M4 Sherman – World War 2’s Low-Cost Tank Full Of War
The M4 Sherman medium tank is one of the most iconic combat vehicles of World War II, and marks the legacy of the US military on the battlefields of Europe. It is not only the tank that excels on the battlefield, but also the financial, production and logistics supply chain.
Entering the Second World War with the posture of a new player, the United States quickly joined in the creation of Sherman tanks and aid it throughout its Allied forces, including Soviet Union. With an American design mindset, the M4 Sherman tank has furniture with leather upholstery, a good damping system, a spacious cockpit, etc., providing the most comfort for all crews inside. The Soviet tank driver also claimed, driving an M4 Sherman was like riding on a luxury car, instead of feeling like sitting on a tractor when they were driving a T-34.
Historians argue that the power of the Sherman tank lies in quantity. Although not the best tank, but thanks to the efficient production method, the Sherman became the second most produced tank after the Soviet legend T-34. Despite many weaknesses, Sherman tanks were still a major American tank for a long time. In battles over empty terrain, Sherman tanks often play a vanguard for American soldiers to hide behind them, shielding them before the MG-42 machine gun fire from German soldiers. The 75mm cannon fired continuously, aiming at the fortifications, the hidden position of the German infantry.
The Sherman was renown for its mechanical reliability, owing to its standardized parts and quality construction on the assembly line. It was roomy, easily repaired, easy to drive. It should have been the ideal tank. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.
The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank, debuted in 1941 and was accepted for production that October. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design, but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticle on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction.
Its designers consciously emphasized speed and mobility, limiting the thickness of the armour and the size of the main gun, thereby compromising on firepower and survivability. Just like the M3 Lee, the Sherman’s suspension was of the VVSS type. The running gear comprised three sets of bogies, each with two paired large rubber-covered roadwheels, a rear adjustable track idler wheel and front drive sprocket connected to the gearbox, and three return rollers.
The Continental R975 engine was an air-cooled, gasoline radial engine delivering 400 horsepower. The tank had a maximum speed of 38 to 46 km per hour and a range of 160 to 240 km, depending on the series. The vehicle weighed about 33 tons, depending on the series. The M4 carried a crew of five including commander, gunner, loader, driver, and co-driver. The driver sat on the left of the front of the hull, while the driver assistant sat on the right, firing a ball mounted 7.62 mm machine-gun.
The M4’s main armament was a short-barreled, low-velocity 75mm gun, and its armour thickness was a maximum of 75mm and a minimum of 12mm. Additional weapons included two M1919 Browning 7.62mm machine guns and a Browning 12.7mm M2 on a coaxial turret mount. Both guns could mow down German infantry or destroy machine gun nests.
The relative ease of production allowed large numbers of the M4 to be manufactured, being the most produced tank in American history. Total of some 49,234 produced examples. After World War II, the Sherman, particularly the many improved and upgraded versions, continued to see combat service in many conflicts around the world, including the UN forces in the Korean War, with Israel in the Arab–Israeli wars, briefly with South Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and on both sides of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.