M4 Sherman

Medium Tank, M4
M4 Sherman tank - Flickr - Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden.jpg
An M4 (105) Sherman tank with spare track-links welded on its front for additional armor protection, preserved at the Langenberg Liberation Memorial in Ede, Netherlands
TypeMedium tank
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1942–1957 (United States)
1945–2018 (by other users)
Used byUnited States, and many others (see Foreign variants and use)
WarsWorld War II, Indonesian National Revolution, Greek Civil War, 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Korean War, Cuban Revolution, Vietnam War, Revolución Libertadora, Suez Crisis, 1958 Lebanon crisis, Nicaraguan Revolution, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Six-Day War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Yom Kippur War, Lebanese Civil War, Uganda–Tanzania War, Iran–Iraq War
Production history
DesignerU.S. Army Ordnance Department
Designed1940
ManufacturerAmerican Locomotive Company, Baldwin Locomotive Works, Detroit Tank Arsenal, Federal Machine and Welder Company, Fisher Tank Arsenal, Ford Motor Company, Lima Locomotive Works, Pacific Car and Foundry Company, Pressed Steel Car Company, Pullman-Standard Car Company
Unit cost$44,556–64,455 in 1945 dollars, depending upon variant ($607,861-879,336 in 2017 dollars)[1]
ProducedSeptember 1941 (prototype)
February 1942 – July 1945
No. built49,234, excluding prototype[2]
VariantsSee U.S. variants and foreign variants
Specifications
Weight66,800–84,000 lb (33.4-42.0 short tons, 30.3–38.1 tonnes) depending upon variant[3]
Length19 ft 2 in–20 ft 7 in (5.84–6.27 m) depending upon variant[3]
Width8 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in (2.62–2.99 m) depending upon variant[3]
Height9 ft 0 in–9 ft 9 in (2.74–2.97 m) depending upon variant[3]
Crew5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, assistant driver/bow gunner)

Armor12.7 mm (0.5 in) minimum
Up to a maximum of 177.8 mm (7.0 in) depending upon variant[3]
Main
armament
75 mm gun M3 (90–104 rounds)
or
76 mm gun M1A1, M1A1C, or M1A2 (71 rounds)
or
105 mm howitzer M4 (66 rounds)[3]
Secondary
armament
.50 caliber Browning M2HB machine gun (300–600 rounds),
.30 caliber Browning M1919A4 machine guns (6,000–6,750 rounds)[3]
Engine

M4 and M4A1 model:Continental R975-C1 or -C4 9 cylinder radial gasoline engine,
350 or 400 hp (261 or 298 kW) at 2,400 rpm[3]
M4A2 model: General Motors 6046 twin inline diesel engine; 375 hp (280 kW) at 2,100 rpm[3]
M4A3 model: Ford GAA V8 gasoline engine; 450 hp (336 kW) at 2,600 rpm[3]
M4A4 model: Chrysler A57 30 cylinder gasoline engine; 370 hp (276 kW) at 2,400 rpm[3]

M4A6 model: Caterpillar D-200A (Wright RD-1820) 9 cylinder radial diesel engine; 450 hp (336 kW) at 2,400 rpm[3]
Power/weight10.46–13.49 hp/short ton (8.60–11.09 kW/t) depending upon variant[3]
TransmissionSpicer manual synchromesh transmission, 5 forward and 1 reverse gears[4]
SuspensionVertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) or horizontal volute spring suspension (HVSS)
Fuel capacity138–175 U.S. gallons (522–662 litres) depending upon variant[3]
Operational
range
100–150 miles (161–241 km) on road depending upon variant[3]
Speed22–30 mph (35–48 km/h) on road, depending upon variant[5][3]

The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. The M4 Sherman proved to be reliable, relatively cheap to produce, and available in great numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.

The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank,[N 1] which had its main armament in a side sponson mount. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design, but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticle on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction.[6] The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors, combined with the Sherman's then-superior armor and armament, outclassed German light and medium tanks fielded in 1939–42. The M4 went on to be produced in large numbers. It spearheaded many offensives by the Western Allies after 1942.

When the M4 tank went into combat in North Africa with the British Army at El Alamein in late 1942, it increased the advantage of Allied armor over Axis armor and was superior to the lighter German[7] and Italian tank designs. For this reason, the US Army believed that the M4 would be adequate to win the war, and relatively little pressure was initially exerted for further tank development. Logistical and transport restrictions, such as limitations imposed by roads, ports, and bridges, also complicated the introduction of a more capable but heavier tank.[8][N 2] Tank destroyer battalions using vehicles built on the M4 hull and chassis, but with open-topped turrets and more potent high-velocity guns, also entered widespread use in the Allied armies. Even by 1944, most M4 Shermans kept their dual purpose 75 mm gun.[9] By then, the M4 was inferior in firepower and armor to increasing numbers of German heavy tanks, but was able to fight on with the help of numerical superiority, greater mechanical reliability, better logistical support, and support from growing numbers of fighter-bombers and artillery pieces.[10] Some Shermans were produced with a more capable gun, the 76 mm gun M1, or refitted with an Ordnance QF 17-pounder by the British (the Sherman Firefly).

The relative ease of production allowed large numbers of the M4 to be manufactured, and significant investment in tank recovery and repair units allowed disabled vehicles to be repaired and returned to service quickly. These factors combined to give the Allies numerical superiority in most battles, and many infantry divisions were provided with M4s and tank destroyers.[N 3][11]

After World War II, the Sherman, particularly the many improved and upgraded versions, continued to see combat service in many conflicts around the world, including the UN forces in the Korean War, with Israel in the Arab–Israeli wars, briefly with South Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and on both sides of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.[12] Paraguay retired three Shermans from the Regimiento Escolta Presidencial (REP, Presidential Escort Regiment) in 2018, which marked the end of service of the final Sherman tanks in use anywhere in the world.[13]

U.S. design prototype

Cutaway Sherman showing transmission and driver's seat

The U.S. Army Ordnance Department designed the M4 medium tank as a replacement for the M3 medium tank. The M3 was an up-gunned development of the M2 Medium Tank of 1939, in turn derived from the M2 light tank of 1935. The M3 was developed as a stopgap measure until a new turret mounting a 75 mm gun could be devised. While it was a big improvement when tried by the British in Africa against early German tanks, the placement of a 37 mm gun turret on top gave it a very high profile, and the unusual side-sponson mounted main gun, with limited traverse, could not be aimed across the other side of the tank. Though reluctant to adopt British weapons into their arsenal, the American designers were prepared to accept proven British ideas. British ideas, as embodied in a tank designed by the Canadian General Staff, also influenced the development of the American Sherman tank. Before long American military agencies and designers had accumulated sufficient experience to forge ahead on several points. In the field of tank armament the American 75 mm and 76 mm dual-purpose tank guns won the acknowledgement of British tank experts.[14] Detailed design characteristics for the M4 were submitted by the Ordnance Department on 31 August 1940, but development of a prototype was delayed while the final production designs of the M3 were finished and the M3 entered full-scale production. On 18 April 1941, the U.S. Armored Force Board chose the simplest of five designs. Known as the T6, the design was a modified M3 hull and chassis, carrying a newly designed turret mounting the M3's 75 mm gun. This would later become the Sherman.[15]

The Sherman's reliability resulted from many features developed for U.S. light tanks during the 1930s, including vertical volute spring suspension, rubber-bushed tracks, and a rear-mounted radial engine with drive sprockets in front. The goals were to produce a fast, dependable medium tank able to support infantry, provide breakthrough striking capacity, and defeat any tank then in use by the Axis nations.

The T6 prototype was completed on 2 September 1941. The upper hull of the T6 was a single large casting. It featured a single overhead hatch for the driver, and a hatch in the side of the hull. In the later M4A1 production model, this large casting was maintained, although the side hatch was eliminated and a second overhead hatch was added for the assistant driver. The modified T6 was standardized as the M4, and production began in February 1942[16] The cast hull models would later be re-standardized as M4A1, with the first welded hull models receiving the designation M4. In August, 1942, a variant of the M4 was put forth by the Detroit Arsenal to have angled, rather than rounded hull and turret armor. The changes were intended to improve the tank’s protection without increasing weight or degrading other technical characteristics.

Doctrine

A Sherman DD amphibious tank of 13th/18th Royal Hussars in action against German troops using crashed Horsa gliders as cover near Ranville, Normandy, 10 June 1944

As the United States approached entry into World War II, armored employment was doctrinally governed by Field Manual 100–5, Operations (published May 1941, the month following selection of the M4 tank's final design). That field manual stated:

The armored division is organized primarily to perform missions that require great mobility and firepower. It is given decisive missions. It is capable of engaging in all forms of combat, but its primary role is in offensive operations against hostile rear areas.[17]

The M4 was, therefore, not originally intended primarily as an infantry support tank; in fact, FM 100-5 specifically stated the opposite. It placed tanks in the "striking echelon" of the armored division, and placed the infantry in the "support echelon". A field manual covering the use of the Sherman (FM 17–33, "The Tank Battalion, Light and Medium" of September 1942) described fighting enemy tanks when necessary as one of the many roles of the Sherman, but devoted only one page of text and four diagrams to tank-versus-tank action, out of 142 pages.[18] This early armored doctrine was heavily influenced by the sweeping early war successes of German blitzkrieg tactics. By the time M4s reached combat in significant numbers, battlefield demands for infantry support and tank versus tank action far outnumbered the occasional opportunities of rear-echelon exploitation.[citation needed]

United States doctrine held that the most critical anti-tank work (stopping massed enemy tank attacks) was primarily to be done by towed and self-propelled anti-tank guns, both of which were referred to as "tank destroyers", with friendly tanks being used in support if possible.[19] Speed was essential in order to bring the tank destroyers from the rear to destroy incoming tanks. This doctrine was rarely followed in combat, as it was found to be impractical. Commanders were reluctant to leave tank destroyers in reserve; if they were, it was also easier for an opposing armored force to achieve a breakthrough against an American tank battalion, which would not have all of its anti-tank weapons at the front during the beginning of any attack.[20]

Other Languages
العربية: إم 4 شيرمان
беларуская: Шэрман (танк)
български: М4 Шърман
bosanski: M4 Sherman
català: M4 Sherman
čeština: M4 Sherman
dansk: M4 Sherman
Deutsch: M4 Sherman
eesti: M4 Sherman
Ελληνικά: M4 Sherman
español: M4 Sherman
Esperanto: M4 Sherman
euskara: M4 Sherman
فارسی: ام۴ شرمن
français: M4 Sherman
한국어: M4 셔먼
hrvatski: M4 Sherman
Bahasa Indonesia: M4 Sherman
italiano: M4 Sherman
עברית: M4 שרמן
Lëtzebuergesch: M4 Sherman
magyar: M4 Sherman
монгол: Шерман танк
Nederlands: M4 Sherman
日本語: M4中戦車
norsk: M4 Sherman
occitan: M4 Sherman
polski: M4 Sherman
português: M4 Sherman
română: M4 Sherman
русский: Шерман (танк)
slovenčina: M4 Sherman
slovenščina: M4 Sherman
српски / srpski: М4 Шерман
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: M4 Sherman
suomi: M4 Sherman
svenska: M4 Sherman
татарча/tatarça: Шерман (танк)
Türkçe: M4 Sherman
українська: M4 Sherman
Tiếng Việt: M4 Sherman
walon: M4 Sherman