Medium Tank M4/ Sherman I

The Medium Tank M4 was the first version of the M4 Sherman to be standardized, but only the third to enter production. It used a welded hull and Wright R-975 air cooled radial engine, and was used by the United States and Britain.

In 1940 the most modern medium tank in US service was the Medium Tank M2, which was armed with a 37mm gun in its turret and had four machine gun turrets at the corners of the superstructure. The events of May-June 1940 made it clear that the M2 was already obsolete, and work began on providing a replacement. The Medium Tank M3 was the first to be completed. This carried a 75mm gun in the right of the superstructure and a 37mm gun in the turret, and was based on an earlier experimental tank, the Medium Tank T5E2.

Mid-production M4 Sherman of US 7th Army
M4 Sherman of
US 7th Army

M4 Sherman near Palenberg, Germany
M4 Sherman
Palenberg, Germany

Sherman I or III near 's-Hertogenbosch
Sherman I or III
near 's-Hertogenbosch

The M3 was always seen as an interim design. As soon as the design team had finished the detailed design of the M3, work moved onto the Medium Tank T6, which used the same power train, suspension and lower hull as the M2 and M3, but with a new superstructure and a 75mm gun carried in a fully traversing turret. A pilot of the T6 was ready by 2 September 1941, and three days later the design was standardized as the Medium Tank M4. Two versions were approved on 11 December 1941, the M4 with a welded hull and the M4A1 with a cast hull. Although the welded hull version was given the lower designation, the T6 had used a cast hull, and the M4A1 thus entered production first.

The M4 finally entered production in July 1942 at the Pressed Steel Car Company. Production of the basic M4 with 75mm gun ended here in August 1943.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works began production in January 1943 and ended in January 1944.

The American Locomotive Company began production in February 1943 and ended in December 1943

The Pullman Standard Car Company began production in May 1943 and ended in September 1943.

M4 Sherman on Bougainville
M4 Sherman on Bougainville

Finally in August 1943 the M4 entered production at the Detroit Tank Arsenal, with production ending in January 1944.

A total of 6,748 M4s with the 75mm gun were produced during this period.

Between August 1944 and April 1945 795 early M1s were refurbished after use with training units, bringing them close to the most recent standards. The refurbished tanks were then distributed to the US and lend-lease users.

The M4 had an angular welded upper hull. This had more internal space than the cast hull of the M4A1, allowing for the storage of another seven 75mm shells. Three ventilators were installed to remove dangerous gases from within the hull, with one on the right rear, one on the front right and one on the front left. On the M4A1 one of these ventilators had to be removed if the SCR 506 radio was installed, but on the M4 there was room for both the ventilator and the radio antenna. 

The turret had a powered traverse mechanism. The Oilgear hydraulic system was preferred, but Logansport hydraulic and Westinghouse electric systems were also used in order to speed up production.

In the summer of 1942 the stronger heavy duty suspension first developed for the M3A4 entered production. This had stronger volute springs and the return wheel was moved from the centre of the bogie onto a separate arm. The original periscope type gun sight was replaced with a telescopic sight mounted to the right of the gun. In an attempt to protect the vulnerable ammo storage racks extra armour was welded onto the sides of the hull.

The biggest chance was introduced in late production tanks at Detroit, where the original welded hull was replaced by a composite hull. This had the standard welded rear hull, but a new cast front hull, which reached back behind the driver's doors. This version was designated as the Sherman Hybrid I in British use.

The M4 was used by the US Army and by the British. Of the 6,748 built, 2096 went to the UK, where they were given the designation Sherman I.

Sherman I near Labisey Wood, Caen
Sherman I near Labisey Wood, Caen

Stats (mid-production)
Hull Length: 232in
Hull Width: 103in
Height: 108in
Crew: 5
Weight: 66,900lb combat loaded
Engine: Continental R975 C1 9 cylinder air cooled radial
Max Speed: 21mph sustained, 24mph max
Max Range: 120 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






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 September 2016), Medium Tank M4/ Sherman I ,

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