E9 suspension
Most of the information on this page is courtesy of Joe DeMarco. Note: some of the information on this page was compiled using a technique informally referred to as "counting heads." It is based on the ongoing study of period documents and photographs, as well as surviving Shermans. Due to the limited nature of available reference sources, some of the information presented here must be considered as "educated guesswork."


E9 suspension

Numerous attempts were made to "reduce ground pressure and improve floatation" of Shermans outfitted with the original Vertical Volute Spring Suspension with its 16 9/16 inch track width. The most practical was the development of extended end connectors which could be retrofitted, without a great deal of labor, to the outside edge of the tracks. EEC production commenced in the Summer of 1944, and 100,000 connectors, enough for 630 tanks, had arrived in the European Theater by early October. By April, 1945, over 1.3 million had been supplied to ETOUSA, and the British had received 600,000 as Lend Lease. The "ultimate" solution to the Sherman's floatation problem was the development of the "E8" or Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension. HVSS increased the track width to 23 inches, and entered Sherman production at Chrysler in August, 1944, and completely replaced VVSS on the assembly line the following month. HVSS replaced VVSS at Pressed Steel Car and Fisher Body at the beginning of January, 1945. The E9 modification was a "too late for WW II” attempt to further increase the floatation of VVSS Shermans by the addition of spacers that extended the suspension away from the hull by 4.5 inches. This permitted extended end connectors to be installed on the inside as well as on the outside of the tracks. Essentially, this increased the track width to 23 11/16 inches, slightly more than the 23 inch track on the "E8." On October 26, 1944, production of 1000 E9 modification kits was authorized for installation "on the last 1000 vehicles...remanufactured by Chrysler at Evansville and International Harvester at Bettendorf." Above shows a rare small hatch M4 Composite on display at a National Guard Post in Trenton, Tennessee. On August 3, 1944, the Ordnance Department directed that Shermans installed with the spaced suspension have "E9" added to their designations. We suspect that this M4E9 was remanufactured by Chrysler-Evansville in the Spring of 1945. Photo courtesy of Jim Goetz.


E9 suspension

The production of the spacers and other components of the E9 assembly took some time, and it is thought that the modification did not become available to the remanufacturers until February or March, 1945. An additional "1000 sets for field service" were procured, and a Modification Work Order was published on March 3, 1945. The MWO states that the modification would require an enormous 240 man hours to complete. As a consequence, it was considered impractical for field installation, and it would appear that most of the kits were "utilized in further remanufacture of medium tanks," with perhaps a few mods being performed during tank overhauls at Base Shops. E9 was applicable to any "vehicle using medium tank type vertical volute suspension," and, other than Shermans, appears on M36 and M36B2 Tank Destroyers, M32B1 Tank Recovery Vehicles and M7 Howitzer Motor Carriages. Manufacturers charged about $2000 more for HVSS installation, and we assume there would have been an additional charge for E9. However, we have not come across any invoices which might provide a clue about production figures. Companies known to have installed E9 include Chrysler-Evansville, International Harvester, Montreal Locomotive, ALCO, Baldwin Locomotive and Federal Machine and Welder. Above shows a large hatch M4 Composite remanufactured by International Harvester in Bettendorf, Iowa. This tank has another "too late for WW II" modification - the M34 gun mount with "wing piece" retrofitted to the rotor shield.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

Above is Serial Number 3714, a Pacific Car and Foundry M4A1 currently displayed in front of the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon, The Netherlands "as a remembrance of the actions of the American 7th Armored Division in 1944." It was restored by Iwan Van Dijk, Niek Hendrix, Hans van Toer, Piet Peters and Herman Dinnissen, with the aid of a number of local firms. The left side photo shows the tank just before it was recovered from a target range. At that time, it had the E9 suspension modification, which would indicate that it was remanufactured in the US in 1945. The E9 was removed during the restoration to give the tank more of the appearance of a 7th AD Sherman in the Fall of 1944. Nothing is known of its WW II history, but 3714 was most likely sent to The Netherlands as military aid in the early 1950s. Left side photo courtesy of http://www.shermantankoverloon.nl/ and right side photo courtesy of Massimo Foti.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

The restorers of 3714 documented the removal of the E9 components, which provides us with the opportunity to examine them in detail. The photos above show the "final drive extension" which was attached to the final drive shaft, and spaced the drive sprocket further out from the hull.


E9 suspension

The suspension bracket assemblies were removed, and 6 "suspension bracket spacers" were welded to the hull. As on the original configuration, the center and rear bogie positions used 1/2 inch shims to compensate for the 1/2 inch armor plate that was welded to the belly plate beneath the drivers' positions to provide extra protection against mines. It was reported that the tank was elevated by 1 inch, because the spacers were “put on 1” lower than normal.”


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

The VVSS bogie assemblies were then attached to the the suspension bracket spacers. The E9 kit provided all new bolts, lock washers and locking wire for the procedure.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

The "rear idler bracket spacers" were both bolted on and welded to the hull.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

Above shows the rear idler assemblies bolted on to the spacers. Note that the spacer is in the original, upward orientation (1) on the side of the hull. The original idler assembly was mounted to the spacer with a more horizontal orientation (2). One additional track shoe was required “owing to the fact that the idler is moved back 2.75 ” [inches].” We would note that the M4A4 was listed in the MWO as applicable for the E9 mod. This appears to have been an oversight. The vertical orientation of the M4A4's lower rear hull plate would have required rear idler bracket spacers different from the ones provided, or at the least, some special purpose shims. In any case, there are no additional instructions in the MWO regarding the M4A4.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

The E9 Modification Kit provided fenders and "fender braces" as shown above. Note that the fender braces illustrated were simple flat affairs, as opposed to the adjustable, tubular turnbuckle braces typically seen on M4A1(76)s with HVSS. A number of surviving M4s and M4A1s with E9 have the tubular type (inset). We believe these units were remanufactured by Chrysler-Evansville and International Harvester.


E9 suspension

The undated photo above shows some M4A1s at Chrysler-Evansville in Indiana. C-E remanufactured the largest number of Shermans during WW II. From September, 1944 through May, 1945, the company completed 446 M4s and 1216 M4A1s. Ordnance documents note that tanks were ideally suited to the process, since, unlike wheeled vehicles, their frames were rarely bent, and the basic shells could be stripped out, and updated with new or refurbished components. We suspect that the "EC #2 R" painted on the upper and lower hull of the M4A1 in the foreground stands for "Evansville Chrysler, Serial Number 2, Right Side." If our theory is correct, this would have been only the second tank in the program. Note that the bogie assemblies have been labeled with paint, which suggests that C-E made an attempt to keep the original components in their original positions. We have examined a small number of surviving M4A1E9s that still have readable Chrysler-Evansville Remanufacture dataplates. Their serial numbers and date stamps indicate they were rebuilt in either March or April, 1945. For the purpose of "counting heads," we hope to be able to examine some more survivors in the future.


E9 suspension
Click on photo for larger size

While 75mm Shermans were no longer "required" by the US Army in 1945, a few remanufactured units were shipped to the European Theater to make up for the losses suffered during the Battle of the Bulge. Only a handful with E9 are seen in period photos, all of which show them in possession of the French Army. Oddly, none are seen with the extended end connectors installed. At the end of the war in Europe, the US Army directed that EECs be removed and collected up so that they could be passed on to the "active theater" (the Pacific). The photo above shows an M4A1 of the 1er Escadron, 12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique advancing towards Karlsruhe, Germany on April 29, 1945. Although the EECs are not installed, the noticeable distance between the tracks and the differential housing indicates that this unit is installed with the E9 spacers. Other hints of late remanufacture are the commander’s vision cupola, and the M34 gun mount with "wing piece" retrofitted to the rotor shield. It is thought that some remanufactured Shermans, including a few with E9, were taken from US Army reserve pools, and supplied to the French as replacements shortly before VE-Day, May 8, 1945. At present, this may be the only known WW II “combat shot” of one. With thanks to Claude Gillono. Photo courtesy of Musée de la libération-Jean Moulin-Ville de Paris.


E9 suspension

Flamethrower Shermans had proven to be potent weapons in several of the Island Campaigns against the Japanese. More were wanted for the proposed invasion of Japan scheduled for late 1945. By the end of October, 1945, 151 remanufactured M4A1s had been converted to M42B1 Flamethrowers in the US. The project was terminated due to the Japanese surrender, and the M42B1s along with 49 M42B3s (M4A3 conversions) served post war as training tanks with various flamethrower units in the US. Above shows an M42B1 during a demonstration at Ft. McClellan, Alabama on June 8, 1954. This tank can be seen to be USA 3015884, indicating that it was originally accepted at Pressed Steel Car in December, 1942. For the most part, tanks fought "buttoned up" in the fierce campaigns against the Japanese. During the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the commander's all round vision cupola (1) had shown to be greatly superior to the original split hatch, and was wanted for all tanks slated for the invasion of Japan. An item that became available to the remanufacturers at about the same time as the E9 was the armored first aid box (2).


E9 suspension

Quite a few M42B1s from the Chemical Warfare School at Ft. McClellan have survived in the US. Above shows a unit with E9 suspension on display at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The Museum curator reported he found "11382" stamped on an identification plate, which we take to be the original Ordnance Serial Number of the tank, assigned when it was accepted at Pressed Steel Car in February, 1943. Another plate indicated that it had been "reconditioned by Chrysler Ordnance in April, 1945." He reported the number "1594" was stamped into that plate. We assume that is the Chrysler-Evansville Remanufacturer's Serial Number, and that these numbers would have run from 1 through 1662. Without collecting further data, we can only speculate that M4s and M4A1s remanufactured with E9 at C-E would have had Serial Numbers higher than 1100. Photo courtesy of Joe Daneri.


E9 suspension

As best we can determine, in 1945, the only new production Sherman based vehicles built with VVSS were 176 M7 Priests and 162 M7B1s. The M7s were produced by Federal Machine and Welder from March through July, 1945. Not much is known about them, but the few period photos available suggest that they were made with E9 factory installed. Above shows  views of the 7th unit, Serial Number 4917, USA 40190389, photographed at the GM Proving Ground, May 2, 1945. Note that this M7 features the "flat" fender braces such as provided in the E9 Modification kit. We don't find evidence that the 1945 production M7B1s made by Pressed Steel Car had E9 factory installed.


E9 suspension
Click on photo for larger size

Due to their late date of production, it seems unlikely that any of the Federal M7s were shipped overseas, east or west, before the end of WW II. The photo above is dated September 29, 1954 and was taken at the Tokorozawa Ordnance Sub Depot in Japan. The unit on the left can be seen to be USA 40190456, indicating that it was accepted at FMW in June, 1945. Another M7 with the flat fender braces and "E9 recess" in the drive sprocket drum can be seen on the far right. Note that units 1 and 2 have "shallow pulpits" typical of M7s produced from April through December, 1942. The sign just behind 40190456 includes the nomenclature "M7J1." The "J1" indicates that these Priests had been modified by the Tokyo Ordnance Depot to increase the elevation of the gun, as had been requested during the Korean War, due to the mountainous terrain. The armistice ending the Korean War was signed on July 27, 1953, and these Priests may have been provided to the Japanese and/or South Koreans as part of the Military Defense Assistance Program.


E9 suspension

During the Korean War, the Army of the Republic of Korea was supplied with some 216 M36 series Tank Destroyers. Above shows a unit of the 51st Tank Company, attached to the ROK Capital Division, and photographed while training on October 23, 1951. This is an M36E9, converted from an M10A1 with Ford V8 engine. Note the open engine deck doors with the debris catching "chutes" on the undersides, typical of  M4A3 Shermans. Also visible is "USA 4046826." This is the original Registration Number, indicating that it was accepted as an M10A1 at Ford Motor Company in March, 1943. 200 M36 conversions were completed at Montreal Locomotive Works from May through September, 1945. It is thought that most or all of these would have been the only M36s to have the E9 factory installed. Based on this and a small number of other photos, we would theorize that Montreal Locomotive did not assign new Registration Numbers to their M36 and M36B2 conversions. Instead, the original M10A1 or M10 Reg. Numbers were retained. The E9 Modification Work Order directed that, on Tank Destroyers, the 1/4 inch sloping armor below the sponson line be cut away, and this can be seen to good effect in the photo.


E9 suspension

The 90mm gun power of the M36 series was wanted for the planned Invasion of Japan. The Ford V8 was the US Army's preferred tank engine, but when the supply of available M10A1s was exhausted, M10s with GM twin diesel power plants were rounded up for conversion to M36B2. Above shows front and rear views of an M36B2 with E9 from the Technical Manual. Again, not much is known, but all of the 724 M36B2 conversions (52 by Montreal and 672 by ALCO) were done from May through September, 1945. We suspect that most or all of them used the E9 MWO kits that had become available in March. Indeed, in the "Suspension" chapter of the Tech Manual it is mentioned that the M36B2 is installed with 4.5 inch spacers. Another modification described as standard equipment in the TM is the folding, armored "turret top." The differences between an M36 and M36B2 are not readily apparent in most photos. The engine deck doors of M36B2s were smaller than the doors of the M36. The armored gas caps were located in different positions as well.


E9 suspension

Hundreds of surplus M36 series TDs were provided to US Allies as Military Assistance in the early 1950s, and some were outfitted with E9. Turkey is reported to have received 36 units up to January 31, 1954. M36s, M36B1s (converted from new M4A3(75)Ws) and M36B2s were sent, but the MDAP documents we have seen only list the figures generically as "Carriage, Motor, 90mm Gun, M36 Series." Above shows a military review in Ankara in 1953. Not enough can be seen to determine if these are M36s or M36B2s. The front and rear units have the Ford type drive sprockets, which may be a hint that they were originally built by Ford as M10A1s, and thus are M36s.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

France is reported to have received 80, and Indochina 82 M36 series as MDAP. The French deployed the Régiment Blindé Colonial d'Extrême-Orient to Indochina in November, 1950. A few sources state that the unit was equipped specifically with M36B2 Tank Destroyers. The 90mm guns of the TDs were wanted as an anti-tank measure in the event that the Chinese chose to provide the Vietminh guerillas with armor support. The photos above show three units of the RBCEO. It is obvious that the TDs on the left are equipped with E9, while the one on the right can be identified as a diesel powered M36B2 by the smaller engine deck doors and the locations of the armored gas caps.


E9 suspension

There are over 100 surviving Ford built M4A3s on display in the US. About a dozen of them can be seen with the E9 Modification, although none that we know of still have the extended end connectors installed. The example shown above is on display at the National Museum of WW II in New Orleans. All of the M4A3E9s we have seen have the extended fenders with the "flat" fender braces, such as shown here on Serial Number 12050. Montreal Locomotive was the only company that remanufactured M4A3s in 1945, and we suspect that the last 45 units done in March and April may have received the E9 mod. Most of the surviving M4A3s in the US were remanufactured once during WW II, and again in the early 1950s. However, the 1950s era rebuilds did not include the installation of modifications such as the Quick Fix or E9, for the simple reason that these kits would have long since been used up. In general, the 1950s programs involved the reconditioning of mechanical components so that the tanks were made "Ready for Issue." A 1950s era modification that is present on many surviving Ford M4A3s in the US can be seen here - the torsion bar helper hinges on the engine deck doors (arrow). Photo courtesy of Paul and Lorén Hannah.


E9 suspension

After the M26, the post war US Army wanted the M4A3(76)HVSS for use by its troops. Some M4A3(76)VVSS Shermans were converted to HVSS by cannibalization of suspension components from less desirable types such as the M4A1(76)HVSS and M4A2(76)HVSS. Most likely, this procedure was not much more labor intensive than the E9 modification. There aren't many examples of 76mm Shermans with E9, but the photo above shows one. 3099991 would have been accepted at Chrysler in April, 1944. Some other early production M4A3(76)s, such as 3099989 and 3099994 were test installations of the HVSS suspension system, that were provided to the Armored Board and the various Proving Grounds. We suspect 3099991 may have been a testbed for the E9. "Blatz" was photographed at Ft. Irwin California, date unknown. There are no extended end connectors on the tracks, so the photo probably dates to the early 1950s. The infantry phone seen on the right rear was wanted for the invasion of Japan, and became available in July, 1945.


E9 suspension

There are a few other period photos of 76mm Shermans with E9. A surviving example is on display at Grafenwöhr, Germany. This tank has all the hallmarks of an M4A1(76) remanufactured by Bowen-McLaughlin-York in the early 1950s, and supplied to European Allies as MDAP.


E9 suspension

We have seen WW II era photos of exactly 2 Tank Retrievers with E9 installed. Both were Baldwin M32B1 conversions. The Aberdeen Proving Ground photo above is dated June 22, 1945, and lists the vehicle as Serial Number 2143, the highest Tank Retriever serial number we have recorded. USA 3060795 is the original tank Registration Number, indicating that this unit was accepted in December, 1942 at Pacific Car & Foundry. Baldwin Locomotive is stated to have done 180 M32B1 (converted from M4A1s) and 37 M32A1B1 conversions. The "A1" inserted in the nomenclature indicates a retriever with HVSS installed. We came across a photo in the September, 1945 issue of Baldwin's company produced magazine which was datelined July, 1945 and captioned something like "The last Tank Recovery Vehicle produced by Baldwin." Unfortunately, we were not permitted to reproduce the photo, but the vehicle looked exactly like "Miss Tex", complete with a late production retriever addition - the "automatic tow hook" (1). Note that the APG information panel identifies this unit as an "M32A1B1." We would be happy to be proven wrong, but it is our theory that the 37 M32A1B1s officially listed as having been produced by Baldwin, did NOT have HVSS installed, but rather E9. Furthermore, we would interpolate that "Miss Tex" was the first of the 37 so called M32A1B1s, and that they would have been assigned Serial Numbers 2143 through 2179.


E9 suspension

Above provides a right side view of "Miss Tex." The item that stands out in this photo is the "boom raising sheave" (1). The standard tank retriever had a lifting drum attached to the right drive sprocket (inset) to raise and lower the boom. M32 series conversions had been approved only for VVSS Shermans. The tanks that the US Marines would use for the invasion of Japan were M4A3(75) and M4A3(105) with HVSS. For the sake of uniformity, in April 1945, the USMC requested 50 Tank Recovery Vehicles based on the M4A3 with HVSS. At the time, it was not known if the standard sprocket lifting drum configuration would work with 23 inch tracks, so Baldwin engineers replaced the drum with the boom raising sheave. In any case, in the Summer of 1945, Baldwin Locomotive and International Harvester completed 80 Tank Retriever conversions based on new production M4A3(105)HVSS Shermans pulled from the line at Chrysler. These conversions featured the boom raising sheave, and were given the nomenclature "T14E1."


E9 suspension

The photo above shows what may be the only surviving example of an M32B1 with E9. It was photographed at a Keep Them Rolling Association event in The Netherlands in 2009. This retriever can be seen with the automatic tow hook, as well as fittings for the boom raising sheave. It is thought that The Netherlands may have received 10 of the Baldwin built M32B1s with E9, along with at least 1 T14E1 as Military Assistance. This retriever can be seen to have a riveted lower hull, indicating that it was originally produced as an M4A1 by Pressed Steel Car, whereas the real "Miss Tex" was made originally by Pacific Car and had a welded lower hull. We are hoping that this unit might still have its dataplate, as it could help to confirm or refute our theory that the 37 M32A1B1s officially listed as having been produced by Baldwin, did NOT have HVSS installed, but rather E9. Photo courtesy of Keep Them Rolling Association.


E9 suspension    E9 suspension

The photos above show one of only two surviving T14E1s. We photographed the unit at the Port Of Baltimore (left) as it was awaiting shipment to Europe. It is now on display at the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon. The vehicle no longer has a dataplate that could have identified it as a T14E1. The whole "T14E1 thing" is very confusing, and the Museum people replaced the boom raising sheave with a mortar that was standard equipment on "normal" M32 series TRVs. It was later found that the standard M32 series configuration with lifting drum would work with HVSS, and some existing retrievers were retrofitted with HVSS in the post war years. Aside from the T14 pilot, we don't find evidence that any other retrievers had HVSS retrofitted during the conversion processes done during WW II.


E9 suspension

The E9 Modification Work Order featured an additional or "Group II" modification - "Installation of a 37-inch extended grouser on vehicles equipped with spaced suspension and extended end connectors on both sides of the track." The grousers had been tested on the mud courses at both the Tank Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Grounds in late 1944. In one report, their performance was described as "amazing." As a result, 1000 sets of these grousers were approved for production in February, 1945. Ground pressure was stated to be 7.3 pounds per square inch, better than the 11 psi provided by the T80 HVSS track.The main drawbacks were that the E9 and grouser mods added 12500 pounds to the weight of the tank, and there was a tendency towards thrown tracks. Due to the limited number of photos of Shermans with the 37-inch grousers, we suspect that the order for 1000 may have been cut back or terminated as the end of the war approached. Above shows a remanufactured Sherman with the grousers at APG on July 31, 1945. Note that this tank has been misidentified as an M4A1, when, in fact, it is a small hatch M4 Composite like the one shown at the beginning of this piece.


E9 suspension

In closing this piece, we thought readers might like to see a "Suggested Design to Increase Floatation" submitted to Tank Automotive Command on January 1, 1944. As can be seen, the idea was to install a second set of bogies, idlers and tracks (but not drive sprockets) to the Sherman. An officer wrote on the back of this drawing "What the hell are we supposed to do with this?" As it turned out, this concept was used on the T95 105mm Gun Motor Carriage.


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