M4A2(75) Shermans in combat
Most of the information on this page is courtesy of Joe DeMarco. Note: some of the information 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."

First of all, you have to identify the tank as being an M4A2(75) with small hatches. Please visit this page to do so.


Introduction


M4A2

The rapid expansion of M3 Medium Tank production required more power plants than the limited supply of Radial tank engines could provide. Consequently, the Ordnance Department cast about for other possibilities. In August, 1941, General Motors was contracted to perform an experimental installation using M3 Lee Serial Number 28, which was pulled off the line at Chrysler and shipped a short distance to GM’s Detroit Diesel Plant. The configuration combined two "off the shelf" GM 6-71 diesel truck engines that were “coupled together by means of a transfer case delivering the doubled power to a single driver shaft.” Together the engines developed about 400 horsepower. SN 28 was successfully tested at APG, and in October, 1941, the twin diesel engine was designated the "GM Model 6046," and authorized for production as an alternate power plant for the Medium Tank. Above shows SN 28 at APG in November, 1941. The upper rear hull plate was reconfigured by being elongated and mounted on an angle in order to accommodate and protect the rear mounted radiators. The engine access doors in the lower rear plate of the original M3 design were eliminated, and instead a pair of mufflers were mounted across the plate. Note that a sheet metal exhaust deflector was installed on the pilot. The engine was serviced through a rather large pair of doors on the engine deck. This configuration was carried over to the Sherman design as the M4A2.


M4A2

Above shows a GM Model 6046 twin diesel on display at the Tank Museum at Bovington. Note the transfer case indicated by the arrow. The size of the twin engine configuration necessitated a number of changes to the layouts of both the engine and fighting compartments. For instance, the addition of the transfer case made the power pack longer than the engine compartment. Consequently, the firewall was altered to permit the transfer case to protrude into the fighting compartment. From the start the US Army had determined that it would employ gasoline powered Shermans in its armored units, so production of the diesel was primarily intended to satisfy the requirements of the Lend Lease Program. Photo courtesy of the late Massimo Foti, a fine photographer, and friend to Sherman Minutia.



M4A2

In April, 1942, the M4A2 became the first model of welded hull Sherman to go into production at both Fisher Body and Pullman Standard. This photo shows the pilot tank produced by Fisher (Serial Number 2305, accepted in April 1942). The welded hull configuration varied from company to company, and underwent a number refinements over time. It is believed that the 50 first units produced by Fisher were similar to SN 2305. No doubt this early configuration would have been based on the design concepts of the M4 welded hull pilot constructed without turret at Rock Island Arsenal in October, 1941. The pilot used the M3 Medium Tank lower hull, power train, engine & running gear. The upper hull of the RIA pilot utilized various cast components plugged into the basic assembly of welded together armor plates. These castings included the drivers' hoods, antenna bracket, bow and fixed machine gun "plate," hull ventilators, and a bullet splash guard around the turret, to name a few. We have not come across any photos of the RIA pilot, and it strikes us as possible that the hull was sent to either Fisher or Pullman and used for one of their pilots, with the GM Twin Diesel Power Plant replacing the original Wright Radial engine. 


Combat debut in El Alamein



M4A2    M4A2

The Sherman’s combat debut came with the British at the Second Battle of El Alamein, which commenced on October 24, 1942. The story is well known, but to recap...On June 21, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was at the White House when he got the news of the surrender of Tobruk. President Franklin Roosevelt asked if there was anything he could do to help, and without hesitation, Churchill replied, "Give us as many Sherman tanks as you can spare, and ship them to the Middle East as quickly as possible." Soon after, Roosevelt ordered the dispatch of 300 Shermans and 100 M7 Priests. This would have been pretty much the entire production of Shermans up to that point. The tanks were collected up from the factories, as well as from US units that had just begun training with them. The "5185 Opportunity" convoy sailed on July 15, 1942 with 302 Shermans and 100 Priests. The Shermans break down to 212 M4A1s and 90 M4A2s. The S.S. Fairport with 51 M4A1s and 32 Priests on board was sunk by a U-Boat the next day. The Seatrain Texas sailed unescorted two weeks later with replacements of 52 M4A1s and 25 Priests. The voyage took two months, and the Shermans began to arrive in Egypt in September, 1942. Apart from these, an earlier “regular” Lend Lease shipment of 15 M4A2s “which had been intended to come well ahead...actually only preceded [the emergency shipment] by a few days. The IWM photos above are dated September, 9th. On July 15, when the convoy sailed, the only M4A2s that were in production were made by either Fisher or Pullman. This tank can be seen as T-74271. In another photo from this series, the USA Number is partially visible as “305313X,” indicating that it was made by Pullman. Note the “low” position of the turret lifting rings. Counting heads suggests that Fisher continued with the “high” lifting rings into early 1943. From that we “interpolate” that any of the 105 M4A2s in theater at the time, and seen with “high” lifting rings would have been Fishers, and any with the “lows” would have been Pullmans. The British War Department Numbers of these first 105 all appear to have been in the T-742XX and T-743XX range. The M3 Medium was built without hull lifting rings, and this deficiency was corrected with the M4 series. However, stevedores were reluctant to “trust” the lifting rings, and continued the damaging practice of hoisting the tanks as shown above, using slings running under or across the belly plate. IWM E16599 and E16603.


M4A2

In a photo from the same IWM series, the USA Number, 3053165 (inset), is just visible on the rear side of the M4A2 in the foreground. This tank can also be seen to be T-74291. Units records list T-74291 as with the 47th Royal Tank Regiment. It was battle damaged during the Alamein campaign, but recovered and repaired. In a General Motors Technician's Report from Tripoli dated August, 1943, T-74291 is listed as Pullman Serial Number 955, which is an exact mathematical match to USA 3053165. Serial Number 955 would have been accepted in early July 1942, overall Pullman’s 51st M4A2. Since the convoy sailed on July, 15th, it is pretty certain that this was a new tank shipped directly from the production lines, not one that had been issued to US troops. There wouldn’t have been any time for that. The "UFS" seen painted on these Shermans is shipping code for "US-Freetown-Slow." It was a slow speed, zig-zagging convoy from the US to Freetown in West Africa. From there, the Royal Navy took over escort duty for the long journey around Africa, through the Suez Canal and on to Egypt. Most of the “Alamein Shermans” are noted with 3-piece differential housings, but a close examination of the front reveals that SN 955 was built with a 1-piece. The engine deck of the M4A1 in the background is “clean,” while the M4A2’s is “busy” with a number of additional cable clamps on the rear most plate. This reflects the original plan to stow the towing cable on the engine deck in the manner of the M3 Medium and T6 (Sherman) pilot. Ultimately, the tow cable was stored along the left side of the Sherman, but the rear deck clamps are seen in a few photos of early Fisher and Pullman M4A2s. Based on what we know of this M4A2, we could observe that "the rear deck clamps are seen on some Pullmans produced up to July, 1942." IWM E16607.


M4A2

In this view from the same IWM series of September 9th, the M4A2 can be seen as USA 3053166, the next tank built by Pullman after SN 955 of the previous caption. This tank carries the British Number T-74299, and like its sister tank above, is listed in unit records as in service with the 47th Royal Tank Regiment during the Alamein Campaign. Since we’ve been asked many times, we would like to point out that there is no mathematical correlation between the British assigned WD Numbers and the US Ordnance Serial and/or Registration Numbers. For instance, in this case, we see that 3053165 of the previous caption was T-74291, while 3053166 was T-74299. The WD Numbers were not assigned in strict sequence, which makes it impossible to determine the builder or month of production of a Sherman if all one knows is the WD Number. It is evident that the Shermans seen in this series were outfitted with sand shields before they left the US. Pullman provided and installed sand shields for most of their Grants, but in the case of the "5185 Opportunity" shipment, the evidence suggests that these were installed at the Tank Depots which were just coming on line in the US. Note that the front section of the sand shield is rounded on the Shermans, as opposed to the angled fronts on the Grants and Priests. The rounded configuration was adopted when the Ordnance Department mandated the installation of sand shields in mid 1943. T-74299 still has some of its “On Vehicle Materiel” [OVM] boxes mounted on the rear deck. Most of the items would have been unpacked and placed in or on the vehicle when it was processed for issue at a Base Workshop. Note that T-74299 can also be seen with additional cable clamps on the rear engine deck. IWM E 16608.


M4A2    M4A2

The IWM photos above are part of a series dated October 10, 1942, about two weeks before the start of the Second Battle of El Alamein. They document the visit of a child entertainer named Tita Rickard to a repair crew working on a Sherman “in the Western Desert.” Note the presence of the bump in the photo on the left. Due to the date and the low position of the turret lifting ring, we take this example to be another Pullman M4A2 from the emergency, or what the British frequently termed, "the special shipment." At first we thought that the use of the glacis casting with the bump was short lived, and limited to a few early M4A2s, along with the two Ford M4A3 pilots. These castings, with the machine gun fittings on the inside, would have been rendered obsolete with the elimination of the twin fixed machine guns in March, 1942. We would note that in the few period photos showing the "bump" on M4A2s, as well as on the two known surviving examples, the tanks have direct vision. However, the bump has also been observed in a pair of photos of early 1943 production M4s thought to have been made by ALCO, and with the later type of drivers' hoods. We can only guess that the use of these castings in 1943 was a case of recycling, or “waste not, want not.” At any rate, “the bump” provides us with an interesting and ongoing little Sherman mystery. Note that this unit has a 1-piece differential housing, which is seen in period photos on a small number of the special shipment M4A2s and M7 Priests, but so far not the M4A1s. The British added a number of internal and external items when they processed these tanks for issue. An obvious one here is the sunshield framework running along the side of the vehicle. Another is the stowage box affixed to the rear of the turret. Based on the locations given in the War Diaries of the 41st and 47th RTRs, we believe this scene was shot in the area of Wadi El Farigh, about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Cairo. IWM E 17857 and E 17854.


M4A2

Since more than twice as many M4A1s were sent with the special shipment, they got most of the photographic “publicity.” For instance, the crews and M4A1s of C Squadron, 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division were extensively photographed "in action" on October 16, 1942. It might be said that this series has become iconic, as any account of the Second Battle of El Alamein, will generally include one or more of these photos. However, the M4A2s also fought in the campaign from the start. The various “Tank State” documents record a total of 318 Shermans in the Middle East at the beginning of the battle. Unfortunately, these and the unit diaries don’t break down petrol versus diesel Shermans, so we have tried to seek out clues where possible. For instance, on September 4th, 1942, Eighth Army Headquarters directed that the 1st and 8th Armoured Divisions, along with the 9th Armoured Brigade, would receive the “Swallows.” As they were processed for issue in September, the 1st AD and 9th AB were assigned 94 and 46 petrol Shermans respectively. The first 64 diesels processed were ordered to the 8th AD, along with 30 petrols, which would be “replaced by Diesels as and when available.” From this we interpolate that, leading up to the start of the battle, the 8th AD, and more specifically, the 24th Armoured Brigade, was chosen to receive all of the available diesels. Due to manpower and materiel shortages, the 8th AD was essentially disbanded before the start of the battle, and the 24th Armoured Brigade, made up of the 41st, 45th and 47th Royal Tank Regiments, was transferred to the 10th Armoured Division on October 12th. IWM E 18377.


M4A2

The WD Numbers reported for the battle in their respective War Diaries suggest that enough M4A2s to fully equip two Squadrons were issued to both the 41st and 47th Battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment, while the 45th RTR appears to have been issued M4A1s. Each of the Battalions began the battle with 3 Squadrons (A, B and C), two with Shermans, and one with Crusaders and each Squadron would have been composed of 14 tanks, assuming full availability. Unfortunately, the Shermans are not listed in the diary as “petrol” or “diesel,” but we interpolate from our counting heads research that the WD numbers in the T-74213 to T-74317 range were M4A2s. From this we take it that the 41st and 47th RTRs began the battle with only diesel Shermans. The WD Numbers listed in the diary for the Shermans of the 24th Armoured Brigade Headquarters  (T-74233, T-74250, T-74266 and T-74287) indicate M4A2s, and we believe that Dover shown above, was one of these. The day before the battle, the units of the Brigade moved into their starting positions, “and tanks [were] immediately camouflaged as lorries,” as evidenced by the sunshield in place. Dover is in the process of being “teed up” with supplies, and we would observe that this tank has the additional cable clamps on the rear engine deck, and they appear to be preventing the various crates from lying flat. The dual muffler and exhaust system is partly visible here. We would have expected to see the sheet metal exhaust deflector mounted in front of (and obscuring) the mufflers, but it is notably absent in this and the few other rear shots of the Alamein M4A2s. The “71 on a square” painted on the rear sand shield identifies "Dover" as belonging to an Armoured Brigade HQ (BHQ), while another Sherman in this photo series (“Ports’th,” IWM E 18460) shows the formation marking confirming the brigade as the 24th Armoured Brigade. IWM E 18463.


M4A2

The first phase of El Alamein offensive was codenamed “Operation Lightfoot.” In brief, the plan was for the infantry in the northern sector of the line to attack and overwhelm the Axis’ forward positions. Sappers would then clear two corridors through the minefields permitting the armor to break through. “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy,” and the leading armor units, including the 8th and 24th Armoured Brigades, found that the gaps in the minefields had not been cleared. Thus their progress was stalled, and limited to “bridgeheads” where they faced extremely strong defenses. British armored units took a tremendous pounding, but thanks in part to the 75 mm guns of the many M3 and M4 Mediums deployed, they gave nearly as good as they got in a battle of attrition that the Axis forces simply could not withstand. The War Diaries of the 41st, 45th and 47th Battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment state that they suffered their first tank casualties on October 25, 1942, the day after they were committed. An “Account of Operations 19th to the 29th October 1942,” written by Lt. Colonel J B Whitehead, Commanding Officer of the 41st RTR reports, “Just before sunset about forty German Mark III and IV tanks attacked across the flank of 41 RTR. These were hotly engaged and several were soon in flames. Throughout the day our tanks were subjected to heavy artillery shelling from 105mm guns, which were numerous on our front and our first tank, 'Cocky', was knocked-out.” The photo above shows T-74267 "Bacchus", an M4A2 that was reported with the 47th RTR, "Battle damaged, recovered & evac'd" in a 24th Armoured Brigade Tank Casualty State of November, 1942.


M4A2    M4A2

The 24th Armoured Brigade reportedly started the battle with 93 "Swallows." Counting heads suggests that a little more than 60 of them in the 41st and 47th RTRs, along with 24th AB Headquarters were M4A2s or Sherman IIIs. The Brigade was "used up" after 5 days in combat. Towards the end, the 41st RTR "could muster only eight," the 45th nine, and the 47th five running Shermans. The Brigade was withdrawn from the front "for a rest and refit" on October 29th. In fact, this was the unit's first and last battle. On the 30th, it's remaining Shermans and Crusaders were "handed over to Queen's Bays, 9 Lancers, and 10 Hussars" of the 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division. The photos above were taken on November 10th by US Army Major Paul Wickens as part of a Military Intelligence Report "illustrating battle damage encurred (sic) by American tanks during the recent Alamein Offensive." Wickens examined about a dozen M4A1s as well as 2 M4A2s. "Many...were found about 9 miles South of the Rahman Mosque in the exact positions in which they were knocked out." Others, such as the M4A2 on the left had been removed to the "Rahman Collecting Point." The Major was an Ordnance officer, and noted that the "3 50 mm hits on turret" were not penetrations, whereas the hit on the left front sponson was. We see no obvious clues that could identify the unit, or if this was a Pullman or Fisher. It can be seen to have a 1-piece differential housing. Wickens made no comments about the M4A2 seen on the right, which appears to have been photo'd where it was KO'd. We would guess that this example was built by Fisher, as the turret splash appears to have the sharp angle (arrow) typical of the fabrications used by them. The pressed metal road wheels (1) are not commonly seen on the Alamein Shermans. The WD Number is not entirely readable, but appears to be in the T-7430X range. We don't believe that the units of the 24th Armoured Brigade ever got as far as the Rahman track, although these two may have been former 24th AB M4A2s, perhaps provided to one of the units of the 2nd Armoured Brigade as replacements?


M4A2

The IWM photo above is captioned "A tank crew during a moment of relaxation in a tank battle," and is dated "29.10.42" [Oct. 29, 1942]. The cartoon figure of "Capt. Reilly-Ffoul" no doubt caught the photographer's eye. An article, "From Oldham to Alamein," by Ian Hudson, that appeared in the Autumn 2020 issue of "Tracklink" identifies the crew as members of Five Troop, B Squadron, 47th RTR, and the tank as "Blighty." The piece is essentially a tribute to the young man seen in the lower right - Trooper Frederick Keates, the "wireless operator and gun loader." The 3 Shermans of Five Troop were reportedly KO'd as they advanced south of Kidney Ridge on October 27, 1942. A round penetrated the turret, killing young Fred, and wounding the Commander, Lt. Bob Hiseman (with arms akimbo in the photo), and the gunner Trooper Mackay (standing above Fred). Note the trailing return roller arm just visible on the center bogie. "Blighty" is proof that at least one the "Alamein" M4A2s was equipped with M4 bogies. At present, we have not encountered any photos of Alamein M4A1s with this feature. Sometimes the official captions can be misleading, and sometimes the dates are incorrect. Ian Hudson's research has led him to conclude that this photo "was actually taken around the 21st October," that is, 3 days before the start of the Second Battle of El Alamein. IWM E 18696.


M4A2

It has been difficult to determine the exact appearance of the Alamein M4A2s, since there is usually only one period photo of any particular example, and details such as the glacis pattern are often indistinct or obscured. We believe that there is a surviving M4A2 that may have been one of the 90 M4A2s received by the Brits as part of the "Special Shipment," or one of the 15 that was sent to the Middle East just before that as the first regular Lend Lease shipment. All 105 of these arrived in Egypt at about the same time in September, 1942. All would have to have been made before mid July, 1942, when the convoys sailed. This M4A2 is on display at the World War II Military Museum in El Alamein, and still has its original Pullman "1942" dataplate, but, alas, the serial number is obscured, so we can't determine exactly when it was produced. Nonetheless, it has some very early features, such as the "indent" on the rearmost engine deck panel, and 11 bolts across the upper rear hull plate. The rear hull liftings rings are the earliest "bent rod" type, while the ones on the glacis are the "padded" castings which quickly replaced them. Pierre-Olivier personally examined it, and despite some obscuration by the track holders, determined that it has an unusual 7 section glacis pattern, such as seen in a factory photo (inset) of a Pullman M4A2 with "134" stenciled on the side. (We suspect that was the build number, and if so, it would have been accepted in July, 1942.) The tank was extensively rebuilt by cobbling at some point in 1943 or later. However, we don't think this was one of the 535 M4A2s remanufactured in the US in 1944, since they would have been installed with the drivers' hood applique, a bow MG dust cover fitting, and the "official" cast gun travel lock, not the fabricated one it currently has. This leads us to theorize that this tank was rebuilt, perhaps more than once, at British Workshops in the Middle East. A peek inside by a visitor 25 years ago revealed armored ammunition racks and a skeletonized turret basket, which, along with the applique armor on the hull sides indicates that it received the full Quick Fix Modification. It currently has a “no pistol port” turret, which didn't enter the production pipeline until the Summer of 1943. The 3-piece differential housing would appear to be appropriate, but it has a "lip" which was not introduced until late 1942. We suspect that this particular diff was taken from a Chrysler M4A4, and the comb device it still has is typical of the type used by Chester Tank Depot starting in late 1942. If this tank was built with M4 bogies, they would have been earlier than the ones currently on there with the 1943 casting dates. In any case, despite all of the changes, an M4A2 of this vintage certainly has a place at the El Alamein Museum.


M4A2    M4A2

The British expressed disappointment that no further shipments of Shermans would be available to the Middle East until the end of 1942. A Tank State document for early January, 1943 has it that there were 136 "M4A1/M4A2...Serviceable with 8th Army." The doc may provide a clue about the next shipment to the M.E when it records that an additional 65 had "arrived since 6 Jan," and that 105 were in transit. There is also the note that 1237 "M4A1/M4A2" and 185 M4A4 had been allocated to the M.E. up to 31.12.42. However, 241 of the "M4A1/M4A2" had been diverted, and would go the British 1st Army (6th Armoured Division) which was then in Tunisia. In fact, after the "special shipment" which included 264 M4A1s, all of the British Lend Lease allocations in 1942 were of M4A2s (1111) or M4A4s (939) with the exception of one M4A3 sent to the UK for evaluation. Thus we would conclude that all further allocations in the "M4A1/M4A2" category would have been M4A2s. The British found the M4A2 to be greatly superior to the M4A1, noting that it had more power and got better fuel mileage. The two photos above are part of a series dated 15 March, 1943, and entitled "Tanks arrive in Tripoli." After El Alamein, the 8th Army pursued the retreating Afrika Korps, and captured the major port of Tripoli on 23 January, 1943. These 3 Shermans appear to have identical camouflage paint schemes. Most likely they were processed for issue at a Base Shop in Egypt and then shipped the nearly 1300 miles to Tripoli. The tank in the background in the right side photo has a WD Number that begins with T-145XXX. Counting heads suggests that the range from about T-145219 through T-146142 was the next that encompassed M4A2s exclusively. IWM E 22960 and E 22968.


M4A2

The 6th (British) Armoured Division was assigned to support the Eastern Task Force of Operation Torch. The Division's primary armored element was the 26th Armoured Brigade, which deployed from the UK equipped with British tanks, and landed in Algeria between 12th and 22nd November, 1942. Plans for the early capture of the ports of Tunis and Bizerte were dashed when Axis troops were rushed into Tunisia from Italy, and the campaign was stalemated for several months. The first Shermans from the 241 diverted from the Middle East appear to have arrived in February, 1943. For a few days, 54 of them, described as "M4A2 diesel tanks," were loaned to the US 1st Armored Division to make up for the enormous tank losses suffered during the Battle of Kasserine. These formed a reserve, but their "use was unnecessary as the enemy was defeated and withdrew to the east of Kasserine Pass." The tanks were returned to the British on February 27th, and it is thought the 26th Armoured Brigade began re-equipping with M4A2s at that time. The photo above is dated 28 March, 1943 and is captioned "Sherman tanks and crews drawn up for inspection [...] Sakiet Sidi Youssef. 6th Armd. Div." Some sources report that the peculiar style of numbers seen on these tanks was typical of the 16th/5th (The Queen's Royal) Lancers, 26th Armoured Brigade. Period photos of the 6th AD's M4A2s show a much plainer appearance than those of the 8th Army, since they did not receive the Middle East modifications before issue. The tank in the foreground can be seen with a number of improvements, such as the elongated drivers' hoods that eliminated direct vision. Also evident are fittings for the bow machine gun dust cover, and the spot and signal light. The drive sprocket is the "plain" type introduced in the Fall of 1942. The M4 bogies have the half round track skids of the original design, while the next unit features the improved "intermediate" skids. The cast shield protecting the the .30 caliber coaxial machine gun was introduced in the Fall of 1942, and included as On Vehicle Materiel on tanks that were scheduled for overseas shipment. The lead tank is seen with MG and antenna sockets with "sharp edges, indicating that they were fabrications not castings. Pullman Standard appears to have used these fabrications along with cast drivers hoods on the M4A2s it produced for a brief time in late 1942 and early 1943. IWM NA 1574.


M4A2

Hitler's decision to reinforce Tunisia disrupted the goal of Operation Torch - the capture of the ports of Tunis and Bizerte before the end of 1942. However, it might be said that the Allied victory in May 1943 more than made up for the delay. Hitler's "no retreat" obsession, coupled with the growing strength of Allied Naval and Air power in the Mediterranean set the stage for one of those rare occasions in warfare where the entire enemy force was destroyed. A quarter of a million Axis troops were captured, which rivaled in scope the Soviet victory at Stalingrad a few months earlier. The Tank State of 5 May, 1943, about a week before the Axis surrender, indicates that the 9th Corps of the British 1st Army had most of the Commonwealth's operable Shermans. This included 82 in the 6th Armoured Division, and 75 in the 1st Amoured Division, which had fought at Alamein, and was transferred from the 8th to the 1st Army in April. The Shermans are described in the Tank State as "M4A4/M4A2," but we can find no evidence of the presence of M4A4s in Tunisia at this time. It is thought that all of the 6th AD's Shermans would have been M4A2s, while we believe that the 1st AD would have had mostly M4A2s, but also a few of the special shipment M4A1s, and 4 Grants to boot. The 8th Army was relegated to a diversionary role towards the end of the campaign, and its 8th Armoured Brigade is listed with 38 Shermans and 9 Grants, while the 22nd AB reported 34 Shermans and 27 Grants. The total of serviceable Shermans in theater is listed as 265, with an additional 151 "unserviceable." The photo above is dated 14 May, 1943 (a day after the final surrender in Tunisia) and purports to show the "Meeting of First and Eighth Armies at Bou Ficha" [about 36 miles south of Tunis]. The Sherman, which we take to be the 1st Army representative, appears to be another example of a Pullman M4A2 with cast drivers' hoods, but fabricated bow MG and antenna sockets. IWM NA 2921.


M4A2

M4A2s have been difficult to study because most of them "disappeared" to Lend Lease. Not many were used in tests in the US, where evaluation reports, etc. often provide the Serial and/or USA Number and some photos, which in many cases, enables us to gain insight into their appearance at a particular time. Here we would like to pause, and show what is, at present, the only surviving example of an M4A2 that features cast drivers' hoods, coupled with fabricated bow machine gun and antenna sockets, but most significantly, has a known good serial number. According to author Paul Handel's "Australian Shermans" webpage, "The tank arrived in Australia during mid 1943, and on arrival carried both a US registration number (USA W 3096073) and a British registration number (T 146142)." The "XXI in a diamond" shipping code, and the "as built" appearance of the tank upon arrival, would lead us to conclude that 3096073 was shipped directly to Australia from the US. The tank was one of 3 Shermans used in trials in Australia, and, thankfully, this one and an M4 Composite were preserved by the Australian Army Tank Museum in Puckapunyal. USA 3096073 would have been accepted at Pullman Standard in December, 1942. Note the distinct shape of the "narrow" drivers' hood castings (1), and the sharp angles of the fabricated MG (2) and antenna (3) sockets. We would assume that Pullman sourced the fabrications from Fisher Body. Fisher M4A2s of this period used a number of other fabricated components, such as the drivers' hoods, turret splash guards, and head lamp sockets, while these parts are castings on 3096073. There are a three other surviving M4A2s that we suspect are Pullmans because they have similar features. One is the DD at the Tank Museum at Bovington, another is a Dozer Sherman displayed at the Citadel in Cairo, Egypt, and the third is privately owned and has direct vision drivers' hoods. From the available data, we would theorize that Pullman started production using all cast components, and introduced the fabricated components, perhaps mixed in, in the Fall of 1942, and then went back to using all cast components in the Spring of 1943.


M4A2s or Sherman IIIs in Italy


M4A2

For the Invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky), the Eighth Army was equipped exclusively with Shermans. The Tank States don't break them down by type, but the evidence suggests that almost all of those that deployed from North Africa were M4A2s. The 23rd Armoured Brigade had a paper strength of 112 Shermans, 8 in the Brigade Headquarters, and 52 each in the 46 and 50th Royal Tank Regiments. The numbers were the same for the 4th Armoured Brigade composed of the 3rd County of London Yeomanry and the 44th Royal Tank Regiment. The 1st Canadian Tank Brigade was equipped with M4A4s in the United Kingdom, and deployed from there with about 220 units. The IWM photo above is dated 10 July, 1943 (D-Day) with "51st Highland Div." noted in the caption. That would tend to identify the tank as with the 50th RTR, since they supported the 51st during the landings. We would identify the M4A2 itself as an early Pullman by the small bow machine gun casting with the "buttons" on the corners. Like the "Special Shipment" Shermans, this tank lacks the bow MG dust cover fitting and the little step between the drivers' hood, items that were introduced in the Fall of 1942. The WE 210 “Double I” rubber block tracks seen here had been ordered by the British for their Grant program, and we doubt if these would have been original equipment on this or any other Sherman. However, these tracks appear in period photos on quite a few Shermans in Italy. In a November, 1943 “Policy re Tracks” statement from GHQ Middle East, the WE 210 along with Rubber and Steel Chevron tracks were classified as “Operational tracks...which can be used in the European theater of war.” Other types, such as “Plain Rubber” and “Cast Steel,” were classified as “Training tracks...which can be used for training purposes in the Middle East and Turkey.” Thus, it would seem that despite having slightly smaller dimensions than the standard Sherman tracks, the WE 210s remained a preferred combat track of the British. Courtesy of IWM, Photo NA 4197.


M4A2

There was some reluctance on the part of the Americans, but after Sicily, the Western Allies again chose to postpone the opening of the second front demanded by the Soviets (the invasion of France from England). Prime Minister Winston Churchill argued that an attack on Italy would knock them out of the war, and might present an opportunity to defeat Germany through an indirect approach.
In any case, the British Eighth Army landed in Calabria on September 3, 1943. Italy signed an armistice with the Allies on September 8th. On September 9th, the British 1st Airborne Division made unopposed amphibious landings at the ports of Taranto and Brindisi in south-eastern Italy.  "Operation Avalanche," in which British and US troops conducted an amphibious assault at Salerno Bay commenced on the same day. The photo above is dated 9 September, 1943 and shows "a Sherman tank on the main road BATTIPAGLIA ; 9th Bn. Royal Fus." The 40th Royal Tank Regiment provided armor support on D-Day. A few period photos of Commonwealth Shermans show that salvaged turret hatch halves were used to provide additional protection for the driver's hood as seen here. Based on user feedback, the US produced a series of modifications that became available in the Summer and Fall of 1943. One such mod was G104-W83, dated August 23, 1943 ..."To install hatch guards for improving ballistic qualities of the armor plate in front of driver's and assistant driver's hatches." As published, this mod only applied to M4 and M4A3 Medium Tanks, but as quantities increased, it was ordered installed on all applicable Shermans at Depots, as well as those being remanufactured. This tank also appears to have a step welded on to the differential housing in the manner of the M10 Tank Destroyer. IWM NA 6646.


M4A2

The Commonwealth maintained a large presence at strategic points in the Middle East. The area served as a training and/or rebuilding ground for fighting units from all corners of the British Empire. The Italian Campaign was not the "walk over" that some had thought it would be, and "attrition" was much higher than expected. As the forces in the Middle East completed their training/rebuilding, most were deployed to Italy to replace combat losses, along with the loss of veteran units that were ordered to the UK in anticipation of the Normandy Invasion. As of September, 1944, M4A2s reportedly made up the largest number of Shermans in Italy and North Africa at 1540, with the M4A4 coming in second at 1154. Some new types, such as the M4A1(76), M4(105) and "M4 17pdr" were beginning to appear in small numbers. The British 1st Armoured Division arrived in Italy in May, 1944, and in the September Tank State, was listed with the greatest number of different Sherman types, including 33 M4A1(75)s, 45 M4A2(75)s, 75 M4A4s, 28 M4A1(76)s and 17 M4(105)s. The 6th Armoured Division, now part of the 8th Army, had a total of 215 M4A2s, along with 2 M4A1(76)s and 9 M4(105)s. The 2nd Warsaw Armoured Brigade, whose history we will discuss below, is listed with 164 M4A2s and nothing more. There were 548 "non-combat" M4A2s in "Stock, Workshops and Training," along with 32 DDs, which some sources state were all M4A2 based. The photo above dated 18 April, 1944, shows a mix of M4A2s and M4A4s, and is captioned "long line of Sherman tanks in the armour park. No. 1 Advance Base Workshops." This armor park was located on the Corso Malta in Naples. According to their War Diary, No. 1 Advance Base Workshops moved from Tripoli to Naples in October, 1943 after the huge port was captured by the Allies. They were in competition with the US Army and the US and Royal Navies for space, and it is recorded that it took them about a month to find suitable locations for their workshops. IWM NA 14003.


M4A2

The 2nd Warsaw Armoured Brigade is thought to have been the only Polish armored unit that was equipped with M4A2s. The Brigade was formed in 1943 in the Middle East as part of the Polish II Corps. It was composed of the 4th “Skorpion” Armoured Regiment, the 1st Krechowiecki Uhlan Regiment, the 6th “Children of Lwów” Armoured Regiment, and the 2nd Motorised Independent Polish Commando Company. The “regiments” were actually battalion sized, and each was initially equipped with 52 or 53 M4A2s. In early 1945, the Poles began to receive Fireflies and M4(105)s as part of the updated British War Establishment for armored regiments. The Brigade trained in Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, before arriving in Italy in April, 1944. It entered combat in May, 1944, during the 4th Battle of Monte Cassino. It also participated in the Battles of Ancona (16 June to 18 July, 1944) and Bologne (April, 1945). The Brigade finished the war in Loreto, and was reorganized as the 2nd Warsaw Armoured Division in June, 1945, before being disbanded in 1946. The Brigade is reported to have been issued “Operational Sherman IIIs...commencing 18 Oct 43.” It is thought that they received approximately 160 M4A2s while stationed in Palestine. The Shermans were a mix of 1942 production models, including a few with M3 bogies, along with a number of units produced up to the Spring of 1943, which included the later M34A1 Gun Mounts. “Counting heads” suggests that the WD Numbers of these M4A2s were scattered throughout the range from T-145383 through T-152588. We would note that we have not recorded any instances of "T-Number overlap," leading us to believe that the Polish M4A2s were new issues, not tanks that had been used previously by other units in battles in North Africa, Sicily or Italy. The Brigade's Shermans were photographed during maneuvers and inspections in Egypt in early 1944. At that time, most or all of them are seen with the “Swabey Sight” installed in the area of the original factory blade sight. In Dec. 1943, it was decreed that “The Sight will be issued to all units (Scale – 4 per Troop) and fitted to all new Sherman Tanks in the Middle East...the Sight is not designed as a precision instrument but as aid for the Commander to permit him to get his first round on the ground as quickly as possible in or near the Target Area.” The photo above left shows "Taifun" of the Skorpion Regiment during a review in Egypt. It is one of the more "up to date" M4A2s received as evidenced by the M34A1 gun mount. To our eye, it appears to be a Spring, 1943 Pullman. The photo on the right shows "Taifun" during the 4th Battle of Cassino in May, 1944. Note the addition of the “Quick Fix” Modification applique plate (1) on the hull side. The Swabey Sight (2) can be be seen to good effect here. The smoke dischargers (3) and the sunshield support frame (4) are other Middle East modifications that appear on many of the Polish Shermans. Both photos courtesy of National Digital Archive, Poland.


M4A2

The finest hour of the Polish II Corps came in May, 1944, during the 4th Battle of Monte Cassino. The tanks of the 2nd Warsaw Armoured Brigade struggled through the relentlessly difficult mountain terrain in an effort to provide support to the 5th Kresowa and 3rd Carpathian Infantry Divisions in their costly but ultimately successful drive to break the German lines at Cassino. One such tank was "Sułtan", T-145501 commanded by 2nd Lt. Ludomir Białecki of the 3rd Squadron of the Skorpion Regiment. Sappers has cleared a tank track, dubbed "The Cavendish Road," during the failed 3rd Battle of Monte Cassino. It was reported that on May 12, while attempting to navigate the narrow track, T-145501 veered into a pile of anti-tank mines that had been hastily removed to the side of the road. This set off an explosive chain reaction which utterly destroyed the tank and killed the entire crew. These were the first combat fatalities suffered by the Skorpion Regiment, and in the action from the 12th to the 18th of May, the unit recorded the loss of 5 officers and 8 enlisted men KIA, 8 officers and 27 enlisted men WIA, with 3 Shermans totally destroyed and 8 damaged. Shortly after the battle, it was decided to leave T-145501 in place, and in May, 1946, the tank became the basis for a monument to the 4th “Skorpion” Armoured Regiment. In our view, it is one of the most unusual and poignant tank monuments in the world. In the wartime photo above, there are "still" a number of anti tank mines on the ground. Before the battle, many of the Polish Shermans had been outfitted with sand bags and spare track "armor" as seen here. An antenna stub can be observed installed on the antenna bracket (1), suggesting that T-145501 was a command tank with an additional long range radio mounted in the right sponson in place of the usual ammunition rack there. The ventilator (2) welded on to the turret roof appears to have been detached when the turret was blown off. It can be seen that T-145501 was painted in the two tone desert camouflage scheme typical of most of the original M4A2s received by the Poles.


M4A2

A front view of T-145501 photographed by Jim Goetz on a foggy morning. (Records mention that visibility was poor on the morning of May 12, 1944 as the Skorpions' Shermans crawled up the Cavendish Road.) We can confidently say that if anyone can locate the Ordnance Serial Number on a surviving Sherman it would be Jim, along with our own Pierre-Olivier, who has also visited this tank. However, the lower rear hull plate along with the rear tow lugs were removed when the tank was set up as a monument. Both Jim and P-O closely examined the front lugs, since in some cases, the serial number has been found on those, but no luck. The dataplate is long gone, although the frame that held it remains. Thus it would seem that the serial number has been lost to time. So who made this tank? Note that it has "the bump" (1) along with the filled in holes for the fixed machine guns (2). As mentioned earlier, "the bump" has been seen on a few early production Shermans made by Pullman, Fisher, Ford and ALCO. An interesting anomaly seen on T-145501 is that the weld seams (arrows) have been ground down, so that they would disappear under a coat of paint. The only other surviving example we have seen with ground down weld seams is the September, 1942 production M4A2 Serial Number 1405, the very first Sherman made by ALCO. This practice would have been strictly cosmetic, completely unnecessary and wasteful of labor, so we had assumed it would have been very limited. For instance, photos of the third ALCO, SN 1407, also accepted in September, show the bump, but the weld seams stand proud of the armor, as was obviously the case with almost every Sherman made. So could T-145501 have been the second ALCO M4A2? Perhaps, but the machine gun dust cover fitting (3) suggests that this tank was made in October, 1942 or later. Also, although not readily apparent due to the presence of the spare tracks, this Sherman has a 6 section glacis pattern, as shown in the inset. This is the only surviving example we have encountered with this pattern.


M4A2

In this unusual view of T-145501 again we see the ground down weld seams (1). The front and rear hull lifting rings (2) are the first type used on Shermans. For want a a better term, we refer to them as "bent rods." In general, these were replaced in production with "padded" lifting ring castings before the end of 1942. In turn, the "paddeds" were then almost completely replaced with the "standard" lifting rings by mid 1943. As with a number of early production M4A2s, this tank can be seen to have had small "spacers" (3) welded to the rear of the engine deck opening. This caused the rearmost engine deck to be indented. The engine, along with the upper and lower rear hull plates, were removed when this tank was set up as a monument. In a period photo, T-145501 can be seen to have had 11 bolts running across the top of the upper rear hull plate. Eventually, the number of bolts was reduced to 6, no doubt in order to provide crews with faster access when servicing the engine. So far, the examination of surviving M4A2s reveals that those with 11 bolts had the indented rear engine deck plates. Door stops (4) are present in period photos on most or all of the M4A2s that served in Italy. It is thought that these were retrofitted at Base Shops in the Middle East when the tanks were processed for issue. This unit has the remains of a small box (5) which is noted on a number the Polish M4A2s (inset). We can only guess that it may have been a First Aid box?


M4A2

In the book, Pułk 4. Pancerny "Skorpion", the author, Zbigniew Lalak, states that the Regiment’s LAD [Light Aid Detachment] “welded on their hull sides additional armor plates strengthening ammunition containers protection.” This was reportedly at Capriati, not long before the 2nd Warsaw Armoured Brigade was committed to combat in May, 1944. We are somewhat surprised at this, since we had assumed that the Quick Fix Modification kits sent from the US would have been applied by Base Shops in the Middle East before the tanks were shipped to Italy. After all, the job was labor intensive, requiring 140 man hours according to the US, and 200 according to the British. In the view above left, the applique plates (1) can be seen to have been welded on very professionally, although the front plate is mounted several inches higher than what was specified. We suspect that the LAD would not have had the time or manpower to do the other two parts of the modification on the Regiment's M4A2s - armoring the ammunition bins, and "skeletonizing" the turret basket. Also seen here is the Chester Tank Depot style comb device (2). The evidence suggests that CTD installed these on tanks processed for overseas shipment beginning in November, 1942.


M4A2    M4A2

It was reported that 20000 Quick Fix Modification Kits were produced from July through September, 1943. The first order shipped overseas was 984 sets to Oran, Algeria around the middle of July, 1943. This lot had been produced and/or assembled by American Car and Foundry of Berwick, Pa. There is no photographic evidence that these were universally applied to US Army Shermans that would fight in Italy, the way they were to US Shermans in the UK before D-Day. Since we have found no record that the British received any FSMWO G104-W81 kits as Lend Lease, we would guess that most of the US kits were passed on to the British Commonwealth. Around mid 1944, it was reported that “Mideast Base Workshops completed prototype conversions using stores received from America...At Wardian [Egypt], 7 B.W. are in full production converting tanks at the rate of 15 a day. At Tel el Kebir [Egypt], 2 B.W. are doing 4 tanks a day at present, and at Haifa [Palestine] 3 B.W. are about to start.” Thus, it strikes us as odd that a Polish Light Aid Detachment consisting of about 70 men, would be doing this entire modification in the field in Italy in April/May, 1944. Looking for clues on T-145501 is difficult since the inside of the fighting compartment is empty, making it impossible to confirm the installation of 1/4 inch armor plate on the original ammunition bins. The “skeletonization of the turret” called for the removal of the perforated sheet metal that surrounded the turret basket walls, along with the elimination of the 12 unprotected ready rounds that were clipped on to the original turret basket wall. The kit provided for an 8 round armored bin on the turret basket floor at the foot of the loader. The Mideast Base Workshops Report stated that "All conversions include the addition of another layer of four rounds to the existing eight round ready bin on the floor of the platform." In any case, a look at the turret of T-145501 shows that there is a LOT of the mesh “still” on the turret basket. While it looks like some mesh was removed, it appears to have been shredded as a result of the explosions that blew off the turret. Pierre-Olivier personally examined this tank, and concluded that the turret basket was not “skeletonized,” which leads us to theorize that the Skorpions’ LAD unit simply welded on the kit supplied side applique plates. As an aside, in the photo on the right, one can see the base holders (arrow) of some of the original 75 mm ready rounds.


M4A2

 The New Zealand 4th Armoured Brigade arrived in Italy in October 1943, and fought until the end of hostilities, finishing the war in Trieste. The brigade was composed of three regiments; the 18th, 19th and 20th, each consisting of 52 Shermans. The Kiwis were predominantly equipped with M4A2(75)s (or Sherman IIIs), although the regiments were also issued Fireflies (both IC and VC) and M4(105) (or Sherman IB) Assault Guns as they became available in 1945. The above shows a column of tanks of B Squadron, 20th NZ Armoured Regiment, passing through San Giorgio di Piano, approximately 15 km north of Bologna, on April 20, 1945. The first two tanks can be identified as 1943 production Fisher built M4A2s by the sharp angles of the fabricated drivers’ hoods, and the later M34A1 gun mounts. Note that they are fitted with the unusual “Platypus grousers,” a modification developed in the second half of 1944 by the Mechanical Warfare Experimental Establishment in Italy. These were applied to rubber tracks, and alternated with the Sherman’s standard issue grousers. The Platypus grousers combined the functions of both the standard grousers and the extended end connectors, providing extra traction as well as lowering ground pressure, thereby increasing the tank’s off road mobility particularly in muddy conditions. ("Rat grousers" were similar, but designed to fit on steel tracks.) In a report dated 9 Feb 1945, the Technical Staff went so far as to state that "Platypus grousers...entirely revolutionize the performance of Sherman in mud." In any case, in 1945, a few Commonwealth units were supplied with Platypus grousers in anticipation of the Spring Offensive. (Alexander Turnbull Library DA-03839)


M4A2

Some M4A2s in Italy were converted to "Kangaroo" Armored Personnel Carriers. Mediterranean Area AFV Technical Report 27, dated 17 April 1945, explains that "Towards the latter part of 1944 50 Shermans were converted to Infantry Carriers by the removal of turrets and all interior storage fittings." All told, 75 "Shermans III" [specifically] were reported to have been converted from October, 1944 through April, 1945. The Sherman Kangaroo had a driver and bow gunner, and could carry 10 infantrymen rather uncomfortably, but in relative safety. They were organized into APC Squadrons, one of which served as part of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars Regiment of the 9th Armoured Brigade. In early April, 1945, at the beginning of the Spring offensive, the Sherman Kangaroo Squadron was assigned to transport the 9th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd New Zealand Infantry Division. Despite some difficulties crossing ditches and canals, the Kangaroos enabled elements of the Brigade to make a rapid advance to the Po river. This photo is captioned "9 Infantry Brigade ready to go into action for the first time. Men of 27 Battalion wait in Kangaroos before crossing the Senio [River]." The leading Kangaroo can be seen with welded together [fabricated] drivers' hoods, a feature exclusive to Fisher M4A2s.



M4A2

M4A2s also served in Italy in another non standard configuration, as Duplex Drive "swimming tanks." The 7th Queen's Own Hussars was reportedly equipped with 54 DDs for the Spring, 1945 Offensive. The DDs had been fitted with Platypus Grousers, which were essentially "metal fins attached to tracks to give a better grip in deep going." For the crossing of the Po River on April 25th, A Squadron was placed under command of 56th (London) Division, B Squadron was assigned to the 8th Indian Division and C to the 6th Armoured Division, with a troop of C detached to the 2nd New Zealand Division. At present, the numbers of DDs that swam across successfully is not known. On 28 April, 5 of the Duplex Drive Shermans that were still "sea worthy," were used in an assault across the river Adige. The photo above is captioned "Members of the New Zealand 5th Brigade attempting to float a Sherman DD tank across the Po River." The tank can be seen to have Platypus grousers, and to our eyes, appears to be bogged down in the mud of the riverbank. Photo courtesy of Alexander Turnbull library.


M4A2

The wide "skirts" of the DDs, may have provided additional troop transport capacity compared to a normal Sherman. It was reported that 17 DD Shermans carried a company (100 to 150 men) of the 5/5 Mahratta Light Infantry, 8th Indian Division into Venice. The photo above shows Two Duplex Drive Shermans of the 7th Queen's Own Hussars photographed "in the Piazzale Roma in Venice, 30 April 1945." After the Po and Adige river crossings, Allied units sped north and east, and Venice was liberated on 30 April, 1945. As with many DDs, the unit in the foreground has its WD Number, T 151805, painted on the turret since it would have been obscured in the usual locations on the hull. Note that the suffix "DD" was added to the WD Number. Counting heads suggests that the range from about T 150783 through T 154527 consisted of M4A2s exclusively. In any case, the engine deck configuration clearly identifies T 151805 as an M4A2. This tank can be seen to have fabricated turret splash sections, including the rear turret splash guard, features exclusive to Fisher M4A2s. Courtesy of IWM, Photo NA 24683.


M4A2s or Sherman IIIs in North West Europe


M4A2

M4A4s made up the bulk of Commonwealth 75 mm Sherman gun tanks at the start of the Campaign in Northwest Europe. At the end of June 1944, the 21st Army Group reported that they had 762 M4A4s, compared with 391 M4s/M4A1s, and 316 M4A2s. The units listed with M4A2s (Sherman IIIs) were the 2nd Canadian and the British 8th and 27th Armoured Brigades. The US Coast Guard photo above shows a Sherman III unloading "onto a "Rhino" barge during the early hours of the invasion on Gold Beach, 6 June 1944." This tank was named "Virgin," and can be seen as T-147013. The combined fox face and "993" formation and Arm of Service marking identify this as a tank of the 8th Armoured Brigade's Headquarters. "Virgin" has elongated, cast driver's hoods, but a fabricated antenna bracket, a configuration that appears very briefly on Pullman M4A2s produced in late 1942/early '43. This tank appears to be unmodified or "as built," except perhaps for the addition of sand shield strips. An antenna fitting can be seen on the antenna bracket on the glacis, suggesting that this is a command tank in which the ammunition stowage on the right sponson has been removed and replaced with an additional radio.



M4A2

The photo above is captioned, "Sherman tank crews of C Squadron, 13th/18th Royal Hussars prepare their vehicles for the invasion, 30 May 1944." Note the Seahorse (a.k.a. "Pregnant Pilchard") formation marking of the 27th AB on the closest tank. Unlike the 8th AB M4A2 in the previous caption, these tanks have been retrofitted with the "Quick Fix" Modification as evidenced by the applique armor on the hull sides. These are 1942 or early 1943 production M4A2s with M34 gun mounts. Most US Army Shermans in the UK before D-Day had these mounts replaced where necessary with M34A1 gun mounts with telescopic sights. Unfortunately, supplies were limited, and it is obvious that many Commonwealth Shermans of the Normandy Campaign fought with the original gun mounts. Evidence suggests that large numbers of the Lend Lease M4A2s sat around for months in the US before being processed and shipped to the UK, in some cases, nearly a year after they had been built. We believe that the Quick Fix Mod, which became available to US Tank Depots in the Fall of 1943, was applied to many of the Commonwealth Shermans before shipment. The "Sloping Armor ahead of Drivers' Hatches" mod became available at about the same time as the "Quick Fix," but, at first, only applied to M4 and M4A3 Shermans. Thus, it is fairly common to see combat photos of Allied M4A2s with the Quick Fix applique, but not the hatch guard plates. A modification kit was also provided to replace the original blade sight with a "commander's vane sight." These tanks can be seen with both types, although the newer sights appear to be British versions, not the ones from the US mod kit. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo H38970.


M4A2

Although 3 Commonwealth Armoured Brigades were substantially equipped with M4A2s, it was not possible for them to be entirely equipped with diesel Shermans. As an example, the 27th Armoured Brigade is listed as having had 126 Sherman III gun tanks, 8 Sherman III OP (Observation Post) Tanks, and 9 Sherman III ARVs (Armoured Recovery Vehicles). The 27th, along with the 8th and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigades, were assigned to the initial landings at Normandy, and were supplied with Duplex Drive swimming Shermans for the first wave. Although some M4A2s were converted to DDs, none were available in time for D-Day. Consequently, the 8th Armoured Brigade was equipped with 76 US converted M4A1 or Sherman II DDs, while the 27th and 2nd Canadian ABs had respectively 38 and 76 British converted M4A4 or Sherman V DDs. It would appear that a Commonwealth Brigade was authorized 11 ARVs. To bring them up to "War Establishment" strength, each of these Brigades was assigned 2 Sherman V ARVs in addition to their 9 Sherman III ARVs. The 21st Army Group listed 316 Sherman VC (M4A4 Firefly conversions) and 2 Sherman IC (M4 conversions) at the end of June, 1944. In general, these appear to have been issued to Commonwealth Armoured Regiments on the basis of one per Troop (commonly 3 tanks). The 8th and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigades are reported to have had 22 Sherman VC, while the 27th AB had 29. So each of these Brigades required two different kinds of fuel, and had to maintain 2 different engine types, or 3 in the case of the 8th AB with its Sherman II DDs. The caption of the photo above is "Sherman V Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) Mk. I, Authie, Normandy, France July 1944." In fact, the "narrow" drivers' hood castings, and the shape of the antenna bracket identify this as a Sherman III ARV in a configuration seen on many Pullman and Federal Machine M4A2s. We believe this vehicle served with the 27th Armoured Regiment (Sherbrooke Fusiliers) of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, since they liberated Authie at that time. Photos of Sherman III ARVs are rare as only 29 conversions had been completed by the end of May, 1945, compared with 189 Sherman V and 169 Churchill conversions.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA116535)


M4A2

The 27th Armoured Brigade suffered heavy losses during its 50 days in Normandy, and was disbanded in late July, 1944. As was the case with a number of British formations throughout the war, the 27th's regiments were used to reinforce other depleted Brigades or Divisions. For example, the 13/18th Hussars were reassigned to the 8th Armoured Brigade. From that point on, in the ETO, British M4A2 gun tanks appear to have been consolidated exclusively in the 8th AB. The Staffordshire Yeomanry was transferred from the 27 AB to the 79th Armoured Division (Hobart's Funnies), and took up DD training in the UK. The 1st East Riding Yeomanry joined the 33rd Armoured Brigade in August, 1944, and took over the radial Shermans of the 148th Regiment, RAC, which was itself disbanded at that time. The photo above is dated 15 October, 1944 at Nijmegen, and is captioned in part, "A British tank (of the 13/18 Hussars 8th Armoured Bde.) keeps watch on the river bank." This tank can be seen to have the name "TWELFTH KNIGHT" painted on above the applique plate. It can be identified as a Sherman III by the configuration of the engine deck, and the absence of air scoops on the rear hull. The antenna mounted on the bracket on the glacis would indicate a command or observation post tank. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo B 10996.


M4A2

One of the Canadian Sherman IIIs that landed on D-Day was "Holy Roller," CT-152655. Of all of their Shermans, the 1st Hussars chose this tank to be returned to Canada as a "War Trophy." "For it's the only tank in the regiment to outlast the war, the only one to come ashore on D-Day, travel some 2,500 miles, fight through 14 major battles and still be in business on V-E day, its hull still unpierced, its 75 mm. gun still firing." In 1950, "Holy Roller" was placed on display as a War Memorial in Victoria Park in London, Ontario, home base of the 1st Hussars. Like most Commonwealth independent Armoured Brigades, the 2nd Canadian AB included three Armoured Regiments - the 6th Canadian (1st Hussars), the 10th Canadian (The Fort Garry Horse) and the 27th Canadian (The Sherbrooke Fusiliers). On paper, these Regiments were organized into 3 Squadrons, with each Squadron having 19 Shermans. The Squadron Headquarters was equipped with 4 Shermans, and commanded 5 Troops, each equipped with 3 Shermans. In some cases, attrition in men and machines, led to the number of Troops in a Squadron being reduced to 4. We have personally examined "Holy Roller," and recorded the Serial Number from the rear towing lugs as 7606, indicating September, 1942 production by Fisher Body. One might speculate that an early production M4A2 like this might have been shipped to North Africa originally, but the evidence shows that that was not the case. Of note is the combat damage on this veteran Sherman. Photo courtesy of Scott Taylor.


M4A2

The snapshot above was taken in May, 1944, and shows CT 152655 at Lee-on-the-Solent, near Portsmouth, UK. By this time, the tank had been waterproofed and installed with wading stacks in anticipation of D-Day. Initially, Holy Roller was the tank of Major Frank Wright, 2nd in Command of the 1st Hussars, who reported that they landed at Courseulles on D-Day, "and got 7 miles inland before a broken oil line stalled her." In less than a week, the 1st Hussars lost 63 tanks, and Holy Roller was reassigned to the Commanding Officer of B Squadron. It is thought that HR served in B Squadron for the rest of the Campaign. As with many Commonwealth tanks, HR had spare tracks welded on to the glacis, and these are credited with saving her from direct hits on 3 separate occasions. The M3 bogies seen in the snapshot are of particular interest, since they rarely appear in photos of Shermans in Northwest Europe. It is assumed that Holy Roller retained the early bogies until April, 1945, when, according to a newspaper account by Burke Martin, "at Apeldoorn another 88 hit stripped her track suspensions. Tanks have been abandoned for less, but Holy Roller was a legend by now and had to be saved. Six new suspensions...were laboriously fitted on and the tank lumbered away to the last scrap in Germany." At present HR has M4 bogies, some of which have 1-43 and 2-43 production dates cast on them, which are obviously not original to a Sherman accepted in September, 1942. The rubber chevron tracks seen in the snapshot also appear to have been replaced with plain rubber block tracks.


M4A2

Another Canadian "national treasure" is "Bomb," which also served from D-Day to V.E. Day, but with the 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusiliers). It is currently on display in Sherbrooke, Quebec Province. "Bomb" is CT-152656, the next number after Holy Roller's CT-152655. Both of these tanks appear to have the remnants of the Lima Tank Depot type of comb device. We suspect that both were processed and modified there at around the same time in late 1943, and may have been shipped to the UK on the same boat. Our theory is that these tanks sat around in the US for many months before being dispatched. "Bomb" is serial number 8007, indicating that it was accepted at Fisher Body in November, 1942, two months after HR. Counting heads suggests that starting in June, 1942, Fisher M4A2s began to take on a consistent appearance characterized by the use fabricated components such as the antenna (1), machine gun (2) and head light sockets (3). Differing from the castings used by the other Sherman producers, the turret splash was assembled entirely of fabricated sections. The glacis shown here is composed of 6 parts, but shortly thereafter, Fisher introduced a single plate into which the the drivers' hoods, antenna and bow MG components were welded. Evidence suggests that, in November, 1942, Fisher transitioned from the direct vision drivers' hood castings seen here to their very distinct elongated drivers' hoods that were welded together, i.e. fabrications. These appear to have been used exclusively by Fisher. General Motors' Buick Division produced M4 Power Trains, all of which had 1-piece differential housings. As a result, except for a handful of the earliest units, Fisher M4A2s are consistently seen with E4186 1-piece diffs. These were replaced in production with the "final," sharp nosed E8543 housings starting around July, 1943.


M4A2

Holy Roller was probably one of the last Fisher M4A2s to have been built with M3 bogies. Bomb appears to have survived with its original M4 bogies intact (although a number of road wheels were replaced). Note the original configuration of the swing arms (1) without the wrench holes. The tracks skids (2) are the second type, sometimes called "asymmetric." The return roller arm (3) is straight and it can be noted that no spacers (4) were ever added to raise the return rollers up an inch or so, although modification kits were made and widely distributed. For reasons unknown, Fisher continued to mount the turret lifting rings in the original "high" position (5) into 1943, long after the other builders had transitioned to the low position. Another item that Fisher fabricated was the 2nd antenna base on the turret as shown in the inset on Holly Roller. Other builders used forged or cast parts, but Fisher continued to use this small assembly to the end of M4A3(75) production in March, 1945.


M4A2

For the Overlord Invasion, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) were called upon to provide Beach Recovery Sections whose primary function would be to clear the beaches as quickly as possible, so that follow up troops could disembark unimpeded, and maintain the forward momentum of the attack. One of the specialized vehicles created for the job was the Sherman BARV, which was designed to tow or push stuck or broken down tanks and trucks and such out of the surf and on to the beach. BARVs could push grounded landing craft back out to sea as well. For this role, the M4A2 appears to have been chosen specifically, because it was thought that its diesel engine would better handle the temperature variations due to the tank going in and out of the sea. The M4A2's turret was removed, and a boat like upper superstructure was welded onto to the hull. The hull was thoroughly waterproofed and provided with exhaust stacks, so that it was capable of wading in water up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) deep. The BARV's crew consisted of 5 men - a commander, a driver, 2 mechanics and a diver. The diver's primary task was to hook tow cables to submerged tanks and other stranded vehicles. We have not found any archival documentation, but an internet source reports that "An order was placed for 50 BARVs, later raised to 66," and "Around 52 BARVs were deployed on D-Day." The photo above is captioned, "a Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle recovering a Bedford Articulated vehicle from a Normandy Beach" and is dated 14 June, 1944. Note the large wooden bumper affixed to the front of the BARV. Courtesy of IWM, Photo B 5578.


M4A2

As of today, there are 5 known surviving BARVs; 4 are preserved in museums or private collections in the UK and India, and the the 5th was removed from a target range, and was seen in storage at the Tank Museum, Bovington in 2012. The photo above shows the BARV on display at the REME Museum in Lyneham, UK. It is thought that all of the BARV conversions were painted gray as seen here. This M4A2 was built with the later, elongated drivers' hood castings. The drivers' hatches and periscopes were removed and the holes blanked off, since the hoods were partly covered over by the addition of the bow superstructure. Ironically, direct vision was retrofitted to the front of the hood castings in the form of rectangular, glassed in "port holes." Thus, the driver's vision was extremely limited, and the commander, positioned in a hatch on top of the superstructure, navigated the vehicle by transmitting instructions to the driver. The glacis configuration, with the "narrow" drivers' hoods, the particular type of cast antenna bracket mounted "proud" of the glacis, and the rectangular bow Machine Gun casting, are typical of M4A2s built by Federal Machine and Pullman Standard starting in the Spring of 1943. This BARV has been recorded as Serial Number 13895 on the "Table of Known Serial Numbers" on the Sherman Register website, and indeed this falls within a range of SNs assigned to Pullman M4A2s. We can only assume that the SN was reported from the original dataplate, or perhaps from a Museum Accession Record, since as best we have been able to determine, Pullman did not stamp the Serial Number on the towing lugs or anywhere else of the exterior of its Shermans. If from the dataplate, we would be happy to see a photo, since, at present, we do not have a very readable example of a Pullman plate on our dataplate page.
 

M4A2

Some M4A2 based
Duplex Drive Shermans were used for the Rhine and Elbe River crossings in March and April, 1945. As of 13 March, 1945, the 44 RTR, 4th Armoured Brigade and the Staffordshire Yeomanry, now part of the 33th AB, are listed with a few Sherman III DDs, along with the more numerous Sherman V DDs. Also for the Rhine crossing, C Company of the US 736th Tank Battalion, as well as the US 748th Tank Battalion were equipped with DDs, some from British stocks, and some of which may have been M4A2s. The photo above is captioned "Sherman DD tanks with flotation screens lowered move forward during the Rhine crossing, 24 March 1945". The "Black Rats" insignia painted on the differential of the center tank would tend to identify these as DDs of the 44th RTR. The center DD appears to be M4A4 based, while the one partially visible in the foreground would be an M4A2 judging by the proximity of the road wheels. Courtesy of IWM, Photo BU 2148.


M4A2    M4A2

293 of the British Duplex Drive conversions were based on the M4A2 or Sherman III. The design of the Sherman III DD was delayed somewhat, and the 21st Army Group Tank State for June 1944 does not list any on strength, but rather 189 Sherman V DDs, along with 76 Sherman II DDs (the US M4A1 conversions). At present, we aren’t aware of any photos of Sherman III DDs “in action” before 1945. The unit preserved at the Tank Museum at Bovington is the only surviving DD with its original floatation screen intact. We suspect this Sherman may still have its original dataplate, but at present the serial number is not known. However, it has cast drivers' hoods (1), along with fabricated antenna (2) and bow machine gun sockets (3), features noted on some Pullman M4A2s produced in late 1942/early 1943. This example has several improvements introduced in late 1944/early 1945 as a result of user experience with the original DD design. In order to prevent the raised screen from collapsing in rough seas, the struts were strengthened and made self locking, turret struts were added, and the rear screen was raised. Left side photo courtesy of "Megashorts".


M4A2s in USMC service


M4A2 Fisher

The US Marine Corps chose to use the M4A2(75) as its Main Battle Tank. Furthermore, we suspect that requisitions may have stipulated Fisher built M4A2(75)s exclusively, as we have yet to see a photo of a USMC M4A2 produced by another manufacturer. They are stated to have received a total of 493 units. Since no official distinction was made between the small and large hatch models, it has not been possible to determine the exact number of small hatch M4A2s they received. At present, our guess is around 300. November 20, 1943 marked the Sherman's combat debut with the USMC when the 14 M4A2s of Company C, 1st Tank Battalion attempted to land on Tarawa in support of the 2nd Marine Division. The tanks had not been outfitted with fording equipment, and many were drowned when they fell into underwater craters. Others were disabled when their electronics were ruined as sea water flooded in. As a consequence, only 5 of the M4A2s were operational at the end of D-Day. Nonetheless, the survivors provided indispensable support to the Marines. When the island was declared secure on November 23rd, China Gal and Colorado were the only Shermans still operational. The photo above shows "Condor" of the 3rd Platoon, which was reported to have been disabled on D-Day by a Japanese 75mm gun. A close examination of the photo reveals that Condor had USA 3035025 stenciled on the front side in blue drab. This indicates May, 1943 acceptance. Reports have it that Company C received new M4A2s just before they shipped out of San Diego in July, 1943, and photos suggest that all had the same features as Condor, such as, for instance, M34A1 gun mounts. Common mid 1943 modifications like the "Quick Fix" ammunition protection, or positive hatch lock mechanisms are notably absent.


M4A2 Fisher    M4A2 Fisher

Our Canadian friend, Jim Goetz has a "bucket list" goal of visiting every surviving Sherman tank in the world. He had to take a number of "trains, planes and automobiles" to get to Guadalcanal to see the M4A2 shown above. Jim reported that the Serial Number is 26908, indicating July, 1943 acceptance. Counting heads leads us to conclude that Fisher introduced power trains with the "final," sharp nosed E8543 differential housings (1) during that month. The turret has what we believe is a factory installation of the the thickened cheek armor (2) and a welded up pistol port (3). These two mods generally went hand in hand at factory or Tank Depot, until the supply of such turrets was exhausted, and replaced with new castings made without pistol ports, and with cast in thickened cheeks. The side applique plates(4), part of the "Quick Fix" modification were probably installed by a USMC Ordnance unit from kits provided by the Army. The Battle of Guadalcanal, one of the most interesting campaigns of WW II, took place from August 1942 to February 1943. The Marines were equipped with a few M2A4 and M3 Light Tanks, but no Shermans. Indeed, SN 26908 had not even been built when the island was secured. Perhaps the garrison stationed there afterwards requested a range target? The name "Jezebel" is faintly visible on the right front applique plate, and we would observe that an M4A2 named "Jezebel" served with the 4th Marine Tank Battalion during the Roi-Namur Campaign in February, 1944.


M4A2 Fisher

We estimate that the USMC received about 200 large hatch M4A2(75)s as they became available in late 1943. Of these, 12 were converted to M32B2 Tank Recovery Vehicles. It is thought that the large hatch M4A2(75) made its combat debut with the Marine Corps in June, 1944 at Saipan. Photos show them serving there alongside small hatch M4A2s with both the 2nd and 4th Marine Tank Battalions. After Tarawa, the USMC "got religion" when it came to waterproofing their tanks. In some cases, the Marines fashioned their own wading trunk designs, but the unit shown above appears to have been equipped with the "official" version, made available in kit form in early 1944. Preparing a Sherman for deep water fording was a laborious undertaking. According to the Technical Manual, if the job was done properly, the tank would be able to operate in water up to 6 feet for all of 8 minutes. This Sherman named Gremlin IV of the 3rd Platoon of B Co.,4th Tank Battalion appears to have fallen into a shell hole in the surf, which drowned out the engines. Marine large hatch M4A2s and M4A3s can be difficult to distinguish, but the M4A2s were "dry stowage," and a bit of the factory installed side applique plate (circled in red) can be seen here. The M4A3s were not equipped with the applique plates, since they were "Wet Stowage" tanks in which the ammunition bins had been repositioned to the floor of the vehicle.


M4A2 Fisher

By 1945 the USMC had started to transition away from the diesel M4A2s to the gasoline powered M4A3. Of the three USMC tank battalions that took part in Operation Detachment, the Iwo Jima landings, the 3rd Tank Battalion retained their M4A2s while the 4th and 5th both fielded M4A3s and during Operation Iceberg, the landings on Okinawa and Ie Shima, the 1st & 2nd Tank Battalions continued with M4A2s while the 6th used M4A3s. It had been planned to totally re-equip Marine armor units with M4A3s for Operations Olympic and Coronet, the invasion of the Japanese homelands. However, after the surrender of Japan, some USMC M4A2s did soldier on during occupation duty in China which could be considered the last use of the diesel Shermans with US forces. By the time of the Korean War the only Shermans the Marines were using were M4A3s.


Soviet M4A2s



M4A2

According to US records, the Soviets received 1386 M3 Lees as part of the First Lend Lease Protocol. They were not impressed with the Lee, nicknamed by crews “a grave for seven brothers,” and only placed a token order for 219 M4A2 and 2 M4A4 Shermans under the Second Protocol. These would have been very early models as they were allocated in September, 1942. It is noted that 8 of the M4A2s were "repossessed" before shipment. The first 26 are reported to have arrived "at a northern port of entry" in November, 1942. After that the pace of receptions can only be described as “glacial.” In any case, further shipments amounting to a total of 211 arrived before the end of the first half of 1943. After January, most came in via the more indirect and circuitous "Southern route" through the port of Khorramshahr in Iran. This was due to the arctic weather and the danger to the convoys posed by the "U-Boat menace" on the "Northern route." One of the first 26 M4A2s was sent to the Soviet Armor Center at Kubinka for evaluation. This unit was reported as USA 3021079, indicating Fisher Body, August, 1942 production. It is thought that by August, Fisher M4A2s had taken on a consistent appearance typified by the use of 1-piece differential housings, fabricated, not cast, antenna, bow machine gun and turret splash components, and use of the rather large siren seen here, which was made by the Mars Signal Light Company. The early M4A2s suffered from a number of teething problems, but all in all, the months long Kubinka evaluation, as reported by author Yuri Pasholok, gave 3021079, "very high marks. The American combat vehicle was not much inferior to the T-34, [and] surpassed it in some respects." On November 17, 1942, an American civilian technician named Michael Ikonomou visited Molotovsk where he examined the first 26 M4A2s, which were waiting to be off loaded from the Liberty Ship John Walker. He noted, "One Medium Tank M4A2...was also observed with an all steel track T-49; all other tanks observed had rubber tracks T-41." USA 3021079 can be seen above with the recently designed T-49 type, a cast steel track with "interrupted parallel grousers." Pasholok reports that the tank was run at Kubinka with T41 rubber tracks with and without grousers installed, as well as the T-49 steel tracks. "In general, tests have shown that both types of off-road tracks give the same result."


M4A2

The Tank Section of the American Supply Mission to the USSR was "charged with making the Lend Lease tank program effective." However, its efforts were severely limited since, as of February 1943, it consisted of only one officer, Col. Edward Grey, and three civilian technicians. A training school was established at the Gorky Reception Center for Foreign Vehicles, but "lack of adequate assistance...in many cases has resulted in premature failure of the equipment in Red Army hands...these difficulties have resulted in a lack of appreciation of the value of American tank equipment, and doubt in the minds of officials of the Soviet Government as to the ability of the United States to make the tank section of the Lend Lease program effective." The US techs found that many of the first lot of 26 M4A2s were plagued with flaws including burnt injectors and leaking radiators. At least 8 had engine problems "requiring major overhaul operations." The serial numbers of 25 of these units were recorded, along with a description of the problems encountered. The serial numbers run from 2320 to 2583, indicating that all were produced by Fisher Body from May through August, 1942. In the mean time, Detroit Diesel and the Ordnance Department continued work to improve the original twin engine design, and  released field modifications of the cooling systems and air cleaners for M4A2s produced up to October, 1942. The tank section appears to have received the cooling system modification from the US in January, 1943, since they reported that they began installing it at that time. President Roosevelt was determined to provide effective Lend Lease to the Soviets, and eventually the tank section was adequately supported with men and materiel. The Americans did not record the serial number of the Kubinka Test tank, but USA 3021079 corresponds to SN 2572. This unit can be seen in the photo above with M4 bogies with the second type of track skid. It is thought that Fisher completed the transition to M4 bogies by the end of September. The technicians' reports don't mention M3 bogies, but despite the absence of photos, we can't help but think that a number of the early production M4A2s received by the Soviets would have had them.


M4A2    M4A2

One of the M4A2s that was was serviced at Gorky in January, 1943 was SN 2428. After only 100 miles, it "was brought into the shop with one bad engine and the clutches out of adjustment." (Maintenance of clutch alignment on the twin diesel power pack was an absolutely essential skill for crews and mechanics to learn in order to keep the M4A2 running smoothly.) There is no mention in the Gorky shop files of anything unusual about the tank's differential housing. However, SN 2428 (July, 1942) is listed along with SN 2493 (August, 1942) as having had "combination welded and cast differential and final drive assemblies." These were prototypes to be tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground, with the idea that the welded/cast design might save some foundry casting capacity, which was stretched to the limit at the time. As it was, only 2493 was evaluated at APG, and the welded/cast differential project was shelved as it offered no significant benefit over the standard cast assembly. SN 2428 never made it to APG. The tank, with its expensive prototype differential, was reported "shipped by error August 20, 1942 to the Russians" by Army Field Service officials at the Toledo Tank Depot. From this we assume that the first lot of 26 M4A2s was processed at TTD, and likely sailed on the SS John Walker a week or two later. The photo on the left provides a view of the welded/cast differential housing on SN 2493 at APG on September 1, 1942. We must conclude that the photo on the right, taken at the Fisher Tank Arsenal in July, shows SN 2428 since a comparison of the casting marks on the gun shields (circled) shows an obvious difference.


M4A2

The Sherman’s combat debut with the Soviets appears to have occurred in early May, 1943. The 5th Guards Tank Brigade, which was reportedly equipped with 18 M4A2s and 17 Lend Lease Valentines, was employed as part of an unsuccessful Soviet offensive on the North Caucasus Front. The 5th GTB fought in a month long series of actions around ​​the village of Krymskaya (now the city of Krymsk) in the Krasnodar Krai, in southern Russia. The unit suffered heavy losses, mainly due to mines and artillery. However, the 5th GTB records note the heroic efforts of its “tankists,” who were able to evacuate and repair quite a few of their vehicles.By June 6, attrition had ground down the 5th GTB to only 3 serviceable M4A2s and 8 Valentines, and it was withdrawn from the front, and placed in reserve for rebuilding. Starting in late July, the 5th GTB received a number of T-34s to replace its losses. It then participated in a further series of actions in the same area until being placed in reserve in early December, at which point it handed over what is assumed to have been its 6 remaining M4A2s to the 257th Tank Regiment. When asked to comment on the Sherman’s performance, a 5th GTB Report noted, “Compared to the T-34, the M4A2 is more easily controllable, more resilient during long marches, as the engines do not require frequent adjustment. In battle, these tanks work well.” The photo above is captioned, "M4A2 from the 5th Guards Tank Brigade in Novorossiysk along Mira (Morskaya) Street, Sept 1943." The unit’s M4A2s could only have been from the first 211 received, and since they were allocated in September, 1942, it is thought that all of them would have had direct vision as seen on this example.


M4A2

A few other Soviet armor units are thought to have been equipped with some of the first 211 M4A2s received. The 229th Tank Regiment is stated to have been equipped with 39 Shermans when it entered combat on July 11, 1943 in the northern sector of the Kursk salient. In the course of only 3 days, the unit was decimated, as it reported 14 tanks knocked out and burned, and another 17 badly damaged. By the end of July, the Regiment reported the loss of all its M4A2s. The 63rd "Taman" Tank Brigade is listed as having been equipped with 12 M4A2s in March, 1944. The unit fought in the Sevastopol Campaign in April and May, 1944. The photo above was taken "in the vicinity of Sevastopol, Crimea, April 1944.” Despite the 1944 date, the “early” appearance of this M4A2 would lead us to assume that it was one of the first 211. Fisher Body typically used the rather large Mars Signal Light Company siren that can be seen on this example. Note that while the August, 1942 production Kubinka test tank (USA 3021079) shown previously was equipped with M4 bogies, this unit can be seen with the earlier M3 type.


M4A2    M4A2

While the British practically begged for the new Sherman tanks as production ramped up in mid 1942, the Soviets were somewhat less than enthusiastic. They only ordered 219 M4A2s and 2 M4A4s under the Second Lend Lease Protocol, and possibly as a result of their experience of these, "Under the third Protocol [which ran from July, 1943 to June, 1944] British agreed to give Russians 3000 tanks of British manufacture. The Russians did not want any U.S. tanks direct from the U.S. and none were provided." Needless to say, the Brits were somewhat embarrassed by this agreement, since they had planned their tank production and shipping allocations based on the assumption that the Soviets would order large numbers of Shermans from the US. The US had assumed the same, and planned M4A2 production accordingly. A June 1943 memo from the British Army Staff in Washington D.C. noted that the Soviets "have a curious preference for Valentines of which our maximum offer is 1000." The Americans were willing to make up the difference by providing and shipping 2000 Shermans from the US. There may have been some pre Cold War politics involved since, after a month of back and forth, the Soviets had not agreed to accept the Shermans, and a British staffer noted, "They are being very tiresome." Ultimately, the Soviets consented, and approximately 1780 M4A2(75)s were allocated to them from July, 1943 through May, 1944. Many of these Shermans were shipped via the "Southern route." The all weather "Persian Corridor" was the means by which vast quantities of Lend Lease materiel was supplied to the Soviets. 
The stills above are from film shot by the US Army’s Persian Gulf Command. They show M4A2(75)s awaiting overland shipment to the USSR via the Trans-Iranian Railway. Since the Shermans of the Third Protocol were allocated in July, 1943 and after, most were mid 1943 and later production. However, note that some of the M4A2s seen on the left “still” have the M34 Gun Mount (1). This was replaced by the M34A1 Gun Mount (2) in all Sherman production by the end of April, 1943. Thus the M4A2s with the M34 mounts had probably been sitting around for months in lots in the US, before being modified in the Summer or Fall of 1943 at Tank Depots, and finally shipped out. For example, these tanks were built before the “Quick Fix” (3) and turret applique (4) mods were available, so those would have been retrofitted at Depots. On the other hand, the tanks in the photo on the right represent the ultimate version of the M4A2(75), where the hull was redesigned to permit the incorporation of the “Second Generation” feature of larger drivers’ hatches. About 1000 of these are thought to have been produced by Fisher Body from November, 1943 through May, 1944. We estimate that the Soviets received perhaps 800 “large hatch” M4A2(75)s. It was intended to discontinue production of 75mm Shermans at the end of 1943, but the M4A2(75) remained in production into 1944, and only at Fisher, primarily to satisfy the US commitment of the Third Protocol.


M4A2

The M4A2s allotted for the Third Protocol began to arrive in the USSR in November, 1943. Aside from the Northern and Southern Routes, Yuri Pasholok reports that 149 M4A2s arrived in November at Vladivostok, the main port of entry on the Pacific Coast. The Soviet Union refused to join with the Western Allies in their war against Japan until August, 1945. In the meantime, the Japanese, who were anxious for the Soviets to remain neutral, agreed not to interfere with Lend Lease cargos from the US West Coast, provided the goods were "civilian" or "non-military" in nature, and shipped on Soviet flagged vessels, a number of which were themselves Lend Lease. Considering the geopolitical situation, it is remarkable that in exchange for neutrality, the Soviets wrangled what amounted to a "free pass" from the Japanese. Consequently, over half of all Lend Lease supplies came into the USSR via the "Pacific Route." Statistics show that most of the materiel was non-military, but needless to say, this neutrality arrangement did not sit well with Japan's German ally. The undated photo above shows WOWs (Women Ordnance Workers) at the Richmond Tank Depot in California, near the port of San Francisco. Note the sharp angles of the fabricated drivers' hoods (1), an exclusive feature of Fisher M4A2s manufactured starting in late 1942. Both of the tanks seen here are outfitted with the standard type of sand shields (2) which would lead us to put the date as "circa mid 1943." It is not known if these M4A2s were intended for shipment across the Pacific to the US Marines or the Soviets. According to Yuri Pasholok, "Altogether, 229 tanks got to the front by the eastern route, of which 80 arrived somewhere in the second half of 1944." So it would seem that, on occasion, the Soviets did sneak a few Shermans in via the "Pacific Route."


M4A2    M4A2

Official Lend Lease figures for M4A2(75) shipments to the Soviets vary a little, but for our purposes, we will use 1991 as our base, with 211 being from the Second Protocol, and 1780 from the Third. We have estimated that about 800 of the Third Protocol Shermans would have been large hatch M4A2(75)s, which leaves approximately 980 small hatch. Most of the few available WW II photos of these tanks were taken by the Germans, and show destroyed units, with the large hatch models appearing far more frequently than the small hatch. The uncaptioned photos above are from a series showing a pair of KO’d small hatch Fisher built M4A2(75)s. In some of the images, their turret numbers are in similar “fonts,” and can be seen as 55 and 56, suggesting that the tanks were from the same unit and were photographed on the same day. We believe their appearance would reflect that of most of the Fisher small hatch M4A2(75)s that the Soviets received. Both tanks have sharp nosed E8543 differential housings, and “no pistol port” turrets. These features began to appear in production at Fisher in the Summer of 1943. Both tanks have the Quick Fix (1) and the driver’s hood armor (2) modifications. Along with the gun travel lock (3), these were reported to have been introduced at Fisher in August, 1943. Both have periscope guards (4), and commander’s vane sights (5), which are stated to have been introduced in September. At some point, a filler cap for “engine oil gauge” (6) was introduced in production on all M4A2s. We have yet to come across any documentation, but the earliest it appears in a photo of a unit with a known good Serial Number is September, 1943.


M4A2

Baldwin Locomotive produced only 12 M4A2s from October to November, 1942. After that, the company manufactured 1233 M4s from January 1943 to January 1944. ALCO began Sherman production with the M4A2 in September, 1942. They produced 150 units up to April, 1943. At the beginning of 1943, they were directed to switch production over to the M4, and manufactured a total of 2150 units from February through December, 1943. We believe that all of the M4A2s made by Baldwin and ALCO would have been direct vision models. No doubt many were distributed to the Allies as Lend Lease, although we can not document a single example at present. Records found by researchers at the Russian Archives have revealed that, for the purposes of casualty and/or repair reports, at least some Soviet units recorded the USA Registration Numbers of their Lend Lease Shermans, etc. Of the 100 plus listings provided to us from these records, about half are Fisher M4A2s and half Pullman. Federal Machine and Welder produced 540 M4A2s from December, 1942 through December, 1943. So far, we have recorded the Registration Numbers of 10 FMWs in service with the Soviets, with most of the entries indicating units produced in the second half of 1943. We believe that FMW used the same glacis plate pattern, and the same antenna bracket (1) as did Pullman on most of its 1943 production Shermans. Thus, there are no immediate visual distinctions between the two companies’ M4A2s. The photo above shows “060,” a combat casualty of the 226th Tank Regiment, reported to have been knocked out near the village of Panevo in March 1944. We suspect that this M4A2 was made by FMW by virtue of its 3-piece differential housing. Pullman appears to have had steady supplies of the 1-piece units by early 1943, while FMW used a mix of 1 and 3 piece diffs up until about July. More examples are needed, but another possible difference might be that FMW , like Fisher, mounted the grouser blank off plates on top of the armor, whereas Pullman mounted them flush. This tank is relatively unmodified, but can be seen with the positive hatch lock mechanisms with equilibrator springs (inset) which were introduced in Sherman production in the first quarter of 1943. The periscope guards on the drivers’ hatches were reported to have been installed on FMW M4A2s in late September, 1943. It is thought that Pullman, which ended Sherman production in September, never factory installed them. We can only guess that the guards would have been retrofitted to this unit in the Fall of 1943 (or later) at a Tank Depot, but it is curious that no other mods of the time are present.


M4A2

In 1994, a 72 year old WW II veteran dropped off a manuscript at the US Embassy in Moscow. The manuscript eventually found its way to Fort Leavenworth, where it was translated by a military analyst and historian named James Gebhardt, who described it as "The most detailed description I have seen of the employment of U.S. military equipment by the Red Army." The manuscript was published as "Commanding the Red Army's Sherman Tanks: The World War II Memoirs of Hero of the Soviet Union Dmitriy Loza." The book shed light on a previously obscure topic, and has become a "must read" for those interested in the Sherman Tank. An internet source describes the photo above as "A column of tanks, M4A2 "Sherman" 5th Guards Tank Army, in May 1944." These small hatch M4A2s exhibit many of the modifications introduced in production in the Fall of 1943, including the sharp nosed differential housing (part number E8543). On the first 3 tanks, the position of the siren and guard on the glacis just below the left side hull lifting ring, may be a clue that they are Federal Machine and Welder M4A2s produced in either November or December, 1943. Note that the tank riders are armed with submachine guns. According to Dmitriy Loza, the TOE [Table of Equipment] of a Tank Brigade included a Battalion of submachine gunners (tankodesantniki). "Our submachine gunners were like brothers to us...[At halts] The tankers could sleep and our submachine gunners protected our tanks and us. And..."As soon as the Germans opened fire...they jumped off and ran behind the tanks." Loza also mentions that Soviet tankers were offered an "incentive" of "1000 rubles for each destroyed AFV." His battalion agreed to pool the reward money and pass it on to the families of their fallen comrades.


M4A2

Most photos showing Soviet Shermans in the final months of WW II, are of M4A2(76)s. However, a few M4A2(75)s appear to have remained in service to the end. The photo above shows a possible example during the Battle for Vienna which took place from April 2 to April 13, 1945. This Sherman served with the 14th Guards Independent Motorcycle Battalion of the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps. This was a heavily armed Reconnaissance Battalion primarily equipped with Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The Battalion's firepower was augmented by a company of about 10 Shermans, commanded by Lt. J.A. Marianin, whose M4A2(76), with "02" painted on the turret, appears in the background of the photo. The M4A2(75) was reported to have been the first Soviet tank to enter Vienna, and this photo along with a couple of others of Marianin and his M4A2(76) were taken to mark the occasion. Lt. I.G. Dronov and Sgt. N.I. Idrisov pose in front of the tank which has the drivers' hood castings and the type of antenna bracket typical of Pullman or Federal Machine M4A2(75)s. Perhaps a bit of the gun travel lock may be seen over Lt. Dronov's right shoulder?


M4A2

There are at least 4 surviving small hatch M4A2(75)s in the former Soviet Union. At present, the serial numbers of these tanks are not known, but the example on display at the Military Historical Museum in Lenino-Snegiri (north-west of Moscow) once had "USA 3038978" painted on as shown in the inset. This number would represent June, 1943 Pullman production, and we can at least observe that the overall appearance of the tank is appropriate to mid 1943. It looks to be in a similar configuration to "060" from the previous caption, with the only apparent modification being the periscope guards (1) on the drivers' hatches. The glacis is made up of two pieces of armor plate (2 & 3), with the drivers' hoods (4 & 5), bow machine gun (6) and antenna bracket castings (7) welded in. Again we would note that Federal Machine M4A2s are seen with similar glacis patterns, right down to the antenna bracket casting with a flat area at the base.


M4A2

The round indentations on a single armor plate of the Snegiri M4A2 constitute an interesting "aberration" seen on this tank and no other surviving Sherman of which we are aware. A former metal worker describes these as "The marks a power hammer leaves after straightening a warped plate." The thousands of components that went to make up a Sherman were inspected at delivery, and at other times during the assembly process. We can only assume that when this particular hull was welded together, the indented plate passed muster, since, ultimately, the completed tank was accepted by the US Government. The photo provides a good view of the lifting ring casting (1) that became standard on most Shermans starting in 1943. "SS in an oval" (2) can be seen on the bustle of the turret. This was the caster's logo of Scullin Steel of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the smaller producers of Sherman turrets. They appear to have been a regular source of turrets for Pullman. For instance, during the month of February, 1943 Scullin is reported to have delivered 175 turrets to Pullman, while another small company, Buckeye Steel provided 84, and the large producer, General Steel-Eddystone delivered 12. Additional casting marks on the roof of this particular no pistol port D50878 turret give the turret serial number as 978 (inset), which we take to mean that, as of mid 1943, Scullin had delivered about 1000 turrets.


M4A2

The hulk shown above is thought to be the only surviving example (if we can call it that) of a Soviet large hatch M4A2(75). It is on display at the National Military Museum in Bucharest, Romania. This tank is reported to have fallen into the Prut River near Petresti in August 1944. From the location, it is likely that this tank served with an armored unit of the 5th Mechanized Corps on the 2nd Ukrainian Front. Shortly after it was lost, Russian forces recovered the turret, presumably for refitting to another Sherman. A local who was granted permission to salvage the engine, appears to have salvaged a good deal more than that. What was left was recovered in 2000, and placed on displayed at the museum. While the serial number of this tank is not known at present, the forward cable clamp can be seen in the "first" position (1), and the return roller arms are straight (2) as opposed to upturned, which would lead us to think it is an early production (November/December, 1943) example. Information and photo courtesy of Doug Kibbey.


French use of M4A2


M4A2

The Allies invaded Northwest Africa on November 8, 1942. It was hoped that Vichy French Forces in the colonies of Algeria and Morocco would not oppose the “Operation Torch” landings, but instead would join the Allies in the fight against the Axis. Unfortunately, this did not occur and British and US Forces had to fight their way ashore. However, the French capitulated a few days later on November 10, and following delicate and occasionally embarrassing political negotiations, agreed to rejoin the Allies. French General Henri Giraud played an important role during and after the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. As a consequence, the US agreed to supply materiel to the so called “Free French in North Africa,” which helped to establish and train several Divisions, including three Armored Divisions. The "International Aid Statistics" Report indicates that the French received 656 "Tanks, Medium and Heavy" through Lend-Lease. In fact all of them were Sherman Medium Tanks, and France was the third largest recipient of the Sherman, after the British Empire and the USSR. Deliveries of medium tanks under the official Lend Lease program occurred in 1943 and 1944. The 656 Shermans allocated to the Free French consisted of 274 new production M4A4s, 362 new production M4A2s and 20 remanufactured M4A2s. It is thought that all were shipped to Northwest Africa, except for the 20 M4A2s allocated in October 1944. Most likely, these came in through Marseille, France sometime in early 1945.


M4A2

All but the last 20 Shermans were delivered to the ports of Algiers (Algeria) and Casablanca (Morocco) in 1943. The French formed three Armored Divisions, each equipped with 165 Shermans. US advisors required that homogeneous Armored Divisions be created. That is, to ease logistics, the M4A2 diesels should entirely equip two of the Divisions, while the gasoline powered M4A4s should equip the third. The 2ème Division Blindée indeed was entirely outfitted with M4A2s. It was intended that the 1ère Division Blindée be equipped only with M4A2s, and the 5ème Division Blindée exclusively with M4A4s. However, the original allocations to the 1ère and 5ème Divisions had not been all of one type, and both were formed with 110 M4A4s and 55 M4A2s. Despite multiple American requests for standardization, the French refused to exchange Regiments between Armored Divisions, as it was felt such transfers would affect unit cohesion and morale. In the end, M4A4s were allocated to the 2ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique and 2ème Régiment de Cuirassiers of the 1ère Division Blindée, and to the 1er Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique and 1er Régiment de Cuirassiers of the 5ème Division Blindée. The 110 M4A2s were evenly allocated to the 5ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (1ère DB) and the 6ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (5ère DB). The photo above in entitled "Free French Forces train with U.S. supplied Sherman tanks in Algeria, 1943" and shows newly issued M4A2s that the carry the "drapeau consulaire" (1) or "drapeau 1804", of Napoleonic origins, which was adopted as the symbol of the French First Army.


M4A2    M4A2

Of the 362 diesel engined M4A2(75)s allocated to the “French in North Africa” between May and July, 1943, photographic evidence suggests that most of those distributed to the 2ème Division Blindée were manufactured in 1943, but some 1942 production units are also seen in the mix. For instance, the photo above left shows "Perthus" of the 12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique, with Direct Vision (1), and the M34 Gun Mount with the narrow rotor shield (2), features typical of 1942 Shermans. “Ile de France,” another M4A2 of the 12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique is shown on the right. The sharp nosed “Mary Ann” differential housing (3) was introduced into production at Fisher Body in July 1943, and it is thought that “Ile de France” would have been one of the M4A2s allocated to the French during that same month. Note the wider rotor shield of the M34A1 gun mount (4). Both of these tanks appear to have received a few “in the field” modifications, including the turret appliqué armor patch (5). The visible gap in the patch on “Ile de France” suggests that it was a case of an unnecessary application (see below for further details). These tanks were photographed landing on Utah Beach on August 1st or 2nd, 1944, and each can be seen with a “Somua” plate affixed to the front, a souvenir of the old Somua S-35 tanks the Regiment had had in North Africa.


M4A2    M4A2

The 2ème Division Blindée was chosen to take part in the Normandy Campaign, and shipped out of North Africa with its 165 M4A2s on April 11, 1944. It arrived in the United Kingdom 11 days later, where it continued to train. The Division was the subject of a good deal of Press coverage when it landed in Normandy in early August, 1944, as it was the first major French unit to reenter France. The US Ordnance Department directed that US Army Shermans located in the UK receive a number of upgrade modifications prior to the Invasion of Europe. Since the 2eme DB was attached to the US Third Army, its tanks were considered subject to the directive, and the Division was provided with quantities of the various modification kits. However, it would appear that French Maintenance units were overwhelmed by the number of modifications, and did not have the time or manpower to apply them “by the book.” For instance, period photos and a few surviving examples, show that the hull appliqué plates that were part of the "Quick Fix" modification kit were merely tack welded on, a technique that would been rejected by US Army inspectors. The image on the left is from newsreel footage shot in North Dalton, UK, in July, 1944and shows French mechanics welding an appliqué plate on "Arcis sur Aube," an M4A2 of the 501ème Régiment de Chars de Combat. The right side photo shows the non continuous weld beads on "Massaoua," an M4A2 destroyed on August 15, 1944 in Ecouché, Normandy. A few of the surviving 2eme DB monument Shermans on display in France, like "Massaoua," are missing their applique plates, most likely due to the inadequacy of the original tack welding method.


M4A2

One of the modifications mandated for installation on US Shermans in the UK was Blitz Item No. 57, "Increase thickness of Turret Armor in Region of Traversing Gear." There were a couple of scooped out "thin spots" on the right front side of the turret's interior wall that provided clearance for the crew to work the traversing mechanism. It was reported that the enemy aimed for these thin spots, so an exterior patch kit was produced to correct this defect. In the meantime, the D50878 turret mold was altered by providing a "cast in thickened cheek" which eliminated the need for the welded on turret patch modification. Ordnance engineers considered the pistol port to be a weak spot on the Sherman's turret, and made the unfortunate decision to eliminate it from the revised casting. The new turret castings entered the production pipeline in the Summer of 1943, and it is obvious from period photos and surviving examples that the French received a few M4A2s with "cast in thickened cheek/no pistol port" turrets. In any case, an interesting anomaly seen on a handful of 2eme DB Shermans is the unnecessary application of the welded on turret patch to the revised turrets (see the 75mm turret page for further details). "Valois," "Massaoua" and "Chemin des Dames" are historical examples featuring unnecessarily applied turret patches. The cast, two piece applique sections were not made to fit the revised turret, and Massaoua (pictured above) shows a particularly poor fit. Lack of direction from US Ordnance personnel, and/or simply a language barrier misunderstanding were the likely culprits in the case of the unneeded turret appliqué.


M4A2

The two barred Croix de Lorraine (Cross of Lorraine) was adopted as the symbol of the Free French Forces who chose to continue to resist the Nazis after the Fall of France in June, 1940. The unit symbol chosen by the 2ème Division Blindée consisted of a blue circle containing a map outline of the country of France over which was superimposed the Cross of Lorraine. This symbol (1) appears painted on nearly every vehicle of the 2eme DB. Another of the modifications mandated for installation on US Shermans in the UK before D-Day was the "2 inch Smoke Mortar." The mortar was to be installed inside at the left front of the turret through a hole drilled or burned into the armor. It would appear that some French units chose not to install the mortar "by the book," possibly because they lacked the time or the proper tools. A few M4A2s of the 501ème Régiment de Chars de Combat are seen with the smoke mortar affixed to the exterior of the turret on the right side as shown above (2) on "Friedland," photographed in Paris on August 25, 1944, the day the German Garrison surrendered the French Capital. "Friedland" can also be seen with a stowage box (3) on the rear of the turret which, along with the installation of a large stowage box on the upper rear hull plate, was a common practice in the 2ème Division Blindée. Collection Benjamin Josset via Laurent Fournier.


M4A2    M4A2

Here we would like to feature an M4A2(75) that served with the 12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique of the 2ème DB from the time the unit landed at Utah Beach in early August, 1944 through to VE-Day in May, 1945. There are quite a few period photos of "Corse" showing that she was tank number 35, Matricule Number 420644. Perhaps one of the crew members was a native of the island of Corsica, and named the tank after his home? Chars Français website reports that, during an inspection in February, 1944, the Division commander, General Philippe Leclerc, noticed that a tiny outline of the island of Corsica (1) was painted below the Cross of Lorraine Division symbol, and ordered that it be removed, because it was not "regulation." The photos make it apparent that the crew ignored the order. In September, 1944 during the fighting in Dompaire, Corse was reportedly hit by two phosphorus shells which caused her to glow in the dark. The crew stated that they tried to wash off the chemical with water, and even went so far as to use some French wine they had stashed in a jerrycan. "Corse" is reported to have participated in the Alsace Campaign in late 1944, the defense of Strasbourg in early 1945, and the battle of the Royan Pocket in April, 1945. The snapshot on the left was taken on August 25, 1944 during the Liberation of Paris. Note the tack welding of the applique plate (2). Other photos show that Corse had a no pistol port turret, and one can see the unnecessary turret patch with the gap (3) between the sections. The tank can be seen with both the original commander's blade sight (4), along with the vane sight (5) that replaced it, and was probably retrofitted at a US Depot or in England before the Invasion. The photo on the right perhaps shows the tank commander Jean Titeaux, and the driver, Lucien Matron. The antenna bracket (6) is typical of those seen on Pullman and Federal Machine M4A2s. Note the Lima Tank Depot type comb device with the 3 U-bolts welded on (7). It would appear that the crew carried the assembled ram rod (8) on the outside of the tank in the position shown here. Left side photo courtesy of Myriam Montagné.


M4A2

An M4A2(75) named "Corse" is in a storage lot at the Saumur Tank Museum. The staff was able to determine through "paint archeology" that the hull was indeed that of the historic "Corse." Period photos suggest that M4A2s remained in service with the French Army at least up to 1956. Our subject appears to have been one of those that continued to serve post war. We base this on the presence of the "serial number in a box" (inset, pointer) which has been noted on a number of surviving French Shermans and other AFVs. The "SN in a box" is usually accompanied by a rebuild or heavy maintenance tag which includes the place where the work was done, and often a date from the 1950s. The tag is missing on "Corse," but one can see its former location (circled). In any case, as far as we have been able to determine, Pullman Standard did not stamp the serial number anywhere on the exterior of its Shermans, so, as researchers, we are grateful to the French for the "SN in a box." Serial Number 30850 would have been accepted in August, 1943, and it is likely that "Corse" was one of the 300 plus Lend Lease M4A2s allocated to the "French in North Africa" in July, 1943. It should be noted that "Corse" no longer has the "no pistol port, unnecessary turret patch" turret that can be seen in the period photos.


M4A2

Over 30 years ago, Corse was spotted in a storage lot at Saumur with a turret retrofitted with a massive gun mount (1) holding the CN 75-50, a French design derived from the powerful 75mm gun of Germany's WW II Panther Tank. The turret was also retrofitted with a loader's hatch (2), and a commander's all around vision cupola (3). This appears to have been the original attempt to cram the CN 75-50 gun into the "small" Sherman 75mm/105mm turret. The final design was quite a bit different, with the turret enlarged by extensions on both the front and rear. The first example was shipped to Israel in 1955, and the "new" upgunned Sherman was designated "M50." M50s saw extensive service with the Israeli Defense Forces from 1956 up to 1973, and, famously, more than held their own against the more modern tanks fielded by the Arab States. In the photo, it can be seen that Corse no longer had its engine decks (4) in the late 1980s. Since then, the CN 75-50 turret has been replaced with a D50878 turret cast by Scullin Steel, which is appropriate, since SS was one of the suppliers to Pullman. However, as noted previously, this turret has a working pistol port, so is not original to the tank. Photo courtesy of Laurent Deneu.


M4A2

The 5ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique was the single regiment of the 1ère Division Blindée that was entirely equipped with M4A2(75)s (55 tanks). The unit came ashore with Operation Dragoon follow up forces, and first entered combat on August 21, 1944. During the course of the campaign, most of its losses were replaced with other M4A2s, but a few M4A1(76)s appear to have been received in late February, 1945, along with a few M4(105) HVSS in early May, 1945. As with the 2ème Division Blindée,  the regiment’s M4A2s consisted of a mix of early and late models from various manufacturers, including some with Direct Vision. The photo above shows "Lasalle", a Fisher-built M4A2 of the 5ème RCA, entering the German city of Baden-Baden on April 12, 1945. The M34 Gun Mount suggests that this tank was produced before April, 1943. Photo courtesy of ECPAD, TERRE-10278-L11.


M4A2

In early November, 1944, the 6ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique became the first unit of the 5ème Division Blindée to enter into combat. Documents and period photos reveal that the majority of the Shermans that equipped the Regiment were M4A2(75)s. French tanks were generally named by their crews, but “counting heads” suggests that less than half of the Shermans in the 6ème RCA carried names. Most of them only show a “speed number,” such as "33" pictured above left. Photo courtesy of ECPAD.


M4A2    M4A2

As mentioned previously, the last 20 "official" Lend Lease M4A2s were allocated to the French in October, 1944. Taking into account shipping times, these tanks probably didn’t arrive in theater until the beginning of 1945. They would have been remanufactured in the US, so would have had the full suite of modifications, including appliqué armor plates in front of the drivers’ hatches (1) and on the hull sides (2), the gun travel lock (3), the blanket roll rack (4) and stowage for the machine gun on the rear turret bustle. Remanufactured M4A2s are seen in all units of the 1ère Division Blindée and in the 6ème RCA, 5ème DB. Three remanufactured M4A2s have been identified in the 2ème Division Blindée as well. The photo on the left shows “Davout” of the 2ème Régiment de Cuirassiers. This tank is a 1942 Fisher Body produced M4A2 with Direct Vision. On the right is an M4A2 said to be of the 5ème RCA, but otherwise unidentified due to the absence of any unit markings. The lack of any crew stowage on these tanks, suggests that they were photographed post war. Both photos courtesy of ECPAD.


M4A2    M4A2

It is thought that the French received a few of the 120 M4A2(75)s that were part of the emergency transfer by the British to the US in January 1945. The units shown above both served with the 6ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique of the 5ème DB. These tanks have features that indicate that they were among the 535 M4A2s remanufactured in the US in 1944. The drivers’ hoods with direct vision seen on Tank Number 53 would indicate that it was produced in 1942. Such a tank would have been built originally with an M34 Gun Mount. The M34A1 Gun Mount with its wider rotor shield would have been added along with the numerous other modifications during remanufacture. Both tanks show fittings, such as the spare track holders, typically added to Commonwealth Shermans before issue. Although these photos are undated, the crew stowage suggests that they are war time shots. A road sign for Göbrichen, Germany can be seen in another photo of Tank Number 53.  The 6ème RCA was in that area in mid April, 1945.


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