Tag Archives: M4A1

Post #70: Report on the New Weapons Board

Post #70: Report on the New Weapons Board

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.

This is a typical M4 Sherman in Italy, the battalion is being used as an artillery battery, and this is an early production M4 with the M34 gun mount and it probably has a three piece differential as well. It may even have DV ports. These tanks were common in the MTO even into 1944.

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.” 

Another early model M4 in Italy, cheek armor, M34 gun mount and early 3 piece differential.

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. Improved suspension and tracks. It turns out the rubber block tracks with no chevron were not well liked, and wore out very quick in rock, hilly terrain. The steel chevron blocks with rubber backs were well like and lasted much longer. This feedback is mostly from the ETA, 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.
  3.   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 was added later in the production runs.
  4. 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.
  5.  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. 
  6. 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.
  7.  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 range finders, and improved telescopes, since the current ones shot loose to!

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 in direct fire when used close assault.  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 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 rock 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. There usering 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.

    M10 in Italy.
  • 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 range finders, 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.  Up to reading this, 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. T hey 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 drivers 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 gun powder 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 see a lot of use, but it’s 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 gunners site, the current one was not very good.  The .50 AA mount was not well liked or considered important. Requests were made for 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 and 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 anoying problem. ♠♠♠ 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 area the fuel tank filler for the Aux motor 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 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  werte 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 congress.

 

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 every 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 prefered replacement.
  • M4A3 75W – Even though the Ford GAA was a big improvement, it was not enough of an improvement 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 un armored 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 read 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The video comes in two parts.

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

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

The Tom Jentz tangent. 

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

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

M4s waiting for the call to action near Luneville.

 

M36 GMC 90mm Tank destroyer.

 

M4 getting duckbills

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An M4 pushing an T1E3 mine exploder.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An M10 firing at night.

 

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

 

M4A3 dozer tank. This image was taken near Colmar.

 

Shermans on floating pontoon bridges.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An M36 on a makeshift ferry.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

M4 Sherman, plus large rocket rack, equals awesome.

 

An M4 crew watches doughs sleep on a stone road.

 

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

 

M10 TDs move through the ruins of Magdeburg.

 

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

 

An M4A3 76w HVSS tank

 

An Easy 8 acting as a ferry for some doughs.

 

M4A3 76w HVSS tank

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

Coming soon, Part II, the Pacific. 

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

Security on the March:  With the Sherman Tank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security rules and things to note on the short halt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Security Rules and things to note on the long halt:

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

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

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

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

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  • Some camo is better than nothing.

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Special Rules for night marches:

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

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

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

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

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

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News Post 6: Slowly Getting Back on Track

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, and commenting

-Jeeps

 

News Post Number 1: Sherman Tank site News!

News Post Number 1: Sherman Tank site News!

This is a new post type I’m going to try out.

Happy 4th for all my fellow Americans!

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.com a 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!

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Drive Tanks.coms Amazing Easy 8
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No this isn’t a painting, just a DriveTanks.com awesome Sherman

In future news, I will be signing up for Facebook and Twitter for the site.

I also updated the several posts extensively.

The updated posts: Updated on 7/4/16!!
#20 How The Sherman Compared To Its Contemporaries:  Well, it did very well!

This post was updated extensively with new info I cam across on the German tanks I cover in it.

#24 Silly Myths And Fun Facts About The Sherman and Lee: The Same Old Falsehoods Can Be Combated By Facts

This one was updated with some new myths and the answers on old ones updated and some new fun facts were added as well.

#61 Storage Ammo and Everything Else: The Army packed a lot of Gear and Tools into the Sherman, along with the Ammo, Guns and Men

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 what 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.

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A chart from the M3 lee manual, TM9-750 showing the internal ammo layout

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 tool box 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.

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The crew of an M4A1 (76)W Sherman load all the stuff that comes with a freshly issued tank into it.

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.

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An M4A3 (76)W tank with a lot of stuff stored on the back

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 bullet proof, 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 a 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.

GUnners periscope

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!

GUnners periscopeII
This is the predecessor to the M4A1 periscope

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 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.

the drivers hood

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, lets 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 crews 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 tool box. 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 tool box 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.

M4A2 early storage
M4A2 ammo storage. Diagrams like this seem to have gone out of favor in the later manuals, as none of them seem to have them.

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.

US-SMG-M3A1-Grease-Gun-right
M3A1, five of these were issued with the tank
M1911A1
M1911A1, each crew member had one of these as well. One of the finest handgun designs ever made.
Submachine_gun_M1928_Thompson
Early Shermans had only one of these.

All these weapons needed ammo, and in the main guns case oil! This all had to be stored inside 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.

Sherman tank ammo loadout chart

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.

M4A4 small hatch storage
This is an ammo layout diagram for the M4A4 tanks, this should be similar to all small hatch early non wet setups before the extra armor was added over the ammo bins.

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.

This M4 composite seems to be under fire, and has a lot of junk on the back. Notice the soldier looking at the camera.
An M4 composite hull tank with a lot stuff loaded on the back.

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.

Укладка-Шерман
A loader checking out the ammo loaded in the wet storage on an M4A3 (76)W tank

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!

US_3rd_Armored_Division_M4_Sherman_Tanks_in_Action_in_Belgium_1944
Loads of stuff on the back of an M4A1

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.

20--1AD in Italy-X3
Just tank in all the stuff around this M4A1 75

Sources:  Hunnicutt’s Sherman, TM9-752, TM9-731G, TM9-759, TM9-731B, TM9-754, TM9-750, TM9-748, TM9-745   

#59 Subjugated Shermans: Shermans in Nazi hands

Subjugated Shermans:  Sherman tanks captured and used by the Nazis Updated 10/2/16

M4A1, and M3 Lee in Nazi hands
1. This early production M4A1 75 tank has DV ports, and the stubby mantlet. it was captured from the 1st Armored Regiment of the First Armored Division of the US army, in Tunisia in 1943 and is being tested in Germany at Kummersdorf. Note the armor thickness and angle stenciled on the tank, the Germans were giving it an extensive workout during their testing.The tank was named War Daddy II.

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, since 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 many cases. In some cases the green crews who panic and bail out, just don’t bother even checking the tank over before running.  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.

Even though the Sherman was an automotive masterpiece the Germans could only dream of producing, they were still capable of keeping them running. 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 a Armored Recovery Vehicle, and the Shermans was 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!

German_M4_Sherman_and_crew
2. An M4A2 75 dry, large hatch Sherman, this was a very late production 75mm tank, near the end of the run. Note the armored patches on the hull, it has the large hatch hull but still had the dry ammo racks. The crew looks pretty pleased with their tank, it was more reliable, got better gas mileage and was more comfortable than than the Panzer III that were stuck in before. This tank even  has a loaders hatch.
m3_lee_10
3. Germans looking at a captured Lee they got to crew and ‘probably’ wondering why their nation couldn’t produce a tank as reliable as this one. Though to tell the truth, the main tanks of Germany were still the PIII and IV at that time, and these tanks were decently reliable, though not on par with the M3/M4 series.
m3_lee_07
4. This M3 Lee is the same one as pictured in image 3.  Note the lack of side door, meaning this was a later production Lee tank.
m3_lee_06
5. An M3 Lee  being tested by the Germans at kummersdorf.  This tank has 147 painted on the side of the turret. The next six images are all of  M3 Lee 147.
m3_lee_15
6. Another shot of 147, it appears to have an M3 gun.
m3_lee_09
7. In this shot we can see it’s a fairly early Lee, it has the Machine gun port holes in the front hull, and the 37mm gun lacks the stabilizer counter weight. The main gun in an M3 not the earlier M2 though.
m3_lee_16
8. Another blurry shot of  Lee 147
m3_lee_03
9. Another blurry shot of 147, this time from the side, the Germans seem to be keeping it clean and well maintained.
m3_lee_04
10. Maybe the best shot of 147, you can make out the lack of counterweight on the 37 ( it looks like another .30 barrel under the 37 when it’s there)
m3_lee_02
11. Three shots of the same captured M3 Lee, lend lease tank, in Nazi hands.
m3_lee_11
12. Cross shape and general layout say this is 147 again, but no way to tell for sure.
m3_lee_05
13. Here is 147 again, with War Daddy II the M4A1 from the first image in this post, in the testing field at Kummersdorf,  the German Army Proving grounds.  I’d love to know what all that junk on the front of War Daddy II is.
m3_lee_13
14. A Soviet M3 Lee lend lease tank in the hands of the Nazis, who were clearly more than willing to use a tank with a decent gun that was reliable. This tank has 135 on the turret, does this mean 147 could have been a captured Soviet Lee?
M3_Lee_captured_in_Tunisia_DAK_Afrika_Korps (1)
15. Nazis marveling over the advanced M3 Lee tank. This was probably the first time they had seen a stabilized 37mm gun (note the machine gun barrel like thing under the 37mm gun). This tank also had a stabilized 75mm M2 gun. The Germans never managed to get a stabilizer in a tank during the war. The star and band on the turret lead me to believe this is a knocked out US tank.
m4_sherman_firefly-06
16. The Germans sure did like to take pictures of Shermans at just the right angle to make it really hard to tell what model it was. Thanks Nazis. Anyway, this tank was photographed a lot and is a Firefly Vc, its number 16 again.
m4_destroyed
17. A M4 tank that the Nazis had been using, knocked out and back in American hands.
m4_sherman_firefly-04
18. A Firefly Vc in use by the Nazis,this is the same tank as in image 16. This is a pretty good image, and shows the box normally mounted on the rear hull, mounted to the front on this tank, that and the cross placement make spotting it easier. It does not appear to have received any of the add on armor over the ammo racks on thin spot in the turret cheek.
m4_sherman_firefly-12
19. Same tank as above, this time on the move, only the driver and commander unbuttoned.
m4_sherman_firefly-11
20. A Nazi tanker marveling at the superior design of the American periscope on this Firefly Vc. This is the same tank as above. Note the headlight guard has a bit of a dent in it.
m4_sherman_firefly-21
21. A Firefly Vc in Nazi hands. This one appears to be a different tank, from all the previous shots, the cross placement is different, the hull storage box is in the right place, and this one has the number six painted in several places the one from Pic 16 does not have.
m4_sherman-75-03
22. Captured M4A1 with writing on the side, the same tank is in the picture below. This tank is a mid production small hatch tank.
m4_sherman-75-04
23. An M4A1 in the hands of the Nazis, with a Nazi flag soiling its front plate, if tanks had souls, this one would be crying out in pain for being subjugated by the Nazis! note the shorty gun mantlet meaning this M4A1 still only had a parascopic main gun sight.
m4_sherman-76-01
24. An M4A3 76w tank captured by the Germans and then knocked out, this shot is actually the last in a series of three, the earlier ones can be found further down. (I plan on fixing this).
m4_image002
25. A Firefly Vc, see the big bulge behind the turret for the radiator, in Nazi hands. It must have bewildered the Germans a tank with an engine so complicated could actually be reliable! Anyway, thanks to reader Roy Chow, we now know this tank probably belonged to 2cnd Canadian Amd Bde, and was one of three captured by the Nazis, painted Yellow, and put back in action before being recaptured by Commonwealth troops. One of the tanks still survives in the Dutch Cavalry Museum in Amersfoort
m4_sherman_firefly-29
26. A captured Firefly Vc, in use by the Nazis, note the large number of German crosses, they really didn’t want to get friendly fired. This really appears to be the same tank from Image 16.
m4_sherman_firefly-07
27. A captured Firefly Vc with a pair of Nazis in front of it. This appears to be another shot of the Firefly in image 16.
m4_sherman_firefly-08
28. The same old Vc from image 16, you can see the armored box is clearly missing from the rear hull in this shot.
m4_sherman_firefly-05
29. our old pal, the Vc Firefly from image 16.
m4_sherman-75-15
30. A captured M4A1 near a bunch of Nazi horse carts. Yeah, the Germans still depended on horses for much of their supply chain.
m4_sherman_firefly-27
31. A  shot of a knocked out captured Firefly Ic or Vc, probably a captured Canadian Vc in Holland.
m4_sherman-03
32. AM4A3 76 w tank captured by the Nazis, and then destroyed by the US Army, being inspected by US Army troops
m4_sherman_firefly-20
33. A captured Vc Firefly in Nazi hands. The seems to be the same tank as the one in image 21.
m4_sherman-75-00
34. A knocked out M4A2 large hatch tank, captured by the Nazis from the Soviets.
m4_sherman_firefly-31
35. A Vc Firefly in Nazi hands, this one looks like out old pal from image 16
m4_sherman_firefly-09 (1)
36. Nazi tankers look over the suspension of their Vc Firefly, this is another shot of the the Firefly from image 16
m4_sherman_firefly-10
37. A captured Vc Firefly with Nazis looking at it. Image 16 strikes again.
m4_sherman_firefly-23
38. An Ic Firefly being used as a movie prop
m4_sherman_firefly-30
39. The Germans sure seem to have a lot of captured Firefly tanks, well, as Roy pointed out, not really, they just took a lot of photos of the same firefly from Image 16.
m4_sherman_firefly-32
40. This image has been flipped, the you can see the armored plug and commanders hatches on the wrong side on this Vc Firefly. I’m betting it’s the same tank from image 16.
m4_sherman_firefly-28
41. This one is either an Ic or Vc Firefly in Nazi hands. I can’t tell on the wheel spacing at this angle. This seems to be the same tank as the one from images 21 and 33.
m4_image001f
42. A captured M4A1 75 tank. This is an interesting tank, an M4A1 with an updated hull with the DV ports removed, with three piece diff cover, and a turret with the short mantlet, but also later suspension.
m4_image003
43. An M4 in Nazi use.

 

m4_image004
44. A late production M4A3 75w  and three other Shermans in Nazi hands, the two furthest right appear to be M4A1 75s. Tanks captured during the Battle of the Bulge? (I was super wrong on this caption)
m4_sherman-76-02
45. An captured and knocked out M4A3 76w with a dead German on the front of the hull. This shot was taken shortly after it was knocked out, this is the same tank as the M4A3 76 in image 24. This tank belonged to the 4th AD before capture and was being used by the Germans in the defense of the town of Afschaffenberg. It was taken out by a US M36  TD.
m4_sherman-01
46. An M4 hull being, modified for use as an ARV, in Nazi use. The crew looks very pleased with itself, and this confidence clearly comes from having an awesome ARV at their disposal.
m4_sherman-75-09
47. A very bad shot of a captured small hatch M4A1, the same one from  pictures  22 and 23.

 

m4_sherman-75-01f
.48 An M4 captured by the Germans, it looks like they cannibalized it for parts., since the final tranny and final drives are missing. The name of the hotel leads me to believe the was during the Battle of the Bulge.
m4_sherman_firefly-13
49. A pair of Nazi tankers on their captured Firefly Vc, this looks like out old friend #16 again.
m4_image001bb
50. Vc Firefly with lots of extra track on the front, that was in in Nazi hands and was recaptured by the Brits. This is reputed to be from the same group discussed in image 25.
m4_2-
51. Several captured Vc Firefly tanks, and a Sherman V also captured and in use by the fascists. I’m betting this are also the ones captured from the Canadians Holland like from image 25 and 50
m4-german-2
52. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
m4-german
53. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
m4-german-3
54. This looks like an M4A3 75w tank that fell into Nazi hands. This was probably another tank captured from Task Force Baum in late march of 45, this was the failed attempt by the 37TB of the 4th AD to get Patton’s son in law out of a POW camp.
m4-german5
55. A knocked out large hatch M4A2 75 dry tank, the Nazis captured from the Soviets.
m4_sherman_firefly-26
56. A captured Firefly Vc, it looks like it was freshly knocked out probably in Holland, this being one of the lost Canadian Vc discussed in image 25.
M36_Tank_Destroyer_Recaptures_M4A3_76_from_Germans_in_Aschaffenburg_1945
57. This image shows a Sherman that was in Nazi custody back in American hands. The Tank is an M4A3 76w. This is another  image of the M4A3 76 knocked out by an M36, just after the dead Nazi was removed and parts began being stripped off. Note the missing muzzle break. You can also see this tank in images 24 and 45

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.

 

 

 

 

#56 Special Gallery 1: Shermans of the Fort Benning Digital Archive

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.  

37TB 4AD tank gunner SEP 1944-X3
The tank is from the 37 TB, of the 4th AD. This caption says the man in the photo is the gunner,  September 1944, the tank is either an M4 105, or an M4A3 105, from the location of the M2, I’m going to say, M4.
M4 Medium in Korea
This is an M4A3 76 HVSS tank in Korea, by this point, the water jackets on the hull ammo rack would not be in use. One hint it’s a post WWII Sherman is the first aid kit mounted on the side of the tank. I can’t make out the markings it looks like 7-32-1 on the co drivers side of the differential housing, and a triangle 13 on the other side.
10AD training 1943-X3
10th AD training in 1943, the tank is an M4.
22--Tank Maint in Bel SEP44-X3
A tank crew cleaning the tube, in Belgium 1944, the curved hull corners say M4A1 to me.
10--3d army maneuver maint-X3
An M2 Medium having some heavy duty field repair work done. 
WIA Evacuation w tanks
The photo caption says WIAs evacuated via tank, and it looks like Korea. The tanks are M4A3 76 HVSS tanks
19--M3Med-NATO-X3
Most of a M3 Lee crew getting ready for some chow in North Africa
20--1AD in Italy-X3
This is a really interesting picture, the tank is an M4A1, it has small hatches, but has the improved, no DV port casting. The tank is with the 1st AD, somewhere in Italy. Note all the mud, the blanket draped over the commanders hatch, it was probably rainy and humid.
24--761ST TB-X3
Men of the 761st TB clean their M1919 machine guns in front of their M5 lights.
2AD tank in Bel DEC44-X3
This is an M4 with the 2nd AD in Belgium December of 1944, it looks like it has all the quick fix upgrades.
66AR 2AD crossing obstacle SEP44-X3
An M4 composite hull, with the 66AR of the 2nd AD, crossing small gully on a very rickety looking bridge in September of 1944
1AD tank crew NATO NOV 42-X3
1st AD M3 Lee crew somewhere in North Africa, November of 1942, man, do these guys look dirty or what?
Armor in Brittany AUG44-1834x1007
A US Army M4A3 in Brittany, August of 1944
1AD column in Italy-X3
A platoon of M4 tanks in Italy, with the 1st AD.I wonder if they planned to try and climb that hill… Probably not. 
M5 in ETO
An M5 light somewhere in the ETO
Tank-inf team
This photo is labeled ‘tank infantry team’, the tank is an M4, and it’s probably somewhere in the ETO.
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1st AD M4A1 tanks near Anzio, note all the storage on the back deck, a large tarp and a big bundle of camo netting. 
Tank-Inf team in town
This image is labeled Tank Infantry Team in town, the tank is an M4A3 76w HVSS tank, and it’s somewhere in the ETO, probably Germany, in 45.
Tank-inf at Bougainville MAR44-X3
This one is labeled Tank Infantry Team Bougainville 1944, and the tank is the famous Lucky Legs II. I think I have more info about this tank and it’s battalion here somewhere. More info from Belisarius, ‘An M4 Sherman named ‘Lucky Legs II’ of 754th Tank Battalion leads the attack with infantrymen following close behind with fixed bayonets on the perimeter of the 129th Infantry, 37th Division, Bougainville (Papua New Guinea, in the Solomon Sea). 16th of March 1944.
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An M4 HMC, or Howitzer Motor Carriage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#32 Sunken Shermans: Shermans That The Nazis Sent To The Bottom Of The Sea

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Sunken Shermans: Shermans Now Home to Fish, or That Were Home To Fish

Several cargo ships loaded with Sherman tanks were sunk during the war. A couple of these wrecks have been discovered. The first we’re going to talk about is the SS Empire Heritage, originally named Tafelberg. She was a steam tanker built in 1930. She was 508 feet long and just under 14,000 gross tons. She was built by Armstrong W.G. & Whitworth Co. Ltd. Her captain’s name was James Campbell Jamieson, and she had a 76 man crew and she had 160 people on board. She was reroute from New Your to Liverpool with 16,000 tons of fuel oil and 1900 tons of cargo, including Sherman tanks.

On September 8th 1944 just 15 miles north of Donegal Northern Ireland, she was torpedoed by Nazi Submarine U-482 with the loss of 113 lives. From what I can tell, the wreck was discovered in 2014 and is 220 feet below the sea, just within reach of very technical divers. They took some very interesting pictures.

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M4A1 76w tanks that went down with the SS Empire Heritage
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More shots of the M4A1 76W tanks

 

 

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The next wreck were going to talk about is the SS Thomas Donaldson. She was a 7200 ton Liberty Ship built in 1944 by Bethlehem Fairfield Shipbuilding Corp. Ltd. in Fairfield California, under the command of Robert Headden. She left Loch Ewe, Scotland, as part of Artic Convoy JW-65, on March 11, 1945. The convoy she was a part of had 26 ships and the SS Thomas Donaldson was the only one that didn’t make it to the Russian Port in the Kola Inlet. Late on the afternoon of the 20th, the Nazi U-boat U-968 attacked the convoy. They were just twenty miles south of their destination when the Nazis struck.

The Ship was hit by a single torpedo that took out the ships engine. It also killed three of her crew. The Captain ordered the ship abandoned due to her dangerous cargo, but a small crew including the Captain stayed aboard and tried to save the ship. She was taken under tow, and almost made it in, but sunk short of the port. Only one more crewman died of his injuries and the whole repair crew made it off.

In July of 2014 a Sherman was recovered from the wreck, and they say there are two more down there that can be recovered as well.

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An M4A2 76 W tank recovered from the wreck of SS Thomas Donaldson, sunk on March 20, 1944.

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#22 British Shermans: Is It A Tank Or A Teapot?

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Shermans Of the United Kingdom: Or, Let’s Confuse People Even More With An Odd Designation Systems!

The British took the Lee and Sherman into combat for the first time and they offered a lot of input into both tanks design. They even had a specific version of the Lee never used by US troops the M3A5 Grant.  The Sherman and Lee tanks saved their bacon at El Alamein. As we saw in an earlier section of this document, the US produced a lot of Sherman tanks, and the British received more than 17,000 Shermans. It would become the backbone of their tank force and remain so until the end of the war. The British had a unique way4 of using tanks, and preferred to send them into battle without direct infantry support. This coupled with their tendency to stuff every nook and cranny of the tank with ammo resulting in much higher Sherman losses than the US Army did.

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Sherman MK III with the 4th County Of London Yeomanry. It is crossing an AT ditch near Gabes in North Africa

They came up with their own naming system for the tank:

The M4 was named the Sherman I in Commonwealth use, if it had 105mm gun it was an Ib, if it also had HVSS it was a Iby. The British received 2096 75mm Sherman Is, and an additional 593 105 armed Ib tanks, or M4 105 tanks. These numbers are not broken down further to sub models, so all the Ic Firefly tanks produced came from the 2096 they received, and this number would include the composite hulls too. This version was the preferred US Army version, and many of the one the Brits received came as replacements stripped from US Tank Divisions before the battle of El Alamein. They became much more rare, because the US sent M4A2 and M4A4s as replacements.

The M4A1 was named the Sherman II and in most cases just that. It wasn’t until late in the war the Brits took some M4A1s with 76mm guns, and those they gave to the poles or other commonwealth allies. A M4A1 76 would be called a Sherman IIa, or a IIay for a M4A1 76 HVSS tank. These M4A1 76 HVSS tanks made it to depots in Europe during or just after the war ended, but none saw combat. The M4A1 was also the US Army’s preferred version because it was basically the same tank as the M4, and the Brits only received 942 75mm M4A1 Shermans. Something I found a bit of a surprise, the British received more M4A1 76 w tanks thank 75mm tanks, 1330 total.

M4A2 was named the Sherman III and this was their second most common Sherman type. They received 5041 M4A2 75mm Sherman IIIs, far more than the Soviets got. They also received 5, M4A2 76 W or Sherman IIIa tanks as well, yes, that’s not a typo, five tanks. I wonder if the M4A2 76 HVSS, or Sherman IIIay, tank used in Fury was one of them?

M4A3 was named the Sherman IV in British use, but they only received 7 seventy five millimeter tanks, and no 76mm tanks of this type. This became the US Army’s preferred model, and once they got it in numbers, they probably started sending more M4 and M4A1s to the Brits after this tank became common.

M4A4 was named the Sherman V in British use, and was by far the most common British Sherman; they received 7167 M4A4s, or Sherman Vs, almost the whole production run. Chrysler really went to bat for this version of the tank and sent tech reps to Europe with the tanks to help manage the complicated, but less trouble than anyone could have expected, motors. There were no sub types of the Sherman IV other than the firefly, since it was never produced with a 76mm gun or HVSS suspension. The Sherman Vc was the most common version of the 17 pounder Shermans, and a wide variety were probably converted to fireflies, and many of the A4s they got later in the war had been through a remanufacturing process, that made sure the tanks had turrets updated with all the late improvements, and all the hull upgrades like armored ammo racks and raised arm rollers and improved skids, along with a travel lock, on the front plate, for the gun.

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Sherman MK I or IIIs

. . .

 

The British had their own set of modifications for the Sherman that they received through LL.  They added sand skirts, racks for jerry cans and an armored box on the back of the turret in some cases. They installed their own radios as well, the British wireless set no 19, and this went into the armored box in the back of the turret on Firefly’s, or just replaced the US radios in their normal location in regular models. Legend has it they installed some sort of stove to cook tea.  The only Sherman Mk I and Mk IIs they got were because Churchill practically begged Roosevelt for more Shermans just before El Alamien.

As the war progressed, the US Army put priority on the M4 and M4A1; the British had to settle for M4A2 and the M4A4. They when the Russians refused to take any Shermans but M4A2s, the Brits really had to rely on M4A4s. From what I’ve read they didn’t want the nightmare that everyone feared the A57 Multibank motor to be, in service it proved to be reliable enough, and more so than its British counterparts. The M4A4 was by far the most common Sherman type, and the Brits like them enough they took a batch of refurbished M4A4, and would have taken more if production hadn’t been stopped.

This presented a problem for the British, they did not like the M1A1 gun, and the T23 would not take the 17 pounder without major modifications to the gun or turret. The US did end production of 75mm tanks and when stocks of 75mm gun tanks ran low, they were forced to take M4A1 76 tanks these tanks would be designated Sherman IIB. The British sent most of the IIBs to their forces in the MTO, or gave them to the Poles.

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Sherman V

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga, Sherman by Hunnicutt

 

#18 USMC Sherman Use: The Sherman Became A Key Part In Victory In The Pacific.

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Sherman use by the United States Marines:  “The enemy’s power lies in his tanks.” Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, Okinawa.

 

Most people have the idea the Marines used the M4A2, and only the M4A2, and list things like ‘it was a diesel, like Navy landing craft used, so like common fuel bro’ as the reason the marines chose the tank.  The real reason they got A2, was that’s what was available when they asked, there wasn’t much choice involved, and they should feel lucky the army didn’t dump M3 Lee’s on them. At various times the Marines also used M4A1s, and M4A3, all with the 75mm gun.

By the end of the war the Marines would be experts in employing the tank, Infantry, team. The Marines, like their European Army counterparts used, Yankee ingenuity to modify their Shermans to help them survive combat their designers had no idea they would see. These modifications included improvised water proofing, and deep wading kits. They also included improvised add on armor made of wood and concrete, and the use of spikes and screens over the hatches to help prevent the Japanese from using explosives directly on the periscope ports and hatches.

The Marines had toyed around with tanks in the 20 and 30s but never had the budget to buy many. The ones they did buy were all light tanks that wouldn’t see combat use. The first tank they would use in combat in WWII was the M3 light, using it on in all major campaigns until 1943 when the Sherman entered the scene. The first combat for the Sherman would be Tarawa, were they used a battalion of tank that was mixed, two companies of lights and one of mediums. After Tarawa, the use of lights would not be fully suspended, but the Sherman would be the tank of choice for the rest of the war and lights would be phased out.

The marines ultimately ended up with six tank battalions and a training school at Camp Eliot California. The first two battalions formed were the 1st and 2nd and deployed without training at the tank school, and a lot of rejects from other units. After the first two battalions formed, most of the Marines tankers went through the school, and the school trained almost all the new NCOs and officers.  When the war ended, all but the 1st and 2nd were disbanded, and the 1st and 2nd have remained active since the beginning, and are still in operation today.

When the fighting was over on Okinawa, Major-General Lemuel Shepard, the Marine ground commander had this to say: “If any one supporting arm can be singled out as having contributed more than any others during the progress of the campaign, the tank would certainly be selected.”

The Sherman would go on serving the Marines in Korea, though by then it was just the M4A3 105 tanks and Sherman based recovery vehicles.

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