Medium Tank M4A4/ Sherman V

The Medium Tank M4A4/ Sherman V had a welded hull and used the Chrysler multibank engine. The engine was rejected for use by the US Army, but proved to be very reliable in Britain, where over 7,000 tanks were received.

During 1941 the biggest bottleneck in tank production was a shortage of engines, and in particular the Wright Continental air-cooled radial used in the standard M3, and also in the aircraft industry. A number of manufacturers were asked to produce alternatives, including Chrysler, who were also responsible for building the Detroit Tank Arsenal.

Chrysler's response was the A57 Multibank engine. This was made from five six-cylinder car engines, linked in a star configuration. The engine could produce 425hp at 2,850rpm or 370hp and 2,400rpm. The engine was mounted vertically across the width of the Sherman, so the star pattern faced fore and aft.

Sherman V on River Senio, Italy
Sherman V on
River Senio, Italy

The pilot M3A4, powered by an experimental A57 engine, went to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds for tests in February 1942. A pilot M4A4 followed in May 1942. A great deal of effort went into improving the engine. The original design had five water pumps, one for each of the original engines. This was replaced by a single gear driven pump that fed all five. Other components were simplified or made more reliable, to reduce the amount of maintenance needed. This was the key to the success of the A57 in service, as the vast majority of maintenance required the engine to be removed from the engine compartment.

The A57 was the largest engine to be installed in the M3 or M4 medium tanks, and required some changes to be made to the rear of the tank. The engine compartment had to be expanded by 11in. In order to fit the engine in, a blister had to be installed in the floor of the compartment for the cooling fan, and another rectangular bulge had to be installed across the top of the rear deck, close to the turret.

In order to keep the tank properly balanced, the suspension bogies were moved further apart, and this extra gap is often the easiest way to identify the M4A4 - on other models the gap between the bogies was about a third of the diameter of one of the road wheels, while on the M4A4 it was double that size. The extra length of the tracks meant that although the M4A4 was the heaviest version of the M4, it also had the lowest ground pressure.

The M4A4 entered production at the Detroit Tank Arsenal in August 1942, replacing the M3 and M3A4. Chrysler built a total of 7,499 M4A4s over the next year, before production ended in September 1943.

The M4A4 was used as the basis of the experimental M4E1, which used a Wright D200A engine, and the M4A6, the short-lived production version of the M4E1.

The first M4A4s were built with visions slots for the drivers. These were later replaced with a set of periscopes, to eliminate one source of shell splash. During the production run extra armour was installed alongside the ammo storage. All of the M4A4s used the three piece nose and a welded upper hull.

Of the 7,499 built, 7,167 went to the UK, where they were known as the Sherman V. This included 1,610 tanks that had been used by the US Army for training and then refurbished and modernised at Detroit between December 1943 and October 1944.
 
In British use the Sherman V proved to be a reliable vehicle, and as well as extensive use as a standard 75mm gun tank, it was also used as the basis for many special tanks, including the Sherman Firefly.

Of the remaining tanks, two went to the USSR and 274 to other Lend-Lease partners. The M4A4 wasn't used in combat by US forces, and was classified as Limited Standard in May 1945.

Stats (early production)
Hull Length: 238.5in
Hull Width: 103in
Height: 108in
Crew: 5
Weight: 69,700lb combat loaded
Engine: Chrysler A57 30 cylinder liquid cooled multibanl
Hp: 370hp at 2,400rpm
Max Speed: 20mph sustained, 25mph max
Max Range: 100 miles cruising range, road
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

3.0in

2.0in

2.0in

1.0in

Superstructure

 

 

 

 

Hull

2.0in

1.5in

1.5in

0.75in

Gun shield

3.0in

 

 

 

Rotor shield

2.0in

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 October 2016), Medium Tank M4A4/ Sherman V , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_medium_tank_M4A4_sherman_V.html

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