M4 Sherman Series Dataplates


Foreword

Speed Caution Plate

One of the Sherman Technical Manuals refers to a "Speed Caution Plate" affixed to the hull wall to the left of the driver's seat. We prefer to use the informal term "dataplate." Not many surviving Shermans still have them. Most that do, have replacement plates, added during rebuild programs. Original Sherman dataplates include the name of the company that manufactured the tank (in the area highlighted in green). The Ordnance Serial Number was stamped in the box in the upper right hand corner (highlighted in red). In most cases, the year of acceptance was stamped inside the box on the lower left (highlighted in blue). In general, the initials of the Chief of the relevant Ordnance District were stamped inside the box on the lower right (highlighted in yellow). All of the M4 series dataplates we have encountered to date appear to have been made of embossed metal. Before the advent of the Sherman, US built tanks, including the Lee/Grant series, are seen with dataplates made of cast brass. It is thought that the use of brass was discontinued for reasons of conservation. Unfortunately, the “pot metal” that replaced the brass has not held up well, and many surviving Sherman dataplates are rusted unreadable. Indeed, a Product Correction Report from the Ordnance Officer at Ft. Knox regarding Ford M4A3 Serial Number 2681 stated that “The serial number plate was rusting badly; evidently made of steel with a thin plating of nickel or cadmium.” The rapid deterioration is evidenced by the fact that Serial Number 2681 would have been accepted in September, 1942 and the PCR is dated November 9, 1942. In any case, we don’t find that a more durable material was subsequently used for the plates as recommended, so should any readers be in the position to photograph examples of readable dataplates, we would be happy to see them, and hope we might be permitted to use such photos to enhance this piece.



Original WW2 plates

29680

Lima Locomotive Works, Inc. - M4A1 75mm Sherman - Serial number 29680 - built in March, 1943
This dataplate has been restored somewhat, and is a fine example of the original “Speed Caution” type plate as used on First Generation Shermans, and some early Second Generation models produced up to and including April, 1944. The year, 1943, can be seen stamped into the box at the lower left, and we would observe that the vast majority of Sherman/variant dataplates examined provide only the year of production. “H M R” can be seen stamped into the box at the lower right. Marco Hogenkamp has done a study of the Chiefs of the various Ordnance Districts in the US during WW II. These Officers were responsible for seeing to it that the vehicles accepted by the US Government were built and tested to the prescribed standards. Marco’s notes have it that Col. Harold M. Reedall was Chief of the Cleveland Ordnance District from 6 July 1940 until 16 May 1944. Lima, Ohio was within the Cleveland Ordnance District, and, by having his initials stamped into the dataplate, Col. Reedall gave Serial number 29680 his “seal of approval” at acceptance. For those wishing to make reproduction dataplates, we would mention that the additional stamping of the Serial Number outlined in yellow, is not seen on other examples, and is believed to have been done long after this plate was first installed inside of this Sherman. Photo courtesy of Chris Till.


57568
57568

Chrysler Corporation - M4 105mm VVSS Sherman - Serial number 57568 - built in August, 1944
At the beginning of 1944, 76mm and 105mm guns were introduced in the Sherman series. Consequently, the gun type was included in parenthesis on the top line of the dataplates. The revised plates also began to include information about available Technical Manuals and Parts Lists. A secondary plate containing size and weight measurements was also introduced, and placed below the main dataplate, as shown here. Our colleague Marco found that Brig. Gen. Alfred Bixby Quinton Jr. served as Chief of the Detroit Ordnance District from June 1942 and continuing into 1946. The Detroit O.D. typified “the Arsenal of Democracy,” as it was home to “The Big Three” auto makers, and encompassed the Chrysler, General Motors’ Fisher Body and Ford factories. The initials “A B Q” are seen stamped on the dataplates of many Chrysler and Fisher Shermans, along with Fisher produced Tank Destroyers. We would assume Gen. Quinton’s initials were stamped on the dataplates of Ford built M4A3s and M10A1 TDs, but we have not as yet come across any original dataplates for these models. Most surviving Ford M4A3s were remanufactured (in some cases more than once), at which time the original Ford plate would have been replaced. Most surviving Ford M10A1s were converted to M36s, and again the original plates would have been replaced with M36 plates. Photo courtesy of Museum of Military History, Johannesburg via Frank Louw.


16733

Chrysler Tank Arsenal - M4A4 75mm Sherman (converted to Firefly) - Serial number 16733 - built in December, 1942
Above shows the dataplate from the Sherman V Firefly on display at the Pansarmuseet in Axvall, Sweden. The Serial Number 16733 is stamped in the upper right hand corner, indicating that this M4A4 was accepted in December, 1942. Serial Number 16733 shows obvious signs of having been one of the 1610 M4A4s remanufactured by Chrysler for British Lend Lease. We suspect that, during remanufacture, Chrysler replaced the original dataplate, which would have had “1942,” stamped inside the box on the lower left, with this one stamped with “1944.” Note that the initials of Brig. Gen. Alfred Bixby Quinton Jr. can be seen stamped inside the box on the lower right. It may be of interest that this M4A4 dataplate refers to “Chrysler Tank Arsenal,” while the plate from the M4(105) cited in the previous caption was “M’F’D By Chrysler Corporation.”


3049 PCF

3049 PCF

3049 PCF

Pacific Car and Foundry - M4A1 75mm Sherman - Serial number 3049 - built in September, 1942
Remanufactured in November 1944 by Chrysler Evansville Ordnance Plant.
At present, we have only come across one surviving example of a Pacific Car & Foundry dataplate. It is a somewhat different from the other Sherman plates, in that it has the actual day of acceptance (Sept. 11, 1942) stamped into the box at the lower left. Also, the initials seen are “D. Ball,” and not those of Col. K. B. Harmon, who, according to the list Marco Hogenkamp found in “The Industry-Ordnance Team” was Chief of the San Francisco Ordnance District. The SFOD oversaw the facilities on the West Coast, including the PCF plant in Renton, Washington. The third image shows the front page of the Inspection Report for PCF M4A1 SN 3251, and it can be seen that Maj. Delbert Ball “Inspected” the tank, while Col. Harmon “Accepted” it. In any case, we only have this one dataplate for reference, but it seems possible that PCF stamped them a little differently from the other manufacturers. A second ID plate was found in this tank indicating that “THIS VEHICLE HAS BEEN RECONDITIONED BY CHRYSLER EVANSVILLE ORDNANCE PLANT.” Chrysler-Evansville remanufactured 446 M4s and 1216 M4A1 Shermans from September, 1944 through May, 1945. This unit was assigned E.O.P. Serial Number 469, and the job was accepted in “11-44” (November, 1944). Many such reconditioned Shermans were shipped overseas as Military Assistance in the early 1950s. This is the only example we have encountered so far where both the original dataplate and Evansville plate have been found together inside the tank. International Harvester remanufactured 1026 M4 and M4A1 Shermans, but to date, we have not come across any surviving tanks with their ID plates. Photos courtesy of Alain Galland, Balmoral Green association.


8xx PSC

Pressed Steel Car - M4 75mm Sherman - Serial number 8xx - built in November, 1942

SN unk


Pullman Standard Car Mfg. Co. - M4A2 75mm Sherman - Serial number unknown - built in 1942
Currently displayed at the El Alamein military museum, Egypt. Photo courtesy of David Levy


1940

The Baldwin Locomotive Works - M4 75mm Sherman - Serial number 1940 - built in February, 1943


unknown

Federal Machine and Welder Dataplate
Federal Machine and Welder was one of the smaller manufacturers of Shermans, producing only 540 M4A2(75)s from December 1942 through December 1943. As best we have been able to determine, FMW’s M4A2s were assigned Serial Numbers 14785 through 15324. The dataplate shown above strikes us as authentic, but the Serial Number stamped into the box in the upper right, corresponds to an M4A2 built by Pullman Standard. A possible explanation for this is that SN 30813 was one of the 317 M4A2s remanufactured by Federal Machine in 1944. The Number “239” can be seen stamped rather large in the lower center. Perhaps this indicates that this was the 239th M4A2 remanufactured by Federal Machine? Another explanation is that this dataplate may have been salvaged from a (wrecked) FMW M4A2, and recycled and restamped and added into its current Pullman M4A2 to replace a missing plate.


163954

163954

Montreal Locomotive Works, Ltd - M4A1 75mm Sherman Grizzly - Serial number 163973
The first line of the original "Speed Caution" dataplate identifies the type of Sherman, and provides its Serial Number. The second line is “Ordnance Department, U.S. Army,” the organization that contracted with the various manufacturers for the production of the vehicles. In the case of the 188 Grizzlies produced by Montreal Locomotive Works, the contracting firm was the “Dept. Of National Defence, Canada.” Grizzly dataplates are stamped a bit differently, in that the Serial Number in the box at the upper right is the War Department Number assigned by the British. The document below the image of the dataplate shows the WD Numbers that were assigned. Apparently there was some uncertainty about the final quantity that was to be produced, as evidenced by the fact that some of the figures were crossed out. Our “counting heads” method confirms that, in the end, 188 Grizzlies were produced, and that they were assigned WD Numbers CT.160194 through CT.160279 for the first 86, and CT.163911 through CT.164012 for the last 102 units. We would note that the WD Number is what is seen painted on British tanks, with the “T” prefix indicating a “Tank.” The Grizzlies were given a “CT” prefix, the “C” no doubt meaning “Canadian.”  On Grizzly dataplates, the year is not stamped into the box at the lower left. Instead it contains the Dept. Of National Defence, Canada or DND Number. In the example shown above, it is 62-769. Finally, the box at the lower right contains both the year of production, and what are assumed to be the initials of a Government official who inspected and/or accepted the vehicle. What is NOT included on the Grizzly dataplate is the “Shop Number,” which we take to be the equivalent of the US Ordnance Serial Number. The “Shop Number” is stamped on the front of the hull, just below the General Steel (G in a shield) caster’s logo. The examination of surviving Grizzlies confirms that these ran from 1 to 188, and that there is a mathematical relationship between the Shop Number and the WD Number. That is, if the SN is known, it is possible to derive the WD Number, and vice versa. The example shown here is Shop Number 149, and the tank is on display at the Muckleburgh Collection in Great Britain.


40319 ALCO

American Locomotive Company - M4 75mm Sherman Composite (converted to Firefly Hybrid Ic) - Serial number 40319 - built in October, 1943
The American Locomotive Company or ALCO plant was located in Schenectady, New York, and was part of the Rochester Ordnance District. For most of WW II, Col. Frank J. Atwood was Chief of the Rochester O.D., and his initials can be seen stamped into the box at the lower right of the plate. Photo courtesy of Museum of Military History, Johannesburg.


57123

Chrysler Corporation - M4 105mm VVSS Sherman - Serial number 57123 - built in April, 1944


38537

Pressed Steel Car Co. Inc. - M4A1 76mm (wet) Sherman - Serial number 38537 - built in May, 1944


45460

45460

Chrysler Corporation - M4A3 76mm HVSS Sherman - Serial number 45460 - built in August, 1944


Jumbo

Fisher Body - M4A3E2 "Jumbo" Assault tank - Size / Weight plate
Photo courtesy of Chris Hughes



Jumbo

Fisher Body Div.  General Motors Corp. - M4A2 76mm HVSS - Serial number 65029 - built in March, 1945
This dataplate has been removed from inside, and placed on the glacis of the M4A2(76)HVSS on display as a monument in Stanstead, Quebec Province in Canada. Serial Number 65029 would have been one of the 300 such Shermans purchased by Canada in 1946. Note that the first line reads, “TANK, MEDIUM M4A2, 76MM GUN, WET.” The gun type is no longer in parenthesis, and “WET” has been added to the tank nomenclature, to indicate that the main gun ammunition incorporates the so called “wet stowage” system. A surprising omission on original Sherman dataplates is that there is no indication on the first line that a particular vehicle is equipped with Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS). It might be inferred from the “Fighting Weight,” which in the case of a 76mm M4A2 or M4A3 with HVSS appears to have been 75900 pounds. Considering that HVSS cost about $2000 more and added over 2 tons to the weight, one would think that it would have been included on the nomenclature line.
Photo courtesy of Waymarking website


M4A3 105 HVSS

Chrysler Corporation - M4A3 105mm HVSS - Serial number 74587 - built in May, 1945
Photo courtesy of Hanno Spoelstra.


Tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery on M4 Sherman chassis


Original WW2 plates


M10 TD

Fisher Body Div.  General Motors Corp. - M10 Tank Destroyer - Serial number 629


M36 GMC

Fisher Body Div.  General Motors Corp. - M36 (T71) Tank Destroyer - Serial number 227


M36 GMC

Massey Harris Co., Inc. - M36 Tank Destroyer - Serial number 534


M36 GMC

American Locomotive Co. - M36 Tank Destroyer - Serial number 1147


M7 Priest

American Locomotive Co. - M7 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (M7 Priest) - Serial number 2588


M7B1 Priest

Pressed Steel Car Co. - M7B1 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage (M7B1 Priest) - Serial number unknown


M40 GMC

Pressed Steel Car Co., Inc. - M40 155mm Howitzer Motor Carriage - Serial number 5


M32B1 TRV

Pressed Steel Car Co., Inc. - M32B1 Tank Recovery Vehicle - Serial number 793


M32B1 TRV

Federal Machine & Welder Co.. - M32B1 Tank Recovery Vehicle - Serial number 1530


Sherman-related armored vehicles


Original WW2 plates

1938 M3 Lee

ALCO - M3 Lee - Serial Number 1938 - built in January, 1942
Sent to Soviet Lend-Lease


4207 M3 Lee

Chrysler Corporation - M3 Lee - Serial Number 4207 (British T-25751) - built in June, 1942
Photo courtesy of Rod Bellars




Baldwin Locomotive Works - M3A5 Grant - Serial Number T-23876 (373th Grant built by Baldwin LW) - built in May, 1942
Photo courtesy of Leife Hulbert




Pullman Standard - M3 Grant - Serial Number T-24676 - built in July, 1942


Ram II

Montreal Locomotive Works Ltd. - Ram II tank - Serial number CT 40683 - 1942


Ram II

Montreal Locomotive Works Ltd. - Ram II tank - Serial number CT 160162 - 1943


Post-war / remanufacture plates


12084

Ford - M4A3 75mm Sherman - Serial number 12084
Photo courtesy of Mike Haines


12560

Ford - M4A3 75mm Sherman - Serial number 12560
Remanufactured on 14th March 1952 by Brown & Root, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Kurt Laughlin


44969

Chrysler - M4A3 76mm wet (HVSS) Sherman - Serial number 44969
Remanufactured on 19th January 1950 - this tank has been built as VVSS
Photo courtesy of Don Moriarty


68148

Pressed Steel Car - M4A1 76mm wet (HVSS) Sherman - Serial number 68148
Overhauled in 1950 at Watertown Arsenal
Photo courtesy of Paul Hannah


73836

Pressed Steel Car - M4A1 76mm wet (HVSS) Sherman - Serial number 73836
Remanufactured for Mutual Assistance Defense Program in the 1950s


48876
48876

Fisher - M4A3E4 76mm VVSS Sherman - Serial number 48876
Remanufactured in August 1953 by Rock Island Arsenal (R.I.A.) - this tank has been built as an M4A3(75) W
Photos courtesy of Hanno Spoelstra


56797
56797

Chrysler - M4A3E4 76mm VVSS Sherman - Serial number 56797
Remanufactured by Bowen McLaughlin York, PA (BMY) - this tank has been built as an M4A3(105)
Photos courtesy of Claus Bonnesen


49855

Fisher - M4A3 75mm wet (VVSS) Sherman - Serial number 49855
Photo courtesy of Don Moriarty - this is probably a remanufacture dataplate



49855

49855

Chrysler - M4A3 76mm wet (HVSS) Sherman - Serial number 45310
Courtesy First Division Museum, Wheaton - this is probably a remanufacture dataplate


50429

Fisher - M4A3E2 75mm "Jumbo" Sherman - Serial number 50489
Remanufactured by Bowen & Mc Laughlin
Photo courtesy of Don Moriarty


300

Fisher Body Div.  General Motors Corp. - M36 Tank Destroyer - Serial number 300
Remanufactured for Mutual Assistance Defense Program in the 1950s
Photo courtesy of the owner, via Joe DeMarco


486

486

M36 Tank Destroyer - Serial number unknown
Remanufactured by Commerce International Co., Inc., part of 581 M36s rebuilt from Jan 1951 through Sept 1952.
Top photo courtesy of Giuseppe Franzoni


4463

M7B2 Priest SPG - Serial number 4463
Remanufactured by Pressed Steel Car Co. Inc.
Photo courtesy of Michael Lembo


273

M32B3 Tank Recovery Vehicle (HVSS) - Serial number 273
Remanufactured by Rock Island Arsenal
Photo courtesy of Kurt Laughlin


466

M74 Tank Recovery Vehicle - Serial number 466
Manufactured in March 1954 by Bowen & Mc Laughlin-York, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Michael Lembo


Reproductions

62966

Fisher - M4A3 76mm wet (HVSS) - Serial number 62966
Photo courtesy of Fred Kager


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