In early 1944, the Desert Warfare Board at Camp Young, California conducted
a "Service Test of Hydraulic-Operated Tank Dozers (Bulldozer BM4)." The M4A1
shown above was listed as USA 3061288, indicating July 1943 production. This
appears to have been one of the first PCF Shermans to incorporate the "no pistol
port" turret. The periscope guards (1) were also introduced around this time.
The T51 rubber block tracks seen here may have been retrofitted for the test.
The exhaust deflector (2) can be seen in the usual "open" position. The
tarpaulin (3) buckled on to the turret was standard on US Army Shermans up to
the end of 1943. This tank, named "ATTACK," can be seen with tactical markings
of the 780th Tank Battalion. The unit traded in its tanks for LVTs, when it was
converted to the 780th Amphibian Tank Battalion in April 1944.
The other M4A1 used in the dozer test was listed as USA 3061410, indicating
August 1943 production. In that month, Pacific Car began to install the so
called "Quick Fix" modification. With this mod, the appliqué plates (1) were
added, the ammunition racks inside were encased in 1/4 inch of armor, and the
sheet metal grating around the turret basket was removed. There is a great
variety to the "look" of the hull appliqué plates used on Shermans. The plates
that PCF factory installed were composed of two pieces with a lengthwise weld
seam, as shown here. "Chattanooga-Chu-Chu" can be seen to have the pressed spoke
type of road wheels (2). We suspect that PCF transitioned from the original
welded spoke wheels to these in August.
PCF also began to install the gun travel lock (1), as well as the sharp
nosed E8543 differential housing in August. Note that, at the intro of the gun
travel lock, the "L- bracket" step was no longer installed. Period photos of PCF
M4A1s show the weep holes of the turret ventilators consistently draining to the
From the start, the Sherman was equipped with a turret power traverse
mechanism. This was considered to be one of the best features of the tank. Three
companies made these. The Westinghouse model was driven electrically, while the
Logansport and Oil Gear units were hydraulic. The Oil Gear Power Traverse (pictured above) was
found to be superior, and was standardized for all Shermans on March 30 1943. A
few lists of individual tank components lead us to believe that PCF began
production with the Westinghouse Power Traverse. They are stated to have
switched over to the Oil Gear at the beginning of August. Right side photo courtesy of Don Allen.
Click on the picture for larger size
The photo above shows a PCF M4A1 being loaded onto a
"Warwell Car" in Calcutta in April 1944. A close examination of the Archives
print determined that the USA Number ("still" in blue drab) was 3061430,
indicating September 1943 production. This tank has all of the modifications
seen on "Chattanooga-Chu-Chu." However, in September, the original blade sight
was replaced by the commander's vane sight. (We've marked this in the photo,
since it is barely visible.) This tank also has the pressed spoke road wheels.
The bogie units are standard for PCF from Spring 1943 onward, except that the
right suspension arm (1) is the earlier type without the "wrench holes." The
sealant on the top front of the turret suggests the presence of the 2 inch smoke
mortar (2). This was most likely added at a Tank Depot. We have conflicting
statements regarding PCF and the smoke mortar. Either it was not factory
installed "due to termination of contract," or it was installed starting
November 1, 1943.
Click on the picture for larger size
Another Signal Corps photo showing "M4A4 and M4A1
tanks stored along Hospital Road in Calcutta, India 6 April 1944." We identify
these tanks as PCF simply because late 1943 production Lima Locomotive and
Pressed Steel Car M4A1s were not built with the M3 type drive sprockets. The
M4A4 has the old blade sight (1), while the M4A1s have vane sights (2). Both
sights are often seen together in period photos. This would indicate that the
vane sight was installed as a depot or field modification. All of the M4A1s have
the late, sharp nosed E8543 differential housings. At least two of them appear
to be the early type with the cast in steps. Note that these M4A1s are equipped
with rubber block tracks.
While some of the M4A1s from PCF's Fall production were
shipped overseas, a few others took part in an "Army War Show" (Bond Drive?) in
Seattle. The photo above is dated October 4 1943. The features seen on these
tanks, the commander's vane sight in particular, suggest that they would have
been accepted in September. All of them have rubber block tracks, and at least 3
have sharp nosed differential housings with the cast in steps. Tanks 1 and 3
have the D50878 "no pistol port" turrets that began to enter into production at
PCF in July. Before they became widely available, manufacturers were directed to
weld up the pistol ports, and add the "thin spot" armor patches to their
remaining supplies of earlier turrets. Tank 2 appears to have a welded up pistol
port turret, presumably with the appliqué patch on the right front.
The "end of line" at Pacific Car. "3917" is chalked on the
side of this tank. We assume that is the tank's serial number, which would make
it the last unit accepted in October 1943. November was the final month of
Sherman production, and the last 13 tanks were assigned Serial Numbers 3918
through 3930. Perhaps some glitch caused a delay with 3917, so that ultimately
it was the last M4A1 to leave the plant? Note that the driver's hatch has yet to
be installed. The center glacis location of the siren (1) interfered somewhat
with the movement of the gun travel lock. Ultimately, the siren was relocated
next to the left headlight, but this photo suggests that PCF completed
production without moving it. There is no smoke mortar hole visible, which would
lead us to conclude that PCF never factory installed the mortar. We have assumed
that PCF and the other manufacturers that left the Sherman program at the end of
1943, would have finished out production with "no pistol port" turrets. However,
3917 has an earlier D50878 low bustle turret with working pistol port (2). The
Ordnance Department considered the pistol port to be a ballistic weak point, and
eliminated it from the turret design in April 1943. The decision was so
unpopular with tank crews that it was reversed, and the pistol port was
reinstated in July. However, only the 3 companies that remained in the Sherman
program after 1943 were directed to reintroduce pistol port turrets in
production, which they did, starting in late 1943. In any case, it seems likely
that the Ordnance Inspector at PCF accepted 3917 with a functioning pistol port.
Pacific Car & Foundry was a rather minor producer of
Shermans. The plant had a production capacity of 150 units per month, but rarely
produced even half that number. The original contract was for 2316 M4A1s, with
925 to be made in 1942 alone. Difficulties with the timely procurement of
critical items, coupled with the Government's dwindling tank requirements, led
the company to opt out of the Sherman program in July 1943. They completed
production in November with a total of 926 units. By comparison, Chrysler nearly
matched PCF's total output in a single month, with 907 M4A4s accepted in
December 1942. As a consequence of their low output, not many PCF built M4A1s
Perhaps the most interesting surviving example is shown
above. These two photos show SN 3009. The original USA Number, 3060576, is
still faintly visible in blue drab. This tank was accepted in June, 1942, and
was the 5th Sherman built by PCF. The years have worn away the paint, revealing
this to be one of the hulls that had been drilled for the fixed machine guns.
The holes can be seen to have been filled in by welding. One of the holes for
the "pepperpot" exhaust can be seen in the rear photo. It is very likely that
the M3 bogies are original. The turret has weathered at a different rate
compared to the hull, which may be an indication that it is not the original.
However, it has features appropriate to a 1942 vintage Sherman. On the other
hand, the E8543 differential housing is definitely a retrofit, as it did not
enter production until about a year after this tank was built. Left photo courtesy of Peter Garwood.
A relatively "as built" or unmodified hull is rare on
surviving Shermans. This tank can be seen to be equipped with the "aircraft type
cowl fasteners," used to secure sand shields before the introduction of the
standard sand shield design in mid 1943. The government made an effort install
sand shields on British and US Shermans bound for North Africa. These were hung
from the fasteners as seen in photo 3. The presence of these leads us to suspect
that this tank may have been sent to Northwest Africa in late 1942 or early
1943. The name "Broncho" can be seen painted on twice, and may be a clue that
this tank served with the US Army during WW II. Upper right photo courtesy of Chris Hughes.
The above shows Serial Number 3049, which would have been
accepted in September 1942. This tank has a Chrysler-Evansville dataplate which
provides the information that it was remanufactured in November 1944. Before
that it would have served as a training vehicle in the US. Note that this M4A1
was built with direct vision. During remanufacture, such tanks had the DV slots
welded shut, and further ballistic protection was provided by the addition of a
pair of sloping armor plates (1). The tank has almost every modification
available by late 1944, except for the commander's vision cupola. Since it is in
Europe, it seems possible that, after remanufacture, it was shipped there as a
replacement in 1945.
With all of the modificatons, this M4A1 is almost
unrecognizable as an early PCF. However, the E4153 upper hull casting is serial
number 20, indicating that it was only the 20th hull made by Continental Foundry
& Machine, East Chicago. The steel foundry at PCF produced more than just
gun mount castings. This tank, Broncho and a few other surviving PCF M4A1s have
drivers' hatches with the "P in a circle" logo. Other castings seen with the PCF
logo include pistol port doors and the armored air intake covers. An Ordnance
document has it that PCF was "scheduled" to produce 70 D50878 turrets in June
1943. We suspect this schedule was cancelled since the company was dropping out
of the Sherman program. In any case, we have examined many D50878 turrets over
the years, and have yet to come across an example with the PCF
Another remanufactured PCF M4A1 is on display at Fort Leonard Wood in
Missouri. An old GI's photo (left) shows that this tank was assigned USA
3060668, indicating October 1942 production. The front view shows that it was
retrofitted with the E9 modification
. E9 kits appear to have become
available to the remanufacturers starting around February 1945. Originally, the
siren was installed on the left front fender. The remanufacturers moved it to
what we think of as the "final position" next to the left headlight, where it
wouldn't interfere with the gun travel lock. A little housing (1) was placed
over the elbow of the electrical conduit, presumably to protect it from from
being stepped on. The head lamp plug holders are in their original "up/ down"
We doubt that the two surviving PCF M4A1s featured earlier have their
original turrets. 3060668 definitely doesn't. The casting marks seen above
feature the "U on a keystone" logo of Union Steel. We approach the Ordnance
documents with some skepticism, but Union Steel is not listed as a turret
supplier to PCF. Furthermore, the rather high turret serial number of 3026 would
indicate that it was cast about 5 months after 3060668 was accepted. The
commander's vision cupola (1), armored periscope cover (2), MG stowage (3) and
extended fenders (4) are just a few of the many modifications that were added to
this tank during remanufacture.
Above is Serial Number 3714, a
PCF M4A1 currently displayed in front of the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon,
Netherlands "as a remembrance of the actions of the American 7th Armored
Division in 1944." It was restored by Iwan Van Dijk, Niek Hendrix, Hans van
Toer, Piet Peters and Herman Dinnissen, with the aid of a number of local firms.
The left side photo shows the tank just before it was recovered from a Target
Range. It then had the E9 suspension modification, which would indicate that it
was remanufactured in the US in 1945. The E9 was removed during the restoration
to give the tank more of the appearance of a 7th AD Sherman in the Fall of 1944.
Nothing is known of its WW II history, but 3714 was most likely sent to The
Netherlands as military aid in the early 1950s. Left side photo courtesy of http://www.shermantankoverloon.nl/ and right side photo courtesy of Massimo Foti.
few minor variations can be found on Shermans produced by each of the
builders. On the 6 or so surviving PCF M4A1s we have examined, there are
little half round pieces (1) welded to the hull and to the hinge
barrels of the armored gas cap covers. In most cases, the other
companies welded the hinge barrels directly to the hull such as can be
seen on example 2. The half round pieces are present on the engine deck
gas cap covers of the other PCF M4A1s, which leads us to think that the
original front engine deck on 3060668 may have been replaced. Note that
the slotted bolts on the ventilator cover (3) are symmetrically spaced.
All cast hull Shermans appear to have used "symmetrical" ventilator
covers, whereas welded hull Shermans, with the exception of Pressed
Steel Car M4s, appear to have used covers with an asymmetrical bolt
evidence is that Continental Foundry and Machine was PCF's sole supplier
of E4153 upper hull castings. Counting heads suggests that the "indents"
(4) seen here, and in this general shape, are typical of CFM hull
castings, including the later large hatch, E8595 hulls. All Ft Leonard
Wood photos courtesy of Bill Miley.