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M4 Sherman tank

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Posted: 08/05/2014 12:14
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This week we are turning our attention to the much-loved Sherman Tank for our blog. We have a Sherman Tank here at Armourgeddon, which started life in active duty for the US military before heading over to the Dutch Army and then into retirement here with us at Armourgeddon. Read on to learn about the history of the Sherman and how it became the favoured vehicle of World War II.

This week we are turning our attention to the much-loved Sherman Tank for our blog. We have a Sherman Tank here at Armourgeddon, which started life in active duty for the US military before heading over to the Dutch Army and then into retirement here with us at Armourgeddon. Read on to learn about the history of the Sherman and how it became the favoured vehicle of World War II.

The M4 Sherman was the main battle tank used by the United States military and other Western Allies during World War II. A reliable, highly mobile workhorse that held it’s own in battle, despite being far lighter than the German tanks deployed towards the end of the war.

Thousands of Sherman Tanks were deployed to the Allies- including the British Commonwealth in the US lease-lend programme. This programme saw the USA give materials to Allied forces from 1941 to August 1945 to the level of $50.1 billion, an equivalent figure of $656 billion today. 63% of this material came to Britain. The total amount of materials shipped cost the US 17% of their total war expenses, effectively ending the United States’ pretense of neutrality- a huge step away from non-intervention, which had been the dominant stance on Foreign Policy since 1931.

The Sherman was the second most produced tank of the World War II war after the Soviet T-34. We also have a T-34 here at Armourgeddon that we are restoring for a private collector. Presently the inside is completely restored although the T-34 is likely to be with us for the rest of this season if you want to come and compare the two. The M4 took its name from the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman.

The M4 evolved from the M3 – otherwise known as the Grant and Lee with its unusual side mounted 75mm gun. Instead The Sherman was completed with the first American main 75mm gun mounted on a fully traversing turret. The turret also housed a gyrostabilizer, allowing the crews to fire with reasonable accuracy whist moving across difficult terrain.  The main positive attributes of The Sherman were the mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability and the moderate size and weight.

As the parts were standardised, although huge volumes of tanks were produced, the significant investment in tank recovery and repair units really paid off. Many damaged Shermans were repaired and returned to active service- a step change from the previous interventions where damaged tanks were left to ruin where they halted. These factors combined to give the US and Allied forces significantly larger numbers and allowed many units their own M4 or TD assets. The TD (Independent Tank Destroyer,) included the M36 tank destroyer. The M36 was an M4 chassis and hull with open-topped turrets and more lethal, high-velocity guns. By 1944 a typical U.S. infantry division had their own M4 Sherman Battalion, a TD Battalion, or both. By then, the German Panzer divisions were rarely at full strength giving the Americans a great advantage. At this point, the M4A3E8 was introduced as a variant to the traditional Sherman with a horizontal volute spring suspension and a 76mm gun.

M4A3E8 was introduced as a variant to the traditional Sherman with a horizontal volute spring suspension and a 76mm gun.

The Sherman was the preferred tank of the commander of the armoured ground forces over the heavier M26 Pershing. In the Asia-Pacific War, the M4 was used mainly against the Japanese infantry and strongholds. There were rare examples of the Japanses vrs Sherman tanks at battle, but where this did occur, the Sherman’s superiority was overwhelming.

In all, over 500,000 vehicles were produced and M4’s chassis also became the base for numerous other armoured vehicles such as Tank Destroyers, Tank Retrievers and Self-Propelled Artillery. A stalwart of the modern era of warfare, much loved by the US and Allied forces, dreaded by the enemies and now arguably the poster-boy of WWII.

M4n Sherman tank

Our M4nSherman is housed in our museum here at Armourgeddon, Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire- open year round from 9am-4pm with an entrance fee of £5. We have hundreds of objects to look at and so many tanks and military vehicles to see. But you’ll have to read our other blog posts for more information!

See more in our Military Vehicle Museum

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