Tag Archives: SHERMAN

News Posts 15: 2018 is starting off well!

News Posts 15: 2018 is starting off well!

I started a new image improvement series based on the Shermans Motors. I was not entirely happy with the first series of images I cleaned up regarding the Ford GAA and the M4A3. There were several reasons, the main being, I just got a lot better at using the imaged editing software over the process of doing that first set. This left a lot of images of less quality than they could be, and that annoys me so I’m going to fix that. On the upside, many of these images already are almost done, so fixing them does not take that long.

Another problem with the early parts diagrams is they only have simple part names. If I don’t know for sure the name of the port, a cover plate is covering and the diagram just says cover, it makes it less useful. What’s interesting is you can find the same images just labeled differently in the different parts catalogs and Technical Manuals.  On the improved images, I’m using the actual commonly used parts name.  Digging through the various manuals to figure this out can be time-consuming, but I always learn something so it’s ok.

I‘ll post a bunch of the updated images at the end of this post.

The Sherman Tank Site Store: Click here for the Store
The Sherman tank Site store Preview page: Click here for the store preview page on this site. 

I put up Clothing and Gear store, you can click on the first link to go directly to the link, or the second link to go to the preview page on this website, with some larger images of some of the shirts. The idea behind the store is even if it only makes a few bucks a month, it can help offset some of the web pages hidden costs.  I think I have some amusing T-shirts up, check it out.

A new Sherman Tank Site forum. 

I put in a small forum, so people have an easier venue to discuss things since the comment system is clunky for that.  To start it off, I put a post up about my feelings on the Sherman Stabilizer system and if it not being commonly used is a myth or not.  Please pop over and add your feedback.

Coming soon, more huge Technical drawings and parts breakdowns. 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

M4s waiting for the call to action near Luneville.

 

M36 GMC 90mm Tank destroyer.

 

M4 getting duckbills

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An M4 pushing an T1E3 mine exploder.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An M10 firing at night.

 

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

 

M4A3 dozer tank. This image was taken near Colmar.

 

Shermans on floating pontoon bridges.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An M36 on a makeshift ferry.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

M4 Sherman, plus large rocket rack, equals awesome.

 

An M4 crew watches doughs sleep on a stone road.

 

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

 

M10 TDs move through the ruins of Magdeburg.

 

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

 

An M4A3 76w HVSS tank

 

An Easy 8 acting as a ferry for some doughs.

 

M4A3 76w HVSS tank

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

Coming soon, Part II, the Pacific. 

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

Security on the March:  With the Sherman Tank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security rules and things to note on the short halt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Security Rules and things to note on the long halt:

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

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

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

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

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  • Some camo is better than nothing.

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Special Rules for night marches:

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

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

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

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

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

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News Post 6: Slowly Getting Back on Track

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, and commenting

-Jeeps

 

#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 that a tank is about; a tank is also about storing things, lots of things. Not just ammo, I mean sure, thousands of rounds of MG ammo and over 100 main gun rounds on late model Shermans, but even after the crew had packed all that stuff in, there was still a hell of a lot of other stuff they carried around. The tank had everything it needed to be maintained by the men it was issued to, including manuals, and a limited number of common spare parts for certain components and as much gear the tankers could accumulate to make their lives easier strapped on outside too.

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

There are at least 61 hand tools used for maintaining the tanks automotive components.  Most of these tools were stored in a tool bag behind the driver. Some items like the non-magnetic screwdriver for adjusting the compass were stored in brackets on or near the device they were specifically for.  The oiler was mounted on a bracket by the assistant driver. He probably used it a lot. The huge track adjusting wrench and all the pioneer tools were mounted on the hull on the outside of the Sherman with the 20-foot long tow cable. The tanks weapons, including the main gun, also has a bunch of tools specific to them, also stored in the tank. These included combination wrenches and other special tools to maintain the machine guns, and an eye bolt and breach removing tool for the main gun adding between 6 and 10 more tools.  These tools were stored in a toolbox or a spare parts box. The grease gun, or gun lubricating, was mounted on the right rear lower hull, under the turret basket. It had an extension hose stored with it, and probably tubes of grease. This is what the crew would use to lubricate all the grease fitting that just about anything that moved had.

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

Now the crew had to pack in the communication gear.  The tanks radio antenna broke down into 6 parts including the case and was stored on the blanket roll rack on the rear of the tank on late model Shermans. The early Sherman manuals do not list a location for them that I can find. There was also a flag set, M238, it had its own bracket on the right side of the turret.  This flag kit came in a case, had 3 flags, red, orange, and green, and 3 flagstaffs.  You also had the radio setup in the back of the turret that was technically removable.  The radios also came with a spare parts kit, small tool kit, and spare tubes and a crystal box to change frequencies.

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

The tank was issued with 12 signal flares (they shoot up in the air), and they were mounted in their own box on the battery box. There were 3 white star parachute flares, 3 white star cluster flares, 3 amber parachute flares and 3 green parachute flares. Then there was the panel set. The set, I think was the big orange panels they put on the rear deck, so attacking fighter-bombers could tell US tanks from German ones, came with two panels, and two cases for them. They were also stored in the blanket roll on the foldup shelf on the rear of most late model Shermans.

The Sherman had two fixed 10 pound CO fire extinguishers that could be triggered from inside the tank, and outside if you knew where the pull handles were. They also provided the crew with 2, four pound CO fire extinguishers, on mounted on a bracket on the right side of the transmission, and the other mounted on the rear of the turret basket.  They also supplied a small decontaminated apparatus, called the M2, essentially a 1 ½ quart fire extinguisher, filled with a decontaminating agent instead of fire retardant. These were issued all the way into the sixties as a way to clean something like mustard gas residue from the areas of the tank the crew needed to touch. It was stored in a box in the hull, and probably got thrown away a lot.

The crew’s needs were taken into account, and there was a specific storage location inside the tank for 2 days of rations for the five-man crew. Each crew member also had an M1910 canteen mounted near their position.   There was a ration box in the right rear sponson, and it could hold either, 30 boxes of “K” rations,  60 cans of “C” rations or 2 or the much larger “D” rations. There was a small 1 burner Coleman stove stored with the rations. You see an awful lot of pictures of Sherman tanks and other AFV with a lot of ration boxes tied on the tank, so the crews appear to have liked to have more than two days food on hand. Of course, rations boxes are not bulletproof, and I bet it wasn’t all that uncommon to find shell splinters or bullets in the ration cans when stored outside.

We are not even close to done here, next up, sighting gear.  The tanks were issued with an M13 binocular set; this consisted of the M13 binoculars and the M17 case.  These were secured to the turret wall in its own bracket, near the commander’s position.  On late model Shermans, there was a box next to the radio that held 2 spare vision blocks for the commanders all around vision cupola. In a box behind the driver, you could find 10 spare bulbs for either the elevation quadrant or azimuth indicator. There was also a case for the Gunners Quadrant M1with its own bracket above the 5-gallon water can installed in the right sponson.

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 a nice wide field of view to find the target, the commander was handing off, mounted in his fixed periscope. He had a complete spare M4A1 periscope in a box on the floor by his feet.  They did not give him a spare telescopic sight, in late model Shermans, the M70F was used, and it was mounted on the gun mount. He also had a series of lamps to illuminate the reticles of the M70F and M4A1 sights. He also had lamps for the M1 quadrant, and another for the M9 quadrant.

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, let’s cover some more ‘general equipment’, before getting to ammo storage.  Let’s see, the tank had 5 M1936 OD canvas bags to store much of the gear that’s been mentioned, and 1 tool bag for most of the tools listed, stored behind the driver. There were 3 flashlights TL-122 on brackets around the turret, one near the commander, one by the gunner and one by the loader. They carried 12 spare batteries in box C101039. This is the same box all the lamps for the gunner’s sights went.  There were also 5 safety belts for the crew’s seats, it may not seem like a vehicle that doesn’t hit 35mph would need them, but off road, I bet they were handy.  The tank came with an 18-quart canvas bucket that was stored in the right sponson.  There was a special inspection lamp stored in the toolbox. The spare bulb was stored with the other spare bulbs in box C101039.  The Home light auxiliary motor had its own accessory kit, it was also stored in the sponson toolbox in the right front sponson.  This little kit had a spare spark plug, and the rope and wood pull handle to start the unit if the batteries were dead, plus a set of tools to maintain it.

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 in the tank. The chart below breaks down the changes in ammo loadout for all the weapons on the Sherman, as the tank went through production changes. The earliest Sherman tanks had ammunition stored all over the vehicle in ammo racks with no additional protection.  Ammo was placed in sponson ammo racks, with some around the base of the turret, and in a floor ready rack.  More was stored under the floor. These early tanks had a fully floored, and screened in turret basket, with only two sections open to the hull. On these early Shermans, and we could be talking, an M4, M4A1, M4A2 or M4A4 most of the direct vision tanks would fit into this category.  These tanks, once the ammo around the base of the turret, and ready rack were used, would have to rotate the turret so the openings I the basket matched up with the hull racks, and or co-driver so he could hand in ammo from the rack near him.  The idea behind the full turret basket was to protect the crew from getting their limbs severed by the rotating turret if a crew member stuck it in the wrong place.

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   

#60 The Sherman Tank Site Glossary: Because sometimes words are confusing

Sherman Terms: A glossary of Sherman words and some of the other lingo this site uses.

 

When I started the site, I assumed most readers would be fairly familiar with tanks, and the terms associated with them.  That’s probably not a very good assumption, so I decided to do a site glossary.

 

A57:

The motor used in the M4A3 and Sherman V tanks. It used five inline 6 car motors tied together on a common crankcase. For more information on this motor, see this post!

Armor Rolled:

Flat plate armor, this type of armor was used on the M4, M4A2, M4A3 and M4A4 and all the Sherman based TDs. For more information on WWII Armor, see this link. 

Armor Cast:

Armor made by pouring molten steel into a mold. For more information on WWII Armor, see this link. 

ARV:

The abbreviation for Armored Recovery Vehicle, usually a modified tank use to tow other tanks out of the places they went and got stuck. For more info on Sherman based ARVs Click here

Applique Armor:

Armor added over the ammo racks in the hull sponsons, and this spot on the front right of the turret on the M4 series. More info, click here

Auxiliary motor:

A small gas motor mounted in the sponson of Shermans used to charge the tanks batteries when the tank isn’t running and heat the tank. For more info on the Auxiliary motor click here

Bogie:

The complete bogie assembly, including the two wheels, suspension arms, return roller and skid. Each Sherman had three bogie assemblies. For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Bogie wheels:

The wheels the tanks tracks run on. There is a wide variety of types of bogies or road wheels. The Sherman has at least 5 different, interchangeable types, and each tank has its own type as well.  For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Bow Machine gun:

The machine gun mounted in the front right of the Sherman tanks hull and manned by the co-driver.  For more info on the this click here

Co-axial Machine gun:

The machine gun mounted next to the main gun in a tank. For more info on the this click here

Composite Hull:

A Sherman that had a cast portion of the hull and welded portion, a very advanced technique used to simplify the number of welds needed to build a Sherman, without the need for the huge complete hull casting that not all Sherman makers could do. For more info on this hull type, click here

Crunchy:

The term tankers use for infantry, usually the enemy’s but can be slang for all things on two feet.  See this post for more info.

Cupola:

The name for the hatch the commander used, it usually had some form of extra viewing device built into it, and later ones allowed the Sherman to have nice all around view without cracking the hatch. This was one of the few truly excellent features of the German cats, the later production Tigers, Panthers and King Tigers all had very nice ones. Click here for more info

Direct Vision:

Early Sherman tanks had actual armored flaps that could be opened and closed from inside the tank for the driver and co-driver to look out from during combat, along with the periscope in the hatch above them. It was found that bullet splash could enter even when closed and it was a weak spot in the frontal armor.  They started welding the DV ports shut and covering them up with extra armor in the field and factory, and then the hull casting was improved to remove the DV ports, replacing them with an extra periscope for the driver and co-driver. For more info on the this click here

Dozer Sherman:

A Sherman with the Dozer blade kit attached. For more info, see this post

Dry Storage:

Early Shermans had their ammunition stored in racks around the hull, in the sponsons, under the floor and around the base of the turret.  These tanks were found to be very prone to fire if the ammunition,  much of it exposed around the turret was hit.  Once they figured  out this was the main reason the Sherman burned, they added armor around all the ammo racks, removed all the exposed round around the base of the turret, and added a small armored ready  rack at the loaders feet. These changes made the Sherman safer, but the ammo was still in easy to hit locations in the sponsons. These changes also were not universally popular with the crews, who in many cases wanted as much main gun ammo as they could pack in the tank. For more info on the this click here

Drive Sprocket:

The spiked wheel that applies engine power to the tracks, they can be found on the front or rear of tanks, depending on the layout of the automotive components. Most modern tanks put the motor, transmission and final drive with the sprocket in the back. In WWII, most allied and German tanks had the transmission and final drives in the front, with the motor in the back,  this causes tanks like the M4 Sherman, Panzer III and IV, Panther, Tiger, and Tiger II all taller than they needed to be. The Soviets adopted rear power packs before the war. For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Duckbill End Connector:

Track blocks are held together with end connectors that hold two track pins together. Duckbill end connectors were a standard end connector with a long duckbill like extension welded to it to help spread the tanks weight out in soft and muddy conditions.  They were both factory produced and installed, and locally sourced in France and installed on tanks already in the field. For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Duplex Drive:

A add on kit that would allow a Sherman tank to float, and self power from a LCM or LST to shore, if he conditions were right.  For more info see this post. 

End Connector:

The steel connector that holds the track pins together. These have to be lighted all the time and they wear out. When a tank comes to a halt, and it’s not under fire,  if the crew has the time several will jump out and start tightening them. For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Exhaust Deflector:

A large armored steel vent assembly mounted on late model Shermans to have deflect the exhaust gases away from the ground, so the tank doesn’t stir up as much dust.  Click here for an image of a Sherman, you can clearly make out the exhaust deflector on the back.

Fighting Compartment:

On the Sherman, the turret and co drivers position were all part of the fighting compartment. In a modern tank it’s just the turret. For more info, click here

Final Drive:

The gears used to transfer power from the transmission to the drive sprockets.  They were extremely robust on the Sherman, and able to take numerous upgrades that added weight without their failure rate going up. They were good enough to take the power of every power pack put into a Sherman.  They must have been a tad overdesigned and were much stronger than the final drives in the Panther tank.  The Panthers Final Drives were the tanks main Achilles heel. Not only were the gears weak, the housings were also weak and flexed, causing already weak gears to implode that much faster.  The Panthers spur gear final drives, even with the improved housing was so weak, it wouldn’t have been a choice for a 30 ton tank, let along the 45 ton disaster it ended up. The Shermans final drivers were stronger than the Panthers by a pretty big margin. For more info on the transmission and final drives, click here.

GAA:

The V8 motor that powered the M4A3 Sherman tank and several other vehicles based on the Sherman chassis. This motor was designed by cutting down an aircraft V12 Ford tried to sell the air force. When that didn’t work out and the Army told Ford it needed tank motors, they made some huge changes to the design, and the Ford GAA V8 tank motor arrived. This motor was generally viewed as the best motor the Sherman used. It was also a very advanced design, all aluminum dual overhead cam V8 capable of much more than it’s rated 500 horsepower. For more information on this motor, see this post!

Glacis Plate:

The frontal sloped plate of the Sherman tank or other tanks.  More info, click here

GM 6046:

The twin supercharged diesel motor that powered the M4A2 version of the Sherman thank, and the M10.  This motor got good mileage, had very good torque characteristics and was reliable and tough. The motor was well liked by all users, though the US Army only used it for training. The US Marine Corps used them for most of the war, and they were the preferred version of the Russians. For more information on this motor, see this post!

GM Twin Diesel:

The same motor as the GM 6046 For more information on this motor, see this post!

Grouser:

A grouser is a large metal bar that can be strapped onto the tanks tracks for extra traction in snow, mud or ice. They were stored in special compartments on the rear of the Sherman. They usually ran 12 per track. For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Grouser Cover:

This was the scoop like cover that went over the grouser compartment on the rear of the Shermans hull.  For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

High Bustle:

Later 75mm Sherman turrets had the bustle in the back, that the radio was mounted in, raised slightly, to clear the hinge protrusions on the new large hatch hulls. For More info, click here

Hunnicutt:

Richard P. Hunnicutt, pretty much the number one authority in print on US Armor for decades. His books, long out of print, are just not coming back into print, and are must buys. He wrote the definitive book on the Sherman tank, Sherman, a history of the American Medium tank.   For more info, click here

HVSS:

An abbreviation for Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension, the improved, later wider suspension and tracks used by the ‘Easy 8’ Shermans.  For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Idler:

The assembly at the back of the hull on the Sherman, that includes the idler wheel, and used to adjust track tension.  For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Jumbo:

This was the nickname for the M4A3E2 Sherman tank with much heavier armor that was developed late in the war. Click here for more info. 

LCT:

A Landing craft large enough to take one or two tanks ashore, with a ramp in the front. Often operated from a Landing Ship Tank.

LSD:

Landing Ship Dock, is a large ship, that doesn’t land anything directly, but has a large internal well deck that allows the internal loading of landing craft. These ships were a bottleneck in the invasion capacity of the allies.

LST:

The Landing Ship tank is a smallish ship that can carry a large number of tanks or other large vehicles directly to the beach or onto other landing craft. These Ships were not designed to hit beaches during the initial assault, but to deposit large amounts of cargo on already secure beaches. For more info, click here

Large Hatch:

A term used to identify later improved Shermans that had larger hull hatches that made it easier for the driver and co-driver to get in and out. For more info on the this click here

Lifting ring:

A large ring cast or welded into the hull or turret of a tank to lift it or a large part of it. For more info on this subject, click here This link takes you to the Sherman Minutia site.

Low Bustle:

A term used for early Sherman turrets that had the low bustle, most Sherman turrets produced had the low bustle design, and it could even be modified slightly to work fine on large hatch hull tanks, they just to a small notch out of the bottom of the bustle armor.  For More info, click here

M1A1/A2:

The main gun of the later 76mm armed Shermans. For more info on this gun click here.

M3 75mm:

The main gun of early 75mm Shermans.For more info on this gun click here.

M3 90mm:

The main gun of the M26 Pershing and M36 TD.For more info on this gun click here.

Periscope:

A device that used mirrors that allowed the crew to look outside the tank from inside, with no exposure. The Sherman had a lot of these for the crew, and as the tank was improved more were added. The Shermans used replaceable heads and could be raised and lowered, rotated in some cases and pivoted up and down. Every crew member had at least one. For more info, click here

Periscope housing/hatch:

The housing the periscope fit into, with a small armored flap to cover the hole when the periscope was removed. For more info, click here

Pistol Port:

The armored port on the side of many 75mm Sherman turrets and all 76 T23 based turrets. It could be used to fire small arms out of, drop grenades, or throw out garbage, or shell casings. It also let in light and fresh air when things were not hairy. At some point it was decided the port in the 75mm turrets was a weak spot, and it was removed from the casting. After much complaining from the field, it was put back in, but almost a years’ worth of Sherman production didn’t have them. For More info, click here

Power Take Off:

This means power take off, a mechanical port on the transmission, transfer case or motor that can be used to power other things off power of the main device. Often used for things like winches, the Germans used PTO from a transfer case to power the turret drive on several of the big cats. The Shermans Ford GAA used a form of PTO to power many of the engines accessories, but its turret drive was hydroelectric or electric drive.

R975:

The Sherman tank motor that started life as a Wright Aircraft motor, and was then licensed to Continental, and improved by them for use as a vehicle motor and it wasn’t bad. This radial motor was reliable, powerful for its weight, ran on standard grade gas, and was the Army choice motor until the GAA arrived and got reliable. For more information on this motor, see this post!

Registration Number:

The number on the tank that the government used to keep track of the steel beast, this number is key to figuring out the tanks manufacturing date, so if you run into a Sherman, jot it down and email it to the Sherman minutia site.

Remanufactured:

Many Shermans were rebuilt after being worn out in training. The remanufacturing process updated the tanks to the latest standards and returned them to new condition, so they could be re-issued to troops. Most existing Shermans have been remanufactured at least once, and many three or four times. This is why the serial number is important to figure out how it was produced.

Rotor:

The base of the main gun, a delicate area, and easy to damage even by small arms fire.

Rotor Shield:

The armor that covers the rotor, on early Shermans it was small and stubby, later it covered the face of the turret, when the telescopic site was added to the tanks. Armor could be added to the early stubby rotor shields, to cover the scope and the barrel of the co-ax mg, and these can be identified by the weld lines, later factory rotor shields are one large casting.

Track Block:

The part of the track that supports the tanks weight, a large number of these, 80 plus depending on the model of tank, held together with pins, and end connectors make up a track run.  For more information about the suspension and tracks see this post

Turret drive:

The system used to rotate the Sherman. Most tanks had at least manual gears to do this and many had a powered system. The best of these systems, like the preferred units in the Sherman used a powerful electric motor to power a hydraulic pump, which ran hydraulic motor to spin the turret at varying speeds. The Sherman had three types that could be found installed in various models, two combination hydraulic electric, and one pure electric. If you are bad at tank design, like the Germans, you use PTO or power take off, to power your turret drive.

Small Hatch:

This is used to refer to early Shermans that had the smaller drivers and co-drivers hatches along with hood bulges. The switch from small to large hatches was one of the major changes in Sherman production. For more info on the this click here

Splash Guard:

Welded or cast in sections of armor placed to protect things like the periscopes, turret ring, and gas cop covers. The type of splash guards found on a Sherman can help identify what factory made the tank.

Sponson:

The portion of a tanks hull found above the tracks, a feature done away with on most modern designs, including the follow on to the Sherman, the M26.

Stabilizer:

A system installed on the main gun that held the gun in the same vertical position as the tank moved. Modern systems allow a tank to shoot very accurately on the move. The Sherman’s system did not, but, it did let a crew who knew how to use it, get the get sited in after coming to a stop much faster than a tank that did not. It would also allow the tank to engage area and building size targets while on the move.  All American medium tanks from the M3 Lee, (both guns) to the Sherman and M26 had stabilizers. No German tanks had them, German tank technology was just too far behind the curve, and they didn’t even have prototypes versions.

Sturgeon House:

An information based forum that this whole thing started on as a thread. The thread is still there, and I still post all articles there first, for discussion before I post them on the web site.

VVSS:

The early narrow Sherman suspension, it stands for Vertical Volute Spring Suspension. There were four major versions of this suspension. For more information about the suspension see this post

Wehraboo:

A term a group of frustrated history buffs from all walks of life came up with, though the actual word was made up by the Sturgeon of Sturgeon House, to describe a person obsessed with the supposed superiority of WWII German technology. I was pushing for Panzerfile, but wehraboo stuck, and I’m fine with it. The word has its origins in weaboo the slang people came up with for the person into Japanese anime or culture in the same way.

If you have ever posted to a History based forum, or a game forum for a game based in WWII, you’ve dealt with this guy. He’s the guy that thinks the Tiger II was never penetrated in combat, and when shown otherwise denies it. He’s the guy that is convinced the German army played no part in the Holocaust and was made up of honorable white Knights, saving Europe from the evil red hoards and communism. They are the guys that whine about the rape of German women by the soviets, but deny that the German armed forces raped and murdered their way all the way across Russia, waging a horrific war of genocide not just against the Jews, but all Russians! The worst of these guys are borderline holocaust and war crime deniers, and will always try and defend the honor of the German soldier by pointing out every atrocity they can find committed by the allies.

In a small part the wehraboo inspired me to put this site up. The Wehraboos have control of much of Wiki, they have sites like Attention Tiger and other websites dedicated to glorifying Nazis and their equipment, with little worry about the actual truth. Most gaming forums are overrun with them, and they are so vocal, and often been around so long, and in some cases are the moderators, getting the truth out is hard. This site is all about the truth about the Sherman.

This word is spreading; there are threads that use it tracking the stupid things wehraboos say on something awful and Reddit. Websites like Archival awareness and even the World of tanks website help crush the myths these guys cling to. So go forth and use the word, use it to label the nasty people who glorify Nazis equipment. These are not the people who are interested in the equipment, and history, if they are looking for the

Wet Storage:

Late model Shermans had the ammunition storage moved to the floor of the hull and encased in water jackets filled with basically coolant. Not all large hatch hull tanks got wet ammo racks, the large hatch composite hulls and large hatch M4A2 75mm tanks still had dry racks, as did all 105 tanks.

WOT:

World of Tanks, the best tank Arcade game on the market, yes, even now. You can find a review here

WT:

The poorly done, but pretty copy of WOT that includes airplanes.

#34 Israeli Shermans: The Most Powerful Shermans Ever To See Action.

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Israeli Shermans: These Modifications Kept The Sherman Relevant Into The 70s!

Israeli use of the Sherman tank would be long and glorious, with updated models using extremely upgraded guns, seeing action for decades after WWII. They would use the chassis for more things than the US Army did. They also went with their own strange naming system, making trying to figure out the Israeli Shermans even harder. There is also not a lot of good books in English on the subject, and Hunnicutt only has a little info on them and I think it’s a tad out of date. This section will be updated as I find out more info on the subject and or correct what is here, based on newer better info.

In the dark early days when Israel was struggling to become a nation, they managed to get ahold of a few Shermans. Three or so were acquired from the British, probably M4A4s. They also managed to get de-milled Shermans from Junk vendors in Europe. They had to re arm some with an old German 75mm field gun, they were called Sherman (Krupp). When they managed to get ahold of a Sherman armed with a M3 75mm gun the tank was called a Sherman M-3, when it had a 105mm gun, it was a Sherman M-4. As you can see already, naming convention confusion has commenced.

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Sherman M1 that used to belong to the Littlefield collection
Sherman M1 from the x littlefield collection
Sherman M1 that used to belong to the Littlefield collection
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Sherman M1 that used to belong to the Littlefield collection

In the later fifties Israel was able to get more up to date Shermans. The tanks were M4A1 and M4A3 models with the 76mm M1A1/A2 gun, probably from France. These Shermans were called Sherman M1s, regardless of what motor or hull they had. If they had HVSS suspension, they were called Super Sherman M1. Some of these tanks had an upgraded engines, probably late in their careers, and with Cummings diesels.

The Story gets more interesting, and slightly less confusing in the naming area, when they started to rearm the tanks.

M-50 based on a large hull Sherman, probably an M4A3.
M-50 based on a large hull Sherman, probably an M4A3.
M-50 Sherman based on an early small hatch hull, probably an M4 from the looks of the wheel spacing
M-50 Sherman based on an early small hatch hull, probably an M4 from the looks of the wheel spacing
Another view of the same small hatch M-50
Another view of the same small hatch M-50
Another view of the same small hatch M-50
Another view of the same small hatch M-50

IDF M50 Super Sherman 75mm [LIMITED to 500px]

The M-50: In 1954 Israel and France went to work on a project to fit the excellent French CN 75-50 75mm gun to the Sherman 75mm turret. This gun could shoot an AP round out 3200 feet a second. To fit the gun they added an extension to the front, and rear of the turret, the front one to fit the gun, and the rear one to add counterbalance weight. The first fifty tanks were based on the M4A4 hull that had been converted to use the R975 radial motor. This motor, though less powerful than the A57, was much more numerous, and easy to repair, and the French specialized in this conversion.

These M4A4 hulls with R975 radials still had their VVSS, with 16 inch tracks. The added weight of the new gun on the already larger and heavier hull made for a very sluggish tank with poor off road ability. These early M-50s also had early split hatches on the commander’s cupola. I think these tanks had a loaders hatch installed.

They solved this by installing HVSS, and in many cases a Cummings diesels motor. Once production got rolling, they were installing improved all around vision cupolas and HVSS on all the converted tanks, but some seem to have retained the R975 radial or in rare cases the maybe the Ford GAA? I’ll have to look into this more. One thing is clear from looking at pictures of the tanks in action, and survivors in museums and private collections, is they were not picky about what hull they used, as long as it had a 75mm turret. I’ve seen M4A4 hulls, and other early small hatch hulls in photos, they could be M4, M4A2 or A3, and pictures of a large hatch hulls, that could have been M4 105 tanks, (the only large hatch hull M4 tanks), or M4A3 75 or 105 tanks or even M4A2 75s. I have seen very little evidence that M4A1 hulls were used, I’ve only seen two clear pictures of the M-50 turret on M4A1 hulls, and one was on a non HVSS M4 and you couldn’t see the front of the hull to tell if it was large or small hatch hull.

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M51 Sherman at the Latrun tank museum
M51 Sherman at the Latrun tank museum
M51 Sherman at the Latrun tank museum
M51 Sherman
M51 Sherman
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M51 at the Kubinka tank Museum Russia

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The M-51: In the early 60s the Israelis went to the French for help shoehorning an even bigger gun into the Sherman. They took a shortened version of the 105mm Model F1 gun; this was a modification of the gun used in the AMX-30. The gun retained a stabilizer, I’m not sure if it was the original Sherman one or a more advanced design.  This gun could fling an AP round at 2969 feet a second and had a HEAT round that could penetrate 14 inches of steel.  They chose to use M4A1 76 W tanks exclusively. These tanks had the larger T23 turret and they was helpful in getting the guns to fit. The French prototype retained its VVSS, and R975, but the Israeli production modifications had HVSS and the Cummings diesel fitted to the M-50 models. This was a 950 cubic inch diesel that put out 460 horsepower. This was enough horsepower along with the HVSS, to keep the tanks reasonably mobile, but they were no hotrods.

Both these tanks saw extensive combat use with Israel all the way into the 70s, and then a lot of them were sold off to collectors and museums or used as range targets.

Coming soon! Other stuff the Israelis used the Sherman chassis for!!! 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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#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 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 shipyard. 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 pages for each gun the Sherman used and data sheets for each weapon. 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,  a data booklet for the GM6046, R975, and A57. I will also be putting up a lot of restored photos from various manuals.

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