Sherman driver's hoods and hatches

"Early" hoods with Direct Vision blocks (DV)

M4A1 with Direct Vision    M4A1 with Direct Vision

The earliest Sherman tanks were provided with "direct vision" ports installed in the driver's and assistant driver's positions. Although the direct vision appears to provide protection, the designers noted that small gaps permitted the entry of bullet splash. Ultimately, direct vision was ordered eliminated on June 24 1942 for cast hulls and August 13 1942 for welded hulls. It would take some months before the redesigned drivers' hoods could enter production, and several thousand Shermans were built with direct vision. Here are shows the direct vision ports on "Michael", the oldest Sherman still in existence.

M4A2 Direct Vision    M4A2 Direct Vision

Early M4A2 Direct Vision blocks and hoods, as installed on the first ALCO M4A2 hull. Current evidence suggests that most or all of the 150 ALCO built M4A2s had direct vision.
Photos courtesy of Neil Baumgardner.

M4A2 Direct Vision    M4A2 Direct Vision

M4A2 Direct Vision    M4A2 Direct Vision

Another early M4A2 with Direct Vision blocks. The hatches are the initial configuration and do not have counter balance springs (Kurt Laughlin).
This particular tank is located at Saint-Martin-de-Varreville, near Utah Beach.

M4A4 Direct Vision    M4A4 Direct Vision

Early M4A4s Direct Vision blocks and hoods.
The minutes of a conference held at Lima Locomotive Works on 4/27/42 discuss a gap in the direct vision configuration that exposed the drivers to bullet splash. The remedy proposed to the bullet splash issue was the addition of a splash guard in front of the DV block. This bullet splash can be seen on the photos above.

Appliqué plates    Appliqué plates

The direct vision slots were considered ballistic weak spots. A great part of Sherman tanks that had them can be seen to have the drivers' hood "appliqué" armor modification which was installed at the factory or in depots in the US, or in the UK before D-Day. In the two photos above, one can just see the direct vision visors hidden behind the drivers' hood applique plates. Note also the positive hatch lock mechanisms with equilibrator springs; modifications that were introduced in the second half of 1943, and retrofitted to many Shermans that had been built without them.

M4A1 Direct Vision    M4A1 Direct Vision

Direct Vision blocks and hoods, as seen on an early M4A1 located near Dompaire, in France. The driver's hood applique plates obscure the direct vision slots. The Field Service Modification Work Order for these plates was published in late August, 1943. The modification did not apply to the M4A1 as it was thought that the cast armor in front of the drivers' hoods was better contoured, and not as vulnerable as the protruding hoods used on welded hull Shermans. However, based on a few period photos and surviving examples, it would appear that direct vision M4A1s received this mod during remanufacture, and, overseas "in the field" in some instances. The positive hatch lock mechanisms and equilibrator springs were introduced in the Spring of 1943, and could have been added as a field modification or during remanufacture.

Later hoods without Direct Vision

Wide casting    Narrow casting

Only Chrysler (M4A4) and Ford (small hatch M4A3) used "wide" drivers' hoods castings on their Shermans. Small hatch M4s and M4A2s manufacturers made use of "narrow" drivers' hood castings. Note how the "wide" casting included a section of the glacis along with the driver's hood. The lines in red on the pictures above show the weld patterns of the wide vs. narrow drivers hoods. Thus, the "narrow" versus "wide" hood casting is a recognition feature and would help to recognize an M4 or an M4A2 vs an M4A3 or an M4A4. Left-side photo courtesy of Paul Hannah.

M4A1 mid-production    M4A1(75) Dry

Hoods and hatches, as seen on a small hatch M4A1. Direct Vision was eliminated from the M4A1 design by the three M4A1 manufacturers by August, 1942.

M4A2 Pullman

M4A2 Pullman   M4A2 Pullman

Cast hoods and hatches, as seen on Federal Machine and Welder (FMW) M4A2s and late Pullman Standard small hatch tanks.

M4 Alco    M4 Alco

Cast drivers hoods installed on ALCO M4s have a slighly different design than FMW and Pullman ones, and are a recognition feature of tanks produced by this manufacturer.

M4A2 Fisher    M4A2 Fisher

In late 1942, Fisher transitioned from direct vision to "fabricated" drivers' hoods. Note the very sharp, angular appearance of the hoods. Fabricated drivers' hoods were exclusive to Fisher-made M4A2s and were set up to save foundry capacity. The other builders used castings.

M4A2 Fisher

A little bullet splash can be seen on some Fisher & ALCO Shermans, but not all of them. It protects the hinge knuckles. It was an official part that seems to have been introduced in mid 1943. The reason why this part was not added on other Shermans is unknown.

M4A3 Ford    M4A3 Ford

"Wide" drivers hoods castings, as seen on Ford M4A3 Sherman tanks.

M4A4    M4A4

The drivers hoods castings used on Chrysler M4A4 Shermans are similar to the Ford M4A3 ones.