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Was the M4A1 Sherman a bad tank?

Otis Mayfield

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Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II is a 1998 memoir by Belton Y. Cooper. The book relates Cooper's experiences during World War II and puts forth an argument against the US Army's use of the M4 Sherman tank during the war.

Cooper argues that, when compared to the Sherman, the Pershing would have been better armed, better armored, more reliable, and more mobile. He blames the Army's preference for the Sherman, on the notion that building tanks such as the more expensive Pershing was unnecessary, because "tanks were not meant to fight other tanks,"[7] as was dictated by the Armored Force Doctrine of the time, and because Patton believed the lighter and more fuel efficient M4 would be more agile in bypassing enemy lines and attacking in the rear.




A lot of people say the Sherman was a bad tank. Do you agree?
 

Moonglow

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It won the war so it must not have been too bad.
 

White 6

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Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II is a 1998 memoir by Belton Y. Cooper. The book relates Cooper's experiences during World War II and puts forth an argument against the US Army's use of the M4 Sherman tank during the war.

Cooper argues that, when compared to the Sherman, the Pershing would have been better armed, better armored, more reliable, and more mobile. He blames the Army's preference for the Sherman, on the notion that building tanks such as the more expensive Pershing was unnecessary, because "tanks were not meant to fight other tanks,"[7] as was dictated by the Armored Force Doctrine of the time, and because Patton believed the lighter and more fuel efficient M4 would be more agile in bypassing enemy lines and attacking in the rear.




A lot of people say the Sherman was a bad tank. Do you agree?
Yes. Under armored, under gunned and gasoline powered. Not a good combination against tanks. It originally lacked even a telescopic sight.
 

DudleySmith

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It was good enough it's first year in North Africa, then the Germans improved their guns by the next year and one upped them. Snce we were well supplied and had air superiority it wasn't worth redesigning entire production lines, so they thickened the front armor, upgraded the gunnery and made that work. Obviously the Jumbos did an adequate job in taking the towns, and the tactical air support took care of the rest. They did okay against what little armor the Red Chinese could muster in Korea, some T-34's, but a later model did much better. Korea wasn't good armor terrain, so it played a smaller role than in the Soviet Union. They were adequate, not good but not totally awful.
 

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main-qimg-6387c558bf1b97f70c00bc4e2566bc81



Several stats from the Korean War re M-26's, Sherman's, etc. Shermans had a lot of casualties, but then they were the most numerous. At first only the Marines had the new M-26's.

It's interesting to note that of the 300+ Chinese armor units destroyed, only 39 were from U.S. tank kills. So, maybe that belief that armored units aren't for killing other armor units isn't so far fetched. The most prolific tank killers in the eastern front were some Luftwaffe pilots. Don't know about the western front, didn't have time to look for stats there yet.


How-many-tanks-were-destroyed-or-taken-out-of-action-by-communist-forces-in-the-Korean-war
 
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Otis Mayfield

Otis Mayfield

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main-qimg-6387c558bf1b97f70c00bc4e2566bc81



Several stats from the Korean War re M-26's, Sherman's, etc. Shermans had a lot of casualties, but then they were the most numerous. At first only the Marines had the new M-26's.

It's interesting to note that of the 300+ Chinese armor units destroyed, only 39 were from U.S. tank kills. So, maybe that belief that armored units aren't for killing other armor units isn't so far fetched. The most prolific tank killers in the eastern front were some Luftwaffe pilots. Don't know about the western front, didn't have time to look for stats there yet.


How-many-tanks-were-destroyed-or-taken-out-of-action-by-communist-forces-in-the-Korean-war

M4A1 would've been Normandy and North Africa.

M4A3 would've been Korea. Not really the same tank. Everything was upgraded on the M4A3.
 

DudleySmith

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M4A1 would've been Normandy and North Africa.

M4A3 would've been Korea. Not really the same tank. Everything was upgraded on the M4A3.

Yes. They upgraded during WW II as well, just not radically.


The E8 used in Korea was the same E8 from WW II.


The 4th Armored Division received new M4A3E8s to replace the tanks lost during the drive to relieve Bastogne.

...

Besides the panzers, during the last months of the war about 70% of Allied tanks knocked out were hit by Panzerfausts, Panzerschrecks or other infantry AT weapons at close ranges during urban fighting. Due to dissatisfaction over the poor armor protection of the M4 series tanks, many US units added improvised armor to their tanks and the most common method was the use of sandbags.

....

General George S. Patton disapproved of the use of sandbag armor believing it was not effective and that the extra weight affected the tank’s automotive performance which led to premature breakdowns. An angry looking Patton just reprimanded the crew of this sandbag covered 14th Armored Division M4A3E8.

m4a3e8-8.jpg
 
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Otis Mayfield

Otis Mayfield

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Yes. They upgraded during WW II as well, just not radically.


The E8 used in Korea was the same E8 from WW II.


The 4th Armored Division received new M4A3E8s to replace the tanks lost during the drive to relieve Bastogne.

...

Besides the panzers, during the last months of the war about 70% of Allied tanks knocked out were hit by Panzerfausts, Panzerschrecks or other infantry AT weapons at close ranges during urban fighting. Due to dissatisfaction over the poor armor protection of the M4 series tanks, many US units added improvised armor to their tanks and the most common method was the use of sandbags.

....

General George S. Patton disapproved of the use of sandbag armor believing it was not effective and that the extra weight affected the tank’s automotive performance which led to premature breakdowns. An angry looking Patton just reprimanded the crew of this sandbag covered 14th Armored Division M4A3E8.

m4a3e8-8.jpg



Yeah, but I put M4A1 in the title.

The upgraded Shermans were way better.
 

DudleySmith

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Yeah, but I put M4A1 in the title.

The upgraded Shermans were way better.
Semantics. A1's were constantly upgraded as well.

Another opinion here:


"When Sherman went into combat in British hands in the North African desert in October of 1942, it was bar none, the best tank in the world. It had a better gun and more armor, along with good or better mobility than all the axis tanks it faced. It wouldn’t have a German peer until the Panzer IV was up-gunned and even then, the best version of the Panzer IV was barely a match for a 75mm armed Sherman and totally outclassed by the later 76mm armed tanks. The Sherman tank was designed, and the design improved to maximize how easy it was to produce, while also improving the reliability, crew fighting efficiency, safety, and comfort. This was fairly unique to U.S. Tank design and can be attributed in many ways to the automotive production experts who came out of Detroit and the US Auto industry.


The basic small hatch Sherman was found to be fine for the job all the way through the invasion of Italy and Normandy. The introduction of the Tiger and Panther as specialized tanks that were rarely seen. In the Tigers case, they were right. It was a rare and more or less useless waste of German resources. The Panther would become much more common after the break out from Normandy, but if you really look at its performance, it was not that great of a threat. In most cases when they met in Europe, the Sherman won. The 75mm M3 Armed Sherman was very well equipped to deal with infantry and AT guns, the main threat they would face, and this was part of why the US Army didn’t want to jump to the available at the time of Normandy, 76mm armed Shermans."

Some tankers preferred the 75 mm over the 76 mm upgrade. Forces on the offensive are always going to take heavier losses than those in set defenses. Well, unless you're fighting Russians, who preferred offering their opponents turkey shoots. And, comparing medium tanks to heavy tanks is just weird, anyway, and worthless as info. Few tank on tank battles took place on the western front, and probably none were at 2,000 yards, more like 800 yards tops, where the German advantages in range were pretty much an irrelevant factor. Infantry and mines were the big threat.
 
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whitehall

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The Sherman tank was symbolic of the almost criminal unpreparedness of the U.S. for war in the mid 30's. The U.S. had no espionage agency or central intelligence bureau and nobody seemed to care or understand Germany's weapons development in violation of international law. The Sherman looked good and everybody was satisfied with it's development but it couldn't stand up to the German tanks.
 

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Meh, the Shermans were fine for the most part; some people will complain no matter what, especially a war where FDR played the key role in leading the country to victory. We didn't need heavy tanks, and as we've seen with the German's heavy tanks they were essentially static pillboxes.
 
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Otis Mayfield

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Interesting video that claims M4 Sherman was best tank of the war.
 

harmonica

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Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II is a 1998 memoir by Belton Y. Cooper. The book relates Cooper's experiences during World War II and puts forth an argument against the US Army's use of the M4 Sherman tank during the war.

Cooper argues that, when compared to the Sherman, the Pershing would have been better armed, better armored, more reliable, and more mobile. He blames the Army's preference for the Sherman, on the notion that building tanks such as the more expensive Pershing was unnecessary, because "tanks were not meant to fight other tanks,"[7] as was dictated by the Armored Force Doctrine of the time, and because Patton believed the lighter and more fuel efficient M4 would be more agile in bypassing enemy lines and attacking in the rear.




A lot of people say the Sherman was a bad tank. Do you agree?
..it wasn't about wanting this or that---it was a TIME!!!
...the Pershing was a new tank....for you people that don't know about NEW products, it takes a LOOOOOOOOONG time to research/design/build PROTOTYPES/TEST prototypes/FIX prototype problems--introduce NEW versions/etc etc etc
..we've been over this on WW2 Forums...go there for in depth/detailed discussions on WW2
..and as Dudley said, it was fine against the tanks they met in Africa
 

DudleySmith

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..it wasn't about wanting this or that---it was a TIME!!!
...the Pershing was a new tank....for you people that don't know about NEW products, it takes a LOOOOOOOOONG time to research/design/build PROTOTYPES/TEST prototypes/FIX prototype problems--introduce NEW versions/etc etc etc
..we've been over this on WW2 Forums...go there for in depth/detailed discussions on WW2
..and as Dudley said, it was fine against the tanks they met in Africa

Nothing remains static in designs of anything, and military gear gets modified at a much higher rate than anything else, either locally as the front line troops adapt and modify theirs to fit local conditions all the way back to the factory floors, shipyards, where ever..
 

harmonica

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Interesting video that claims M4 Sherman was best tank of the war.
....with a lot of people that discuss WW2, they don't think in REALITY--they think it's a board game.......I was in the military for 8 years....I worked with MANY foreign militaries......
1. for tanks you want:
firepower
armor
mobility
---in that order/balanced
the German tanks outgunned the Western Allies--and longer range
they had the armor
the Tiger tank/etc was actually ''fast''', especially on roads 24 MPH road.... Sherman was 30 MPH road
2. ..a dictum of combat is that a mediocre weapon in TRAINED, motivated hands is better than a great weapon in untrained hands
training/discipline!! training and discipline is a key factor in effectiveness of weapons.....aiming/cleaning/tactics
......the Germans were disciplined......they kept their weapons in top shape and used them effectively
---my Uncle was in WW2...he did not say much at all, about the war!!! one thing that he did say was, the Germans were good [ targeting ] with mortars......I was in USMC mortars--I know how they are used
3. tactics---the battle is not just one weapon--but combined arms...the Germans were good at combining different units into a kampfgruppe ---especially for counter attacks
etc etc etc
...as stated--it is not a board game....there's much more to it
I could go on and on ........
 

harmonica

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..it wasn't about wanting this or that---it was a TIME!!!
...the Pershing was a new tank....for you people that don't know about NEW products, it takes a LOOOOOOOOONG time to research/design/build PROTOTYPES/TEST prototypes/FIX prototype problems--introduce NEW versions/etc etc etc
..we've been over this on WW2 Forums...go there for in depth/detailed discussions on WW2
..and as Dudley said, it was fine against the tanks they met in Africa
.....and I have been in the R & D/Engineering field for over 30 years....even with software DESIGNED for R & D in the 2000s, engineers still FK up even little things ...it was not easy to design tanks back then...
.....if you change one thing on the tank, then that probably will affect other things on the tank, so then many things need to be redesigned.....etc etc etc
 
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Otis Mayfield

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....with a lot of people that discuss WW2, they don't think in REALITY--they think it's a board game.......I was in the military for 8 years....I worked with MANY foreign militaries......
1. for tanks you want:
firepower
armor
mobility
---in that order/balanced
the German tanks outgunned the Western Allies--and longer range
they had the armor
the Tiger tank/etc was actually ''fast''', especially on roads 24 MPH road.... Sherman was 30 MPH road
2. ..a dictum of combat is that a mediocre weapon in TRAINED, motivated hands is better than a great weapon in untrained hands
training/discipline!! training and discipline is a key factor in effectiveness of weapons.....aiming/cleaning/tactics
......the Germans were disciplined......they kept their weapons in top shape and used them effectively
---my Uncle was in WW2...he did not say much at all, about the war!!! one thing that he did say was, the Germans were good [ targeting ] with mortars......I was in USMC mortars--I know how they are used
3. tactics---the battle is not just one weapon--but combined arms...the Germans were good at combining different units into a kampfgruppe ---especially for counter attacks
etc etc etc
...as stated--it is not a board game....there's much more to it
I could go on and on ........


Are you a "wehraboo"?


Someone who believes the German military was superior during WWII?
 

harmonica

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Are you a "wehraboo"?


Someone who believes the German military was superior during WWII?
1. Germany beat not one, but TWO powerful countries--and France had better tanks -at the battle of France
2. the Germans then were fighting 2 of the largest nations = MUCH bigger with MUCH larger populations --with America [ alone ] having THREE times the war making potential of just Germany
a. logistics win battles just as much as manpower/leadership/etc
3. the German soldier was very good ......
a. in all countries, some units are not as good as others....the German military was good ...
b. especially considering they were fighting the US and Russia--etc
c. and the Allies had Naval and air superiority '''later''' in the war
4. Italy is a PEFECT example of how well the Germans did
--don't try to argue WW2 with me--I've been reading and researching it longer than you have been born
--if you want a REAL discussion, go to WW2 Forums
 

harmonica

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Are you a "wehraboo"?


Someone who believes the German military was superior during WWII?
..the Germans were/are very disciplined/organized/etc ......they have one of the top economies in the world today
 

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