M4A1(76)s manufactured by Pressed Steel Car
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."

Pressed Steel Car was the only manufacturer of the M4A1(76), and produced a total of 3426 units from January 1944 through July 1945.

Production Order T-4166/2 : 1130 tanks with VVSS manufactured: Serial Number 37900 / USA 3070497 through S/N 39029 / USA 3071626
Production Order T-4344/1 : 831 tanks with VVSS manufactured: Serial Number 51850 / USA 3084447 through S/N 52680 / USA 3085277
Production Order T-14608/1 : 1327 tanks with VVSS or HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 67701 / USA 30125680 through S/N 69027 / USA 30127006
Production Order T-14608/2 : 113 tanks with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 71654 / USA 30135486 through S/N 71766 / USA 30135598
Production Order T-14608/3 : 25 tanks with HVSS manufactured: Serial Number 73836 / USA 30140226 through S/N 73860 / USA 30140250


Introduction - First trials


In August 1942, a few months after Shermans began rolling off the assembly lines, the Ordnance Department began testing the feasibility of mounting a 76 mm gun in the standard D50878 turret (below left). The intention was to produce 1000 76mm armed Medium Tanks by the end of the year. Ultimately, the project was cancelled because it was determined that the small turret was unsuitable. In the meantime, development work was initiated on new Medium Tank designs known collectively as the T20 series. The T23, which mounted a 76mm gun in a larger turret, was never standardized due to various technical problems (below right). However, since the 69 inch diameter turret ring was the same as the Sherman's, the T23's 76mm turret was easily adapted for use on the late 1943 revision of the M4 series.

76mm gun    T23 tank
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First "large hatch" M4A1s

PSC large hatches    PSC appliqué

The small size of the drivers' hatches of the original Sherman design was reported to have caused a number of crew injuries, particularly during exits in emergency situations. The hatches were enlarged as part of the "second generation" redesign program. The first M4A1s with large hatches were equipped with 75mm guns, and were manufactured by Pressed Steel Car in December 1943. They retained the "dry stowage" of the original design, where the 75mm ammunition bins were mounted in vulnerable positions on the sponsons. In the right side photo above, we've pointed out what we informally label "cast in appliqué."  These "bumps" were incorporated into the hull casting in the area of the sponson mounted ammo bins, thus eliminating the need for welding on the one inch armor plates that were mandated to be factory installed or retrofitted on dry stowage Shermans starting in the Summer of 1943. It is thought that only Montreal Locomotive and Pressed Steel Car produced M4A1(75)s with "cast in appliqué" hulls. They appear on the last 75 or so Grizzlies (all small hatch), as well as the last 500 or so PSC built M4A1(75)s (approximately 400 small hatch units and 100 large hatch). Many of the large hatch M4A1(75)s were converted to Duplex Drive Swimming Tanks, and a couple of these DDs are on display in France and Great Britain. The above photos (courtesy of Alf Adams) show the DD that was recovered from the sea, and serves as a monument at Slapton Sands in the UK.


  Early M4A1s with 76mm main gun

Early M4A1(76)    Early M4A1(76)
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The M4A1 with 76mm main gun entered production in January 1944. As part of the "second generation" design, these tanks had "wet stowage" where the ammunition bins were relocated from the sponsons to better protected positions on the floor of the hull. However, on the sides of the earliest 76mm hulls, one can see what appears to be traces of the "cast in appliqué" of the dry stowage, large hatch M4A1(75) hulls as described above. The roughness on the hull sides could indicate that the cast in "bumps" were simply removed from the 75mm E8550 hull mold to come up with the E8595 (76mm, wet stowage) casting. The left side photo shows an early M4A1(76) (S/N 37914 / USA 3070511) in "as built" condition. The right side photo (courtesy of Michael Lembo) shows the oldest known surviving M4A1(76) (the fourth production unit, S/N 37903), on display at an army base at Grafenwöhr, Germany. Note that this tank has a number of upgraded features, as it was rebuilt after the war. Both tanks have the early "ventless" D82081 turrets, described below.


ventless T23 turret    normal T23 turret

An interesting anomaly that has been observed exclusively on the D82081 turrets used on the earliest M4A1(76)s is the absence of the rear ventilator. Unlike the Sherman, the T23 Medium Tank was designed with a powerful hull ventilation system that did not require a separate turret ventilator. Eventually, the specifications for adapting the T23 turret to the Sherman series called for the addition of a ventilator. However, the Army was anxious to get the 76mm Sherman into production, and Pressed Steel Car was "the only tank facility which would undertake the new type vehicles and promise delivery for a deadline date in January of 160 of these vehicles to meet urgent requirements of the using forces." Thus, in the rush to production, the first M4A1(76)s were manufactured before the ventilator specifications were finalized. The Union Steel Corp. was the main turret supplier to Pressed Steel Car. Many US turrets have their serial numbers cast in fairly large on one or both sides, making it possible to "count heads" on this omission. The ventilator appears to have been added to their turrets at around number 450. In the above photos, one can see how the locations of the various MG stowage fittings differed on the ventless turret compared with the vented.


PSC    Bergerhausen
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Another glitch exclusive to the M4A1(76) was also likely related to the rush to production. It was remarked in internal memos that, in the first few months of production, the split hatches didn't open past the vertical position, thereby interfering with the operation of the anti-aircraft machine gun, and making for an uncomfortable traveling position for the loader. The hatches had been redesigned to open outward to 45 degrees, and it was suggested that a field repair order be issued. The above photos show two views of USA 3070707, a 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division Sherman knocked out near Bergerhausen, Germany, circa March 1, 1945. This tank was the 211th M4A1(76) made, and would have been accepted in February 1944. Most likely, it was one of the "UK orphans" described below. In any case, the turret reflects the appearance of the early Union Steel - vertical loader's hatches, no ventilator, and "unthreaded" M1A1 gun. If there ever was a loader's hatch field fix issued, this tank soldiered on without it.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

The photo on the left shows the initial, problematic configuration of the loader's split hatch as mounted on a ventless Union Steel turret with serial number 271. Assuming that this hatch is original to turret 271, we would note that this is the highest US turret serial number we have seen with the original loader's hatch. Our friend, Michael Lembo, was able to demonstrate that the hatches would not open past the vertical position. Although this tank had been remanufactured in the early 1950s, the hatch and missing ventilator issues were not addressed. The photo on the right shows the revised loader's split hatch. The positive hatch lock mechanisms (1) that can be seen, are the same type as had been introduced on Shermans starting in the Spring of 1943. It is thought that PSC began the transition to the revised loader's split hatch in March, 1944 at around US turret 260, and that Chrysler used them from the beginning of M4A3(76) production in March, 1944.


PSC    PSC
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An Ordnance Department document states that "All Medium Tanks M4 series (76mm gun) since first 385 produced have been equipped with threaded gun tubes." This suggests that the unthreaded M1A1 guns as seen on the early M4A1(76)s, would have been replaced in production with threaded M1A1C guns sometime in March, 1944. Chrysler began M4A3(76) production in March, and a small number of their first tanks have been noted to have had unthreaded guns as well. The above photos show two views of "Gila Monster," Serial Number 37936, USA 3070533, the 37th M4A1(76) made. It was used in various tests at APG, including May / June 1944 trials of the muzzle brake installation. Some items of interest include the "uncovered" vent between the drivers' hatches (1), the provision for an antenna on the left front of the turret (2), the blanked off fuel filler hole (3), the "vertical" loader's hatches (4), and the early version of the sharp nosed differential housing with cast in steps (5).


Early M4A1(76)    Early M4A1(76)

The M4A1(76) model added a new armored filler cover to the rear engine deck plate. This was for the "engine oil tank." The small curved tag seen in the left photo reads "LUBRICATING OIL." Note how the cover is surrounded by a cast bullet splash. The standard tool stowage, blanket roll rack and spare track holders can seen in the above illustration from the Technical Manual. This particular M4A1(76) appears to have US turret 359 (inset). While it "still" lacks the ventilator, it does have the revised loader's hatch with positive hatch lock mechanisms.


PSC    Early M4A1(76)    PSC

The Sherman had four main fuel tanks, and on M4A1(75)s, each had its own filler point. As part of the second generation redesign, M4A1(76)s were plumbed in such a way that only a single filler point was required for the two fuel tanks located on either side of the hull. The photo on the left shows the original four point configuration, as seen on one of the last M4A1(75)s made, a large hatch model. A few early production M4A1(76)s have been seen to have the configuration shown in the middle photo, where excess older parts were used, and the unnecessary holes were simply blanked off. The right side photo shows the standard M4A1(76) configuration. The small tags seen near the armored filler covers read "GASOLINE."


PSC

Early M4A1(76)s had straight return roller arms (1), such as can be seen on USA 3070551, a January 1944 production tank that served with the 3rd Armored Division, and was photographed in Chenee, Belgium on September 7, 1944. While Chrysler and Fisher Body had completed the transition to the later upturned return roller arms (inset) by the beginning of 1944, Pressed Steel Car does not appear have completely replaced the earlier straight arms until the Spring. The periscope guards that can be seen were a standard feature of all second generation Shermans.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

Some of the earliest M4A1(76)s were equipped with the first version of the E8543 differential cover that featured cast-in steps (circled). Period documents mention that the steps interfered with the crew's ability to work the quick release towing shackles. Consequently, the differential castings were altered to eliminate the cast in steps, and metal strip steps were welded on instead. Our example shows the M4A1(76) on display in La-Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium. The serial number is unknown, but the hull number is 3904, suggesting it was built in February 1944. The tank was restored somewhat, so it can't be assumed to have all of its original components. However, it shows no evidence of having had the usual postwar upgrades, and the ventless Union Steel turret with Serial Number 206, the unthreaded 76mm gun, and the early E8543 differential are certainly appropriate to a February 1944 production unit. We strongly suspect that this tank was a WW II battle casualty. Should any readers have any information about its history, please contact us.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches
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In early 1944, a special task force of 156 of the first M4A1(76)s was sent to the UK for familiarization. They evoked little interest from US armored commanders whose troopers had been training for the Invasion for many months with M4 & M4A1(75)s. Confrontations with heavy German armor in Normandy aroused interest in the "orphan" M4A1(76)s sitting idle in England, and General Bradley ordered that they be shipped to France to take part in First Army's upcoming Operation Cobra. 120 were evenly distributed to the 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions, and they made their combat debut in late July 1944. On the left, a tank of the 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division "enters the village of St. Sever Calvados, France. 3 Aug 44." Note the cast in steps on the diff. "Duke," USA 3070582 of the 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd AD (right), was one of the last M4A1(76)s accepted in January 1944. It was photographed in Coutance, France during Operation Cobra. The rubber chevron tracks are the primary type seen in period photos of the "orphan" M4A1(76)s. For future reference, note that Duke has an "unframed" exhaust deflector, and lacks support gussets in the area of the air cleaners.

PSC large hatches
Click on the pictures for larger size

The photos above show USA 3070536, a January, 1944 production M4A1(76) of the 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division. This tank was photographed during the battle for Cologne, Germany in early March, 1945. At that time, many of the AFVs of the 32nd AR are seen with the USA Registration Number painted on the front and rear. In the still photo on the left, the number has been censored somewhat, but it appears intact in the motion picture frame on the right. The inset shows a very low Union Steel turret Serial Number of 45.  It is highly likely that this was one of the "orphan" M4A1(76)s shipped over from the UK before the start of Operation Cobra in late July, 1944.


PSC large hatches

The photo above shows the M4A1(76) with ventless turret on display in Nehou, France. We suspect that this was one of the 421 M4A1(76)VVSS Shermans remanufactured and supplied to France as Military Assistance in the early 1950s. The upper right section of the remanufacturer's dataplate is shown in the inset, and it can be seen that this tank is Serial Number 37939, which is an exact mathematical match to USA 3070536 shown in the previous caption. Thus, it would seem that this tank survived WW II, and was repatriated back to the US. This Sherman obviously received a number of upgrades during remanufacture, such as a new 76mm gun with muzzle brake and the canvas mantlet cover fittings, but the Union Steel turret Serial Number can be seen as 45 (inset), the same as noted, and in the same location, as in the period photo. The tank currently carries tactical markings in honor of the 35th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division. Perhaps at some point it could be remarked to reflect its WW II service with the 32 Armored Regiment, 3rd AD?


PSC large hatches

The Ford V8 engine was considered superior to the Continental Radial of the M4/M4A1 series, and it was the policy of the US Army to attempt to equip its fighting forces with as many M4A3s as possible. Consequently, the US did not employ large numbers of M4A1(76)s. Indeed, we can find no evidence of US combat use outside of the European Theater. The British did not "require" any 76mm Shermans, as they considered the HE round to be inferior to the 75mm's. However, they agreed to accept 1330 M4A1(76)s in 1944, since there weren't enough 75mm Shermans available to meet their Lend Lease requirements for the year. These were allocated on an fairly even basis between Northwest Europe and Italy, and were used by some British, South African and Polish armored units. Above shows a "Sherman Mk IIA" (British nomenclature for M4A1(76)VVSS ) of the Polish 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, KO'd in the Netherlands in late 1944.


PSC large hatches

The photo above, dated April 20, 1945, shows elements of the Special Service Battalion of the 6th South African Armoured Division massing in preparation for the attack on Bologna, Italy. Despite the late date, all of the M4A1(76)s that can be seen have the earlier split loader's hatches. The tank in the center foreground even has a ventless turret. Note that the loader's hatches are open to the standard, 45 degree position. The commander's cupolas are not in the standard or "as built" configuration. It would appear that the unit reoriented the cupolas so that the hatches opened further to the rear. Some Firefly (17 pounder) Shermans can be seen on the far right. According to 5th Army records, for the Spring 1945 Offensive, each of the 3 Squadrons of the SSB had 13 M4A1(76), 3 M4A4 based Fireflies and 3 M4(105)s.


PSC large hatches

The final M4A1(76) allocations to the British were for 150 units a month from August through October, 1944. We estimate that most of these would have been equipped with oval loader's hatches, and perhaps a few from the October production would have included muzzle brakes. However, we have not come across a "combat shot" of any of these in Commonwealth service. These tanks would have arrived in Europe in late 1944 / early 1945, at which point they could not be absorbed, and thus were no longer needed by the shrinking Commonwealth forces. The above shows a nearly as built M4A1(76) with oval hatch on display in a Museum in Johannesburg. Following the war, the South Africans purchased a number of Shermans from British dumps in Italy. Thirty-two M4A1(76)s are listed in an inventory of the 1st Special Service Battalion, Potchefstroom, S.A., March 31, 1948. Most likely, the South Africans would have chosen to purchase unused or low mileage tanks, and the example shown is reported as in running condition. This tank and the other surviving S.A. Shermans, could still have their original dataplates, so if any readers are in the position to examine any of them, we would greatly appreciate a report.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

An oval loader's hatch had been added to 75mm turrets in late 1943. In an effort to simplify the original D82081 turret design (left side photo), the Ordnance Department adopted this concept, and replaced the original split hatch with an oval hatch. The new turret casting carries part number 7054366 (right side photo). The split hatch had a machine gun pintle and loader’s periscope built in, so with this change, an MG pintle (1) and loader’s periscope (2) were added to the roof of the turret. Ordnance documents state that all M4A1(76)s built after August 1, 1944 received the new model of turret. The loader's hatch was the same size and shape as the "large" drivers' hatches, that is approximately 24 inches long and 19 inches wide. In comparison, the oval hatches of the 75 and 105mm turrets were about 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. Note that the 7054366 turret was not machined out for the left front antenna, although the casting retained the tell tale "bump out" to the end of production. We would note that, while this "bump out" is present on some other companies' 76mm turrets, it is most prominent on Union Steel castings.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

Pressed Steel Car had produced 776 M4A1(76)s by the end of May, 1944. If we assume a loose chronology to the turrets, then we might speculate that Union Steel turrets with 8xx serial numbers would have started to appear in June. The D82081 turrets shown above are 881 on the left and 873 on the right. The left front antenna is NOT machined out on these examples. On Union Steel turret 831, shown in the previous caption, the antenna is machined out. This gives us a fairly good idea of the "eliminate the front antenna" transition point. While we don't assume that surviving Shermans have their original turrets, the tank serial or build sequence numbers of all 3 of these M4A1(76)s indicate that they were accepted in June, 1944.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

As mentioned previously, most Union Steel turrets have their serial numbers cast in fairly large on one or both sides. A "1" or "2" is seen above or below the serial number. We believe this indicates that Union Steel 76mm turrets were cast using either mold 1 or mold 2. From "counting heads," mold 2 appears to have been changed from a D82081 (split hatch) casting to a 7054366 (oval hatch) casting at around serial number 1000, whereas mold 1 was changed at around serial number 1350. Thus, one might see an earlier split hatch casting with a higher serial number than a later oval loader's hatch casting. For instance, the photo on the left shows a mold 1 D82081 turret with serial number 1310, while the one on the right is a mold 2 7054366 turret with serial number 1043. (Right side photo courtesy of Tom Gannon.)


PSC large hatches
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Muzzle brakes began to enter the production line in October 1944, and we estimate that PSC completed the transition to them by November. About half of the entire output of the M4A1(76) would have had these factory installed. The first M4A3s with muzzle brakes made their appearance on the front lines in Northwest Europe at the end of December 1944. The first "combat shots" of M4A1(76)s with the brakes that we have seen are dated March 1945 or later. The above 5th April 1945 photo, shows a unit of the 771st Tank Battalion advancing through Muenster, Germany. We would estimate that the sheet metal cover over the vent between the drivers' hatches (1) and the rear view mirror (2 - only the fitting is seen) were installed by PSC starting in July, 1944. The smoke mortar cap and chain (3) and the T-shaped towing shackles (4) appear to have been introduced in October. The 3 bar cleat steel tracks (5) are seen in a few other 1945 M4A1(76) photos.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

As noted above, a sheet metal cover over the ventilator between the drivers' hatches was introduced at Pressed Steel around July, 1944. This was requested by users in order to provide some measure of weather protection. The authors have not found any evidence that modification kits for the covers were sent overseas 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.


PSC large hatches
Click on the picture for larger size

The 20th Armored Division arrived in Le Havre, France in February 1945. They brought their equipment with them, and oddly, at this late stage, most or all of their Medium Tanks appear to have been powered by the Continental Radial engine. Their M4 and M4A1(75)s had been recently remanufactured in the US. Their M4A1(76)s were new production, and included some units with muzzle brakes. The above, dated February 24, 1945, shows soldiers at the Division's depot in Bouchy, France unpacking the contents of the On Vehicle Materiel (OVM) boxes in preparation for installation in and on the tank. An item of interest here is the automobile style horn (1 and inset). The June 1944 M4A1(76) Technical Manual only provides details about the siren that was standard equipment from the beginning. However, it is obvious from period photos that most second generation Shermans were equipped with a horn. PSC appears to have replaced the siren with the horn in the Spring of 1944.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

Pressed Steel Car used just about every type of VVSS road wheel on the M4A1(76)s it produced in 1944. In the early months, units were equipped with either the welded spoke (A) or pressed spoke wheels (B). The welded spoke with "small holes" (C) and the solid, concave wheels (D) appear to have replaced the earlier types in the Fall of 1944.


PSC large hatches
Click on the picture for larger size

The snapshot above was found in a photo album of the 143rd Armored Signal Photo Company. It is entitled "Bridging the Wesser," which 3rd AD records report was done starting April 7, 1945. Despite a close examination of the original print, we could only discern that the turret serial number was "probably" 2165. In any case, 21xx would be the highest Union Steel turret number we have seen in a WW II photo. The larger diameter hubs suggest that the road wheels are the "welded spoke with small holes" type. This tank has what looks to be an armor plate attached to the front. The broken extended end connectors illustrate the problem with these fittings. The fact that this tank barely fits on the runners of the pontoon bridge suggests why the Engineer Corps "non-concurred" with any changes that made the Sherman longer, wider or heavier than the original design.


PSC large hatches

Above shows Serial Number 67743 / USA 30125772, photographed at Aberdeen Proving Ground shortly after it was accepted in December, 1944. Towards the end of M4A1(76)VVSS production, along with the welded spoke with "small holes" wheels, PSC employed the solid, concave wheels seen here. Although “mixed” road wheels can be seen in many photos of tanks in service, it is thought that a single type was factory installed on each unit by the original builder. Also towards the end, metal tracks appear more frequently than rubber. On this unit, the Union Steel turret serial number looks to be 2103. Other items of interest include the installed rear view mirrors (1), and the installed "driver's hatch hood" (2) for use in foul weather. For power, the windshield wiper and defroster were plugged into a utility outlet on the instrument panel. When not in use, this item was stored on a shelf above the transmission.


PSC

The French Army received a small number of M4A1(76)s during WW II. These were not officially "charged" as Lend Lease, but were provided as replacement tanks from US Army stocks. An example of some of these is provided in the February 17 1945 document reproduced above. It states that 5 M4A1(76)s that came in through "Delta Base" (Marseilles) "were later reloaded and shipped to the French First Army." The USA Registration Numbers given indicate that all of these had been accepted in October, 1944. During WW II, it took on average 4 to 5 months to get a newly built tank from factory into the hands of combat troops. This appears to have been the case with these M4A1s, as most likely, it would have taken another week or two for these tanks to have been shipped, processed and delivered to French troopers. Due to the logistics, very few Shermans built in December 1944 or later ever served in combat in any theater during WW II.


PSC

Most of the surviving M4A1(76)s were rebuilt in the US postwar. A few examples on display in Europe are still in close to WW II configuration. We suspect Serial Number 52370 shown above may have been received by the French as a replacement in early 1945. It has the "serial number stamped inside a box" (inset) seen on many surviving French Shermans. It would have been accepted in October 1944. Some clues of WW II config would be the presence of spot light (1) and smoke mortar (2) fittings, and the absence of muzzle brake and mantlet cover fittings. An original "two fingers" gun travel lock (3) would also provide a hint. This tank does not show any penetration damage, so we would guess it continued to serve with the French Army after WW II. It was probably cannibalized for parts, before being placed on display as a monument. The US Armored Corps triangular "shoulder patch" painted on the turret might be replaced if any original French markings could be found under the paint layers.


PSC
Click on the picture for larger size

We have not as yet come across any documents that state the exact number of M4A1(76)s with HVSS that were produced by Pressed Steel. A hand written note dated 9 April 1946 reads, "Crowley says that all acceptances from Pressed Steel and Fisher after 1 Jan 45 were wide track." We take this to mean that the 1255 M4A1(76)s built in 1945 were all HVSS. If accurate, it would indicate Serial Numbers 67911 and higher. This is confirmed by our "head counting" methods, although PSC appears to have done a few "test shots" in December, 1944. For instance, 67901 was reported as used in HVSS track tests at the Tank Arsenal Proving Ground. Above shows Serial Number 67927, a January 1945 production unit. Note that the round fender supports used on the M4A1(76)HVSS were adjustable to the contours of the cast hull. For comparison, the supports used on welded hull models are shown in the inset. PSC completed the transition from the original T66 tracks seen here to the superior T81 tracks by March or April.


PSC
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Between April 6 and April 24, 1945, 169 "M4A1 (76mm gun) 23" track" are reported to have been allocated to units of the US 12th Army Group. Keep in mind that "allocation" is not the same as "reception." Considering that most of the US Army in the ETO had "ceased combat operations" before the end of April, it seems doubtful that any of these could have been shipped and processed in time to have "fought" before V-E Day, May 8th. However, one never knows, so should any readers have a WW II "combat shot" of an M4A1(76)HVSS, we would be pleased to see it. The Signal Corps photo above is dated July 31, 1945, and shows a group of M4A1(76)HVSS ready for shipment. Unfortunately, the caption only describes this as "View of Pier Area." Perhaps these tanks were being shipped to the Pacific Theater in anticipation of the invasion of Japan? Ultimately, it would appear that any M4A1(76)HVSS's sent overseas were returned. An August 1948 document lists 1272 "M4A1(76 mm) w/ HVSS" in the inventory in the US. This figure is 17 more than the 1255 units made in 1945. It could be a simple counting error, or may represent the true number of M4A1(76)HVSS that were produced.


PSC

A bit of minutia regarding the little "stops" circled in the above photo and in the inset is that they are rarely seen in period photos or on surviving HVSS Shermans made by Chrysler. On the other hand, they are almost always present on Pressed Steel Car and Fisher Body Shermans. The original Chrysler design did not include the stops, but since PSC and Fisher started HVSS production over 4 months later, their initial orders must have been for the revised parts. We also believe that Fisher designed the alternate, fabricated HVSS suspension arms that can be seen on the middle bogie of our example on display in Rosenau, France.


PSC
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A number of other changes were introduced on the M4A1(76) in 1945. It has been difficult to "count heads" on the canvas mantlet cover due to the fact that it was almost universally retrofitted to post war rebuilds. We would guess that it was factory installed by PSC starting in February or March, 1945. A Technical Bulletin had been released in September 1944 noting that "The grouser compartment plate...is very often bent in when the track is thrown, resulting in damage to the air cleaner." Specifications were given for the addition of scrap steel reinforcing plates. These were added "in the field" to some M4 and M4A1 Shermans, but PSC doesn't appear to have factory installed them until February or March, 1945. The above shows Serial Number 68252, a March production unit which was the subject of an Inspection Control Test at APG. Both the reinforcing plates (1) and the mantlet fittings (2) can be seen. Other items of interest include the single rear towing lug (3), the "framed" exhaust deflector (4) and the M3 Lee type drive sprocket (5). Note as well the absence of the armored first aid box.


PSC    PSC

As mentioned previously, the original quick release towing fixtures (left) were replaced at PSC with "even quicker" release T-shaped shackles around October 1944. A tow cable could be hooked on to the new shackles without removing them. This saved crews a few seconds when attempting to retrieve a tank while under fire. It was no longer necessary to have two tow lugs per side with the new shackles, but the "extra" lugs on the differential were retained since they also provided attachment points for the steps. The examination of surviving M4A1(76)s suggests that only one rear tow lug was used on a few of the final VVSS units made in December 1944, and all of the tanks built with HVSS. Restorers and modelers should note that the T-shaped shackles are not seen in WW II combat photos before 1945.


PSC    PSC

The photo on the left shows the air deflector as originally designed by the Barber-Colman Co. in January, 1943. This was used on M4A1(76)s until "late 1944," when a slightly more rigid version with "framed" sides was introduced.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

The first tanks produced by Pressed Steel Car were M3 Grants. PSC continued to use the M3 Medium type of drive sprockets on their Shermans until the beginning of 1943, when they transitioned to what we informally call the "plain" sprocket, as shown on the left above. These were used by PSC until 1945, when a sprocket with an M3 type appearance (above right) was (re)introduced. No doubt, the "breaking teeth" problem that plagued the originals had been remedied. Period photos suggest that these were used along with the plain type to the end of production.


PSC

The armored first aid box can be seen in photos of both the M26 and M24 in Europe before VE-Day. Initial supplies were reserved for these new models. They appear to have become available for installation on both new and remanufactured Shermans starting around March, 1945. There are quite a few surviving M4A1(76)s on display in the US and Europe. The armored first aid box (circled in red) appears on some but not all of them, suggesting that there was no later production of the boxes after 1945. Our examination of extant units for the boxes or tell tale weld scars indicates that PSC began to install these beginning in March, and that all units made from April, 1945 to the end of production were factory equipped with them.


PSC    PSC large hatches

From the beginning, battlefield reports had mentioned that the externally mounted air cleaners on the M4 and M4A1 were vulnerable to combat damage. Some units attempted to protect the air cleaners by simply welding steel plates in front of them, such as can be seen on a pair of M4 Composites photographed during the Leyte Campaign in October, 1944 (left). A "protector assembly" was designed in late 1944. As with the first aid boxes, the protectors are on only some surviving M4A1(76)HVSS's, suggesting that there was no later production after 1945. Supplies of these appear to have become available to PSC in May, 1945, and we would judge that not more than 250 of the last M4A1(76)s produced had these factory installed. Above right shows the hinged configuration of the boxes as seen on Serial Number 68975 on display in Toulon, France. This was one of the last units accepted in May, 1945.


PSC    PSC

Above shows the M4A1(76) displayed on a section of the Maginot Line in Hatten, France. This tank has only "evidence" of the air cleaner protectors in the form of the various fittings (circled). The Serial Number of this unit is unknown, but the build number stamped on the left rear is 620, suggesting it was accepted in March 1945. This is the only non May 1945 or later example we have encountered, and there are about a dozen surviving units built after this that do not show evidence of the protectors. Perhaps it was an early trial installation, or a post production retrofit? We suspect that the factory installation of the protectors was limited to PSC, as we haven't as yet come across any documentation placing or showing them on any 1945 new production or remanufactured M4(75), M4(105), M4A1(75) or M7 Priest.


PSC    PSC
                                                                            Click on the picture for larger size

Technical Bulletin TB SIG 192 was published in July, 1945. This provided instructions for the installation of the new RC-298 Interphone Extension Kit (left). These were wanted on all tanks slated for the planned invasion of Japan. The absolutely last Sherman built rolled off the line at PSC in July, and it seems possible that they might have received some "preview" kits before production ended. The "Infantry Phones" (or the fittings) are seen on the majority of surviving M4A1(76)s in Europe. We believe these were installed during the early 1950s remanufacture program, as one of the specifications was "Redesign inter-communication system." In the case of VVSS units, the spare track holders were removed from the rear, and the phone was installed on the right side. Three spare tracks were then mounted on each side of the turret, such as can be seen above right on Serial Number 37903.


PSC
Click on the picture for larger size

An August 1948 Inventory has it that there were 1956 M4A1(76)s in the US. The vast majority were in storage depots, with only 319 "Ready For Issue." As noted earlier, 1272 were listed as "w/HVSS." Exactly one M4A1(76)HVSS was listed as in service with the troops. In late 1948, the US began a rebuilding program in order to provide tanks to its Cold War Allies. France was the principal Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) recipient of the M4A1(76), and beginning in 1950, is reported to have received 421 VVSS and 833 HVSS units by early 1954. Belgium is reported to have received 15 VVSS and 65 HVSS units during the same period, and The Netherlands is reported to have received 50, although the suspension type was not listed in the documents we examined. No doubt other countries received some M4A1(76)s. For instance, there is a surviving M4A1(76)HVSS in Portugal, which is reported to have received 5 units, listed generically as "Tank, Med, 76mm Gun, M4 Series." The above shows the scene at the New York Port of Embarkation in 1950, as some MDAP M4A1(76)s, neatly shrink wrapped, await shipment to Europe.


PSC
Click on the picture for larger size

Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Inc. was the principal contractor tasked with rebuilding the M4A1(76)s, and preparing them for MDAP shipment. The Signal Corps photo above was taken at the Letterkenney Ordnance Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in the Summer of 1950. The petroleum silos in the background were WW II surplus, and many of the tanks at the depot had been stored inside them. In order to reduce damage to the roads, local officials had asked that the turrets and hulls be shipped separately during the 30 or so mile trip from Chambersburg to the BMY facility in York, Pa. The matching letters and numbers painted on the hulls and turrets indicate that it was intended to restore the original components, although we doubt it would have been possible to do that in every case.


PSC

The 1950's rebuild specifications included an order to convert the tanks to dry stowage. The "wet" part of "wet stowage" had been somewhat questionable from the start. Each 5 round 76mm ammunition rack had 3 sealed chambers that were filled with liquid. It was thought that if the ammo rack was penetrated, the liquid would be dispersed, and at least slow the progress of an ammunition fire in order to give the crew a few more seconds to escape. Above, several of the racks are shown in place. We've circled the filler plugs of the liquid containers, including the one for the 6 round ready rack mounted on the turret basket floor. Some of the men involved in the wet stowage program were not convinced of the worth of the liquid chambers, and requested additional comparative trials. They noted that relocating the ammo bins to better protected positions on the floor of the hull (as the British had requested in 1942) was the most effective part of the modification. They also mentioned that tankers wanted to carry as much ammo as possible, and the inclusion of the liquid chambers came at the expense of an additional 10 to 12 rounds. In any case, the rebuild specification directed that the ammo racks be drained, and the filler holes plugged.


PSC    PSC

Although they were not part of the original design of the Sherman, from about mid 1943 until the end of production, the Ordnance Department required the factory installation of sand shields. They were NOT popular with the troops. "Experience in this theater indicates that sand shields on tanks are superfluous, and are quickly taken off or knocked off by troops. Recommend that War Department be advised and tanks be shipped without sand shields."  Even so, Shermans continued to have them factory installed until the end of production. For instance, they can be seen in our earlier July 1945 "View of Pier Area" photo. However, while not listed in the rebuild specifications, photographic evidence suggests that sand shields were eliminated from the MDAP M4A1(76)s. Above left shows USA 30126829 with sand shields on its way to Bowen McLaughlin in Summer 1950, while the photo on the right shows 30126687 without them arriving in Cherbourg later in the year.


PSC
Click on the picture for larger size

Earlier we mentioned that, starting in the Summer of 1944, the left front of the turret was no longer machined out to provide for an antenna. Ironically, the vast majority of surviving M4A1(76)s have a steel bracket (inset) welded on, along with a small hole in this area. We consider this to be a good clue of a postwar rebuild. The photo above is dated June 14, 1951, and shows US Congressmen inspecting some MDAP M4A1(76)s of the French 6th Régiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique (Armored Regiment) in Speyer, Germany. Note the antenna mast bases mounted on the left front fittings of these tanks.


PSC

Not all of the post war M4A1(76)s were shipped overseas as MDAP. Several hundred remained in the US. The Army's preference at the time, as during WW II, was to equip its troops with as many Ford V8 engined tanks as possible. Of course, the M26 was the most desired type, but not enough had been produced, so that the M4A3(76)HVSS was considered an acceptable substitute. These two types served in the Korean War. While the M4A1(76)HVSS was characterized as the next best acceptable substitute after the M4A3(76)HVSS, there is no evidence that any fought in Korea. They were used in the US by the Army and National Guard as test and training tanks well into the 1950s. The above shows a platoon of M4A1(76)HVSS's of the 106th Tank Battalion, 33rd Infantry Divison on a target range at Camp Ripley, Minnesota in the Summer of 1954.


PSC    PSC

Unlike the MDAP M4A1(76)s in Europe, the majority of the 40 or so surviving examples in the US don't show evidence of ever having had infantry phones installed. Some of them have plates affixed to the front indicating that they were "Overhauled" by Watertown Arsenal (Massachusetts) in 1950 (inset). Evidently, Watertown's contract did not provide for the installation of the phones. The above photos, courtesy of Jim Goetz, provide two views of Serial Number 68146, USA 30126125 on display in Kingman, Kansas. This is one of the few surviving Shermans that has somehow managed to retain its original USA Registration Number. This tank would have been accepted in February 1945. We don't think that ANY Shermans were built with the T84 rubber chevron tracks seen here. Most likely, the initial design, "two fingers" gun travel lock was installed on 68146 as original equipment. Like the T84 track, the more secure "clamp" type gun travel lock, which can be seen on most surviving M4A1(76)s, was designed during WW II based on user feedback. However, neither of these items appear to have been available before the end of Sherman production in July 1945.


PSC

The highest Union Steel turret serial number we have recorded is 3623, as seen above on a beautifully restored June 1945 production unit. 3623 is about 200 more turrets than would have been needed, but Pressed Steel was awarded several more contracts in 1945. One called for an additional 1560 M4A1(76)HVSS, and another was for 1030 units of a new type, the M4(76)HVSS. These contracts were let in the event that the war with Japan continued past 1945, but were terminated with the end of World War II. In October 1944, PSC had been given a contract to produce 150 M4A2(76)HVSS, and actually did manufacture a total of 21 in April and May 1945 before that contract was terminated. Three 7054366 turrets made by Ordnance Steel Foundry have been seen on surviving M4A1(76)s. Their Serial Numbers are 8, 84 and 94, which suggests they were produced in small numbers, perhaps not more than 100. They must have been introduced a month or two after the "eliminate the smoke mortar" directive was issued in January 1945, as none of them were drilled out for the smoke mortar. Our head count suggests Union Steel turrets 2721 and higher were undrilled.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

While Chrysler & Fisher stamped the Serial Number on the rear towing lugs of their large hatch Shermans, Pressed Steel Car does not appear to have stamped it anywhere on the exterior of the AFVs they produced. However, some M4A1(76)s that served with the French or German armies in the 1950s have been seen with the serial number stamped on the front glacis or differential housing, as seen in the left side photo. PSC built M4A1s (both small and large hatch) have been seen to have a loose build sequence number stamped on either side of the hull in the rear. In the event the serial number cannot be found, the sequence number has some value.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

Shermans were provided with a dataplate affixed to the wall of the lower hull, just to the left of the driver. An original dataplate will include the name of the builder. Above left shows the original Pressed Steel Car dataplate installed in an M4A1(76)VVSS that was converted to the E13R1-E13R2 Mechanized Flamethrower pilot. Unfortunately, corrosion has rendered the serial number unreadable, but we would judge that this tank was accepted in August 1944, and that the serial number would be in the 52xxx range. The photo on the right shows the dataplate installed in M4A1(76)HVSS Serial Number 68505 on display in Muna, Czechoslovakia. Note that no manufacturer is listed. We believe that this dataplate replaced the original when 68505 was remanufactured for MDAP in the early 1950s by Bowen & McLaughlin. The "ALS" stamped in the box on the bottom right has been seen on a few other similar dataplates. We suspect these are the initials of the Army Ordnance Inspector who accepted tanks remanufactured at B & M. VVSS or HVSS suspension is not listed as part of the nomenclature stamped on the top line. The "Fighting Weight" seen on the dataplates of the MDAP units is stamped "75300" LBS regardless of suspension type. However, this would represent the weight of an M4A1(76)HVSS, whereas an M4A1(76)VVSS would have had a fighting weight of about 71000 pounds depending on the type of track installed. Left side photo courtesy Don Moriarty, right courtesy Michael Lembo.


PSC large hatches    PSC large hatches

The M4A1(76)'s upper hull casting carried part number E8595. The casting marks can be found inside on the firewall facing the fighting compartment. The examination of a number of surviving examples suggests that only two foundries produced these hulls - General Steel at their plant in Granite City, Illinois, and Continental Foundry & Machine at their facility in Wheeling, West Virginia. General Steel appears to have restarted at serial number 1 when they switched production from 75mm to 76mm hull castings. Above left shows the casting info from GS hull serial number 1435, cast in March, 1945. The "C" just behind the date stands for "Commonwealth," the official name of General Steel's Granite City plant. The markings typical of Continental-Wheeling E8595 hull castings are shown on the right. Counting heads suggests that C-W retained the original serial number sequence from their M4A1(75) castings when they switched to 76mm hulls. We would guess they started the E8595 castings at around SN 2750. Dates are of great value to our research, but unlike GS, C-W hull markings do not include the date of manufacture.
The authors would gladly receive such production data information from any readers who encounter a surviving large hatch M4A1 Sherman.



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