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Setting The Record Straight On The Sherman


Sturgeon
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I believe it was the lack of knowledge of armored warfare by the American populace that started the "M4 is bad" narrative. 

 

Tanks, before WWII, were armored landships that could pulverize anything in its sights and remain invulnerable. News reports were horribly inaccurate at describing these machines and would regularly use hyperbole in describing their might.

 

Here is an except from the Australian Morning Bulletin which can be representative of American newspapers.


 GERMANS PRAISE SHERMAN TANKS

LONDON, June 17.-The Stockholm correspondent of "Aftonbladets" says: "A message from Berlin says that General Guderian. Hitler's foremost Panzer expert, is so impressed with the American Sherman tank, that he has created a special regiment of captured Shermans to experiment as to the best means of combating them.German experts praise the Shermans without reserve.'

 

 

Since the M4 wasn't what the public thought what a tank should be, it was criticized for being weakly armed and armored once information about their destruction was disseminated overtime.

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Death Traps by B. Cooper and associated TV programs have helped spread the narrative as well to a much wider audience nowadays. 

 

We should know better though. Here's a quick run down.

 

Firepower: The M4's firepower was on par with the most powerful vehicles in combat in 1942. The M3 75 mm could realistically knock-out anything it came across from nearly any angle. Once heavier tanks arrived on the battlefield, some M4s were uparmed to 76 mm guns by the Americans and uparmed by the Brits to the 17 pdr. Armor penetration by these guns were adequate in their AT role which comprised of ~15% of a tank's combat role. 

 

Soviet Reports: 75 mm vs. Tiger    76mm(and other calibers) vs. German Armor

 

Chieftain's Articles: US Guns, German Armor pt.1    pt.2   US Firefly Tests+

 

Armor: Armor was nearing 90 mm of effective armor from thickness/cos(slope) but higher velocity German guns started to be very common and this did not bode well. However, one could expect high casualties from nearly any AFV due to the majority of hits occurring on the sides of the vehicle. Frontally, the M4 had decent protection and would bounce 75 mm rounds on occasion. M4s had decent survivability against handheld AT weapons and mines. 

 

Crew Safety: Small hatches and poor ammo storage meant that many M4s succumbed to fires(~80% burn rate) and might have led to the M4's dubious nicknames. However larger hatches were added to later models and better ammo storage brought burn rates in some US units around 15%. For every M4 KO'd there was on average 1 death and 1 injury. This is comparable to other tanks of the period. 

 

Mobility: Thin tracks on the M4 meant that it had somewhat lackluster mobility on soft terrain, but was decent on most terrain. The M4, however was a 

very strategic tank. The ability for M4s to be built in Detroit and fight on 4 different continents in large numbers in a quick amount of time shows one of the M4's true strengths. 

 

Reliability: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

Adaptability: The M4 was shoehorned into dozens of roles and it performed each of them well. Tank Destroyer, Amphib, Howitzer, Assault Tank, SPG, Engineering Vehicle, etc. 

 

Postwar variants showed the M4 to be a viable weapon platform up into the 1970s with Israel. Chile had M4s in its arsenal until 2002. 

 

Combat Record: Arracourt? M4s routinely beat "superior" formations of Panthers. 3rd and 4th ADs had what seems to be a 3.6:1 ratio against Panthers. There are only few instances where American M4s were soundly beaten, and this can be attributed to poor tactics and not the tanks themselves. Instances of German triumphs, such as Villers Bocage and Barkmann's Corner, in the West have been called into question over their authenticity. 

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Is there anyone willing to make a video that could be produced that addresses the misconceptions about the M4? I'd be more than willing to provide information to help out. I think a major reason why there is so much Sherman-hate is because there are videos on it that people don't have to read and making a video could be much more informative to someone would can't read past a 2nd grade level. It would also make responding just a video. I don't make videos though. 

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Is there anyone willing to make a video that could be produced that addresses the misconceptions about the M4? I'd be more than willing to provide information to help out. I think a major reason why there is so much Sherman-hate is because there are videos on it that people don't have to read and making a video could be much more informative to someone would can't read past a 2nd grade level. It would also make responding just a video. I don't make videos though. 

 

I am willing to assist in doing this. I can edit and proofread scripts.

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A few musings:

 

 

-We know that the sherman was able to hold its own when faced with the big cats in Normandy and after.  The German forces were still mainly equipped with Pz. III and Pz. IV based vehicles, but the panther and variants were at least occasionally locally numerous.  On most of those occasions (e.g. Arracourt) the sherman proved at least equal to the task of taking on the panther.  Do we have any good sources for what the Germans thought when the sherman first showed up in North Africa?  I would think that an early model sherman would be vastly better than anything the Germans had at the time.

 

-Is there any evidence that the panther is a response to the sherman?

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A few musings:

 

 

-We know that the sherman was able to hold its own when faced with the big cats in Normandy and after.  The German forces were still mainly equipped with Pz. III and Pz. IV based vehicles, but the panther and variants were at least occasionally locally numerous.  On most of those occasions (e.g. Arracourt) the sherman proved at least equal to the task of taking on the panther.  Do we have any good sources for what the Germans thought when the sherman first showed up in North Africa?  I would think that an early model sherman would be vastly better than anything the Germans had at the time.

 

See walter's sig

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Captured German diary reads “Tommy is using an American tank (M4 medium) which has incredible armor and very good armament. (Paraphrase of cable from Cairo to Milid, No 1131, June 15 1942)

 

As for the Panther, I'm afraid the Sherman isn't mentioned in Heydekamp's interrogation at all. Seems like it was all T-34.

 

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I guess you could argue the overhanging gun bit was present in the Sherman too, but neither of the other two features liked by the Germans were.

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Actually, I have toyed around with the idea of making a "Truth about the Sherman Tank" video.  The organization I work at includes the local cable access channel, so I have plenty of access to video production equipment.  There is an M4A3 on display outside an American legion a few miles from my house that would make a nice shooting location. 

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Actually, I have toyed around with the idea of making a "Truth about the Sherman Tank" video.  The organization I work at includes the local cable access channel, so I have plenty of access to video production equipment.  There is an M4A3 on display outside an American legion a few miles from my house that would make a nice shooting location. 

I vote that Walter is the lead investigator/narrator if the project goes ahead. 

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