Sherman a tank or a tin?

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Caldric
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Post by Caldric » 29 May 2003 17:10

Thank you for information!

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Post by Second try » 29 May 2003 18:29

Combat scores of the 628th TD battalion (M10 and later M36)

TANKS:

Number Total Number Total
Tiger Royals 2 MACHINE GUNS: 24 24
Mark VI 14 PILL BOXES: 58 58
Mark V 14 OP'S: 16 16
Mark IV 13
Unidentified 13 MISCELLANEOUS
56 56 Buildings 52
Bazooka Nests 2
54 54
S.P GUNS: 4 4
TOWED GUNS:
88MM 8 AIRPLANES: 4 4
75 MM OR 76 MM 10 TRAINS:
47 MM 1 Locomotives 1 1
40 MM 2 Freight Cars 8 8
75 MM Howitzer 1
Others 2 PW'S CAPTURED
24 24 EM 1487
MORTARS: 7 7 Officers 29
HALF-TRACKS: 22 22 1516 1516
GENERAL PURPOSE ESTIMATED ENEMY
VEHICLES 68 68 CASUALTIES 1231 1231

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 30 May 2003 04:58

Someone said something about the Sherman having a low loss rate.
I beg to differ. for example-
The 3rd Armoured division lost 1348 sherman tanks between Normandy and the end of the war. They started wtih 232!!!! In other words the entire tank force of the 3rd Ar Div was destroyed six times! in less than one year.

The Sherman was a coffin pure and simple. Now I know why over many years, I have met very few American tankers(3) from WWII because close to all died in the war.

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Post by Caldric » 30 May 2003 07:40

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Someone said something about the Sherman having a low loss rate.
I beg to differ. for example-
The 3rd Armoured division lost 1348 sherman tanks between Normandy and the end of the war. They started wtih 232!!!! In other words the entire tank force of the 3rd Ar Div was destroyed six times! in less than one year.

The Sherman was a coffin pure and simple. Now I know why over many years, I have met very few American tankers(3) from WWII because close to all died in the war.
What?? Sure we lost a good number of tanks but this is crazy.

But please give sources for such wild accusations.

According to official 3rd Armored history they only lost 633 Med. Tanks. Most the crews survived however because the Sherman was no different then any other tank in the allied inventory (please see second link).They also inflicted a great deal of damage on the Germans. If the estimate given by the division is accurate then the Germans lost many more to the 3rd Armored then US tankers lost to the Germans.

http://www.3ad.net/wwii/wwii_3ad_stats.htm

Look at these numbers.
http://rhino.shef.ac.uk:3001/mr-home/hobbies/loss.txt

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 30 May 2003 16:17

Belton Cooper Ordinance Officer 3rd Ar (42-45) "Death Traps".
648 Shermans totally destoyed, 700 more Shermans knocked out
but repaired. Cooper was the officer who determined if a tank was destroyed or recoverable. And composed reports to this affect for the division's third echelon maintence, He was assigned to one of the CC's can't remember which. Fairly good 1st person account not a very "exciting" book.

I gather there were casaulties most of the time when a tank was knocked out even if it did not burn (the totally destroyed). These two figures also show the propensityfor the Sherman to catch fire from a good hit, about 40%-50%. Turret ring critcal hits would also make a tank totally unusable.

You are correct in one respect, the third armor also destroyed more enemy tanks than any other division. So there is something to be said for this unit seeing the most serious combat. Also the 3rd was the "heavy"
Armor division so it had more tanks to lose than other Div's.
Still......

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Post by Darrin » 30 May 2003 18:12

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Belton Cooper Ordinance Officer 3rd Ar (42-45) "Death Traps".
648 Shermans totally destoyed, 700 more Shermans knocked out
but repaired. Cooper was the officer who determined if a tank was destroyed or recoverable. And composed reports to this affect for the division's third echelon maintence, He was assigned to one of the CC's can't remember which. Fairly good 1st person account not a very "exciting" book.

I gather there were casaulties most of the time when a tank was knocked out even if it did not burn (the totally destroyed). These two figures also show the propensityfor the Sherman to catch fire from a good hit, about 40%-50%. Turret ring critcal hits would also make a tank totally unusable.

You are correct in one respect, the third armor also destroyed more enemy tanks than any other division. So there is something to be said for this unit seeing the most serious combat. Also the 3rd was the "heavy"
Armor division so it had more tanks to lose than other Div's.
Still......

As you alude to the third was one of two extra lagre us divs so it should expect to have higher losses than others. Also the third was one of the first US arm divs in france so higher than normal losses could also be expecvted from this. But as well many of the intinial divs had some experiance in italy, sicily or north africa meaning some of those losses might of been from befroe normandy.

Even if it was 650 des shermans that is over 11 months or on avg 60 a month out of 232 you said they had. A certain warning has to be given with claims western allied claioms may have been as much as 5 times higher than ger reports. Were as the ger overeporting was proably less than double allied reality.

I´ll give two quick examples first normandy. See zetterlings normandy 44 book the ger lost about 1500 des tanks of all types. The western allies lost about 2500 tanks of all types mainly shermans but also the lighter stuarts and TDs. That is a ratio of less than 2:1. Notice that if you want to talk about total lost ie dam and rep the ger usually lost about 3 times more dam then des. The alllied dam number were equal to the des numbers. So total losses suffered by the ger would actual be bigger than the allies.

According to certain us army records they lost about 4500 shermans des from Dday on in europe and about 7000 tanks in total. Add in about 4000 tanks in total for the CW and you come up with about 11,000 tanks des over 11 months or about 1000 tanks a month. A similar avg can be seen ion the normandy numbers abouve.

When talking about the light losses I meant lighter than most relize there was no 5 times overall avg of loss. They sufered more des than the ger but probably around twce as many at most. But the western armies could handle 1000 losses a month when they have 10,000 tanks in thethers easier then the ger could handle 500 tanks des a month when they had 2000. The % of vehicles lost was lower for the allies and they had a larger source of tanks to replace their losses from then the gers. The US could have deployed better vehicles which might have lowere the ratio to 1:1 levels but they couldn´t have done this in large numbers even by 44. So the sherman may have been mismatched a bit but but still were not death traps overall.

What the US could have done faster was to get the 76mm sherman, 17lb firefly sherman and 90mm TD into thier line up as early as possible. But the chance of getting even a M26 pershing earlier was lost. They could also have made 75mm APCR as well as larger number of 76mm APCR. Even the pershing they only dployed 20 tanks by the end of the war as a trial test. It certainly wasn´t the answer to replacing the sherman in numbers early enough.

The sherman certinly was not as good as a panther or tiger 1 on 1. And only the firefly was superiour to the panzer IV the 76 mm sherman equal and the 75 mm shermans less in a 1 on 1 comparison. But the sherman and its lighter cousins were good enough to get the job done without suffering huge cas post Dday. And it certainly wasn´t a death trap whatever cooper says.

If the sherman was a death trap and steel coffin then why did the US armyy keep using them. During the three years of war in korea at least half of the tanks deployed were shermans. And it wasn´t a shortage of larger tanks either as the total number of shermans deployed max was only around 500.

Ps note the late war panzer IV was closer to 25 tons and the sherman 30 tons. Not as big a difference as note earlier.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 30 May 2003 18:33

If the sherman was a death trap and steel coffin then why did the US armyy keep using them
Tactical doctrine developed for this US Army by Patton in the 1920's required a tank like the Sherman. US doctrine said simply that tanks were not suppose to fight tanks, that is why we had a Under-gunned and Under-armoured tank like the Sherman. It was designed as a fast exploitation tank with mainly anti-infantry capability. Enemy tanks were suppposed to be handled by tank destroyers and anti-tank guns.

This was standard doctrine of many armies in the 20's and 30's even the German's used it early in the war but they figured out it did not work.
The US army never noticed how bad a doctrine it was because we had so many tanks to lose and the High Command like Patton could not see or would not admit that their doctrine was mistaken because that would show that they contributed to the disasterous losses of US tank crews.

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Post by Second try » 31 May 2003 00:49

The M4 Sherman was not an undergunned and underarmored tank in its own arrival at 1942 though it had serious flaws,it had a 75mm gun matched the armor of german medium tank types and sufficient armor versus german 37 and 50mm short 75mm guns.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 31 May 2003 01:03

42
? Although it was used some in North Africa they had 2 1/2 years before Normandy to realize the thing just broke even against the first German MkIV! They did not do a damn thing and I hope every one realizes how fast technology moves in 2 1/2 years of war.
Did the germans have 37mm and 50mm guns in their tanks in 44?
No, sherman still had the same armor- underarmored

The short barrel low velocity 75 was a bad idea by 44. - undergunned

Only the near mutinous talk by field grade and one and two star generals
like Maurice Rose (people who saw the carnage on the battlefield)finally got the M26 Pershing in production, if not for them we would have lost even more tanks and tankers than we did in 1945!

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Post by Second try » 31 May 2003 18:40

ChristopherPerrien wrote:42
? Although it was used some in North Africa they had 2 1/2 years before Normandy to realize the thing just broke even against the first German MkIV! They did not do a damn thing and I hope every one realizes how fast technology moves in 2 1/2 years of war.

No, sherman still had the same armor- underarmored

The short barrel low velocity 75 was a bad idea by 44. - undergunned

Only the near mutinous talk by field grade and one and two star generals
like Maurice Rose (people who saw the carnage on the battlefield)finally got the M26 Pershing in production, if not for them we would have lost even more tanks and tankers than we did in 1945!
The M4 was in some aspect an enlargened M3 Stuart and was rushed into mass production-originally 60 armored divisions were planned-Built from components-gun suspension,hull from M3 Lee/Grant.

And it had better armor than the late war PzIVs and IIIs and the 75mm gun was well suited against them.

Before October,1943 until arrival the Fiber fracture test, the poor frontal armor was much like due to industrial deficienses and unsufficient quality or completely lack of control not designation,even the germans gave 100m sure shot range vs cast hull M4A1 upper glacis in their pak40 field manuals,but Sherman armor was flawed until the end of 1943.

Still,1943 the germans had numerous 50mm field and tank guns.

It was not replaced by another tank at the later stages of the war,rate of the production could had been kept up,the germans didn't do that and however they produced much less numbers of tanks.The T20 series was originally planned as replacments for the Sherman but before D-Day they didn't want to introduce a completely new tank,aan LcT form 1944 could not handle heavier and larger tanks than Sherman.Before Juny,1944 no one supposed that 76mm gun shall not be satisfactory against german heavy armor and didn't met Panthers in larger numbers.

They did many things: improved hull armor,76mm gun in a new turret,wet storage HVSS suspension etc.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 31 May 2003 21:20

Lok the biggest reason the Sherman (which was an improved M2 not an M3) stayed around was tactical doctrine.

This was also a big stumbling block for improvements to the Sherman because certain Generals particularly Patton would not admit that the Tank was inferior. Patton would chew out tankers for putting sandbags and concrete on their tanks for improved protection because it would slow down a Sherman tank, ( I guess German Fire did not do this too !) I can only imagine how he felt about adding extra- armor to one.

Actually I think the British started the whole improvement business , and their 17pr gun was the best improvement of the War.

Although the Sherman got a better suspension. I guess that helped after the tank got stuck because the tank had a worse ground pressure ratio than most tanks because of narrow tracks.

Now I will say this the Sherman tank was lighter than its very needed replacement, so shipping them to the front was easier.

As to the Army not knowing the German's had very good tanks until Jun44 , I don't buy it unless we have no communication with the Russians , which ain't true, no captured equipped from Germany like the
( Bovington Tiger) and no intelligence service to speak of.

I have never met an old tanker who would want to ever fight the Germans with one.

The Sherman was better than nothing, but winning tank battles by sheer attrition is nothing you can get any non- suicidal tanker to agree with.
Last edited by ChristopherPerrien on 31 May 2003 22:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Caldric » 31 May 2003 22:10

Chris, where do you get your information?

First off, the M4 was based directly on the M3 Med Lee, M2 was a light tank.

The biggest reason the Sherman stayed around because there was nothing better to replace it with, not in the UK or the US. Until the Pershing.

In 1940 the US Army had 400 useless tanks, the Sherman was designed to be built quickly, simple to operate, easy field maintenance, ability to be built on assembly line. The Sherman met and was far better then what was required to get the US Army equipped.

There was nothing except the M3 Lee and it was of very limited ability. The Sherman was much better then the M3.

Where they the best? No. Where they the worse? hell no far from it. Did the perform the main purpose? Exceeded it by far. Was it victorious? Yes on every front including the East.

Give it up, your urban myths and legends do not match factual history.

The M4A2(76)HVSS was fine tank, that was more then a match for its prime adversary the PzIV. Some act like Germans had endless columns of Tiger II’s running around.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 31 May 2003 22:55

Both the M3 and the M4 were improved versions of the M2.

Don't believe me call it an urban myth, research it some more.

I will admit that the M4(76mm with its numerous add-ons and improvements was the equal of the best MIV. although the long barrell 75mm was still a better gun than the 76mm of these late model Shermans. In fact I would give an edge to the Sherman because it had a gyrostabilizer, which is a great advantage.

Sad fact is by the time the best Sherman got out to the units there were few actually tankers left due to casualties, many US tank crews were nothing more than converted new infantry men with a few hours training, perhaps you did hear that the US army just about shutdown its tank school at fort knox sshortly after the invasion because High command figured they had plenty of tankers in "good?" tanks.

Maybe I am being too hard on the Sherman because perhaps it was just bad crew quality (caused by losses) that caused it to llook so poorly in performance to Germans whatever tank they had.

As to legions of Tiger II's????????????????? The Germans did not need them and did not have gas for them anyway. One panther or Tiger I could fight numerous Shermans and then drive off.

I believe that onlyied Tactical air power and a preponderance of artillery allowed us to win the "tank battle" in the the west.

Read a few more books some hint to the actual conditions faced by tankers. The best Allied tanker's could hope for on the West Front was to "Break-even." I particularly like the accounts about Lt Ray Flieg's tank platoon in the Battle of Hurtgen forrest.

If you ever meet a Sherman tanker from WWII west front (they are hard to find), ask them . I have met two, One had nothing good to say except they ran right and the other, I saw the fear in this guy's eye's 55 years after the fact. Perhaps that is what affects my view, these urban legend's.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 31 May 2003 23:31

One last thing America had the best equipment of anybody in the war in just about every area , planes, ships, except late subs, radios, artillery, except AT guns, trucks, small arms except MGs, hell even chow.

Why did we stay with a tank of "marginal" performance for 5 years 1940-1945 ?

History is written by the victors some of the truth gets "marginalized", buried by feel-good propaganda because it is "icky". Hell we won.
A lot of burned-up tankers made sure we did. RIP fellow tankers

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Post by Darrin » 01 Jun 2003 01:02

ChristopherPerrien wrote:42
? Although it was used some in North Africa they had 2 1/2 years before Normandy to realize the thing just broke even against the first German MkIV! They did not do a damn thing and I hope every one realizes how fast technology moves in 2 1/2 years of war.
Did the germans have 37mm and 50mm guns in their tanks in 44?
No, sherman still had the same armor- underarmored

The short barrel low velocity 75 was a bad idea by 44. - undergunned

Only the near mutinous talk by field grade and one and two star generals
like Maurice Rose (people who saw the carnage on the battlefield)finally got the M26 Pershing in production, if not for them we would have lost even more tanks and tankers than we did in 1945!

The sherman in its worst config had at least as good an arm protection up front as the very best Panzer IV. I mean it was at least 5 tons heavier you would expect the armour to be at least the same. The sherman was not under armoured even by 45 let alone earlier in the war. Also it was first deployed in late 42 leaving less than 2 years before normandy. For recognition of any shortcommings which there were none at first. To recog a need for dev, trials and finally prodution not forgeting it takes almost 3 months for a tank to get from us fac to army front in europe.

If you are going to go around calling the sherman underarmoured then you have to say that about all ger tanks except the panther and tigers which wieghed 1.5-2 x as much were underarmoured. I think even you can see these tanks were not in the same catagory. The tiger and panther accounted for no more than 40% at the peak of the ger tanks and spGUNs produced. Most tanks were the IV, stug and other even lighter spGUNs.

The 75mm gun while not great was an L40 gun. Far better and different than the ger 75L24 and not much different from the ger own L48 and 46. The diff in pen was partly due to the shorter barrel causing less vel but also due to lower hardness western allied shells compared to the ger.

The US 75 mm gun would pen about 25% less than the 76mm gun. But the 75 mm gun produced 50% more eff HE frag at 50' from blast. You can see why thier was a lot of interia to switching from the 75mm gun to the 76mm gun even when the latter become available. Esp when you consider that tanks are relaitavly rare in any army compared to all those soft targets such as inf, ATGs, trucks etc... Tied this in with the 75 mm rounds being smaller and lighter alowing more storage in the shermans. More 75mm rounds sent in a set and limited ship space than the 76mm rounds. Also the smaller and lighter rounds take less stell and exp to manufacture. The logistics savings is very important.

The 75mm round which was more than enugh in 42 when the sherman was the heaviest production tank after the KV. But by normandy the aperance of first the tiger in small numbers and second the panther in large nubmers really outclassed the shermans protection. Also even more sig was the increase in the hull front arm of the Panzer IV from 50 to 80 mm in the G, H and J. Which really dealt the death blow to the 75mm gun and forced the adoption of other guns. Also as I said before the 75mm gun could kill panthers and panzer IVs at range but the tiger side arm was only vulnerable at point blank range. The 76 mm gun solves these two later problems and makes the front of a tiger I vul at point blank. It also even more importantly makes the front of the tiger I vul with HVAP rounds at safe distance. But no gun can normally take out the panther and tiger from the front not even the 90mm pershing gun with HVAP ammo. Thier really was a need by 44 to upgrade from 75 to 76 but no need to go any further even in 45. While the extra armour of the pershings may of been of use the gun was not big enough to get over the remaing hurdles. The 76 mm gun with limited ammout of HVAP ammo for the rare tiger I fronts was sufficent.

Well since only about 20 pershings actuall got into combat by march of 45 your opion of the nessisity of the pershing is overrated.

The sherman was not well liked by the soilders who tended to compare it to the ger tiger and panther and see a huge difference. The sherman compares very favorly with the panzer IV tank. At the end of the war the american gen almost universily agreed that the sherman tank should be maintained as the bulk of the arm divs.

Although the US had some experince producing 25 ton tanks they had no experiance producing tanks with large enough turrents to accomadte the 75 mm gun let alone the larger and heavier 76mm gun. The largest gun turrent they made before the war was one that could hold a 37mm gun such as the sturat or lee. The british 2 br gun was a 42 mm gun by comparison and it was almost standard at the start of the war. They even upgraded thier guns to the 57mm 6lb guns during the war before switching to 75mm and higher gun.

By comparison the US was jumping from making 37mm turrents to turrents large enough to accomadte 75mm guns. They entered the war in dec 41 and within a year had started construction of shermans. They had produced enough to put into combat in sig numbers by the fall of 42. The americans also had to build new factories before they could even begin large scale production of shermans as well. The US in late 42 even toyed with putting a 76mm gun in the sherman 75mm turrent. But the turrent was found to be too small so a brand new bigger and heavier turrent to carry the bigger and heavier gun had to be desinged. The 76mm sherman only entered mass production in late 43 although some 75 tanks were still built untill the end of the war.

Jumping from producing and operating stuarts and lees to producing and operating shermans was enough of a challege for the US. The idea that they could somehow produce and operate pershings in more than token numbers by 1945 let alone 44 is preposterous. Also bigger tanks are much more of a logistics drain. More steel, men, factroies, etc... to make them. More ships, more fuel, more ammo, larger parts, landing ships, railway cars, hevier bridges etc.... The US and RUS both recogniced that a 30 ton limit was the highest they normally could sustain only ger thought they could do more.

That the western allies could keep thier tank des down to 2:1 levels against the better ger tanks with better trained and exp crew is a tesatment to the sherman not being a death trap or steel coffin. Not to mention that that including all loses ie des and dam the allies inflicted almost as many as they suffered. It seems copper whose job it was to supervise the clean out of damaged tanks, salvage parts from destroyed ones and repair them has a limited and distorted view of what really happened.

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