Sherman Tank Site News Post 16: A few setbacks but some good content on the way.
Well, the beginning of the year was looking good, then things on a work-related front went south, and I have not had as much time for the site. What time I had I was using on image improvements and had to cut back there due to some carpal tunnel syndrome issues. I won’t bother you all with further personal stuff.
Our pal Walt from the Sturgeons House Forums, who runs Tank And AFV News, has a new video channel, and though it is not Sherman specific, it is doing book reviews and if you’re interested in Shermans, or Armor in general, you should give his page and videos a view! Support the fellow Armor loving guys out there!
Sherman Tank Site Post 73: Articles from Army Motors Episode #1
This is the first in a series of posts I’m going to do highlighting the Sherman or M4 series-related vehicle, articles I’ve found. With some commentary, though some of these articles are so good they speak for themselves.
Give Your Tank a Brake!
This article surprised me, because in the world of 4 wheel drive, compression braking is commonly used to control a vehicle on steep hill descents, and some vehicles have very low gears in their transfer case for this purpose, among others. I bought a Jeep Rubicon because it came with a Transfercase to do this.
A tank is not a Jeep though, so I clearly get the point of the article. Also, as for using the engine to brake, I’ve never been big on downshifting for that reason, even in cars and Jeeps. I once had a conversation with my wife, who was big on downshifting, about the cost and labor of a new set of brake pads, versus a new clutch. She agreed once we talked about the labor involved.
I started a new image improvement series based on the Shermans Motors. I was not entirely happy with the first series of images I cleaned up regarding the Ford GAA and the M4A3. There were several reasons, the main being, I just got a lot better at using the imaged editing software over the process of doing that first set. This left a lot of images of less quality than they could be, and that annoys me so I’m going to fix that. On the upside, many of these images already are almost done, so fixing them does not take that long.
Another problem with the early parts diagrams is they only have simple part names. If I don’t know for sure the name of the port, a cover plate is covering and the diagram just says cover, it makes it less useful. What’s interesting is you can find the same images just labeled differently in the different parts catalogs and Technical Manuals. On the improved images, I’m using the actual commonly used parts name. Digging through the various manuals to figure this out can be time-consuming, but I always learn something so it’s ok.
I‘ll post a bunch of the updated images at the end of this post.
I put up Clothing and Gear store, you can click on the first link to go directly to the link, or the second link to go to the preview page on this website, with some larger images of some of the shirts. The idea behind the store is even if it only makes a few bucks a month, it can help offset some of the web pages hidden costs. I think I have some amusing T-shirts up, check it out.
I put in a small forum, so people have an easier venue to discuss things since the comment system is clunky for that. To start it off, I put a post up about my feelings on the Sherman Stabilizer system and if it not being commonly used is a myth or not. Please pop over and add your feedback.
Coming soon, more huge Technical drawings and parts breakdowns.
In the beginning: WOT was clearly better, but WT has grown into a better game.
I’ll start by saying; I have not played a game of World of Tanks in months. At one point it was my main game. Sure, I didn’t play much when GTA 5 came out or Fallout 4, but I always came back to WOT. I’d been playing since closed beta, and had 16k battles in the live game, and some rare cool tanks, the A-32, the beta Sherman, the M-60 and VK7201, and even the T23, attesting to some good clan experiences. I was a solid 56% player and liked T5, and the Sherman, the standard M4 was my most played tank. 1083 battles, 56.14% win rate. That was an honest 56%, I rarely platooned, and had moments of great online glory, and terrible gaming shame. Key clan battles were both won, and towards the end of my time with a competitive clan, lost because of my play. I will freely admit I was never a great player, just a little above average, but I did really like the game.
The game itself is polished, physics are great, the models beautiful, and I liked how you could play a few quick games and quit. I also liked mods, because the vanilla game interface sucked, and who doesn’t want extra zoom? Me dropping out of WOT was long in coming, and I remember the glory days, where knowing the view system allowed you to do awesome shit on most maps, the tears were glorious, and medium and light tanks were fun. I don’t know anyone who plays anymore, at least on the regular, I know a pal logged in this weekend, I can’t be bothered. I think the glory days for WOT are long in the past, years of patching ago, when the clans and player base still had some heart. Before the draconian and sometimes indefensibly bad moderation ran anyone remotely interesting off the forums. The only thing that sparked any interest in me at all is a game mode, not being offered on what was the premier version, PC.
If you cannot tell from my previous review of War Thunder, I wasn’t a fan in the past and talked some mighty shit. I’ll say some points still stand, but overall, I could have been fairer and should have waited longer to review it. I will stand by it being a copy of WOT, at least in a few ways, though also an improvement, with its own spin, that makes it is own game and offers more options than WOT does, and I think Gaijin has a better outlook than Wargaming. Wargaming produced a great tank arcade game and ruined it, then produced a shit airplane arcade game and an almost passable, but still boring, and shallow, but pretty ship game. Gaijin has produced an amazingly pretty airplane game, with a good arcade mode, and decent realistic and simulator modes, though I do not agree with some of their flight model choices, I enjoy the hell out of Air Arcade mode, and love the selection of planes being able to do air missions really adds a fun aspect to the game if you like airplanes, and I do. Tank arcade, realistic and simulator battles are also available, and they keep things interesting with various events, and a PVE mode for both tanks and planes that gives a nice booster as a reward, win or lose it can be a nice fun daily diversion, and I’m only covering co-op PVE and PVP modes, the game has a lot of standalone air missions and campaigns that are single player PVE.
War Thunder also includes unguided rockets, ATGMs and smoke shells and launchers on tanks and most tanks have at least a share of the machine guns on the tank as usable weapons. Machine guns are not as useless as you would think, some of the most annoying TDs in the game, like the stupid waffentrager can be killed with the coax and, .50 machine gun on most US tanks. The machine guns can be used to knock down shacks and shoot down aircraft, and are a fun addition to the game. On vehicles with exposed crews, you can see them, allows you to machine gun them.
One thing War Thunder does not include is player driven self-propelled artillery vehicles. They must have recognized the cancerous effect vehicles like this have on a game. They do have a mechanic to call in an artillery barrage, but it’s nothing like being shot by an artillery sniper from across the map while on the move like in WOT. In War Thunder, Artillery rarely kills you if your tank has decent armor, or you drive out of the area when you get the warning. This factor alone makes WT much more enjoyable than WOT.
Let’s compare the two, in Arcade mode, since that is all WOT offers.
The interface: War Thunder edges out WOT.
On the surface, War Thunder looks a lot like WOT. Various nations, a bar with planes, and later tanks very similar controls, the tech tree and tank upgrades at first seem very close, you have an in-game currency you can buy with real money and one you earn in-game, and in this way, War Thunder has more options that could be viewed as pay to play than WOT. Specifically, you can just max your crew’s skills with real cash, if you were willing to drop a fair chunk of money on the game.
X-Ray: WOT has nothing like it.
This is an option in the vehicle viewer and WOT has nothing like it. It shows, in a somewhat generic way with the component, where everything important inside the tank is located. The crew, the gun, the optics, the turret ring and drive and transmission and final drives are all shown in generally the right places, though they do not always get it right, it’s still a very nice feature. In a game when killed, it shows the shot hitting your tank then what it takes out inside if anything.
Armor view: WOT can do with mods, what WT has built in.
This nifty little feature lets you look at the armor layout, and on planes and tanks and it calculates the thickness of a plate from the angle you are looking at, and gives you that, and the actual thickness based on its angle to the camera. WOT does not have a feature like this, but there were mods that added it.
Social: Like, talking to people or something…
The social options are about the same, or they seem like that, but since I do not care about anything but being able to have a chat room with some pals, social stuff is not interesting.
Free Exp: Bypassing shit tanks, and weapon grinds, you can do it in both.
In WOT, you always earn a small amount of free experience, and each tank is its own bank of available experience to convert. This allows you to burn real money for a large chunk of free exp you can sit on and use on any tank tree. It is very easy to run out of if you are willing to do things like burning through several tanks with free exp to get a T110E5 on release day for clan wars that evening, you can zero out your available exp, and no amount of real-world cash gets you more, you have to build it up on tanks by playing them.
In WT you end up with a massive bank of experience, and then you pay the currency purchased with real money on conversion right at the vehicle, and you get so much overtime, you’d have to drop a large chunk of cash on the game to burn through it all, and could max out a nation’s tree with ease if you wanted to with and had the cash. In just over a year of playing, I have nearly 6 million convertible exp points. At low levels, you can deck out a tank or bypass it for a few bucks, but at the high end, you’re looking at much higher amount of real money. You, of course, can, just like in WOT, earn the exp on the vehicle by playing it, and spend no money at all.
How free exp is applied to vehicle parts is different in one key area, in world of tanks your researching a new type of item. So, if it’s a gun, motor or radio used in later tanks or other lines, it’s unlocked in them all. This is a huge cost saver, and I like this version better than WTs version. In War Thunder, you are not unlocking new technology and putting the new better part on, you’re paying for a brand new barrel, or motor, or tranny, etc, because your brand new tank isn’t brand new with inferior parts to upgrade, it just warns the hell out, and you fix it up as you go. Although I like the World of Tanks approach better, it’s not a deal breaker in War Thunder, and from perspective of getting players to spend money, I think WTs works better and a key advantage to the WT system is, you can unlock a tank and move past it without being forced to unlock a bunch of crap on the tank itself, so if you don’t want to play it, in most cases you can unlock it, then start on the next tank, and not be penalized for not unlocking key parts on the earlier tank or anything on it.
In both games, the tanks are pretty bad stock, but rarely in War Thunder is a tank straight up useless stock. I’m looking at you M7 Medium (when WOT was good) and your crappy 37mm gun at T5.
I think that’s the extent of uses for free exp in WT. In WOT, on rare occasions, it can also be used to train up crews, but it was a very rare and hugely costly thing when they did allow it.
Crews: Too many in WOT, just right in WT.
War Thunder has a simpler and better system, this is an area War Thunder is much better than WOT. In World of tanks, each tank has its own crew, and if you want to store them when you sell a tank, they have to go in a barracks you pay to upgrade with real cash. You can retrain a crew to another vehicle, but it can only be the crew of one type of tank at a time, or of a premium tank in the same class, light, medium, etc. This means if you like having a lot of tanks, you have a ton of crews, each crew levels and has skills. A great crew could make a big difference in a tank’s performance, but having a ton of tanks you play a lot means you skill your crews up slow. You can retrain, but if you do not want to pay a fairly steep price in real money bought currency, you lose a big chunk of exp from the crew; this part of the game can become a big money hole quick.
War Thunder handles crews in a very different way, and if you really had to, you could get away with only three ground vehicle crews for arcade mode, since you can only spawn in three tanks. This means if you want, you can divide up all the vehicles from one nation up to those crews, each one requiring currency earned by playing the game, or spending bought currency, for the very highest skill, after you dump a ton of in-game cash too, making leveling a crew without playing it plausible but very very expensive in real money. I go with six crews for each nation, but only use three or four for ground crews, and then all six as aircrews.
In my opinion, the War Thunder crew system is better, and even though you can dump cash into it, doing so doesn’t offer much of an advantage for the huge cash dump it would take to max out six crews, but it does help you keep a smaller number of crews so you can focus the experience earned by playing. When you couple in the cost of garage slots in WOW, and how much real money that costs, War Thunder wins out there too for the player who likes to collect tanks, and you can’t sell anything so no worries on what tanks you want to keep WT.
The Tech Trees: WT wins again.
I was never all that bothered by the prototypes making it into World of Tanks, and I think many of them belong. Tanks like the T23, Vk3002DB and M7 Medium (it’s a damn medium!!!) either saw limited production, serious consideration, with some real blueprints, or made a whole factory for the damn things, so they make reasonable additions. Strait up making up overpowered tanks from very preliminary drawings, and then making game ruining tanks out of them takes it to far. Tanks like the T10 TDs, the Waffentrager, pretty much the whole E series I think helped ruin the game. I hit a point, years ago, where there was not a single tank in the game I cared to get, so I stopped playing anything past T8 and mostly T5, and then not at all.
The Vehicles: War thunder wins in variety and customizability.
Almost a tie, but War Thunder wins, since Wargaming’s plane game sucked and looked like crap, and was not integrated at all.
The early models still in the game are pretty bad at this point, but the new model’s World of Tanks have been releasing are very good. They look a little sharper to me than corresponding War Thunder models, but it’s very close on how pretty the models are.
War Thunder models look a little softer, giving them a slightly more cartoonish appearance, and I run both games at max settings with no issues. War Thunder edges WOT out though because the tank decoration system is so much better. In World of Tanks, you get decals you can apply to a tank, for real money if you want it to be permanent; they have fixed locations only, two emblems and two inscriptions. The same for camo and camo gives a small view distance reduction bonus. If you want to use the same decals on different tanks you pay for it again same with the tanks camo. They do let you rent them for extended times in in-game earned currency.
In War Thunder, tanks have individual camo, and it can be purchased for a similar cost to WOT. But you can also earn it by playing the game with that tank and getting kills or just battle count in some cases. Most tanks you will have all the camo by 300 battles. That’s not all the customization you get though. In WT, you have two other categories, six slots for decorators, 3D decorations, and 4 decal slots.
The decorators range from various tree branches, that actually make your tank much harder to spot in realistic and simulator battles, to animal skulls, various road signs, some German crosses and a red star, a French SMG, and dolls, an accordion, gas masks, helmets, guitars, grenade racks, garden gnomes, Jack-o-lanterns, and even a bar sign. These are 3D items and can be fairly freely placed, though not over some items on the hulls.
The decals are like the ones in WOT, but better in all ways, since in WOT they are fixed in size, location, and orientation. They can be rotated, duplicated on the other side, and resized. There are a ton of them, from kill markers to historic tank and airplane decorations, some can be bought, there are many earned decorators too, but not the camo branches or most of the more silly decorations.
This variety of decorations and the surprising ways you can use them to make for some very interesting vehicles makes War Thunder a much more visually diverse game. The War Thunder tank models are better in one other way too; much of the exterior of the tank can be damaged and even blown off, while the tank still fights on. I’ve seen storage boxes and tools completely blown away, even fenders and other items can be knocked off some tanks.
Premium Vehicles: It’s a wash, so close in execution it’s almost the same.
The system is very similar in between the games. In WOT, a premium tank was supposed to be a tank not quite as good as a decked out regular tank in the same tier, but any crew from that class could use it without training, and they made more exp, free exp, and credits. WOT has not always held to this guideline, and some premium tanks ended up being better than fully decked out tanks in their tier, in most cases these vehicles were removed from sale, but the players with them kept them. Older premiums tend to be worse than newer ones on WOT though, and a few premiums were out and out duds.
In WT, the premium vehicles are just tiered based on their performance and will be generally as good as anything at the same rating. Crews have to be specifically trained on it to use it, but it’s cheaper than a normal vehicle and they make more exp and credits. Like in WOT they can be variants of vehicles in the game already, copies, or oddballs, but in WT most are copies of a vehicle on another nations tech tree like the lend-lease M4A2 76W tank you can buy on the Russian tree. It is the same tank as the one on the regular tree on the US line, just premium. But they do have a fair number of special vehicles only available as a premium, the P-38K and several other prototype planes, RAMII, the T14, and T29 both US Heavy Tanks only available as premium tanks. They also have some premiums, where you have to buy another premium first, to unlock the second. The prime example being the Sherman Calliope has to be bought before the M26 T99 can be purchased. Both these rocket equipped tanks are a riot to play. Nothing says ‘hello’ like a bunch of rockets to the face! I even got an airplane with one!
Since this is the Sherman tank site, how do the Sherman models compare: WT edges WOT out again, but its close.
War Thunder: All the Shermans used in the war
Lots of solid Shermans, it has more Shermans and has them tiered better, and the models, for the most part, are more realistic. The early war DV M4A1 Sherman in WT tiered at 3.3 is my favorite tank both in model and gameplay. When you get in a 3.3 game you can dominate if you don’t go stupid like I do about half the time. The M4A1 76W model is also very nice, with only a few small flaws. The game has just about all the important versions of the Sherman in game. WOT does not. WTs Sherman models are all solid, and for the most part, since there is a feature called X-Ray, you can use in the garage to view the interior components inside the tank, even the insides are pretty accurate. They were a little off here and there as you can see in the old review, but they’ve done a good job with most of it, but the M4A2 76w tanks still have the add-on side armor they shouldn’t have. So lots of good solid models, at all the right tiers, balanced well enough. Not many rare versions, even in the premium line, and there is enough precedent for tanks like the M7 Medium to show up as a premium tank since the T14 and T20 are in the game as such. They are releasing new vehicles at a high rate, so who knows what we will see, but true napkin tanks are very rare in WT, with just a few scattered in the German and Japanese and French trees.
WOT: Franken Shermans, miss labeled models, and rare tanks.
WOT is a more mixed bag and still has a turret that was never used on the hull their T5 M4 model has, and they call it an M4 when it’s an M4A1. This is a silly flaw that has been in the game since beta. In the American tree, they have the messed up M4/M4A1 at T5, and the M4A3E8 76W at T6 with the Jumbo and all have decent models, though they have weapon options never offered this is somewhat normal in WOT. Where WOT shines in the Sherman department, is in its oddball Shermans, it’s got some good ones.
Here’s a list of WOT’s oddball and interesting Shermans: The M4A2E4 this Sherman was the testbed for torsion bar suspension on the Sherman the original model was recently replaced with a very nice new model, it was only given to US beta testers and is pretty rare in the game. The M4 Improved, a proposed improved all welded Sherman with a better turret, also a very nice model, and a standard premium. The M4A3E8 Thunderbolt VII premium Sherman, based on Creighton Abram’s 7th wartime Sherman, the model features the common to the 3rd Army’s field modified Jumbo with a bunch of extra armor welded on. The M4A1 revalorize a French premium Sherman with a big 105 gun wraps up the oddballs. It’s an ok model, not fantastic. There is also a Fury premium that looks just like the movie tank.
Airplanes: WOT HAS NO PLANES
The War Thunder airplane models were always better than the World of Warplanes models and gameplay is better too. The tank decals can be used on the planes and vice versa. They have a lot of very cool airplanes in the game, planes I haven’t seen in other games. They have all the cats, including the late war F7F and F8F, in the Bearcats case, there are two versions. There are five F4U Corsair variants, two F4U-1A models, but no birdcage -1. The rest make sense though, 1d, 1C, -4, -4B. Lots of P-51s, with and without Merlins, including the H and Twin! P-47s galore, including the 47N, and they are all great ground attack planes. Like the tank models, many are not perfect, things like the early Corsairs having cockpit floors, and the late Corsairs, the -4s, have a B series R2800 modeled when they should have a C series but these are small complaints. The inclusion of the P-38 and a lot of versions is overshadowed somewhat by them having terrible air to ground load outs, but they include the prototype K, and it’s rad, so, still a win.
The plane side of the game being fun was a surprise, but I really enjoy arcade mode, I’m just not good at it though. On occasion, I’ll pull off a good game or two. If you like WWII and Korean War era air warfare, the air game is pretty damn fun.
Gameplay: The real Meat and Potatoes
General: Skill based play wins out
In my opinion, War Thunder rewards players with good hand-eye coordination and good reflexes more than World of Tanks. The aiming mechanic in WOT is stupid and adds inaccuracies for gun traversing, elevation, the speed of movement, and you have to hold the crosshairs still for an amount of time that varied gun to gun for the shot to be accurate. This was one of the most frustrating aspects, and an aspect used to balance the game way to much, in WOT. WT has no such mechanics, you get the crosshairs on target and pull the trigger, and accuracy is only based on base gun accuracy and crew skill. Both games use random number generators in their shooting system, but WT’s is much better, and not used to balance nations. In this single way, War Thunder is leaps ahead of WOT.
Both games require more thought than I can always put in, but skill seems to shine out a little more in WT. The tier system helps, they are decently balanced, and you rarely end up in battles you can do nothing in, it happens, but far less than in WOT. Both games have very skilled players, but they really seem to shine more in WT, and the player base seems less criminally stupid most of the time.
Mods: WT keeps it pure, and wins again.
War Thunder has none. At first, this seemed bad, but as I learned to play the game, I enjoyed being able to just jump in and play post patch. Frankly, the mods in WOT ranged from downright game breaking to perverted distractions. No mods mean an even playing field other than the tanks specs and the player’s skills. Not some mod that lets them zoom in a target exact locations, or shows the last place a person was on a map, or where trees were falling or worse. There are known cheats in WT, but they are actively banning accounts, forever, for using them. In this area, War Thunder wins hands down.
There are a ton of very well done player made skins you can add, mostly to airplanes. If you know of a historic aircraft, and the plane is in WT, there is probably a skin for it. I found skins for Ira Kepford, Richard Bong, Tommy McGuire, Charlie MacDonald, Greg “Pappy” Boyington, etc.
WOT has MODs, some are almost cheating, many slow the game down, and they are a pain in the ass to keep up to date like in any game. WTs interface is good enough vanilla.
Maps: No game is perfect, but WOT ruined all their good maps.
WOT had some cool maps early on, but even the originals in the game now have been tweaked to reward close in fighting. Almost all the new maps, no matter how cool they looked, tended to be the kinda map that forces fighting in one or two corridors, with maybe a flank option that was easy to guard. Even after physics, they found ways to keep areas off limits in ways that seemed artificial, and ruined light and medium tanks so why bother caring about physics anyway. Another thing sad about WOT is how little of the world is destructible in battles. Sure, a few houses here and there can be knocked down with a tank, but structures that should not stop a tank do in WOT.
War Thunder has some very cool maps and some crappy ones, but they all feature more destructible items, including large buildings that eventually collapse if heavy fighting goes on around them. I’d say the WT maps do not look as good, they have the same slight cartoonish feel, but they are more interesting and varied, and allow a bad tank driver to get places he should not go, a much rarer occurrence in WOTs much more gamed up maps. Surprise flanking happens all the time in WT, the maps are so open in many cases it’s impossible to guard against clever and determined players. I think that’s a good thing, and some of the most fun I’ve had in War Thunder have been cases where I snuck a Sherman or light into the enemies rear and get a bunch of kills before they even know I’m there. I die trying to replicate these games a lot.
Game Modes: WT has multiple modes people actually play so win for it again.
WOT toyed around with various modes, they added a historic battle mode that flopped and they removed. Clan wars were or are a thing but at this point, who cares, the rest of the game is a nightmare. Classic arcade battle mode changed little two sub-modes that could be toggled on being fairly unpopular in particular on maps not designed for the mode.
WT has an arcade mode, with a much tighter tier system. It also has a realistic mode that mixes in Airplanes of the same tier range, and is significantly harder than Arcade mode, and has a big enough following I never wait long on my limited forays into it. The lack of markers alone is huge, spotting something to bomb with a plane is tough. This mode is more rewarding, but slower paced and requires careful attention. I plan to play it more when my crews and tanks are all decked out. There is a simulator mode, even more, hardcore, like rip the wings of a plane off if you maneuver to hard, realistic. This mode is to much trouble for me, but I do not fault the people who want a challenge, and the thing to remember is WOT has none of these modes.
The way the match is set up is different as well since the battle is one by taking objectives, not the player’s flag. The are several variations on the basic them and fewer maps, but also fewer dud maps.
There are Arcade, realistic, and simulator battles dedicated to just air battles as well. There are also a whole series of single player air missions, you can play in any mode, and they offer a few credits and experience, and offer a lot of missions loosely based on real historical ones.
There is also a PVE air and land battle option, that the first time played gives you a booster the better you do, the better the booster once a day, but you can play the mode anytime. I do the land battle one at the Sherman tier, 3.7, and can win if the rest of the team is decent; the M10 GMC is great for that mode. With the PVE modes having a large variety of tanks and crews can be an advantage over having just three. Also, some of the special event modes don’t let you respawn a dead tank, so having a five or six trained tank crews can be good. The PVE mode, in both air and land battle, involves protecting a location from 12 waves of enemy tanks or planes. You can actually make good exp and credits in this mode with a win where you kill lots of stuff.
Three tanks a match versus one life: A second and third chance if you mess up is nice!
One of the biggest differences between WOT and WT in arcade mode is in WOT, if you do something dumb and die early, game over. WT, you can spawn three different tanks, so you can get back in and try and not die like an idiot two more times.
It’s nice to be able to have a few fast games, and then hit the road, but overall, I’ve grown to like running three tanks, and it makes platooning more fun. It also allows good players to have a much greater influence on the match. It also explains why there are so many vehicles, even models of the same vehicle, at the same tier.
Conclusion: WOT is dying, WT is still moving along, and seems to be doing well.
As WT grows, adds countries and vehicle and polishes its system, the game is getting better. This is not the case for WOT, and for the last several years, every patch seems to make the game worse, and Wargaming continues to pump out cheesy premium tanks at outrageous prices to milk the player base. Is anyone dumb enough to buy a T-34 black edition? Anyway, without something changing, I think WOT is slowly going to die off.
War Thunder I think will continue to grow, and they are in a good place to add even more modern vehicles. I could see them adding attack helicopter and SAM tanks. They already have some hardcore ground attack planes in the game, helicopters would be easier to shoot down.
My conclusion is, WT has a future, if they pull it off, with ships planes and tanks in the same games. I see WOT fading away. But then again, what do I know; I’m just an old gamer and Sherman tank freak. But I did spend a decent chunk of money on WOT, and that’s money Wargaming is not going to see again, and what’s left after the Sherman tank site eats my hobby funds, goes to WT now.
Some Final Though: Things I’d love to see in WT.
There are already infantry models in the game, on some of test flight maps, if you look around the base perimeter, you will spot infantry standing around. You can shoot them, they fall down and fade away. How cool would it be if they added waves of that infantry to the PVE tank mission, that you could machine gun! They could also make infantry a consumable like artillery, you activate them, and they appear and attack the nearest enemy, or even allow the player to pick a target like with artillery. You could even make it so if they got close to a tank they could start shooting bazooka or Panzerschreck rounds at the tanks. I would like to see them add more single-player missions, but for tanks instead of just planes.
I’d also like to see them fix the Corsair line, and it would be easy. What’s wrong with it you ask? Well, they have two F4U-1A models in the game and no F4U-1 model. The F4U-1A was a later model than the F4U-1, the -1 has a canopy with much more bracing and a lower floor, making it harder to see out of. It could be down tiered because of this and over a thousand were produced this way, and these were the planes that first saw combat in the Solomon Islands. The -1A was not even an official model number, but it was the generally used term for the -1 models that got the longer tail wheel leg, the improved valving on the main landing gear oleo struts, and the cockpit with an improved slightly raised seat, with canopy with much less bracing, and the spoiler on the right wing, so the wings stalled at the same time. What the game shows as the F4U-1A and -1A USMC, these two versions could be merged, and the lower battle ratting used on the regular -1 model.
I would also like them to fix the load outs on the Corsairs and P-38s. the -1D Corsair should be able to carry 8 HVARs and two 1000 pound bombs, as should the -4 and 4b. The -38J and L should be able to carry a pair of 2000 pound bombs, and the L 10 HVARS with it. These were documented wartime load outs.
This review got stupidly long, sorry, see you in WT.
I downloaded this PDF, Report on The New Weapons Board 1944, someplace, but since I don’t remember where I hosted it too. The report documents the feedback the troops gave to the board on the various weapons they demonstrated.
The report was put together in early 44 to document feedback from the troops on current weapons, and proposed improvements, and replacements. There is a good amount of information on the M4 medium tank, and US Armor in general. Most of the combat feedback comes from the fighting in Italy, and North Africa.
The report also sheds an interesting light and gives evidence for the view that the US Army didn’t consider the improved early Sherman bad, and only wanted it replaced with something much better. It also gives some interesting insight into the Shermans and what condition they were in when they got to the using units.
Feedback on current equipment and changes.
The first thing is this to note about the Sherman is the first mention of it is praise for the current models. This quote stands out, “No new type is desired unless the improvement in military characteristics is sufficient to warrant the changes and defects in the present standard tanks are avoided.”
They did have a list of improvements they did want either done to the Sherman and to make sure the follow-on model, the T20 series incorporated them.
They wanted a 76mm gun like the 3-inch gun on the M10. The news of the 76mm M1 series and the new Shermans mounting the gun interested the troops a lot. They brought an M4E6 76mm Sherman to show to the troops.
Improved suspension and tracks. It turns out the rubber block tracks with no chevron were not well liked and wore out very quick in rocky, hilly terrain. The steel chevron blocks with rubber backs were well like and lasted much longer. This feedback is mostly from the MTO, the mountainous and rocky landscape was hard on tanks and even the Sherman had some issues. The complaints about the suspension had more to do with width than durability.
They wanted armored air cleaners on the M4 and M4A1 tanks. It turns out the Air cleaners mounted under the overhang on the rear hull of the M4 and M4A1 tanks were prone to damage, and this damage was not expected and didn’t pick up until Italy so there was a shortage. All other models had the air cleaners inside the hull. Some units added improvised armor and some were added later in the production runs.
Better ballistic angle around the front of the transmission housing. The old three-part differential is what they are talking about. Most early Shermans had this type, and the armor was thinner than the later cast single piece units. There were two cast versions, an early thinner, but still no worse than the three-piece unit, and a later improved thicker one. There was a demand for add-on armor over this area, but it was never approved.
More power. Yet, when the M4A3 Ford GAA powered Shermans came online, they did not want to swap them in as replacements, and only wanted whole units who trained on them stateside first to be issued the improved tanks. The M4A4 and M4A2 were not big enough improvements to switch to those motors.
Diesel engine. The US Army rejected the GM 6046, claiming it was not as reliable as the R975, but all the nations that did use this motor liked it.
They wanted better sights and fire control equipment. Many tanks in the MTO and NATO(North African Theater of Operation) had not gotten the M34A1 gun mounts with telescopic sights. The mount for the periscope sight had not seen major improvements, though there were field mods to make it work. The using arm was enthusiastic about the changes in the second gen Shermans fire control, but wanted even more advanced features, like rangefinders, and improved telescopes, since the current ones shot loose too!
There is also other tank related info.
The M3 75mm Gun – Though well-liked for infantry support and deemed to be reliable and durable, the using arms almost universally felt the German 75mm PAK 40 guns were much better anti-tank weapons, and a high-velocity 76mm gun was in demand.
75mm ammunition – these fixed rounds came unfixed, sometimes even in their travel packaging. They wanted this fixed. They wanted the WP shells ballistics to match the ballistics of the common HE shell.
Large caliber cartridge cases – Steel cases for the 75mm rounds for the M3 gun were well received and proved more durable. This was not the case for 105mm howitzer rounds.
105mm howitzer armed tanks – This was not a popular notion because the M7 105mm GMC was inaccurate when used for direct fire to support infantry assaults. The new weapons board did not agree, and plans for this vehicle were already in motion, and it would be well liked once issued.
Tank Officers – they wanted a tanker officer in the high-level headquarters to advise Division and higher level officers the best way to use tanks. AA and Tank destroyer officers were already an accepted part of these HQ staffs.
the 17-pdr gun – There was more interest in using this gun in M10s since the install was much simpler, the Sherman install was complicated and cramped and the Army was leary.
Tank Tracks – They show up again and the plain rubber block tracks could wear out in 250 miles in rocky terrain and lacked good off-road traction, and the using arm felt they were only good for training on roads. The T54E1 steel chevron type was preferred and much more durable, but the T48 rubber chevron would work in the MTO but wore out faster than steel types. The T49 bar cleat was also not good on sidehill terrain. The using arm wanted a wider center guided track in the MTO because the side guided tracks on the Sherman were prone to throwing on irregular and rocky side slopes. Extended end connectors were well received by the using arms.
Tank Suspension – Sherman suspension was found to be durable, with few volute springs failing. The biggest problem was the bogie wheels since the rubber tires had an erratic failure rate, and unlike the spring failures, usually sidelined the tank.
Ammunition stowage – They using arms were not interested in changes that reduced the number of ready rounds. The turret ready racks were very popular and crews did not like their removal with the ‘quick fix’ mods. They were willing to risk the higher fire chance, for the faster rate of fire the early storage setup allowed. The crews did not get their way on this one, at least until the M26 went into production.
The Radios – They wanted a better radio in the M32 recovery vehicles and better, more comfortable headphones for the armor crews.
The M10 GMC – This TD was very popular, and received high praise all around. The using arm did not require a replacement, just improved M10s. ♠ One thing to note, most M10 GMCs in MTO lacked the Azimuth indicator and range quadrant. Since the M10s get used as artillery a lot in the MTO, they would like replacements to have them.
Replacement gun tubes – The using arms were very annoyed, that all type of gun barrels from machine gun and mortar, to tank and artillery, were dispensed at a very miserly rate. The using arm argued replacement barrels should be bought at the rate that took into consideration how much ammunition for the same weapon was produced.
Improved fire control for all relevant vehicles – They wanted built-in rangefinders, or portable ones supplied. Better periscope and telescope sights and all vehicles that could be used for indirect fire to receive the full suite of tools to perform the task. I had never heard that some Shermans did not get these automatically. I’m not sure why some Shermans and TDs didn’t have the Azimuth indicator M19 and elevation quadrant M9. Maybe the crews dumped them to save space, maybe the tanks were rushed and built and approved without them I’ll try and find out. They mention 75% of the tanks in England had these items, but less 50% had them in the MTO. Tank units were much more commonly used for indirect fire in the MTO than they would be in the ETO.
Engines – The R975C-1 was getting around 200 hours before needing replacement. This was fine with the using arm, though they would like 60 to 100 more horsepower. The R975 needed little maintenance to reach the expected 200 hours and many run much longer. The lack of liquid cooling system has some advantages.
Powertrain – There was a higher than expected rate of clutch failure in the desert campaigns. The clutch system was also improved on the production like with improved leverage to lower the clutch pedal pressure. Many MTO units did not receive the improved clutches or linkages. The better clutches lead to better transmission life and better shifting, and even without the improved clutches, transmission life went up in Italy. The powertrain offered excellent service and generally outlived the engines by several overhauls if not damaged.
Crew comfort – the Driver and Co-drivers seats in the Sherman were found to be ok, but higher seat backs were requested along with deeper seat cushions. The Gunners seat was found to be ok but could use the same improvements as the driver’s seats but the Command and Loaders seats were deemed all but useless. These would be improved in the later models of the Sherman and various TDs. Crews do not use their seatbelts, fearing it complicating bailing out, and more padding inside was not wanted because the crews felt it was a fire hazard. The M4 and M4A1 tanks were praised for good ventilation. There was also some discussion about the value of turret baskets, and if they were needed at all.
Ammo Storage – The early Sherman ready racks in the turret were well liked by the using arms, but they felt the sponson and hull ammo racks were no good and didn’t support the 75mm Shells enough. They would often separate and dump a bunch of gunpowder inside the tank making a deadly mess to clean. The using arm tends to stuff the tank with extra rounds, adding to the shell durability problems. These problems would be addressed in the second gen improved hull tanks.
General storage – The current storage space on the Sherman was deemed ok, but better, easier to access bins were requested. They also wanted any storage in the floor to be resistant to getting filled with dirt or water.
Machine guns – The bow machine gun saw a lot of use, but its usefulness would be improved by a sighting system. One was in the works, but not at the point of this report. The M1919 machine guns, both bow, and co-ax were reliable as long as the crew was careful with the ammo. Long road trips could vibrate rounds loose in the belts and cause problems, but under normal conditions, this was rarely a problem with well-trained crews. The crews wanted a better adjustment method for matching the co-ax gun to the gunner’s site, the current one was not very good. The .50 AA mount was not well liked or considered important. Requests were made for a better mount for ground targets.
Turret hatches – The current split hatch was deemed ok, but the crews like the looks of the new all around cupola and were also enthusiastic about a loader’s hatch on the new 76 armed tanks.
Armor – There does not seem to be a consensus on how much armor a tank should have by the using arms. Armored Force troops felt the current level on the Sherman was fine, but wouldn’t mind more as long as it did not negatively affect flotation, maneuverability, and speed. ♠The British generally wanted heavier armor than the US Army. ♠♠Combat in Italy showed the differential was taking more hits than anything, and another request was made for add-on armor for the area.
Sand Shields – The general consensus on these was they were useless in any theatre and needed to be redesigned. They needed to be easier to install, and designed to not trap mud.
Flotation – The using arms wanting tanks around 10 pounds per square inch. This was very optimistic since even the HVSS Shermans came in around 11 PSI, the basic 75 VVSS Sherman around 13. It seems the Germans flooded fields in Sicily and Italy when they retreated, and Shermans got bogged down most of the time. They offered the suggestion of just stretching the Sherman since more length would help, and the British M4A4 tanks, the longest production Shermans, had no maneuverability issues.
Maneuverability – In the US Army there was a desire across the board for more maneuverability, in tanks. One thing to keep in mind though is the tanks in the MTO were older and most had single anchor steering brakes, the double anchor made the tanks easier to maneuver requiring less lever pressure. The ability to skid turn was not something US troops seemed interested in.
Accessories – The troops had a lot of feedback here. ♠ The instruments and gauges in medium tanks were not good quality, if they worked they didn’t work long. Oil pressure gauges fail, and no one worries about the motor until both oil pressure gauges die and a low oil pressure light comes on. This seems to be US feedback, I don’t recall hearing complaints from the Brits about Gauge quality. I wonder if the different tank plants sourced gauges from different companies. ♠♠ The compasses on US tanks would not stay calibrated. This would be a very annoying problem but eventually solved on second gen Shermans. ♠♠♠ Armor for the air cleaners on the M4 and M4A1 comes up again. ♠♠♠♠ The Auxiliary giving good service, and are well liked, but the using arms would like the area around the fuel tank filler for the Aux motor to be waterproofed better. They also noted replacements were hard to come by.
Modifications – ♠ The jist on this one was, in many cases modifications can be seen by inspecting a vehicle, but in others, access panels or more might have to be removed to check. The using arms proposed a record imprinted on a brass plate, attached to the vehicle, listing all the modifications that had been applied. ♠♠ They also wanted to emphasize that they did not want any modifications that would not ‘materially increase the efficiency of the vehicles’
Development – The using arms were curious about the items in development, and finding out a large organization was working to improve almost everything was a morale booster. There was also interest in the T-20 series and if any test vehicles would be sent over for some for feedback like the M4A1 prototype has been.
Information and feedback on future equipment.
The M4E6 or pre-production M4A1 76w – ♠ This improved version was well liked by everyone who checked it out. The bigger turret was a big hit, though not much bigger, it seemed roomier. ♠♠ The improved fire control gear was very well liked and considered an ‘outstanding improvement’. The 76mm gun was well liked, and everyone seemed to agree needed. ♠♠♠ The only real concern was the less effective HE round, but it was hoped they would make a better one.
The M18 76mm GMC – The first and bad impression this vehicle lefts was it had no armor, and seemed very mechanically complicated. The fire control gear was well liked. When the vehicle was demonstrated, the tracks and unthrowable tracks also got a lot of attention. No one was sure if the speed would be useful, but the maneuverability was well liked. ♠ The same story with interest in deployment, not as a replacement vehicle, but fulling trained units from the ZI would be ok. ♠♠ This vehicle was not wanted by M10 units already deployed. Units equipped with it in the ZI then deployed were better received, the M10 was still more popular. An M10 with a 90mm gun was the preferred replacement.
M4A3 75W – Even though the Ford GAA was a big improvement, it was not enough of an improvement to take them on as replacement vehicles. They were fine for them to be brought with units already fully trained on them.
The M1 Dozer blade kit – This kit was an instant hit and would have many uses, including clearing rubble after heavy artillery reduced a strong point. Currently, this has to be done by an unarmored bulldozer and casualties were high. it was hoped they would work well enough to help tanks dig in or SPG prepare a position. ♠ Through testing, they found this kit could be installed on any Sherman tank type.
This report goes into detail in the appendixes listing all the items demonstrated, and where they were demonstrated. They also include data on how many of the various items demonstrated were ordered by the various theatres.
I think it’s pretty clear the MTO was a backwater. The general shortage of spare parts in the MTO and a shortage of personnel to staff the proper echelons of repair and salvage system are also indicators of this. As they got ready for the June of 44 landings, the troops in England would be getting top priority and supplies and spares.
There is a lot of info on other weapons like artillery and small arms, not directly Sherman related and therefore, uncovered here. The report is definitely worth a download and re through. I think it offers a good insight into the thinking involved on not swapping to 76mm armed Shermans before the Normandy landings.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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: Inone 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 liberatorand 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 commanderwill 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Report the results of any air attack up the chain of command. TCs report to Platoon Leaders, Platoon Leaders to Company Commanders, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When pulling out, each tank will keeps its spacing, and will not stop on the road to form up.
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.
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.
Use shade and any local cover to hide the tank, move the tank as the shadows used to hide them move with the sun.
If no cover can be found, use the camo net.
Some camo is better than nothing.
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.
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.
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.
In the new posts, I will update you on what’s been going on a bit behind the scenes for the week.
This week has been interesting, it’s 4th of July night, and I’m just wrapping things up for the evening before hitting the sack. It sounds like a firing range outside as people celebrate with fireworks and firearms. The Dogs gone deaf, and doesn’t notice, but the cats are scare, and I havn’t seen them in hours.
Anyway, this weekend I spent time on sorting through all the stuff I’ve downloaded over the past few months. I’ve literally downloaded thousands of pictures and hundreds of PDFs on various topics. The Sherman related ones will be going up on the site soon.
I should have some posts on Sherman tank plastic models and French Shermans up soon, and I’ll be doing a post on Dutch Shermans, and Sherman based SPGs soon.
In other news, Drive tanks.coma outfut out of Texas noticed my site and has contacted me! I’m going to be doing a post on them soon with info on their fully operational Sherman tank, and that includes all it’s guns people, and what you can do with it with American Dollars! I hope to be able to take a trip out and see what the whole thing is all about! This place looks like it may be the most magical place on earth, not Disneyland!
In future news, I will be signing up for Facebook and Twitter for the site.
Storage Ammo and Everything Else: The Army packed a lot of Gear and Tools into the Sherman, along with the Ammo, Guns, and Men
When most people think about a tank, wait, well, most people don’t think about tanks, but when people who think about tanks think about them it’s the gun, the armor, the motor and it running around doing tank things that they think about. That’s not all that a tank is about; a tank is also about storing things, lots of things. Not just ammo, I mean sure, thousands of rounds of MG ammo and over 100 main gun rounds on late model Shermans, but even after the crew had packed all that stuff in, there was still a hell of a lot of other stuff they carried around. The tank had everything it needed to be maintained by the men it was issued to, including manuals, and a limited number of common spare parts for certain components and as much gear the tankers could accumulate to make their lives easier strapped on outside too.
There are at least 61 hand tools used for maintaining the tanks automotive components. Most of these tools were stored in a tool bag behind the driver. Some items like the non-magnetic screwdriver for adjusting the compass were stored in brackets on or near the device they were specifically for. The oiler was mounted on a bracket by the assistant driver. He probably used it a lot. The huge track adjusting wrench and all the pioneer tools were mounted on the hull on the outside of the Sherman with the 20-foot long tow cable. The tanks weapons, including the main gun, also has a bunch of tools specific to them, also stored in the tank. These included combination wrenches and other special tools to maintain the machine guns, and an eye bolt and breach removing tool for the main gun adding between 6 and 10 more tools. These tools were stored in a toolbox or a spare parts box. The grease gun, or gun lubricating, was mounted on the right rear lower hull, under the turret basket. It had an extension hose stored with it, and probably tubes of grease. This is what the crew would use to lubricate all the grease fitting that just about anything that moved had.
Now the crew had to pack in the communication gear. The tanks radio antenna broke down into 6 parts including the case and was stored on the blanket roll rack on the rear of the tank on late model Shermans. The early Sherman manuals do not list a location for them that I can find. There was also a flag set, M238, it had its own bracket on the right side of the turret. This flag kit came in a case, had 3 flags, red, orange, and green, and 3 flagstaffs. You also had the radio setup in the back of the turret that was technically removable. The radios also came with a spare parts kit, small tool kit, and spare tubes and a crystal box to change frequencies.
The tank was issued with 12 signal flares (they shoot up in the air), and they were mounted in their own box on the battery box. There were 3 white star parachute flares, 3 white star cluster flares, 3 amber parachute flares and 3 green parachute flares. Then there was the panel set. The set, I think was the big orange panels they put on the rear deck, so attacking fighter-bombers could tell US tanks from German ones, came with two panels, and two cases for them. They were also stored in the blanket roll on the foldup shelf on the rear of most late model Shermans.
The Sherman had two fixed 10 pound CO fire extinguishers that could be triggered from inside the tank, and outside if you knew where the pull handles were. They also provided the crew with 2, four pound CO fire extinguishers, on mounted on a bracket on the right side of the transmission, and the other mounted on the rear of the turret basket. They also supplied a small decontaminated apparatus, called the M2, essentially a 1 ½ quart fire extinguisher, filled with a decontaminating agent instead of fire retardant. These were issued all the way into the sixties as a way to clean something like mustard gas residue from the areas of the tank the crew needed to touch. It was stored in a box in the hull, and probably got thrown away a lot.
The crew’s needs were taken into account, and there was a specific storage location inside the tank for 2 days of rations for the five-man crew. Each crew member also had an M1910 canteen mounted near their position. There was a ration box in the right rear sponson, and it could hold either, 30 boxes of “K” rations, 60 cans of “C” rations or 2 or the much larger “D” rations. There was a small 1 burner Coleman stove stored with the rations. You see an awful lot of pictures of Sherman tanks and other AFV with a lot of ration boxes tied on the tank, so the crews appear to have liked to have more than two days food on hand. Of course, rations boxes are not bulletproof, and I bet it wasn’t all that uncommon to find shell splinters or bullets in the ration cans when stored outside.
We are not even close to done here, next up, sighting gear. The tanks were issued with an M13 binocular set; this consisted of the M13 binoculars and the M17 case. These were secured to the turret wall in its own bracket, near the commander’s position. On late model Shermans, there was a box next to the radio that held 2 spare vision blocks for the commanders all around vision cupola. In a box behind the driver, you could find 10 spare bulbs for either the elevation quadrant or azimuth indicator. There was also a case for the Gunners Quadrant M1with its own bracket above the 5-gallon water can installed in the right sponson.
The periscopes and telescopes deserve their own section so here it is. There was a holder for the periscope in the periscope box in the turret, along with 3 periscope heads, for the M6 periscope. There were two hull periscope boxes with the same contents. There were 6 more periscope heads on the bracket for the driver’s hood for a total of 15 spare heads. I’ve read several accounts where both the Germans and Japanese aimed at the periscopes and vision blocks to blind the tanks. In at least one case in the Pacific, the tanks ran out of spare heads during the battle and were blind without opening a hatch. I bet periscope heads were popular as an extra spare on the tank. Now, that was just heads, there were 12, M6 periscopes in each late model Sherman. Six mounted in in various places, one in the driver’s hatch that rotated, and a fixed one in front of him. The co-driver had the same layout, just on the other side, he used the hatch or fixed periscope to aim the bow machine gun. The loader had had a rotating periscope at their station, and the commander had one in his hatch. There were two complete M6 periscopes in brackets on the turret walls, one near the loader, and the other by the commander. The amazing piece of American tank engineering, the driver’s hood holder, stored four complete M6 periscopes, along with all those spare heads and the drivers hood!
The gunner had his own special set of periscopes. He had an M4A1 periscope with telescope M38A2. On late model Shermans this was the auxiliary sight but allowed the gunner to have a nice wide field of view to find the target, the commander was handing off, mounted in his fixed periscope. He had a complete spare M4A1 periscope in a box on the floor by his feet. They did not give him a spare telescopic sight, in late model Shermans, the M70F was used, and it was mounted on the gun mount. He also had a series of lamps to illuminate the reticles of the M70F and M4A1 sights. He also had lamps for the M1 quadrant, and another for the M9 quadrant.
Oh, we are not even close to done here people, so hang on, it gets even more exciting when we get to the ammo storage and storage changes in a few paragraphs. Anyway, let’s cover some more ‘general equipment’, before getting to ammo storage. Let’s see, the tank had 5 M1936 OD canvas bags to store much of the gear that’s been mentioned, and 1 tool bag for most of the tools listed, stored behind the driver. There were 3 flashlights TL-122 on brackets around the turret, one near the commander, one by the gunner and one by the loader. They carried 12 spare batteries in box C101039. This is the same box all the lamps for the gunner’s sights went. There were also 5 safety belts for the crew’s seats, it may not seem like a vehicle that doesn’t hit 35mph would need them, but off road, I bet they were handy. The tank came with an 18-quart canvas bucket that was stored in the right sponson. There was a special inspection lamp stored in the toolbox. The spare bulb was stored with the other spare bulbs in box C101039. The Home light auxiliary motor had its own accessory kit, it was also stored in the sponson toolbox in the right front sponson. This little kit had a spare spark plug, and the rope and wood pull handle to start the unit if the batteries were dead, plus a set of tools to maintain it.
The Army liked to make sure a tank crew had lots of stuff to read, so they dedicated a small compartment in the right rear sponson for manuals. The manuals ranged from the one for the Homelite generator TM9-1731k, the spare parts list for the tank model, SNL G-104 in the M4A3s case, to manuals for both machine gun types FM23-50, and FM23-65, the manual for whatever main gun the tank had, and the mount it used. There was a manual for the model of the Sherman, TM9-759 for the M4A3, TM9-731B for the M4A2 etc. If there was a system on the tank the crew was expected to maintain, there was a manual available to tell him how to do it. I’m sure in some cases what actually got to the troops with the tank when it was finally issued varied a lot though.
Ok, now for the guns and ammo, as we know, a Sherman could have the M3 75mm gun, the M1A1/A2 76mm gun or the M4 105mm Howitzer. They all also had 2 and in some early models 3, M1919A4 Machine guns and one M2 HB machine gun. On many models, there was a two-inch smoke mortar as well. Then there were the personal weapons of the crew, on late model Shermans, 5 M3 .45ACP submachine guns were supplied, on early Shermans, a single M1928A1. Each crewmember was issued an M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol as well. These weapons, biggest to smallest all had kits to keep them working, and for the machine guns, they carried a lot of spare parts for known parts that wear on Browning machine guns. These spare parts and tools were scattered around in various tool and parts boxes.
All these weapons needed ammo, and in the main guns case oil! This all had to be stored in the tank. The chart below breaks down the changes in ammo loadout for all the weapons on the Sherman, as the tank went through production changes. The earliest Sherman tanks had ammunition stored all over the vehicle in ammo racks with no additional protection. Ammo was placed in sponson ammo racks, with some around the base of the turret, and in a floor ready rack. More was stored under the floor. These early tanks had a fully floored, and screened in turret basket, with only two sections open to the hull. On these early Shermans, and we could be talking, an M4, M4A1, M4A2 or M4A4 most of the direct vision tanks would fit into this category. These tanks, once the ammo around the base of the turret, and ready rack were used, would have to rotate the turret so the openings I the basket matched up with the hull racks, and or co-driver so he could hand in ammo from the rack near him. The idea behind the full turret basket was to protect the crew from getting their limbs severed by the rotating turret if a crew member stuck it in the wrong place.
As soon as the Sherman saw extensive combat use, it was clear, they were prone to fire. This was nothing new, every tank was prone to fire, and the Sherman had a tendency to burn catastrophically often launching the turret in the air. When the Army did a study into why this was the case, they found the main gun ammo was the main cause of catastrophic fire losses. When you take a look at the ammo layout chart in the other image, you can see with the ammo stored, in unprotected internal bins all over the crew compartment, an ammo fire was going to be common problem.
The first try at a fix for the problem started pretty fast. The fix was to remove the unarmored ready rounds from around the base of the turret, and reduce the size of the floor ready rack and to make it armored. The hull ammo racks were all covered in armor, and extra armor was added to the outside of the sponson racks on both welded and cast hull Shermans. On late production cast hull tanks, the thicker armor over the sponson racks was just added to the casting. They managed to keep the number of main gun rounds pretty consistent even with these changes. Another aspect of the early fix was the removal of the turret screening around the turret basket. The ammo rack changes along with some other improvements were offered in kit form to US tank units already deployed, and it was eventually incorporated into the production lines, and tank overhaul facilities. Many Shermans in British use did not see these get these improvements.
The real big change in Sherman storage came when the hull changed from the small hatch to large hatch configuration, though all the late model M4A2 tanks with large hatch hulls and 75mm turrets still got the dry ammo storage setup with add-on sponson armor. The other exceptions are the M4 and M4A3 105 tanks, they had their on dry storage setup. The M4 Composite hull tanks with large hatch hulls also kept the dry storage layout. So, the M4A1 (76)W, M4A2 (76)W, the M4A3(75)W, The M4A3 (76)W tanks all had the improved wet ammo racks. This change included moving all main gun ammo into the floor of the hull under the turret. These ammo racks were also surrounded by water filled jackets. Early production wet tanks retained the turret basket, and had hatches that could be opened to access the hull ammo racks, later they only installed a half basket, and eventually removed the basket floor entirely.
On early Shermans a lot of stuff other than ammo was stored under the turret basket, in the floor, were the ammo was now going. This included the batteries, and a generator setup on some models. Also many of the items listed in the early part of this article were stored in the hull floor. These items including the batteries were moved up into the sponsons. The generator was moved to the rear of the transmission. While making all these changes, they managed to pack even more ammo into the 75mm wet Shermans!
So, when all is said and done, if you take into account each round of ammo, a Sherman has nearly 8600 items packed into or onto it, officially. Granted, 7500 of that number is ammo, that still leaves 1100 items stored in or on the tank the crew had to keep track of and I’m sure I didn’t take some things into account. You also have to think about all the personal gear the crew would have stuff in and on the tank. Anything they didn’t want shot or possible stolen had to be stored inside, even with all the official stuff in the tank, the crew would find places to stuff their most valuable personal things. Less valuable things, like their uniforms and anything they decided to keep that couldn’t fit, was all hung outside. If you look at late war pictures of Shermans, they are covered in stuff tied down on their rear decks. It’s no secret US troops were fond of taking souvenirs, and it got pretty rampant once they got into Germany.
Subjugated Shermans: Sherman tanks captured and used by the Nazis
Sometimes a tank crew can get spooked and bail out of a functional tank. Or a tank can be left disabled on the battlefield and be repaired by the bad guys. The Germans were so desperate for tanks they happily used any Shermans they captured, and unlike the T-34 they didn’t feel the need to modify the tank in any way. The Germans managed to capture Shermans from the Russians, UK, and Americans. The Japanese never captured an intact Sherman. I don’t think the Italians managed to capture one either.
Depending on the crew quality, little things can cause them to abandon the tank, and it seems to be a universal problem since I’ve read of just about all of the warring nations having crews bail out from fright when the tank had sustained only minor or cosmetic damage. In other cases, the tank takes real damage, like a lost track, an engine problem or a hit that took out an internal fixture, but an experienced crew might stay in the tank. The crew has a duty to destroy the tank before leaving it behind. There is a whole procedure covering how to do it, and what to destroy if you only have a short amount of time, including many methods. The methods range from blowing the tank up with special grenades to just destroying the machine guns, main gun, and radios. This is covered in FM17-67 Crew Drill and Service of the Piece Medium Tank M4 Series.
There are many reasons why a crew might not be able to destroy their tank. If the crew is killed as they bailed out or after, or captured, if they are under fire while they get out, the tank falling into enemy hands isn’t going to be on a soldier’s mind in most cases. In some cases, the green crews could panic and bailout, and not bother even checking the tank over heading for the rear, but this was not a common thing for American tank crews once North Africa was done. I’ve read of many cases of German crews just leaving the tank, hatches all open, without booby traps and walking off when their Panther inevitably broke down or ran out of gas. I’ve read cases of them bailing out after the tank was hit a few times but still technically functional. Unlike for the American and Allied tankers in General, as the war went on, German tanks, like all their troops, declined in quality, and by late 44 Tank crews got very little training in their vehicles.
The Sherman was an automotive masterpiece the Germans could only dream of producing, they were still capable of keeping them running, it was that good. A German tank mechanic would find even the A57 a breath of fresh air in ease of troubleshooting and reliability. They also liked to use the captured Shermans as ARVs, often with the turrets removed. Having a very tough powertrain and a reliable and robust motor is a very nice thing in an Armored Recovery Vehicle, and the Shermans were just that. It must have been terribly frustrating for the Germans to get a Bergepather in place to try and tow a broken down Panther, only to have it break down too!
Now onto the photos, sorry, but the Germans seem to be as bad at photography, at least of captured Shermans, as they are at tank design, so many of the images are small and blurry. The captions have been updated in great extent to the efforts of Roy Chow, who sent in a very nice comment correcting my many mistakes. Thanks again, Roy!
Most of the images for this post came from WorldWarPhotos.com and many others came from Waralbum.ru. Both excellent sources for high-resolution images from the war.
Special Gallery 1: The Shermans and Lees of the Fort Bennings Digital Archive.
Fort Benning, a very active US Army base in Georgia has put up many very interesting historic Photo Galleries. You can find the website here. The Gallery these Sherman photos came from is the Historic Photo Gallery. These are just the Sherman and or Armor related images in the gallery, there are many more from Vietnam and Desert Storm.