The Sherman M4A3 76W: The tank that would grow into the ultimate Sherman

 

The Sherman M4A3 76W: What would end up being the best Sherman.

The M4A3 76 tanks went into production after the M4A1 76w tanks, and may not have some of the early oddities the M4A1 76 tanks have. The Sherman Minutia Site is really the best place for delving into the kind of detail. Some were produced with unthreaded M1A1 76mm guns.

It like all the Shermans saw a steady flow of minor improvements, and versions of this tank with HVSS started showing up in December of 1944 and would be come increasingly common from that point on as replacement tanks. These tanks were very well received, the Ford GAA was a very good motor for a tank in the Shermans weight range. The low RPM torque the motor matched the existing gear ratios in the transmission, and the motor was way overbuilt for the stress it was under.  Once the HVSS suspension started showing up, this really became the ultimate Sherman.

Some like to point out the Various firefly variants were better, but I think that’s wrong on several counts. First, the Ic and Vc firefly tanks were based on the M4 and M4A4 tanks, meaning they came with the old small hatch hulls in most cases, though the Ic composite tanks used a large hatch hull, they were still saddled with the two least desirable engines.  The you have to look at the gun installation, the T23 turret on the 76mm tanks was designed with the M1A1/A2 guns in mind. They were roomy, the stabilizer still worked, and the gun was easy to service. None of that was true with the Firefly tanks.  When you look at the guns, the M1A1/A2 gun was a better overall tank gun, it didn’t perform as well in the A/T role, but it did well enough.

The M4A3 76 HVSS tank would go on to become the prefered US Army version of the tank and see extensive National Guard service, and would see combat again in Korea, but was retired to training and National Guard use soon after Korea ended. The Army would convert many M4A3 75 HVSS tanks, M4A3 76W VVSS tanks, M4A2 HVSS and M4A3 HVSS 105 tanks, were often converted to M4A3 76 HVSS configuration.

M1-M1A1-M1A2 guns 76.2 Sherman tanks Data Sheet PDF download.

M4A3E8 76 Spec Sheet PDF download.

M4A3 76 Gallery 

This section has a mix of images from the Signal Corps, Modern Photos from tanks the Army has in museums and images from various manuals.

An M4A3 76w HVSS tank, with the 21st Tank Battalion, 10th Armored Division, passing by a burning German farm house near Rosewalden late April of 45.

A knocked out M4A3 76w VVSS tank, with the 778th Battalion. It was lost during the fighting around the Saarbrucken bridgehead in early March of 1945
An M4A3 76w HVSS tank with the 14th AD. The crew is messing around with one of the radios. They are near Ohlungen, March of 1945.
This M4A3 76w HVSS tank is parked in the snow, it’s a fairly late model, built at CDA. This tank is with the 35th Tank Battalion, 4th AD, near Bastogne on January 8th 1945. 
This is a 1st AD M4A3 76W tank, it had a dozer blade at one point, and seems to have suffered a serious fire. This tank would probably one be good for spare parts.
An M4A3 76w HVSS tank with the 66th Armored Regiment, 2cnd Armored Division. This photo was taken near Tueven, The Netherlands in late 44
This Early M4A3 76W tank is driving along a ridge above a picturesque little town. The tank has a split loaders hatch, and is loaded down with a lot of gear.The tank is with 12th AD and the town is Schneeberg Germany 1945
747th Tank Battalion, Schleiden, 1945, there was layer a steel track link and sand bags under the camo netting. The tanks are M4A3 76w VVSS tanks with duckbill end connectors. 
A 14th AD M4A3 76w with extensive sandbagging. Most accounts of war talk about all the ‘hurry up and wait’, the long hours of boredom between spells of fighting or moving to a new location.
An M4A3 76w VVSS tank with duckbill extended end connectors, and a sandbag job typical of the 14th AD. The tank is pulling into Niederabsdorf in the Alsace-Lorraine, in late 1944. Not the crew is carefully under all the como wires.
An M4A3 76w VVSS tank moves along with soldiers from the 75th ID, this was in the Riedwihr area, near Colmar, in France, January of 1945

z

National Armor and Cavalry Museum sign, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA. Photo by John D. Helms, and M4A3 76 HVSS tank, in Korean War markings.  
This is an M4A3 76w HVSS tank and it may be a runner. Stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA. Photo by John D. Helms 
M4A3(76) 31st Tank Battalion 7th Armored Division, the photo is staged, since there is little reason for a army Captain to be in the drivers position. 
An M4A3 76w Sherman rolls through the burning city of Kronach, Germany, 1945. The tank is with the 11th AD. 
A column of new M4A3 76w HVSS of Company B, 43rd Tank Battalion in Lambach, Germany. 16 April 1945. This HUGE image is really interesting, in the background are two VVSS Shermans with sandbags. There is lots of interested storage on the tanks and they are all in great shape.
This is a very interesting picture of an M4A3 76W HVSS tank, sometimes called a field mod Jumbo, with added on armor on the hull front, covering most of the differential housing, along with added cheek armor on the turret. The armor on the front hull was cut from knocked out Shermans, making fitting them easier, and all the lift rings, and travel from the knocked out Sherman were used. This tank is also covered in gear, and the track linking tools are stuck through the front hull lift rings, and there is an M1 carbine hanging from the main gun! These modifications were done for the Armored Divisions in Patton’s 3rd Army, the 4th, 6th and 11th, since he forbade adding sandbags.
Another up-armored M4A3 76w HVSS tank, this one only has the frontal hull armor. This one also has a coaxially mounted .50 M2 Machine gun a M1919 mounted in front of the driver. The tank has a muzzle brake, but still has a split loaders hatch.
M4A3 76 HVSS tanks in Korea, by this point the wet part of the ammo racks was no longer in use.

This M4A3 76w tank was captured by the Germans in fight for Aschaffenburg in late March. It was knocked out by the M36 GMC parked next to it, from the 645th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
A 2nd AD, M4A3 76w with concrete armor on the front hull. This is a fairly early production M4A3 76, since it has a split loaders hatch and a threaded and capped M1A1 gun. 
This M4A3 76w VVSS tank is so well camouflaged, the unit is unknown, or at least it isn’t in any of my books. It is still a very interesting tank, notice the two track shoes on the right track are reversed. This tank has a layer of sandbags covered in camo netting, and then that seems to be painted. This is an early production M4A3 76 tank, with a threaded and capped M1A1 gun and a split loaders hatch.
This massive photo shows a huge depot filled with various vehicles, including a large number of M4A3 76 tanks.
Some doughs take cover behind an M4A3 76w tank. The tank has a lot of stuff piled on it.
A M4A3 76w tank being used to demonstrate the bow mounted flame thrower option. The range was so short, not very useful, and was never popular.
An M4A3 76w HVSS tank supporting some doughs, probably in Germany in early 1945. The tank has an impressive amount of stuff strapped to the back.

This up armored Sherman took a beating, and was shipped back to the states and is on display at Rock Island Arsenal, though the history of the tank is a mystery.