Category Archives: Sherman Tank

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!

#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

#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.

News Post #10: Sherman Tank Site News!

Sherman Tank Site News, April of 2017 edition: Data Part II, Data Strikes again. 

The Sherman data sheets have been a very popular addition to the site, so I decided to gun and engine data sheets as well.  One motor Data Sheet is done, and the others are in the works. There are all kinds of new images and info in the various pages on the Shermans guns.

We also have a new layout to the website, instead of a lot of hard to find posts with an Index that was hard to find things in, we now have set pages,  of the main menu.

As you can see from this handy image, we have a page for the Shermans suspension and Track systems.  We have a Sherman Gun Data page. We also have a motor data page, but right now we only have the Ford GAA in it.  Now we also have pages for each tank model and a main page to find them.  There have also been minor image additions to many posts, and a few pages have received minor updates.

The Crew and their Stations post got a massive update as well. 

We also recently reviewed an inside the Hatch of the M4A1 tank.

Coming soon will be the Sherman Transmission, differential and final drive data sheet. I will also be filling out the individual Sherman model pages over the next few days. There is only so much I can do in a day!

Thanks for being interested in the site for all the guys who have commented and sent me interesting info. More great information on the Sherman tank is on the way.

 

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

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.

 

 

 

Sherman Tank Site, News Post 9: DATA, DATA everywhere!

News Post 9: New Years News

I decided I needed more hard numbers, the kind of data that makes non tank nerds eyes roll up in their heads, stuff like how many spare periscopes were issued with an early war M4A1! One of the best way to do this is through tank Data sheets, as found in the back of many books on tanks. I used Hunnicutt’s Sherman book for some, but others I’ve made using the Hunnicutt ones as a template and then using data from the Technical Manual for the tank.

We had four, now have spec sheets for 15 different models of Sherman, and 3 Lees! You can find them all on this page. Shermom Model specification sheets. 

90mm GMC M36B1 Spec Sheet PDF

That’s not all though, I decided the gun Data sheets in Hunnicut were really interesting, so I started replicating those, but with an improved format, and slightly more data.  These gun Data Sheets can be found here, Main Guns: THings that go  BOOM!  All the guns the Sherman tank used are covered, and more are coming.

m1-M1A1-M1A2 guns 76.2 Sherman tanks

In the works are Data Sheets for each Sherman tank motor, and several experimental models. These Data sheets will have much more detailed info on the motor, and will include interesting images from the manuals for the motors.

Also in the works as dedicated pages for these data sheets, the beta test of the gun version is up and can be found here.  Next up will be ones for each tank model and then motor.

Also note the latest post on the Ram tank, The Ram: The Shermans awkward Canadian Cousin. This post covers the Canadian and British attempt to come up with a better Sherman before the Sherman design and prototype was done. I’ve been sent some very interesting documents, some are included in the post.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Sherman information!

 

Sherman Tank site News post 8: Massive update, new posts, and lots more to come!

We are starting the new year off with a bang! I’ve gotten several new books, reviews coming soon, and a lot of detailed, and I mean knitty gritty detail on the Sherman coming. We’ve also had some very kind contributions that are waiting to be added, one a fascinating Chrysler tank motor that almost made it, and some personal stories of tanking in a Sherman.

We also just published several interesting posts.

Post#67 The RAM: The Shermans Awkward cousin

Post#66 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This time the Pacific!

Post#65 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This one Covered the MTO

Post#64 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: The “Green Books”, had three picture editions!

Another area that saw a massive update with the Sherman specification sheet section. It has grown from three, to sixteen, originally it had one for an M4 75, an M4A4 and the Easy 8, not it has a pair of M3 Lees and a ton of others including a Vc firefly!

Post#30 Sherman Model Specification Sheets: Data, and Lots of It. MASSIVE UPDATE!!

I do have word, and PDF docs on all the specification sheets if people show any interest I’ll add them to the page. More to come, it’s late, I’m going to bed, happy new year!

Just a little sample!

#67 The RAM: The Shermans awkward Canadian Cousin.

The RAM: Canada’s Tank

UPDATE!

Thanks to reader and friend of the site Bobby C from down under, I have a pair of very interesting PDFs on the 6 pounder mount on the RAM. The massive image of a storage diagram below is from that very doc!

The Lee was a bit of a red headed step child, except it had a soul, and no one really wanted it. Even before production started, both the US Army, and British, working with Canadians, was working on a replacement design.  The British did not like the dual purpose M3 75mm gun on a cruiser tank, they  wanted a tank with their 57mm six pounder gun, because it had slightly superior AP performance, and their cruiser tanks were assigned the task of fighting other tanks, not infantry. The American Tank designers and Army Officers didn’t agree, and planned on using the M3 75mm gun and their stubbornness led the Brits to try and beat them to the punch, and they did, but the punch wasn’t there, literally.

This massive diagram comes from ‘Mounting practice and installation of 6 pounder gun in ram tank. This doc came to us from Bobby C, click to view the full version or save it and look at it in a image viewer.
More from the manual MP&I of 6 pounder gun
A not very good pic of a RAM I

The model they sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds for the US Army to test, was a MK I model with a 37mm gun.  This was in June of 1941, while the Sherman pilot was probably being built, and the pilot Sherman arrived in early September. They did this because they had some problems with a suitable mount for the 57mm 6 pounder. They probably sent one with a 6 pounder later, but I’m sure once the US Army had the Sherman pilot, most of the interest in the Ram would have died off, since there was zero chance of the RAM II winning out over the Sherman. They did produce nearly 2000 of them though, and the chassis was used in other roles, most notably as an APC and Command Tank.

A very nice color shot of an early RAM II

It is interesting it saw no combat use as a tank, it was certainly better than the Lee, at least on paper, but the Lee soldiered on in secondary theaters, the Ram was never given a shot. Like the Lee, it went through some fairly major changes during its production run. The Ram started life with a little machine gun turret on the front, where the driver should be, just like the Lee’s commanders cupola. This would be a feature it shed; getting a more traditional bow mounted machine gun, late in the run. It was still on the wrong side though.  It had side doors, with a little DV port, armored flap, like the Lee. The view port was replaced with a ventilator, and then the whole door was removed. They also removed the periscopic sight for the gunner and replaced that with a ventilator as well.

This is a later production RAM II, note the ventilator on the crew side door, but it still has the mini turret.

Since the RAM was based on the Lee, it was pretty much Lee from the top of the treads down, and used the same R975 radial the basic M3, and M4 and M4A1 tanks used. It used the same suspension as the early Shermans and Lees, with the single overhead roller and could use the same VVSS tracks as the Sherman. It was certainly better or equal to any tank the Brits had with the same gun, but by the time it was available in numbers, the Sherman was as well, and it was superior tank, and because of its larger turret ring, had room to grow because it could take bigger guns.

A late production RAM II at the Museum at Canadian Forces Base Borden. This is a massive photo, click for the full size.
Another early RAM at Canadian Forces Base Borden

It wasn’t all a waste of time, and steel, the hulls were used for Kangaroo APCs, and a number were built or converted to command or observation post tanks, and they were used as ammo carriers. The Ram also made a good training tank allowing Shermans to be sent to combat units. The observation or command version was interesting. They removed the main gun, and put a dummy in its place, put in extra seats, so six men could fit, added an observation port, map table and extra radios. The APC and Command versions saw extensive use by Canadian troops in the ETO.

Early RAM II being used in training.

There is a fantastic web page on the subject, it called, RAMTank.CA  A Registry of Canada’s Tank. This website has a more detailed history, a complete serial number list, and tons of pictures; it’s really worth checking out. I’ll be adding it to the links section as well. It also has a little bit of Sherman history too, since it covers the M4A1 Grizzly, the tank that replaced the Ram on the production line when the RAM was canceled, and the Sherman Skink AA vehicle, and Sexton. It also has an M4A2E8, Churchill and Centurion registries. Having just discovered the website, doing research for this post, I’ll be spending  a few hours at least checking it out.

An early RAM II
a very nice color shot of mid production RAM IIs being used in training.

Sources: Sherman by Hunnicutt, RAMTank.CA  

1664990 Mounting practice and installation of 6 pounder gun in Ram tank

 

Sherman Tank Site News post 7: Just over a year of operation.

One year in operation!

In November of last year the site went live, but I was learning how to the page building stuff worked, and I really didn’t have the complete setup until December.  Over the year I’ve had a lot of people contact me about it, and gotten a lot of feedback from the comments and in emails and changed a thing or two as a result. I’ve gotten many comments correcting image captions, and I am always happy to get those.  I’ve also gotten a small number of negative comments, and the most negative I left out, but I responded to just about everything.  That’s just life on the internet.

Let’s talk about some boring numbers, the first two months the site was live last year it saw 6708 visitors, they checked out 76k pages over just over 18k visits, and downloaded about 20 gigs from the site. This year has seen a lot of growth. So far this year, we have had 94k unique visitors, and they visited 259k times and checked out 714,000 pages and they downloaded over 2100 GBs of data.  Most of it came in through Google, but the Sturgeons House, Reddit, Atlas obscura, World of tanks forums and War Thunders forums and of course Facebook have brought in traffic too, enough to be noticeable.  Who knew the Sherman tank was all that interesting.

Of the documents available for download, the most popular almost every month is odd, and the same file. The file is, the Index for the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. This is just the index of the various report subjects in the survey. Three hundred and twenty four pages of index. Why this document is popular is a mystery to me. I do have a few of the reports, either ready to host when I get around to it, or already hosted. This month so far it’s only in the number three spot. Number two and three are normally one of the technical manuals on a tank like the M4A3, TM9-752 currently number two, or 9-750 number one this month so far, it’s on the M3 Lee.

I could go on about stats but I won’t because although I find it amusing, I don’t think the rest of the world cares that Sherman tank Interior lights was a popular keyword search for months.

Since this site is my hobby, and a labor of love, how fast the content comes out is based on how much free time I have and how life is going. This year has been a pretty rough one, it started out ok and I could crank a lot stuff out,  and had already had a lot of content on hand from the forum thread that started this all.  Once the site was up, I found even more resources, and have so much to do, I’ll be posting stuff about the Sherman and it’s users for years, but the pace is going to depend on how good 2017 is to us. 2016 was great for me. I lost a dog, labs don’t normally reach 18 but she almost did. That coupled with some family and health issues, things slowed down a tad over the summer.

The site is all paid up for another year, and I have a lot of content to work on, and life is cooperating for now too so the pace should pic up. If I ever exhaust my resources on the Sherman, I can move onto the WWII F4U Corsair, or P-38 Lightning fighters.

So to wrap this up, let all look forward to a good new year.

Check out my latest posts as well.

#65 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This one Covered the MTO

#64 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: The “Green Books”, had three picture editions!

Sherman Tank Book News! New book on Egyptian Shermans! New Post!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone, moist turkey for everyone, and thanks for visiting and reading the site!

#65 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This one Covered the MTO

Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: This post will cover the Sherman related images in “The War Against Germany And Italy, Mediterranean and adjacent areas”.

As we talked about in the last post on The Army has a series of History books they published shortly after the war nicknamed the Green books. You can find them all on the US Army Official History site the “Green Books” in PDF format. Most of these books have minimal photos, but they put out a pair three picture books and this post will cover the one on Italy, Southern France and North Africa.

This book, like the one on the northern European Campaign was not the highest quality scan, so the picture quality is not great. It is good though, and you can make out a good amount of detail in them.   There are also fewer Sherman photos, because the Sherman was not as usable in Italy, because of the terrain, but it was still a very common item on the battlefield in  the MTO. The book starts off with some images from the Torch landings and covers the fighting in Tunisia.

This is an interesting image, and the caption doesn’t say it, but that’s the R975 that powered many Sherman models they are looking over. I would love to get my hands on a high resolution version of this photo.
Lee tanks being readied by UK Troops.
I just thought this was to interesting of a photo to not include just because no Sherman, was in it.
US Radar aimed spotlights.
A M3 Lee Crew having some chow. I do not agree with the caption, the Lee was not obsolete yet, and was still capable of knocking out all German Armor. The US Army got a bloody nose at Kasserine Pass because of bad leadership, and tactics, along with green troops.
An M4A1 towing a Halftrack. The location, Sidi Bou Zid, was the location of a big battle where most of a battalion got knocked out.
In the top photo is an M6 37mm GMC, a rare and short lived Tank Destroyer. They were phased out during the fighting and replaced with 75mm M3 GMC, a 75mm gun mounted on an halftrack. This was replaced by the M10 in time for the Sicily invasion. The M10 would be the first TD to be successful and they were popular with their crews.
An M4A1 hauling ass about 60 kilometers from Tunis.
An M4A1 being used to test deep wading gear. This doesn’t look like factory produced wading gear to me, but its hard to tell with the shot quality. Most people assume the trunks were the only parts needed for it to work. It took hours of labor to prepare the whole tank for deep wading. The Shermans hull was not designed to be watertight, so all the joints had to be filled with a special tar, and it had to be applied in a ton of places requiring the removal of interior racks to get to the nooks and crannies during the process. Without the waterproofing, as soon as the tops of the suspension and the bottom of the hull got submerged water would begin coming in. The Shermans slip ring for the turrets electric power was mounted under the on the hull floor. As soon as this touched water, it shorted the tanks eletrical system out.
I didn’t know we had given the French any P-38s, but we did, enough for one squadron or so. The Sherman has to be an M4, M4A4 or M4A2. I lean towards the M4A4 since the wheels are spaced so far apart, though, the suspension is at full droop, I don’t think they would get that much closer together. The way they have it rigged is interesting, they are not using the hull lift rings, and seem to have tied into the suspension bogies, with the worn wire ropes.
I thought this was interesting, how many people know we shipped supplies and tanks through Iran into Russia and the middle eas? I wonder what kind of security these trains had? I would love to get a high res version of the train photo, the tanks are Shermans, but there is no telling the vintage.
This is another photo that made it in because it’s cool. This LST could be full of tanks, they would jus tbe inside the LST on the main deck. These vehicles are all light enough for the roof. The LST was designed for these kinds of loads, and had a ramp that could be raised and lowered to get the vehicles up there. The LST was a really interesting ship design. Check out this post for more info.
This is a Lima built M4A1. There is a larger version of this photo on the Sherman Minutia site, in there how to identify Lima Locomotive Shermans!
No tanks in this image, but the subject is interesting, and not often covered. The mosquito was an enemy to both sides, spreading several diseases, the most troubling Malaria. The US Military used pesticides to combat it, I had never heard of Paris Green before, but it’s a oldschool, fairly toxic pesticide, and they sprayed it all over the med to prevent mosquitoes. This was important, the losses through malaria can get out of hand fast if you don’t have the meds to counter it, and spraying for them is a great way to keep the risk down. In the Pacific, they sprayed a lot of DDT.  
Another LST image, this one showing the floating pontoon sections used to get vehicles ashore when the slope of the beach was not ideal for getting the LST in close enough to drive right out its built in ramp. Beaches of that type were fairly rare.
This post reminded me we have a holiday coming. Christmas overseas at war was a tough burden on US Troops. The US Military does is hardest to get these men a turkey dinner like these doughs are enjoying.  Merry Christmas everyone!
An M4 Sherman getting a new set of tracks installed. The caption mentions armor had not seen a lot of use, and that partially true. Many tank battalions would be used as artillery and would be on call when needed. That’s not really seeing action, but it’s still combat, counter battery fire wouldn’t be unheard of. You can see an M10 GMC in the background, this looks like a repair depot. See the image caption for location info.
This is a great image, I really wish I had a high res version of it. Here we have a practically invisible M10 tank destroyer. From a distance this TD would be very hard to spot.
This looks like another LLW M4A1, it has a siren that looks like the Mars brand type they used. The Inflatable Shermans are interesting. Up close they are clearly fake, but from 50 yards or from a low flying plane it would be very hard to tell a real Sherman from an inflatable.
A pair of photos of M31 ARVs doing ARV things. If a tank really gets stuck, falls into a ditch, collapses a bridge, since in deep mud, it might take two or even three ARVs or Tanks or a combo of both with a lot of towing cable to free the tank. Getting a tank stuck like that would make the driver notorious, and not in good way.
An M5 light and M4 medium in the town of Coreno Ausonio Italy, from an unknown unit, supporting the French Army.
An M31 moving a German portable Pillbox. They seem like ready made coffins. They were an interesting design, and you can make out the hole where an axle was inserted, and two wheels could be fitted along with a trailer tongue, and the thing was flipped onto its wheels and towed away by a horse or small vehicle. For more info see this post on the Lone Sentry
A vaunted Tiger, burning, on the streets of Rome. City fighting would be hard on a tank like the tiger, with bad visibility, with known blind spots, and slow turret traverse means a few determined infantrymen could sneak up on it and kill it, unless it was heavily supported by infantry.
A pair of M10s with the 5th Army entering Rome.
A huge marshaling yard at the port of Naples full of vehicles waiting for the invasion of southern France. This is just a small sample of what would be used in the invasion.
A US DD Sherman used in the Southern France landings. The DD used in this landing had much better results.
Another burned out Tiger, the Nazi version of the Gold Plated Toilet, with a useless anti magnetic mine paste applied that only added weight to an already overweight vehicle. As far as I can tell, the neither USSR, or US or British Armies had a commonly issued magnetic mine. So yeah, the Germans wasted time and treasure on some crappy paste that did not good.
These two vehicles were the true staples of the effective German armor force. The Stug III was based on the excellent panzer III, and was a way to get a nice 75mm gun onto its hull. the Stug was well liked by their crews, reliable by German standards and well suited to mobile warfare. The Panzer IV was not a great tank either, but it was the best tank Germany had, and it’s the one they should have continued to produce. Sure it had a lot of flaws, crappy suspension with no growth potential, a hull with thin armor with way to many individual plates, welds, and rivets, making it very labor intensive to build. It was also reliable by German standards, but was no Sherman. The turret was also a complicated mess of time wasting multi angle plates. Even with all these flaws, it was still a better tank than all the later German Armor because it was reliable enough to actually show up to the fight. It’s gun was good enough to deal with most of the threats it faced. It also didn’t waste huge amounts of gas because it wasn’t underpowered.
Action shot of an M7 crew firing their 105mm howitzer.
A pair of M4A1 75 tanks fording the Arno river near the gothic line. Note the line marker in the river, it probably gets much deeper to the tanks right side.
I wanted to include some photos of the terrain. Hills and mountains are tough on tanks. All that armor generally means they are not hotrods in the first place, throw in climbing steep grades, and any automotive issues with the tank are going to come out very fast. Lucky for the US and other Allies, the Sherman was an automotive masterpiece, and was reliable enough to be used in these places and still continue to work. This type of terrain really cuts the life of a tank down, in particular if the tank is already unreliable, if you have a part know to wear out in 1500 kilometers,  hilly terrain could cut that in half, or worse if the driver was bad.  
I thought this was an interesting shot along with a good illustration of the terrain. Those 6X6 trucks were pretty capable off road, but not as good as a tank in most cases. The caption doesn’t give us any info on how the truck got there. One thing I know from taking a Jeep out on trails like this, is pictures never show how steep a place is, like being there in person. I’ve taken pictures of places that gave me some serious pucker factor going up or down, and when you look the pictures over, they never convey the steepness like being at the top and looking down. Driving a tank on narrow dirt roads like this was probably not enjoyable at all. 
This is the final terrain shot, this one is long enough to give you a good idea of some of the distances involved and how tall the hills and mountains were.
The most reliable version of the Panther, the Panther Casemate! Take a panther turret, slap it on a steel bunker frame that you’re put in a hole in the ground and poor in concrete! No 150 kilometer final drives, no 1500 kilometer tanny, or 1500 kilometer maybach motor. Plus you get a bunk! 
An US tank salvage yard.
The caption of this photo said there was a M4A1 76 in it, but there are no 76mm armed Shermans in this photo. I assume the caption is accurate otherwise. Note the hilly area the tanks are in, the M4 and M4A1 would be the most difficult of the shermans to drive in this type of terrain. 
M10 TDs given to the South Africans as Lend Lease. They may have come directly from the US, or it may have been the Brits giving them M10s they had not converted to Achilles TDs with the 17 pounder.
Another LLW M4A1 and a pair of M18s with an M4A1 76w and a regular M4A1 75 in the background. The trail they are on is much steeper than it looks. This is the type of terrain the granny gear in the Shermans transmission would come in very handy on.
A pair of M32s driving through the hills of Italy in the fog.
I don’t think this is a regular Callipe.
I didn’t know ACME was involved in making bridging gear, and this does not seem like a very good idea. Is that a roadrunner in the corner of the top pic??!
A very cool shot of an M7 SPGs battery firing at night. The caption says this was prep fire.
An M10 GMC hauling ass down Highway 65.
An M10 in the background of some German POWs being marched to a containment area. They would then be shipped off to camps in England or the US. The US treated POWs very well in most cases and delivered Red Cross packages without delay.
A South African Tank unit with M4A1 76w tanks. The Brits were sent a fair number of these tanks through lend lease, but didn’t want them, so they gave them to the other members of the UK.
Ok, so I threw in one more terrain shot, because I thought this one was interesting, this is really the last one though.
This is another mis-captioned photo, at least where the Sherman is concerned. The caption says the tank is an M4A3 with 17 pounder. I can’t say there was never a M4A3 with a 17 pounder gun, because the US did have some 75mm Shermans converted, even though they were never issued, one at least was probably an M4A3. The British did not receive any M4A3 tanks for their own use. The image looks like an M4 composite hull Firefly, a very common version of the firefly based on the M4 composite hull tank. I assume the rest of the caption info is correct though.
An M18 getting a ride on a makeshift ferry.
An M10 TD waiting for some action near Lake Garda.

This concludes the photos I found relevant from CMH 12-2. The book is packed with a lot of other photos of things not Sherman related, and since you can download them for free, if you are interested in WWII history, download them and have a look. I found many of these images I had not seen before.

 

 

#64 Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: The “Green Books”, had three picture editions!

Sherman Tanks of the US Army Official History books: The “Green Books”, had three picture editions! Part 1

The United States Army isn’t all about fighting and defending the country, they also try and document their own history. That’s where the US Army Center of Military History comes in.  It is an actual place, located at Fort McNair in washington DC, with a library and Archive. If you would like to visit, check out the website first, because they have a ton of info online and you might not have to make the trip to find what you are looking for.  One of the things one the website is an online library that contains the whole set US Army Official History books, known as the “Green Books” in PDF format.

The Website has a lot of depth, and I still have not found everything of interest. Just poking around on it today I found an index of all the History PDFs they have up.  If you are interested in US history, give the Army’s history website a serious look.  In some cases this just links to a page listing info about a book they have, but no PDF.  Or in other cases links to a store where the book is on sale and or a combo of these.  Look carefully, most seem to be available for free even if there is a pay version.

Of interest to this site are the books in the Pictorial Record section, on the Green Jacket books. It contains three books, The War against Japan, The war against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and adjacent areas, and The War Against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas.  These books are picture books spanning the whole war, in the area the book’s title mentions.

In part one, we are going to look at The War Against Germany: EUrope and Adjacent Areas, because I figured this one would have the most Sherman photos, and I was right, there are a lot. Not as many as I though were already up on the site, and in most cases I left those out since I have better version up.  These images are not great quality, but also not horrible, and it varies a little up and down, but they are interesting.

The book’s cover, if you had a paper copy.

 

I thought this image was interesting, there are so many men on it, they all have the same hat. I’ve always like the Lee.

 

One aspect of tanks people rarely think about is moving them. As reliable as a Sherman or Lee was, driving them long distances would be a waste of resources, cause to much wear and tear, and be slow. So when moving tanks like these, probably on the way to a shipyard, for transport to Africa, over very long distances, trains, trucks, or boats are all faster.
This is a nice shot of an early M7 Priest 105mm self propelled artillery.

 

This is an early bug not super early production M4A1 75 tank. Note the cast tranny housing, but the M34 gun mount with shorty mantlet on the turret.

 

A nice photo of an M4 tank with the quick fix add ons, being fitted with wading trunks. These trunks, along with sealing all the other small openings in the hull and installing a special seal for the turret ring, these tanks could leave an LST, LCT or LCM in water almost up to the gun. These were not universally issued, and the Marines had to come up with their own versions.
Look at that, an M4 Sherman in water almost up to its gun. I wonder if the driver could see anything through his periscope? Fish maybe? These wading trunks had a quick release mechanism.

 

The final use of many M3 Lee tanks, conversion into the M31 ARV. How cool is an ARV with a fake 75mm gun, that’s mounted on door leading into the vehicle?

 

This is a nice shot of an M4A1 76w tank, the type issued for operation Cobra. It has a hedgerow cutter installed, and probably lacks a ventilator on the back of the turret. These would be the first 76mm tanks to go into combat in US hands.

 

Two shots in one, a pile of tank ammo, and a crew cleaning their MGs and reloading ammo cans.

 

This is another early M4A1 76w tank. It’s already lost a fender on one side. The caption info with the picture is from the book. Rarely does it have detailed info about the tanks.
This page shows an M7, and the tank that was designed to replace it The M4 105, partially. In that the 105mm armed Sherman was designed to replace the M7 in the HQ sections of Armor battalions and companies. I do not think they planned on replacing the M7s in Armored Artillery battalions in Armored Divisions.

 

Another dual shot showing an M10 moving down a street with supporting doughs.

 

Another early M4A1 76w tank, note the loaders split hatch, and how the doors only open to the straight up position, a problem only found on early versions of this tank.
An M10 supporting the first Army with some hitchhikers. Note, it once had a deep wading kit, and how well worn those tracks are.
An Invisible M4A1 75 Sherman!

 

Pretty sure this is a duplicate, but if not, here is a shot of an M4 with doughs hitching a ride passing through the Siegfried Line

 

M4s waiting for the call to action near Luneville.

 

M36 GMC 90mm Tank destroyer.

 

M4 getting duckbills

 

An M4 with the 6th AD, 68th Battalion, Company C, with duckbills, driving in mud.

 

Shermans acting as artillery, and an SPG based on the Sherman/Lee. The M12 155mm GMC.

 

M10s in the Huertgen Forest, late model versions based on the lead tanks turret.

 

An M4 pushing an T1E3 mine exploder.

 

An M4A1 with the 7th Army fording the Moselle river.

 

M36 GMC being whitewashed for the 1944/45 winter
A M4 105, well dog in and camouflaged. It could be an M4A3 105, hard to tell.
Another double shot, this one shows Doughs string barbed wire, and a M10 crew eating some chow.

 

A decent photo of an M4A3 crewman working on an old sewing machine.

 

An M10 firing at night.

 

An M4A3 76W tank leading some doughs and an M4 75 in the snow.

 

M4A3 dozer tank. This image was taken near Colmar.

 

Shermans on floating pontoon bridges.

 

The US using German Halftracks and some Shermans, a 75 and 76 job.

 

An M4 tank being ferried across the Moselle river on a very makeshift ferryboat.

 

A heavily sandbagged, probably 14th AD M4A3 76w Easy 8 tank.

 

An M36 on a makeshift ferry.

 

Several types of Sherman crossing a very long pontoon bridge across the Rhine.

 

An up armored E8 passing a huge column of German POWs.

 

An M36 crossing the Rhine on another long pontoon bridge.
The DD Sherman, the craziest way to get ashore in a tank.

 

M4 Sherman, plus large rocket rack, equals awesome.

 

An M4 crew watches doughs sleep on a stone road.

 

The Sherman is an M4A3 76w with a split loaders hatch.

 

M10 TDs move through the ruins of Magdeburg.

 

A row of M4A3 76w HVSS tanks late in the war near Nuernberg.

 

An M4A3 76w HVSS tank

 

An Easy 8 acting as a ferry for some doughs.

 

M4A3 76w HVSS tank

That’s all folks, these images were all taken by the Army during the war and the books sold by the government originally and now are all up for free and used images that would all be public domain anyway, these images all should be public domain.

Coming soon, Part II, the Pacific. 

Sherman Book News: A book on Egyptian Shermans!

A very interesting new book on the Sherman tanks used by the Egyptian army was recently released.

The book, titled Egyptian Shermans, a Photographic History of the M4 Sherman Tank in Egyptian Servvice 1949-1973,  by Christopher Weeks is out, and available on Blurb.com

The book covers the History of the Shermans use by Egypt’s Military, and has many images I have never seen before, and I’ve seen a lot of Sherman pics!  Most of these images are black and white,  but there are a few color photos mixed in.

Egypt never had a huge number of Sherman tanks,  probably less than 150 total spanning their whole use, but they had a very interesting variant, and did use them in combat.

Most of the Shermans they acquired were M4A4s, leftovers from the Brits. The images show many of these tanks had none of the quick fix upgrades either. Many of the tanks still have the extra Brit storage boxes too. Another interesting thing about the images is there are shots of a rare, and odd looking rounded exhaust deflector, in the raised position.  I’ve only seen something like it in one other place, and this book has several. They also got ahold of some M4A2 models, and re-engined some of the A4s to A2s.

M4/FL10 in Egyptian service, this image is from the book, and used with the authors permission. Do not repost or hotlink to it please.

You can see the deflector in the image above, from the book. I think it may be what the M4A2 exhaust deflector looks like, folded up, the M4A3 version looks very different folded. You can also see the very interesting AMX 13 turret on this M4A2.  This was probably a much more comfortable way to employ an AMX 13 turret.

The book also covers unit markings, and the combat history of the Sherman tank in use by the Egyptian Military.  The rare images make it worth the price alone, but there is a lot of nice text too! Blurb gives you many buying options. If you love the Sherman tank, or want to read about the Shermans use by a very interesting Nation, this is your book.

 

M4A4 with lights on it for a night parade. My favorite image from the book. Image from the book, used with the author’s permission, do not reproduce or hotlink it please.

#63 Security On the March: How a WWII Sherman Tank unit prepared for an attack on march.

Security on the March:  With the Sherman Tank

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Tank and AFV News posted a link to a fascinating YouTube video covering march security of mechanized units, the film is from early 43. This Army training film is almost a half an hour long, and it’s really interesting, and has some rare shots of men working inside a Sherman.  The film takes place somewhere in the US, probably on a Hollywood backlot, the Desert Training Center was pretty close so getting the tanks to Hollywood wouldn’t be hard. At times the film is clearly using special effects, and that lends more credence to it being done in Hollywood. The film covers security on the march, and does it by covering a tank platoon, and what it should be doing. It covers night movement, camouflage when stopped and gives tips on being stealthier in your tank; it also covers how to use the columns firepower if attacked from the air.

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The tanks used were all early M4A1s, but not super early since they are not DV tanks, but still have shorty gun mantlet and no telescopic sites, they do have heavy duty suspension as well. The tanks also have full turret baskets, with the 12 unprotected ready rounds, and no armor over the sponson ammo racks or the turret cheek add-on armor. Its possible training tanks did not have these features removed like tanks slated to see combat, or the film was made very early in the war.

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This image shows the big picture of a moving column a troops. This film only covered the role of the main body.

It is an Official War Department Training film, number T.F. 21 2035, and I want to make sure and thank Jeff Quitney for putting it up on YouTube! I had never seen it before so it was a real treat.  He has a lot of other good content up on YouTube as well so check it out.

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Now let’s talk about the contents of the Training Film.

Right off the video starts off with a M4A1 driving by on a dirt road, it’s going at a good clip, and you can just make out another M4A1 trailing behind it at a few angles. The next shot shows a tank crew in front of their M4A1 going over a map with commander, and it just keeps getting better. I took well over 100 screen caps watching this film.

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The training film makes it clear there are the five things that need to be kept in mind at all times to make a road march safe.

  1. Advanced prep
  2. Alertness
  3. Concealment
  4. Dispersion
  5. Firepower

 

The enemy’s goal in an ambush would be to get to the main body of the column, and the film talks about how they should move, and covers things down to where each vehicle is to point its gun, to be prepared for an attack that might come either from the air, or ground. The film focuses on the actions of a single, five tank, platoon in the main body of the column, and then covers each of the five steps previously mentioned, and how that platoon would do them.

 

  1. Advanced Preparation: Because good prep makes for smooth operations.

  • Be ready for gas, liquid vesicant detector paint, this pain, turns green to red when vesicant gas droplets touch it. A large square of this stuff was painted on the front of the tank. Then the decontaminator stored in the tank could be used to spray down the tank. The crew was also issued gas masks, and this was the time to make sure they were in working order.

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  • Check the tanks readiness out. The Commander needs to check the tanks fuel level personally. The Crew, checks the engine out, checks the tracks, and checks out the ammo load. Do not leave with an empty ammo rack if ammo is available. Main gun rounds should be clean and undented.

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  • Platoon leader review whole route on the map with all tank commanders. Cover all points of interest along the route, likely ambush spots, landmarks, areas of good cover for rest points etc. Each tank commander will then pass all this info along to all his crew members, ensuring they can all fill in for each other. If one tank has to fall out for any reason, its crew knows the whole route and plan.

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  1. Alertness: Because surprise is the enemy’s best weapon, always be on guard for attack, air or ground.

  • Every man in each tank turret is an air observer, the Tank Commander should always be looking around the tank, scanning the ground and air, and looking back. The Co-Driver should be watching the flanks, because the Driver is watching the road. The gunner and loader should be using their periscopes, all scanning for an attack.

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  • The crewmember in the turret hatch needs to be alert, so when the commander is tired and needs to take a break, the gunner or loader will swap places with him. The Commanders position, no matter who is manning it has to be ready to receive signals from the platoon or company commander and pass them on, be they flag, or hand or radio. He also has to be able to see a messenger that needs his attention. The Loader should help the commander tend the radio, and the crew should listen to the radio to keep informed.

 

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  1. Concealment: Keeping a 32 ton tank as hidden as possible!

  • Dust is bad. You can’t hide tanks in a dust cloud, so don’t drive on soft dusty shoulders if you’re on a road. Even if that shoulder is shady, and will make the tank more pleasant inside, the dust can be seen for miles. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but try to do so as much as possible. Line formation is best for use in places dust cannot be avoided. Driving at a slower speed can help minimize dust as well.
  • Shielding Terrain is to be taken advantage of anytime it won’t produce large amounts of dust.
  • Shade is ok is it does not make extra dust, and can help hide you from air observation.
  • Your goggles can reflect light for miles; if you’re not wearing your goggles store them in the tank. If they are needed to protect your eyes, they should be covering them. This applies to any shiny object.
  • Do no silhouette your tank on a hill or high ground. Drive around the base of the hill. If you have to drive on a hill stay below the crest.

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  1. Dispersion: Bunching up is bad, if you are to close one artillery round, or bomb can damage multiple vehicles.

  • Bunching up like a bunch of cows with their tails in the breeze is bad. This makes you a big target.

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  • Proper daylight spacing is at least 75 yards between tanks. If visibility and terrain allow, you can have more than 75 yards, but never less.  In hilly terrain it is easy to bunch up, keep your eyes on the tank in front of you if it starts slowing down; you will have to as well.

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  • Falling Out. If your vehicle has to fall out for some reason, engine troubles, or some other issue, make sure you pull far enough off the path to not cause a bottleneck on the path, and slow the rest of the column. Make sure and signal the column and platoon so they know what is going on. Don’t try and catch up, wait for a halt, then retake your position. Fall in with the rear guard until the halt.

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  1. Firepower: A Sherman tank packs a lot of punch, keep it ready, it’s your ace in the hole

  • The main gun should be trained out and ready, but not loaded. The lead tank and the next in line keep their main guns aimed straight ahead. The third tank in line keeps its gun trained out to the right. The fourth tank keeps its gun trained out to the left. The fifth tank will have its main gun traversed to the rear.

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  • M2 .50 anti-aircraft guns should be kept half loaded, so they can be quickly brought to bear on any attacking aircraft. To keep the column covered, alternating tank commanders look forward and to the rear during air attack.

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  • Do not halt, during an air attack. Your tank is much harder to hit when moving. Even if you have good concealment, do not stop. When a plane is sighted signal the rest of the column, close all hatches but the commanders, alternate the .50 AA guns and engage the aircraft.

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  • Report the results of any air attack up the chain of command. TCs report to Platoon Leaders, Platoon Leaders to Company Commanders, etc.

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Halt security: Units on the move have to stop, for human reasons or mechanical ones, and you can’t just do it willy-nilly, there’s a plan for that too.

There are two kinds of stops a unit on the march will make. The short ten minute halt, to check the tanks out, for the crews to stretch their legs, no major maintenance will be taken on these short halts. The second kind is the Long halt. On the long halt, the tanks can be repaired if anything major popped up and refueled, and the crews could get some chow.

Security rules and things to note on the short halt:

  • Check the ground where the tank will be parked, make sure the tank won’t get stuck, or sink in. Back into the spot so you will not have to back out if the tank needs to move out in a hurry.

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  • First Echelon Tank Maintenance should be done on the short halt, check the tracks, tighten the end connectors, check the motor out, lube as needed.

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  • Review the course, check out the route the column is taking on the map, and review it with your crew and the rest of the platoon.

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  • Be Alert, post guards, at least two from each crew. One man must always be on the platoon leader’s radio. Do not let the enemy sneak up on your position.

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  • Disperse on the halt, in the same pattern as on the move; each tank is still responsible for covering the area they were covering with their main gun. Use any cover available on the halt to conceal the tanks as best possible from air or ground observation. Spacing cannot be less than 75 yards.
  • Each tank will have the commanders .50 manned.

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  • When pulling out, each tank will keeps its spacing, and will not stop on the road to form up. 

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Security Rules and things to note on the long halt:

  • All the rules for a short halt apply
  • You can pull further from the road on a longer halt. A guard has to be posted near the road to receive any signals though.
  • Dig Prone Shelters, you might not be able to get back into the tank in a surprise air raid or artillery attack.

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  • Eat while you work, you never know how long the halt will be.
  • Take more time to conceal the tanks, cut or break off tree branches and use them to break up the tanks lines. Rake the tanks tracks leaving the road away.

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  • Use shade and any local cover to hide the tank, move the tank as the shadows used to hide them move with the sun.

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  • If no cover can be found, use the camo net.

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  • Some camo is better than nothing.

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Special Rules for night marches:

  • If under air attack, Stop, for both concealment, and to prevent bunching up.
  • If under air Attack, Do not fire, unless you are sure you are spotted.
  • If under air Attack, Turn off your marker lights, the video doesn’t say this, and they used models in the film, but I think it’s a safe assumption.
  • No light, not even a smoke, and smoking is bad anyway, mmmkay.

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Now for some thoughts on the film, it is really very interesting for several reasons, and the quality is very good. The main reason it’s interesting is the look at prewar combat, or pre air superiority march doctrine. The attention paid to defense from air attack would not be pushed nearly as much even by the Italian campaign and would be almost an afterthought by Normandy. Later films probably pushed very carefully searching for well concealed AT guns and infantry that the lead and flank scouts may have missed.

It is also interesting how gas attacks and preparation for them is first thing they cover. I’m sure shortly after most unit got in combat they ended up losing or discarding most gas related gear, and I can’t ever recall seeing a man carrying a gas mask case or a square of the gas detecting paint on any vehicles in combat photos.

The night shot of tanks moving is clearly done with models. The machine guns used during the mock air raid also appear to be prop guns. If you watch carefully, most of the film, the .50 M2s have the normal short cooling sleeve with round holes, during the shooting scene, these have slotted sleeves, and the barrels do not seem to recoil at all.  The explosions look like typical Hollywood fare as well. It should come as no surprise Hollywood was willing to help the war effort; this is just one example of many. All the big studies did propaganda movies and even Bugs bunny and Disney got into the act.

I have been looking the tanks over, they are all M4A1 75 tanks, they are all small hatch hulls, but none are DV, they all have heavy duty suspension bogies. Two have three piece cast differential housings, the rest have the first version of the cast one piece diff housing. The turrets all look the same for the most part, with the short mantlet, so M34 gun mounts with no telescopic sights. Some of the gun mounts have slanted lift rings, others don’t seem too. At least one turret has the port for the spotlight on the roof. One tank has the siren mounted in the front plate with the odd single brush guard, the rest seem to have them mounted on the fenders.  Two or three of the tanks appear to have T54 steel chevron tracks, while two or three seem to have T47 steel bar cleat tracks. I’m bad at spotting the little clues that give away who made what, but I think two of the tanks were made at PCF in Washington; I think the two tanks with three piece diffs are from PSC in Illinois.

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News Post 6: Slowly Getting Back on Track

This week we got the post about Drivetanks.com out, and Subjegated Shermans also got a signifigant upate as well.  I have several other posts in the works, unfortunately all are about 80% done! That’s what I get for jumping around I suppose.

Anyway,  Hedgerow and Forest fighting are in the works, also in the works is a post on Mountain tanking with the Sherman. I’ll be doing a post on the various SPGs based on the venerable Sherman hull soon as well too.  Also coming soon, stories from actual tankers, or one in this case.

In other news, the website he talked about in the links section, The Lone Sentry, seems to have gone down for good. It was a fantastic resource on the US Army in WWII, and had tons of information and hard to find technical and field manuals hosted there.  If anyone has the Web Masters Contact info, or knows anything about the site going down, please contact me.

Thanks for reading, and commenting

-Jeeps