Assault Tank M4A3E2 'Jumbo'

The Assault Tank M4A3E2 'Jumbo' was a more heavily armoured version of the Sherman produced to lead attacks during the invasion of Europe.

In 1942-43 an attempt had been made to produce an assault tank using the power train of the M4, with a largely new chassis and suspension from the Heavy Tank M6. This vehicle, the Assault Tank T14, reached the prototype stage, but was then rejected, partly because the Army didn't see the need for it at the time and partly due to its poor performance.

Early in 1944 the idea of an assault tank, to be used to support infantry attacks during the D-Day campaign, was revived. A newer model, the Assault Tank T26 (based on the M26 General Pershing), was under development, but wouldn't be ready in time, and so in February 1944 attention switched to the idea of modifying an M4 Sherman to carry out the role.

The tank chosen was the M4A3, which had the Army's preferred Ford V-8 engine. In March 1944 production of 254 modified M4A3s was authorised, with the designation Assault Tank M4A3E2.

The M4A3E2 was given thicker armour on the front and sides. 1.5in of rolled armour was welded into the sides of the sponsons and the front of the hull, increasing the frontal armour to 4in and side armour to 3in. A new 5.5in thick cast nose was also produced, with a flat front (both versions of the standard cast nose for the M4 dipped in the middle).

The M4A3E2 was given a new cast turret, with 6in side, front and rear armour, a commander's vision cupola and oval loaders hatch. The new turret used a Combination Mount T110, which was the standard Combination Mount M62 with extra armoured welded to the front. The turret carried the standard 75mm gun, as this fired a more effective high explosive shell than the newer 76mm gun. The M62 mount was normally used with the 76mm gun, and it was thus fairly simple to swap the guns. Early in 1945 this was carried out in Europe, and the 76mm armed assault tanks saw combat against the Germans,

In order to compensate for the extra weight of the tank duckbill extended end connectors were added on the outside of the track, increasing its width and keeping ground pressure at 14psi. The final drive was strengthened, and the gear ratios changed, reducing speed but improving the engine's ability to cope with the extra weight.

All 254 M4A3E2s were built at the Fisher Tank Arsenal, between May and July 1944. As a result they were too late for D-Day, but they did play a part in the final stages of the fighting in Europe. The thicker armour made the M4A3E2 a popular vehicle, and it was used to lead many attacks, as well as heading up tank columns.

Early in 1945 a request was submitted for more M4A3E2s. This version was to use the 76mm gun and HVSS suspension. This request was later modified to include the use of the turret and 90mm gun from the M26 Pershing, and the project was soon cancelled in favour of the Pershing-based Assault Tank T216E5.

Stats
Production:
Hull Length: 247in
Hull Width: 115.6in
Height: 116.3in
Crew: 5
Weight: 84,000lb
Engine: Ford GAA Liquid cooled 8 cylinder V
Hp: 450hp at 2,600rpm
Max Speed: 22mph sustained
Max Range: 100 miles cruising range, roads
Armament: 75mm Gun M3 and .30in coaxial MG in turret, .50in MG in AA mount on turret roof, 0.30in MG in hill front, 2in Mortar M3 (smoke) in turret

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top

Turret

6.0in

6.0in

6.0in

1.0in

Superstructure

 

 

 

 

Hull - lower

5.5-4.5in

1.5in

1.5in

 

Hull - upper

4.0in

3.0in

1.5in

0.75in

Gun shield

7.0in

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 January 2017), Assault Tank M4A3E2 'Jumbo' , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_assault_tank_M4A3E2_jumbo.html

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