Medium Tank M4A3/ Sherman IV

The Medium Tank M4A3/ Sherman IV had a welded hull and Ford V-8 engine, and was one of the main US service versions. It was also the version of the Sherman chosen for use after the end of the Second World War.

The Ford GAA engine was developed from a V-12 aircraft engine. Late in 1941 a V-8 version of this engine was produced, and one example was installed in the Medium Tank M3E1. Reports on the new engine were very enthusiastic - it was compact, light, powerful and reliable, and became the preferred US tank engine. In January 1942 the Ordnance Committee approved the new engine for use in the M4, and allocated tanks using that engine the designation M4A3. It became the Sherman IV in British service, although only seven were allocated to the UK.  

Three pilot tanks were produced by Ford in May-June 1942, and sent to the General Motors Proving Ground, where they were tested out with five different versions of the Ford engine. After these tests the M4A3 was accepted for production.

A total of 1,690 M4A3s were built with the 75mm gun and original dry ammo storage system. Of these tanks 681 early models were refurbished between August 1944 and April 1945, to include many of the changes introduced during the production run. These tanks were then issued to US forces.

This was followed by a larger production run of the M4A3(75)W, which used a new wet shell storage system. Production of this variant began at the Fisher Tank Arsenal in February 1944, and 3,071 were built before production ended in March 1945. This was the only version of the 75mm armed M4 to get the wet storage system. During the production run of the M4A3(75)W the new commander's vision cupola and oval loader's hatch were introduced.

Production then moved onto the M4A3(76)W, of which 4,542 were produced at the Detroit Tank Arsenal and the Fisher Tank Arsenal, with production split between the VVSS and HVSS suspension systems.

The M4A3 had a welded hull that was similar to the M4, and almost identical to the M4A2. Like the M4A2 the rear armour extended lower than the side armour, and ended level with the top of the tracks. Also like the M4A2, the M4A3 had a grill type engine door on the engine deck. On the M4A2 this was rectangular, and about the same width as the turret bustle. On the M4A3 the grill was much larger. It was 'T' shaped, with the foot of the 'T' pointing towards the turret and the head running across most of the width of the rear deck.

The M4A3 was the only version of the Sherman to be produced with the 75mm gun and the wet storage system mainly used with the 76mm and 105mm armed versions. One of the biggest problems with the original M4 design was the location of the shell storage racks in the sponsons. This made them very vulnerable to hits on the side of the tank, and caused many of the 'brew ups' often blamed on their petrol engines.

During 1943 a new 'ultimate' version of the M4 was designed, with a much safer 'wet' storage system. The shell racks were moved from the sponsons into the hull floor. One hundred shells could be stored in ten boxes, each contained ten shells protected by 3.81 gallons of water. Another five rounds were stored in a ready rack in the turret floor, protected by another gallon of water.

The new system was mainly used on the various 76mm and 105mm armed versions of the M4. The only version to use the wet storage with the 75mm gun was the M4A3(75)W, which was the most numerous version of the M4A3. 

The M4A3 was the main US service version of the M4, and in its later M4A3(76)W HVSS form was the version chosen for post-war service. Of the 1,690 with dry storage and 3,071 with wet storage, the vast majority were used by the US, and only seven went to the UK, where they were given the designation Sherman IV.

Many of the M4A3(75)W tanks were used against the Japanese, where the 75mm gun was perfectly capable of dealing with any Japanese armour, and the more effective HE shell was valued. In Europe the extra firepower of the 76mm gun was more important, and the proportion of 76mm armed tanks in use with the combat units rose throughout the campaign.

Stats (M4A3(75)W)
Hull Length: 247in
Hull Width: 105in
Height: 115.7in
Crew: 5
Weight: 69,600lb
Engine: Ford GAA 8 cylinder liquid cooled v
Max Speed: 26mph 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/ Bottom

Turret

3.0in

2.0in

2.0in

1.0in

Superstructure

 

 

 

 

Hull

2.5in upper

1.5in

1.5in

0.75in

Gun shield

3.5in

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 October 2016), Medium Tank M4A3/ Sherman IV , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_medium_tank_M4A3_sherman_IV.html

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