American Locomotive Co. manufactured 150 M4A2(75)s from September 1942 through April
1943, as well as 2150 M4(75)s from February 1943 through December 1943. Evidence
from surviving examples has recently come to light which confirms that ALCO
manufactured some M4s with Composite hulls. So far, the
data suggests that some or possibly even all of the 300 tanks of the final
Production Order were built as large hatch Composites.
All Serial &
Registration Number ranges given are interpolations. The authors would
welcome more data concerning ALCO built Shermans.
Production Order T-1480 :
150 M4A2(75) tanks: Serial Number 1405 / USA 3065484 through S/N 1554 /
Production Order T-1480 : 350 M4(75) tanks: S/N 1555 / USA 3065634
through S/N 1904 / USA 3065983
Production Order T-3157 : 500 M4(75) tanks: S/N 3931 / USA 3065984
through S/N 4430 / USA 3066483
Production Order T-3646 : 1000 M4(75) tanks: S/N 24705 / USA 3033235
through S/N 25704 / USA 3034234
Production Order T-4305 : 300 M4(75) tanks: S/N 40305 / USA 3072902
through S/N 40604 / USA 3073201
the photo for larger size
1940s, along with a modern view, of the very first ALCO built Sherman, M4A2,
Serial Number 1405 / USA 3065484, accepted in September, 1942. This tank was on
display for many years at the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground in
Maryland. When the Museum closed, it was moved to storage at Ft. Benning,
Georgia, where it is no longer accessible to the general public. Of course, SN
1405 was built with a standard D50878 75mm turret. The 17 pounder Firefly
turret seen in the photos was tested at APG & Ft. Knox, and later installed
on this tank by the Ordnance Museum to create a Firefly display. SN 1405 was
delivered to APG with a one-piece final drive housing, but the tank was used to
test "final drive protective shields." Presumably its original
differential housing was tested to destruction, and it now has the three piece
differential from the very first Pacific Car & Foundry M4A1, which was also
a test tank at APG. In any case, ALCO Shermans used both three piece & one
piece housings interchangeably up until about September, 1943. Color picture
courtesy of Neil Baumgardner.
on the photos for larger size
January 1943 views of the
third ALCO M4A2 Serial Number 1407. Of note is the very early type of
piece differential housing, & the "bent rod" hull lifting
The M4 type of bogie units certainly appear to have been installed on
Shermans from the start. ALCO began Sherman production relatively late,
these photos suggest that none of their turrets had lifting rings
the "high" position (see the 75mm turrets page for further information). An interesting curiosity seen on a small number
of Shermans identified as either ALCO or Pullman, is the cast in
"bump" next to the bow machine gun on both 1405 & 1407.
and exterior views of the "bump" show that this particular glacis
casting was made to hold the twin fixed machine guns that were part of the
original M4 design. The fixed MGs had been eliminated months before ALCO began
producing Shermans, and one can see that the holes were simply sealed up by
welding. Also evident is the repair by welding of imperfections in the
differential housing and rotor shield castings.
(Photos courtesy of the APG Restoration Staff).
on the photos for larger size
on the photos for larger size
Photos showing the
"bump" on a pair of Commowealth M4A2s, as well as a couple US Army
M4s. Note that in the few period photos showing the "bump" on M4A2s,
as well as on the two known surviving examples, the tanks have direct vision. On
the other hand, the two M4s, which are presumed to be ALCO built, are seen to
have the later type of drivers' hoods. There are no known surviving examples of
M4s with the "bump."
on the photo for larger size
Our final M4A2 photo shows USA
3065575 about to roll off the assembly line at the ALCO plant in Schenectady,
NY. This tank would have been accepted in December, 1942. Note the factory
installation of the step bracket, as well as the bow mg dust cover
fitting. The glacis pattern that can be seen is typical of ALCO up to mid 1943.
Current evidence suggests that most or all of the 150 ALCO built M4A2s had
direct vision. On the other hand, the authors have yet to come across a period
photo or surviving example of a direct vision M4 that can be identified as ALCO.
The left-side photo shows the
construction of the front glacis on earlier ALCO built Shermans. The red lines
indicate the weld joints. Note that the "plate" that includes the bow
MG was actually a casting, whereas the other sections of the glacis were armor
plates. "With the bump" would be a variation of this early glacis
pattern. In the right-side photo, the front glacis is made of a single armor
plate, and the bow MG, hull antenna bracket and drivers' hoods are welded into
it. Left-side photo courtesy of http://wra-tanks.blogspot.fr/
built Shermans have been seen with two variations of the bow MG socket. On the
earlier configuration (left side photo), the bow MG is actually part of a cast
"plate," while on the later one (right side photo), the bow mg is a
small casting that is welded into the front hull armor plate.
The typical cast antenna
bracket seen on ALCO built Shermans. Note how the bracket is welded flush with
the glacis, a useful clue when trying to identify an ALCO Sherman.
The direct vision slots were
considered ballistic weak spots, and it is thought that ALCO dispensed with
them when they transitioned from M4A2s to M4s in early 1943. The modified
drivers' hood casting featured an additional periscope in front of the drivers'
hatches. Positive hatch lock mechanisms with equilibrator springs were factory
installed on ALCO Shermans starting around May, 1943. These made the hatches
easier to manipulate, and insured that they were locked in the open position,
thereby avoiding injury to the crew. Tank Depots also retrofitted this
modification to many Shermans.
Here is shown the little
bullet splash protecting the drivers' hood hinge knuckles (circled in red on
the photo). This part has been seen on some Fisher & ALCO Shermans. It was
an official part that seems to have been introduced in Spring 1943. The reason
this part was not added to other manufacturers' Shermans is unknown.
ALCO Shermans were equipped
with the cast type of head lamp sockets used by most of the small hatch Sherman
manufacturers. In the above photo of Serial Number 1405, one can see that a
plug is partially installed into the head lamp socket. When not needed, the
head lamps were stored inside, and plugs were provided to seal the sockets.
Note the plug holder welded to the head lamp guard, which held the plug when
the head lamps were installed. The plug holders were initially oriented parallel
to the glacis, but later were repositioned to vertical, most likely to keep
them from falling out. "Counting heads" evidence suggests that ALCO
repositioned the plug holders to vertical about mid 1943. Also seen to good
advantage in the above photo is what the authors informally refer to as the
"bent rod" lifting ring as seen on many early Shermans.