Thursday, February 2, 2012

M4 Sherman

M4 Sherman Medium Tank
Various Manufacturers
C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

The U.S. was not prepared for war and its M4 Medium Tank was a rushed design based upon ease of production and already available components from the M3 Grant, itself an unsatisfactory interim solution.  Despite its drawbacks it proved the equal of the German Panzer IV but clearly inferior to the heavy Panther and Tiger tanks.  It was given the role of heavy tank because the U.S. never made a heavy tank.
Picture:  1024 x 768 at 96 dpi - Scenic Reflections

M4A4 Sherman
Entered Service:                    1942

Crew:                                       5

Armament:                              1 x 75 mm / 2.95 in M3 L/40 
                                                 2 x 7.62 mm / 0.3 in Browning machine-gun
                                                 1 x 12.7 mm / 0.5 in machine-gun in AA mount

Armor -
Armor Type:                            Homogeneous rolled/welded; cast hull, cast turret
Front:                                       50 mm / 2 in
Sides:                                      38 mm / 1.5 in
Rear:                                       38 mm / 1.5 in
Top:                                          9 mm / 0.75 in
Bottom:                                    12.5 - 25 mm / 0.5 - 1 in
Turret Front:                             50 - 85 mm / 2 - 3.3 in
Turret Sides:                            50 mm / 2 in
Turret Rear:                             50 mm / 2 in
Turret Top:                               25 mm / 1 in

Dimensions -
Length:                                   6.06 m / 19.8 ft gun forward
Height:                                   2.84 m / 9.33 ft
Width:                                     2.9 m / 9.5 ft

Weight:                                  31,636 kg / 69,600 lb

Engine -
Powerplant:                          Chrysler A57 30 Cylinder multibank petrol engine    
                                               317 kW / 425 hp @ 2850 rpm
Power / Weight ratio:           12.2 bhp / tonne
Displacement:                      20.5 L / 4.5 gallons
Fuel Capacity:                      605 L / 133.3 gallons

Performance -
Max. Speed:                        47 km/h / 29 mph
Range, Road:                      160 km / 100 miles
Range, Cross-country:       100 km / 60 miles
Ground Pressure:                0.92 kg / sq cm
Fording Capacity:               1.1 m / 3.5 ft
Gradient:                               30 degrees
Trench:                                  2.44 m / 8 ft
Vertical Obstacle:                0.6 m / 2 ft
Suspension Type:               Vertical volute sprung two-wheel bogies

For a crew member survivability is a more important asset than strength of numbers.  Fifty thousand tanks just like you means you're expendable.  The tanks are cheap and easy to make with relatively thin armor, a reputation for going up in flames and difficult to escape from quickly.  Your best bet is seeing the other guy first.
Picture:  372 x 356 - La Bataille de Normandie 

The Sherman was easy to drive, maneuverable and had speed.  Unlike the heavier German tanks it was also reliable, more easily maintained and had great endurance.  Every design decision involves a trade-off with something else.  Armor adds protection but also weight which slows the vehicle and adds stress to mechanical components.   Precision engineering adds complexity that hinders both production and maintenance.  The question is what characteristics best contribute to success on the battlefield?
Picture:  710 x 418 at 96 dpi - Nomenclature 

It was surprisingly roomy inside for a tank.  Efforts were made to make the tank less flammable by moving ammunition to less vulnerable locations and surrounding them with water jackets - 'wet' storage.  Some tanks were powered by diesel but there were about five different powerplants commonly used and it had more to do with availability than attributes.  There were more M4s produced than the combined total of British and German tanks during World War II.  Putting over forty tanks out the factory doors each day is clearly faster than the rate they can be destroyed.
Picture:  1024 x 768 - Wikipedia

There's no time to quibble over perfection with war rushing your way.  It's time to get product out the door.  You've got problems with the suspension.  Does it work?  Fine, use it.  Cobble something together, tool up the factory line and get it in the field sooner than later.  The same goes for troops.  Get them out of their civvies, some basic training then hand them a rifle and ship them overseas.  The lucky ones will learn on the job.  
Picture:  1024 x 766 - Moore Wallpaper

People complained North Africa was a diversion, a side show.  The American Army was barely trained, untested and green.  Better to have the disaster at Kasserine than the shores of Normandy.  By 1944 the Sherman had been improved, but more important, U.S. Army tank tactics were much better.  The leadership was now experienced and the Army was more professional.  German armored units suffered a significant deterioration in performance in 1945 and it had to do with the caliber of their crews.  Experienced tankers were gone.  Superior equipment is wasted on barely capable men.  
Picture:  2775 x 2235 at 96 dpi - Bernard Zee

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