Monthly Archives: June 2016

#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.

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 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.

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 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.

M3A1, five of these were issued with the tank
M1911A1, each crew member had one of these as well. One of the finest handgun designs ever made.
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.

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!

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.



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. 


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


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


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.


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.


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!


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


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


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


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


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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

#59 Subjugated Shermans: Shermans in Nazi hands

Subjugated Shermans:  Sherman tanks captured and used by the Nazis

Updated 9/23/18

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. I think the most interesting part of this photo is the two Germans on the tank. Look at their faces, they look so sad, they were probably really depressed the allies had such a great tank, and they were stuck with the junk they were issued. 

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, 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 most cases. In some cases, the green crews could panic and bailout, and not bother even checking the tank over heading for the rear, but this was not a common thing for American tank crews once North Africa was done.  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. I’ve read cases of them bailing out after the tank was hit a few times but still technically functional. Unlike for the American and Allied tankers in General, as the war went on, German tanks, like all their troops, declined in quality, and by late 44 Tank crews got very little training in their vehicles.

The Sherman was an automotive masterpiece the Germans could only dream of producing, they were still capable of keeping them running, it was that good. 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 an Armored Recovery Vehicle, and the Shermans were 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!

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 the Panzer III or IV that were stuck in before. This tank even has a loaders hatch.
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. They were not giant RVs of Death, like the Lee, so not as cool. 
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. Like all things American of WWII origin, the Lee saw lots of production changes to improve the design, and they got put into the production line as long as it didn’t slow the line down. 
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.
6. Another shot of 147, it appears to have an M3 gun.
7. In this shot, we can see it’s a fairly early Lee, it has the Machine gun portholes in the front hull, and the 37mm gun lacks the stabilizer counterweight. The main gun is an M3, not the earlier M2 though.
8. Another blurry shot of  Lee 147
9. Another blurry shot of 147, this time from the side, the Germans seem to be keeping it clean and well maintained.
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)
11. Three shots of the same captured M3 Lee, lend-lease tank, in Nazi hands.
12. Cross shape and general layout say this is 147 again, but no way to tell for sure.
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.
14. A Soviet M3 Lee lend-lease tank in the hands of the Nazis, who were clearly more than willing to use a tank with a decent gun that was reliable. This tank has 135 on the turret, does this mean 147 could have been a captured Soviet Lee?
M3_Lee_captured_in_Tunisia_DAK_Afrika_Korps (1)
15. Nazis marveling over the advanced M3 Lee tank. This was probably the first time they had seen a stabilized 37mm gun (note the machine gun barrel like thing under the 37mm gun). This tank also had a stabilized 75mm M2 gun. The Germans never managed to get a stabilizer in a tank during the war. The star and band on the turret lead me to believe this is a knocked out US tank.
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.
17. An M4 tank that the Nazis had been using, knocked out and back in American hands.
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 a thin spot in the turret cheek.
19. Same tank as above, this time on the move, only the driver and commander unbuttoned.
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.
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.
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.
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 periscope main gun sight.
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).
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
26. A captured Firefly Vc, in use by the Nazis, note a 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.
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.
28. The same old Vc from image 16, you can see the armored box is clearly missing from the rear hull in this shot.
29. our old pal, the Vc Firefly from image 16.
30. A captured M4A1 near a bunch of Nazi horse carts. Yeah, the Germans still depended on horses and horse carts for much of their supply chain. The Nazi was bad at logistics. 
31. A  shot of a knocked out captured Firefly Ic or Vc, probably a captured Canadian Vc in Holland.
32. AM4A3 76 w tank captured by the Nazis, and then destroyed by the US Army, being inspected by US Army troops
33. A captured Vc Firefly in Nazi hands. The seems to be the same tank as the one in image 21. This tank is covered in the number six.
34. A knocked out M4A2 large hatch tank, captured by the Nazis from the Soviets.
35. A Vc Firefly in Nazi hands, this one looks like our old pal from image 16
m4_sherman_firefly-09 (1)
36. Nazi tankers look over the suspension of their Vc Firefly, this is another shot of the Firefly from image 16
37. A captured Vc Firefly with Nazis looking at it. Image 16 strikes again.
38. An Ic Firefly being used as a movie prop
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.
40. This image has been flipped, 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.
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.
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.
43. An M4 in Nazi use.


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)
45. A 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 Aschaffenburg. It was taken out by a US M36  TD.
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.
47. A very bad shot of a captured small hatch M4A1, the same one from pictures 22 and 23.
.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 this was during the Battle of the Bulge.
49. A pair of Nazi tankers on their captured Firefly Vc, this looks like our old friend #16 again.
50. Vc Firefly with lots of extra track on the front, that was in Nazi hands and was recaptured by the Brits. This is reputed to be from the same group discussed in image 25.
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
52. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
53. In these two shots, it looks like British Soldiers inspect a knocked out, captured M4A2, somewhere in Italy.
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.
55. A knocked out large hatch M4A2 75 dry tank, the Nazis captured from the Soviets.
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.
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 and many others came from Both excellent sources for high-resolution images from the war.





#58 Special Gallery 2: Shermans at Fort Benning

Special Gallery 2: Shermans at Fort Benning, the ones waiting to go the new National Armor & Cavalry Museum.

These images all came from the Fort Benning Photos Website, and these images were all taken by John D. Helms or Kristian Ogden, and you can find much larger version on the Benning site.  These Sherman tanks, and other historic vehicles will be displayed in the new Museum once it’s done.


04 APR 2011 - National Armor and Cavalry Museum sign, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
An M4A3 76 HVSS tank, done up in Korean war markings at the museum site. 
04 APR 2011 - National Armor and Cavalry Museum sign, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by Kristian Ogden.
Close up of the suspension
04 APR 2011 - National Armor and Cavalry Museum sign, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by Kristian Ogden.
Close up from the front

04 APR 2011 - National Armor and Cavalry Museum sign, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -

25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
An M4A3 75w large hatch late production Sherman stored indoors. 
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
An M2 and M10
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
More detail on the M10, and a nice shot of a M4A3 76w HVSS tank, this may have been the one that Fort Knox had running?
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
Side shot of the indoor M4A3 76w HVSS tank
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
Longshot of the M2 and M4A3 75w
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the TMP on Main Post, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
an M5 light
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the outdoor holding lot on Sand Hill, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
stored in the yard next to a pair of M48s, an oddball M4A4. 
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the outdoor holding lot on Sand Hill, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
M3 Grant
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the outdoor holding lot on Sand Hill, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
M3 light
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the outdoor holding lot on Sand Hill, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
M24 Chaffee light
25 FEB 2011 - Armor museum artifacts stored at the outdoor holding lot on Sand Hill, MCoE, Fort Benning, GA.  Photo by John D. Helms -
The mighty T29! This thing would have eaten King Tigers for breakfast!