M4A2(75)s manufactured by Federal Machine and Welder (FMW)
Note: Not much information about Federal Machine and Welder was found in the US Archives, since like all M4A2s, the vast majority were sent out as Lend Lease, & consequently "disappeared" to the researcher. To date, the authors have located two surviving M4A2 chassis that have FMW Serial Numbers. It is hoped a few more examples might be found, perhaps in France, Italy or Russia? Meanwhile, this page must be considered a work in progress, which the authors would hope to update if and when more info is discovered. Any reader submissions concerning FMW Shermans would be most welcome.

First of all, you have to identify the tank as being an M4A2(75) with small hatches.

Federal Machine and Welder manufactured 540 M4A2(75)s from December 1942 through December 1943.
  
Production Order T-3337 : 540 M4A2(75) tanks: Serial Number 14785 / USA 3055965 through S/N 15324 / USA 3056504

serials

M4A2 FMW DV

Federal Machine and Welder was contracted “by the War Department on February 3, 1942 to provide additional facilities at an existing plant for the production of Diesel powered medium weight tanks, model M-4A2.” The original Order was for 650 units plus spare parts, with production scheduled to begin in September, 1942. As it was, due to parts shortages, FMW was the last of the original 11 Sherman manufacturers to commence production. Its first 21 M4A2s were not accepted until December 1942. The photo above provides a view of Serial Number 14801, USA 3055981, one of the M4A2s accepted in December 1942. Note the early drivers’ hoods with Direct Vision slots. These were determined to be ballistic weak spots, and as a result, the Ordnance Department eliminated DV from welded hull Shermans in August, 1942. It would take some months before the new elongated drivers' hood castings could be manufactured and procured, but most manufacturers had completed the transition to the later drivers’ hoods  by December, 1942. This photo makes it clear that Federal Machine had not completed the transition at the outset of production. Serial Numbers 14801 and 14806 were shipped to Aberdeen Proving Ground for inspection and evaluation in February, 1943. In regard to quality, it was remarked that these were some of “the best production tanks received.” The step bracket (1) and the dust cover for the bow machine gun (2) were not part of the original Sherman design, but were introduced in production in the Fall of 1942. The T49 "interrupted parallel bar" tracks (3) were utilized when Japanese conquests in Asia created a rubber shortage which compelled the Ordnance Department to employ some steel track alternatives.

M4A2 FMW DV

A view of what remains of Federal Machine and Welder M4A2, Serial Number 14815, currently stored at the Saumur Tank Museum in France. Quite frankly, the authors were somewhat surprised to see Direct Vision (hidden by the front "appliqué" plates) “still” present on this Feb 1943 production unit. Certain clues on 14815 suggest it was one of the 218 M4A2s remanufactured by Fisher Body in mid 1944. For instance, the chassis has what look to be factory applied appliqué plates, along with fittings for the blanket roll rack modification. Some original wartime shipping markings can still be read on the sides. "Shipping Order 5-G-53" was code for 372 Lend Lease M4A2(75)s allocated to the United Kingdom in August, 1944. Based on some War Forwarding Corporation docs, this tank was probably shipped to the UK in Sept, 1944. Further evidence of this tank's Commonwealth history can be seen in the British type fittings for spare track holders on the front hull, & fire extinguisher clamp remains on the rear sponsons.


M4A2 FMW DV

In early 1943, Lima Locomotive Works was contracted to develop a new tank retriever design based on the Sherman. Five pilot models were produced, each of which utilized a different version of the M4 series. “T5E2” was the test model designation given to the retriever based on the M4A2. Upon approval of the design, Sherman based Tank Recovery Vehicles were designated as the M32 series, with M4A2 models labeled “M32B2.” The T5E2 pilot was completed in the Summer of 1943 and shipped to the Tank Destroyer Board at Camp Hood, Texas shortly thereafter. Despite it being a pilot, it was the single unit featured in the M32 series Technical Manual published in December, 1943. The T5E2 pilot was converted from M4A2 Serial Number 14926, USA 3056106, which had been produced by Federal Machine & Welder in April, 1943. We would observe in passing that 3056106 features the later elongated drivers' hood castings with the additional periscopes in front of the drivers’ hatches. On the other hand, the hull lifting rings are “still” the earlier “padded” type (inset), also present on Serial Numbers 14801 and 14815. Only 26 M4A2s were converted to retrievers. All were done by Lima for the US Marine Corps, and all appear to have been converted from new production Fisher M4A2s. Thus, it would seem that the T5E2 pilot was the only FMW based retriever conversion.


M4A2 FMW

With a total acceptance of only 540 M4A2(75)s, Federal Machine and Welder was one of the smaller manufacturers of Shermans, averaging less than 50 units per month for the year that they were in production. By contrast, the Chrysler Corporation produced 907 M4A4s in December, 1942 alone. FMW had its plant in Warren, Ohio. No caption was included with the above photo, but a recent image from Google Street View confirms that the scene was shot on Mahoning Avenue in Warren. An Ordnance document has it that FMW introduced the M34A1 gun mount in April, 1943, so this photo may show a freshly minted M4A2 with some women factory workers on parade in the Spring of 1943, just before the trees came back to life. Note the M3 Lee type drive sprocket not commonly seen on Shermans after 1942.


M4A2 FMW
Click on the photo for larger size

The next Sherman in our chronology is Serial Number 14993, which would have been accepted in June 1943. It was tested and photographed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in July. Note that this tank is equipped with the positive hatch lock mechanisms on both the commander's and drivers' hatches. It can be seen to have the "final" type of lifting ring casting, but "still" has the M3 style drive sprocket. While the tank in the preceding photo can be seen with the early one-piece differential housing, 14993 has the three-piece, suggesting that FMW received supplies of both types. In the same vein, 14993 can be seen with the "pressed spoke" road wheels while other examples have the welded spoke type. The use of both rubber and steel tracks can also be seen in our period photos.


M4A2 FMW

A view of the Federal Machine and Welder M4A2, Serial Number 15056, accepted in July, 1943. It is currently on an active target range in Western France. This tank was probably received as Lend Lease by the Free French Army in North Africa in late 1943. Traces of the gun travel lock can be seen, and certain Ordnance Department documents suggest that this unit was one of the first to have it factory installed by FMW. On the other hand, this tank appears to have been shipped without some of the more common modifications of the second half of 1943, such as the appliqué plates on the front and sides. Period photos and a number of surviving French Shermans show that the side appliqué plates were crudely tack welded on, something that wouldn't have been acceptable at a US factory or tank depot. One theory is that French units training in the UK before D-Day were supplied with a number of these modification kits, but lacked the time and manpower to do a proper installation. US units in the UK had the same problem, but were able to contract British firms to apply the modifications assembly line style. In any case, 15056 shows evidence of having had the side appliqué plates tack welded on.


M4A2 FMW

A rear shot of Serial Number 15056. The authors suspect this tank survived WWII, & that the commander's vision cupola & MG stowage mods were added by the French postwar. Otherwise, the turret could be original to the tank. The welded up pistol port and factory installed application of the turret patch are appropriate to July 1943 production.


FMW front glacis    FMW front glacis

These photos don't show confirmed surviving FMW M4A2s, but illustrate the construction of the front glacis as seen on our  two surviving examples. The red lines indicate the weld joints. Note that the "plate" that includes the bow MG was actually a casting, whereas the other sections of the glacis were armor plates.


FMW bow MG    FMW bow MG

The two known FMW built Shermans can be seen to have a single variant of the bow MG socket. Note the little "buttons" on the corners of the plates (circled in red).


FMW hull antenna bracket    FMW bow MG

The typical cast antenna bracket seen on FMW built Shermans. Note how the bracket is mounted on top of the glacis plate, as opposed to the flush mounting seen on some other makers' Shermans. The antenna casting on S/N 15056 carries Part Number D52416.


FMW DV drivers hood    FMW DV drivers hood

Although the authors don't have any proof, we would assume that some or all of the FMW M4A2s made before Serial Numbers 14801 and 14815 also had direct vision. Perhaps a few after SN 14815 had it as well? In the right side  photo of Serial Number 14815, the DV slots are "hidden" behind the drivers' hood appliqué plates, which were probably installed during a remanufacture done by Fisher in 1944. The left side photo provides an interior view of one of the direct vision slots.


FMW cast drivers hood    FMW cast drivers hood

The direct vision slots were considered ballistic weak points, and it is obvious that FMW dispensed with them at "some time in early 1943." The modified drivers' hood casting featured an additional periscope in front of the drivers' hatches. Note that these drivers' hoods castings are what are informally referred to as the "narrow" type, and were used by most producers of small hatch M4s and M4A2s.


FMW head lamp sockets

The two known FMW built Shermans are equipped with the cast type of head lamp sockets used by most of the manufacturers of small hatch Shermans.


FMW hull lifting rings    FMW hull lifting rings

Serial Number 14815 is equipped with "padded" hull lifting rings. These were castings with rectangular bases, which were introduced early on in Sherman production.


 FMW hull lifting rings

FMW apparently transitioned to the use of the most common and final type of hull lifting ring castings "some time in the second quarter of 1943."


FMW bullet splash

With the exception of Fisher Body, all of the manufacturers of welded hull Shermans, used cast turret splash sections (the weld joints are indicated in red).


FMW

Examination of the two surviving examples of FMW M4A2s, show them with lower rear hulls constructed of armor plate with an angled transition piece joining to the the belly plate.


FMW
Click on the photo for larger size

S/N 15161 / USA 3056341, a September 1943 production unit, was photographed in Detroit a month later. This tank displays most of the modifications that had been developed to improve the original design of the welded hull, small hatch Sherman. Note the sharp nosed differential housing, which was considered a ballistic improvement over the original one-piece design. US manufacturers were mandated to use the new type exclusively starting in September, 1943. Unlike some of our earlier FMW examples, 15161 features what the authors informally refer to as the "plain" drive sprocket, the most common type seen on Shermans from 1943 onward. While the tank has the open spoke road wheels first used on the M3 Medium, the idler wheel is of the "disc type." It was found that the open spoke idler could become clogged & interfere with the operation of the track, so the "pressed spoke" disc type was mandated starting in September. While not readily apparent, 15161 features the redesigned commander's cupola with built in hatch locking and equilibration. Other mods that can be seen are the periscope guards, 2 inch smoke mortar, and the commander's vane sight. Note the absence of a pistol port on the turret. A stencil on the sand shield reads "Processed by L.T.D. (Lima Tank Depot) 10/24/43." One of the functions of the Tank Depot was as a modification "backstop." Any mods not factory installed were to be installed at the Depot before the tank was shipped.


FMW
Click on the photo for larger size

FMW was dropped from the Sherman program in December 1943, and our final example shows S/N 15283 / USA 3056463 one of their last units. This tank was photographed at APG in January 1944 during an Inspection Control Test. While FMW only built 540 M4A2s, it should be noted that Ordnance Inspectors consistently found their Shermans to be of the highest quality construction. 15283 is very similar in appearance to our preceding example, but note the introduction of the "upturned" return roller arms. The siren has been repositioned to the glacis and is protected by a brush guard. The new configuration is similar to what can be seen on 47 degree, welded hull Shermans. The "bump" on the right front of the turret indicates the casting was "thickened" in that area, obviating the need for the welded on turret patch. One Ordnance Document has it that FMW introduced the Loader's Escape Hatch at S/N 15185, but it can't be confirmed in our photo. The other Sherman manufacturers that were dropped from the program by the end of 1943, were exempt from the loader's hatch requirement, and finished out production with the "no pistol port" turrets.


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