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The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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C_Sherman
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:06 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- Skeet

This same vet used to talk about the German 88's. A lot of what he spoke about seemed to indicate they could have been 88's. But a lot of what he said made me wonder how (why?) the German's could be using 88's like that, i.e. indirect fire into camps/parks on reverse slopes. I posted that question a while back, and the consenus was that lot's of WWII vets from the ETO referred to all German artillery as 88's.


In noticed that the German combat diaries I've seen all indicate that the 88 was frequently used in the indirect fire role. I recall specifically that this was so in North Africa in particular. So it's possible for indirect fire to have come from 88's. That said, I agree that Allied GI's had a tendency to call any incoming "88 fire".

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:05 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F


I don't know of any 76mm gun Shermans being issued to British units (Like the GAA engined M4A3 the U.S. tended to keep the 76mm Shermans for themselves, but 76mm gunned M4A2s were sent to the Soviets)


Yeah those miserly yanks only sold us 1,330 M4A1 w/76mm aka Sherman IIA and an unknown number of M4A3 w/76mm aka Sherman IVA. I beleive they went mostly to Italy. My units regimental history speaks of receiving them as replacements for the 75s until practically the whole regiment was 76mm equipped.

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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:41 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

Oddly enough you dont see very many pictures at all (at least that I have seen) of British Sherman 76s... Lots of 75s & Fireflies, but I cant remember any pictures of 76s in British colors...

Neil
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Al_Bowie
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:03 pm
Post subject: Distorted Facts

I love the wonderful thoughtless generalisations that such threads dredge up.
Particularly the one about a Panther being worth Four or Five Shermans. This gross generalisation is so wrong in the context of any rational discussion as to be laughable.
Consider this:
If those figures were true then the amount of Shermans deployed to the NWE theatre must have been greater than the actual number. Whilst a Panther in Defence (And I stress Defence - usually ambush) could take a number of Shermans to destoy it the truth also holds true for the Sherman as the battles at the closing of the Falaise pocket indicate and the early Cobra battles where the odds were reversed with up to 12 panthers being KO'd by A troop of Shermans in Defensive position.
Anyone who studies warfare will understand that the defender on prepared ground of his choosing holds all the trumps. The oncoming enemy may lose two or three tanks before even locating his assailant (as Michael Wittman found to his peril). This does not make it a better AFV by any stretch of the imagination. The other part to this is that the five vehicles lost whilst "stalking" the assailant may not all be attributed to the Assailant but its infantry screen or mutually supporting AT or AFV.
THe Panther was a mechanical basket case and was extremely unreliable. The Sherman on the other hand just kept going as wass evidenced in the Normandy breakouts by both US and Brit/Cwealth/Polish forces. The Brits were clocking up huge distances of road march which is extremely taxing on an armoured vehicle and still managed to keep it up. The much vaunted Panther and Tiger would have suffered up to 80% mechanical loss if they attempted the same thing.
The Sherman was an excellent product for the time and like the equally excellent T34 grew to meet the threat. The HVAP 76 mm Shermans with HVAP were a pretty good match for the Panther and even Tiger an could engage these at good battle ranges.
The ability to produce the Sherman easily and in Huge numbers was a very decisive factor and if you did an analysis based on cost effectiveness I know that the Panther would not win.

The other factor overlooked in most of these arguments is the quality of the German Tank crews who had vast experience at both offensive and defensive operations by the time Normandy occured. Most of the US and Brit Formations were rank amatueurs at this in comparison. The integrated all arms philoshphy of the Germans also added to this.

With the exception of the T34 no other ww2 vehicle has had such a career or was so adaptable as to still be going with such success at the end of the War. If the Germans had abandoned the Panther and tiger and concentrated on upgrading the Pz IV family then the numbers they would have had avail and the reliability these proven designs had would have offered more vehicles and some of the results of history may have varied.

Logistics is the lynch pin of any camapign and the ability to support one major type of tank lowers the logisic burden thereby allow your logisic chain to function at its max efficiency. Diluting your logistics across a diverse range of vehicle types reduces your logistic efficiency severly hampering your ability to conduct mobile operations.

The Sherman is a much maligned and denigrated vehicle but to misquote a cartoon of the time "It got their the fastest with the mostest" and did the job asked of it. If some decisions such as arming a percentage of Shermans with the 17pdr in both US and Brit service had been taken earlier along with the introduction of the 76 armed HVSS shermans then it would have had a lot more success but hindsight is onl avail after the fact.

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Al Bowie
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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:46 pm
Post subject: Re: Distorted Facts

- Al_Bowie
I love the wonderful thoughtless generalisations that such threads dredge up.
Particularly the one about a Panther being worth Four or Five Shermans. This gross generalisation is so wrong in the context of any rational discussion as to be laughable.
Consider this:
If those figures were true then the amount of Shermans deployed to the NWE theatre must have been greater than the actual number. Whilst a Panther in Defence (And I stress Defence - usually ambush) could take a number of Shermans to destoy it the truth also holds true for the Sherman as the battles at the closing of the Falaise pocket indicate and the early Cobra battles where the odds were reversed with up to 12 panthers being KO'd by A troop of Shermans in Defensive position.
Anyone who studies warfare will understand that the defender on prepared ground of his choosing holds all the trumps. The oncoming enemy may lose two or three tanks before even locating his assailant (as Michael Wittman found to his peril). This does not make it a better AFV by any stretch of the imagination. The other part to this is that the five vehicles lost whilst "stalking" the assailant may not all be attributed to the Assailant but its infantry screen or mutually supporting AT or AFV.


I'll admit a bit more thorough research is needed into WWII kill ratios. However, even if the generalization/anecdote its true (which I havent seen any contest with actual data), its likely not the case that there would have had to have been more Shermans than there were. It simply would mean that of Sherman vs Panther/Tiger engagements, that was the kill ratio, keeping in mind that such engagements would be a subset of all engagements that took place. I'm sure there were plenty of Panthers & Tigers that were not destroyed by Shermans, or even tanks. Therefore they dont contribute to the kill ratio. Similarly, not all Shermans faced Panthers & Tigers, so any number of Shermans would not contribute to the kill ratio either...

If someone could point me in the direction of any sort of accumulation of WWII tank kill ratio data I'd appreciate it.


THe Panther was a mechanical basket case and was extremely unreliable. The Sherman on the other hand just kept going as wass evidenced in the Normandy breakouts by both US and Brit/Cwealth/Polish forces. The Brits were clocking up huge distances of road march which is extremely taxing on an armoured vehicle and still managed to keep it up. The much vaunted Panther and Tiger would have suffered up to 80% mechanical loss if they attempted the same thing.


Granted, although I'd probably only describe the initial Panthers as true "basketcases." Keep in mind the Panther was good enough to have been kept in use by the French army until the early 1950s; and were also prized by Soviet crews, so much that they impressed Germany personnel to keep them going...


The Sherman was an excellent product for the time and like the equally excellent T34 grew to meet the threat. The HVAP 76 mm Shermans with HVAP were a pretty good match for the Panther and even Tiger an could engage these at good battle ranges.


While I think the Sherman was a great & venerable tank, I wouldnt argue it grew as much as the T-34, at least during WWII. The Soviets upgraded the T-34 with the 85mm gun during the war, while it took the French and Israelis to upgrade the Sherman with similar weapons post-war...


The ability to produce the Sherman easily and in Huge numbers was a very decisive factor and if you did an analysis based on cost effectiveness I know that the Panther would not win.


I wouldnt argue that the US should have producted Panthers instead of Shermans, but that a cost-effective heavier tank could have been fielded (likely by Normandy if they acted quickly enough & with foresight) as a complement to Sherman and would have been a good use of "limited" shipping.


With the exception of the T34 no other ww2 vehicle has had such a career or was so adaptable as to still be going with such success at the end of the War. If the Germans had abandoned the Panther and tiger and concentrated on upgrading the Pz IV family then the numbers they would have had avail and the reliability these proven designs had would have offered more vehicles and some of the results of history may have varied.


Part of the success & adaptability of the T-34 and Sherman is due to the fact that the US & USSR won WWII, leading to several generations of improvements afterwards. If the Germans had won (thank god not!), I have no doubt we would have seen 88mm armed Panthers and quite possibly even eventually 105mm armed Panthers in the postwar years. I'm not so sure (especially taking the French experience) that the Tiger or Tiger II would have had the same longevity...


The Sherman is a much maligned and denigrated vehicle but to misquote a cartoon of the time "It got their the fastest with the mostest" and did the job asked of it. If some decisions such as arming a percentage of Shermans with the 17pdr in both US and Brit service had been taken earlier along with the introduction of the 76 armed HVSS shermans then it would have had a lot more success but hindsight is onl avail after the fact.


Well that at least I agree with!

Neil
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bsmart
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:03 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

I don't have data at hand but I'm not sure there was much difference between the 85mm in the T34 and the 76mm in the Sherman. Both were moderate upgrades from the original gun but neither was the very high velocity gun that the 17pdr or 75L70 of the Panther were. I'm not sure the French post war experience with the Panther proves or disproves the tanks reliability. It wasa peacetime army with peacetime priorities. I doubt they were run hard at all.

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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:20 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

- bsmart
I don't have data at hand but I'm not sure there was much difference between the 85mm in the T34 and the 76mm in the Sherman. Both were moderate upgrades from the original gun but neither was the very high velocity gun that the 17pdr or 75L70 of the Panther were.


I stand corrected, it appears the 76mm HVAP had somewhat to much better penetration than the Soviet 85mm gun.

Tony Williams gave the following values on another board for penetration at 1,000 yards, striking at 30 degrees from the optimum:
forum.axishistory.com/...41edd627bf

76mm: 89mm (134mm with HVAP ammo)
17 pdr: 118mm (170mm with APDS ammo)
85mm: 84mm

The following also gives penetration values for the Sherman 76 & T-34/85 against the Tiger I:
www.fprado.com/armorsite/tiger1.htm

Neil


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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:22 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- Neil_Baumgardner
Oddly enough you dont see very many pictures at all (at least that I have seen) of British Sherman 76s... Lots of 75s & Fireflies, but I cant remember any pictures of 76s in British colors...

Neil


Just a quick google...


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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:25 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

Jim, thanks. For whatever reason, I dont remember seeing any pics of British Sherman 76s before... Were there any British Easy Eights?

Neil
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JimWeb
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:30 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- Neil_Baumgardner
Jim, thanks. For whatever reason, I dont remember seeing any pics of British Sherman 76s before...

Neil


I think there must have been quite a few in Italy - strangely enough not many fireflies... must have been because of the 76mm shermans.



I hadn't realised that the british used Chaffee's during the war till I was going through the regimental photo albums once and spotted that the 9th Lancers had them in the recce troop during early 1945.

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bsmart
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:28 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- JimWeb
- Neil_Baumgardner
Jim, thanks. For whatever reason, I dont remember seeing any pics of British Sherman 76s before...

Neil


I think there must have been quite a few in Italy - strangely enough not many fireflies... must have been because of the 76mm shermans.


See - even the British thought the 76mm Sherman was equivalent to a Firefly!! Laughing Laughing Laughing

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Al_Bowie
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:27 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

British use of the 76 Sherman.
The British were supplied with a great number of 76 M4A1 VVSS Shermans but mainly used them in Italy. They were used by 2 RTR and the South African 6 AD there. One of the Shots above is a C Sqn 2 RTR vehicle. Interestingly the Brits put a Firefly in each troop of 2 RTR and had a 4 veh tp consisting of 2 76 and 2 Fireflies by wars end. The Brits decided not to employ the 76 Sherman in NWE and passed the vehicles to the Polish who used them in Holland / Germany. They also retained their Fireflies in each tp.
There is anecdotal evidence to indicate that Guards AD got some 76's by wars end.
The Brits were going to acquire the M4A2 76 HVSS and got about 9 of these for trials by wars end. This is the variant the Canadians settled on post war although they took A3's to Korea from US stock to ease the logistical burden.
The only other HVSS vehicle the Brits got was the M4 105 in very ltd numbers in Italy (most went to the Poles).

BTW the point I made about numbers does not indicate that the Panther killed 5 shermans for itself being killed. these would have been killed by a variety of threats such as infantry AT, AT and mutually supporting tanks. I notice you completely overlook the fact that the Panthers were fighting in sited defence giving them a three to one theoretical advantage to start with. If you analyse the Normandy / Falaise and cobra period battles where the Germans were forced to counterattack against vehicles in defensive position the ratios are about 3 to one in favourr of the Sherman highlighting the fact that it is the situation more than the vehicle that accts for the discrepency.

My comments regarding the longevity if you re read them are WW2 related and NOT post war although the Sherman did continue for a long period post war.
THe French used the Panthers ONLY until the US MAP could provide significant amounts of 76 Shermans and a ltd amount of Pershings. If you can get hold of the Shrivenam Report on the Panther from the ones the Brits trialled you will see its reputation far exceeds its capabilities and the Late Panther was as equal a basket case reliability wise as the early ones. Its breakdown rate was lower but it was still extremely high. The only thing the Brits liked about the Panther was the Gun and Optics. The French liked the Gun also and developed it post war. The guns in the M50 and M51 Israeli Shermans are direct descendants of the Panthers excellent 75.
Cheers
Al
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the_shadock
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:12 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- bsmart
I'm not sure the French post war experience with the Panther proves or disproves the tanks reliability. It wasa peacetime army with peacetime priorities. I doubt they were run hard at all.


Personnally, I think that the French army had Panthers because it had nothing better, and was not allowed to produce its own tanks in late 40's. When you look at the uniforms of the French Expeditionary Corps in Indochina, you will see american, british, german, french equipement from WW1 and WW2, and even local or "field" made equipement. We didn't have a standard uniform. (and even now you will find in some French Army units, WW1 and WW2 equipment that are kept in stock, just in case..) That's typically a French problem that we still face today : NOT ENOUGH MONEY !!! and not enough spare parts to repair our vehicles. I have heard that 60% of our planes can't fly because of the lack of spare parts..
So I really think that the French army would not have used Panther tanks in the 50's if they had the choice..

Cheers from France

Pierre-Olivier
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LeeW
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:04 am
Post subject: Re: Distorted Facts

- Neil_Baumgardner
...
While I think the Sherman was a great & venerable tank, I wouldnt argue it grew as much as the T-34, at least during WWII. The Soviets upgraded the T-34 with the 85mm gun during the war, while it took the French and Israelis to upgrade the Sherman with similar weapons post-war...

Well the US did have 105mm armed Shermans in WWII. The T-34 also had a lot more room for improvement. The T-34 76 didn't have a radio for the most part, lousey ergonomics, too small a turret, etc and the Soviet 76mm gun was inferior to the US 75 as you noticed the Soviet 85 was about the equivalant of the US 76 as far as AP performance goes but I think it's HE performance wasn't as good.


....
Part of the success & adaptability of the T-34 and Sherman is due to the fact that the US & USSR won WWII, leading to several generations of improvements afterwards. If the Germans had won (thank god not!), I have no doubt we would have seen 88mm armed Panthers and quite possibly even eventually 105mm armed Panthers in the postwar years. I'm not so sure (especially taking the French experience) that the Tiger or Tiger II would have had the same longevity...


Neither the US nor the Soviets really improved the M-4 or T-34 after the war. I'm not aware of many upgrades for the T-34 at all. The Sherman tended to be upgraded by third parties (Isreal, France, etc)
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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:37 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- Al_Bowie

BTW the point I made about numbers does not indicate that the Panther killed 5 shermans for itself being killed. these would have been killed by a variety of threats such as infantry AT, AT and mutually supporting tanks. I notice you completely overlook the fact that the Panthers were fighting in sited defence giving them a three to one theoretical advantage to start with. If you analyse the Normandy / Falaise and cobra period battles where the Germans were forced to counterattack against vehicles in defensive position the ratios are about 3 to one in favourr of the Sherman highlighting the fact that it is the situation more than the vehicle that accts for the discrepency.


The 3-1 defense advantage rule is a rule of hand that dates back to Clausewitz, which can be adjusted to the particulars of any situation and may or may not have any validity. I will grant defense probably does have advantage, but whether its 2-1, 3-1, etc can vary... OTOH, there certainly have been many thinkers & generals, Patton may have been one of them, that believed in offensive advantage.


My comments regarding the longevity if you re read them are WW2 related and NOT post war although the Sherman did continue for a long period post war.


Okay, sure... Like I said, I'm not really denying that the Sherman as a very good versatile tank...


THe French used the Panthers ONLY until the US MAP could provide significant amounts of 76 Shermans and a ltd amount of Pershings.


I'm not so sure that is true, they kept them around far longer than was necessary by that measure - I dont think anyone had a want for Shermans in the early 1950s. Even the French 1947 report on the Panther (see 160-161 of Spielberger's Panther & its Variants) isnt exactly glowing. But my point is they respected it enough to keep it in service. I dont think they needed to for any other reason... The Soviets had the same respect for it, but they had plenty of JS-2s & -3s to go around. I believe the French Panthers were replaced by M47s... But I can see this discussion has becomes a tangent - Panther vs the Sherman rather than the utility of a hi-lo mix of heavier tanks to complement US Shermans...

Neil
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