family of tanks is the most recognizable of U.S. battle wagons during WWII. Over
36,000 were built -- more than all German tanks combined -- and Shermans served
in all theaters of the war. While they were praised for their reliability, mobility
and speed, these medium tanks did not offer the armor protection to hold up against
the more powerful German tank guns. The tendency for the tank's ammunition to
explode when hit gave rise to the Sherman's nickname, the "Ronson."
That the Shermans were able to ultimately prevail on the battlefield is due more
to their courageous crews, the tireless workers on American assembly lines, and
destruction of German tank manufacturing capabilities.
Sherman (Mid-production, Dry Storage)
M4A3 tank appeared at an expo at Fort Snelling. It resembles the M4 with the driver
and co-driver vision slots protruded from the sloping 56° glacis plate on
the front of the tank. As this was a vulnerable spot against enemy armor, steel
plates were welded in front of the hatch areas. The main difference between this
tank and the M4 are the engines, engine deck, and rear end of the hull.
Also evident on the sides of the hull below the turret are the additional "appliqué"
armor plates welded to the side to protect the internal ammunition storage.
Sherman (Mid-Production, Dry Storage)
Sherman was photographed by Derek Brown in 2006 at the Denver National Guard Armory.
It too is a mid-production tank with the applique armor on the sides of the hull.
There is no applique on the low bustle turret. It also has the E9 modification
to the suspension to allow for extended end connectors. Derek has more than 500
photos of this tank and will burn a CD for a modest price; contact him at email@example.com.
can model this tank and the one above with the out-of-production MP "Authen-I-kit"
mid-production M4A3 using the Tamiya M4A3 as the donor kit, or the DML Sherman
III with an M4A3 engine deck and low bustle turret.
Laughlin provides the following commentary on this vehicle:
tank is S/N 12306. It was built by Ford Motor Company (as were all small hatch
M4A3s) and was likely completed in June 1943. At the time it was constructed it
did not have the appliqué armor on the hull sides or in front of the driver's
hatches. The turret (with an altered contour on the right front to increase protection
and no pistol port) is the type that would have been fitted, as is the differential
housing. It is unlikely that this is the actual turret or differential housing
that were mounted when the tank left Ford. Overhaul programs starting in 1944
stripped the tank down to varying degrees and put them back together without any
regard to keeping one tank's parts together.
tank is fitted with the "E9" suspension modification that spaced the
bogies, sprockets, and idlers out from the hull so that extended end connectors
could be fitted to both sides of the track for reduced ground pressure. The hull
side fenders with rectangular bar braces are key indicators of this modification,
as is the gap between the track and differential housing (normally the bolts on
the final drive housing can barely be seen). This modification was first applied
inside views of the bogie wheels show the openings in the wheels that were plated
over starting in 1944.
return roller brackets have spacers mounted under the roller axle to raise the
track so that all-steel tracks did not drag on the skid above the bogie and damage
it. About the time this tank was being built a new bracket with an upwardly angled
shape that did not need a spacer was being incorporated into production.
disk idler was relatively new in production at the time 12306 was built. Note
the idler bracket to the right. The part with three ribs closest to the wheel
is the actual idler bracket. The portion with two ribs is the spacer added as
part of the E9 suspension modification. It is bolted in the original bracket location
and welded to the hull around the edges. In the view of the idler bracket at the
hull rear, the large ribbed piece to the right of the bolt flange is the spacer
as well. (The seam between the idler bracket and the spacer is visible on the
bottom.) Note the round joint casting that joins the hull rear and bottom plates.
This differs from the flat plate set at an angle used on the large hatch M4A3s
and will need to be changed if using a later M4A3 hull in a conversion.
towing pintle and bracket were not added until late in 1943, after 12603 was built.
The armored exhaust deflectors were added in 1945 and were certainly not on the
tank as built. Looking upward and behind them you can see the line of bolts that
held the radiators, and the turnbuckles that held the deflectors in the lowered
position. When folded up for access to the engine door the turnbuckles attached
to the lugs visible on the rear upper hull to either side of the star. If you
are modeling the earlier sheet metal exhaust deflector these lugs would not be
engine deck area is notable in that it is essentially in the as-built condition.
Most surviving M4A3 have modifications and additions in this area, like the three
hinges at the rear edge for a folding blanket roll rack (applied starting in 1944).
There should also be a bolt at the four inside corners or the engine grills. The
single piece plate behind the grills was a feature of small hatch M4A3s. Later
tanks used a two-piece plate with a splash strip over the joint.
the left side of the tank there were three gasoline filler caps, as seen here.
The two rear fillers (mirrored by two others on the right side) empty into the
main engine tanks while the one inside the turret splash ring is for the auxiliary
engine. (There is no corresponding filler on the other side, rather a ventilator
for the fighting compartment.) The rectangular block on the hull in the lower
right of the photo is actually sheet metal and is open at the rear; it is one
of the brackets that holds handle end of the pry bar. The point is held in a triangular
bracket by the hull lift lug while a leather strap through the loop by the middle
filler cap held the pry bar in place. The fitting to the left of it holds the
overhead shot of the driver's hatch shows the final configuration of the small
hatch. The counterbalance spring, hold-open latch, and periscope guard were all
introduced after production started. The two double hooks are for the driver's
foul weather hood and are not present on the co-driver's side.
at the appliqué armor on the co-driver's side you can see how the ring
for the MG dust cover was bent to run onto the appliqué. The appliqué
was notched to clear the MG socket at the time of installation so it may not look
exactly the same from tank to tank. The series of parallel weld beads seen on
the appliqué and glacis joints is typical for large welds. As a rule of
thumb for modeling, the weld joint width at the surface is about the same as the
plate thickness down to about 3/8 the plate thickness, depending on the type of
weld joint. Weld beads are between ¼ and ½ inch wide so it is much
more common to see this sort of arrangement rather than the "one big weld"
commonly seen on models.
headlights were removable from their sockets and the hole can be seen in the base
casting. A plug (missing) was to be used when the light was removed or stored
in the small tube on the headlight brush guard otherwise. On the earliest Shermans
this tube was attached lower on the brush guard and aligned parallel to the glacis.
differential housing attachment bolts protrude above the housing, which was ballistically
undesirable. A cast in splash guard was fitted introduced on three-piece housings
and standard on the E4186 single anchor brake housings shown here. Later E8543
double anchor brake housings left this part of the casting thick and machined
recesses for the bolt heads so they were fully protected from bullet splash. Small
hatch M4A3s were made with the E8543 housings starting in August, 1943.
Sherman (Wet Storage)
1944, the M4A3 glacis was changed to 47° and the driver and co-driver vision
slots were changed to periscopes housed in the top of the hatches. There is no
appliqué armor on the hull of this tank; modifications had been made to
protect ammunition with "wet" stowage.
This tank, a "gatekeeper"
at Fort Snelling, is a rarely seen combination of the older "low bustle"
turret that was standard with the M4 Sherman, and the later hull of the M4A3,
which typically had a "high bustle" turret as seen in Tamiya's kits
#35139 and #35250. So if you wish to build this particular hybrid, you'll need
to swap out the turret from the M4A3 kit.
from the Patton Museum, features the Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS),
which gave better mobility through the use of a wider track over the previous
Vertical Volute Spring Suspension (VVSS). The turret was also enlarged to accommodate
the more powerful 76mm gun. This tank is available as a Korean War model from
DML (#9009) and Shanghai Dragon (#6811). There is an old version from Tamiya (#3018)
which was motorized, thus the hull measurements are not accurate -- but it's a
fun kit for a 10 year old to build!