- "Shermans have surrounded us!"
- ―Rabbit Team
The Medium Tank "M4 Sherman", named after American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman by the British, was an American medium tank that became one of the most successful tank models of all time. It served as the backbone of American armored forces and served on all fronts of World War II, with many being lend-leased to the British Commonwealth and the USSR. A total of nearly 50,000 tanks were produced in the United States alone and by the end of the 1990s, it had been exported to 50 countries. It first appeared in the anime in Episode 4.
The M4 Sherman was a further development of the earlier M3 Lee/Grant medium tank, which had been hurriedly built and deployed on the front out of necessity while a tank with a 75-mm gun in a rotating turret was developed. By modifying the M3's chassis and hull, and equipping it with a 75-mm M3 gun mounted in a fully traversing turret, the M4 medium tank was born.
A huge number of tanks were built, helped by the fact that there were as many 7 distinct versions produced, which differed in the hull (either cast or welded), the engine (either the Continental radial or the Ford GAA inline gasoline ones, or those with Diesel engines), the armament, or all of the above. This allowed many factories in America with different production methods to contribute to the M4 tank output.
The M4 was designed under the US Armored Force doctrine of the time with a primary focus on exploitation after the infantry divisions had broken through the enemy defenses, however the M4 was also able to conduct secondary missions to support military objectives such as infantry support. The M4 tank was supported by the "tank destroyer" doctrine, which called for a separate branch favoring a mobile anti-tank force that could counter enemy tank offensives, though there was an expectation that the M4 be capable of fighting enemy tanks during an offensive engagement. A good emphasis on the tank design was placed upon reliability and ease of maintenance, which allowed the M4 to operate many miles away from the factories in the United States while being easily repairable on the field in case of breakdowns. The M4 was very successful in its introduction in 1942, but stagnation in improvements due to logistical and bureaucratic reasons led to the M4 be relatively inferior to the newer tanks put into use in 1944.
Early Stages - North Africa and Italy
M4s were first deployed in North Africa to the British under the Lend-Lease act in the Second Battle of El Alamein, whom christened the tank with the name "Sherman". The M4 performed well against both German and Italian tanks, being a match for the latest Panzer IV variants and generally vastly outperforming Italian tanks (with only the Semovente tank destroyers/SPG being a match for them). They played no small part in the ultimate defeat of the Axis at El Alamein and then in Tunisia.
However, in Tunisia, the M4 first encountered what in popular belief became its worst nightmare, the German Tiger I heavy tank. Its frontal armor was nigh-impenetrable to the M4's 75-mm gun, and whose 88-mm gun could destroy a M4 at long distances. Destroying a Tiger tank required a 75-mm shot towards the side or rear armor. This coupled with the American disaster at Kasserine Pass led to a number of M4 Shermans to be decimated by the Germans. One criticism raised on the M4 Shermans at this time was the very high chance of the tank catching fire upon penetration. This was due to the ammunition stowage scattered all over the tank hull, where a single penetrating round had a high chance of striking these ammunition. However, due to the Tiger tank's relatively low number deployed (only approximately 1,347 Tiger I tanks produced total) and that the 75-mm M4 Sherman were well capable of dealing with the standard Axis medium tank, the US Army believed that the M4 Sherman was still a very capable tank as the Allies moved on towards Sicily and Italy.
Development on a new gun for the M4 tank began as early as 1942, even before the US deployment into North Africa. Recognizing a need for a high-velocity gun, the US Ordnance Department attempted to fit the 3-inch gun of the M10 tank destroyer into the M4 turret, with unsatisfactory results. The next development was the 76-mm M1 gun, which was a lightened and smaller gun design capable of firing the same projectiles with the same power as the 3-inch. Fitted into the M4 turret, Ordnance declared it a success and wanted a thousand to be ready for the North Africa invasion. Unfortunately, the US Armored Force tested the design themselves and found the ergonomics unsatisfactory, restarting the project to find a suitable mount.
Ordnance development into the T20 tank program, the predecessor of the M26 Pershing, failed to meet Armored Board expectations as a successor for the M4 Sherman tank, mainly due to its very high maintenance standards and presenting no substantial improvements over the abundant M4 tank. However, the T23 turret design with its ability to hold the 76-mm M1 gun was taken and adapted onto the M4 Sherman tank. This was successful and passed both Ordnance and Armored Board specifications and was first employed on the M4A1 variant under name of M4A1 (76) W. The "W" indicates the usage of wet ammunition stowage, a response to the ammunition fires that early M4 tank models had, which moved all the ammunition in the hull to the bottom and also covered them in a liquid surrounding.Meanwhile the British Army had their own program of upgrading the M4 Sherman's firepower. Their most powerful anti-tank gun, the Ordnance QF 17-pounder, was well renowned in its combat in North Africa and the next objective was to employ the weapon inside a tank. Their ideal project was the A30 Challenger that was based off the Cromwell crusier tank, but delays slowed that project development. Alongside that project were advocates that the gun should be adapted into the M4 Sherman tank. After some bureaucratic back and forths, the M4 Sherman was given a part in the 17-pounder project under the Department of Tank Design. After extensive modifications to the 17-pounder design, it was finally fitted into the M4 Sherman tank and employed by the British. The equipping of the gun on Shermans are indicated by the addition of a suffix "c" in the designation (Sherman VC), however a nickname that became used on the design was the Firefly.
Engineering changes come with pros and cons however, and while these new guns gave the tanks better penetration, they had their own deficiencies. Both guns produced a very pronounced muzzle flash which can temporarily blind the users, especially at night. The muzzle blast can also kick up dust from the ground to such a degree that the gunner and commander cannot see the target after firing to confirm a hit. These problems were especially more pronounced in the Firefly with its more powerful ammunition, but the 76-mm were able to mitigate these features with a muzzle brake. Another matter was ergonomics, while the 76-mm was adjusted with a larger turret design, the even larger 17-pounder gun was crammed into a turret meant for a 75-mm gun, which creates a very cramped environment inside the Firefly. One general disadvantage with these new guns in combat was the smaller high-explosive charges that they fired. Tank action in the battlefield were more primarily engaged against infantry or lightly-armored vehicle, while tank vs. tank combat made up as little as 11% of the total combat engagements. As such, a heavy emphasis in explosive power was stressed throughout the war to defeat the common targets, which affected decisions made later in the war.
Prior to the famed D-Day invasion on 06 June 1944, decisions were made on both nation's army on the employment of their tanks. The British decided to bring along the Firefly during the initial stages of the invasions. The Americans, evaluating the performance of their 75-mm M4 Shermans, decided to not bring any of the 76-mm M4 with them in the initial stages. The reasons were primarily logistical as only a hundred of the M4A1 (76) had arrived to France by May 1944 and the 75-mm M4 in its past combat encounters proved very favorable that there was no dire need for a quick upgrade or to set up a completely different ammunition supply line for a new round. Another reason was that the German Panther medium tank was then thought to be just another heavy tank alongside the Tiger, and would be met in only small numbers that can be dealt with in the same manner.
The course of events after D-Day defied expectations, especially towards the American decisions. While Tigers and Panthers were met in relatively small numbers (about 30% of total German armor, with all Tigers in the British-Canadian sector), the two German tanks as well as the upgraded Panzer IV and tank destroyers like the Jagdpanzer IV were easily able to defeat the Shermans. The Panthers especially was a rude awakening as it was revealed that they were not specialized heavy tanks, but new medium tanks meant to make up the bulk of the German Panzer Divisions. The M4 vulnerability to German guns, as well as the new prevalence of anti-tank weaponry such as the Panzerfaust and Panzershreck, meant many more tanks were lost during combat, with tank loss rates doubled than that of the Mediterranean theater.
Despite that, Allied logistics and tactics were able to outperform the better German tanks. Starting in July 1944 with Operation Cobra, more 76-mm armed M4 began arriving into France. American 75-mm tank units still were able to best German counterparts, with the most famous instance being the Battle of Arracourt where the German 11th Panzer Division, mainly equipped with the Panther tank, lost 86 vehicles destroyed and 114 rendered inoperable against the American 4th Armored Division, which only lost 24 M4 tanks and 7 M18 Hellcat tank destroyers. The British and Commonwealth units fared somewhat better, thanks in-part to the Sherman Fireflies fielded, whose firepower was capable of defeating Panthers and Tigers at combat ranges; however, the sheer power of the gun provoked very bright muzzle flashes that could blind the gunner and kicked up much dust and dirt, easily revealing the tank's position and forcing it to relocate. Even with the 17-pounder power, tactical prowess allowed individual Sherman tanks to outperform the Germans, such as the tale of Sgt. George "Killer" Dring, where he managed to defeat two Tiger I tanks in his 75-mm Sherman. Towards the routing of German forces in France and the Allied attack through the Siegfried line, new ammunition such as the sabot round and the HVAP began making their rounds among the Firefly and 76-mm Sherman tanks respectively to improve their firepower against the more heavily armored German tanks. Unfortunately they also had their deficiencies, the sabot in the 17-pounder was relatively inaccurate past 400 meters, while the HVAP in the 76-mm M1 was always in short supply, with tales of tank and tank destroyer units only receiving one round per tank a month. One M4 variant that started appearing was the M4A3E2, nicknamed the "Jumbo" after the war, that made a good impression the crews for its extra armor that made it more heavily armored than even the Tiger I heavy tank.
Towards the end of 1944, the Germans launched their massive Ardennes Offensive, also known as the Battle of the Bulge. Their spearhead with Panthers and Tiger II tanks overran unprepared and weakened American units in the Ardennes Forest. Though their tide was eventually stemmed by lack of fuel and stubborn American resistance, especially in the town of Bastogne, the M4 became a subject of scandal as they were swept aside easily by the heavily armored and gunned German tanks, even reaching towards public press on the home front. However, the battle also showed some of the M4's greatest traits in the war, with many tanks from reserves traveling hundreds of miles towards the front line with minimal breakdowns, showing their great reliability on the battlefield. Plus, the Allied ability to maintain their armored force with peak numbers of tanks showed a great maintenance ease and ability to supply due to the abundant numbers, 3rd Armored Division had 700 M4 tanks in the course of the war knocked out, repaired, and then put back into action. After the Battle of the Bulge, the German armored force was spent and encounters with heavy German armor come 1945 became very rare, causing loud concerns of inadequate firepower to pipe down, however the American generals from then on requested only 76-mm armed M4 to be shipped towards Europe.
As new M4 Sherman variants arrived, such as the M4A3 (76) W HVSS (also known as the M4A3E8 "Easy-Eight") that improved on the M4's faults in firepower and mobility, the new M26 Pershing also arrived in February 1945. Despite the M26's more heavily armored and gunned status, the M4 Sherman continued to prove more advantageous in the battlefield. The M26 was relatively underpowered with the Ford GAF engine, a variant of the Ford GAA engine used in the M4A3, but the Pershing was approximately 10 tons heavier, and was also prone to breakdowns due to its new status out of the Ordnance Department and factories. It also was too heavy for certain infrastructures, most notably in the Battle of Remagen when the Ludendorff bridge was too damaged for the M26 Pershing to cross over, but the lighter M4 Shermans and tank destroyers were able to cross with ease. Plus, with the dwindling number of enemy armor, the M26 Pershing had very little impact in the overall stage while the more numerous M4 Sherman prove more capable in running around Germany with 75 and 76-mm guns supporting the infantry in defeating the crumbling German resistance.
The M4 was also used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific theater. Replacing the M2 Light Tank and the M3 Stuart after the Guadalcanal Campaign and first used at Tarawa. They commonly acted as infantry-support for the marines and were used against enemy infantry and fortifications.
Whenever it met Japanese armor, it had an overwhelming advantage as the armor was too thick for Japanese armor to penetrate. The Japanese tanks such as the Type 97 Chi-Ha and Type 95 Ha-Go proved so lightly armored that the tank crew relegated to the use of high-explosives against these tanks as the normal armor-piercing shot often over-penetrate with relatively little damage. Due to the great capability of the 75-mm against the opposition, there was no need for the 76-mm to be deployed here.
Some 4,000 Shermans (nicknamed "Emcha", and mostly the M4A2 diesel variant) were also delivered to the USSR as part of the Lend-Lease act, where they saw much combat, with a few units equipped with them even rising to or enjoying the elite "guard" status.
After the War
The M4 was kept in service in the U.S. for some years after World War II, though being slowly phased out as the M26 Pershing and M46 Patton were slated to be its successor. During the Korean War, the M4 Sherman (predominately the M4A3 (76) W variant) retained a prominent role throughout the conflict, especially so after the M26 Pershing continued to have reliability and mobility problems in the region. There the American forces commonly met the T-34-85 supplied by the USSR to the North Koreans. While the M26 Pershing was more than a match to these tanks, the M4 was considered an equal. The engagements in the Korean War and World War II solidified a solid rule in tank engagements: whoever spots the enemy and shoots at them first was generally the winner of that engagement. After the Korean War, the M4 was officially replaced in US inventory by the Patton tanks.
The M4 was also supplied in numbers to many countries around the world during the Cold War. The final hurrah of the M4 Shermans was in Israel, where a joint project with France produced the M-50 and M-51 "Super Shermans" designs. The M-50 used a long 75-mm gun based off the French AMX-13 light tank, while the M-51 used a powerful French 105-mm Modéle F1 gun used in the AMX-30. These designs showed the great adaptability of the Sherman to take on such upgrades to remain relevant. Both Super Shermans saw action in the Six Days War (1967), and the Yom Kippur War (1973) and were effective on fighting the various T-34-85s, and T-54/55/62s it encountered, which showed how the M4 tanks can remain very useful war weapons with dependence on crew training and tactical usage.
The Israelis phased out their M4 Shermans by the 1990s. However, the M4 are still in active service in countries such as Paraguay in small numbers.
In Girls und Panzer
Saunders University High School possesses a huge arsenal of M4 Shermans in many variants (from the basic M4 to the M4A1, even having some rare M4A6s), and is not known to employ any other kind of tank. Oddly enough, it also employs the M4A4 Sherman VC "Firefly" Medium Tank, although it was never employed by any American armed force, but only by Commonwealth units. Despite its huge wealth, it appears that Saunders has a relatively low number of upgraded M4s, and strongly favors the use of the standard M4 Sherman.
For the match against Ooarai, it fielded eight M4s (one of which used by Kay as her command tank), one M4A1 with a 76 mm gun (the flag tank, commanded by Alisa), and an M4A4 Sherman VC "Firefly" Medium Tank which was commanded by Naomi. They performed relatively well, losing only one of their number to a multiple ambush, other than the flag tank (hit by Miho's Panzer IV in the side a split second before being knocked out itself), while especially the Firefly proved to be a deadly sniper, knocking out the Rabbit Team's M3 Lee and the Panzer IV, albeit a little too late, from a distance.
Interestingly, the M4s used by Saunders all have vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) rather than the superior horizontal volute spring suspension (HVSS). The Firefly used by Naomi is part of the MK.Vc series, with the fasteners of the system 'Houseboat' and a 'road chair' in the center of the engine deck.
The M4 Sherman and its variants are seen being used by two teams, the All-Stars University Team as training tanks. And again by Saunders High School (M4, M4A1 and M4A4 Sherman VC "Firefly" Medium Tank) as part of the Ooarai Compound team part of Morning Glory Team. Alisa's M4A1 is heavily damaged by a storm of 90mm shells (it's surprising that the tank wasn't put out of commission) in the forest by Rumi's Pershings. After retreating to the Amusement Park, the Firefly score one hit on a Pershing and have a joint kill with the Churchill for opening a fireline to T28 Super Heavy Tank's weak point. The three Shermans were finally disposed by the Bermuda Trio, the M4A1 by Azumi, the Firefly by Megumi during a triple-drift and finally Kay's M4 is overkilled by the Trio.
Fierce Fight! It's the Maginot Battle!
The M4 Sherman is indirectly mentionned by Eclair about a training match of Maginot vs Saunders that Maginot lost.
Gekkan Senshado Magazine
Saunders University High School owns M4A2 Sherman as they proposed to sell some to Bonple High School.
More info about the Sherman
- M4 Sherman
- M4A4 Sherman VC "Firefly" Medium Tank
- M4 Specifications
- M4 Sherman in the official anime (japanese) (There are 3 different sections for the variants)
- For some reason, Saunders University High School that mainly operate American tanks has an M4A4 Sherman VC "Firefly" Medium Tank in their arsenal, which was a British tank design. It is possible that the inclusion was based off a US Army order of 100 Firefly tanks in 1945, though those were primarily based on M4 and M4A3 models.
- Saunders' M4 was featured as a Skin Mod along with the other tanks as a Collaboration Event of Girls Und Panzer and World of Tanks (excluding M4A4 Sherman VC "Firefly" Medium Tank).
- Main article: M4 Sherman/Gallery
|Light Tanks and Tankettes||7TP • AMR-35 • BT-42 • Crusader • CV.33 • FT-17 • Harry Hopkins • M22 Locust • M24 Chaffee • Mark VI • Panzer II • Panzer 38(t) • R35 • T-60 • T-70 • Tetrarch • TK Tankette • Type 95 Ha-Go • Type 97 Te-Ke|
|Medium Tanks||Centurion • Panzer III • Panzer IV • Panzer V "Panther" • M3 Lee • M4 Sherman • M13/40 • Matilda II • P26/40 • SOMUA S35 • T-34 • T-44 • Type 89B • Type 3 Chi-Nu • Type 97 Chi-Ha|
|Heavy Tanks||ARL 44 • B1 Bis • Black Prince • Churchill • IS-2 • KV-2 • M26 Pershing • Mark IV • Panzer VI "Tiger" • Panzer VI Ausf. B "Tiger II" • Panzer VIII "Maus" • VK45.01 Porsche Tiger|
|Tank Destroyers||Elefant • Hetzer • ISU-152 • Jagdpanzer IV • Jagdpanther • Jagdtiger • Semovente da 75/18 • StuG III • T28 Super-Heavy Tank|
|Self-Propelled Artillery||Karl-Gerät 040|
|Main Battle Tank||Type 10|