has provided this nucleous of definitions of significant Sherman
features. Readers are invited to send
in additional definitions to expand the knowledge base for modelersespecially
for those just starting their addictions to modeling the Sherman
The M3 tank gun, 41 calibers in length, ballistically similar to
the old French M1897. Preferred by U.S. planners for its HE capability.
M1 series, longer, better muzzle velocity for AP use, roughly equivalent
to German L48 75mm gun used in some Pz IV. Early version had plain
muzzle, M1A1 was threaded for a muzzle brake but the threads were
covered with a cap. M1A1C and M1A2 guns had a double-baffle muzzle
brake (seen on later M4A1 and M4A3 tanks with 76mm guns and on some
M18 tank destroyers).
Used for HE capability. Intended for close support functions. 105mm
HEAT could penetrate Panther tank at 500 yds. But these tanks were
not often used for anti-armor combat. The M4, 105H and M4A3, 105H
were used as close support vehicles, three issued to each tank battalion
HQs Assault Gun platoon, later additional issue of one per
medium tank company.
The British-designed 17 pounder anti-tank gun was adapted for use
in the 75mm turret of the M4 series tanks. The resultant conversions
were referred to a "Fireflies" and the British designation
had a "C" added, i.e. Sherman VC (read as Sherman Five
Cee). The radio was moved to an armored box on the rear of the turret.
The bow gunner position was used for ammo storage and the machine
gun port plated over.
HE: high explosive
HEAT: High explosive, anti-tank
Radio antennas were made up of sections, each one approximately 3' long with an additional 1" on each end for the threaded connectors. The assembled antennas for command tanks had five of these sections, and regular tanks had three sections. Each section had a numbered designation, and the connections are color coded from base (white) to tip (black), with the connections of the same color being joined together:
WHITE - MS-53 - BLUE
BLUE - MS-52 - RED
RED - MS-51 - YELLOW
MS-50 - GREEN
GREEN - MS-49 - BLACK
These were standardized 1" armor slabs added to later production
"dry" stowage tanks and to remanufactured vehicles. There
were apparently some added at depot level overseas, but this was
not a true "field" modification. In 1945, the experience
with the M4A3E2 showed the desirability of heavier armor and a number
of M4A3 76W and M4A3E8 were modified by depots by adding armor cut
from damaged M4A3s. Referred to in modelers' information as "expedient
Jumbos." Appliqué armor is NOT seen on the M4A1, 76mm
or the M4A3s with "wet stowage" because the ammunition
racks were relocated within the hull.
Changes in the power traverse system in the turret required thinning
the front face of the turret so an external reinforcement was added.
This is a plate that is seen in front of the gunner's station in
the turret and wraps around the right side, tapering down. The turret
protection was fixed by thickening the right "cheek" of
the turret, so the external reinforcement was no longer needed.
Small slots provided in the armor in front of driver and assistant
driver allowing direct vision ahead, could be closed with small
armored flap. This feature came from pre-war designs and was soon
deleted from production.
The 75mm turret rear profile was changed to improve clearance for
the larger drivers' hatches of the later hull designs. This clearance
change resulted in the "high bustle"turret with older
turrets termed as "low bustle." These are modelers' terms
only, the Army would have referred to the turrets by drawing number.
All return rollers for the VVS suspension were steel. Return rollers for HVVS had rubber coverings, as did idlers.
The Sherman used two different types of suspension systems:
Volute Spring Suspension (VVSS)
Standard spring system used on most U.S. tanks of WWII, not only
on the Sherman and its chassis-related vehicles (M7 "Priest"
and M10 and M36 tank destroyers, for example) but in the earlier
M3 medium; a lighter-duty version was used in all the Stuart family
of light tanks. Initial version used on the M3 medium Lee and
Grant tanks and early versions of the M4 and M4A1 Shermans and
M7 HMC Priest had the return roller positioned over the center
of the bogey, which housed the volute springs. The next version
installed a skid over the bogey unit and moved the return roller
to horizontal arm that extended to the rear of the tank. This
arm was later angled upward and is referred to as "raised"
Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS)
A revised suspension that not only provided a better ride, but
used a 23-inch wide track that improved flotation. Test vehicle
was the M4A3E8, so the suspension is often referred to as the
"E8"or "Easy Eight." This nickname sometimes
refers to the M4A3E8 or "Medium Tank M4A3, 76mm, Wet Stowage
The length of the Sherman towing cable was 20', and it was 1 1/8" in diameter.
Due to vulnerability of ammo stowed in the sponsons of original
production M4 versions, the main gun ammunition was redesigned to
be under the turret floor in bins that were surrounded by a water/antifreeze
mixture that was supposed to smother fires before they could become
lethal. This coincided with production changes to the upper hull
assembly on the M4, 105, the M4A1, 76, the M4A2 and all M4A3s. The
drivers' hatches were enlarged; the glacis plate was simplified
and moved to a 47-degree angle, giving the hull a distinct exterior
change. Earlier tanks are unofficially referred to as "dry"
stowage to refer to the earlier pattern hull.