philippe LeClerc, taken August of 44 in Normandy. Vive la France!

#30 Sherman Model Specifications: Data, and Lots of It.

Sherman Model Specification Sheets: Detailed Data Sheets For Each Model.

These were a pain in the rear to make, the ones in the back of my copy of Hunnicutt are very bad, so I have reproduced some in Word, and then print them out as PDFs, then take a screen shot of the PDF for this post. I have now hosted all the PDF files, if you want something with copy and pasteable text. I’ve got a system not for these and it’s semi easy to do, so I will keep adding them. I also added at least one, and up to five images with each spec sheet, of the Sherman the spec sheet is for. You can click to enlarge all these images, the sizes very.

M3 Lee spec Sheet

M3 Lee spec sheet in PDF


M3A2 Spec Sheet

M3A2 Lee Spec Sheet in PDF


Early Production M4 75

M4 Early spec sheet

Mid Production M4 75

M4 Mid Production


Early M4A1 75

M4A1 Early Spec Sheet


Mid Production M4A1 75

M4A1 75 mid war spec sheet


Mid production M4A2 75

M4A2 75 mid production spec sheet


Mid production M4A3 75

M4A3 75d mid spec sheet

 

M4A3 75 wet large hatch VVSS

M4A3 75w spec sheet


Early M4A4 75 


 

 


M4A1 76 wet VVSS

M4A1 76w specsheet


M4A2 76 wet VVSS

 M4A2 76w spec sheet

M4A2 76 wet HVSS

 

M4A2 76w HVSS Easy 8 Spec Sheet


M4A3 76 wet HVSS, or Sherman Easy 8

M4A3E8 76 Spec Sheet


The M4A3E2 Jumbo 75

M4A3e2 Jumbo spec sheet


Sherman Firefly VC

 

 

Firefly Vc Spec Sheet


M10 GMC

M10 GMC 3inch spec sheet


M36 GMC

M36B1 90mm GMC

 

90mm GMC M36B1 Spec Sheet PDF

 

M36 GMC spec sheet