At the time they fared well against the German equivalent tank, the Panzer IV.
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It was for this reason that the Army thought the Sherman would be able to hold its own during the invasion of Normandy and into Europe. This was not the case. During the European Campaign, the Division had some Sherman tanks completely destroyed in combat and we had another knocked out, repaired and put back into operation.
This was a loss rate of percent. Sherman tanks were not nearly as efficient or as armored as the primary German tank, the Panzer IV. This was a fact even before the upgrading of Panzer gun barrels and armor in Shermans were under-gunned when fighting German Tiger tanks and out-maneuvered when facing German Panther tanks. These disparities are shown in an account of the famous Lt. Colonel William B. Colonel Haynes Dugan.
The Sherman then backed behind the corner and was disabled by a shot penetrating two sides of the house plus the tank. Because of their insufficient armor, the insides of Sherman tanks were prone to catching fire during combat. This problem was compounded when fires ignited shells and other munitions inside a tank.
Armored divisions also kept very efficient repair crews. Clearly, the 3rd Armored Division Archives can lend perspective to both the heroic, and dangerous, actions of WWII and the most frustrating aspects of quotidian Army life. If you would like to listen to 3rd Armored Division Staff Sergeant Anthony Hufnagel describe his experience with the Sherman M4, listen to these two audio files:.
Earl It was the case that for most of the north western European campaign, the US were more commonly in assault mode against an enemy dug in with anti-tank guns and handheld infantry Panzerfausts rather than against hundreds of tanks. Also the mm weapon now had new A. The point about the new ammunition is the muzzle velocity is not so crucial to overall performance. Thus a gun with a short barrel firing low velocity ammunition still has a respectable A.
E by about or more while the A. The gains in H. Thus a useful compromise and a powerful addition in close assault mode. First introduced in February , production of the mm 4. It was devised during the Italy campaign, to give added infantry support firepower with the advantage of a fully traversing turret. The standard MA4 howitzer was modified and compacted for the task. All existing gun aiming and facilities for indirect fire were improved.
The armor was slightly thinner than usual, ranging from 63 mm 2. The mantlet was 91 mm 3. The engine was the early radial Continental RC4, 9-cylinder 4-cycle, air cooled 15, cc and hp at 2, rpm , giving a range of km mi and a cruise speed of Produced from May to March with a total of machines. It appeared quickly that the punch of a solid HE round was also more than adequate in many tank to tank engagements against German armor.
More than were built and served in the European Theater of Operations. The M10 GMC was armed with a 3 in gun Over were built. The M36 GMC was armed with a far more powerful 90 mm 3. The name came from the famous lighter. It was developed in after the terrible casualties at Saipan, and first served en masse at Iwo Jima and later at Okinawa. T34 Calliope : Famous rocket version, developed in and massively used against German positions in Fired up to 60 mm 4. M4 Dozer : M4 fitted, in , with a hydraulic dozer blade from a Caterpillar D8.
Widely used in many theaters of war to create airfields and base camps in wooden or jungle areas. First developed as a kit, but later on more turretless Shermans appeared with this equipment fixed permanently. It was largely used in the Normandy Bocage, later replaced by Shermans equipped with the Culin Cutter kit.
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M4 Doozit : M4 dozer equipped with demolition charges on a wooden platform. Never used in combat, contrary to the T40 WhizBang. First introduced in Italy as a turretless Sherman equipped with a frame-supported assault bridge with a rear counterweight. M4 Mine-clearer : No less than 26 variants, some never operational, came to life between First operational ones appeared in Italy.
The US-versions T1-T6 Roller used two massive front rollers to explode the mines by ground pressure, while the British versions Sherman Crab T2-T3 and sub-variants used a frontal flail roller, similar to the Scorpion. There were also a serrated edged disc version, mine exploder versions equipped with a frame with small rollers or a steel plunger, several mortar versions, a remote-control demolition version and a plow version with depth control apparatus.
It featured a flexible waterproof canvas skirt fixed on the mudguard, reinforced with a folding wooden and metal frame. Several trials were performed with various tank models including the Valentine but later applied to the Sherman in the perspective of future amphibious landings. However, due to the bad weather, many were lost en route to the shore. They had more successes during operation Dragoon landing in southern France and when crossing the Rhine by early It consisted of four for each side boxy pressed-steel floats, called pontoons, which procured buoyancy, while the tracks provided some propulsion.
It was only used close to the shore. The equipment was then removed by the crews for the upcoming operations. Shermans with Deep Wading Gear : This apparatus consisted of two large ducts mounted on top of the engine ventilation hatch and exhaust. Thanks to this system, which caught air one meter above the tank, and well-sealed hatches, the Sherman could be deposited by large ships on the sea floor, at more than three meters depth.
This kit could also be used to ford large rivers. This was especially true compared to the Tigers and Panthers which had a high consumption, requiring careful maintenance and limited cross-bridges capabilities. German reports stated that the Sherman could climb slopes at angles thought impossible for any Panzer.
Their narrow build also helped them cross narrow streets, bridges and forested areas as well, but most of all, helped transportation by rail, therefore improving their mobility. Their high, bulky nose helped them crush thick vegetation easily, and they were found sturdy and powerful enough to go through any kind of house or wall, which helped them in many urban fights, especially in Italy.
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However, despite their moderate ground pressure, the narrow tracks were judged inadequate on soft terrain, especially mud and snow. This feature was factory-born to help the M4A3E2 Jumbo reduce ground pressure. The standard VVSS suspension was also the object of some criticism, openly compared to the far more refined torsion arm system used by the Panther, which allowed a very smooth ride and more accurate fire on the move.
The basic system was not changed, but it secured a smoother ride and a better weight distribution, which helped to stabilize the tank. Large-scale production and a limited weight which never really exceeded 36 tons except for a few machines, the average weight being tons helped the large-scale transatlantic shipping of these, despite U-Boot losses.
This allowed overall superiority in numbers on the battlefield. Training required few hours and M3 Lee veteran drivers and even gunners had no problems operating the Sherman, thanks to a high level of standardization. For infantry support, the Sherman looked ideally suited. Dominating the terrain, the commander had an excellent view and the infantry, advancing behind, was well-protected.
Two cal. But the heavy cal.
It could be also lethal, with some luck, against low-flying aircraft. Its downside was the completely exposed position of the machine gunner, as he had to sit on the rear deck of the tank to use it. On every front, single tank-to-tank engagements against German tanks turned to be generally unfair, especially with the early versions.
The hull, due to the high transmission required by the radial engine towered at nearly 3 meters 9. Post-war, the Sherman tank gained an unfounded reputation for catching fire easily which still endures. For a tank which in later versions had wet ammo storage and extra protection for ammunition this reputation was meaningless, but nevertheless, it endures long after the Normandy campaign. In Normandy, many Shermans were also killed because of well-hidden and camouflaged AT guns and tanks, helped by the bocage configuration.
A partial solution was given by the use of a Culin hedgerow cutter fitted to the lead tank of a company, which was usually also the first one to be killed in action. The Sherman design evolution dictated by wartime experience called for a thickening of the glacis and side armor, from 76 to 89 mm 3 to 3.