Tag Archives: M4A3

Sherman Tank Site News Post 13: Lots of small things!

News post 13: Lots of small things, mostly cleaning up Sherman drawings.

The Sherman tank site has been up for 2 years, and is all paid up for the coming year. I have content coming out my ears, and the speed things go up is all based on my free time. Unfortunately, free time has been scarce, but that should be getting better.  Thanks for all the comments and feedback!

I’m going to list of some new things here and then post a bunch of drawings from various manuals i’ve cleaned up and improved.

I uploaded a bunch of new unit histories as well, and there are several new pages.

Unit Histories

Paths of Armor: The history of 5th Armored Division. 396 high quality pages of history on the 5th AD. 

The Combat history of the Super Sixth:  182 pages, ok scan with a lot of very good info.

 You can read their unit history here: Impact, the battle history of the Tenth Armored Division

A history of the 12th Armored Division: Hellcats   98 pages, good scan.

the 13th Armored division: A history of the Black Cats from Texas to France, Germany and Austria and back to California  

The 68th Tank Battalion in combatUnit history 68th Tank Battalion, 57 good quality pages.

717th Tank Battalion recordA short history of the 717, 78 ok pages.

The combat story of the 743rd Tank Battalion: Move out Verify. This unit was in it from D-day to the surrender of the Germans. 194 pages and good quality scan.

752nd Tank BnThis history is for the 752 who spent their whole war in Italy. It makes for an interesting contrast. 85 ok quality pages.

Battle history of A battery 391st Armored Field Artillery BattThis one is just one A battery, and is 120 ok pages

Our battalion: 89th tank destroyer battalion history  This one is 97 pages, ok scan quality.

782nd Tank Battalion: Treat’em Rough A short history of this Tank unit, 37 pages, ok scan.

782nd Tank Battalion: Treat’em Rough A short history of this Tank unit, 37 pages, ok scan.

New pages: 

Sherman Tank Turrets and Turret components.

Sherman Tank Fuel Systems: Fuel tanks, Lines, and Valves, plus Carbs and Injectors

And now for the images. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherman Tank Site: News Post 12, pictures and cleaning them up, a lot of them.

Sherman Tank Site: News Post 12, things have been changing, its all behind the scenes.

I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of manuals, and they are all great for gathering info on the Sherman, because you can almost always read them. The picture quality varies a huge amount depending on how it was created. There are some very common and easy to find  Sherman manuals with terrible pictures. For example the two I have on the M4A3, and the manual on the Ford GAA, both were probably photocopied multiple times, then scanned on a really early scanner.

This means, the pictures at best, are mostly black blobs, and even the text isn’t great. All isn’t lost with these, as the line drawings usually come through ok.  In some cases the manuals being sold online are these terrible photo copies printed into a cheap book with no improvements to the quality at all.

Some of these manuals have been scanned in by people with decent scanners, and these though much larger, have much nicer photo quality. Even if the scans are good, the original has to be good as well, and in some cases that’s really mixed.  I have several, scanned at very high resolution, making them restorable, to some degree.

I’ve done the most work on the Ford GAA imaged I have, and the tranny. Here is a selection of the ones I’ve done, but not all. Check out the power train and GAA pages for all of them. These are relaxing to do, and I have a ton to work with so keep checking around the site!

#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. 

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!

Shermanfiring 2
Drive Tanks.coms Amazing Easy 8
Sherman HDR 3_resize
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.

M3 Lee ammo chart
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.

Шерман-1 (2)
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.

75ID_Riedwihr_45 (1)
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!

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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6. Another shot of 147, it appears to have an M3 gun.
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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.
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8. Another blurry shot of  Lee 147
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9. Another blurry shot of 147, this time from the side, the Germans seem to be keeping it clean and well maintained.
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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)
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11. Three shots of the same captured M3 Lee, lend lease tank, in Nazi hands.
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12. Cross shape and general layout say this is 147 again, but no way to tell for sure.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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17. A M4 tank that the Nazis had been using, knocked out and back in American hands.
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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.
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19. Same tank as above, this time on the move, only the driver and commander unbuttoned.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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
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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.
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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.
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28. The same old Vc from image 16, you can see the armored box is clearly missing from the rear hull in this shot.
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29. our old pal, the Vc Firefly from image 16.
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30. A captured M4A1 near a bunch of Nazi horse carts. Yeah, the Germans still depended on horses for much of their supply chain.
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31. A  shot of a knocked out captured Firefly Ic or Vc, probably a captured Canadian Vc in Holland.
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32. AM4A3 76 w tank captured by the Nazis, and then destroyed by the US Army, being inspected by US Army troops
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33. A captured Vc Firefly in Nazi hands. The seems to be the same tank as the one in image 21.
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34. A knocked out M4A2 large hatch tank, captured by the Nazis from the Soviets.
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35. A Vc Firefly in Nazi hands, this one looks like out old pal from image 16
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36. Nazi tankers look over the suspension of their Vc Firefly, this is another shot of the the Firefly from image 16
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37. A captured Vc Firefly with Nazis looking at it. Image 16 strikes again.
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38. An Ic Firefly being used as a movie prop
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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43. An M4 in Nazi use.

 

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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)
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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.
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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.
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47. A very bad shot of a captured small hatch M4A1, the same one from  pictures  22 and 23.

 

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.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.
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49. A pair of Nazi tankers on their captured Firefly Vc, this looks like out old friend #16 again.
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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.
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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
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52. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
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53. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
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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.
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55. A knocked out large hatch M4A2 75 dry tank, the Nazis captured from the Soviets.
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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.
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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.
1AD elements near Anzio-X3
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.
5--M8 HMC training 1943 (Armor)-X3
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. 
IC Firefly Normandy
A Sherman IC Firefly probably with the British 11th Armored Division, in the town of Putanges, 20 August 1944.
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A captured M4A1 75 tank, an early DV model, being tested by the Nazis. This tank was probably captured in North Africa.
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An M4A4 based Crab up survives to this day  in Canada.
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An M4A2 75 large hatch tank, this is one of the rare dry ammo rack large hatch tanks. It must have been going pretty fast when it hit that mud, note the tanker bar on the left about to fall off.
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An M4A3 76w HVSS tank is climbing up a muddy road in this HUGE image. Note the commander has a 1919 mounted in front of him. The caption says 11th US Armored Division Einheiten Der Germany 1945. You can see a Jumbo and another A3 76 tank , this one VVSS in the background.
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M4 Sherman with a M1 Dozer blade drivers through a whole in the Siegfried lines Tank Trap belt. The tank is a M4 75. 
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Close up of the T34 Calliope, being loaded by the crew, it shows lots of detail of the T34 installation. 
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This is an M4 Sherman in Italy that hit a large Anti tank mine, or maybe a pair of them in the same hole.  The tank is a DV tank, with an M34 gun mount. 
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This picture was taken during the staging in the UK just before 6 June 1944. Note the left-hand tank has the characteristic arm for mounting a dozer blade (barely visible running along the suspension); the hydraulic jack and blade are missing. 741st Tank Battalion after action reports indicate that among the eight dozer tanks they had scheduled to land in Wave 2, one of them, commanded by LT Kotz, did not have a blade attached. The 741st’s tanks on Omaha Beach came in three flavors. B and C companies had DD tanks. Co. A had M4A1 tanks and the tank dozers (six of their own and two from the 610 Engineer Company) were M4A3s, if I am not mistaken. If these are 741st tanks, then the photo was taken at the Portland ‘hards’ in the UK, where they out-loaded. Also note the M8 armored ammunition trailer. Each of the eight LCTs carrying Co. A embarked two standard tanks and a dozer tank. They also carried an engineer gap assault team and towed an LCM behind. Off the Normandy coast, the engineers boarded their LCM and followed the LCT ashore, where the dozer tank was supposed to support and work under the direction of the gap assault team leader. Also, on the way in, the two standard tanks were to fire over the LCT’s bow ramp, providing suppressive fire as they neared the beach. The ammo trailers were there to ensure they had plenty to shoot. One pair of Co. A’s tanks reported firing 450 rounds of 75mm on D-Day. Love your site. Caption Info, thanks to Chuck Herrick.
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M4A3 or A2 76w Sherman somewhere in Europe 1945, that almost looks like Soviet numbering on the side of the turret. 
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A pair of M4 small hatch 75mm tanks coming off an LST-77 at Anzio, Italy, May 1944; note the small barge capsized in the background.
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A line of French Sherman tanks in Paris after the city was liberated by French forces. The tanks are a mix of small and large hatch Shermans, one is a M4 or M4A3 105 and there is a 76 gun sticking out down the row. Vive La France!
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An UK M4 and an M4A1 pass through a fence in an urban area. It could be an M4A4 in front I suppose. 
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M4A4 Crab. 
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Another Sherman Crab. 
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M4A3 based flamethrower tank, probably with the Marines on Iwo Jima.  These tanks used a Navy Mark 1 Flame-Thrower. 
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M4A1 76w with extra plate armor added to the front hull, it’s from the 3rd Armored Division on the outskirts of Korbach 30 March 1945, also note the Commanders and loaders hatches have been swapped. There is also a pair of boxing gloves hanging on the front armor! 
An M4A1 76w and an M4A3E2 Jumbo of the 3rd Armored Division, probably during the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. 
14th Armored Division M4A1 76W with sandbags, the tank has a threaded and capped M1A1 gun and the split loaders hatch. 
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M4A1 North Africa, 1943, the tank appears to be rather dirty. 
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M4 based Scorpion mine clearing tank.
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M4 Sherman coming out of a gully, this is a command tank, note the extra antenna on the front right of the hull. 
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Soviet M4A2 75’s crew play an accordion and pal around. This tank is another rare large hatch hull with dry ammo racks, you can make out the armor over the ammo racks on t he side of the hull. Most, it not all of these tanks went to Russia. Also note the drivers side head light and guard are nearly ripped off.  
soviet-Shermans
A pair of M4A2 76w Shermans serving with the Soviets, these tanks are just like the one above. 
Укладка-Шерман
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. 
Шерман-1
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. 
Looking for info
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. 
Шерман-с-песком (1)
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
Soviet_Lend-Lease_M3_Lee_Grant_And_German_Soldiers-2
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.
2nd_Armored_Division_Troops_Help_Children_Past_Crashed_M3_lee
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!
M3_Grant_Tank_Crews_Set_Up_for_the_Night_in_Egyptain_Desert_1942
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!

#23 The US Firefly: No really!

The US Firefly: Yeah I said US Firefly, They Made Some But None Saw Combat, And They Were Unique And Not Like The Brit Ones.

The only known shot of the US Firefly tanks, also in shot, M22 locust airborne tanks
The only known shot of the US Firefly tanks, also in shot, M22 locust airborne tanks

Before the Normandy landings, the British had offered the US up 200 guns a month, if they were interesting in the 17 pounder gun. Their rearmament program was well underway, and would have enough Firefly tanks ready to go by D-Day. The US was not interested for a variety of reasons. The 76mm M1A1 and M3 90mm gun programs were well underway. Vehicles that used the guns were in the pipeline, even if there wasn’t much demand from the field yet. They did not want to complicate the supply situation with another tank ammo type.

Another reason was the 17 pounder did not really impress the US officers who witnessed test of it. It had both a large muzzle flash, and breach flashback, that hinted to them of a poor design. The efforts to convince the Americans of the errors of their ways went dormant along with the program. It wasn’t until the Ardennes offensive, when the US faced some heavier German armor, and in larger numbers than thought to be possible, that the program came back to life.

Conversions of 75mm armed US Sherman took place starting in March of 45. The US conversions were different in a few ways. The armored box on the rear of the turret was a little bigger to fit US radios, and the M2 machine gun brackets were welded to the end of the radio box. The tanks chosen for the conversions were all M4s, and M4A3. It’s possible some large hatch final production Shermans with all the improvements were a part of the 160 to 200 that were converted before the program was suspended.

No one has come up with what happened to the tanks, and it seems like none survived. None were ever issued to US units, it’s one of those little mysteries lost to the archives and or time.

Sources: Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga

#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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#3 The Sherman Variants: The Design Matures

The Sherman Variants: So Many Shermans, so Confusing! Updated 4/13

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M4A4’s in desert training center in California.

First off, Americans referred to the Sherman as the M4, or M4 Medium, or Medium, the Sherman name was not commonly used until post WWII. The British came up with the name for the M4 and referred to it with their own designation system that is covered in more detail later. They also named the Lee, and Stuart, and at some point the US Army just stuck with the naming scheme. The full story behind this is still a minor mystery, with US war time documents confirming the ‘general’ names were at least used on paper by the US Army during the war.

Now let’s cover the factory production versions of the Sherman. Also keep in mind; it is very hard to define just how a Sherman may be configured without really knowing where and when it was produced. In some rare cases, large hatch hull, 75mm armed Shermans got produced with normal ammo racks, when the norm for large hatch hull tanks was wet ammo racks.

Then you have post war rebuilds, where the Army swapped 76 turrets onto 75mm M4A3 HVSS hulls during depot level rebuilds.  It would not be impossible for a field repair depot to swap a turret from one knocked out tank, onto the hull of another, making an oddball. You also have to take into account post war monuments are sometimes Frankenstein tanks, in one case with a T23 on a small hatch hull.  You can also run into a Frankenstein tank in museums, or post war civilian restorations. In many cases museum tanks are old range relics that need restoration, in some cases the tank was in decent shape and a cosmetic restoration can easily be done. For the civilian tanker, who wants a running Sherman, also has to get them from a gunnery range, then, the long process of rebuilding the tank can start. I link to a few places that cover a restoration, and these guys do amazing work, taking tanks that you could never imaging running or looking like a tank again, and bringing them back to life.

The nice thing about a tank, as far as a WWII collectable vehicle goes, say compared to an Airplane, like a P-51 or even SNJ, is tanks won’t breakdown, and kill you by falling out of the sky. If you make a big error in a tank, at worst, you’re going to take out a building, flop it on its side, or sink it in deep mud or something, all not really life threatening.  Once you have the tank, running it is going to be a lot cheaper than a vintage aircraft as well.  The other nice thing is if you’re handy, you can work on it yourself, without having to get a certified aircraft mechanic to sign off on all your work.  You do need a hell of a lot of heavy equipment to really work on a tank though, but you don’t have annuals, and hanger rental costs! This may be why the hobby of owning a tank is becoming more popular in the United States!

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M4 DV early Sherman tank. Because the M4 started production after the M4A1 and M4A2, and M4A4 it started production with cast differential cover, and heavy duty suspension, but still had DV ports.

M4 Sherman: First in Name, 4th Into Production. 

These tanks used the same R975 motor as the M3, and M3A1. The vast majority of the bugs in this automotive system were worked out before the M4 even started production. This really helped give the Sherman its reputation for reliability and ease of repair. The M4 had a welded hull with a cast turret mounting the M3, 75mm gun. Early variants had three hull machine guns, and two, turret mounted machine guns. The hull guns were all M1919A4 .30 caliber machine guns, two fixed, and one mounted in a ball mount for the co-drivers use. The fixed guns were deleted from production very rapidly. The turret armament remained unchanged for the whole production run: Using the M3 75mm gun with the M1919A4 coaxial machine gun and M2 .50 caliber mounted on the roof. The turret would be the same turret used on all early Shermans and would be interchangeable on all production Shermans. This version was not produced with the later improved T23 turret but did get some large hatch hulls in special variants.

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M4 105, this tank does not have the factory installed front sprockets

There were two variants of the M4 to be built with the large hatch hull. The first, the M4 (105) was a large hatch hull mated to the 105mm howitzer, on the M52 mount, in the standard 75mm turret. These hulls did not have wet ammo racks or gyro stabilizers, and the 105mm turrets had an extra armored ventilator, the only turrets to have them. The M4 (105) gun tanks had a special mantlet, with four large screws in the face, unique to 105 tanks. Production started in February of 44, and continued well into 45, with late production M4 (105) tanks getting HVSS suspension. These tanks were used as replacements for the M7 Priest in tank units, and spent most of their time being used as indirect fire support, like the M7 they replaced. These tank also had exhaust deflecting vents installed in the back to help reduce dust from being stirred up.

 

 

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M4 composite hull, small hatch hull, late 75mm turret with loaders hatch

One other variant of the M4 to get the large hatch hull(100 or so small hatch casting were made as well) was the M4 ‘hybrid’, this hull was welded, but used a large casting very similar to the front of the M4A1 on the front of the hull. It was found that most of the welding hours building the welded hull tanks were spent on the glacis plate. They figured out by using one large casting, incorporating the hatches and bow gun would save on welding time and labor costs.

These M4 hybrids were used by the British to make Ic Fireflies. They liked the 75mm turret these tanks came with since many already had a loaders hatch, this saved them time on the conversion since they didn’t have to cut one. Most of the M4 composite tanks were shipped to Europe or the Pacific, making survivors rare.

The M4 along with the M4A1 were the preferred US Army version of the Sherman until the introduction of the M4A3. This tank was made in five factories from July of 42 to March of 45, 7584 produced. As far as the US Army was concerned, the M4, and M4A1 were interchangeable.

M4A1 Sherman: First Into Production, And When It Did Go, It Was The Most Advanced Tank In The World.

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Early M4A1 Sherman from the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers,  gathered up just before the start of Operation Lightfoot, the second battle of El Alamein. The photo was taken in late October 1942  and at this time the Sherman M4A1 was a cutting edge tank
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M4A1 76 w, much like the type that would be used in Operation Cobra, beautifully restored.

This was virtually the same tank as the M4, with the same motor and automotive systems and armament. The key difference was the cast upper hull. This huge upper hull casting was one piece. This was a very hard thing to do with casting technology at the time, and something the Germans could not have reproduced, they lacked the advanced technology, and facilities needed to do so. Everything from hatches to wheels, and turrets, and guns were interchangeable with the M4 and other Sherman models. This version saw production longer than any other hull type. It also saw all the upgrades like the improved large hatch hull with wet ammo racks, the T23 turret with 76mm gun, and HVSS suspension system. It was 30 of these M4A1 76 HVSS tanks that were the last Shermans ever produced. The M4A1 was also the first to see combat use with the improved M1 gun and T23 turret during operation Cobra. These tanks would also be the basis for the Israeli M51 Sherman. Three factories produced 9527 M4A1s with all turret types from Feb 42 to July of 45.

The US Marines used one battalion of these tanks on the Cape Gloucester campaign, all small hatch M4A1 75 tanks. This was the only use of this type by the U.S. Marines.

M4A2 Sherman: The Second Sherman Into Production!

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Mid-production small hatch M4A2, courtesy of the Sherman Minutia site.
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A late production M4A2 76w, probably produced by Fisher, in Soviet use.

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This version of the Sherman used a welded hull nearly identical to the M4, but with a pair of vented armored grates on the rear hull deck. The M4A2 tanks used the GM 6046 twin diesel. This version was produced with all the improvements the other types got, like the large hatch hull with wet ammo racks, the T23 turret with improved M1 gun, and HVSS suspension. This version would see very limited combat in US hands, most being shipped to Russia with a few early hulls going to the Brits and USMC. This was the preferred version for Soviet lend lease deliveries, since the USSR was using all diesel tanks. It was produced in six factories with 10,968 of all turret types produced from April of 42 to July 45.

M4A2, M10, M36B2 clutch lockout unit

A little trivia about this version, the Sherman used in the movie Fury, was actually a late production M4A2 76 HVSS tank. The only way you can tell a late A2 from a late A3 is by the size of the armored grills on the back deck. They did a great job of hiding this area in the movie.

The Marines operated a lot of small hatch and a fairly large number of large hatch M4A2 tanks, until the supply of 75mm armed versions dried up in late 1944. Then they switched over to large hatch M4A3 75w tanks, but there were some A2 holdouts amongst the six battalions.

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M4A3 Sherman: The Best Version Of The Sherman, Both in 75mm and 76mm

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Large hatch M4A3 75w
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M4A3 76w HVSS tank, near Bastogne during the battle of the bulge. The Tank is with the 35th Tank Battalion, 4th AD. The photo was taken January 8th 1945

This would be the base for what would be the final Sherman in US Army use, seeing action all the way out to the Korean War in US Army hands. This tank had a welded hull just like the M4, A2, and A4, but used a new motor. The Ford GAA V8, this motor took some time for its bugs to be worked out, so unlike say, the Nazi Germans, the US Army didn’t use it until it was ready for serious production. When it was, it became the preferred US Army version of the tank in both the 75mm and 76mm armed tanks. It would see all the improvements, and be the first hull type to take the HVSS suspension system into combat for the US Army. The M4A3E8 or M4A3 tank with T23 turret and HVSS suspension bolted on would be the final and ultimate US Army Sherman. It would be produced in three factories with all turret types, 12,596 built in total between June 42 and June of 45.

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M4A3 76w Instrament Panel

After WWII when the Army wanted to standardize on one Sherman type, any M4A3 large hatch hull they could find would have a T23 turret and HVSS suspension installed on it. The Army was so thorough in these conversions no M4A3 large hatch 75mm gun tanks are known to have survived with the original turrets installed.  Any M4A1 HVSS 76 and M4A2 HVSS 76 tanks in Army inventory would have been robbed of their suspensions and turrets so they could be installed on M4A3 large hatch hulls.

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M4A3E2 Jumbo

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M4A3E2 Jumbo

The M4A3E2 Jumbo: Fishers Fat and Special Baby!

FTA was the sole producer of one very special variant of the Sherman, the M4A3E2 Jumbo. This version of the Sherman was the assault Sherman, though not expressly designed for it, was manufactured to be able to lead a column up a road and take a few hits from German AT guns or tanks so they could be spotted without having to sacrifice the tank. It had a lot of extra armor, and could take a lot of hits before being knocked out, but was still not impervious to German AT gun fire. Only 254 of these tanks were produced, and all but four were shipped to Europe for use by the US Army. They were all armed with the M3 75mm gun. There was a surplus of M1A1 76mm guns in Europe due to an aborted program re arm 75mm Sherman tanks with the guns. Many of the Jumbo’s ended up with these guns, but none were ever factory installed.

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The tank was no different in automotive components from the M4A3 tanks, with the sole difference being the slightly lower final drive gear ratio, going from a 2.84:1 ratio in the base Shermans, to 3.36:1 on the Jumbos. This reduced the top speed slightly but helped the tank get all the extra armor moving. The Jumbos were well liked by their crews and in great demand; no more were built though, the only batch being produced from May to July of 1944.   Had the invasion of Japan been needed, a special Jumbo with larger turret that included a flame thrower was considered, but we all know how that story ended.

. . .

The M4A3 (75)w and later 105 was issued to the Marines when the M4A2 75mm tanks went out of production. These would all have been large hatch M4A3 75w tanks, and they may have gotten some with HVSS.

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M4A4 Sherman: The Sherman No One Wanted At First, But In The End Was A Very Important Model,  At Least To The British

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M4A4 being used by the French

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M4A4OTHERSIDE M4A4 SIDE M4A4 rear M4A4 DV M4A4 OFSET m4a4 FRONT SIDE

This tank is the oddball of Sherman tanks. It had a welded hull and used the A-57 multibank motor. A tank motor made from combining five car motors on one crank case. As complicated as this sounds, it was produced in large numbers and was reliable enough to see combat use, though not in American hands in most cases. In US use they tried to limit it to stateside training duty. The Brits found it more reliable than their native power plants and liked it just fine. The A4 version never got the improved large hatch hull or T23 turret with M1 gun. Most were shipped to the Brits via lend lease and many were turned into Vc Fireflies, making it the most common Firefly type. The US Marines operating these tanks in the states as training tanks, 22 of them for two months before they were replaced by M4A2s. This tank had a longer hull, like its Lee cousin to accommodate the big A-57 motor. It was the first Sherman version to go out of production. It was produced in one factory (CDA) from July of 42, to November of 43 with 7499 built.

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The massive A57 motor being installed at CDA

The A4 has the honor of being the heaviest and largest standard Sherman. The larger hull to accommodate the A57 motor, and the motor itself added weight. The British used these tanks extensively in combat. These tanks show up in British test reports as well, often pitted against tanks like the Cromwell, in reliability or other tests, and usually coming out ahead. Anyone who has ever changed the spark plugs on their car should really be able to appreciate how hard a motor made by tying five six cylinder automobile engines together, on one crank would be. It is easy to identify an A4 from the side, there’s a bulge on the engine deck just behind the turret, and a bulge in the belly in the same place, both to house a huge cooling fan. The bogie assemblies are spaced further apart, this is very obvious compared to the rest of the Sherman models, and also required a longer set of tracks. These longer tracks spread the added weight out, so it had no effect on flotation.

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M4A4 early ammo layout. This would be the same ammo layout on all early tanks before the armor was added to the hull sponson ammo racks and the ready ammo around the turret basket base was removed

It turns out this version of the Sherman served with more nations than any other version! These include Britain, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, India, China and the USA, all used this tank in combat at some point. I find it very interesting the most complicated Sherman saw such widespread use, and still earned a reputation for reliability second to none. The majority of the British Shermans on D-Day were this model as well.

For a tank the US Army didn’t want, it had an excellent combat record, with the nations that got stuck with it.  The M4A4 is one of the rarest Shermans to find running with its original motor. The A57 would be very troublesome to keep running for a civilian hobbyist, and I have my doubts about how easy it is to get Chrysler inline six parts in Europe. Few M4A4’s remained in the United States, since the ones used in training were refurbished by Chrysler and then shipped off to the UK for conversion to Fireflies.

. . .

All Sherman variants share a lot of details and most spare parts interchange. Only the motors really call for different parts. All early Sherman tanks had 51mm of armor at 56 degrees on the front hull, and 76mm on the front of the turret. The 56 degree hulls are called small hatch hulls because the driver and co-driver had small hatches that forced them to twist sideways to get in and out. They also started out with direct vision ports along with periscopes for crew vision. Even the cast tanks matched these specs and the hatches from a cast tank could be used on a welded tank.  These early hulls had some of the ammo racks in the sponsons above the tracks. Not a great place for ammo, but not an uncommon one for it either. As they improved the hull, they added plates over the direct vision ports and eventually removed them from the castings. Large plates were eventually welded over the ammo racks on the sides, and this extra armor was eventually just added into the casting on the cast hulls. It’s safe to say no small hatch tanks were factory produced with a 76mm gun or improved T23 turret.

The major hull change came when they upgraded the drivers and co drives hatches making them bigger. They also thickened the front armor to 64mm but reduced the slope to 47 degrees to fit the new driver’s hatches.  The M4 (hybrid and 105 only), M4A1, A2, and A3 were produced with these improved large hatch hulls. Many of these improved large hull tanks had the original 75mm gun and turret. Even the M4A3 with HVSS suspension was produced with the 75mm gun and turret. Most of the large hatch production was with the new and improved T23 turret.  These larger hatch hulls would still accept the majority of the spares the older hulls used and the lower hull remained largely unchanged and would accept all the suspension types. Any large hatch M4A3 hull was likely converted to an M4A3 76 HVSS post WWII.

Through the whole production run minor details were changed. The suspension saw many different version before the final HVSS type was produced. The track types also changed and there were many variants made from rubber and steel, or steel. There were even at least six different types of road wheel! There are so many minor detail changes, the scope is to big to cover in this post, needless to say, the only other tank I know of with so many minor changes over the production run was the Tiger, and in the Tigers case it’s just sad, with so few produced, it means almost no two tigers were the same. This was not the case for the Shermans and the changes did not slow production down at all and in many cases were just different because a particular part, like an antenna mount, or driver’s hood, could have been sourced from a different sub-contractor, and the parts may look different, but would function exactly the same. Tiger parts are not good at interchanging without modification, and a crew a craftsmen to custom fit them. The changes made to the Sherman were either to incorporate better parts, or to use a locally made substitute part for one in short supply, so making their own version allowed them to continue production without a slowdown.

To really get a handle on these differences there are two really great sources.

This is the easy, way: Sherman Minutia site  a great site that really covers the minor detail changes on the Sherman tank very well.  You can spend hours reading it and looking over the pictures. It explains little of the combat history of the Sherman but covers the minor changes on the vehicles themselves very well. You can spend hours on this site learning about minor Sherman details. It is also a primary source for this post.

Another great way is to get a copy of: Son of a Sherman volume one, The Sherman design and Development by Patrick Stansell and Kurt Laughlin. This book is a must have for the Sherman plastic modeler or true enthusiast. It is filled with the tiny detail changes that took place on the Sherman production lines from start to finish. They cover everything from lifting eyes to ventilators, casting numbers, to most minor change to the turrets. Get it now before it goes out of print and the price skyrockets. I liked it so much I bought two!

The turret saw continual change as well, but remained basically the same. The 75mm gun never changed but its mount and sighting system did. The turret lost the pistol port, and then gained it back. It gained a rotor shield over time and an extra hatch. All these detail changes are covered on the site above and in the Son of a Sherman book. The important thing to note was the tank saw continual improvement to an already reliable, and easy to produce design. The Sherman was easy to produce for an industrial nation like the USA, but beyond Nazi Germany’s technical capabilities for several reasons, like large casting and the gun stabilization system, or even multiple reliable motors to power the tens of thousands of tanks made.

In the basics section I’m only going to cover one more thing. The Sherman tank was not as blind as the tanks it faced. The M4 series, from the first production tank, to the final Sherman that rolled off any of the production lines, were covered in periscopes or view ports for the crew. The gunner had a wide angle periscope that had incorporated the site for the main gun, and they very quickly added a telescopic site to go with it. The commander had a large rotating periscope in his rotating copula. The loader had a rotating periscope and the driver and co-driver had two, one in their hatch, and another mounted in the hull right in front of them once the DV ports were deleted (non-rotating). Later version added a direct vision cupola and a periscope for the loader in his new hatch. All these periscopes could be lowered and the port closed, and if damage easily and quickly replaced from inside the tank. All this gave the Sherman an advantage in spotting things outside the tank; they were still blind, just not as blind as most of the tanks they would face. Finding an AT gun in a bush could be very challenging for any tank, and infantry if not scared off by the presence of a tank in the first place can sneak up on one pretty easy.

This was a big advantage when it saw combat and throughout the tanks career it was always one of the best if not the best tank of the war. It was reliable, the crew had a good chance of spotting enemies before other tank crews, the gun was stabilized, fast firing, and accurate. It was as good or better than most of the tanks it faced, even the larger German tanks. These tanks were largely failures, with only long debunked Nazi propaganda propping up their war record. The Sherman has the opposite problem.

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Sources: Armored Thunderbolt by Zaloga, Sherman by Hunnicutt, Combat Lessons, Son of a Sherman by Stansell and Laughlin,  M4 Sherman tank at war by Green, Tanks are a Might Fine Thing by Stout, TM9-752, TM9-754, TM9-759, TM9-731B

#1 Sherman Tank Epic Info Site: Introduction

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A brand new M4A1 76w, with a split loaders hatch and an unthreaded M1A1 gun

Introduction: What we’re doing here 

The M4 Medium AKA the Sherman tank over the last few decades has had its reputation severely soiled by several documentaries, TV shows, books, and games, all hailing it as a death trap, engineering disaster, or just a bad tank. The Sherman tank may be the most important, the most versatile and arguably the best medium tank of the war, and this site should show you why, along with documenting as much about the Sherman as I can along the way.  The only other contender for the best tank of WWII award would be the Soviet T-34. These two tanks are very comparable and would fight each other in later wars, staying very even in capability through their service lives.

This site will cover why the Sherman was a better tank than anything Germany, Italy or Japan produced during the war, on both a tactical and strategic level. I will not be reproducing the work of others, and will link to the places that already cover some information, like the wonderful Sherman Minutia site. I will cover all the major changes made to the each Sherman model though.

I will try and cover the many post war variants as well, but that could take months, there are a lot of variants of this venerable tank, including ones that involve putting the engine from one hull type into another hull type and or tanks modified by other countries with no feedback from the American designers. Some variants have heavily modified turrets, or replaced it with a new one altogether. So far only Israeli Shermans have been done.

I will also try and document the Shermans civilian use, in everything from construction demolition (Tanks used to knock down buildings), to logging use, or use as a tractors, the Sherman had a varied an interesting life in civilian hands post war. There were several companies that went into business modifying Sherman Chassis for use in the logging and line laying industries.  At least one M32 recovery tank was used as a general purpose heavy wrecker, at a ship yard. Hollywood got its fair use out of the Sherman as well, and it went on to become a popular item with vehicle collectors. Some of these restored Shermans have working canons. Who knew getting the license for a canon is easier than a machine gun?

Because of the Sherman tanks general ruggedness and reliability the ones that do run will go on running for years to come and many generations should be able to enjoy them. Unlike many of the Shermans in Army hands that are just rusting away, some not even open to the public, or even covered with a tarp. Maybe someday the Army will get around to preserving our armored history instead of letting it rot away in parking lots, but it seems doubtful at this point.

So far, I think this site has the largest collection of Sherman related technical Manuals and Field Manuals, along with a ton of Armor related and General Army TM and FMs as well. All for free. With the Data sheets that have been done, I have an awful lot of Sherman hard data up, on the tanks, Guns and one motor so far.  We have more detailed technical drawings on the Sherman tank,  and more high quality photos. We are now adding specific pages for all this Sherman info, to make it easier to find. You can find these pages via the menu bar at the top of the page!

This year I plan on doing a Tankers Story section, a Data Sheet for the Transmission, differential and final drives, I’m also going to be adding pages for each Sherman sub type. The quality of the pages is going to very, from good to great as I acquire more technical manuals and other Sherman documentation. I’ll be adding a Shermans in museums section as well.

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