The Sherman M4 Medium Tank: Not the First Type into Production

The Sherman M4 Medium Tank: The US Army’s Main Tank. 

The M4 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 almost whole production run: Using the M3 75mm gun with the M1919A4 coaxial machine gun and M2 .50 caliber mounted on the roof, with a few hundred M4 105 tanks made near the end.

 

The turret would be the same turret used on all early Shermans and would be interchangeable on all production Shermans. The M4 version was not produced with the later improved T23 turret but did get some large hatch hulls in the 105 variant.

M4105W
This is an M4 105, this tank does not have the factory installed front sprockets, not uncommon, the sprockets, or whole differential housing including final drives could have been swapped at some point. That’s the advantage of high quality manufacturing, parts made at any factory work with any Sherman, no mater who made it. 

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.

M4Composite
M4 composite hull, late 75mm turret with loaders hatch, this would have been an ideal candidate for conversion to an an Ic Firefly, because it already has a loader’s 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.

♠ M4 Data: Gun and Tank Data ♠

M4 Early spec sheet in PDF format: Click link to download. 

♠ Sherman M4 Medium tank gallery ♠

This colorized photo of an M4 from the 3rd AD, with infantry from the 36th Infantry near Stolberg on October 14 1945. They did an excellent job coloring it.
This massive photo shows and M4 with all the quick fix upgrades, getting a new motor. Note all the dried mud on the top of the bogies. That tank was probably ready to go in about an hour after the photo was taken. The tank was with the 2nd Armored Division, in France, August of  1944. 
In this image, LST 77 is delivering M4 Mediums to Anzio bridgehead from the 1st Armored Divisions CCB, to be used in any break-out won by the infantry. The tanks are from the 13th Armored Regiment on 27 April, 1944.
This is an M4 Sherman, a fairly early one, that made it all the way to Italy, only receiving upgraded turret cheek armor. The DV ports are still uncovered, and it doesn’t look like it has the armor over the sponson ammo racks. The light tank next to it is an M5 light.

This is a very late production M4, it seems to be rusting away in someone’s tank ‘museum’.

An M4, with anything useful removed from it, after it was knocked out. The caption on WWII Photos says its and M4A2, but they looks like an M4 engine deck. 
I think this is the same knocked out M4, turret is in the right place, it has one sprocket, but the left is missing, and it was also captioned wrong on WWII photos, the US star on the front means this tank is an M4.
I could not find any details on the actual content of the photo, it seems to be a favorite for wacky sites trying to make a big deal about WWII casualties, as if that’s a new story or something. It’s usually captioned like, “this terrible image shows all the vehicles destroyed on D-Day.”, and then links to some crappy story. Anyway, if I had to guess, I’d say a big general salvage yard, somewhere behind American lines, since there is a P-47 fuselage in back there and some french tanks. It could even be a post war metal salvage yard. On average, if each of those shermans was lost in combat, one man out of the five was killed, and this was better than most tanks including German tanks.

 

Men, probably the crew of the M4 in the background, working on putting the track back on.
In this photo we see an M4 with a load of Doughs, entering Rome.
A pair of M4s, probably early production, but one factory produced M4s with direct vision ports like these have into 1944. They do have the early M34 gun mounts with the small mantlets.
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. This was not idea terrain for a tank, and they sometimes had to put in very rough paths for the tanks, but it was worth it for the firepower they brought to the table. Think about being right on the equator, stuck inside a steel box with bad ventilation. The Japanese rightfully feared the Sherman, since they had few good counters to it.