M4 Sherman

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M4 Sherman

Postby Whiterook » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:12 pm

Production: July 1942 – January 1944


The M4 Sherman (officially Medium Tank, M4) was the most numerous battle tank used by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. In spite of being surpassed by German medium and heavy tanks late in the war, the M4 Sherman proved to be very reliable, cheaper to produce and available in greater numbers. In fact, historians time and again point to the fact that, though Axis Germany (for instance) fielded far superior tanks in comparison to the Sherman; quantity in the shear numbers of Sherman tanks produced (with the possible exception of Soviet Union’s T-34) outweighed quality to a very large degree. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union.

I find it a quite ironic that the tank was named after the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman by the British. Funny, the twists and turns history takes!

The first factory which delivered the M4 was the Lima Locomotive Works. All of these first batches were sent to the British Army through Lend-Lease, and fought in Africa. They found themselves instrumental in many operations which turned the tide of the war in this sector in favor of the Allies. At first, production rate was of 1000 M4s a month, but rose quickly as more factories were involved (11 total), to a figure of 2000 each month by mid-1942. These included (for all variants) Pressed Steel Cars Co., Pacific Car & Foundry, Baldwin Locomotive Works, American Locomotive Co., Pullman Car, Chrysler’s Detroit Tank Arsenal, Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Co., Federal Welder, Fisher and Grand Blanc in Michigan, the last being specially built for the purpose during the war. A total of 6748 M4s (from July 1942 to January 1944) were produced, as well as 1641 of the late variant equipped with a 105 mm (4.13 in) howitzer for infantry support, the M4(105). Early models had the three-piece bolted nose, while later models had a mixed cast/rolled hull. The gun mantlet also evolved from the M34 to the more protective M34A.


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M4, early production version (1942), 13th Armored Regiment of the 1st Armored Division, Tunisia, March 1943. One of the rare Shermans actually painted sand beige in US Service.


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M4 Sherman, early production vehicle, 32nd Tank Battalion of the 3rd Armored Division, Normandy ,1944. Notice the “low visibility” stars.


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Early production M4 Sherman, 40th Tank Battalion, 8th Armored Division, Belgium, February 1945, at the end of the battle of the Bulge.


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M4 Sherman, 2nd Armored Division, 1st Free French Army, Operation Anvil Dragoon, Provence, August 1944.
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Re: M4 Sherman

Postby Whiterook » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:19 pm

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Early type M4, unknown unit, Normandy, summer 1944.


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M4 Sherman, mid-production version (1943), of the 756th Tank Batallion, 5th Army, Monte Cassino sector, February 1944.


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M4 Sherman “Hurricane”, H Company, 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd U.S. Armored Division, Normandy, June 1944.


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C company, 756th Tank Battalion, 5th Army, Italy, February 1944.


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37th tank battalion, 4th U.S. Armored Division, Brittany, France, July 1944.


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Sherman DWG (Deep Wading Gear), C company, 70th Tank Battalion, Utah Beach, Normandy on D-Day


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Sherman Mk.I of the 27th Staffordshire Yeomanry Armoured Brigade, C squadron, Second Regiment, Normandy, summer 44.


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M4 with side skirts, unknown unit, Operation Cobra, Normandy, July 1944.


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M4 with a composite hull, 175th Tank Battalion, 123rd Regiment, 33rd Infantry Division, Leyte, Philippines invasion, March 1945.


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M4, composite hull, “Bushmaster” of the 763rd Tank Battalion, 96th Infantry Division, Leyte island, Philippines, fall 1945.


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Sherman Mk.I Hybrid (composite hull) of the 144th RAC, Italy, March, 1944.


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Sherman DD (Duplex Drive), 68th Tank Battalion, Omaha Beach, Normandy, D-Day.
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Re: M4 Sherman

Postby McCoy » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:20 pm

Now we're dealing with a vast jungle of versions and variants and subvariants. We normaly find it hard to come to grip with some of the German equipments or the Supermarine Spitfire with all versions there with a fair number of variants as well. No, they all come up short against the Medium Tank M4. I know my bit on the M4 series of tanks and yet I'm just scraping the top of the iceberg here.

But one thing for sure is that the M4 was a war winner. Not just it's ease of production but mainly how easy it was to keep in active service at the front. It really did what it was supposed to do, give the infantry support. There's where most make their error when they claim that the M4 series of medium tanks was a bad tank, they put it up against the German Panther, a formidable tank as long as it didn't break down. No, nothing can be more wrong in that comparision as the M4 series wasn't designed for tank versus tank action like the Panther that was designed to rule the battlefield in a target rich environment with a lot of tank versus tank action as the Panther was the embryo to todays Main Battle Tanks. The M4 wasn't and it excelled in it's infantry support role giving the infantry firepower. Yet it could take out an Panther with ease, even from the front due to the major design flaw with the Panthers gun mantlet. Now there usually comes claim that the Panther could take out the M4 long before the M4 posed a threat to the Panther and that's indeed true but the battlefield isn't just theory and there was seldome engagements in the ETO where the German armour could excell in the same way as they did on the open fields of fire that so often was the case on the eastern front. No, tank versus tank battle in the ETO favoured numbers over good but unreliable technology. So yes, the M4 series was indeed a war winner. Crew survivability was good in the M4, yes it caught fire from time to time but not as often as some claim and less than other tanks after they implemented wet ammo storage in the M4 series. After that it was just a matter of rinsing out the blood from the unlucky crewmembers that was killed when it was hit (seldome more than two), exchange some internal gear and patch up the holes, yes holes as in two. That's down to a major drawback that the German tank gun firepower presented. The shell that hit an M4 often just punched through and through, sometimes just leaving minor wounds on the lucky crew. An 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 could in fact punch a neat hole in the front, slicing through the gearbox and miss just about everything to harm before it passed straight through the engine and out in the back, leaving a dead tank with uninjured crew members. So there is in fact something like too much firepower.

In short, the M4 medium tank series wasn't a bad tank. But you can with ease go crazy trying to learn everything about all the versions and variants...
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