The M4 Sherman Tank was the true work horse of the American Forces during WWII. The origin of the Tank came from the bloody battles toward the end of WWI. Tanks during that time were slow, had limited mobility, and were not properly used on the battlefield. Most military experts agreed after the war that the Tank would have a future. Much advancement in technology came about between WWI and WWII and when war came to the shores of the United States on December 7, 1941. That’s when an iconic tank emerged, the M4 Sherman Tank.
During WWII the primary battle Tank was the M4 Sherman Tank. The M4 was named after the great Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, who drove his Army deep into the south all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Between the years of 1940 to 1945 the United States produced over 50,000 Sherman Tanks. Initially they were produced by the Lima Locomotive works, but as the war progressed, nearly a dozen companies, such as Detroit Tank, Pacific Car and Foundry Company produced the many variants of the Sherman Tank. Its primary gun was the 75 mm which had a muzzle velocity of 1,850 feet per second. After 1942 more were outfitted with 76 mm gun. It had other weapons to assist in its missions, such as Browning 50 and 30 caliber machine guns. It had a crew of five, but in most situations the crew usually consisted of four, led by an NCO. At the time the armor on the M4 was the thickest of any American Tank which ranged between three inches to less than two, depending on the different areas of the vehicle.
The Sherman’s maximum speed was between 24 to 26 miles per hour. The M4’s heart truly was its powerful Continental R-975 motor, which was used by numerous armored vehicles of WWII. Originally, it was a nine cylinder engine that was air cooled with over 400 horse power. Later on it was improved to produce over 470 horse power by the classic Chrysler A 57 multibank L-Head. General George S. Patton baptized this great Tank in the battlefields of North Africa starting off with “Operation Torch” in the North African Country of Morocco. At first, the M4 did well against Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s German Panzer IV tank, but later as the war progressed, it had more difficulty against the powerful German Panther and Tiger Tanks. This led to the rapid advancement of the primary gun being switched to the 76mm. After the June 6, 1944 landings in Normandy, all Sherman’s that were produced had the 76mm. The upgrades, however, only made it capable of defeating a Tiger or Panther at close range.
The Great Success of this tank was mainly because of its high numbers of production and the fine training of its crews who fought with it in the European and Pacific Theaters. The men who fought with this tank gave it its great history. After WWII the M4 remained in service with United States well into the Korean War and shortly afterward into the late 1950s. It was replaced by the Patton Series Tanks, who saw service during the Vietnam War and beyond. The Sherman saw service with many other military units throughout the world well into the 1970’s. In the world of militaria, the M4 Sherman tank is one of the most sought out tanks in the world. It is truly an American Classic.