The many cast components used
on the Sherman are often seen with raised part numbers and foundry logos
on them. (Armor plate has the same information stamped into its
surface.) Baldwin hulls, like most Sherman hulls, were constructed with
bullet splash guard sections. We’ve circled the raised numbers, letters
and symbols on a couple of the splash sections in the photos above.
Also of note are the very large raised numbers seen on the ventilator
housing in the photo on the left.. This is an unusual feature that was
most likely a trait of the particular company that cast them. A number
of these have been seen with a “Star-G,” the caster’s logo of the
Symington-Gould Company on the deflector piece (inset). While not
exclusive to Baldwin M4s, the "big number" ventilators can be seen on
many of the surviving examples.
all of the known surviving Baldwin M4s, and tanks identified as such in period
photos, have been seen with the most common type of hull lifting ring castings.
We consider these to be the “standard” lifting rings, since they were installed
on the vast majority of Shermans produced from January/February 1943 to the end
of production. Period photos and two extant examples suggest that early
production Baldwin M4s were outfitted with the so called "padded"
hull lifting rings, as shown below. Based on the available evidence, the
authors speculate that Baldwin transitioned from the "padded" to the
“standard” hull lifting rings in February, 1943.
photo on the left above shows the front "padded" hull lifting rings
that appear on two surviving Baldwin M4s, Serial Numbers 1940 and 1948. Both of
these would have been accepted in February, 1943, shortly before Baldwin
completed the transition to the “standard” hull lifting ring castings shown in
the previous caption. The shape of these particular “padded” lifting rings has
not as yet been seen by the authors on other types of Shermans, so may have
been utilized for a short time only by Baldwin. Note that SN 1940 features the
most common version of the rear "padded" hull lifting ring casting
(center photo), whereas the rings on SN 1948 are the only ones we have
encountered with the shape as seen in the right side photo.
Period photos show Baldwin M4s with either pressed metal spoke (as on
USA 3022577 above) or welded spoke bogie wheels. The tanks can also be seen with
the most common type of sprocket. For want of a better term, the authors refer
too this as "the plain sprocket."
or all of the other builders' M4 and M4A1 Shermans had engine access door
hinges (1) as seen in the above left photo. Oddly, most but not all, surviving
Baldwin built M4s have been noted to have the M3 Lee/Grant type of hinges (2)
as seen in the photo on the right. Also, unlike other manufacturers' M4s and
M4A1s, we would observe that the little stops (3) on either side of the engine
access doors are not seen centered on the few surviving Baldwin M4s, but are
mounted a little towards the bottom. The photos also show the rounded
transition piece (4) that joined the lower rear hull plate to the belly plate,
and appears to have been typical of Baldwin M4 lower hull tubs.
modelers ask if it is possible to determine the appearance of the front of a
Sherman if all one has as reference is a photo of the rear. In the case of the
two 755th Tank Battalion M4s shown above, and based on the M3 style hinges that
can be seen, we would suggest that these tanks would have had the unmodified
Baldwin glacis pattern. The round air cleaners seen on both of these Shermans,
appear on most, but not all surviving Baldwin M4s.
The only other builder thought to have made M4s with direct vision
was Pressed Steel Car. Coincidentally, both Baldwin and PSC M4s have vertical
upper rear hull plates, as opposed to the angled plates featured on ALCO,
Pullman and Chrysler M4s. The above photos show an M4
used at Aberdeen Proving Ground in November 1943 as a test platform for the
T34 Multiple Rocket Launcher. One can see the vertical upper rear hull plate along with the rounded appearance of
the lower rear hull plate as it joins to the belly plate. This tank can be seen
to be Serial Number 15747 / USA 3022849, indicating August 1943 acceptance. It
has most of the modifications that were available at that time. These were
mandated to be installed at the factory as the various modification kits entered
the production pipeline, and provided the builder was able to obtain sufficient
supplies of them. As a backup, Tank Depots were required to install any missing
modifications to Shermans headed overseas. This particular M4 can be seen
to have a "no pistol port" turret. These were just entering the
production lines in August, and it is thought that Baldwin would
have finished out their M4 program with this type of turret.
Perhaps the most distinguished user of a Baldwin M4
was Lt. Col. Creighton Abrams, the commander of the 37th Tank Battalion,
4th Armored Division at the time of the Normandy breakout. Above are
two views of his M4, "Thunderbolt V." The left side photo shows the tank
before D-Day. As with nearly every US Army M4 or M4A1 in the UK,
Abrams' tank can be seen to have a good number of modifications. These
changes were considered so essential that thousands of mod kits were
shipped to Great Britain in order to bring the tanks up to late 1943
standards. One of the modifications that appears on the many of the US
Army Shermans in Normandy is “Increase thickness of Turret Armor in
Region of Traversing Gear,” or informally, “the thin spot turret patch" (1). Two
sections of the right front interior of the Sherman’s turret were
thinned out to permit the proper operation of the traversing mechanism.
Early on it was reported that the enemy aimed for these thin spots, and
as a consequence, the Ordnance Dept. produced an armor patch to protect
this area. The right side photo shows "Thunderbolt V" in France in
August, 1944. Just visible in the photo is a hedgerow cutter (2), a
modification developed in theater to enable tanks to break through the
hedgerows typical of the bocage country of Normandy. For some reason,
sand shields were considered an "Urgent" modification. Comparing the
photos of Thunderbolt V, gives an idea of the prevailing view of the
tankers toward sand shields.
The photo above was taken in Vannes, France on
August 5, 1944, and provides a left side view of Thunderbolt V.
Unfortunately, motion blur prevents us from getting an accurate read of
the USA Number, but it can be seen to be in the 3022XXX range,
indicating that it was built sometime from May through September, 1943
as part of Baldwin’s second Production Order. Along with the “thin
spots” in the turret, the Ordnance Dept. found the pistol port to be a
ballistic weak point, and in April, 1943 ordered that the turret be
redesigned. The new casting did away with the pistol port, and at the
same time, increased the thickness of the armor around the thin spots,
thereby eliminating the need for the welded on turret patch. The
redesigned turrets began to enter the production pipeline in the late
summer of 1943, but in the meantime, the Government ordered that pistol
ports on the remaining supply of original turrets be welded up. The lack
of hinges indicates that Thunderbolt V had a welded up pistol port.
Counting heads suggests that Baldwin M4s
produced from May through July, 1943 were built with welded up pistol
ports. We would note that the welding up and subsequent elimination of
the pistol port was not popular with tankers, and the Ordnance
Department reinstated it back into the design in July, 1943. The
reinstated turrets, which also introduced a loader’s hatch, began to
appear in production in late 1943.
Baldwin M4 very similar to "Thunderbolt V” is on display at the War Museum
in Overloon, The Netherlands. This tank is Serial Number 15499 (tow lug inset),
indicating that it was accepted in May, 1943. This was months before such
modifications as the “Quick Fix” (1), “Sloping Armor in front of drivers’
hatches (2),” Commander’s Vane Sight (3) and the 2 inch Smoke Mortar (4) became
available to the builders. It is thought that these mods were installed at a US
Tank Depot, or more likely, in the UK in the months preceding D-Day. In 1947,
the Museum certified to MIA investigators from the American Graves Registration
Detachment that no human remains were found in the two M4 Shermans (USA 3022601
and 3033401) that they recovered from the fields around Overloon. We would note
that 3022601 is an exact mathematical match to Serial Number 15499. It is
almost certain that SN 15499 served with the 7th Armored Division, and was lost
during the Battle of Overloon in October, 1944. The
Museum might have exposed the name “After Hitler” by “paint archeology,” but it
is doubtful that the tactical and other markings now on this tank are authentic
reproductions of what was painted on at the time it was recovered. Photo courtesy of Massimo Foti.
Locomotive is reported to have received its supply of turrets from Buckeye
Steel and Union Steel. SN 15499 has a Buckeye turret dated 3-43 (March, 1943)
as shown in the inset. It is thought that Buckeye delivered this turret to
Baldwin with the pistol port welded up, and the “thin spot” patch installed.
Pistol ports are seen welded up in many different ways, but the very neat job
shown here has been observed on a few Buckeye turrets dated 3-43 and 4-43.
Judging by the look of the pistol port, we would guess Thunderbolt V had a
Buckeye turret. Unfortunately for US tankers, the majority of the M4s and M4A1s
used in the Normandy Campaign had either welded up or no pistol port turrets.
Internal memos state that Baldwin Locomotive
transitioned from the M34 to the M34A1 Gun Mount in April 1943. Thus, between
200 and 300 of their first Shermans would have been made with the M34. The M34A1
with telescopic sight was considered an essential modification before D-Day. That
is why the reader would be hard pressed to find a photo taken in Northwest
Europe of an M4 or M4A1 of any make with the early type gun mount. Not so in
the secondary theater of Italy where some Shermans served relatively unmodified
right to the end. The photo above left datelined Italy Jan. 5, 1944, shows "Angela Mia," an M4 thought to have served with the 751st Tank Battalion. A close examination of the original print revealed the
Registration Number to be USA 3010772, which would correspond to the
second Baldwin M4. Note the M34 Gun Mount, vertical upper rear hull plate
and the "padded" lifting ring. The
image on the right is a blow up of a well known Signal Corps photo that shows a
good portion of the 752nd Tank Battalion along with elements of the 805th Tank
Destroyer Battalion, gathered in the Plaza Emanuel in Bologna, April 21, 1945. At the
time, the 752nd had two companies of M4A3(76)s, but still retained one
company of its older M4s and M4A1s. The Sherman in the center with direct
vision and the distinctively shaped antenna bracket, certainly
suggests a Baldwin M4. This tank appears to be nearly as built, except for the
appliqué armor patch on the turret, one of the few modification kits sent to the
Mediterranean Theater of Operations in 1943.
The greatest portion of the M4s manufactured in
1943 were sent overseas. Some Baldwin M4s were provided as Lend Lease to the
Commonwealth, including a few that were converted to Fireflies. Above
is an M4 identified as Serial Number 15970, indicating October 1943 acceptance.
The British used this tank in Italy in September 1944 to test Platypus Grousers.
Note the late, sharp nosed differential housing introduced at Baldwin in
September, 1943. This tank has been outfitted with practically every
modification available in the Fall of 1943, including the gun travel lock and
periscope guards. Based on internal documents, the authors posit that all of
these mods were factory installed from late September until the end of
production. While not easily apparent, this tank has a "no pistol port"
photo shows Baldwin M4, Serial Number 15473, currently preserved in Rennes,
France. There is a good chance that this tank may have served with the US Army,
or perhaps the French during WW II. When examining surviving Shermans, one must
keep in mind that most no longer reflect their WW II appearance. Parts were
substituted to keep the tanks running in the post war period, or even just to
complete a monument display. For instance, # 15473 (May,1943 acceptance) would
have been built with an M34A1 Gun Mount. The M34 it has now is typical of those
used on early production M4A4s. The commanders' vision cupola upgrade and
many of the bogie wheels were most likely postwar additions as well.
three photos (courtesy of Michel Van Loon) show an M4 hulk that was
photographed on a target range in Brasschaat, Belgium. Despite its condition, it
was possible to read the Serial Number as 16276. This was one of the last
Shermans built by Baldwin ( the final unit was SN 16279), and was accepted in
January 1944. It has the late, sharp nosed E8543 differential housing, but
“still” has direct vision blocks, which would tend to confirm that Baldwin Shermans used direct
vision hulls right up until the end of production. On the other hand, this was
the first Baldwin M4 we encountered that contradicted our original working
theory that all them were built with fabricated antenna and bow mg sockets. While this
tank does have the typical fabricated bow mg socket, the cast antenna bracket
was unexpected. This "new" find raises a number of questions... Did
others have the cast bracket? If so, was it limited to a few of the last ones? Or
was it random throughout production? Finally, we would observe that SN 16276
also has cast as opposed to fabricated head lamp sockets, such as were noted on
the Porto Alegre M4 shown earlier.
September, 2018 another Baldwin M4 with cast antenna bracket “came to light” in
Brazil. This tank is on display at the Centro de Instrução de Blindados in
Santa Maria City. The Serial Number found on the original Baldwin dataplate, as
well as on the rear tow lugs is 16261, which indicates that it is another of
the final 43 units accepted in January, 1944. The cast antenna bracket (inset)
appears to be welded on in a manner that is very similar to what can be seen on
Pressed Steel Car built M4s. As with SN 16276 from the previous caption, this
example features cast head lamp sockets. SN 16261 is “still” in very close to
“as built” configuration. The orientation of the head lamp plug holders
parallel to the glacis appears to have been typical of Baldwin built M4s right
up to the end of production. The E8543 differential housing is the “final”
version with the welded on steps (circled). Note the “Chester Tank Depot comb”
such as seen on the Porto Alegre M4. SN 16261 was one of 53 M4 Shermans shipped
to Brazil as Lend Lease in 1944. Colonel Renato Rocha, commanding officer of
the 1º Regimento de Carros de Combate, reported that, “In 1945, my Regiment
received all 53 M4s and have used them until 1972 when they where exchanged by
M41A3 Walker Bulldog.” Photos courtesy of Col. Renato Rocha.
Not many Shermans have survived with their original
dataplates intact. An original dataplate will include the name of the company
that produced the tank, whereas the plates on remanufactured Shermans have the
name of the firm that rebuilt the tank, or in some instances, nothing at all. Here
is a photo of the original Baldwin dataplate from Serial Number 16261. With the
exception of Pacific Car & Foundry, the original Sherman dataplates that we
have encountered to date only list the year of production in the box at the
lower left. Of the 1233 M4s made by Baldwin Locomotive, all but the last 43
were produced in 1943. Note that “1944” is stamped into the box, indicating
that it was one of the units accepted in January, 1944, the final month of
Sherman production at Baldwin. Considering all of the changes that had been
made to the Sherman by the beginning of 1944, it seems odd that Baldwin M4s
“still” had direct vision at that late date. The initials “ D N H” can be seen
stamped into the box at the lower right. Col. D. N. Hauseman was the Chief of
the Philadelphia Ordnance District from August, 1942 through December, 1943,
and oversaw operations at the Baldwin Plant. He was replaced by Col. F. A.
McMahon in December, but despite that, his initials appear on this January,
1944 production M4. Photo courtesy of Col. Renato Rocha.
Baldwin built Shermans have been noted
to have the tank's Ordnance Serial Number stamped into the rear towing
lugs, shown circled in the photo on the right. In a few instances, the
serial number has been recorded from the front lugs as well. We would
advise those looking for serial numbers to give preference to what is
found on the rear towing lugs, as the differential housing on a
surviving Sherman may not be its original. We have encountered serial
numbers from the front lugs that did not match what was found on the
rear, indicating that the original differential housing had been
The authors would gladly receive
such production data information from any readers who encounter a
surviving Baldwin built Sherman.