- "Shermans have Surrounded us!"
- ―Rabbit Team
The Medium Tank "M4 Sherman", named after American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, was an American medium tank, and became both one of the most successful tank models of all time, being operated in almost 35 different countries, with nearly 50,000 of all different variants produced , and also the backbone of the United States' armoured forces, serving on all fronts of World War Two and further still. It first appeared in the anime in Episode 4.
A bit of history
The M4 Sherman was the natural 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, with a turret armed with the M3 L/40 gun, the M4 was born.
Unsurprisingly, given the sheer number of tanks built, many version were built, 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), and in the armament.
The M4 was designed and deployed according to the "tank destroyer" doctrine then in favor; it meant that it had to perform as a multirole tank, capable of fighting other tanks yet not to become simply a tank-killer, task that would be left to the tank destroyers; unfortunately, this view (championed by General Leslie MacNair) was not as successful as projected, and had a considerable role in the delay of upgrading the Sherman's firepower.
M4s were deployed in North Africa first, and performed well against 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/SPGs 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 would in popular belief become its nightmare, the German Tiger I tank, whose frontal armor was impenetrable to the M4's 75-mm gun, and whose 88-mm gun could destroy a Sherman at long distances; the only way for an M4 to defeat a Tiger was to overcome it with numbers. However, various causes (among which an unjustified sense of complacency in the Army's upper echelons) delayed a response to this threat and others like that (like the development of the Panther ); the development of the M26 "Pershing" heavy tank was repeatedly vetoed, and so the Sherman bore the brunt of the late-war enemy Panzers.
After wrongfully believing that battlefield reports and inaccurate tests yielded that the Sherman was still cutting-edge, the U.S. Army started the development of a new gun, the 76mm M1, with far more penetrating power from larger distances, at the price however of reduced anti-infantry performance (the first version with the upgraded armament was the M4A1). This was wrongfully believed to be enough to deal with enemy Tigers and Panthers (the latter of which was believed to be another heavy tank and therefore to be met in small numbers), especially since deployment to the frontline was slow and in 1943 most Shermans still had the 75-mm gun.
The British Army, who had first-hand experience of German tank development, was more cautious, and had started development of tanks armed with a tank gun capable of dealing with such fearsome Panzer designs, the OQF 17-Pounder; however, all such project suffered delay and lagged behind. Thus, it was proposed to combine this British gun with the American tank, which was achieved after some modifications, thus creating the Sherman Firefly.
The course of events after D-Day proved the American view tragically wrong. While seldom met (Tigers and Panthers accounted for no more than 30% of German tanks), Tigers and especially Panthers (not to mention other designs like the Jagdpanzer IV with the same long-barreled 75 mm gun) easily outperformed the Sherman, whose 76 mm gun proved woefully inadequate against such well-protected enemies. The American 76mm M1 series gun, and its 75mm guns, were able to effectively handle the majority of German tanks. 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.
Other variants that reached Europe during this stage of the war were the M4A3E8 "Easy-Eight" (with upgraded HVSS suspensions) and the M4A3E2 (after the war nicknamed "Jumbo", an especially well-liked version thanks to its thick armor protection).
The M4 was the backbone of the U.S. armoured forces also in the Italian Campaign, and in the Pacific theater. In the latter one, it was mostly used against enemy infantry and fortifications; whenever it met Japanese armour, it had a huge advantage. Some 4'000 Shermans (nicknamed "Emcha") 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.
Late war and beyond
Despite its inadequacy against many late-war German vehicles, the M4 served honourably for the duration of the war; not only was it a good match for the bulk of the German tanks it encountered (most of which Panzer IVs and StuG IIIs ), but it was a success on the strategical level. No matter how many Shermans were destroyed, those could be replaced with relative ease, while every German tank lost was irreplaceable. Moreover, its thorough reliability and versatility were important assets in the conflict. The M4 was kept in service in the U.S. for some years after the war, having still a prominent role in the Korean War; after that, it was supplanted by more modern tanks like the Pattons. It was supplied in numbers to many countries around the world.
In Girls und Panzer
Saunders Girls 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 Sherman Firefly, 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 favours 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 a Firefly 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 team, the All-Star University as training tanks. And again by Saunders High School (M4, M4A1 and Firefly) 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 overkill 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 Girls High School owns M4A2 Sherman as they proposed to sell some to Bonple High School.
More info about the Sherman
- M4 Sherman
- Sherman Firefly
- M4 Specifications
- M4 Sherman in the official anime (japanese) (There are 3 different sections for the variants)
- For some reason, Saunders Girls High School that mainly operate American tanks, has a Sherman Firefly in their arsenal, which was made by British.
- 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 Sherman Firefly).