#6 WWII Variants Other than Tanks: Things Built Using the M4 Chassis, Like the M10 and M36

WWII Variants, Other Than Tanks, Based on the Sherman: The Main being TDs like the M10 and M36

Tank Destroyers: Tank Hunters, Failed Role, Successful Killers

  They did Great things but the whole idea was bad. The TD Battalions of the US Army had very good combat records, but the whole concept was flawed. The idea of holding back battalion size units to be rushed in to fight the tanks in a major attack, just didn’t work in practice, and since the US Army was on the attack most of the time, the TD units ended up being used a lot like the separate Tank Battalions, just not as good at it.

The Vehicles themselves proved useful and often found themselves attached to Tank Divisions, and used in ways never planned for.

M10: The First M4 Based TD to See Combat.

M10
A late production M10 with duckbill counter weights and wading trunks engages targets in France.

M10: The First Good American TD

The M10 was a tank destroyer mounting a 3 inch anti-tank gun. It used the M4A2 chassis with the GM 6046 to power it. These tanks only had a M2 .50 caliber machine gun other than their main gun. The turret lacked power traverse. It had a five man crew and was generally liked by its crew. The American TD force was deemed a failure, but not because the men or vehicles performed badly, it was the doctrine that failed to pan out, the battalions themselves performed well overall. It was used until the end of the war, and many TD battalions preferred it over the faster M18.  The TDs lacked a co-ax machine gun, this and their open top made them more vulnerable to infantry than a tank. Even so, these units were often given tank missions. The open top did offer a big advantage in finding any enemy tanks to shoot.

One aspect of the design that shows how rushed it was, are the driver’s hatches. They were larger than the Shermans produced at the same time, but could not be opened or closed if the turret was forward. So the crew had to make a choice if the driver and co-driver were going to be able to see well, or be buttoned, before the battle or movement.  The M10 lacked a turret basket, so the driver and co-driver had an easier time getting out of the roofless turret. Like all American designs, it went through a series of upgrades through its service life. The turret was upgrade and balanced better, and the crews liked to add their own roofs.  A power turret drive was never added to the tanks in US service though.

The M10A1 version of this vehicle had a Ford GAA motor. There was no difference other than and minor improvements between an M10 and M10A1. Crews added on armored roofs to their turrets, often all hinged so they could open up to really see what was going on, in the field. It was not uncommon for TD units to be used as fixed artillery for several days.

The M10 Turret went through several changes, the first versions were badly out of balance, and they tried to solve this by mounting the grousers for the tracks on the back of the turret. This didn’t work well and wedge shaped counterweights were added. This helped, but eventually the final production M10 turrets were widened, and even bigger counterweights were added with a distinct duckbill look to them.  They came up with a full roof armor kit for the final turret, and a half cover for the early turrets that could be field retrofitted.

The M10 and M10A1 had all the gear aboard to be used at artillery. A few TD battalions spent almost as much time as artillery as they did in their TD role. This capability was used often in Italy because the 3 inch gun on the M10 didn’t tear up the vital roads as much as the larger guns did. I would be surprised to find out the M36 didn’t have the same gear. They built 4993 M10s and 1713 M10A1s. At first, only M10 TDs were authorized for service overseas, and the M10A1, even though found to be automotively superior, was to be used in stateside training only. There was some doubt about the usefulness of the motorized TD before the Normandy landings, and production of the M10 was halted as many TD units were converted back to towed gun units or disbanded.

The M10 saw action in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Northern Europe, and various pacific Campaigns, the most notable being the retaking of the Philippines. It wasn’t really until the action started after the Allies went into Normandy that it really saw a lot of anti-armor use. In the MTO they TD units spent an awful lot of time being used as artillery units, to the point they had to learn how to swap barrels on their 3 inch guns after wearing the tubes out. The M10 in northern Europe saw lots of action, but was also being replaced by the M18 and M36. The M36 was very popular, the M18 was mixed, some units love it, some units refused to give up their trusty M10s. The M10 was not popular in the Pacific, the thinner armor, lack of hull and co-ax machine guns and open top made for a much easier target destroy for Japanese troops.

M10_Wolverine_St_Fromond_France_703_TDBn_3ADiv

An M0 Wolverine on the move in St Fromond France. The M10 is with the 703 TDB attached to the 3rd Armored Division.
M10_Wolverine_Tank_Destroyers_30th_Infantry_Division_Magdeburg_Germany_1945
A pair of M10 TDs supporting the 30th Infantry in Magdeburg Germany in 1945
M10_Wolverine_Tank_Destroyers_Head_For_Front_In_Tunisia_1943
A semi early m10 with wedge shaped counter weights on the way to the front in Tunisia, 1943
M10_Wolverine_77th_Infantry_Division_Leyte_Island_1944
An M10 or M10 A1 supporting the 77th Infantry Division on Leyte 1944
M10_Wolverine_With_Hedge_Cutter_803rd_Tank_Destroyer_Battalion_Ubach_Germany_1944

An M10 with the 803rd TDB in Ubach Germany
M10_M4_Jeep_And_2_12_Ton_Truck_76th_Infantry_Division_Speicher_1945
M10 TD moving through Speicher in 1945 supporting the 76th ID
M10_Wolverine
An early M10, maybe at the Ford plant.
M10_Wolverine_And_M4_Sherman_77th_Infantry_Division_Leyte_Island_1944
Another M10 supporting the 77th ID on Layte in 1944
M10_Wolverine_32nd_Infantry_Division_Tank_Destroyers_At_Aitape_New_Guinea_1944
M10 supporting the 32nd ID near At Aitape New Guinea
M10_Moving_Thru_Hurtgen_Forest_893rd_Tank_Destroyer_Battalion
An M10 with the 893rd TDB moving down a snow and mud covered road in the Hurtgen Forest
M10_Wolverine_Tank_Destroyer_77th_Infantry_Division_632_Bn_Ormoc_Leyte_Philippines_December_1944
Late production M10 supporting the 77th ID near Ormoc in the Philippines 1944
Destroyed_M10_Tank_Destroyer_35th_Infantry_Division_454th_Tank_Destroyer_Bn_Livarchamps_Belgium_Battle_Of_Bulge_1945
An early M10 with the 454th TDB knocked out during the fighting at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge
M10_Tank_Destroyer_And_Jeep_Enter_Fresnes_France_1944
This is an M10 entering Fresnes France in 1944, unit known.
M10_Tank_Destroyer_Moves_Into_Artena_Italy_1944
An M10 moves into Artena Italy in 1944, unit unknown.
Crew_Of_A_Us_Army_Repair_Unit_Working_On_A_Shell-Damaged_Tank_Destroyer_At_An_Ordnance_Depot_Near_Anzio_Italy_1944
This image shows a repair crew fixing an M10 damaged by artilery or mortar fire near Anzio, Italy 1944
Us_Marine_M10_Tank_Destroyer_Advance_On_Pto
A Army M10 somewhere in the PTO probably in the Philipines.
Us_Tank_Destroyer_M10_GI_With_Bazooka_Fontainebleau_France_23_August_1944
An M10 supporting US troops entering Fontainbleau France in August of 1944
M10_Tank_Destroyer_Heads_To_Battle_Lines_At_Bir_Marbott_Pass_East_Of_El_Guettar_In_Tunisia_1943.
An early M10 heading to the fighting near Bir Marbott past, east of El Guettar Tunisia, in 1943.
M10_Wolverine_Givenchy-En-Gohelle_Calais_1944
M10 in the French town of Givenchy En Gohelle near Calais France, 1944
M10_Tank_Destroyers_At_Ford_Plant_In_Detroit_1943
M10 tank destroyers rolling out of the Ford Factory in Detroit, 1943
M10_And_M4_Tanks_On_Production_Line_At_Ford_Plant_1943
M10 and M4A3 Shermans being built side by side at Fords plant in 1943
M10_Wolverine_Tank_Destroyers_On_Production_Line_At_Ford_Plant_1943
Another shot of the Ford M10 line in 1943
M5_And_M10_Wolverine_2nd_Armored_Division_In_Tesey_Sur_Vire_France_1944
An M10 supporting the 2nd Armor Division near Tesey Sur Vire France, 1944
KO_M10_Wolverine_803rd_Tank_Destroyer_Battalion_Ubach_Germany_1944
An M10 with the 803rd TDB in Ubach Germany late 44
M10_773rd_Tank_B_90th_Div_Mainz_Germany_1945
An M10 with the 773rd TD Battalion, supporting the 90th ID near Mainz Germany in 1945
30th_Infantry_Division_And_823rd_Tank_Destroyer_Battalion_M10_Germany_1945
30th ID doughs ride on 823rd TDB M10 in Germany, 1945
M10_32nd_Infantry_Division_632nd_Tank_Destroyer_Battalion_At_Aitape
This is an M10 in the Pacific, the crew is cleaning the gun, and the TD is with the 632 TDB on At Aitape
157th_Infantry_Regiment_Supported_By_M10_Tank_Destroyers_Of_A_Company_645th_Td_Bn_Under_Fire_In_Town_Of_Niederbronn_France
M10 of A Company, 645th TDB, Supporting the 157th Infantry Regiments, in the Town Of NiederbronnFrance
Camouflaged_M10_Tank_Destroyer_And_Harley_Davidson_In_Percy_France_08_1944
M10 in Percy France in 1944
M10_Wolverine_Aachen_1944
M10 in Aachen 1944
M10_Free_French_3rd_Algerian_Division_In_Omia_Italy_1944
M10 serving with the Algerian Free French 3rd Division in Omia Italy in 1944
M10_Wolverine_Tank_Destroyer_Halloville_France_November_1944
An M10 near Halloville France, November of 1944

M36: The M10 With A Much Better Gun

 

M36-GMC-Danbury.0004zx4t

 

Another tank destroyer based on the Sherman chassis, basically an M10A1 with a new turret mounting a bigger gun. These tanks mounted the 90mm M3 gun. Often this tanks turret was fitted to otherwise stock M4A3 hulls due to a shortage of M10 hulls. These TDs had full power traverse. These TDs were well liked because the M3 worked well on both armor and soft targets, since the M3 had a nice HE shell.

m76f telescope reticle m76f

M36B1

This TD suffered all the same problems dealing with infantry the M10 did, except in the M36 B1, since it was built on an M4A3 hull, it had a bow machine gun. This was as close to a factory produced 90mm Sherman during the war. It was also upgraded in a lot of units with some form of roof armor. It solved the drivers and co drivers hatch problems and always had a power turret drive though.

m36 turret dia

There was a diesel powered version based on the base M10 chassis powered by the GM 6046. There were 1413 M36s, 187 M36B1s, and 724 M36B2s.  They produced it on the M4A3 and M10 hulls because they ran out of M10A1 hulls, and no more were going to be produced. Demand for the vehicle was so great they used what they had available.  As far as I can tell they saw use only in Europe with the US Army, but the French used them in Indo-China (Vietnam).

American soldiers of Patton's Third Army standing in front of their M36 TD while rolling up a Nazi flag they have taken as a trophy after the capture of Bitberg.
American soldiers of Patton’s Third Army standing in front of their M36 TD while rolling up a Nazi flag they have taken as a trophy after the capture of Bitberg.
M36_Jackson_and_Maginot_Line_Pillbox_776th_Tank_Destroyer_Bn_Hottviller_France_1944
M36 TD with the 776th TD Battalion, near Hottviller France, next to a Maginot Line pillbox 1944
90_mm_Gun_Motor_Carriage_M36_Jackson_
Factory fresh M36B2, waiting to be issued to troops
M36_Slugger_Tank_Destroyer_Tested_at_Aberdeen_1945
M36 being tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground 1945

 

M36_Jackson_Ardennes_Offensive
M36 in action during the battle of the bulge.
M36_702_Bn_Roer_River_1944
An M36 TD with the 702nd TDB near the Roer river, in 1944. It may be being used in the indirect fire role.
Line_of_M36_Tank_Destroyers_at_Repair_Depot_in_France_1944
What looks like a line of brand new M36 TD in a Depot somewhere in France in 1944.
M36_Jackson_in_the_streets_of_Metz_November_21_1944
This M36 looks like the crew is looking for something to shoot at. The photo was taken on the streets of Metz in november of 1944
M36_35th_Infantry_Division_654th_TD_Bn_in_Oberbrauch_Germany_1945
This M36B1 just took a shot at something, note all the smoke coming from the open turret, and how the commander appears to be looking at something. The photo was taken in Oberbrauch German in 1945 and the TD is with the 654th TDB
M36_Jackson_Tank_Destroyer_1944
M36B1 outside probably the Fisher plant in 44.
M36B1_ank_destroyer_1945
An M36B1, 1945, location and unit unknown

. . .

Artillery: they have big guns, and their crews are usually deaf. (Coming soon)

 

105 Howitzer motor Carriage M7& M7B1: 4316 produced

155 Gun Motor Carriage M12: 100 produced

155 Gun Motor Carriage M40: 418 produced

8 Inch Howitzer Motor Carriage M43: 48 produced

 

Sources: Sherman by Hunnicutt,  TM9-745, TM9-748, TM9-731b Yeide’s The Tank Killers, Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga

 

One thought on “#6 WWII Variants Other than Tanks: Things Built Using the M4 Chassis, Like the M10 and M36

  1. So where did we get this stupid idea that tanks weren’t supposed to fight other tanks, that this was the roll of Tank Destroyers?
    I bet it was the Germans!
    That’s what they believed in 1940. Each Panzer Divisions had a Tank Destroyer Battalion composed of cobbled together turretless tanks with guns only slightly more powerful than the 37mm in what was their main battle tank then the 38T.
    There are a lot of parallels between how the Germans fought their tanks in 1940 and what we were trying to do in 1942.

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