M4 Shermans and Variants
The British received far more M4 medium tanks, approximately 17,000 (roughly 34% of all M4s produced), than any other Allied nation. The British practice of naming American tanks after American Civil War generals was continued, giving it the name General Sherman after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, usually shortened to Sherman. The US later adopted the name and the practice of naming tanks after generals.
In the British naming system, the major variants were identified by Mark numbers, the M4 being "Sherman I", the M4A1 "Sherman II" and so on. Letters after the mark number denoted modifications to the base model: "A" for the 76 mm L/55 gun instead of the 75mm, "B" for the 105 mm M4 L/22.5 howitzer, "C" for the (British) QF 17 pounder (76.2 mm) gun, and "Y" for the later wider-tracked Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS) type suspension. Gun and suspension letters were used in combination, e.g. Sherman IBY. However, no production 75mm Shermans were built with HVSS and no HVSS Firefly conversions (CY) therefore existed. HVSS Shermans were only fitted with 76mm M1 guns or 105mm M4 howitzers, AY and BY respectively in British service.
- Sherman I - M4 with 75 mm M3 L/40 gun and Continental R975 9-cylinder radial petrol engine
- Sherman Hybrid I - Sherman I with composite hull (cast front, welded rear)
- Sherman IB - Sherman I with 105 mm M4 L/22.5 howitzer
- Sherman IBY - Sherman IB with HVSS
- Sherman II - M4A1 with 75 mm M3 L/40 gun and Continental R975 radial petrol engine
- Sherman III - M4A2 with 75 mm M3 L/40 gun and GM6046 twin 6-cylinder diesel engine
- Sherman IV - M4A3 with 75 mm M3 L/40 gun (no Sherman IVs used operationally) and Ford GAA V8 petrol engine
- Sherman V - M4A4 with 75 mm M3 L/40 gun and Chrysler A57 multibank 30-cylinder "cloverleaf" petrol engine in a longer rear hull with more widely spaced bogies
- Sherman VI - M4A5 (paper designation for Canadian production)
- Sherman VII - M4A6 with 75 mm M3 L/40 gun, composite cast/welded hull and Ordnance RD-1820 9-cylinder radial diesel engine. Only 75 M4A6 were built and none are believed to have reached the UK
- Sherman II ARV III - M32B1 TRV (M4A1 Sherman II chassis) recovery vehicle
- Sherman V ARV III - M32B4 TRV (M4A4 Sherman V chassis) recovery vehicle. Extremely rare, almost mythical, vehicle. Production records are sketchy and British use is uncertain, but a photo does exist of an M32B4 in post-war Greek service
Sherman III ARV I - British Armoured Recovery Vehicle conversions of Sherman III (M4A2), REME, 79th Armoured Division, Summer 1944. Note large winch pulley on front glacis plate and specialized storage on hull sides.
Conversions and modifications of the M4 by their foreign users included the British-Commonwealth Firefly with the potent British QF 17 pounder (76.2 mm) anti-tank gun;
Adder, Salamander, Crocodile, and Badger flame-throwing Shermans;
Kangaroo armoured personnel carrier;
Armoured recovery vehicles (ARV);
specialist military engineering vehicles of "Hobart's Funnies" designed specifically for Operation Overlord ("D-Day") and the Battle of Normandy.
In 1945, the 1st Coldstream Guards at the Rhine fitted Sherman turrets with two "60 lb" RP-3air-to-ground rockets on rails to create the Sherman Tulip.
Canada created a prototype anti-aircraft vehicle with four 20 mm Polsten cannons mounted in a turret on Canadian-made M4A1 hull, which was called Skink.
The Soviets reportedly replaced the US 75 mm gun on some M4A2s with the 76.2mm F-34 gun of the T-34 medium tank to create the M4M; they discontinued the practice when assured of US ammunition supply (Zaloga 1984:217).
For the D-Day landings, the British developed special and specific deep wading kits for Shermans I/II, III and V.
US forces in the Pacific suffered many drowned M4s by not having such kits early in the island landing campaigns, and they were rapidly copied for later landings.
Firefly with British 17 pdr gun. Compare to 75 mm gun Sherman at the top of this page.A number of Sherman tanks were converted to carry different armament other than that with which the tank was originally manufactured. Among these were:
- Tank AA, 20 mm Quad, Skink - Canadian prototype anti-aircraft vehicle with four 20 mm Polsten cannon mounted in a turret on a Grizzly hull (tank made in Canada, not Lend-Leased).
- Sherman Duplex Drive (DD) - British-developed swimming gear fitted to British, Canadian, and US Shermans for the Normandy landings.
- Sherman Firefly - British Sherman I or V re-armed with QF 17 pounder (76.2 mm) anti-tank gun with C added to designation (as in Sherman IC or VC). A few Sherman IIIC are believed to have existed, issued to units equipped with standard Sherman III for mechanical commonality: Aberdeen Proving Ground in the USA has one.
- Sherman Tulip - British Sherman with two 3-inch ("60lb") RP-3 rockets on rails added to the turret. Used by the 1st Coldstream Guards at the Rhine in 1945.
- M4M — Soviet M4A2s reportedly[by whom?] converted to 76.2mm F-34 gun, as mounted in the T-34. There was no shortage of U.S. 75 mm ammunition, however, so there was little need to continue converting Shermans. (Zaloga 1984:217).
- RMASG Control Tank — While not strictly an armament conversion, as no new ordnance was involved, Sherman V tanks allocated to the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group for the D-Day landings were fitted with a dial sight in a protruding square cover on the top right of the turret. This permitted them to be used accurately in the indirect fire role as self-propelled artillery, initially from the decks of landing craft but later also ashore. Direct fire sights were retained. These tanks can be identified in photos by the 360 degree compass bearing markings around the turret.
Combat engineering vehicles
Sherman Crab Mk II.
A Sherman Twaby Ark bridging vehicle, with the ramps stowed in the travelling positionBritish developments for Shermans were extensive and included the fascine carrier (used by 79th Armoured Division), "Crib", "Twaby Ark", "Octopus",
- Sherman Bridgelayer -
- Sherman CIRD - fitted with "Canadian Indestructible Roller Device" landmine exploder
- Sherman Crab - British Sherman with mine flail, one of a long line of flail devices
- Sherman ARV I and Sherman ARV II - British armoured recovery vehicle conversions of Sherman I, III and V. It was British policy to have ARVs using the same mechanical parts as the gun tanks they supported wherever possible. ARV I was a simple turretless towing vehicle with light jib while ARV II had much more sophisticated recovery and repair equipment, a raised box-like superstructure and heavier jib. It was considered superior to the US M32 ARV, very few of which were used by British units.
- Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle (BARV) - British conversion of Sherman III with large boat-shaped superstructure that was capable of deep wading near the shore. A simple push/pull ARV that served until replaced by Centurion BARV in the mid-1960s. The diesel-engined Sherman III was considered less likely to be affected by the wet environment than petrol-engined versions.
- Sherman Gun Tower - British field conversion in Italy by removing turrets from M4A2 Sherman III tanks to tow 17 pdr AT gun and carry crew with ammunition. Some of the removed 75mm M3 guns may have been used for the Churchill NA75 field conversions unique to the Italian campaign.
- Sherman Observation Post - an armoured mobile post for controlling artillery. The 75 mm gun was removed (with a dummy barrel fitted outside) to give room for map tables in the turret. Three radio sets were fitted (two Number 19 and a Number 18). Two more - both Number 38 - were carried for portable use outside the tank.
- Sherman Adder - A conversion kit to equip Sherman tanks, used in India on Sherman III and Sherman V
- Sherman Badger - Canada's replacement of its Ram Badger, the Sherman Badger was a turretless M4A2 HVSS Sherman with Wasp IIC flamethrower in place of hull machine gun, developed sometime from 1945 to 1949. The 150 gallons at 250 psi was effective to 125 yards, with elevation of +30 to -10 degrees and traverse of 30 degrees left and 23 degrees right. This inspired the US T68.