M4(105) and M4A3(105) Shermans
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."

Chrysler Corporation was the sole manufacturer of 105mm armed Shermans. It produced 800 M4(105) Shermans with VVSS, and 841 M4(105) Shermans with HVSS. The production started in  February 1944 and ended in March 1945.


Production Order T-9369/1 : 700 M4(105) with VVSS manufactured: Serial Number 56921 / USA 30103603 through S/N 57620 / USA 30104302
Production Order T-9369/2 : 100 M4(105) with VVSS and 315 with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 58208 / USA 30111769 through S/N 58622 / USA 30112183
Production Order T-9369/3 : 126 M4(105) with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 64132 / USA 30120071 through S/N 64257 / USA 30120196
Production Order T-9369/4 : 400 M4(105) with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 73436 / USA 30139426 through S/N 73835 / USA 30139825

Chrysler also built 500 M4A3(105) Shermans with VVSS, and 2539 M4A3(105) Shermans with HVSS. The production started in May 1944 and ended in June 1945.

Production Order T-9368/1 : 300 M4A3(105) with VVSS manufactured: Serial Number 56621 / USA 30103303 through S/N 56920 / USA 30103602
Production Order T-9368/2 : 200 M4A3(105) with VVSS and 385 with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 57623 / USA 30111184 through S/N 58207 / USA 30111768
Production Order T-9368/3 : 132 M4A3(105) with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 64000 / USA 30120197 through S/N 64131 / USA 30120328
Production Order T-14576/1 : 456 M4A3(105) with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 65258 / USA 30124580 through S/N 65713 / USA 30125035
Production Order T-14576/2 : 544 M4A3(105) with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 72892 / USA 30136724 through S/N 73435 / USA 30137267
Production Order T-14576/3 : 1022 M4A3(105) with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 74046 / USA 30140436 through S/N 75067 / USA 30141457


Introduction


M4(105) VVSS

M4(105) VVSS    M4(105) VVSS

The original design of the Sherman included a provision for mounting alternate main guns, including the 105mm Howitzer. In late 1942, work was started on the development a 105mm gun mount that could be adapted to the Sherman's standard 75mm, D50878 turret. By the time production began in February 1944, the 105mm gun mount had been standardized as the M52, and was installed in the D78461 high bustle turret with loader's hatch and pistol port. While 75mm D78461 turrets continued to feature a single, forward mounted ventilator, 105mm turrets had an additional ventilator added to the rear of the turret roof (circled in red).


 M4(105) VVSS

Hulls used for 105mm Shermans were of the "ultimate" design, i.e. welded, 47 degree, large hatch hulls.
____________________________________________________________


M4 engine deck    M4A3 engine deck

The 105mm Shermans were powered by either the Continental Radial (M4(105)) or Ford GAA V8 engine (M4A3(105)). The above left photo shows the engine deck configuration of the M4(105), as compared to the M4A3(105) shown on the right side.



M4(105) VVSS

105s did NOT include wet stowage for the 68 rounds of ammunition. Also, unlike wet stowage Shermans, not all of the rounds were repositioned to the floor of the tank. Twenty one rounds were stored in a pair of racks on the right sponson (the one pictured above got 9 rounds and the one behind got 12). However, no provision was made for external appliqué plates to further protect the sponson stowed ammo as on other dry stowage Shermans.


M4(105) VVSS
Click on the photo for larger size

The designers decided not to equip 105mm Shermans with gyrostabilizers. This omission was of little consequence, as the gyro was overly complicated and seldom used by the tankers. However, the Sherman had an excellent power traverse, and the decision to omit it on the 105s was the subject of many complaints from the using arms. "It was anticipated that the 105mm howitzer tank would be equipped with a turret power traverse mechanism and would be employed as a "fighter" tank, similar to gun tanks. However, the employment of the 105mm howitzer tank has been largely restricted to the support of gun tanks, and losses have been relatively low."
 It was agreed that power traverse would be included in future production, but by the time it became available in Spring 1945, there was a 71% reserve of howitzer Shermans in the ETO (1082 on hand vs. a T/E requirement for 633). Consequently, further shipments, even with power traverse, were "not required."

M4(105) production commenced in February 1944, while the first M4A3(105)s were accepted in May. Above one can see some of the first M4(105)s to arrive in Normandy, July 1944. Note how the early units were "still" equipped with the "split" commander's hatch. All around vision cupolas began to enter the production pipeline on 105 Shermans around June, 1944. In the photo, the crew of USA 30103696 (April 1944 production) have opened the armored air intake cover on the engine deck, affording a rare view of the "pyramid turning vanes"  of the Barber-Colman air flow system, introduced on M4s and M4A1s in January 1944.



M4(105) early    M4(105)

Small changes were incorporated by Chrysler as production continued. The earliest units of both M4 and M4A3(105) had what the authors think of as the "early" glacis pattern. This pattern featured inboard hull lifting rings and "long" bullet splashes in front of the drivers' auxiliary periscopes (circled in red).


M4(105) mid    M4(105)

The "mid" glacis pattern, introduced around June 1944, simply shortened the bullet splashes.


M4(105) late    M4(105) late

The "late" glacis pattern came out around November, and continued with the short bullet splashes, but repositioned the hull lifting rings "outboard" to the edge of the glacis.  The addition of rear view mirrors appears to have been nearly concurrent with this pattern.


M4(105)    M4(105)

105mm Shermans were equipped with the same gun travel lock as used on 76mm units. This was "taller" than the one used on 75mm tanks. Many surviving Shermans have been upgraded with a single piece locking arm, but the less stable WW II configuration consisted of two "fingers."


M4(105)    M4(105)

Based on user feedback, a sheet metal cover to protect the ventilator between the drivers' hatches was introduced in August, 1944. The authors have not found any evidence of modification kits for the covers during WW II, but have noted that many surviving Shermans that obviously didn't have this item factory installed, had it added later during postwar upgrades. The U bolt that can be see on the uncovered example above held the padlocks for the drivers' hatches.


M4(105)    M4(105)

Many of the earliest M4(105)s and a small number of the first M4A3(105)s were made with two small weep holes in the rear of the turret splash. It was found that the small holes could become clogged with debris, causing water to back up and foul the gasoline supply of the auxiliary generator. It was thought that a single, large hole would alleviate the problem. At the same time, the welding that was made to fill the gap between the turret splash and the fuel cap bullet splash was also eliminated. This transition appears to have been made in July 1944. Note that while early Fisher built "ultimate" Shermans had the small weep holes, to date, no examples of "filled in gaps" have been found on any Fishers.


M4(105)    M4(105)

Another early production clue has to do with the location of the forward cable clamp (circled, above left). Starting around July 1944, Chrysler installed the clamp more towards the front of the tank (above right). We think of this as the “standard” position, since it is seen on the vast majority of large hatch, welded hull Shermans. Note that on all of its large hatch Shermans, except for a few of the first M4A2(75)s, Fisher appears to have mounted the cable clamp in the "standard" position from the start.


M4(105)    M4(105)

All but the first few M4(105)s were equipped with a fitting on the left rear sponson. The Tech Manual describes it as for holding "Rammer, cleaning and unloading, M5." For some reason, this was not installed on M4A3(105)s until much later in production, approximately coinciding with the introduction of HVSS.


M4(105) HVSS

In September 1944, Chrysler-made M4(105) Shermans started to be equipped with the new Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS) (photo courtesy of Gary Binder : https://picasaweb.google.com/gebinder01)


M4(105)    M4(105)

The M52 gun mount included provision for a canvas dust cover. The dust covers became available and were factory installed much sooner than was the case with the 76mm gun tanks. They show up on 105mm Shermans overseas in the Fall of 1944. One can see the 1944 (left) and 1945 versions of the dust cover fittings in the photos above. The "look" went from a bent rod with "buttons" (like on the bow MG dust cover fitting), to a series of pads with little clips screwed into them. Also, a shutter to protect the telescopic sight can be seen on the 1945 production rotor shield (circled in red).


M4(105)
Click on the photo for larger size

Late high bustle D78461 turrets have a bulge to better accomodate the commander's vision cupola. This modification seems to have appeared on turrets cast from November 1944 onward. This period photo taken at Ft Ord, CA in 1951 clearly shows this modification on a 105mm HVSS.


M4(105) Chrysler    M4(105) Chrysler

The authors have noticed that all of the surviving Chrysler built, large hatch Shermans examined have a half round piece welded in to fill in the differential housing bolt strip overcut. We consider this a Chrysler recognition feature, since all examples of Fishers seen used a series of weld beads mostly horizontal, but some vertical, to fill in the overcut.


Chrysler sprocket

With the exception of the first few M4A4s, just about every VVSS Sherman built by Chrysler used a distinctive type of drive sprocket, as seen above.


M4(105)    M4(105)

As suggested above, 105mm Shermans were overproduced, so that many survived in the US postwar inventory. A good number of surplus M4A3(105)HVSS's were converted to M74 retrievers (above left, courtesy of Massimo Foti), and some of the M4A3(105)VVSS units were re-turreted with 75mm turrets that were rearmed with 76mm guns. These were sent to various MDAP recipients with the nomenclature "M4A3E4" (above right, courtesy of Claus Bonnesen).


M4(105)    M4(105)

Chrysler built Shermans have the Tank's Ordnance Serial Number stamped into the rear towing lugs.


M4(105)    M4(105)

Some Chrysler built Shermans have been seen to have the Serial Number stamped in the driver's compartment, 6 inches (15 centimeters) left from the dataplate.



M4(105)    M4(105)

Chrysler built Shermans have also been seen to have a loose build sequence number stamped on the edge of the glacis plate (circled in red).
The authors would gladly receive such production data information from any readers who encounter a surviving Chrysler built Sherman.


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