Sherman driver's hoods and hatches
"Early" hoods with Direct Vision blocks (DV)
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
splash. Ultimately, direct vision was ordered eliminated on June 24
cast hulls and August 13 1942 for welded hulls. It would take some months
redesigned drivers' hoods could enter production, and several thousand
were built with direct vision. Here are shows the direct vision ports on "Michael", the oldest Sherman still in existence.
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
Photos courtesy of Neil Baumgardner.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
and hatches, as
seen on Federal Machine and Welder (FMW) M4A2s and late Pullman Standard small hatch tanks.
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
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.
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.
"Wide" drivers hoods castings, as seen on Ford M4A3 Sherman tanks.
The drivers hoods castings used on Chrysler M4A4 Shermans are similar to the Ford M4A3 ones.