Sherman Tank Site News Post 16: A few setbacks but some good content on the way.
Well, the beginning of the year was looking good, then things on a work-related front went south, and I have not had as much time for the site. What time I had I was using on image improvements and had to cut back there due to some carpal tunnel syndrome issues. I won’t bother you all with further personal stuff.
Our pal Walt from the Sturgeons House Forums, who runs Tank And AFV News, has a new video channel, and though it is not Sherman specific, it is doing book reviews and if you’re interested in Shermans, or Armor in general, you should give his page and videos a view! Support the fellow Armor loving guys out there!
Sherman Tank Site Post 73: Articles from Army Motors Episode #1
This is the first in a series of posts I’m going to do highlighting the Sherman or M4 series-related vehicle, articles I’ve found. With some commentary, though some of these articles are so good they speak for themselves.
Give Your Tank a Brake!
This article surprised me, because in the world of 4 wheel drive, compression braking is commonly used to control a vehicle on steep hill descents, and some vehicles have very low gears in their transfer case for this purpose, among others. I bought a Jeep Rubicon because it came with a Transfercase to do this.
A tank is not a Jeep though, so I clearly get the point of the article. Also, as for using the engine to brake, I’ve never been big on downshifting for that reason, even in cars and Jeeps. I once had a conversation with my wife, who was big on downshifting, about the cost and labor of a new set of brake pads, versus a new clutch. She agreed once we talked about the labor involved.
Post 72: Army Motors: How the Army Updated the Armies Mechanics!
Over the years, I’ve run into the Army’s PS Magazines, the comic book style magazine distributed around the army to advise the troops in language they could too, but they were all post-WWII so of limited interest to the Sherman Tank Fanatic. RadioNerds has all or almost all of the PS Mags for download, and they are a fun read. RadioNerds is a really Fantastic site, and when I found out there was a WWII Magazine for the same purpose, though more Vehicle specific, and was not surprised to find RadioNerds also has all or just about all of them too!
The Army Motors magazines start pre-WWII, in may of 1940, and they really do not have much of interest to the Sherman fanatic until the 1943 issue, and then they have all kinds of fun information. This does not mean those pre 43 issues are not interesting. They give you a look into the problems the army was running into as it was growing, and one of those problems was draftees ruining everything!
What I mean by this is the main push of just about every issue is, follow the maintenance schedule and not be creative in trying figure out better or easier ways to do the maintenance. Some other problems would be not driving properly or even warming vehicles up right. General carelessness seemed to be enemy number 1.
Accident were another big subject across the board, I even found a chart of deaths and there causes. Horseplay was another one, with power tools in particular, got mentioned in several issues. This one I thought was amusing, and reminded me of all the times I’ve worked with men and around tools. Jokes and pranks were played, and it was just life, no need to involve HR or anything.
The general tone of these magazines was humorous, and they have several set ‘Departments’ like Connie Rodd Bulliton board, and the Rumors Department, with an Outhouse as a logo. There were lots of illustrations and comics, and they went color in late 43.
The early and late versions of later versions of Connie Rodd.
Here are some interesting examples.
A letter from a satisfied customer.
Don’t waste rubber, it makes Hitler happy, that’s his happy face.
This cartoon is a little disturbing, but the chart explains the US Vehicle maintenance system.
In the beginning: WOT was clearly better, but WT has grown into a better game.
I’ll start by saying; I have not played a game of World of Tanks in months. At one point it was my main game. Sure, I didn’t play much when GTA 5 came out or Fallout 4, but I always came back to WOT. I’d been playing since closed beta, and had 16k battles in the live game, and some rare cool tanks, the A-32, the beta Sherman, the M-60 and VK7201, and even the T23, attesting to some good clan experiences. I was a solid 56% player and liked T5, and the Sherman, the standard M4 was my most played tank. 1083 battles, 56.14% win rate. That was an honest 56%, I rarely platooned, and had moments of great online glory, and terrible gaming shame. Key clan battles were both won, and towards the end of my time with a competitive clan, lost because of my play. I will freely admit I was never a great player, just a little above average, but I did really like the game.
The game itself is polished, physics are great, the models beautiful, and I liked how you could play a few quick games and quit. I also liked mods, because the vanilla game interface sucked, and who doesn’t want extra zoom? Me dropping out of WOT was long in coming, and I remember the glory days, where knowing the view system allowed you to do awesome shit on most maps, the tears were glorious, and medium and light tanks were fun. I don’t know anyone who plays anymore, at least on the regular, I know a pal logged in this weekend, I can’t be bothered. I think the glory days for WOT are long in the past, years of patching ago, when the clans and player base still had some heart. Before the draconian and sometimes indefensibly bad moderation ran anyone remotely interesting off the forums. The only thing that sparked any interest in me at all is a game mode, not being offered on what was the premier version, PC.
If you cannot tell from my previous review of War Thunder, I wasn’t a fan in the past and talked some mighty shit. I’ll say some points still stand, but overall, I could have been fairer and should have waited longer to review it. I will stand by it being a copy of WOT, at least in a few ways, though also an improvement, with its own spin, that makes it is own game and offers more options than WOT does, and I think Gaijin has a better outlook than Wargaming. Wargaming produced a great tank arcade game and ruined it, then produced a shit airplane arcade game and an almost passable, but still boring, and shallow, but pretty ship game. Gaijin has produced an amazingly pretty airplane game, with a good arcade mode, and decent realistic and simulator modes, though I do not agree with some of their flight model choices, I enjoy the hell out of Air Arcade mode, and love the selection of planes being able to do air missions really adds a fun aspect to the game if you like airplanes, and I do. Tank arcade, realistic and simulator battles are also available, and they keep things interesting with various events, and a PVE mode for both tanks and planes that gives a nice booster as a reward, win or lose it can be a nice fun daily diversion, and I’m only covering co-op PVE and PVP modes, the game has a lot of standalone air missions and campaigns that are single player PVE.
War Thunder also includes unguided rockets, ATGMs and smoke shells and launchers on tanks and most tanks have at least a share of the machine guns on the tank as usable weapons. Machine guns are not as useless as you would think, some of the most annoying TDs in the game, like the stupid waffentrager can be killed with the coax and, .50 machine gun on most US tanks. The machine guns can be used to knock down shacks and shoot down aircraft, and are a fun addition to the game. On vehicles with exposed crews, you can see them, allows you to machine gun them.
One thing War Thunder does not include is player driven self-propelled artillery vehicles. They must have recognized the cancerous effect vehicles like this have on a game. They do have a mechanic to call in an artillery barrage, but it’s nothing like being shot by an artillery sniper from across the map while on the move like in WOT. In War Thunder, Artillery rarely kills you if your tank has decent armor, or you drive out of the area when you get the warning. This factor alone makes WT much more enjoyable than WOT.
Let’s compare the two, in Arcade mode, since that is all WOT offers.
The interface: War Thunder edges out WOT.
On the surface, War Thunder looks a lot like WOT. Various nations, a bar with planes, and later tanks very similar controls, the tech tree and tank upgrades at first seem very close, you have an in-game currency you can buy with real money and one you earn in-game, and in this way, War Thunder has more options that could be viewed as pay to play than WOT. Specifically, you can just max your crew’s skills with real cash, if you were willing to drop a fair chunk of money on the game.
X-Ray: WOT has nothing like it.
This is an option in the vehicle viewer and WOT has nothing like it. It shows, in a somewhat generic way with the component, where everything important inside the tank is located. The crew, the gun, the optics, the turret ring and drive and transmission and final drives are all shown in generally the right places, though they do not always get it right, it’s still a very nice feature. In a game when killed, it shows the shot hitting your tank then what it takes out inside if anything.
Armor view: WOT can do with mods, what WT has built in.
This nifty little feature lets you look at the armor layout, and on planes and tanks and it calculates the thickness of a plate from the angle you are looking at, and gives you that, and the actual thickness based on its angle to the camera. WOT does not have a feature like this, but there were mods that added it.
Social: Like, talking to people or something…
The social options are about the same, or they seem like that, but since I do not care about anything but being able to have a chat room with some pals, social stuff is not interesting.
Free Exp: Bypassing shit tanks, and weapon grinds, you can do it in both.
In WOT, you always earn a small amount of free experience, and each tank is its own bank of available experience to convert. This allows you to burn real money for a large chunk of free exp you can sit on and use on any tank tree. It is very easy to run out of if you are willing to do things like burning through several tanks with free exp to get a T110E5 on release day for clan wars that evening, you can zero out your available exp, and no amount of real-world cash gets you more, you have to build it up on tanks by playing them.
In WT you end up with a massive bank of experience, and then you pay the currency purchased with real money on conversion right at the vehicle, and you get so much overtime, you’d have to drop a large chunk of cash on the game to burn through it all, and could max out a nation’s tree with ease if you wanted to with and had the cash. In just over a year of playing, I have nearly 6 million convertible exp points. At low levels, you can deck out a tank or bypass it for a few bucks, but at the high end, you’re looking at much higher amount of real money. You, of course, can, just like in WOT, earn the exp on the vehicle by playing it, and spend no money at all.
How free exp is applied to vehicle parts is different in one key area, in world of tanks your researching a new type of item. So, if it’s a gun, motor or radio used in later tanks or other lines, it’s unlocked in them all. This is a huge cost saver, and I like this version better than WTs version. In War Thunder, you are not unlocking new technology and putting the new better part on, you’re paying for a brand new barrel, or motor, or tranny, etc, because your brand new tank isn’t brand new with inferior parts to upgrade, it just warns the hell out, and you fix it up as you go. Although I like the World of Tanks approach better, it’s not a deal-breaker in War Thunder, and from perspective of getting players to spend money, I think WTs works better and a key advantage to the WT system is, you can unlock a tank and move past it without being forced to unlock a bunch of crap on the tank itself, so if you don’t want to play it, in most cases you can unlock it, then start on the next tank, and not be penalized for not unlocking key parts on the earlier tank or anything on it.
In both games, the tanks are pretty bad stock, but rarely in War Thunder is a tank straight up useless stock. I’m looking at you M7 Medium (when WOT was good) and your crappy 37mm gun at T5.
I think that’s the extent of uses for free exp in WT. In WOT, on rare occasions, it can also be used to train up crews, but it was a very rare and hugely costly thing when they did allow it.
Crews: Too many in WOT, just right in WT.
War Thunder has a simpler and better system, this is an area War Thunder is much better than WOT. In World of tanks, each tank has its own crew, and if you want to store them when you sell a tank, they have to go in a barracks you pay to upgrade with real cash. You can retrain a crew to another vehicle, but it can only be the crew of one type of tank at a time, or of a premium tank in the same class, light, medium, etc. This means if you like having a lot of tanks, you have a ton of crews, each crew levels, and has skills. A great crew could make a big difference in a tank’s performance, but having a ton of tanks you play a lot means you skill your crews up slow. You can retrain, but if you do not want to pay a fairly steep price in real money bought currency, you lose a big chunk of exp from the crew; this part of the game can become a big money hole quick.
War Thunder handles crews in a very different way, and if you really had to, you could get away with only three ground vehicle crews for arcade mode, since you can only spawn in three tanks. This means if you want, you can divide up all the vehicles from one nation up to those crews, each one requiring currency earned by playing the game, or spending bought currency, for the very highest skill, after you dump a ton of in-game cash too, making leveling a crew without playing it plausible but very very expensive in real money. I go with six crews for each nation, but only use three or four for ground crews, and then all six as aircrews.
In my opinion, the War Thunder crew system is better, and even though you can dump cash into it, doing so doesn’t offer much of an advantage for the huge cash dump it would take to max out six crews, but it does help you keep a smaller number of crews so you can focus the experience earned by playing. When you couple in the cost of garage slots in WOW, and how much real money that costs, War Thunder wins out there too for the player who likes to collect tanks, and you can’t sell anything so no worries on what tanks you want to keep WT.
The Tech Trees: WT wins again.
I was never all that bothered by the prototypes making it into World of Tanks, and I think many of them belong. Tanks like the T23, Vk3002DB, and M7 Medium (it’s a damn medium!!!) either saw limited production, serious consideration, with some real blueprints, or made a whole factory for the damn things, so they make reasonable additions. Strait up making up overpowered tanks from very preliminary drawings, and then making game ruining tanks out of them takes it to far. Tanks like the T10 TDs, the Waffentrager, pretty much the whole E series I think helped ruin the game. I hit a point, years ago, where there was not a single tank in the game I cared to get, so I stopped playing anything past T8 and mostly T5, and then not at all.
The Vehicles: War thunder wins in variety and customizability.
Almost a tie, but War Thunder wins, since Wargaming’s plane game sucked and looked like crap, and was not integrated at all.
The early models still in the game are pretty bad at this point, but the new model’s World of Tanks has been releasing are very good. They look a little sharper to me than corresponding War Thunder models, but it’s very close on how pretty the models are.
War Thunder models look a little softer, giving them a slightly more cartoonish appearance, and I run both games at max settings with no issues. War Thunder edges WOT out though because the tank decoration system is so much better. In World of Tanks, you get decals you can apply to a tank, for real money if you want it to be permanent; they have fixed locations only, two emblems, and two inscriptions. The same for camo and camo gives a small view distance reduction bonus. If you want to use the same decals on different tanks you pay for it again the same with the tanks camo. They do let you rent them for extended times in in-game earned currency.
In War Thunder, tanks have individual camo, and it can be purchased for a similar cost to WOT. But you can also earn it by playing the game with that tank and getting kills or just battle count in some cases. Most tanks you will have all the camo by 300 battles. That’s not all the customization you get though. In WT, you have two other categories, six slots for decorators, 3D decorations, and 4 decal slots.
The decorators range from various tree branches, that actually make your tank much harder to spot in realistic and simulator battles, to animal skulls, various road signs, some German crosses and a red star, a French SMG, and dolls, an accordion, gas masks, helmets, guitars, grenade racks, garden gnomes, Jack-o-lanterns, and even a bar sign. These are 3D items and can be fairly freely placed, though not over some items on the hulls.
The decals are like the ones in WOT, but better in all ways, since in WOT they are fixed in size, location, and orientation. They can be rotated, duplicated on the other side, and resized. There are a ton of them, from kill markers to historic tank and airplane decorations, some can be bought, there are many earned decorators too, but not the camo branches or most of the more silly decorations.
This variety of decorations and the surprising ways you can use them to make for some very interesting vehicles makes War Thunder a much more visually diverse game. The War Thunder tank models are better in one other way too; much of the exterior of the tank can be damaged and even blown off, while the tank still fights on. I’ve seen storage boxes and tools completely blown away, even fenders and other items can be knocked off some tanks.
Premium Vehicles: It’s a wash, so close in execution it’s almost the same.
The system is very similar in between the games. In WOT, a premium tank was supposed to be a tank not quite as good as a decked out regular tank in the same tier, but any crew from that class could use it without training, and they made more exp, free exp, and credits. WOT has not always held to this guideline, and some premium tanks ended up being better than fully decked out tanks in their tier, in most cases these vehicles were removed from sale, but the players with them kept them. Older premiums tend to be worse than newer ones on WOT though, and a few premiums were out and out duds.
In WT, the premium vehicles are just tiered based on their performance and will be generally as good as anything at the same rating. Crews have to be specifically trained on it to use it, but it’s cheaper than a normal vehicle and they make more exp and credits. Like in WOT they can be variants of vehicles in the game already, copies, or oddballs, but in WT most are copies of a vehicle on another nations tech tree like the lend-lease M4A2 76W tank you can buy on the Russian tree. It is the same tank as the one on the regular tree on the US line, just premium. But they do have a fair number of special vehicles only available as a premium, the P-38K and several other prototype planes, RAMII, the T14, and T29 both US Heavy Tanks only available as premium tanks. They also have some premiums, where you have to buy another premium first, to unlock the second. The prime example being the Sherman Calliope has to be bought before the M26 T99 can be purchased. Both these rocket equipped tanks are a riot to play. Nothing says ‘hello’ like a bunch of rockets to the face! I even got an airplane with one!
Since this is the Sherman tank site, how do the Sherman models compare: WT edges WOT out again, but its close.
War Thunder: All the Shermans used in the war
Lots of solid Shermans, it has more Shermans and has them tiered better, and the models, for the most part, are more realistic. The early war DV M4A1 Sherman in WT tiered at 3.3 is my favorite tank both in model and gameplay. When you get in a 3.3 game you can dominate if you don’t go stupid like I do about half the time. The M4A1 76W model is also very nice, with only a few small flaws. The game has just about all the important versions of the Sherman in game. WOT does not. WTs Sherman models are all solid, and for the most part, since there is a feature called X-Ray, you can use in the garage to view the interior components inside the tank, even the insides are pretty accurate. They were a little off here and there as you can see in the old review, but they’ve done a good job with most of it, but the M4A2 76w tanks still have the add-on side armor they shouldn’t have. So lots of good solid models, at all the right tiers, balanced well enough. Not many rare versions, even in the premium line, and there is enough precedent for tanks like the M7 Medium to show up as a premium tank since the T14 and T20 are in the game as such. They are releasing new vehicles at a high rate, so who knows what we will see, but true napkin tanks are very rare in WT, with just a few scattered in the German and Japanese and French trees.
WOT: Franken Shermans, miss labeled models, and rare tanks.
WOT is a more mixed bag and still has a turret that was never used on the hull their T5 M4 model has, and they call it an M4 when it’s an M4A1. This is a silly flaw that has been in the game since beta. In the American tree, they have the messed up M4/M4A1 at T5, and the M4A3E8 76W at T6 with the Jumbo and all have decent models, though they have weapon options never offered this is somewhat normal in WOT. Where WOT shines in the Sherman department, is in its oddball Shermans, it’s got some good ones.
Here’s a list of WOT’s oddball and interesting Shermans: The M4A2E4 this Sherman was the testbed for torsion bar suspension on the Sherman the original model was recently replaced with a very nice new model, it was only given to US beta testers and is pretty rare in the game. The M4 Improved, a proposed improved all welded Sherman with a better turret, also a very nice model, and a standard premium. The M4A3E8 Thunderbolt VII premium Sherman, based on Creighton Abram’s 7th wartime Sherman, the model features the common to the 3rd Army’s field modified Jumbo with a bunch of extra armor welded on. The M4A1 revalorize a French premium Sherman with a big 105 gun wraps up the oddballs. It’s an ok model, not fantastic. There is also a Fury premium that looks just like the movie tank.
Airplanes: WOT HAS NO PLANES
The War Thunder airplane models were always better than the World of Warplanes models and gameplay is better too. The tank decals can be used on the planes and vice versa. They have a lot of very cool airplanes in the game, planes I haven’t seen in other games. They have all the cats, including the late war F7F and F8F, in the Bearcats case, there are two versions. There are five F4U Corsair variants, two F4U-1A models, but no birdcage -1. The rest make sense though, 1d, 1C, -4, -4B. Lots of P-51s, with and without Merlins, including the H and Twin! P-47s galore, including the 47N, and they are all great ground attack planes. Like the tank models, many are not perfect, things like the early Corsairs having cockpit floors, and the late Corsairs, the -4s, have a B series R2800 modeled when they should have a C series but these are small complaints. The inclusion of the P-38 and a lot of versions is overshadowed somewhat by them having terrible air to ground load outs, but they include the prototype K, and it’s rad, so, still a win.
The plane side of the game being fun was a surprise, but I really enjoy arcade mode, I’m just not good at it though. On occasion, I’ll pull off a good game or two. If you like WWII and Korean War era air warfare, the air game is pretty damn fun.
Gameplay: The real Meat and Potatoes
General: Skill-based play wins out
In my opinion, War Thunder rewards players with good hand-eye coordination and good reflexes more than World of Tanks. The aiming mechanic in WOT is stupid and adds inaccuracies for gun traversing, elevation, the speed of movement, and you have to hold the crosshairs still for an amount of time that varied gun to gun for the shot to be accurate. This was one of the most frustrating aspects, and an aspect used to balance the game way to much, in WOT. WT has no such mechanics, you get the crosshairs on target and pull the trigger, and accuracy is only based on base gun accuracy and crew skill. Both games use random number generators in their shooting system, but WT’s is much better, and not used to balance nations. In this single way, War Thunder is leaps ahead of WOT.
Both games require more thought than I can always put in, but skill seems to shine out a little more in WT. The tier system helps, they are decently balanced, and you rarely end up in battles you can do nothing in, it happens, but far less than in WOT. Both games have very skilled players, but they really seem to shine more in WT, and the player base seems less criminally stupid most of the time.
Mods: WT keeps it pure, and wins again.
War Thunder has none. At first, this seemed bad, but as I learned to play the game, I enjoyed being able to just jump in and play post patch. Frankly, the mods in WOT ranged from downright game breaking to perverted distractions. No mods mean an even playing field other than the tanks specs and the player’s skills. Not some mod that lets them zoom in a target exact locations, or shows the last place a person was on a map, or where trees were falling or worse. There are known cheats in WT, but they are actively banning accounts, forever, for using them. In this area, War Thunder wins hands down.
There are a ton of very well done player made skins you can add, mostly to airplanes. If you know of a historic aircraft, and the plane is in WT, there is probably a skin for it. I found skins for Ira Kepford, Richard Bong, Tommy McGuire, Charlie MacDonald, Greg “Pappy” Boyington, etc.
WOT has MODs, some are almost cheating, many slow the game down, and they are a pain in the ass to keep up to date like in any game. WTs interface is good enough vanilla.
Maps: No game is perfect, but WOT ruined all their good maps.
WOT had some cool maps early on, but even the originals in the game now have been tweaked to reward close in fighting. Almost all the new maps, no matter how cool they looked, tended to be the kinda map that forces fighting in one or two corridors, with maybe a flank option that was easy to guard. Even after physics, they found ways to keep areas off-limits in ways that seemed artificial, and ruined light and medium tanks so why bother caring about physics anyway. Another thing sad about WOT is how little of the world is destructible in battles. Sure, a few houses here and there can be knocked down with a tank, but structures that should not stop a tank do in WOT.
War Thunder has some very cool maps and some crappy ones, but they all feature more destructible items, including large buildings that eventually collapse if heavy fighting goes on around them. I’d say the WT maps do not look as good, they have the same slight cartoonish feel, but they are more interesting and varied, and allow a bad tank driver to get places he should not go, a much rarer occurrence in WOTs much more gamed up maps. Surprise flanking happens all the time in WT, the maps are so open in many cases it’s impossible to guard against clever and determined players. I think that’s a good thing, and some of the most fun I’ve had in War Thunder have been cases where I snuck a Sherman or light into the enemy’s rear and get a bunch of kills before they even know I’m there. I die trying to replicate these games a lot.
Game Modes: WT has multiple modes people actually play so win for it again.
WOT toyed around with various modes, they added a historic battle mode that flopped and they removed. Clan wars were or are a thing but at this point, who cares, the rest of the game is a nightmare. Classic arcade battle mode changed little two sub-modes that could be toggled on being fairly unpopular in particular on maps not designed for the mode.
WT has an arcade mode, with a much tighter tier system. It also has a realistic mode that mixes in Airplanes of the same tier range, and is significantly harder than Arcade mode, and has a big enough following I never wait long on my limited forays into it. The lack of markers alone is huge, spotting something to bomb with a plane is tough. This mode is more rewarding, but slower paced and requires careful attention. I plan to play it more when my crews and tanks are all decked out. There is a simulator mode, even more, hardcore, like rip the wings of a plane off if you maneuver too hard, realistic. This mode is to much trouble for me, but I do not fault the people who want a challenge, and the thing to remember is WOT has none of these modes.
The way the match is set up is different as well since the battle is one by taking objectives, not the player’s flag. The are several variations on the basic them and fewer maps, but also fewer dud maps.
There are Arcade, realistic, and simulator battles dedicated to just air battles as well. There are also a whole series of single-player air missions, you can play in any mode, and they offer a few credits and experience, and offer a lot of missions loosely based on real historical ones.
There is also a PVE air and land battle option, that the first time played gives you a booster the better you do, the better the booster once a day, but you can play the mode anytime. I do the land battle one at the Sherman tier, 3.7, and can win if the rest of the team is decent; the M10 GMC is great for that mode. With the PVE modes having a large variety of tanks and crews can be an advantage over having just three. Also, some of the special event modes don’t let you respawn a dead tank, so having five or six trained tank crews can be good. The PVE mode, in both air and land battle, involves protecting a location from 12 waves of enemy tanks or planes. You can actually make good exp and credits in this mode with a win where you kill lots of stuff.
Three tanks a match versus one life: A second and third chance if you mess up is nice!
One of the biggest differences between WOT and WT in arcade mode is in WOT, if you do something dumb and die early, game over. WT, you can spawn three different tanks, so you can get back in and try and not die like an idiot two more times.
It’s nice to be able to have a few fast games, and then hit the road, but overall, I’ve grown to like running three tanks, and it makes platooning more fun. It also allows good players to have a much greater influence on the match. It also explains why there are so many vehicles, even models of the same vehicle, at the same tier.
Conclusion: WOT is dying, WT is still moving along, and seems to be doing well.
As WT grows, adds countries and vehicles, and polishes its system, the game is getting better. This is not the case for WOT, and for the last several years, every patch seems to make the game worse, and Wargaming continues to pump out cheesy premium tanks at outrageous prices to milk the player base. Is anyone dumb enough to buy a T-34 black edition? Anyway, without something changing, I think WOT is slowly going to die off.
War Thunder I think will continue to grow, and they are in a good place to add even more modern vehicles. I could see them adding attack helicopters and SAM tanks. They already have some hardcore ground attack planes in the game, helicopters would be easier to shoot down.
My conclusion is, WT has a future, if they pull it off, with ships planes and tanks in the same games. I see WOT fading away. But then again, what do I know; I’m just an old gamer and Sherman tank freak. But I did spend a decent chunk of money on WOT, and that’s money Wargaming is not going to see again, and what’s left after the Sherman tank site eats my hobby funds, goes to WT now.
Some Final Thought: Things I’d love to see in WT.
There are already infantry models in the game, on some of test flight maps, if you look around the base perimeter, you will spot infantry standing around. You can shoot them, they fall down and fade away. How cool would it be if they added waves of that infantry to the PVE tank mission, that you could machine gun! They could also make infantry a consumable like artillery, you activate them, and they appear and attack the nearest enemy, or even allow the player to pick a target like with artillery. You could even make it so if they got close to a tank they could start shooting bazooka or Panzerschreck rounds at the tanks. I would like to see them add more single-player missions, but for tanks instead of just planes.
I’d also like to see them fix the Corsair line, and it would be easy. What’s wrong with it you ask? Well, they have two F4U-1A models in the game and no F4U-1 model. The F4U-1A was a later model than the F4U-1, the -1 has a canopy with much more bracing and a lower floor, making it harder to see out of. It could be down tiered because of this and over a thousand were produced this way, and these were the planes that first saw combat in the Solomon Islands. The -1A was not even an official model number, but it was the generally used term for the -1 models that got the longer tail wheel leg, the improved valving on the main landing gear oleo struts, and the cockpit with an improved slightly raised seat, with canopy with much less bracing, and the spoiler on the right-wing, so the wings stalled at the same time. What the game shows as the F4U-1A and -1A USMC, these two versions could be merged, and the lower battle ratting used on the regular -1 model.
I would also like them to fix the load outs on the Corsairs and P-38s. the -1D Corsair should be able to carry 8 HVARs and two 1000 pound bombs, as should the -4 and 4b. The -38J and L should be able to carry a pair of 2000 pound bombs, and the L 10 HVARS with it. These were documented wartime load-outs.
This review got stupidly long, sorry, see you in WT.
News post 13: Lots of small things, mostly cleaning up Sherman drawings.
The Sherman tank site has been up for 2 years, and is all paid up for the coming year. I have content coming out my ears, and the speed things go up is all based on my free time. Unfortunately, free time has been scarce, but that should be getting better. Thanks for all the comments and feedback!
I’m going to list of some new things here and then post a bunch of drawings from various manuals i’ve cleaned up and improved.
I uploaded a bunch of new unit histories as well, and there are several new pages.
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 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.
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.
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.
In the new posts, I will update you on what’s been going on a bit behind the scenes for the week.
This week has been interesting, it’s 4th of July night, and I’m just wrapping things up for the evening before hitting the sack. It sounds like a firing range outside as people celebrate with fireworks and firearms. The Dogs gone deaf, and doesn’t notice, but the cats are scare, and I havn’t seen them in hours.
Anyway, this weekend I spent time on sorting through all the stuff I’ve downloaded over the past few months. I’ve literally downloaded thousands of pictures and hundreds of PDFs on various topics. The Sherman related ones will be going up on the site soon.
I should have some posts on Sherman tank plastic models and French Shermans up soon, and I’ll be doing a post on Dutch Shermans, and Sherman based SPGs soon.
In other news, Drive tanks.coma outfut out of Texas noticed my site and has contacted me! I’m going to be doing a post on them soon with info on their fully operational Sherman tank, and that includes all it’s guns people, and what you can do with it with American Dollars! I hope to be able to take a trip out and see what the whole thing is all about! This place looks like it may be the most magical place on earth, not Disneyland!
In future news, I will be signing up for Facebook and Twitter for the site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Subjugated Shermans: Sherman tanks captured and used by the Nazis
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!
Most of the images for this post came from WorldWarPhotos.com and many others came from Waralbum.ru. Both excellent sources for high-resolution images from the war.
Special Gallery 1: The Shermans and Lees of the Fort Bennings Digital Archive.
Fort Benning, a very active US Army base in Georgia has put up many very interesting historic Photo Galleries. You can find the website here. The Gallery these Sherman photos came from is the Historic Photo Gallery. These are just the Sherman and or Armor related images in the gallery, there are many more from Vietnam and Desert Storm.
The US Firefly: Yeah, I said US Firefly. They Made Some, But None Saw Combat, And They Were Unique And Not Like The British.
Before the Normandy landings, the British had offered the US up to 200 guns a month, if they were interested in the 17-pounder gun. Their rearmament program was well underway and would have enough Firefly tanks ready to go by D-Day. The US was not interested for a variety of reasons. The 76mm M1A1 and M3 90mm gun programs were well underway. Vehicles that used the guns were in the pipeline, even if there wasn’t much demand from the field yet. They did not want to complicate the supply situation with another tank ammo type.
Another reason was the 17-pounder did not impress the US officers who witnessed the test. It had both a large muzzle flash and breach flashback that hinted to them of a poor design. The efforts to convince the Americans of the errors of their ways went dormant along with the program. It wasn’t until the Ardennes offensive, when the US faced some heavier German armor, and in larger numbers than thought possible, that the program came back to life.
Conversions of 75mm armed US Sherman took place starting in March of 45. The US conversions were different in a few ways. The armored box on the rear of the turret was a little bigger to fit US radios, and the M2 machine gun brackets were welded to the end of the radio box. The tanks chosen for the conversions were all M4s and M4A3. It’s possible some large hatch final production Shermans with all the improvements were a part of the 88 that were converted before the program was suspended.
No one has identified what happened to the tanks, and it seems none survived. None were ever issued to US units. It’s one of those little mysteries lost to the archives and time.