Sherman Tank Site: News Post 12, things have been changing, its all behind the scenes.
I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of manuals, and they are all great for gathering info on the Sherman, because you can almost always read them. The picture quality varies a huge amount depending on how it was created. There are some very common and easy to find Sherman manuals with terrible pictures. For example the two I have on the M4A3, and the manual on the Ford GAA, both were probably photocopied multiple times, then scanned on a really early scanner.
This means, the pictures at best, are mostly black blobs, and even the text isn’t great. All isn’t lost with these, as the line drawings usually come through ok. In some cases the manuals being sold online are these terrible photo copies printed into a cheap book with no improvements to the quality at all.
Some of these manuals have been scanned in by people with decent scanners, and these though much larger, have much nicer photo quality. Even if the scans are good, the original has to be good as well, and in some cases that’s really mixed. I have several, scanned at very high resolution, making them restorable, to some degree.
I’ve done the most work on the Ford GAA imaged I have, and the tranny. Here is a selection of the ones I’ve done, but not all. Check out the power train and GAA pages for all of them. These are relaxing to do, and I have a ton to work with so keep checking around the site!
Sherman Fire Control: How the Sherman aimed its Main Gun.
The Sherman tank went through a series of fire control changes each an improvement over the last. The first tanks lacked telescopic sight mounted on the gun mount. The only site was incorporated into the gunner’s periscope, and it wasn’t magnified. Since the periscopes were all interchangeable, updating the older tanks was easy at least were the periscope was concerned.
The final fire control setup the Sherman gunner had at his disposal was pretty impressive by the standards of the time. He was in a hydroelectrically driven turret that rotated fast; he had very nice periscope setup with 1x and 6x scopes hooked into the gun with strong linkage. He also had a telescopic sight to work with and the gun was stabilized. This was a vast improvement over the unmagnified reticle on the first production models.
The Lee used a unique setup; the 75mm gun was aimed with an M1 periscope, with an M21A1 periscope built into it. The 37mm was aimed with an M2 periscope with an M19A1 periscope built in. Both the 37 and 75 mounts were stabilized. The prototype M6 Sherman used its own unique sight built into the sight rotor on the top of the turret, this was only used on a small number of production Shermans tanks.
Let’s look at the various periscopes and telescopes the Sherman used through its long life. Let’s start with a look at the various versions of the periscope sights the production Sherman and the TDs based on the chassis below.
The M3 Periscope Sight
Since I just have a little info on this from TM 9-731B on the early M4A2, don’t have much to put here. Maybe this periscope is the one I’ve read about getting foggy on the inside in cold or humid locales. It was quickly replaced with the M4 detailed below. This was one of the non-magnified periscopes.
The M4 Periscope sight
The Periscope M4; it had an M38 telescope with ballistic reticle inside, but no magnification. The M4 was not well liked, and the mount it fit in was made from sheet metal and was a little flimsy. The linkage that attacked it to the gun wasn’t very robust and could be knocked out of alignment annoyingly easily. On early Shermans, this was a big complaint, since they did not have a direct telescope yet. You couldn’t really take advantage of the M3 75mm guns range with this sight setup either since it had no magnification. The later better periscopes like the M4, M4A1 and M8 series would all fit in the old mount though.
The M4A1 Periscope Sight
Next came an improved version of the M4, the M4A1, and they came with an M38A2 telescope, this one was magnified, but not much at 1.44x, and a 9-degree field of view. Later versions of this periscope had illuminated reticles. The mount was not improved though nor was the linkage. The M4A1 periscope was changed when the 105mm and 76mm armed Shermans came online when used with these guns, they had the M47A2 for the 76 tanks, and M77C for the 105 tanks. Hunnicutt doesn’t specify if these were also 1.44X. This periscope was found on M4A1, A2, and A3 76 tanks during WWII.
The M8/M8A1 Periscope Sight
The M4A1 periscopes were replaced by the M8 and M8A1 periscopes. They were a lager tougher improvement on the M4 series, and had the M39A2 telescopic reticle for use with the 76mm gun since it had the same reticle as the M47A2 used in the M4A1 periscope. The M39A2 had 1.8x magnification and a 6-degree FOV. Even though at this point this was no longer the primary sight, the Army kept improving it. But the mount and linkage still remained an issue.
The M10 Periscope Sight
The Army came up with another new periscope sight system called the M10. They started issuing it late in the war around the same time wet tanks start appearing. This was a much-improved periscope; it incorporated two telescopes with reticles, one 1.x, with a field of view of 42 degrees, ten minutes for engaging close targets. The second periscope had a 6x telescope with an 11 degree 20-minute field of view. This periscope could be used with the 76, 75, and 105mm guns when the right reticle was fitted. There was also an M16 periscope, pretty much the same as the m10, but with a reticle adjusting system.
M10C was specific to 75mm Shermans.
M10D was used on 76mm tanks and 105 tanks.
The Periscope mount
for these periscopes were improved greatly when the 76mm gun and 105 tanks arrived, and the mount was made from a beefy casting, and all the linkage was made much stronger will ball bearing in all the pivot points. These would have shown up on M4A1 75w, M4A3 75w, M4A3 105, M4 105, and M4A3 76w, M4A2 76w and M4A1 76w tanks.
This improved mount was also incorporated into most of the post-war rebuild and overhauls. It is very easy to spot, by the heavy cast iron hood over the periscope hole.
The Telescopic sights.
The Shermans fire control system was improved further by the incorporation of a direct telescope mount to the M38A1 gun mount. This prompted the creation of the full-length gun mantlet to protect the scope. When these were retrofitted into older tanks, sometimes they would weld on armor over the scope, leaving a half armored mantlet.
The later 76mm armed tanks had the M62 mount, and it had a telescopic sight mount from the start.
The direct scopes went through their own evolution, and this information is put together from the various TMs on the tanks and Hunnicutt’s Sherman and is not complete. I will update this section as I get more info on the topic.
The M55 Telescope: The first! For the 75mm and 105
This telescope had 3x magnifications with 12 degree 19-minute FOV. This sight was also used on the early production 105 tanks and most 75mm Shermans.
The M51: Also the First, but for the 76 M1A1
The same scope as above, with the same specs, but with the reticle for the 76mm guns, and that’s all. There were complaints about the optical quality on these scopes since the clarity wasn’t optimal.
M70 Telescopic Sight
The M50 sights were replaced with the M70 Series sights, the same size, and magnification. What set them apart was there superior optical quality. The Army went on to develop many different versions of this sight. It was a 3X scope with a 12 degree 19-minute FOV.
M70F Telescopic Sight
This was version used on M4A3 75W Shermans.
M70G Telescopic Sight
This sight was used on M10 GMC tank destroyers.
M70P Telescopic Sight
This sight was used on some M36 CMCs tank destroyers.
M71D Telescopic Sight
This was a 5x with a 13-degree FOV version of the scope. It had the reticle for the 76mm guns and was used on those tanks. This was the sight commonly found on M4A1 and M4A2 76 tanks.
M71G Telescopic Sight
This version of the M71 was issued with the Jumbo tanks.
M72D Telescopic Sight
This was used on the 105mm armed Shermans.
M76F/D Telescopic Sight
These telescopes were used on the M36 GMC tank destroyers.
M76G Telescopic Sight
This scope only had a 3x magnification, with a 21 degree, 30 minutes FOV, and was used in 105 tank applications later in the war.
M83 Veritable Power Telescopic Sight.
This scope had two settings, 4x 7 degrees, 40 minutes and 8x 4 degrees, 15 minutes, and M83D version of this sight worked with the 76mm guns when in an M62 mount. I have not seen this one mentioned anywhere but Hunnicutt’s Sherman book. That doesn’t mean it didn’t get issued as a replacement later in the war since I’m going off TM’s and spec sheets and those are a small snapshot into a tanks actual combat gear.
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Indirect Fire Control Gear
You would think that would be it for fire control equipment, but it’s not because all Shermans came equipped with the equipment for their tanks to work as impromptu artillery batteries all Sherman based TDs had this gear as well. The US Army had this extra gear installed all the way up to the M60 tanks. During the war, some tank and TD battalions were very good at being artillery; other units didn’t train for it and were not good. This was a good way of keeping tanks useful in Italy, and they filled this role a lot there. I do not think this was something many other nations did with their tanks.
Azimuth Indicator M19
The Azimuth Indicator was mounted near the gunner, right behind the traverse control. This device was used to dial in what direction the gun needed to be pointed in to carry out the fire mission.
Gunners Quadrant M1
The Gunners quadrant is a portable precision instrument used for measuring the elevation or depression angles of guns and howitzers. It can also be used for checking the adjusting of elevation devices on sighting equipment furnished with a gun or howitzer. This was taken right from the Characteristics in tech manual 9-1527.
Elevation Quadrant M9
The Elevation Quadrant M9 was used to lay the tanks main gun in elevation for indirect fire. There are detailed instructions for setting it up in TM 9-748.
A Sherman unit trained in how to act as an artillery battery would probably be told they were on call when not in direct combat but close enough for the 75s to reach. They would have men manning radios in the tanks while other tasks were being done, like maintenance, personal things, and eating. When they got the call, the designated battery commander for each platoon would listen to the directions on the arty net or get in direct contact with the spotter. In many cases they would be connected to the net directly, so they wouldn’t need to worry about radio reception. They would relay the aiming information out the tanks on the radio or phone net and then they would start firing.
Once they started firing the whole crew would help feed the gun, and if they were doing it as a common thing they might even have large amounts of ammo unboxed outside the tank, where the driver and co-driver could feed them to the commander who then fed them to the loader. The M3 75mm gun worked well in this role since the barrel had a life in excess of 4000 rounds.
Drivetanks.com: the most Magical place on Earth if you like Tanks, Guns, Machine Guns, or even Artillery Pieces!
Drivetanks.com is an operation out of Uvalde Texas. Uvalde is about 120 miles west of San Antonio. The Drivetanks.com facility is on the famous Ox Hunting Ranch, an 18,000-acre hunting ranch, with its guest cabins, a huge lodge, and its own 5800-foot runway. If you could see warbirds at this ranch it would literally be heaven on earth!
Drivetanks.com doesn’t have just a Sherman tank, but from our perspective, their Sherman is the coolest tank of the lot!
M4A2E8 Sherman: Just like Fury
The Sherman is the star of the show for us! It is fully functional, with working power traverse and a working main gun. All the machine guns work, and you get to shoot them as part of one of their packages. You also get to drive the tank around and fire it’s main gun if you go with the big package.
The M4A2E8 saw action with the Russians at the end of the war, and its M4A3E8 counterpart saw all kinds of action in Northern Europe and Italy. These tanks had the improved HVSS suspension with a wider track, giving them very good off-road mobility and the improved turret and gun gave the tank the edge over earlier German tanks like the Panzer III and IV while giving it a better chance against the rarer tiger and Panther tanks.
I have to say, Drivetanks.com is an amazing place for letting people drive and operate the armament of this working piece of history. Nothing beats seeing an actual historic vehicle drive or fly by, a static display in a museum where you can’t touch, or in some cases even take photos is just not the same.
So, even by my standards, this place wouldn’t be the most magical place on earth just because it had a working Sherman. This place has several other working tanks, SPG, and APCS, along with towed guns, mortars and a very large variety of firearms to shoot. Let’s list the other tanks:
T-34-85: This Soviet tank was the Late War Shermans Russian counterpart!
Drivetanks.com has a fully functional T-34-85 tank and it was produced just in time to see action on the eastern front. It has a working main gun and there are similar, slightly to the Sherman but slightly cheaper packages for this tank.
That’s the last of the WWII tanks but they have two more modern ones.
Leopard 1A4 MBT: An updated version of Germany’s first Post War Tank!
This tank is bigger and faster than either the T-34 or Sherman, and its gun doesn’t work, and the prices on its packages reflect this. This tank is probably easier, and more fun to drive than either WWII tank, but just not as cool. This tank is still in use by armies around the world.
Chieftain Mk. 6, MBT: Big and British, and their Car Crusher.
Another tank with no working gun, this bad boy is big and tough, and therefore they use it when someone wants to crush something. This tank went into action in the mid-60s and was still going strong into the early 80s when the Challenger replaced it.
They have a few other tracked vehicles you can drive and get to know:
German SD. KFZ. 251 Armored Half-track: The Angular German Halftrack you see in Movies!
If you want to drive something with tracks on a budget, this is a good place to start.
Kettenkrad SDFZ Tracked Motorcycle: Yeah that wonky motorcycle half-track you see towing planes in WWII Pics.
Just look at this pic! Who wouldn’t want to try out this crazy German contraption!
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They also have some other tank-like tracked vehicles that are not tanks.
Abbot FV433: This SPG is made up to look like the US M109 155mm SPG still in service.
This is a self-propelled artillery piece, a British one, and has a propane gun that makes lots of noise but doesn’t shoot a projectile. Another option if you don’t want to go with one of the deluxe packages. The M109 the Abbot was modified to look like started its life in the 60s and saw use in Vietnam, and modern versions are still in use by the US Army.
BMP 1: The first IFV
This APC with attitude was meant to do more than just deliver troops like a regular boring APC like the M113. No, the BMP delivered fewer, in less comfort, but it brought some heavy firepower normal infantry didn’t have.
With this bad boy, you can pack a bunch of friends into the back for a very hot uncomfortable ride while you drive! I wonder if Drivetanks.com has an award if you can make all the passengers puke!
But that’s not all! They have Towed Guns, Mortars, and Machine guns!
Germann 75mm PAK 40 AT Gun: This puppy works too!
This fully functional German AT gun is available to shoot. not cheap, but less than shooting a tank’s gun. This gun accounted for an awful lot of Sherman tanks during the war, but the Sherman, in turn, killed a bunch of them. I’m pretty sure this gun has been on several TV shows, but I’m not 100% sure.
German 25mm PAK 113: Small bang, small bucks, but it’s still a BIG gun!
A little AT gun for a cheaper alternative to the bigger stuff. not much to be said, if your coming to Drivetanks.com your coming for the big boom boom, right?!
U.S. M2A1 105mm light Howitzer: The 105 towed gun of the US Army for most of the WWII
This gun saw lots of action and was a great gun for its size. For a modest price, you can pop a round off from this gun too! If you want to know what it was like to serve in a light artillery battery, or just want to pop a few rounds off for nostalgia, you can do it here, and that’s damn cool! The Hippies in California would freak out if we tried shooting off something this cool here!!
US M1 81mm Mortar: The main WWII US Mortar!
I do not know of another place you can fire off a mortar, and that makes this option awesome all on its own. The 81mm M1 Mortar was used everywhere the US fought during the war and who would pass up the change to log a hunk of history from it?
U.S. M2 60mm Mortar: In US Infantries Mortar during WWII
This is like it’s bigger brother, just with less explosive charge, less range, and less weight. Oh, and it’s cheaper to shoot off.
The British ML 2inch 50mm Mortar: A small Brit Mortar
The cheapest mortar option. Small, but still a mortar!
Now let’s talk about Machine Guns and other firearms. Machine guns are pretty damn cool. Having been around a long time, there are lots of different kinds of Machine guns, and Drivetanks.com has a plethra of them!
The prize of the Machine collection has to be the M134 GE Minigun. I do not recall ever reading why they called this beast a minigun because it’s a monster of a weapon, bigger and heavier than an M2 Machine gun. These guns are technological Marvels, and contrary to Hollywood use, not man portable in any way. These guns have a selectable rate of fire of 3000 or 6000 rounds a minute. Your average GPMG has a 650 RPM rate of fire. These guns use an electric motor to spin the barrels and drive the feed mechanism, in theory making them more reliable at higher RPM they run, the six barrels allowed the barrels a chance to cool, but sustained fire would melt them down. These weapons have seen a lot of combat over the years, usually mounted on a helicopter of some type, but also on other vehicles that can haul the required ammo and have a compatible electrical system.
Next up on the Bad boys of the Machine list they have would be the M2HB Browning .50 caliber Machine gun. This heavy machine gun has been in service with the US Military since 1933 and is covered in more detail in this post. You get to shoot this gun as a part of the Sherman tank packages.
They have a lot of other more mundane machine guns but come on, a machine gun is damn cool no matter the size or type. So let’s list them!
The GE M134
The Browning M2 HB .50 Browning.
The M1919 .30 Caliber Machine gun (WWII light/Medium/heavy mg of US Army)
The M60E4 7.62 Nato Machine gun (updated Vietnam Era MG still in use)
M249 SAW 5.56 NATO light machine gun
M3 Grease Gun .45 ACP SMG (used by US Army from 43 into the 90s)
MG-42 German WWII machine gun 1200 to 1500 rounds per minute of fun!
MG-34 German WWII Machine gun (this one is a semi-auto version)
H&K MP7 (modern 9mm SMG)
MP-40 German WWII 9mm SMG
PPsh-41 Russian WWII SMG
PKM Soviet Medium Machine gun
DT Machine gun (Early war soviet light MG
They also have a selection of Rifles, sniper rifles and assault rifles and a flamethrower.
US M1 Carbine.30 caliber WWII Carbine
US M1 Garand 30 caliber (30-06), rifle (WWII standard infantry rifle)
M4 Carbine (Modern 5.56 Nato, US Infantry weapon)
K98 German WWII bolt action rifle
Mosin Nagant Russian Bolt action rifle
AK-47 Russian assault rifle.
Barrett M82 .50 caliber sniper rifle
US M9 Flamethrower, (Vietnam era, and last flamethrower used by US troops)
Yeah, a flamethrower! How cool is that?!
So tanks, APCs, SPG, Artillery pieces, AT guns, Mortars, and Machine Guns! If you’re not some kind of wimp, this place really is the most wonderful place on earth. I would rather go here, at any cost versus a trip to any Disney park, Cruise, or show. This place offers a chance to touch, use, and shoot history, hard real history. Honestly though, if this place had no historic value at all, it would still be damn good time, and something really you can only get in good old US of A, specifically in the great state of Texas!
This is all run an own by private US Citizens, and some people might think civilians running around owning tanks with working guns and tons of machine guns, and letting anyone willing to pay a chance to use them is a bad idea, well, you’re wrong, and this is exactly the type of thing that makes the United States so great!
There is a process you have to go through to be allowed to own these items, but it’s not all that hard as long as you’re not a criminal and are willing to fork over the cash to the US Government, and your state and county are ok with it. All shooting and vehicle use is only done after people are thoroughly instructed on everything use, (the class time is all part of the fun!), and while the guest is using the tank or Machine gun, an instructor is standing right there making sure everything is safe.
I can think of no place I would rather go for a vacation, if I could dig up the cash, and get the wife’s approval, than Drivetanks.com and the amazing Ox Ranch!
If you are interested in booking a trip to drive their tanks, shoot their machine guns, or hunt big game on the greater ranch, you can contact them with the information below.