US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

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Tom from Cornwall
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US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 06 Nov 2019 20:35

I found this in the British OH "North American Supply" and thought it might be of interest to all tank counting discussions!
North American Supply p.416 snip.PNG
I'll see if I can find if any archives have been left in the UK National Archives by the Combined Production and Resources Board for Jan 45.

Regards

Tom
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Richard Anderson
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2019 04:45

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
06 Nov 2019 20:35
I found this in the British OH "North American Supply" and thought it might be of interest to all tank counting discussions!

North American Supply p.416 snip.PNG

I'll see if I can find if any archives have been left in the UK National Archives by the Combined Production and Resources Board for Jan 45.

Regards

Tom
Hi Tom, yes, it simply confirms much of what I have been looking into on my chapter on the "great American tank shortage of 1944-1945". It truly puts a new perspective on the "Arsenal of Democracy" and Anglo-American cooperative planning during the war.

In a nutshell, when it comes to tank production the U.S. screwed the proverbial pooch and big time. Under the assumption that the war would shortly end in American - oh, sorry, Allied - victory - the War Department and OPM essentially made the unilateral decision in 1943 to cut back non-essential programs in 1944. Non-essential, like tank and artillery ammunition production. Unfortunately, no one apparently told the Germans they were supposed to quietly roll over and go away and instead they insisted on poking holes in Allied tanks in Europe in great numbers. On top of that for some reason it was decided by the War Department in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. that once logisticians departed the rarefied air of D.C. they suddenly lost the ability to count or do simple mathematics, so when they said they were losing tanks faster than replacements were arriving it was assumed they had replaced their brains with SOS. So it took six months of wrangling, with Washington insisting that 2+2=4 only in D.C. on alternate Wednesdays and certainly not on the battle front in Europe, before the War Department collectively said "wait a minute! You mean to say you've been losing tanks for six months faster than we have been replacing them? Obviously there is a problem at your end."

The denizens of the Pentagon also happily signed off on the British curtailing their tank production in favor of buying - sorry, borrowing - American, then proceeded to screw the Brits to the wall when they came crying for their promised tanks. Literally. Somervell made a special trip to Europe in January 1945 to ramrod through the new Lend-Lease tank policy, which consisted of "we haven't sent you any tanks in November or December 1944, and are 33% behind on deliveries to you for 1944, but even better, we aren't giving you jack shit in 1945 either...you get to wait until April before we send you any more M4A2 (76mm) (which we know you don't actually want anyway), but in the meantime if we have any refurbished 75mm-armed tanks we'll exchange them 1-on-1 for M4A1 (76mm) that we want".

I'm not making this up you know. And I'm only slightly exaggerating.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2019 12:59

Derail: What do you think of Maury Klein's book "A Call to Arms"?
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2019 17:03

OpanaPointer wrote:
07 Nov 2019 12:59
Derail: What do you think of Maury Klein's book "A Call to Arms"?
Afraid I haven't read it.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2019 17:57

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Nov 2019 17:03
OpanaPointer wrote:
07 Nov 2019 12:59
Derail: What do you think of Maury Klein's book "A Call to Arms"?
Afraid I haven't read it.
Full name is "A Call To Arms: Mobilizing America for WWII". Over two hundred pages in and he has gotten to Pearl Harbor yet. 8O

I'm sorry, I missed the name of your book? :oops:
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2019 18:11

Anyway, the piss-poor planning by the Americans meant that essentially almost all of the 15,253-15,256 (sources) Medium Tanks M4-series (75mm) Dry were delivered to the British by 1 November 1944. From then, until the end of the war, it is possible that only 90 remanufactured Medium Tanks M4 (75mm) were delivered to the British in exchange for an equal number of British-held Medium Tanks M4A1 (76mm) Wet. It appears that deliveries of the M4 (105mm) did continue, with 593 delivered, but only because they were excess to requirements in the ETOUSA and MTOUSA due to over-manufacture based again on piss-poor American planning.

The significance of course for the British was that they were busily attempting to rearm as many M4 (Sherman I) and M4A4 (Sherman V) with the 17-pdr. However, by mid to late 1944 the supply of M4A4 was exhausted, all 1,610 remanufactured were complete by the end of September and on its way to the British, the last apparently arriving by the end of October. The remanufacture of 795 M4 began in August 1944 and continued through April 1945, but it appears that none were shipped to the British after 1 November 1944.

The end result was that the British requested 8,961 medium tanks from the U.S. during 1944 and received 5,492. In 1945 the only tanks apparently received were 90 remanufactured M4 (75mm), the balance of the M4 (105mm), and 12 Heavy Tanks M26, the latter two of which were essentially useless for British purposes (AFAIK the 105mm-armed Shermans only began to appear in tank and armoured regiments in Europe and Italy just before VE Day.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2019 18:26

OpanaPointer wrote:
07 Nov 2019 17:57
Full name is "A Call To Arms: Mobilizing America for WWII". Over two hundred pages in and he has gotten to Pearl Harbor yet. 8O

I'm sorry, I missed the name of your book? :oops:
I've used Herman's Freedom's Forge and Hyde's Arsenal of Democracy extensively. The first is a general history, I suspect similar to Klein's, while the latter focuses on the major contracts with the Detroit auto makers. Thomson and Root, The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitions for War, Thomson and Mayo, The Ordnance Department: Procurement and Supply, Smith, The Army and Economic Mobilization, and Ruppenthal's two volumes on Logistical Support of the Armies have also proven valuable, but the core of my book are original War Department, Army Ground Forces, Ordnance Department, Armored Force/Command/Center, and theater and unit documents.

The book is in manuscript, titled For Purpose of Service Test and is a wide-ranging history of the growth of the Armored Force, the technical development and production of American tanks during the war, and its impact on the war. What sparked this thread was a query I made to Tom regarding the British reaction to the American's essentially cutting off supply of medium tanks in late October 1944. It is part of my chapter on the allocation of tanks and the real tank scandal of 1944-1945, which I title "Where are the Tanks?" It is now 691 pages in draft, without insertion of the so far 2018 photographs or update of the 21 page bibliography.

Its a bear that is turning out to be almost as long in gestation as Chris Lawrence's Kursk book...if not quite as big. :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2019 19:22

Have you looked at Hyperwar for material?
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2019 19:24

OpanaPointer wrote:
07 Nov 2019 19:22
Have you looked at Hyperwar for material?
Uh-huh. :lol:
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2019 19:53

Patrick and I spent 20+ years working on that site. I tend to mention it once in a while.
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Nov 2019 22:07

OpanaPointer wrote:
07 Nov 2019 19:53
Patrick and I spent 20+ years working on that site. I tend to mention it once in a while.
I know. It is probably the best single-source for original books and documents I know of, aside from a few digital repositories like CARL, the Donovan Library, and USAMHI, but those are very specialized. You still have a ways to go though to catch up to NARA, TNA, and the other paper repositories. :D
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by OpanaPointer » 07 Nov 2019 22:47

The new director will have to have a go at that.
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Don Juan
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Don Juan » 15 Nov 2019 18:59

One of the reasons why the US found they had a shortage of Shermans in 1944 was that they thought they had a larger pool of M4's available than they actually had. The reason for this was that they were not writing off their mileage expended training tanks. Sometime in late 1943 Hugh Weeks at the British Ministry of Production asked the Americans how many of their own tanks were still in service, and he was given figures that something like 95% of all the tanks they had ever issued to their own army were still operational. So there were people in the Ministry of Supply and Ministry of Production who were fully expecting the Americans to be short of tanks in 1944, although for some reason this was not fully communicated to the War Office. There was also an issue with reserves - the British had a reserve requirement for tanks in NWE which was somewhere around 166%, whereas the US Army had set their reserve requirement at (IIRC) 67%. There is more detail on this whole debacle here.

One upshot of this was that whereas the 7th Armoured Division were supposed to replace their Cromwells with Comets, the Comets were instead given to the 11th Armoured Division in place of new Shermans.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
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Re: US Supply of Shermans to UK in 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 17 Nov 2019 05:53

Don Juan wrote:
15 Nov 2019 18:59
One of the reasons why the US found they had a shortage of Shermans in 1944 was that they thought they had a larger pool of M4's available than they actually had.
Not exactly. The proximate cause was the decision by the War Department in mid-1943 to terminate contracts with all the "heavy industry" medium tank manufacturers. Only Pressed Steel was to be retained along with Grand Blanc Tank Arsenal and Detroit Tank Arsenal. Baldwin Locomotive ended production in January 1944, ALCO and Federal Machine in December 1943, Pacific Car in November 1943, Lima Loco and Pullman Car in September 1943. In September, the produced 782 Medium Tanks M4-series
The reason for this was that they were not writing off their mileage expended training tanks. Sometime in late 1943 Hugh Weeks at the British Ministry of Production asked the Americans how many of their own tanks were still in service, and he was given figures that something like 95% of all the tanks they had ever issued to their own army were still operational.
That may have been the way it looked, but the Americans were not quite that dumb. Training tanks in the Z/I were typically early production Ford-built M4A3, about 681 of them, along with some 1,610 M4A4, 535 M4A2, 2,259 M4A1, and 795 M4. They were the basis of the remanufacturing program begun in December 1943.
So there were people in the Ministry of Supply and Ministry of Production who were fully expecting the Americans to be short of tanks in 1944, although for some reason this was not fully communicated to the War Office. There was also an issue with reserves - the British had a reserve requirement for tanks in NWE which was somewhere around 166%, whereas the US Army had set their reserve requirement at (IIRC) 67%. There is more detail on this whole debacle here.
The "issue with reserves" to put it bluntly, was that the British War Office was more conservative and focused on ensuring that units would be kept up to full U/E even if catastrophic equipment losses - like in GOODWOOD - were incurred, while the American War Department more interested in ensuring that regulations formulated in Washington were followed in the theaters of war.
One upshot of this was that whereas the 7th Armoured Division were supposed to replace their Cromwells with Comets, the Comets were instead given to the 11th Armoured Division in place of new Shermans.
Yep, not getting any new Sherman tanks in November and December was a factor too. And after the last five remanufactured M4A4 were completed in
October 1944 they were no longer available either, especially since American forces suddenly realized they wanted the remanufactured M4, M4A1 and M4A3. So January-April 1945 became sort of thin too.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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