Sherman hull lifting rings
This is the type of lifting
ring seen on many of the earliest Shermans. Unlike most other lifting rings,
they are not castings. For want of a better term, we refer to this type as
"bent rod" lifting rings. Fisher Body, Lima Locomotive, Baldwin
Locomotive, Pressed Steel Car, Pacific Car & Foundry, ALCO & Pullman
Standard started production with these. They were quickly supplanted by various
cast types, except on Lima Locomotive M4A1s, where they were used almost to the
end of production.
pictured above is believed to have been built by Lima
Locomotive Works, during their final month of production - September,
1943. It is thought that some of the last Lima built M4A1s used upper
hulls cast by Pittsburgh Steel Foundry. These appear to have had the hull
lifting rings cast in, and on an angle (as seen on the photos).
Some of the very first M4A1s
produced by Pacific Car & Foundry have what we call "blocky"
lifting rings (photo 2 courtesy of David Doyle). It is thought that this type
of lifting rings was used on Pacific Car and Foundry M4A1s from May to December 1942/January 1943.
expediency, we call this
variant the "padded" hull lifting ring. Photographs and surviving
tanks suggest that both Chrysler & Ford started
this type. Thus far, "padded" lifting rings have not been seen on
Shermans manufactured after February 1943, except for ALCO-built M4s,
which had them until the summer of 1943, and Fisher-built M4A2(75)s,
which had them until the beginning of 1944.
Note that there are subtle
manufacturing differences in the "padded" lifting rings. For example,
the one shown on the left-side photo has a smaller base than the one shown on
the right-side picture.
The rarest variant of
"padded" lifting ring has been seen on two surviving Shermans - both
February 1943 production Baldwin M4(75)s. Due to the rarity, at first it was
thought that they may have been a restoration replacement. However, a recently
found snapshot clearly shows the same type of lifting ring on the rear of an
M4 photographed in Oran, ca. mid 1943. So, this odd type of lifting
ring does indeed date to WW2.
These cast hull lifting rings
are the most common type seen on Sherman tanks. Most of the manufacturers
installed them on small hatch Shermans produced from January/February 1943 on.
With the exception of a few of the first large hatch M4A2(75)s, all of the
large hatch Sherman tanks have been seen to have this type of lifting ring.
Note that on some Sherman
tanks (for example on small hatch M4A3s and M4A4s), there was a transition
period during which some vehicles got both the "padded" and
"cast" lifting rings on a same hull, as shown on these two
photos of the same M4A4. Mixed lifting rings have been seen on tanks
identified as having been built in January 1943.