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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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Roy_A_Lingle
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:12 am
Post subject: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

Hey Folks!

I was thinking that sense this subject comes up from time to time, maybe it would be a good idea to start a thread on just the Sherman tank.

What I did was copy all the posts, along with Jeff's great M4A3 HVSS 76mm photo, about the Sherman that were posted in the 4th ID Museum thread. Hope this is OK with everyone.

Hey Doug! Could you make this one a 'sticky' so it will stay at the top of the forum? Also if this is not OK, is there a better way to do this?

Photo by Jeff Button 4th Infantry Division Musuem Ft. Hood Texas July 2006


HF_Evolution Joined: Dec 22, 2005 Posts: 1
Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:23 pm Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
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Nice picture of the Sherman, the British much to the disgust of the yanks stuch a 17pounder cann on in many of there Shermans, thinking the american gun was not good enough, they called this tank a Firefly. The Germans knicknamed them "Tommy Cookers", as when they were hit the brewed up (burst into flames, and the crews were usualy cooked. They were not at all as good as the german Arour, no way near, but there advantage was numbers. As one german tank commander said" As they came over the hill we destoyed them, all day, by the night the burning wrecks were all over the place and we congradulated our selves, next morning they came swarming over the hill again, we could not stop them and had to with draw."
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C_Sherman Joined: Jan 24, 2006 Posts: 151
Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 5:01 pm Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
Quote:
Doug_Kibbey wrote:
Be gentle with him, Guys....
End of Quote

Where to start, where to start? There is so much wrong with that post that I wonder if it is intentionally intended to create a controversy. New guy, one post, and he starts with that...

I'll leave it to the others to set him straight. We've done this too many times now!

C
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Doug_Kibbey Joined: Jan 23, 2006 Posts: 1055
Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:14 am Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...

Well, I mention only in passing that there was a broadcast over the weekend on Discovery or Military Channel that used much of the same language all in the space of an hour. My impression is that someone young and new to these discussions has just seen it and is parroting some of the things he garnered from those shows.
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bsmart Joined: Jan 23, 2006 Posts: 408
Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:41 am Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
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Okay - I'm home now so lets lay out the defense of the Sherman

the 17pdr was a very good antitank gun, but it had poor HE performance. The 75mm had excellent HE performance but by 1944 mediocre armor piercing capability. The 75mm was being replaced by the 76mm gun (That is what the pictured tank is equipped with) The 76mm had moderate AP capability combined with good HE capability. Since most Shermans in American units spent their time dealing with antitank guns, buildings, machine gun emplacements, etc. HE performance was very important. The Sherman had one big advantage over the German tanks. It's powered turret was excellent. The Sherman used a hydraulic power system that was fast and smooth. The power drive for the panther ran off a power takeoff from the drivetrain. If the engine had a heavy load and the power traverse was used it could stall the engine. Consequently many units had policies that the power traverse was not to be used. I've seen some reports that it was sometimes diconnected completly. I've seen reports where Panthers and Shermans had meeting engagements where the Sherman was able to slew the turret around and get killing shots off before the Panther could swing it's gun around. There are also cases where in narrow streets the Pnather could not swing it's gun around due to hitting buildings or trees

'Tommy Cooker' or 'Ronson' - Yes early Shermans tended to burn when hit by German AP rounds. This was not due to the gasoline fuel. The ammo stowage in early Shermans was high and in the side sponsons. This combined with a very effective HE filler used by the Germans in their AP rounds led to a large number of secondary explosions. An interim solution was applique armor that was applied to Shermans to put heavier protection over these areas (and a few others that were found). The British did not use an explosive filler in their AP rounds. They used either solid shot or American AP that had the explosive filler removed (I assume they were delivered with the cavity empty and that they did notactually remove the explosive charge that the Americans designed the rounds for). So even if a British tank penetrated a German tank all it did was punch a hole in the tank. There would be some secondary damage (There are very few places inside a tank you wouldn't hit some other equipment) but nothing like the explosive charge in the German round would cause.

'The German Tanks were better armored than the Sherman' - Yes. The Panther was about 45 tons compared to the Shermans 35 tons. Ten tons of weight is a lot of armor. The U.S. had to design the Sherman to be shipped half way around the world to be used. The Germans had to send a Panther 500-1000 miles from the factory, generally via rail or road shipment. The Americans had to plan un unloading Shermans in ports where the heavy lifting equipment was out of commision or across beaches where ther was no heavy cargo handling equipment at all. So they had to be able to unload using ships cargo gear. This limited the size of the vehicle.

The German tanks may have been better armored but the Sherman was much more reliable. The U.S. demanded much higher reliability from it's vehicles than other armies did. I believe this was due to two factors. Again the U.S. knew it would be operating at the end of a very long supply line. They would not be able to send tanks back to stateside depots for major maintenance. The Germans assumed that the tank would be returned to the factory for major overhauls. Also the American automotive industry was probably the most advanced in the world at the time they could mass produce heavy equipment to good tolerances better than anyone else in the world.

When the Sherman entered production there was supposed to be a heavy tank to compliment the Sherman. In 1941-42 the Sherman was as good as any other medium tank in the world. The M-6 Heavy tank was being tested but was given a lower priority than the Sherman and the Stuart.

The M-6 had problems with the transmission (it was probably at least as reliable as any other countries heavy tank but did not meat American reliability standards) and given the extreme shipping constraints of the 1942-early 44 period when they were attempting to build up an army in the U.K. in the face of the Uboat campaign it was decided to not give the very heavy M-6 (50-60 tons) a high priority.

When a heavy tank did become available logistics again reared its demanding head. The Pershing was wider than the Sherman. This meant that every Bailey Bridge would have to be modified or risk being damaged by the wider tracks of the Pershing. So they were held back until after most of the major rivers were crossed (and the port of Antwerp with it's heavy cargo gear was operational)

There was a very good article titled "Tank Myths" comparing the Sherman to it's chief rival for fame (not The Panther, the T-34) in the September/October 2001 issue of Armor by Charles M. Bailey the author of "Faint Praise" a book I have been looking for for a long time since it is considered to be one of the definitive books on US WWII tank development

I think only one other tank in WWII could even compare to the Sherman. The T-34 and the Sherman both started life at about the same time and continued to be built and improved throughout the war. The M4A3E8 was a far different tank from the M4A1 'Michael' that was originally delivered to the British in early '42
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Neil_Baumgardner Joined: Jan 24, 2006 Posts: 507
Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:13 am Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
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Bob, I'll play devil's advocate for the sake of discussion...

bsmart wrote:

'The German Tanks were better armored than the Sherman' - Yes. The Panther was about 45 tons compared to the Shermans 35 tons. Ten tons of weight is a lot of armor. The U.S. had to design the Sherman to be shipped half way around the world to be used. The Germans had to send a Panther 500-1000 miles from the factory, generally via rail or road shipment. The Americans had to plan un unloading Shermans in ports where the heavy lifting equipment was out of commision or across beaches where ther was no heavy cargo handling equipment at all. So they had to be able to unload using ships cargo gear. This limited the size of the vehicle.

Neil wrote:
Hindsight being 20-20 and primary role of the Sherman as infantry support granted, but if the traditional wisdom holds true that it took 3-4 Shermans to take out 1 Panther or Tiger - doesnt that mean the US ended up shipping 105-140 tons per kill? Seems like a smaller number of heavy tanks, even in the Panther weight class, would have been more efficient - shipping-wise - than all those Shermans... In fact, it would seem like there was a lot of wasted tonnage shipped...

Even if you grant that the primary role of the Sherman was infantry support, seems like a high-low mix might have been appropriate. The heavier Panther-class tanks could have been offloaded using LSTs no? Even M6s and T23s, with heavier armor than the Sherman, might have been a good stop-gap measure until the Pershing arrived...

bsmart wrote:
The M-6 had problems with the transmission (it was probably at least as reliable as any other countries heavy tank but did not meat American reliability standards) and given the extreme shipping constraints of the 1942-early 44 period when they were attempting to build up an army in the U.K. in the face of the Uboat campaign it was decided to not give the very heavy M-6 (50-60 tons) a high priority.

Neil wrote:
Again, hindsight 20-20, seems like M6s or T23s would have been a better use of shipping constraints than some of those Shermans...

bsmart wrote:
When a heavy tank did become available logistics again reared its demanding head. The Pershing was wider than the Sherman. This meant that every Bailey Bridge would have to be modified or risk being damaged by the wider tracks of the Pershing. So they were held back until after most of the major rivers were crossed (and the port of Antwerp with it's heavy cargo gear was operational)

Neil wrote:
How come this was only a concern for the Americans? Sure, there are lots of stories of Tigers, etc not being able to cross bridges, but it doesnt seem like this was a big concern for the Germany army... Point being, if the Germans can get around the same rivers & bridges (admittedly in retreat), seems like Pershings could have done the same...

bsmart wrote:
The M4A3E8 was a far different tank from the M4A1 'Michael' that was originally delivered to the British in early '42

Neil wrote:
Granted, but it has to seem that the Armor folks were a little too obsessive over the "tank" being an infantry support weapon. Even a mix of US Sherman Fireflies - not taking up more more weight at all, but with some additional ammo supply headaches - would have been a good decision. What would have been the impact of US mass-produced Fireflies been on the battlefield in 1944?

Neil
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bsmart Joined: Jan 23, 2006 Posts: 408
Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:57 am Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
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I'm having trouble with the multiple level quotes so

Did we actually need more shipping because it took multiple Shermans to handel a 'Cat' That assumes that if you had brought over a limited number of 'anti-Cat' tanks you would be able to have one where you needed it when you needed it. Isn't that similar to the Tank destroyer doctrine of having some unist who were supposed to hunt enemy tanks? Problem is you can't know where they would show up so everyone has to be ready to handle the enemy tanks.

Why was the logistics only a US problem (actually an allied problem) Well The defender has some options on when to drop bridges (unless the zoomies get them first ) And there were times when German tanks were trapped because bridges had been destroyed. And one of the factors that slowed down the German ardennes spearheads in December of 44 were the tenacious defense of bridges by American Engineer units.

I don't think the U.S. obscessed on 'infantry support' If anything I think they obcessed on 'Tanks shouldn't fight tanks' and the use of tanks as a breakthrough weapon to run rampant in the enemies backfield once a hole had been made in the line. In that role the reliable Sherman excelled.

The big problem would have been building enough 17pdrs. It would have taken too long to 'americanize' it to be built in American factories (The British weapons that were adapted for U.S. production had been decided on early in the war when they had the 12 months or so needed to ramp up production lines. I've always thought there should have been a 90mm Sherman. The M36 showed it would fit. It was already in U.S. production. so could have been incorporated much faster than a new British gun.

There was an offer by Ordnance to supply 100+ M6s (with 105mm guns, not howitzers but long guns) to Europe but the command didn't want the logistics issues.
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Roy_A_Lingle Joined: Jan 24, 2006 Posts: 515
Location: El Paso & Ft Bliss, Texas
Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:00 am Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
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Hi Folks!

Good posts Bob! Good counter post Neil!

A number of other factors that also impacted the Sherman, but then there is so much to the Sheman story, are:

the effect of General McNair on just about everything,
the mistaken belief that the 76mm and it's round could deal with Panther and Tiger tanks prior to June 6, 1944,
the mistaken doctrine that the tank destroyers could take care of all German armor,
the fact that combat engineer bridge units didn't have a pontoon bridge system in the ETO, until late 1944, that could safely support a vehicle as heavy as the Sherman on German rivers,

I am starting to get the feeling that we all need to get together and write a book about all the points and couter points of the Sherman. That way we can just link new guys like 'HF Evolution' over to it.

Surprised Idea

Bottom, line, it and the T34 won the war and that is the only thing that counts in the end. To 'HF Evolution' that comes from a CIA that once though much like your post.

Sgt, Scouts Out! Smile

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bsmart
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:48 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

- Roy_A_Lingle
Hey Folks!


I am starting to get the feeling that we all need to get together and write a book about all the points and couter points of the Sherman. That way we can just link new guys like 'HF Evolution' over to it.

Surprised Idea


Sgt, Scouts Out! Smile


Funny thing about this group, the same idea seems to come to several of us at almost the same time.

I started working on a 'In Defense of the Sherman' document/article last night at home. I ended up putting some of the information in the post but still have the beginnings of the document at home in Word. I decided that if I create such a document I need to be able to document things better than 'I read somewhere' or 'as I remember being told'. Not that it will be a scholarly work but without documentation it just becomes 'he said, she said'. So I am starting to recheck some of my sources, and possibly find sources for 'facts' that I have always assumed are documented somewhere.

I know I'm not the only one who has defended the Sherman here in the past, and I sure don't consider myself an expert, so as it develops I'll be looking for input from other folks.

Also after PM'ing Doug I'm going to try and attach the 'Tank Myths' article I mentioned in my previous post.

The system doesn't seem to allow PDF files as attachments. I'll see if I can convert it to something else but I thought PDF was pretty much a standard.

Second attempt - Below is a link to the article out at the Armor Magazine Web Site.

www.knox.army.mil/armo...yths01.pdf

When you connect up to their 'Back issue' page a comment pops up about needing a username and passowrd to access articles from 2001 and forward. I don't have any such thing so I'm not sure what they mean but if anyone has problems getting to the article I'd like to know.

Disclaimer - I am not responsible for the hours you will lose as you explore other interesting articles that you stumble across out there. That was always my problem when researching papers at school. When I found an article in the stacks that applied to my paper I found 3 others that didn't directly apply but were too interesting to ignore and I'd get sidetracked for hours.

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Roy_A_Lingle
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:20 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

Hi Bob! Hi Folks!

Excellent! That was what I was thinking. Find the facts and pull them together here in one place. I have in mine a couple of photos that I think will help.

No problem with linking to the Myths article.
Sgt, Scouts Out! Smile

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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:13 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

[quote="Roy_A_Lingle"]Hey Folks!
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bsmart Joined: Jan 23, 2006 Posts: 408
Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:57 am Post subject: Re: 1st Cav Museum at Ft Hood...
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I'm having trouble with the multiple level quotes so

Did we actually need more shipping because it took multiple Shermans to handel a 'Cat' That assumes that if you had brought over a limited number of 'anti-Cat' tanks you would be able to have one where you needed it when you needed it. Isn't that similar to the Tank destroyer doctrine of having some unist who were supposed to hunt enemy tanks? Problem is you can't know where they would show up so everyone has to be ready to handle the enemy tanks.


However the British doctrine of mixing a Firefly in every tank platoon seems to have worked fairly well. While you might not have wanted to put an M6 or T23 in every Sherman platoon, you could have put a heavy tank platoon in every company for example. That would have ensured a good distribution on the battlefield.

IMO, the problems with Tank Destroyer doctrine were: 1) tank destroyers couldnt stand up in fights due to lighter armor; 2) tank destroyers were held at divisional level, which ensured they were almost never where they were needed...


Why was the logistics only a US problem (actually an allied problem) Well The defender has some options on when to drop bridges (unless the zoomies get them first ) And there were times when German tanks were trapped because bridges had been destroyed. And one of the factors that slowed down the German ardennes spearheads in December of 44 were the tenacious defense of bridges by American Engineer units.


Granted, but let me turn this a little way. Did the Germans only blow up bridges on the Western front? While the Rhein is much bigger, there are certainly lots of rivers to cross in Poland. How come the Soviets dont seem to have had much a problem getting their KV-1s & JS-2s across those rivers? Basically, I have a hard time believing that the US industrial juggernaught could not have solved this bridging problem if there had been some advance planning for the introduction of US heavy tanks.


I don't think the U.S. obscessed on 'infantry support' If anything I think they obcessed on 'Tanks shouldn't fight tanks' and the use of tanks as a breakthrough weapon to run rampant in the enemies backfield once a hole had been made in the line. In that role the reliable Sherman excelled.

The big problem would have been building enough 17pdrs. It would have taken too long to 'americanize' it to be built in American factories (The British weapons that were adapted for U.S. production had been decided on early in the war when they had the 12 months or so needed to ramp up production lines. I've always thought there should have been a 90mm Sherman. The M36 showed it would fit. It was already in U.S. production. so could have been incorporated much faster than a new British gun.


I'll admit this is the crux of the problem - Hindsight 20-20 of how dangerous Panthers & Tigers would be in 44. There's very little time from June 44 to May 45 to turn around any production decisions. So basically any changes would have had to have been decided upon before Normandy.

They would have had to come up with a new armored turret for that 90mm gun, but that does seem like a minor problem. It seems like there were several different options available to the US at the time - M6s, T23s, and upgraded Shermans - but none were taken into service unfortunately.

Neil
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SHAWN
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:58 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

Woah!!! debating the pros and cons of the sherman here again...
i guess this rodeo has already kicked off!
roy, will you be the referee, things may get bloody?

shawn
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JeffStringer
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 6:13 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

All I gotta say about the Sherman is 'tanks for the nice desktop! Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 6:17 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

Call it a hunch, but I suspect this thread won't wander too far from the front page without any special help from me.

As Neil has directed us to a clickable link to the PDF file, there's no need to upload it here, but as with all things in cyberspace ether, it's a good idea to save that article for those that are interested.
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bsmart
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:54 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

Lets see if I have the quote thing figured out

- Neil_Baumgardner

However the British doctrine of mixing a Firefly in every tank platoon seems to have worked fairly well. While you might not have wanted to put an M6 or T23 in every Sherman platoon, you could have put a heavy tank platoon in every company for example. That would have ensured a good distribution on the battlefield.

IMO, the problems with Tank Destroyer doctrine were: 1) tank destroyers couldnt stand up in fights due to lighter armor; 2) tank destroyers were held at divisional level, which ensured they were almost never where they were needed...



Well the U.S. solved the problem the same way, by mixing 76mm Shermans in platoons with 75mm tanks. One problem was that the Armored Divisions got first dibs on the 76mm gunned tanks so had replaced almost all their 75mm tanks before the independent battalions got any. The British didn't have this problem as bad because their 'independent battalions' were equiped with Churchills and so never got a chance to get Fireflys (adopting a Panther was one posssible solution :-))

I'll admit that I'm trying to seperate the doctrine problem from the equipment problem. The U.S. already had two different types of companies in a Battalion. Three companies of Shermans and One company of Stuarts. Granted we could think about replacing the Stuarts with a Heavy company but How many tanks would that have taken? My sources are at home but how many battalions were deployed in Europe? There were 14(?) Armored Divisions each with 6 battalions (?) that would be 84 companies of heavies. At 17 tanks per company that would be 1428 tanks just assigned to Armored Divisions. That doesn't allow for pipeline, spares, training, etc. That still leaves the independent battalions without a 'Cat Killer' I think there was almost one independent Battalion for each Infantry Division so with 40+ Infantry Divisions in Europe that would be another 40 companies for another 680 tanks. We are now up to over 2000. To get 2000 tanks in the field in September 1944 when would the production decision have to be made? I suspect September of 43 at the latest ( I actually think it would have been before January of 43)


Granted, but let me turn this a little way. Did the Germans only blow up bridges on the Western front? While the Rhein is much bigger, there are certainly lots of rivers to cross in Poland. How come the Soviets dont seem to have had much a problem getting their KV-1s & JS-2s across those rivers? Basically, I have a hard time believing that the US industrial juggernaught could not have solved this bridging problem if there had been some advance planning for the introduction of US heavy tanks.


Well the Soviet army worked on a 'prep for three months then sprint to the next river' 'prep for three months sprint till you run out of supplies' mode. Very often the river crossing was the first, well prepared stage of the offensive. The Western allies tried to keep a continuous offense running crossing obsticals as they were reached. I also think terrain is a bigger problem in western Europe then in Eastern Europe. The Soviets also standardised on a wider gauge. I do not belived they used standardised bridging components as much.



I'll admit this is the crux of the problem - Hindsight 20-20 of how dangerous Panthers & Tigers would be in 44. There's very little time from June 44 to May 45 to turn around any production decisions. So basically any changes would have had to have been decided upon before Normandy.

They would have had to come up with a new armored turret for that 90mm gun, but that does seem like a minor problem. It seems like there were several different options available to the US at the time - M6s, T23s, and upgraded Shermans - but none were taken into service unfortunately.

Neil


The limited time is the crux of the problem. But I think that the design of the Sherman made it possible to get a 90mm deployed. If you use a T23 turret (the one used for the 76mm) you only need towork up a new front mount and Mantlet. The entire gun system is connected to the unit bolted in the front of the turret. That was why it was so easy to mount the 17pdr in the Sherman turret. After the war they even mounted the 76mm in the original turret for MAP sales. so converting a gunmount from an M36 should have been straightforward that would only require thickening the armor on teh M36 mantlet and possibly putting some counterweight (applique armor?) on the aft flanks of the Sherman turret to keep the rotating balance. then replace the ammo storage (which was worked out for the M36B1 which used M4A3 hulls) and issue to units.

I know for once I am oversimplifying but I wanted to make the point that we didn't need an all new turret. There was an upgraded Sherman, the M4A3E8, on its way. The Northwest European Campaign just completed much faster than expected. ( I think some 'projections' had the allies stopping at the Seine to build up supplies for several months and the push into central Germany not happening till the summer of 45. That timeframe would have allowed many more units to be equiped with 76mm Shermans and Pershings.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:56 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

- SHAWN
Woah!!! debating the pros and cons of the sherman here again...
i guess this rodeo has already kicked off!
roy, will you be the referee, things may get bloody?

shawn


I don't think it will get bloody. Most of us are gentlemen here, and the others we'll beat to a pulp so quick they won't have time to bleed Twisted Evil

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Doug_Kibbey
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:03 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

- bsmart
- SHAWN
Woah!!! debating the pros and cons of the sherman here again...
i guess this rodeo has already kicked off!
roy, will you be the referee, things may get bloody?

shawn


I don't think it will get bloody. Most of us are gentlemen here, and the others we'll beat to a pulp so quick they won't have time to bleed Twisted Evil



Which makes my few duties here just soooooo much easier. Wink
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Roy_A_Lingle
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:18 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

Hi Folks!

This post will try to look at the bridging problems.

When the developers started drawing up the Sherman tank, they were limited in how much it could weight. That limit came for the Combat Bridging Engineers M2 Treadway Pontoon bridge system.

In the first photo you can see that the saddles (the metal frame) that holds up the treadways and spread the load out acrossed the pontoon is at or below water level. The tank is a M4A1 VVSS 75mm version. It is pressing the limits of that bridge system to support the vehicle. That bridge could not have support the M-6 or T-23 heavy tanks. Notice the clearance between the treadway edges and the VVSS track block. Just a few inchs to spare on both sides. No room for a wider tank. No room for M4 with HVSS!

This photo is from Hunnicutt's Sherman book, page 182, M4A1s loading into an LST April 6 1943.

In%20the%20next%20photo%20we%20see%20another%20M4A1%20VVSS%2075%20crossing%20a%20treadway%20bridge%20over%20the%20\"Durance%20River%20in%20southern%20France%20on%2025%20August%201944.\"%20 The%20pontoons%20are%20larger%20and%20the%20saddles%20are%20above%20water. This%20photo%20is%20from%20Stevn%20J.%20Zaloga's%20The%20M4%20Sherman%20at%20War,%20The%20European%20Theatre%201942-1945,%20page%2022

Why is this important? Between April 1943 and August 1944, someone had to request that the Engineer Command be allocated more steel for larger saddles and more rubber for larger pontoons. I don't have any facts yet, but I would not be surpised if the Engineer Command also needed larger or heavier cargo trucks to carry the larger pontoons with their larger and heavier saddles. All items that needed room within the available shipping space and had to get to the ETO.

Why ship heavier tanks if what you have can just bearly do the job for the vehicle you already have? Why ship heavier tanks that will be left behind at the first large ditch or smallest of rivers?

Is this the one and over all stopper to heavier tanks? NO! It is just ONE of many problems that added up to the idea that the Sherman is 1. Good enough (at first), and 2. it's to late, it will have to do for now.

I seam to remember of picture of T-23 crossing a Bailey Bridge. As soon as I can find it, I will add it to this post.

Spot Report!
Sgt, Scouts Out! Smile

P.S.
Sorry Shawn, I can't be a ref for this one. I am one of those guys who before hanging out here, bought all that Sherman was no good and why couldn't this country do better point of view. I am now one of those guys who thinks those who did it, did the best they could at the time and for anything to have been done different, changes would have had to have been made long before the post D-Day battles exposed the Sherman's weakness vis German Cats.

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Last edited by Roy_A_Lingle on Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:03 am
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted F

- Roy_A_Lingle

When the developers started drawing up the Sherman tank, they were limited in how much it could weight. That limit came for the Combat Bridging Engineers M2 Treadway Pontoon bridge system.

<snip>That bridge could not have support the M-6 or T-23 heavy tanks. Notice the clearance between the treadway edges and the VVSS track block. Just a few inchs to spare on both sides. No room for a wider tank. No room for M4 with HVSS!


I'm sorry, but this sounds to me like putting the cart before the horse, or in this case the bridge before the tank... The bridge is designed to support the tank, the tank is designed to destroy infantry, fight tanks, etc, not to support the bridge. I understand this argument a little better when you're talking shipping, airlift or even rail-transport - for the first two at least you may have pretty big design constraints.

Designing the tank to fit the bridge seems a little backwards to me. Seems like if you decide you're going to have heavier tanks, you design bridges to handle said tanks - not decide you cant have heavier tanks because your current bridges cant handle them... Afterall, I would think its easier to design & build new heavier bridges than a heavier tank...


Why is this important? Between April 1943 and August 1944, someone had to request that the Engineer Command be allocated more steel for larger saddles and more rubber for larger pontoons. I don't have any facts yet, but I would not be surpised if the Engineer Command also needed larger or heavier cargo trucks to carry the larger pontoons with their larger and heavier saddles. All items that needed room within the available shipping space and had to get to the ETO.


I'll admit I am expecting quite possibly too much centralized planning & forethought than was present.

But when set against the context of the vast production output of the United States during WWII, including the immense shipping capacity - I am starting to "buy" less and less the shipping constraints issue. Especially considering the wasted space & tonnage taken up by shipping Shermans (and all the bridging to carry them) that get killed vs Cats vice a smaller amount of heavier tanks. In terms of shipping tonnage per kill, the balance still appears to be tipped in favor of heavier tanks. But again, hindsight is 20-20...


Why ship heavier tanks if what you have can just bearly do the job for the vehicle you already have? Why ship heavier tanks that will be left behind at the first large ditch or smallest of rivers?


I just suspect the river issue is not that big. Bridging could have been designed & shipped to support heavier tanks, assuming the forethough had been there c1943 that this was the plan... 20-20 hindsight, it would appear that this lesson might have been learned from the encounters with the Tiger in North Africa...

At the very least, the Brits somehow understood that more firepower was needed, on the tank... Was it really productionization that killed Firefly acceptance in the US? If I remember correctly, it was a lack of recognition of the need for such firepower & resistance to a new round...


Is this the one and over all stopper to heavier tanks? NO! It is just ONE of many problems that added up to the idea that the Sherman is 1. Good enough (at first), and 2. it's to late, it will have to do for now.


Agree with the "will have to do for now" part. Again, what I'm expecting is forethought c1943... That being said, if the forethought had been there, I think all of these other issues could have been rather easily solved - and at a better usage of "limited" shipping.


I seam to remember of picture of T-23 crossing a Bailey Bridge. As so as I can find it, I will add it to this post.


That would be interesting...


Sorry Shawn, I can't be a ref for this one. I am one of those guys who before hanging out here, bought all that Sherman was no good and why couldn't this country do better point of view. I am now one of those guys who thinks those who did it, did the best they could at the time and for anything to have been done different, changes would have had to have been made long before the post D-Day battles exposed the Sherman's weakness vis German Cats.


Ironically I've probably come the other way... I certainly think the Sherman was a pretty good tank that was able to do much of its job fairly well & fairly reliably. But I now am probably at the conclusion that there was too much institutional resistance to the lessons emerging from North Africa (ie the ones the Brits understood at least) and that decisions could have been made in '43 to include a number of heavier tanks for Normandy & beyond...

Neil
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bsmart
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:35 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

Neil - I think you are expecting much to fast reaction time from the planning process. Many of the production decisions that affected deployment in Normandy were made in 1942. They were constantly being examined and modified but the lead time for these items was long. They not only had to be produced but sent to a port, stored while it waited for a ship loaded on a ship, the ship themn had to wait for a convoy to assemble. Then the convoy plodded across the Atlantic at 6-8 knots. When it made it to Britian it would wait in the harbor for it's turn to unload. It would then be stored in a field until it was time to start loading for the trip across the Channel. Then it would be unloaded and wait until it was needed to be issued to troops.

I really wish we had shipping records for some of the vehicles and tanks that were used by units in Europe. I think you would be surprised at the time from factory acceptance to actual issue to line units.

Also while I find Roys photos very interesting it isn't the bridging problem I've read about. The problem I remember had to do with the width of the road panels of the bailey kits. There was a modification kit thatwidened the roadwaybut without the modification the Pershing would damage the sides of the trackways and the braces supporting them weakening the bridge. The modification kits were available but not in large enough quantitys to allow them to be issued to every bridging unit.

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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:55 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

- bsmart
Neil - I think you are expecting much to fast reaction time from the planning process. Many of the production decisions that affected deployment in Normandy were made in 1942. They were constantly being examined and modified but the lead time for these items was long. They not only had to be produced but sent to a port, stored while it waited for a ship loaded on a ship, the ship themn had to wait for a convoy to assemble. Then the convoy plodded across the Atlantic at 6-8 knots. When it made it to Britian it would wait in the harbor for it's turn to unload. It would then be stored in a field until it was time to start loading for the trip across the Channel. Then it would be unloaded and wait until it was needed to be issued to troops.


Granted, totally, utterly granted... However, at least in terms of a better armed Sherman (setting heavier tanks aside for a moment), I have hard time believing the British industrial base was more agile than the American industrial base in the ability to get Sherman Fireflies or 90s into the field... Even so, it does seem a little shortsighted to me, to not plan for sending any heavier tanks (even starting in 1942), be they M6s or T23s, etc.

I guess my point is we had heavier tanks under development or even in limited production & fielding. We certainly had the shipping to get them there, in time even. And we could have built better bridges to handle them. At the very least, a better armed Sherman could have been fielded. But no one saw the need in 1942/1943...

Neil
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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:07 pm
Post subject: Re: The Sherman Tank, The Good, The Bad, and The Distorted Facts

BTW, while I know this is the exception, not the rule - but the M26 Pershing went from first acceptance (November '44) to combat in Europe (February '45 - the Zebra Mission) in no less than 4 months...

If a similiar expedited effort had been mounted (again, with "malice forethought," etc), you could have had M6s ready in the UK by March '43 (from a December '42 first acceptance), M6A1s in the UK by April '43 (from a January '42 first acceptance), or T23s in the UK by January 1944 (from an October '43 first acceptance). The latter is just in time for Normandy...

And we're talking first acceptance to in combat. Nevermind training in between. I know this was not the norm, but it could have been done...

With the same timelines, how soon could we have had US Sherman Fireflies or 90s in the field? Certainly in limited numbers at first, but quickly growing.

Neil
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