M4A4 Shermans
Most of the information on this page is courtesy of Joe DeMarco. Many thanks to Peter Brown, Jim Goetz, Leife Hulbert and Tom Gannon for their assistance! Note: some of the information on this page was compiled using a technique informally referred to as "counting heads." It is based on the ongoing study of period documents and photographs, as well as surviving Shermans. Due to the limited nature of available reference sources, some of the information presented here must be considered as "educated guesswork."

First of all, you have to identify the tank as being an M4A4 Sherman tank. Please visit this page to do so.

The Chrysler Corporation was the sole manufacturer of the M4A4, and produced 7499 units from July 1942 to November 1943.

Production Order T-2593: 1401 units: Serial Number 4805 / USA 3056615 through S/N 6204 / USA 3058014 *
Production Order T-3333: 4000 units: Serial Number 16555 / USA 3016831 through S/N 20554 / USA 3020860
Production Order T-3603: 2077 units: Serial Number 20555 / USA 3029082 through S/N 22631 / USA 3031158
Production Order T-3603: 21 units: Serial Number 22632 / USA 3031162 through S/N 22652 / USA 3031182

* Serial Number 56620 / USA 3098786 was assigned to a single M4A4 to account for the one tank delivery shortage which came about as a result of Chrysler's presenting its first M3 Medium Tank as a gift to the US Government.


M4A4

On August 15, 1940, the Chrysler Corporation was contracted to produce 1000 M2A1 Medium Tanks. For this purpose, the US Government financed construction of a dedicated tank plant in Warren, a small township outside of Detroit, Michigan. The original designation as the "Detroit Ordnance Plant," was somewhat confusing, so the name was changed on May 29, 1941 to the "Detroit Tank Arsenal." By late August 1940, the Ordnance Department had abandoned plans for mass production of the M2A1 with its 37mm gun, in favor of a design concept which would have a 75mm as its main gun. Unfortunately, in the Summer of 1940, the Army engineers did not have the technical ability to mount such a large gun in a revolving turret. Instead, they came up with an interim design which mounted the 75mm gun in a sponson. The M3 pilot was completed at Rock Island Arsenal in March 1941, and photographed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland shortly thereafter.


M4A4

From the beginning, the M3 was thought of as an interim design. Its major shortcoming was, of course, the limited traverse of the sponson mounted 75mm gun. In August 1940, even before the M3's design was finalized, the Ordnance Committee, Technical Staff emphasized that the next step in development would be "modification of the Medium Tank, M3" by "relocating the 75mm gun in the turret." It was intended to replace the M3 in production as quickly as was practical. However, the press of world events created an urgent need for tanks, and Chrysler's original contract for 1000 M3 Medium Tanks was increased several times so that, ultimately, the company produced 3243 M3s and 109 M3A4s from July 1941 to August, 1942. Chrysler more or less hand built the first two tanks, which are shown above on "Presentation Day," April 24, 1941, a little over a month after the M3 pilot was completed at Rock Island Arsenal. Chrysler President K.T. Keller presented General Charles M. Wesson, Chief of Ordnance, the first M3 (Serial Number 2, USA 301000, the scuffed up tank on the right in the photo) as a gift from Chrysler employees. This gift tank created a "one serial number short" bookkeeping problem that was not resolved until July 1943, when Serial Number 56620, USA 3098786 was set aside for a single M4A4.


M4A4

The US Medium Tank was designed around an "off the shelf" 9 cylinder Wright radial aircraft engine that was widely used by the Army Air Corps, and had a proven record of reliability. As the military commenced its massive build up in the early 1940s, materials priority appears to have been given to the Navy and Air Corps. Recognizing that there would be a critical shortage of aircraft engines, the Army turned to the automotive industry for alternate power plant designs. In July 1941, Chrysler presented an expedient which combined five 6 cylinder auto engines in a star configuration. In December, the Army contracted for the installation of 100 "experimental multiple engine power plants" in the Medium Tank, M3. This configuration was designated "M3A4" later that same month. This was not a simple engine swap. The massive "Chrysler Multibank" required an 11 inch elongation of the existing hull. Chrysler also designed and installed heavier duty bogie units to carry the engine's greater weight. It was agreed that the cost would be "$15,000 per tank in excess of the then current unit price of the M3." Above shows the first production M3A4, USA 309733, which was accepted in June, 1942. Note the new heavy duty bogies with trailing return roller arms. Contrary to some sources, the M3A4 was the only tank of the M3 series to have these factory installed. For convenience, we refer to them as "M4 bogies," because, as quickly as they could be produced, they replaced the older M3 type bogies, and became standard on all M4 series Shermans.


M4A4

Despite numerous teething problems and the complexity of the 30 cylinder Multibank engine, the Government committed to its production. In early January, 1942 Chrysler was contracted to build the third T6 (Sherman) pilot. It would be a welded hull model, elongated for the Multibank, and given the nomenclature "M4A4." At the same time, the company was directed to terminate M3 production at 3352 units, and change over to manufacture of the M4A4 by August, 1942. The pilot, Serial Number 3, USA 3058315 was completed on May 9, 1942, and delivered to Aberdeen Proving Ground later that month. The pilot is thought to be the only M4A4 that had the turret lifting rings welded on in the "high" position (1). The handle (2) on the commander's hatch was simply welded on to production units. The hole (3) in the turret splash on the left side only is something of a mystery for which we have found no documentation. Presumably it was a second drainage hole. It appears on some, but not all, of the M4A4s produced up to late 1942.


M4A4

This overhead view of the pilot was taken in February 1943 shortly before the tank was converted to a mine flail. "Counting heads" suggests that the first 400 or so M4A4s did not have the "second" turret antenna bracket, or the commander's blade sight factory installed. (We've circled the future locations of these items.) The drivers' hatch handles (1) were in the "first" position, mounted towards the rear and on an angle. This can also be seen on Serial Number 4805, the first production unit. The grouser compartment holes were simply blanked off (2) rather than equipped with air scoops. Holes for a pair of fuel shut off valves (3) were located on the the rear engine deck panel, and right next to them, the lifting handles were positioned side to side. It is thought that in August 1942, the shut off holes were eliminated, the engine deck lifting handles were reoriented front to back, cast air scoops were added, and the drivers' hatch handles were installed in the "standard" position.


M4A4

Japanese conquests in Asia created a rubber shortage which compelled the Ordnance Department to employ some steel track alternatives. The M4A4 pilot was used to test T49 "interrupted parallel bar" tracks in August, 1942. The photo above was marked up to show the areas in the front vulnerable to 37mm and larger armor piercing projectiles. One can see that the glacis of the M4A4 was rather elaborate, made up of 5 sections. Sections 1 and 2 were rolled armor plate, while 3, 4 and 5 were castings. The drivers' hood castings were "wide," and joined in the center to form the upper glacis. In a front photo, this glacis configuration along with Chrysler's distinctive antenna bracket casting serve to identify the type as an M4A4. It can be seen, however, to have been mislabeled an M4A2 in the information panel. Note the door stops (circled) supporting the open drivers' hatches. These were not present on the pilot when shipped, so must have been added at APG.


M4A4

Chrysler President K.T. Keller was fond of recording milestones, and sending little notes with photos to Ordnance officials. Above shows the scene at the Detroit Tank Arsenal on August 3, 1942 as "CHRYSLER M4 TANKS CROWD LAST M3 OFF THE LINES." A close examination of the glossy print revealed that the M4A4 in the middle has its Serial Number 4840 chalked on, making it the 36th production unit. During the course of the M3 Lee program, Chrysler designed the pressed metal type of road wheels that can be seen, and used them throughout its production of VVSS equipped Shermans. The M4A4s shown are "still" outfitted with the same type of drive sprockets used on the M3. The M34 gun mounts are in the first configuration, with the gun shield lifting rings mounted very close to the rotor shield. While the M3 is outfitted with flat block rubber tracks, the Shermans can be seen with T48 rubber chevron tracks, which came to be the US Army's preferred type in Europe.


M4A4

On August 25, 1942, Serial Number 4872, USA 3056682 was received for evaluation by the Armored Force Board at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. A report specifically mentions that it was the 67th unit built. Several standard items were noted to be missing from M4A4s "to this date." For instance, it was recorded that "Bracket for the ten pound sledge on rear deck will be incorporated from about 2700 tanks" (Jan. 1943, ca. SN 17855). In the "Final Report of Medium Tank, M4A4, With Chrysler Multibank Engines," dated December 15, 1942, the AFB recommended that "The Chrysler Multibank engine be considered unsatisfactory as a power plant for medium tanks and its production discontinued at the earliest possible date." The Desert Warfare Board made the same recommendation a few months later. In the event, "the earliest possible date" turned out to be September 1943, after 7500 M4A4s had been produced along with 5000 spare Multibank engines. After such a negative evaluation, Serial Number 4872 was subjected to the further indignity of ballistic tests as shown above. The M4 bogie units can be seen with the first type of track skid which had a "half round" shape. These were installed on M3A4 Lees, as well as on other early production Shermans aside from the M4A4.


M4A4

The M4A4 was NOT released for overseas (combat) use by the US Army. Many served as training tanks in the US, but the majority, 7167 units, were provided to the British as Lend Lease. The first allocation, Shipping Order 3-G-1025, for 329 M4A4s was made in September 1942. The first of the tanks were shipped from New York in late November and arrived in Liverpool in mid December. 20 of them were the subject of a joint UK/US study exploring "the most satisfactory method of sealing tanks for shipment to overseas theaters of war." Chester Tank Depot in Pennsylvania used various methods to seal the tanks, and had completed the work by November 9. 15 were loaded "on deck," and 5 were loaded "under deck." Some of the deck loaded tanks were covered with "prefabricated wooden hoods" as shown above left. Upon arrival in the UK, the tanks were inspected. The study concluded with recommendations regarding standard sealing practices to be used in the future shipment of tanks. The lowest M4A4 Serial Number listed was 4830 (T-146219), and the highest was 5561 (T-146225), indicating that the tanks had been produced August through October, 1942. In the right side photos, the sand shields that can be seen were retrofitted at the request of the British. As part of the study, CTD added the so called "comb" device (arrow) to these tanks. This provided an external means of unlocking the brakes, and permitted the tanks to be manipulated into position without having to enter the vehicles, thereby ruining the shipping sealing of the driver's hatches.


M4A4

Starting in January 1943, Chrysler sent technicians to both the UK and Middle East to train "artificer and driving personnel in the servicing of the power plant." T.A. Demetry one of the Chrysler techs at the Base Work Shop at El Kroub in Algeria, reported that the officers and trainees were "well satisfied with the performance of our units, and were greatly relieved upon absorbing instruction, that the power unit was not at all as complicated as they had originally imagined." In fairness to Chrysler, it must be said that, after a number of engineering changes were made, the Multibank performed well in service with the Commonwealth. At 7167 units, the M4A4 or "Sherman V" in British parlance, was the most numerous of the M4 series received by the British Empire as Lend Lease. Even after production had ceased in September, 1943, the British agreed to accept remanufactured M4A4s as part of their 1944 Lend Lease requirements, and would have taken more, had they been available, in lieu of radial engined Shermans. Credit : Dwight E. Dolan / Library and Archives Canada / PA-201361.


M4A4

The combat debut of the M4A4 appears to have occurred on July 10, 1943 when C Squadron of the 12th Canadian Tank Regiment (Three Rivers Regt.) made an assault landing in support of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division at Pachino Bay in Sicily. The photo above depicts a later scene, and is captioned, "A British Sherman tank advancing near Catania, Sicily, 4 August 1943." However, the only unit in Sicily with M4A4s was the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade, which was composed of the 11th, 12th and 14th Canadian Tank Regiments. The Brigade's War Diary lists the WD Numbers of over 200 M4A4s issued to its regiments in the UK prior to its deployment to Sicily. "Condor" appears to be T-146514. If so, the Diary has it that it was issued to the 11th Canadian Tank Regiment (The Ontario Regt.). "Condor" can be seen to have the elongated drivers' hoods that were introduced in production in November 1942. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo NA5522.


M4A4

The caption of the photo above has it that the scene was filmed on September 3, 1943, at Reggio, during Operation Baytown, the Eighth Army invasion of the "toe" of Italy. Based on unit histories and the date, the M4A4s are thought to be of the 14th Canadian Tank Regiment (Calgary Regt.) Chrysler transitioned to the M34A1 gun mount in mid February, 1943. Note that the trailing Sherman "still" has the M34 gun mount. Another February addition was the "spot and signal lamp." The lamp's bracket can be seen next to the turret ventilator. Chrysler introduced the standard type of hull lifting ring castings in January 1943. The Commonwealth retrofitted 4 inch smoke dischargers to many of its AFVs, and requested that future Sherman production include a 2 inch bomb thrower (smoke mortar) in the Sherman's turret as standard equipment. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo NA6209.


M4A4

While the majority of M4A4s were assigned to British Lend Lease, the "French in North Africa" received 274 units that arrived in the Spring of 1943. Above shows a pair at a depot in Algeria on April 23, 1943. The stripes painted on the sides and front were in the colors of the French flag. The shipping code included "NAFUS" which we believe stood for "North Africa French - US." "SR (Sequence Requisition) 10668" indicates that this unit was one of 125 allocated and "floated" in February, 1943. The later drivers' hoods among other features suggest that the tank was produced in January 1943. Some of the many changes made to Shermans in late 1942 show up well on this tank. The gun shield with cast in lifting rings (1) can be seen to good effect. The rotor shield (2) is the later type with cast in "wing" pieces. The head lamp plug holders (3) are mounted in the later vertical position. The bogie units feature the second type of track skid (4), and the return rollers have been raised up an inch by the addition of a spacer (5). The bogie arms are the final type with the "wrench holes" (6). The Chrysler designed pressed metal or "disc type" idler (7) replaced the original welded spoke idlers in all Sherman production by the Summer of 1943. The distinctive Chrysler drive sprocket (8) replaced the M3 type sprocket around October, 1942. This tank can be seen to be equipped with the "aircraft type cowl fasteners" (circled) used to secure sand shields before the introduction of the standard or "interchangeable type" sand shield design in mid 1943.


M4A4
Click on the pictures for larger size

The scene above was filmed on April 14, 1943 at "Dump #165" in Casablanca, French Morocco. It shows long lines of M4A4s and M5A1 Light Tanks awaiting processing for issue. On Vehicle Materiel (OVM) boxes can be seen stacked in the foreground. The USA Number, 3018736, of the lead M4A4 is painted in blue drab. This tank was produced in February 1943, right at the time that Chrysler transitioned to the M34A1 gun mount, which can be seen on a number of the M4A4s in the background. In a "side shot," the 11 inch gap (1) between the road wheels is a good recognition feature of the elongated M4A4 hull. On other Sherman hulls, the road wheels nearly touch. Unlike our previous example, this tank has the "final" type of track skid (circled). As supplies increased, it became standard on all models to the end of VVSS production. The quarter round object on the rear deck is the exhaust deflector (2), introduced by Chrysler in January 1943. A Field Modification Kit was also provided for retrofit to earlier production units.


M4A4

There are more surviving M4A4s, more US/Commonwealth test reports and more period photos available compared with other types of 1942/43 production Shermans. Thus, at this point, we propose to illustrate the various features of the M4A4 in greater detail. The overhead view from the M4A4 Technical Manual provides the names of various components. The Multibank was so large that there was no room for vertical fuel tanks in the front corners of the engine compartment, as on other types of Shermans. However, the elongated hull enabled the sponson fuel tanks to be enlarged to hold 80 gallons each. The height of the massive radiator required blisters on both the engine deck and the belly plate. Commonwealth users noted that the forward location of the radiator was preferred to the rear mounted, partially exposed radiators on their Lend Lease M4A2s, which were often damaged in battle.


M4A4 Hull Features



M4A4

The earliest welded hull Shermans were designed with the so-called "narrow" drivers' hood castings (inset). These became standard first on M4A2s, and later on M4s. Chrysler designed the M4A4 pilot with "wide" drivers' hoods castings, and used them throughout production. Above shows a machining operation on the center assembly of the M4A4 glacis. The weld seams that joined the 3 sections stand out on the unpainted assembly. All 3 sections were castings. The lower section, part number D52417 was 62 inches wide, and included the bow machine gun fixture. Ford also used wide drivers' hoods in the manufacture of its M4A3s. However, Ford used rolled armor plate for the lower section. The bow machine gun socket used by Ford was a small casting that was welded into the plate.


M4A4

In the study of Shermans, it is not unusual to encounter anomalies. The April 1943 production M4A4 shown above can be seen to have a glacis pattern in the Ford configuration. It has an armor plate lower section, with the bow machine gun casting welded in to it. The caster's logo on the MG fixture is "GAD," indicating that it was made by Ford. This is the only such example we have seen out of, say, 50 surviving M4A4s examined. Should readers come across any others, we'd be pleased to have a report.


M4A4

The earliest Shermans, including the M4A4, had direct vision drivers' hoods. These were found to be ballistic weak points, and the Ordnance Department ordered them eliminated from welded hulls on August 13, 1942. Some lead time was needed to secure the new driver's hood castings. At present, our counting heads method suggests that the transition was started and completed by Chrysler in November 1942. Serial Number 5868 is the first known example we have recorded without Direct Vision, and Serial Number 5908 is the last unit recorded with Direct Vision. 5868 / USA 3057678 was designated "M4A4E1," and was used to test the installation of the 105mm gun in the Sherman. The new elongated drivers' hoods featured auxiliary periscopes in front of the drivers' hatches. The new periscopes are seen in the "up" position above. The bow machine gun dust cover fitting was a recent addition, introduced in October 1942. 5868 can be seen with the second type of track skid, pressed metal idler and the T54E2 or "Cuff Type" steel tracks.


M4A4

It would appear that the original design of the M4A4 envisioned an upper rear hull plate that went straight across from sponson to sponson, as on the M3A4 Lee. We suspect that plates were cut to this pattern, but it was then decided to extend the middle section down by about 4 inches. In any case, early production M4A4s, including the pilot, can be seen with 2-piece upper rear hull plates. At present, the highest serial number we have recorded with a 2-piece plate is 5457, shown above. This tank would have been accepted in September, 1942. All later examples have been noted with a single piece upper rear hull plate. We saw 5457 years ago in Brantford, Ontario. Although it is missing a lot, what is left appears to be “as built.” We believe this tank was part of an early Lend Lease shipment to the UK, and was later sent to Canada. The fittings on the hull sides suggest it was once outfitted with the Canadian Indestructible Roller Device (CIRD). It is now thought to be in storage at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.


M4A4    M4A4

At the start of production, M4A4s featured cast hull lifting rings with rectangular bases. These "padded" lifting rings were phased out by early February 1943.


M4A4    M4A4

Above shows what we call the "standard" hull lifting rings. These castings were introduced on most Sherman types in January 1943, and were standard on the "second generation" M4 series. Our photographs show the lifting rings on Serial Number 18157, an historic French Lend Lease combat casualty on display in Dijon. This is the first M4A4 we have recorded with the standard rings. In some cases during the transition, hulls were equipped with both types. For instance, Serial Number 18223, an early February 1943 unit, has the "padded" rings on the front, and standard castings on the rear. 18223 is the last example we have recorded to date that is still outfitted with the padded type. Every unit after has been noted to have the standards on both the front and rear.


M4A4    M4A4

The M4A4 featured a distinctive "radio antenna bracket" casting. Two views are shown above. A pair of tiny drainage holes are indicated by the arrows. Chrysler produced most of its own parts, including gun mounts, power trains and suspension components. Some of these items were supplied to other builders, but as best we can tell, their antenna casting was used exclusively on the M4A4. Most surviving examples are noted to have the "C-H" (Continental-Hubbard) caster's logo in the position seen above. The casting was wider than most others at 16.5 inches at the base. While the brackets on some other Shermans were flush mounted, the Chrysler casting was mounted on top of the armor. It was positioned about 2 inches in from the edge of the glacis, and nearly touched the weldment of the bow gunner's hood. Small hatch, welded hull Shermans used an assortment of antenna brackets. In a front photo, the characteristic appearance of the Chrysler bracket can help identify an unknown type as an M4A4.


M4A4

A pair of castings (1) with Part Number B200876 were welded on to the glacis to mount the headlamps. The M4A4 was equipped with 2 service headlamps and one driver's blackout headlamp. The blackout lamp was "hooded," and emitted "a thin flat beam of light that cannot be seen from high above, yet provides enough illumination to permit the driver to avoid most obstacles." When not in use, the headlamps were store inside, and the sockets were sealed with a plug. At first the headlamp plug holders (2) were oriented parallel to the glacis as seen above, but towards the end of 1942, they were reoriented to a vertical position, presumably to keep the plugs from falling out during travel.


M4A4

The siren most commonly used on the M4A4 was the Federal Type 160 with the "V for victory" grill. The driver operated the siren by means of a foot switch located just above the clutch pedal. Note the conduit coupling (1) affixed to the glacis. Unlike some other Shermans, the siren remained mounted and unprotected on the left front fender throughout M4A4 production, including remanufacture.


M4A4    M4A4

The bow machine gun dust cover was introduced around October 1942. Above left shows the formed steel rod with snaps, referred to as the "fastener ring for canvas cover." The illustration on the right shows the dust cover in place. While the tiny fittings (arrow) were installed early on, it is thought that supplies of the "driver's windshield and hood" only became available to the Detroit Tank Arsenal at about the same time as the dust cover. For power, the windshield wiper and defroster were plugged into a utility outlet on the instrument panel. When not in use, this item was stored on a shelf above the transmission.


M4A4

The crews of early production Shermans were subject to injury from falling hatches. Positive hatch lock mechanisms with equilibrator springs were reported to have been introduced at the Detroit Tank Arsenal in late April 1943 at Serial Number 20157. A modification kit was also provided for retrofit at Tank Depots and "in the field." The Firefly at Bovington is Serial Number 21188, and would have been accepted in June, 1943. This tank lacks armor applique, which leads us to think that it was one of about 1740 M4A4s shipped as built to the Commonwealth in the Summer of 1943. The locking mechanisms (1 and 2) secured the hatches when opened. The springs (3) were provided to assist the drivers in opening and closing the heavy hatches. A chain (4) held the padlocks when not in use.


M4A4

Modifications came about as a result of user experience and subsequent feedback. A few surviving Commonwealth M4A4s can be seen with some simple fittings that secured the open hatches. Their appearance is fairly standard, so we would assume these were fitted to many of the Lend Lease Shermans received before the introduction of the positive hatch lock modification. Our example is a December, 1942 production M4A4, Serial Number 17299 on display in Thun, Switzerland. Crews experienced some difficulty in climbing on Shermans, so starting in late 1942, a small step (1) was factory installed to provide a little extra traction. The British actually considered adding a ladder (inset), but rejected the idea for obvious reasons. Item 2 is the fitting that held the "driver's windshield and hood."


M4A4    M4A4

All of the M4A4s were produced with power trains that were protected by 3-piece differential housings. These had been designed originally for the M3 Medium, but were carried over to the M4 series. It was intended that they be replaced by a simpler and stronger 1-piece housing which entered production in mid 1942. However, some power train manufacturers, including Chrysler, stated they could not retool for the new configuration without it creating a serious slowdown in Sherman production. Consequently, it was agreed that Chrysler would complete its run of M4A4s with the 3-piece differential housing, and switch over to the later (Part Number E8543) type 1-piece housing when it started production of the M4 Composite in August, 1943. Chrysler power trains were assembled at their Dodge Main Plant in the Hamtramck section of Detroit. Above left shows an early example. In December, 1942, Chrysler began the transition to a new configuration in which a "lip" was added to each of the cast sections in order to protect the top bolts from bullet splash damage. At the transition point, some differential housings were assembled with a combination of lip / no lip sections.


M4A4

The M4A4's differential housing consists of 3 castings bolted together. In general, the right hand section is part number E4151, the middle or "carrier" piece, part number E1232, and the left hand section is part number E1231. E1232 casting marks are rarely seen on the middle piece of surviving M4A4s. The photo above shows one of the few exceptions. "Duguay-Trouin" is a monument Sherman on display in Dijon, France. She served with the 2ème Régiment de Cuirassiers, and was knocked out with the loss of 3 of her crew on September 11, 1944, during the fight to liberate the city. This M4A4 is Serial Number 18157, and was accepted in January, 1943.


M4A4

As a matter of Sherman minutia, we would mention that some of the early "no lip" differential housings have been seen with alternate part numbers on the right and left hand sections. C99338 has been noted on a very few right hand sections, while D50993 has been seen more frequently on the left hand pieces. The M4A4 shown above is on display at the Kubinka Museum near Moscow, and is the only example we know of that has both alternate part numbers on the same differential housing. Photo courtesy of Roger Davis.


M4A4    M4A4

Chrysler started M4A4 production with the same type of drive sprocket they had used on their M3 Lees. This is shown above on the left. Counting heads suggests that they completed the transition to the rather distinctive sprocket seen on the right by October, 1942. For want of a better term, we refer to this as the "Chrysler sprocket," since they installed it exclusively throughout their remaining production of Shermans, including those with HVSS.


M4A4

During the course of their M3 Lee program, Chrysler replaced the original welded spoke road wheel with a pressed metal type. Only the pressed metal was factory installed on Chrysler built Shermans with VVSS. The company transitioned to a pressed metal idler wheel in October 1942, at about the same time as the "Chrysler sprocket." Ordnance documents note that the rims of the original welded spoke idlers were so frequently damaged in service that the government mandated that they be replaced in all Sherman production with the pressed metal type in mid 1943. The Firefly at Bovington provides a good "as built" view of the pressed metal road wheels and idler. The inset shows the grease nipple, a couple of the formed spokes, and 2 of the 12 rivets that secured the body of the road wheel to the rim.


M4A4

The M3 type bogies with the center mounted return rollers were overtaxed by the weight of the M3 Medium, and suffered numerous volute spring failures. The introduction of the Multibank engine, and the heavier weight of the new M4 series designs only exacerbated the problem. As a solution, Chrysler designed a larger bogie unit with heavier volute springs and a trailing return roller arm. The new bogies were released for production in January, 1942. The earliest version featured half round track skids. These were installed on all production M3A4s. Incremental changes were made to the bogies in order to increase their strength and reliability, particularly with the use of the heavier steel tracks. The early skids appear to have been replaced on the M4A4 after about 150 units. A new track skid (inset) with a larger contact area was installed starting in August and ending in early 1943.


M4A4

The use of steel tracks created a friction problem with the track skid. This was remedied by the addition of a spacer (1) that elevated the return roller by about an inch. Chrysler production incorporated the spacer in early 1943. A modification kit was also provided in the Summer of 1943, so that it could be retrofitted to any Sherman built without it. The "final" type of bogie arms (2) were also introduced in early 1943. In order to prevent the bogie arm rubbing plate bolts from working loose, they were secured at the bottom with a nut. "Wrench holes" provided access to the nuts. Chrysler appears to have introduced the "final" type of track skid (3) in February, 1943. We believe the bogie unit shown above is typical of those installed on M4A4s from March 1943 up to the end of production in September. Modelers and restorers might note the use of "cap screws" (4) to secure the bogie bracket cap. This can be compared to the nut and bolt configuration shown in the inset. Unlike other builders, Chrysler continued to use cap screws until the end of 1943. Many of the bogies supplied to Chrysler can be seen with the production date cast in. These will generally precede the tank's acceptance date by a month or two. Our example is dated 4-43.


M4A4

Chrysler appears to have started M4A4 production with T48 rubber chevron tracks. Throughout production, it is noted that the ratio of rubber to steel track was approximately 50%. Unlike the US, the British preferred steel track, and noted that "Chrysler will complete the order of 6000 [T54E2] on the 15th of December [1942] and it has now been decided that...they will manufacture the T62 type...developed by this firm." We interpret this to mean that the T54E2 or "Cuff Type" would have been replaced by the T62 sometime in early 1943. These 3 types are the tracks most commonly seen in period photos of new production M4A4s. However, we would note that others, such as the T49 "cast block with interrupted parallel tread" can be seen on some of the 1610 M4A4s remanufactured for British Lend Lease from December, 1943 through October, 1944.


M4A4    M4A4

The M3A4s and a few of the earliest M4A4s were shipped with the grouser compartment holes blanked off. However, it was found that the fuel tanks of the first M4s, M4A1s and M4A4s suffered an excessive heat condition, which caused melted solder joints and other fire hazards. This was remedied by the addition of a pair grouser compartment covers with air inlet grills that permitted greater air flow as shown in the Tech Manual illustration above left. The TM also noted that starting at M4A4 Serial Number 17794, the fuel tanks were encased in insulation. Some early M4s and M4A1s were equipped with welded together "air scoops." These are thought to have been post production additions, fashioned at Tank Depots. They may have been retrofitted to a few of the earliest M4A4s, but we know of only one example - the third production M4A4 (SN 4807). The standard casting shown above right entered the pipeline at DTA in August 1942. It was made in left and right hand versions. Note that it was mounted on top on the sponson plate, not inset. The long bolt that can be seen behind the wire mesh, secured it to the hull by means of a clamp.


M4A4

The M4A4 engine deck layout is shown above on Serial Number 18117, a January 1943 production unit. The rearmost section (1) was welded to the hull. Starting around January, 1943, M4A4s were equipped with a 10 pound sledge hammer that was mounted on this plate. The lifting handles (2) on the center section were oriented side to side on some of the first units, but appear to have been reoriented front to back sometime during August, 1942. The cast armor blister (3) protected the top of the massive radiator, and included a water filler cap. The air intake grill (4) was made up of 17 closely spaced steel rods. Curiously, the short and long bullet splash plates (5) were not always welded to the air intake grill as seen on this example.


M4A4    M4A4

Above left provides a closer view of the bullet splash plates welded to the air intake grill as seen on Serial Number 19617, an April 1943 production unit outfitted by Chrysler with an early version of HVSS. This configuration is also present on the M4A4 pilot. However, our examination of period photos and surviving M4A4s, shows that in many cases, the plates were welded to the hull. For instance, Serial Number 4807, the third production unit can be seen above right in this alternate configuration. This would have created an interchangeability issue, but we have not come across any Chrysler or Ordnance correspondence that discuss it. Our speculation is that the preference may have been to have these parts permanently welded to the hull. However, the tolerance of the turret ring appears to have varied from almost nothing to an inch, so if the splash couldn't fit on the hull itself, it was affixed to the air intake grill instead.


M4A4

The M4A4 shown above is said to have served with the Three Rivers Regiment in Sicily, Italy and the Netherlands. It was returned to Canada as a "War Trophy," and is on display as a monument in Trois Riviers, Quebec Province. For some reason, its original 75mm gun was replaced with a 17 pounder anti-tank gun. This tank is Serial Number 5235, indicating September, 1942 acceptance. On this example, the bullet splash plates are welded on to the air intake grill. We have noticed on several surviving M4A4s, that the tank's Serial Number is stamped into the panels on each side of the intake grill. Could this have been done during assembly to ensure that the appropriate bullet splash configuration would be installed on an individual tank? Unfortunately, most surviving M4A4s, particularly the French Transformés, are missing these parts, but if any readers are in the position to examine a relatively original M4A4, we'd be pleased to have a report.


M4A4

The photo above was taken at the Detroit Tank Arsenal in March, 1944 during the remanufacture program. The tank in the foreground can be seen to have the bullet splash plates mounted on the hull, perhaps with a slight overhang. We have seen "overhang" as well as "fully on the hull" on surviving examples. Note that the long section is in two pieces joined at the tank's centerline. Some surviving examples come to a slight rearward point at this junction. Although we can't confirm, it seems possible that the bullet splash plates were "forced" on to the hull for uniformity during the remanufacture program. The bullet splash (1) surrounding the fire extinguisher housing was also introduced in April, and retrofitted to remanufactured M4A4s. This surround was installed from the start on some M4 series Shermans. On most, it was 3 inches high, slightly taller than the fire extinguisher housing. In contrast, the M4A4's surround was only 2.5 inches high.


M4A4    M4A4    M4A4

We have not come across any official documentation regarding the "little plates" shown on the left above. They appear to have been factory installed only on M4A4s and M4A6s, and only starting around mid April, 1943. It was noted that the original weep holes were too small, and often became clogged with debris. Water trapped inside the turret splash could foul the gasoline supply of the auxiliary generator, or cause a build up of dirt in the turret bearing race. The drain holes were enlarged, and it is assumed that the little plates were added to protect them. Remanufactured M4A4s were retrofitted with enlarged holes and the plates as required. Above middle shows the original size of the drain hole. On the right, one can see the larger hole on a range target M4A4 from which the protective plate was shot away.


M4A4

The Sherman V Crab on display at the Tank Museum in Bovington is serial number 19925 indicating April, 1943 production. We would judge that this tank was shipped "as built" to the British in the Summer of 1943, and converted in the following months. 19925 is the first example we can document that has both the "little plates" and the fire extinguisher surround installed. On this unit, the bullet splash sections are welded to the hull. They are about 2.5 inches high, as is the surround. Note that the low bustle D50878 turret barely clears these items. The weld remnants on the air intake grill suggests that a British designed wading trunk was once installed.


M4A4    M4A4

As mentioned previously, we have found no documentation to explain the hole that appears on the turret splash, only on the left side, and only on some M4A4s produced up to the end of 1942. Above left shows it on the M4A4 with the highest Serial Number we have encountered so far - 16733. This December 1942 production unit was remanufactured, and later converted to Firefly. It is on display at the Pansarmuseet (Tank Museum) in Axvall, Sweden. A few period photos show what appears to be a 1 inch plumbing plug (above right) inserted from the inside. However, a friend recently examined the hole on an M4A4, and reported that it is not threaded.


M4A4    M4A4

The side armor plates of most surviving M4A4s have nicely beveled top edges, such as can be seen on Serial Number 19617 above left. In July, 1943, Chrysler transitioned to the use of square cut side armor plates, a practice already employed by most of the other builders. Our example on the right, shows Serial Number 22169, an August 1943 production M4A4 on display in Avranches, France. It is thought that, from August, 1943 to the end of production in June, 1945, all Shermans manufactured at the Detroit Tank Arsenal were built with square cut side armor plates.


M4A4

The "as built" lower rear hull configuration of the M4A4 is shown above. Unlike other Sherman types, the lower rear hull was oriented vertically. Section 1 was a quarter round casting with a raised area at the center, to which the engine access door flange was bolted. Sections 2, 3 and 4 were 1.5 inch armor plate. A breather tube (5) vented exhaust gasses that built up in the crankcase. The small tube next to it was the radiator overflow. Fishtail exhaust pipes (inset) emerged from each side of the engine compartment. Later models are seen with 2 crankcase breather tubes, and an exhaust pipe for the auxiliary generator.


M4A4    M4A4

The Ordnance Department directed the installation of trailer towing pintels on Shermans starting in April 1943. However, it was found that on M4A4s, many bent up in service, causing a misalignment of the rear engine mount, and making it impossible to open the engine access doors. Consequently, "It was immediately burnt off as many new tanks M4A4 as possible," and further installation was suspended. The Brits mention that 15 - 20 M4A4s "slipped through" Lend Lease with the pintels. This would have been the first or "long" type towing pintel (above, left). It is thought that this problem wasn't limited to M4A4s, and led to the design of the "short" pintel, installed on second generation series Shermans. The British were unsuccessful in their request for the US to manufacture and install their leaf spring towing design on Lend Lease Shermans. Above right is a photo of SN 19617. The lowest section of the engine access door flange was removed, and the "bump" to which it was bolted was ground off. The weld scars suggest that this April 1943 production unit had the pintel factory installed, but later removed.

   
M4A4    M4A4

The exhaust deflector was introduced at the Detroit Tank Arsenal in January, 1943. The photo above left shows it in the "down" position. A pair of offset hinges (1) secured the deflector to the hull. For engine access, the deflector could be raised as shown on the right. It was secured in the up position by a couple of locking pins (2). This February 1943 production M4A4 was filmed at the Chester Tank Depot as it was being prepared for overseas shipment. One can see that the engine access doors were taped up, and sprayed with a "heavy black mastic sealer." Suspension components were sprayed with a rust preventative compound known as Par-Al-Ketone.


M4A4 Turret Features



M4A4

Chrysler used D50878 low bustle turrets throughout M4A4 production. Continental Steel and American Steel Foundries were their primary suppliers of turret castings. The turrets produced by these foundries had a feature not found on those cast by other companies - three 1 inch diameter "bumps" (1) in the positions indicated above. The lifting rings (2) of Continental and ASF turrets supplied to Chrysler were not welded on, but were part of the overall casting. It is thought that all but the pilot M4A4 had the rear turret lifting rings in the "low" position.


M4A4

At the start of M4A4 production, the M34 gun mount had the gun shield lifting rings welded on very close to the rotor shield (inset). Some of these "close mounted" lifting rings got damaged and bent inward in service, which caused them to foul against the rotor shield, and disable the elevation of the gun. The slightly censored photo above shows finished M4A4s being loaded on to railcars at the Detroit Tank Arsenal. The photo illustrates a transitional moment, as it can be seen that the gun shield lifting rings are mounted "close" on the suspended tank, while they are welded on further outboard on the M4A4 on the right. This photo is dated August 21/22, 1942, which provides a clue about the transition point.  Note that these tanks do not yet have the commander's blade sight installed, which appears to have been the case with the first 400 or so units produced.


M4A4
Click on the pictures for larger size

We suspect that the photo above was taken at about the same time as the preceding image, but further down the assembly line. These tanks can be seen with gun shields that incorporated the lifting rings as part of the casting. This image was extensively "photoshopped." The installed hatches were painstakingly censored out. The censor even spent a lot of effort "hiding" the rubber chevron tracks, including the coils in the middle distance on the left. Just behind them, are the air cleaners. On the M4A4, these were installed inside the fighting compartment, against the firewall. Unlike some of the earliest factory shots at DTA, these M4A4s can be seen to be equipped with the cast air scoops.


M4A4

In late 1942, a shield was provided for the .30 caliber coaxial machine gun on Shermans equipped with the M34 gun mount. It was included as On Vehicle Materiel on tanks that were scheduled for shipment to combat zones. The MG shield (1) can be seen on the "Ready for Issue" M4A4 shown above. The caption reads, "Presentation of the last (sic) US Tank to the French Army under the Lend Lease Act at Dump #165, Casablanca... May 4, 1943." While this may have been the last M4A4 presented, the French were allocated a further 382 M4A2s starting in May, 1943. This tank was USA 3018776, indicating serial number 18470, accepted in February, 1943. Not all of the French Lend Lease M4A4s were equipped with the "spot and signal lamp," but 3018776 has the fittings (2) for it. We suspect this was one of the first units to have this factory installed.


M4A4

The photo above shows M4A4s of the 4e Escadron, 1er Régiment de Cuirassiers (5th French Armored Division) lined up for inspection at Taylor Farm in Berkane, Morocco in 1944. Counting heads suggests that the original 274 French Lend Lease M4A4s were produced in January and February, 1943. Thus, none of them would have had direct vision. We estimate that about a third would have had the padded hull lifting rings. Perhaps less than half would have had the M34A1 gun mounts in the "early" configuration only, with the lifting rings and exposed bolt flange on the right as seen on the first two tanks in the photo. The M34 gun mounts would have been the type with the cast in lifting rings on the gun shield, and the side extensions on the rotor shield. Most or all would have been shipped with the coaxial mg shields as seen in the photo. These tanks were made too early for such features as the little plates, and hatch lock mechanisms.


M4A4

The original periscope gun sight was found deficient, so the Ordnance Department designed a new gun mount that incorporated a direct sight telescope. A mock up (above) was photographed at APG on June 22, 1942. The sides of the rotor shield were extended to protect the telescope (1) and the .30 caliber coaxial machine gun (2). Designated "Combination Gun Mount, M34A1," the new design was released for production on October 16, 1942. Most changes to the Sherman were introduced "with obsolescence." This permitted the manufacturer to use up supplies of the old parts, even as the new parts were introduced into production. The addition of the direct sight telescope was deemed so important that the M34A1 was initially released "without obsolescence," with a cut off date of January 15, 1943. The manufacturers could not obtain all of the parts necessary to meet such a rigorous deadline, and ultimately, the M34A1 did not completely replace the M34 gun mount in Sherman production until the end of April, 1943.


M4A4    M4A4

Chrysler's DeSoto division produced gun mounts, and the Detroit Tank Arsenal was an early adopter of the M34A1. A British Situation Report notes that they had been advised that the M34A1 gun mount would be installed on M4A4s in February, starting at serial number 18531. This seems to coincide with our head counting research. The photos above provide comparative views of the early and late type M34A1 gun shield castings. The late type appears to have been introduced by Chrysler in early May, 1943, at around the same time as the incorporation of the positive hatch lock mechanisms.


M4A4    M4A4

Users reported some problems with the locking device of the pistol port. On top of that, Ordnance Department tests found the pistol port to be a ballistic weak point. A couple areas on the inside right front of the turret casting had been thinned to allow for the proper operation of the traversing mechanism. As the first Shermans entered combat, troops began to report that the enemy aimed for these "thin spots." In April 1943, the D50878 turret was revised to eliminate the pistol port, as well as "increase thickness of turret in area of the traversing mechanism." The revised turret castings began to enter the production pipeline at Chrysler around June, 1943. We estimate that the last 1600 M4A4s were produced with either "no pistol port" turrets, or earlier turrets with welded up pistol ports. Above provides two views of M4A4s awaiting overseas shipment at the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation in September, 1943. These tanks would have been mid 1943 production, and can be seen with no pistol port turrets, and the "interchangeable type" sand shields, which were standardized for the M4A4 in May. Some of the British WD Numbers recorded from this series of photos are T-212566, T-212567 and T-212573.


M4A4

Starting around mid 1943, Tank Depots were directed to weld up the pistol ports on the Shermans they processed for shipment. As tanks with welded up or no pistol port turrets were delivered to the troops, the feedback was universally negative. Without the pistol port, it often took three men to load ammunition. A man on the ground passed rounds up to a man standing highly exposed on the tank, who passed the rounds through to a man in the commander's hatch. Only one man on the ground, and somewhat protected by the tank, was needed to pass ammunition through to a man at the pistol port. "In response to British requirements," any tanks assigned to them, and awaiting processing in Depots, were exempted from the "weld up the pistol port" directive. However, the Commonwealth received many Shermans with welded up pistol ports. The scene above depicts one such M4A4 of the Pretoria Regiment, 6th South African Armoured Division, near Monzuno, Italy, December 28, 1944. In response to the demand, the pistol port was reinstated on July 23, 1943, but the new turret castings didn't begin to enter production until late 1943.


M4A4    M4A4

Period photos show 2 of the Firefly (Sherman Vc) prototypes (T-148350 and T-148471) had welded up pistol ports, but without the turret applique modification. This combination was probably somewhat unusual in combat service, in that the idea in the Summer of 1943 was to correct the flaws of the original D50878 turret by the addition of these mods. The Firefly at Bovington is another such example. It is to be noted that the turret patch kits were made available to the Commonwealth for field modification in the months leading up to D-Day. Despite their position in favor of the pistol port, it is obvious in period photos that the British Firefly program involved a large number of M4s and M4A4s that had either welded up or no pistol port turrets. The conversion program commenced in January 1944, and many of the new, suitable Lend Lease Shermans with M34A1 Gun Mounts and Oil Gear Power Traverse would also have lacked working pistol ports. Left side photo courtesy of Mathieu George.


M4A4

In mid 1943, armor applique kits were produced to protect the "thin spots" on earlier turret castings. Approximately 900 of the first of these were shipped to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, and arrived in September. The turret applique is often the only modification seen on early production Shermans serving in Italy. Additional shipments were made to the UK starting in September for installation on US and Allied Shermans slated for the D-Day invasion. Soon US Army Ordnance officials in the UK were reporting back to the Office of the Chief of Ordnance that the 350 pound patch coupled with the weight of the M34A1 Gun Mount, created a nose heavy turret condition which would require 1100 pounds of counterweight. OCO rejected the counterweight idea, with the advice that retrofit of the new Oil Gear Traversing Mechanisms which were en route to the UK in November and December was the Ordnance approved solution to the nose heavy problem. It would appear that Chrysler only factory installed the turret patches to welded up pistol port turrets used on M4A4s in August and September, the last 2 months of new production. It was a standard item where needed on every remanufactured M4A4. The photo above shows the shape and overall appearance of the patch used by Chrysler. Note the machining at the bottom edge of the turret casting (arrow). This is not present on every D50878 turret, but is commonly noted on the turrets of surviving M4A4s.


M4A4    M4A4

Quoted from a British status report..."The installation of the 2" Smoke Mortar becomes effective on vehicle No. 7300. This means that tanks coming off the production line as from the 26th of August, will have these mortars fitted. Since only a total of 7500 M4A4s are being produced, we shall get 200 tanks from the final production with these mortars in addition to the...reworked M4A4s." The British repeatedly requested that the mortar be provided and installed by the US as a standard item on Shermans. It was felt that a factory milling operation of the hole would be preferable. Despite the difficulty of burning the hole in the turret, which also weakened the surrounding armor, a number of earlier production Shermans, particularly the Firefly conversions, were retrofitted with the Smoke Mortar in Commonwealth workshops. The Brits often added an oval shaped combing as shown on the right. The combing held some sort of canvas (?) cover, which, according to a British schematic, was kept “in rear bin”. It should also be noted that US Tank Depots were charged with installing the Smoke Mortar modification starting in the Fall of 1943. Left side photo courtesy of Carl J. Dennis.


M4A4    M4A4

The introduction of periscope guards and the commander's vane sight to new production M4A4s is somewhat murky. The photos above show USA 3031035, which was pulled from the line at the Detroit Tank Arsenal and installed with the Allis Chalmers suspension and tracks developed for the M6 High Speed Tractor project. This would have been about the 7356th M4A4 produced out of 7500. 3031035 can be seen to have a welded up pistol port turret with smoke mortar. It has just about every modification available up to September 1943, including the full suite of armor applique and the gun travel lock. However, it is "still" fitted with the original commander's blade sight, and lacks the periscope guards. The new sight and periscope guards were just entering the production pipeline as Chrysler ended M4A4 production. Aside from processing tanks for shipment, the Tank Depots served as modification backstops. As supplies became available in Fall of 1943, the Depots were directed to install these items to Shermans scheduled for shipment overseas. We suspect that the use of welded up pistol port turrets (as opposed to those with no pistol ports) so late in production, may have been a "last ditch" attempt to use up remaining supplies of the earlier turrets.


M4A4

The "Sun Compass Bracket" (circled) is present on many of the turrets of Commonwealth Lend Lease Shermans. The Sun Compass seen on some British AFVs during the North African Campaign was a disc type affair, as on Monty's Grant (inset). It might have been useful for navigation in the featureless deserts of Egypt and Libya, but not so much in the subsequent campaigns in Europe. Indeed, we could not find a single photo of a Sherman with the compass actually in place on the bracket. The fitting must have been installed by Commonwealth Delivery Squadrons during processing for issue. Despite the questionable utility, starting around mid 1943, the British prevailed on the US to have the fitting welded on at Tank Depots to all Shermans assigned to Commonwealth Lend Lease. We did not come across a list of Depot modifications for the M4A4, but above right shows those for the "British" M4A2 at Chester Tank Depot as of October 22, 1943. "Install Sun Compass Brackets" is item 12. We would assume a Sun Compass was also provided as OVM. One would think it would have been provided by DTA on the remanufactured M4A4s, but that does not appear to have been the case.


Remanufactured M4A4s



M4A4

The US Army wanted to terminate production of 75mm Shermans at the end of 1943. However, quoting from General Bernard Montgomery, "The gun in the tank must be able to fire a good H.E. shell...For this reason we definitely do not want any 76mm Shermans."  Thus, the British continued to require 75mm models in 1944. It was agreed that 75mm Shermans in the hands of troops in the US, would be collected up and remanufactured in order to meet Commonwealth requirements as far as possible. This consensus actually dovetailed nicely with US policy "That rebuilt tanks be utilized to meet International Aid requirements to whatever extent necessary to insure equipping United States troops in combat theaters with the latest production type vehicles." M4A4s were recalled to the Detroit Tank Arsenal starting in the Summer of 1943. For instance, the 7th Armored Division is reported to have had 232 M4A4s on hand at Camp Young, California. 100 were in transit back to DTA by late June, 1943. The scene above is thought to have been photographed in the Spring of 1943. It shows 1942 production M4A4s of the 7th AD's 40th Armored Regiment on maneuvers at the Desert Training Center. Note the absence of spot lamps and step brackets.


M4A4

The British and US agreed to certain conditions regarding the remanufactured Shermans. All tanks would be equipped with M34A1 gun mounts and Oil Gear Power Traverse. These were considered necessary by the Brits, in that they planned to convert a number of these tanks to Fireflies. They also intended to convert many to various types of "Funny Tanks," including recovery vehicles and mine flails. For this purpose, they requested that 600 be shipped "Completely Knocked Down" (CKD). This was often done with wheeled vehicles, where the components were boxed to save shipping space. The vehicles were then assembled in theater. The CKD request was denied by the US, since the Lend Lease Protocol called for the shipment of combat ready tanks, not a collection of unassembled parts. However, Chrysler was directed to provide the British with everything left over at the end of the M4A4 remanufacture program. Presumably, this "All Time Buy of Spare Parts" included Multibank engines, Chrysler 3-piece differential power trains and other components no longer needed for the later Shermans produced by the Detroit Tank Arsenal. The well known photo above is dated June 1944. The rows of used M4A4s on the left and center are on "disassembly lines," where they will be completely stripped down. A few units nearing completion can be seen on the right along with some new production M4A3(105)s.


M4A4

The designers of the T6 (Sherman pilot) made the unfortunate decision to position much of the 75mm ammunition "up high" in the body of the tank. As early as June, 1942, the British contacted US Ordnance, and recommended that the rounds be relocated to less exposed positions "below the sponson line," in the floor of the hull. This could have been done, but would have created a serious interruption in production that the Allies simply could not afford in late 1942. Ultimately, most of the rounds were repositioned to the hull floor as part of the major redesign of the M4 series that commenced in July, 1943. These "second generation" Shermans entered production starting in January, 1944, but, by then, there were thousands of Shermans on the fighting fronts with the original ammo stowage. Ordnance came up with a plan to provide them with greater protection, which came to be known as the "Quick Fix" modification. The Technical Manual illustration above shows the original M4A4 ammunition stowage configuration. Note that 30 of the 98 rounds carried were stored on the hull floor (highlighted in blue). The remaining rounds were located in more vulnerable positions in the turret basket or on the sponson shelves, and are highlighted in pink.


M4A4

20,000 "Quick Fix" kits were produced from July through September, 1943. Manufacturers began installing them on new production Shermans in August. As supplies became available in the Fall of 1943, Tank Depots retrofitted the mod to Shermans intended for overseas shipment. With this modification, 1 inch "sponson side protector" plates (Chrysler drawings shown above) were welded to the exterior of the tank in the areas of the sponson ammunition racks. Inside, the racks were encased and "doored" in 1/4 inch armor. The turret basket was "skeletonized," meaning that the sheet metal grating was removed. This was a Commonwealth recommendation. They had experimented with "skeletonization" on some of their early Shermans to provide for more escape options, since the grating tended to isolate the turret crew from the drivers. Ready rounds were deemed "worth the risk" by the British, although any rounds clipped to the turret basket wall, defeated the purpose of skeletonization. One British drawing provided an option for a total of "5 rds armoured" clipped beside the loader's seat. However, the "Quick Fix" modification eliminated the original 12 unprotected ready rounds completely.


M4A4

A British officer described the Quick Fix modification "as neither quick nor a fix," since the ammunition racks were NOT relocated "below the sponson line," and the entire procedure consumed over 140 man hours. It was necessary to remove the turret in order to retrofit the 1/4 inch armor plates and doors to the ammunition racks. Above shows 3 of the armored bins inside a restored M4A1. (We hope to be able to provide a similar photo of an M4A4 in the future.) The 30 rounds directly behind the escape hatch were fitted with a folding armored door (1). The 17 (2) and 15 (3) round racks on the right sponson were also encased in armor, and fitted with doors. The 15 round rack on the left front sponson, and the 8 round ready rack on the turret basket floor were protected in a similar manner. Photo courtesy of Roger Condron.


M4A4    M4A4

Above left shows a pile of original turret baskets at a remanufacturing facility. One can see that the basket had 3 openings, but depending on the turret’s orientation during emergencies, crew members could be trapped inside or outside of the basket. Above right provides an unusual view of a skeletonized turret basket inside a stripped out M4A4. In order to relocate the ammo racks to the floor of the hull on the second generation series of Shermans, the turret basket was raised up to the level of the sponsons. That is, the "well" of the original design, as represented by item 1, was eliminated.


M4A4    M4A4

Crews liked to carry as much ammunition as possible, and there was "a universal demand for ready racks from battlefield commanders." Nonetheless, the 12 rounds clipped to the original turret basket wall were eliminated by the Quick Fix modification, as well as by the "second generation" Sherman redesign. Thus, the only rounds immediately available in the turret were in an armored bin at the foot of the loader. This decision was nearly as controversial as the decision to eliminate the pistol port. Ready round proponents won out with the Sherman's replacement - the M26, as it included 10 ready rounds. We suspect that the instruction to remove the ready rounds was not always followed when the Quick Fix modification was done "in the field" on a non-contract basis. A few surviving remanufactured M4A4s have been noted to have the old ready round clips. The question as to when and where this was done needs more study. A British Report mentions that Base Workshops in the Middle East had made a modification to the Quick Fix kits..."All conversions include the addition of another layer of four rounds to the existing eight round ready bin on the floor of the platform."


M4A4

The applique armor on a new or remanufactured M4A4 was applied very neatly with the weld bead running "with the grain" as shown above. The welding often looks somewhat different on plates applied in the field or at a Tank Depot. Part Number A347061 was used on both sides in the front. In most cases, Chrysler (or its subcontractor) appears to have applied the entire plate to the right front, but in some instances, the top front edge was cut a bit in order to avoid the glacis weld seam (inset).


M4A4

Starting in August, 1943, 10,000 of the so called "hatch guard" modification kits were produced for installation on new production Shermans, as well as those already overseas or scheduled for shipment to combat zones. It was reported that DTA began installing this mod to new M4A4s in August 1943 at Serial Number 22161. It was also standard on the 1610 remanufactured M4A4s. For some reason, the Field Service Modification Work Order which was published in late August only applied to M4 and M4A3 Shermans. Thus, it is fairly common to see combat photos of M4A2s and M4A4s with the Quick Fix applique, but not the hatch guard plates. On the other hand, the Tank Depots did not discriminate in this regard, but were directed to install the mod on all Shermans processed for International Aid.


M4A4    M4A4

Although the FSMWO does not provide instructions for such a process, some surviving M4A4s have been noted to have had the direct vision visors welded up before installation of the armor plates. This can be seen above left on a remanufactured M4A4 that had the hatch guard plates shot away on a target range. The FSMWO instructs that on tanks equipped with a dust cover fastener ring, the top section of the ring be cut and removed. The section was to be bent and reapplied to the hatch guard plate, but the instructions note that the dust cover might "not fit perfectly" afterwards. It is thought that the Detroit Tank Arsenal simply replaced the old fastener rings with new ones instead, as seen above right.


M4A4    M4A4

A minor modification that is noted in conjunction with the remanufacturing program was "relocation of tail light guard." It would appear that the guard was simply moved back a bit so that it completely encompassed the tail light. The new production configuration shown on the left can be compared to the remanufacture on the right.


M4A4

Richard Hunnicutt, author of the magnificent "Sherman, A History of the American Medium Tank," described the tank in the photo above as "a late production M4A4." However, the USA Number, 3017084, indicates that it was originally accepted in December, 1942. The confusion arises because an M4A4 built in August or September 1943 (the last 2 months of production) will have a lot of the same modifications as a remanufactured job. Many of the remanufactured M4A4s were 1942 production, so some telltale signs of a remanufactured as opposed to a late production M4A4 can be the presence of older features such as direct vision, padded hull lifting rings, and "no lip" differentials. Remanufactured M4A4s were equipped with the new commander's vane sight, whereas DTA appears to have ended new production with the old blade sight. In some cases, both sights are present in period photos, which would indicate that the new vane sight was added as a modification. Late production M4A4s had welded up or no pistol port turrets, while most or all of the remanufactures had turrets with working pistol ports, and the "thin spot" applique patch. Note that the little step bracket was eliminated with the introduction of the gun travel lock.


M4A4    M4A4

The beautifully preserved Sherman pictured above is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. This tank has all the hallmarks of a DTA remanufactured M4A4. Serial Number 19388 is stamped on both the front and rear towing lugs. That indicates that it was accepted in March, 1943. From the Serial Number, we can determine through a math formula that this tank was assigned USA 3019694. In the absence of a period photo or other documentation, there would be no way to confirm if the painted on WD Number, T-232274, is authentic. If it is, it would be the lowest T-Number we know of that was assigned to a remanufactured M4A4. We suspect that the "reworked" M4A4s, as the British called them, were assigned WD Numbers in the T-23XXXX and T-28XXXX ranges. If this tank still has its dataplate, we would be very interested to see a photo of it. Examination of surviving examples suggests that companies that remanufactured Shermans replaced the original dataplate with a new one of their own. Since Chrysler was both the original manufacturer and the remanufacturer, we've wondered what they did? Both photos above courtesy of Carl J. Dennis.


M4A4

There is a mathematical correlation between the Ordnance Serial Number and the USA Registration Number of AFVs built for the US Army during WW II. The British chose to use their own War Department or "T-Number" system on their Lend Lease Shermans. These numbers were assigned to each tank by a British representative, and painted on at the Depots before the tanks were shipped. We've been asked numerous times, but there is NO correlation between the T-Number and a US built tank's Serial Number. Thus, there is no way to determine the maker or the production date of a Sherman if all one knows is the T-Number. However, there is a loose chronology to the way T-Numbers were assigned. In general, earlier production Shermans will have lower T-Numbers. Remanufactured Shermans would be the exception, as they were shipped in 1944. The table above is a very informal "counting heads" survey of the T-Number ranges that we believe were exclusive to the M4A4. There may have been some with T-26XXXX numbers. We've recorded a few textual listings in that range where the tanks were described as M4A4 or Sherman V. These may be typos, as period photos of Shermans in the T-26XXXX ranges show a mix of radial engine models, including M4(75)s, M4A1(76)s and M4(105)s. In any case, at present, we don't know of any photos that show M4A4s with clearly readable T-26XXXX numbers.

World War II use of the M4A4



M4A4

During WW II, the M4A4 was used by more nationalities than any other type of Sherman. The forces of Britain, Canada, France, Poland, South Africa, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, India, China and the US all employed the tank in combat. The Soviets were allocated 2 units for evaluation in September, 1942. The pristine M4A4 on display at the Armor Museum in Kubinka has the USA Registration Number 3057449 stamped into the differential housing, indicating that it was accepted in October, 1942. Most likely, it is one of the 2 sent to the USSR.  If this tank is relatively “as built” inside, it would make a valuable historical reference. Photo courtesy of Craig Moore.


M4A4

For most of the conflict, the diesel powered M4A2(75) was the predominant type of Sherman used by the Commonwealth in Italy. Not all of the British "AFV Situation" Reports break down Sherman holdings by type, but on November 20, 1943, it was reported that there were 1135 M4A2s "with formations" or in reserve in Italy and North Africa. As with Sicily, the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade appears to have been the only unit in Italy fighting with M4A4s at the time, and they are reported to have held 153. The British 1st Armoured Division is the only other formation listed with M4A4s (64), but they were reorganizing in North Africa, and did not arrive in Italy until May, 1944. A further 377 M4A4s were listed with "Ordnance and Training" (presumably for other Commonwealth units forming in North Africa) and 101 were in transit from the US. Above shows what are thought to be M4A4s of the Ontario Regiment, 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade in the Liri Valley, circa May 1944. The lead tank can be seen with the interchangeable type sand shield strips and other features which suggest Summer 1943 production. Most likely, this M4A4 was received as a replacement in late 1943 or early ‘44. In March 1945, the 1st Canadian Corps (including the 1st CAB), redeployed to Northwest Europe where it finished out the war with the rest of the Canadian Army Overseas. Courtesy Canadian Army Photo.


M4A4
Click on the photo for larger size

The 6th South African Armoured Division organized and trained in Egypt before being committed to Italy in April, 1944. The interesting Signal Corps photo above is dated April 21, 1945, and was probably taken in Casselecchio a little southwest of Bologna. At the time of the 1945 Spring Offensive, the Division was attached to the US Fifth Army. The Arm of Service marking seen on the lead M4A1(76) (item 1) is "52" indicating the Pretoria Regiment. The British did not care for the M4A1(76), and passed a lot of them off to their Commonwealth partners. Three of the M4A4s appear to be new 1943 production, while the one with the gun travel lock was more than likely remanufactured. Two of them are set up as command tanks with antennas mounted on the glacis brackets (2). Both are outfitted with reels for communication wires. The lead M4A4 can be seen with the "Swabey Sight" (3) designed in the Middle East, and installed on many Commonwealth Shermans there and in India starting in December, 1943.


M4A4

Most of the M4A4s were shipped to the UK. In the months preceeding D-Day, many were converted to Fireflies, DD Swimming Tanks, Crab Mine Flails and Armoured Recovery Vehicles. M4A4s made up the bulk of Commonwealth 75 mm Sherman gun tanks in Normandy. At the end of June 1944, the 21st Army Group reported they had 762 M4A4s, compared with 391 M4s /M4A1s, and 316 M4A2s. 318 Fireflies were listed on strength, with all but 2 being M4A4 based (Sherman Vc). 180 Flails were all reported as "Sherman V Crabs." 93 Sherman V Armoured Recovery Vehicles were on strength. Based on photographs, it is that thought the 27 "Sherman III (M4A2) ARVs" listed were actually Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicles (BARVs). Above shows a Sherman Vc, thought to be with the 3rd County of London Yeomanry, landing on Sword Beach, June 7, 1944. The appearance of this M4A4 suggests May through July production. Most likely the smoke mortar was added in the UK during the Firefly conversion. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo B 5130.


M4A4    M4A4

The British converted 693 Shermans to DD from March through December 1944. 400 were based on th M4A4, and 293 on the M4A2. ALL of the British DD conversions used for the Invasion are believed to have been M4A4 based. We invite readers to have a look at our Duplex Drive pages. As best we have been able to determine, Commonwealth units embarked with 118 Sherman V DDs and 80 M4A1 DDs converted in the US. One of the Canadian DDs was recovered off Juno Beach and is on display at Courseulles-sur-Mer, France (above, right). The serial number is not quite readable, but this M4A4 appears to have been produced just before the introduction of the positive hatch lock mechanisms, so probably early May 1943 acceptance.


M4A4

The most successful of the numerous British and US anti-mine devices was the Sherman Crab Mine Flail. Crab conversions appear to have been based exclusively on the M4A4. Tests using the Continental Radial equipped M4 concluded that it was unsuitable, as the engine lacked the horsepower and torque to drive the flailing rotor at the necessary revolutions per minute. It was reported that 336 Crab I and 211 Crab II had been produced by the middle of 1945. Crabs were used in operations from D-Day to the end of the war, most notably by the 30th Armoured Brigade of the 79th Armoured Division. The 79th was an unusual formation, composed of various types of special purpose armored vehicles, collectively known as "Hobart's Funnies." The 30th AB specialized in Flailing, and each of its 3 Regiments consisted of 45 Crabs. From D-Day on, units of the Brigade were detached in support of various Commonwealth, and, on occasion, US operations. The Sherman V Crab on display at Bovington carries the bull's head insignia of the 79th Armoured Division, and the Arm of Service marking of the Westminster Dragoons, one of the Flailing Regiments of the 30th Armoured Brigade. Photo courtesy of Massimo Foti.


M4A4

The British are reported to have converted a total of 169 Churchills and 221 Shermans to Armoured Recovery Vehicles by mid 1945. 188 were based on the M4A4, and 33 on the M4A2. All of the Sherman conversions were Mark Is. The improved Mark II, which incorporated a winch, did not get past the pilot stage before the end of the war. ARVs were used from D-Day to VE-Day, and were allocated on the basis of 1 per Squadron ( ~20 tanks). The exact number issued to combat troops of the 21st Army Group is unknown, but it is thought that, from month to month, the number never exceeded 100.  Above shows some of “Hobart’s Funnies” north of Xanten, Germany on March 23, 1945, during the preparations for Operation Plunder, the 21st Army Group's crossing of the Rhine. The Sherman V ARV is believed to have served with the 1st Lothian and Border Horse Yeomanry, another one of the Flailing Regiments of the 30th Armoured Brigade, 79th Armoured Division. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo BU2080.


M4A4

At the start of the Campaign in Northwest Europe, the Polish 1st Armoured Division was almost exclusively equipped with M4A4s. On June 30, 1944, while still in the UK, the Division is reported to have held 139 Sherman V, 5 Sherman V Observation Post tanks, 23 Sherman Vc along with 2 Sherman Ic Fireflies, and 11 Sherman V Armoured Recovery Vehicles. The photo above shows 3 M4A4 based units parked beneath a landmark windmill in Terheijden, Holland in early November, 1944. These are thought to be tanks of A Squadron, 2nd Polish Armoured Regiment. The ARV and Firefly appear to have T48 rubber chevron tracks. The 75mm gun tank looks to be a remanufactured job with a T-23XXXX War Department Number. Towards the end of 1944, supplies of M4A4s were exhausted, and elements of the Polish 1st Armoured Division were re-equipped with the M4A1(76).


M4A4

The French formed 3 Armored Divisions, each of which was equipped with 165 Shermans. The 2ème Division Blindée was entirely outfitted with M4A2s, and landed in France on August 1, 1944. Attached to the Third US Army at the time of the breakout from Normandy, the 2ème DB drove forward and liberated Paris on August 25. The 1ère and 5ème Divisions Blindées each started with 110 M4A4s and 55 M4A2s, and were part of the 1st French Army. During the invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon), the 1ère DB came ashore on D plus 1, August 16, 1944. The Division estimated losses of 32 Shermans by D plus 30. The French had a very limited reserve pool, and many of their losses were replaced with tanks from US stocks. Thus, by V-E Day, French armored units had employed just about every type of Sherman, including the M4(75)/(105), M4A1(75)/(76), and M4A3(75)/(76). The port city of Marseille was liberated by French troops on August 29, and proved to be a great logistical asset to the Allied effort in the European Theater. Above shows "St. Quentin" of the 2ème Régiment de Cuirassiers /1ère DB. This tank had its original left side drive sprocket (1) replaced. Quite a few photos show the unit's M4A4s with T49 "interrupted parallel bar" tracks (2). We suspect the original tracks had worn out during training, and were replaced before the unit shipped out from Algeria. The tanks had been painted with the distinctive "Invasion Stars" (3) as well.


M4A4

While many of the M4A2s of the 2ème DB received modifications in the UK prior to D-Day, the Shermans of the 1ère and 5ème DBs remained relatively unmodified throughout the war. Above shows Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Commander of the French First Army, during ceremonies in Colmar shortly after the liberation of the city on February 3, 1945. The only modification evident on these M4A4s of the 1er Régiment de Cuirassiers / 5ème DB is the commander's vane sight (circled). By the final months of the war, the engines of the original French Lend Lease Shermans had worn out, and replacements were requested. The only engine that was available from the US was the Continental Radial. At least one French M4A4 was test fitted with the radial during the war, but it is believed that most of the Transformé work was done in the months and years after.


M4A4

In 1943 and '44, 623 Lend Lease 75mm Shermans were shipped to Commonwealth Forces in India to supplement or replace the Grants and Lees that had been sent earlier. Most of the Shermans appear to have been M4A4s, although some period photos show a small number of M4A1s and M4A2s in the mix. They served with British and Indian units in Burma in 1944 and '45. Above shows Indian Army M4A4s of B Squadron, King George V's Own 19th Lancers firing on Japanese positions near Udaung on December 31, 1944. "Battleship," the tank in the foreground, can be seen with the commander's vane sight (1), as well as the "Swabey Sight" (2). These tanks do not have the usual British added stowage bins, although some units have been seen with boxes, possibly salvaged from M3 Lees, on the left rear sponson. Infantry phones (3) have been added on the right rear. The tarp on the turret bustle looks too big to be the standard OVM issue (there were complaints), so was probably replaced in the field with one that would cover the whole tank. The padded lifting ring (4), along with the orientation of the tail light guard (5), serve to identify "Battleship" as a remanufactured M4A4.


M4A4

We could not resist including the "atmosphere" shot above which is captioned, "The British commander and Indian crew of a Sherman tank of the 9th Royal Deccan Horse, 255th Indian Tank Brigade, encounter a newly liberated elephant on the road to Meiktila, 29 March 1945." The glacis of this remanufactured M4A4 has been "caged," but not wire meshed. This combination is presumed to have been a defensive measure against Japanese infantry attacks with magnetic mines and the like. Photos suggest that the M4A4s shipped to India were mostly late new production with welded up or no pistol port turrets, or the remanufactured jobs. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Photo SE 3640.


M4A4

The Chinese did not officially receive any Shermans as Lend Lease. However, the Commonwealth "reverse Lend Leased" 126 of their M4A4s in India "to USA Forces." These augmented some 125 M3A3 Light Tanks already in use by the 1st Provisional Tank Group. The unit was composed of the 230 man [US] 527th Ordnance Company, Heavy Maintenance (Tank), along with 1800 Chinese soldiers. The first 12 M4A4s arrived on April 19, 1944, and, one month later, 2 Medium Tank platoons, 1 US crewed and 1 Chinese, joined the 1st Battalion Light Tanks in combat in the Mogaung Valley in northern Burma. Above shows some early 1945 shipments to the railhead at Ledo on the India/Burma border. T-289132 is a remanufactured 1942 production M4A4 with direct vision. In general, original parts were used on remanufactured tanks. However, T-289132 can be seen with the newer upturned return roller arms (1). These were introduced in late 1943, and became standard on Shermans to the end of VVSS production. They eliminated the need for the spacer installed on the earlier straight arms. It seems unlikely that many of the original M4A4 straight return roller arms were rendered unusable during training, so perhaps Chrysler ran short of spacers, and installed a few new production upturned arms instead?


M4A4

Two Battalions of the 1st Provisional Tank Group had been equipped and trained in time to support the final Allied Offensive in Burma. New and replacement tanks made their way to the front through the mountains and jungles by way of the controversial Ledo Road, one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken by the US Army. The photo above is dated December 13, 1944, and shows a convoy negotiating a hairpin turn near Momauk, about mile post 362 on the 465 mile Ledo Road. With the Japanese defeat in Burma, plans were made for a major offensive in China, but the end of the war found the 1st Provisional Tank Group in Chanyi, China, where it was deactivated on December 18, 1945. The Group's equipment was turned over to the Chinese. According to Lt. Frank Pyle, a veteran of the 1st PTG, it was "reformed as a separate armored force under the Nationalist Chinese banner. The unit was lost near the Marco Polo Bridge in 1949 against Chinese Communist forces." There may be a former 1st PTG M3A3 on display in Beijing, but as far as we know, there are no surviving M4A4s on mainland China, or Taiwan.

Post-war use of the M4A4


M4A4

The M4A4 was declared obsolete by the Ordnance Technical Committee on July 19, 1945. Figures are hard to come by, but some M4A4s were retained post war by the countries that had received them. France in particular kept a number of M4A4s in service, many of which were supplied to Israel starting in the mid 1950s. The Indian Army is reported to have had some Sherman Vs on strength as late as 1966. The British seem to have "surplussed" most of their Lend Lease Shermans soon after WW II, in favor of home built designs, such as the Comet and Centurion. Above is a photo thought to have been taken in Rome in 1949 in celebration of the third anniversary of the New Italian Republic. The foremost tank is an M4A4 with 75mm gun. Next in line are pair of 105mm Shermans, and after, a mix of 75mms and Fireflies. These would have been a sort of informal, pre NATO military aid, made up of surplus Shermans left behind at the end of WW II in Tank Dumps in Italy. Starting in the early 1950s, the Italians received 850 M26 through M48 series tanks from the US as part of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program.


M4A4

Egypt was another post-war user of the M4A4. In his book “Egyptian Shermans,” author Christopher Weeks has it that a little over 100 M4A4s and M4A2s were purchased in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These Shermans appear to have been former Commonwealth WW II Lend Lease, acquired perhaps under questionable circumstances, from tank dumps in Italy and North Africa. Period photos suggest that the majority were M4A4s, although it would seem that many (or all?) had their original Chrysler Multibank engines and M4A4 engine decks swapped out for the GM Twin diesel power plants and engine decks from M4A2s. Earlier we mentioned that, post WW II, the French replaced the Multibanks of many of their M4A4s with Continental Radial engines (see transformé link). It is thought that the French provided the Egyptians with materiel and technical assistance, but details about the chronology of the diesel engine swap are sketchy. However, we can observe that several historic photos dated 1952 clearly show M4A4s retrofitted with M4A2 engine decks. The example shown above was photographed during the “Three-Month Anniversary of the Revolution Parade” in Cairo on October 23, 1952. In a number of photos, the M4A4’s exhaust deflector (1) appears to have been enlarged and modified. We suspect it was repurposed for use as a rear stowage bin. Egyptian Shermans had their combat debut during the Second Arab-Israeli War which started on October 29, 1956. By that time, most of Egypt’s armor was of Soviet design, but the 3rd Armored Battalion was deployed on the northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, and was equipped with approximately 52 Shermans, including 12 Sherman/FL-10 Hybrids. The Battalion was overrun and all of its tanks were lost as the Israelis captured the entire Sinai Peninsula in just 4 days. After the 1956 War, Egypt provided most of its remaining Shermans (~50 units) to the Gaza based 20th Palestinian Liberation Army Division, in order that they might have a supporting tank battalion. In the “Six Day War” (June 5 to June 10, 1967), the defenders of the Gaza Strip put up a fierce fight, but were eventually overwhelmed, and all of the Palestinian Tank Battalion’s Shermans were either captured or destroyed. Photo courtesy of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, President Naguib Collection.


M4A4

The document above details sales of "Surplus Tanks for Scrap in Belgium" in 1946 by the British Disposals Commission. The total "scrap" value was over 32 million Belgian Francs. The vast majority of the AFVs can be seen to have been Shermans. They were located in 2 dumps near Antwerp, the larger (167 R.V.P.) was materiel "transferred by the Canadian Army on withdrawal of that force." The other dump was British surplus. Officers assigned to the Commission were responsible for seeing to it that the AFVs were scrapped, but they had been reassigned due to budget cuts before all of the AFVs were processed. As it was, many were NOT demilitarized or scrapped. It is thought that these would be the entries in rows 6 through 17 above. Some were requisitioned by the Belgian Ministry of National Defense, but others were exported without license to Argentina. This created something of a diplomatic flap among the governments of the US, Great Britain and Belgium. The 2 European countries basically claimed that they did not know anything about the exports. In any case, Argentina got hundreds of AFVs, and Belgium got thousands of tons of desperately needed wheat. Document from British National Archives, FO.371/72931.


M4A4

We can not provide an accurate number of Shermans exported to Argentina. In his book, "Blindados Argentinos," Ricardo Fogliani states that a 1950 Inventory lists 206 Sherman Firefly and 154 Sherman "con canon de 75mm."  Something more than 360 may have been exported out of the Canadian Dump in Belgium (one Net source states "nearly 450"), but perhaps some were not runners, to be used as parts junkers? Fogliani has it that by 1962, the inventory had to decreased to 154 Firefly and 114 75mm. The decreasing numbers over 12 years may suggest cannibalization of some to keep others running? In any case, while most of the surviving Shermans in Argentina were significantly upgraded, there are a few 75mm's and Fireflies that are still in close to Commonwealth WW II configuration. The remanufactured M4A4 on display in Buenos Aires is Serial Number 18324, indicating that it was originally accepted in February 1943. This example can be seen with the alternate part number D50993 on the left section of the differential housing.


M4A4    M4A4

"Blindados Argentinos" has it that in the late 1970s, 120 Shermans were upgraded with Poyaud 520 diesel engines, and French designed FTR L44 / 57 105mm guns, license built in Argentina. The 40 or so surviving "Sherman Repotenciados" all appear to be former Fireflies. It is thought that they were used for the conversion because the ammunition stowage had already been rearranged to accommodate larger rounds. In order to provide room for the 17 pdr ammunition, the bow gunner was eliminated with the Firefly conversion. The Repotenciado conversion eliminated another crew member, the loader, since the gun had an auto loading feature. The photos above show a couple of Sherman Vc based Repotenciados on display in Argentina.


M4A4    M4A4

After the Firefly, the French/Israeli designed M-50 is perhaps the most interesting conversion that made use of the M4A4. In a manner very similar to the Firefly conversion, the high velocity 75mm gun of the French AMX 13 was installed in a modified "small" (D50878 or D78461) Sherman turret, with loader's hatch added where needed. The first 25 M-50s were finished in time to fight in the 1956 Sinai Campaign. It is not known just how many M-50s were based on the M4A4, but they were certainly well represented, and saw extensive service with the Israeli Defense Forces up to 1973. Many were acquired from post war French stocks of M4A4T’s, powered by the Continental R-975 radial engine. During refurbishment or rebuild, additional units were installed with the readily available radials, and many were retrofitted with later Sherman power trains with 1-piece differential housings. Beginning in the early 1960s, M-50s were updated with a 460 HP Cummins diesel engine, plus an array of stowage and other equipment. This process also included conversion to HVSS suspension. Several surviving M4A4 based M-50s are privately owned, such as the nicely preserved example formerly of the Littlefield Collection in California. This M4A4 was originally accepted in January, 1943, and can be seen to have standard hull lifting rings on the front, and padded rings on the rear. Photos courtesy of Chris Hughes.


M4A4

The exact number of M50s produced has been somewhat elusive, but in an online article entitled “The Tanks of ‘67,” Dr. Michael L. McSwiney states that “In 1967 the Israelis had 179 M50 ‘French’ Sherman tanks.” Following retirement from active service with the IDF, a few M-50s were employed as defensive bunkers along Israel's borders. Some of the hulks remain in place to this day. The early M4A4 based M50 shown above was emplaced in Metula along the border with Lebanon. (Update: A colleague visited Metula in the Spring of 2017, and found that it is no longer there.) This is not the only example noted to have had a pistol port cut out of another turret, and welded in to what is presumed to have been a "no pistol port" turret. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.


M4A4

A few M50s continued in foreign service long after their retirement from the IDF. In the 1970s and beyond, M50s were supplied to the South Lebanon Army and the Lebanese Forces. In the early 1980s, 48 M-50s were sold to Chile. These were refitted with General Motors diesel engines, and rearmed with 60mm hyper-velocity guns, developed in Israel. For penetration purposes, the gun was considered to be on a par with the NATO 105mm. Above shows an example on maneuvers. The Chilean M-50s were in service well into the 1990s. There were numerous border conflicts between Chile and Argentina in the late 20th Century, but it does not appear that the Chilean M50s ever “exchanged shots” with the Argentinean Repotenciados.  Photo courtesy of Javier Munoz, via Fernando Wilson and Tom Gannon.


M4A4

Not as well known as the M50, was the “Sherman/FL10 Hybrid” which the French provided to the Egyptians in 1955, at about the same time as they began supplying M50s to the Israelis. This was a much simpler effort to up gun the Sherman. Rather than modify the original turrets to accept the high velocity 75mm gun of the French AMX 13 as on the M50, the Sherman turrets were simply replaced with the oscillating turret from the AMX 13 Light Tank. The FL10 turret was rather small, so only had a two man turret crew - the commander and the gunner. There was no loader as the gun was provided with an auto loading feature. The auto loading system utilized two 6 round revolving magazines, and when the 12 rounds were fired, the crew had to break off combat, and actually get outside of the tank to reload these magazines. Also several sources report that the auto loader was slower than a human loader. Thus, while the Sherman/FL10 Hybrid was armed with the same main gun as the M50, the auto loading system no doubt limited the effectiveness of the design when compared to the M50. The exact number of Sherman/FL10 conversions is unclear, but it is thought that during the 1956 and 1967 wars, the Israelis captured or destroyed a total of around 25 units. Some sources report that the Israelis converted a few of the captured Egyptian Shermans to M50s. Three or perhaps four Sherman/FL10 Hybrids are known to have survived. All are M4A4s with M4A2 engines, decks and exhausts retrofitted. In the Spring of 2017, Jim Goetz examined the example on display at Latrun in Israel. He reported that “17622” is stamped on the rear tow lugs, indicating that this M4A4 was accepted in January, 1943. Note the “padded” hull lifting rings (1), typical of M4A4s built January, 1943 or earlier. Many of the Egyptian Shermans are seen with the "Quick Fix" armor applique plates welded to the sides. We suspect that Serial Number 17622 had the modification added in a Commonwealth workshop during WW II. At some point additional plates were added to each side. So far, this is the only example of an Egyptian Sherman that we have seen in this odd, “3 per side” applique armor configuration. Photo courtesy of Jim Goetz.


M4A4

Items of interest in this rear view of Serial Number 17622 include the shell ejection port (1) and the French designed smoke dischargers (2), which are also present, two per side, on many of the turrets of Israeli Shermans. It can be seen that the standard M4A2 exhaust and muffler system (3) has been retrofitted. Unlike most Sherman models, M4A2s did not have engine access doors on their lower rear hull plates. However, the original M4A4 access doors (4) were not removed and blanked off during the engine conversion, but were simply cut in half crosswise as seen here. Air scoops (5) were not required on M4A2s, while they were standard on M4, M4A1 and M4A4 Shermans.  Available evidence suggests that the air scoops were retained on the Egyptian M4A4s with M4A2 engine retrofits. The item circled is obviously a door bumper. These were not standard on “as built” M4A2 engine decks, but are seen in many of the period photos as well as most surviving examples of Egyptian M4A4s with M4A2 engine retrofits. The rear engine deck plates of many Egyptian Shermans are typically seen with a pair of rather large “grab handles.” These appear to have broken off of SN 17622, but can be seen in the inset on SN 21064, a “regular” Egyptian M4A4 with M4A2 engine retrofit, which is also on display at Latrun. Note as well the addition of a pair of (adjustable?) rods running across the engine deck plate. Inset photo courtesy of "Bukvoed" via Wikipedia.


M4A4    M4A4

The M4A4 Technical Manual states that "The vehicle serial number is stamped on each boss (two front and two rear) to which the towing shackle is attached to the hull." Anyone looking for the Serial Number on a surviving M4A4 is advised to check first on the rear towing bosses, since the original differential housing may have been replaced over the years.


M4A4

Above shows the dataplate from the Sherman V Firefly on display at the Pansarmuseet in Axvall, Sweden. Note that the Serial Number, 16733, is stamped in the upper right hand corner. As mentioned previously, this M4A4 would have been accepted in December, 1942.  We suspect that, during remanufacture, Chrysler replaced the original dataplate, which would have had “1942,” stamped inside the box on the lower left, with this one stamped with “1944.” “A B Q” can be seen stamped inside the box on the lower right. We believe these were the initials of the Army Ordnance Inspector who accepted this tank from Chrysler.


M4A4   
M4A4

The dataplate on most surviving Shermans is seen mounted on the hull wall in the location indicated by the number 1 in the photo above on the left. We consider this to be the “standard” location of the plate. However, quite a few surviving M4A4s have been seen to have the dataplate mounted in position 2. Dataplates are often rusted unreadable or missing on surviving Shermans, but some Chrysler built examples have been seen to have the Serial Number stamped on the hull wall in the area indicated by the red oval.


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