Medium Tank M4A1 Sherman

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General info

M4A1 Sherman in the garage.

The M4A1 Sherman is a Rank II American medium tank with a battle rating of 3.3. It is one of the first American tanks to be released with the American ground tree in Update 1.45 "Steel Generals". The M4A1 is the first Sherman to be unlocked in the American ground tree and provides the player a new balance in armour, firepower, and mobility to use against the enemy. The in-game model is the basic Sherman design during the years of fighting in North Africa, informally called "Sherman 1" with a basic M38 telescopic sight inside the M4 periscope as the gunner's main method of aiming.

The main purpose, usage and tactics recommendations

General play style

At a battle rating of 3.3, the M4A1 Sherman is a very capable medium tank. The 75 mm M3 cannon is capable of destroying nearly all armoured targets at the battle rating. Combined with the very fast turret traverse rate, fast reload time of 6.5 seconds and a vertical gun stabilizer, this tank is suited to an aggressive play style due to your ability to react quickly and fire relatively accurately without coming to a full stop. The gun depression of -12° also makes this tank excel in hull down positions unlike any other tank. One must take into account this tanks very thin side armour of 38.1 mm thick, anti tank weaponry of any rank will be capable of penetrating this weak side armour so protect your flank.

Beware of this tank's very poor reverse speed as it only has one reverse gear. This affects the tank's ability to play in a defensive role. In addition, this tank is very prone to engine fire, so the FPE is a modification that must be completed ASAP. Also be sure not to let the enemy get sight of your driver and radio operators hull view ports. One single halfway decent shot, even from 20 to 30 mm guns can end you.

Vehicle characteristics

The M4A1 Sherman is distinctive from its cast hull construction, causing it to have a curved hull shape. This causes the front hull armour to have a varying slope angle across the glacis, but it also presents several weaknesses. First is in the hull front and side joint with slightly flat angles when angling the tank, the next is the cast construction which diminishes the labeled effectiveness of the front armour. Though at its battle rating, its armour is still effective against certain enemy fire.

The 75 mm M3 gun is mounted in the M34 gun mount with the periscopic , a skinny gun mount compared to the future M34A1 which all future 75 mm M4 Sherman guns are mounted. This lowers the area the gun mantlet covers to contribute to turret front armour, but does present a slightly greater gun depression by -2° than the future M34A1 mounts.

Tactics

As prior stated, the M4A1 Sherman plays best in an aggressive role. Firing on the move is not a difficult task with this tank due to the vertical stabilizer. Take advantage of this tank's immense gun depression of -12°.

The tall profile of the tank is an advantage and disadvantage. In the context of a hull down position, it is an advantage due to you being able to angle the turret down over a hill or crest without having to pull further up the hill. The tall profile however does make you more visible and the tall hull makes it easy to set off an ammo rack.

Specific enemies worth noting

Enemies worth noting at this rank are the Panzer IV F2, the T-34 variants with the F-34 cannon, and the British Churchill infantry tank. All these tanks have adequate guns that could kill you in one shot.

Counter-tactics

Taking out the M4A1 Sherman is not an incredibly difficult task. Panzer III users however would have a difficult time penetrating the sloped frontal armour, even the later Panzer III models with the 50 mm KwK 39 cannon. The T-34 with the L-11 cannon can also have a difficult time penetrating the front armour. The best way to counter the M4A1 with an inadequate cannon is to aim for the transmission where the armour comes to a rounded fulcrum point. This will most likely have no effect on the crew but the transmission will be destroyed and bring the Sherman to a stop until the transmission is fixed (or temporarily in AB mode).

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Good 75 mm gun, with adequate damage and decent rate of fire.
  • Frontal glacis is quite hard to penetrate at its rank and tend to make rounds ricochet.
  • Very fast turret traverse speed.
  • Thick gun mantlet, and it is a small target.
  • Very good gun depression -12 degrees.
  • Very mobile once acceleration kicks in.
  • Pintle-mounted HMG provides anti-aircraft defence.
  • Fitted with a vertical stabilizer, allowing more accurate fire on the move compared to other tanks, as well as better usage of shoot-n-scoot tactics.

Cons:

  • Armour is not as strong against upgunned vehicles like the Panzer IV F2 and the T-34 mod.1942.
  • The 38.1 mm side armour is vulnerable to even Rank I anti tank fire.
  • Narrow tracks offer poor ground flotation, thus poor off-road capabilities.
  • Prone to damage by artillery barrages, tracks can be hit and fuel supply can be ignited.
  • Ammunition storage is vulnerable to cooking off.
  • May tip over when travelling across steep inclines.
  • A shot through hull vision blocks can set off turret's ammo supply and hull sponson ammo and a lucky shot might even knock you out.
  • Has a high profile especially when compared to other medium tanks.

Specifications

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Armaments

1 x 75 mm M3 cannon (90 rounds)
1 x 12.7 mm M2HB heavy machine gun (600 rounds)
1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (3,000 rounds)

Main armament

1 x 75 mm M3 cannon
  • Ammunition Capacity: 90 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -12°
  • Gun Elevation: 18°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 14.28°/s (Stock), 19.8°/s (Upgraded), 24°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 26.6°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 28.2°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 6.5s (Stock), 5.75s (Full Crew), 5.3s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 5.0s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
1 x 75 mm M3 cannon
  • Ammunition Capacity: 90 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -12°
  • Gun Elevation: 18°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 14.3°/s (Stock), 16.8°/s (Upgraded), 20.4°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 22.56°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 24.0°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 6.5s (Stock), 5.75s (Full Crew), 5.3s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 5.0s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
1 x 75 mm M3 cannon
  • Ammunition Capacity: 90 Shells
  • Gun Depression: -12°
  • Gun Elevation: 18°
  • Turret Rotation Speed: 14.3°/s (Stock), 16.8°/s (Upgraded), 20.4°/s (Prior + Full Crew), 22.56°/s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 24.0°/s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
  • Reloading Rate: 6.5s (Stock), 5.75s (Full Crew), 5.3s (Prior + Expert Qualif.), 5.0s (Prior + Ace Qualif.)
Ammunition
Ammunition Penetration in mm @ 90° Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Fuse delay in m: Fuse sensitivity in mm: Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
Normalization At 30° from horizontal: Ricochet:
10m 100m 500m 1000m 1500m 2000m 0% 50% 100%
M72 shot 110 109 92 76 62 51 AP 619 6.3 N/A N/A N/A -1° 47° 60° 65°
M48 shell 10 10 10 10 10 10 HE 463 6.3 0.4 0.5 666 +0° 79° 80° 81°
M61 shot 90 88 81 73 65 59 APCBC 618 6.8 1.2 20 63.7 +4° 48° 63° 71°
Ammunition Type of
warhead
Velocity
in m/s
Projectile
Mass in kg
Screen radius
in m
Screen time
in s
Screen hold time
in s:
Explosive Mass in
TNT equivalent
in g:
M89 Smoke 259 3 13 5 20 50
Ammo racks
Ammo racks of the M4A1 Sherman.
Full
ammo
1st
rack empty
2nd
rack empty
3rd
rack empty
4th
rack empty
5th
rack empty
6th
rack empty
7th
rack empty
8th
rack empty
Recommendations Visual
discrepancy
90 79 (+11) 67 (+23) 56 (+34) 45 (+45) 34 (+56) 23 (+67) 12 (+78) (+89) Turret empty: 45 (+45) Yes

Secondary armaments

1 x 12.7 mm M2HB heavy machine gun (pintle mount)
1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 machine gun (coaxial)

Crew

  • Commander
  • Gunner
  • Loader
  • Driver
  • Assistant Driver

Total: 5 Crew members

Armour

Armour type:

  • Cast homogeneous armour
  • Rolled homogeneous armour (Lower side hull)
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull 50.8 mm (2-64°),19.5 mm (63-84°) Front glacis
50.8 mm (9-56°) Transmission housing
38.1 mm (1-24°) Top
38.1 mm Bottom
38.1 mm (0-37°) Top
38.1 mm (13-50°) Bottom
19.5 mm
Turret 50.8-76.2 mm (18-71°) Turret front
50.8 (3-47°) + 76.2 mm (7-85°) Gun mantlet
50.8 mm (2-70°) 50.8 mm (1-67°) 25.4 mm
Armour Sides Roof
Cupola 50.8 mm 25.4 mm

Notes:

  • Suspension wheels are 15 mm thick, bogies are 10 mm thick, and tracks are 20 mm thick.
  • Front armour slope not even, lower part is weaker than top.
  • Belly armour is 12.7 mm thick.
  • A small patch on the turret front right side is thinner (50.8 mm) than the rest (76.2 mm).
  • Bolt edges on the transmission housing are 101.6 mm thick.

Engine & mobility

Weight: 30.6 ton

Max Speed: 42 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 620 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 20.26 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 763 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 24.93 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 43°
Weight: 30.6 ton

Max Speed: 38 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 354 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 11.57 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 400 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 13.07 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 41°
Weight: 30.6 ton

Max Speed: 38 km/h
Stock

  • Engine Power: 354 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 11.57 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 40°

Upgraded

  • Engine Power: 400 hp @ 2400 rpm
  • Power-to-Weight Ratio: 13.07 hp/ton
  • Maximum Inclination: 41°

Modules and improvements

Tier Mobility Protection Firepower
I Tracks tank module.jpg Parts tank module.jpg Horizontaldrive tank module.jpg
II Suspension tank module.jpg Brakesystem tank module.jpg FPE tank module.jpg Adjustmentoffire tank module.jpg APCBC M61 tank module.jpg
III Filters tank module.jpg Crewreplenishment tank module.jpg Elevationmechanism tank module.jpg
IV Transmission tank module.jpg Engine tank module.jpg Artillerysupport tank module.jpg Smoke M89 tank module.jpg

Recommendation:

History of creation and combat usage

Development

The Battle of France in 1940 proved to America that their current tank arsenal would not be able to withstand a German assault. The only tanks in their inventory at that time was the M2 Light Tanks and the M2 Medium Tank, both are inadequate against the German Panzer IIIs and the Panzer IVs. The US Army, in response, ordered for a tank armed with a 75 mm gun. While a 75 mm gun was available for use, a turret able to mount the gun was not. So while the turret and tank design underwent development, the 75 mm would be mounted on the stopgap design, the M3 Lee tank in a sponson mount. This interim design put the 75 mm on a lower and limited traverse mount that restricted its firing angle, but it did give the Allies a tank with the gun, so it was issued by the thousands until a better design could be made.

During the M3's development, the designs of the 75 mm armed vehicle were being drawn up and submitted by the Ordnance Department. Specifications on the tank design were strict, with restrictions made on the tank's height, width, and weight in order to make it able to be transported over bridges, roads, railroads, and on ships. These specifications would help the army by making the tank be very flexible on strategic, logistical, and tactical grounds. On April 1941, the Armored Force Board chose the simplest of the designs, which was a redesigned M3 hull and chassis with a turret mounting the 75 mm gun designated the T6, completed in September 1941. This tank would then designated the Medium Tank M4 in American service. The tank would become the most used Allied tank during World War II as it was lended out by the thousands in the Lend-Lease program to the Allied countries. The British called the M4 the "Sherman", which coined into the tank's name M4 Sherman that it would be known as in history. The production for the Shermans began on October 1941 and would continue to be produced until the end of the war in 1945 with around 50,000 units produced, making it the second most-produced tank in World War II before the T-34 tank.

Design

Many variants of the Shermans were produced, but they all followed a similar layout. The driver and bow gunner sat in the front driving compartment, the fighting compartment in the middle housed the turret its three crew member, and in the back was the engine compartment. The Sherman used many features present in previous American tank designs, the vertical volute suspension system (VVSS) and radial engine from the M2 Light Tanks, and the sloping armour of the M2 Medium Tanks. This became a contributing factor on the Sherman's reliability on the field, as most of the design flaws were ironed out with the previous tank designs. The tank mounted the 75 mm M3 gun, giving the tank very good AP and HE capabilities. The Sherman's turret traverse speed was very fast, able to traverse a full 360 degrees in only 15 seconds, which is considerably faster than the traverse speed on most German tanks. Another unique feature on the Sherman was the installation of a gyroscopic stabilizer on the gun and sight, making the Sherman one of the first produced tanks to incorporate those features. While the stabilization was only done for the vertical plane, it kept the gun stable enough to be able to shoot on the move effectively, with a study showing a 70 % hit probability on an enemy 300 to 1,200 yards away when moving at a speed of 15 mph. However, this feature was controversial among the crew and experiences with it vary.

The M4A1 Sherman model ran on a gasoline Continental R975C-1 radial engine and was one of the first models of the Sherman developed. The model in-game features the early M38 telecopic sight in the M4 periscope with no zoom, which was later replaced with a M55 telescopic sight in the gun mantlet by recommendation from the British.[1] The tank's hull was fully cast, giving the tank a distinctive rounded slope front and sides. Though the rounded shape gave the frontal armour uneven angling, it provided adequate protection up to 100 mm in thickness in certain areas. Casting the hull took less man hours to perform, but suffered from the limited capability of most American factories and was hard to repair on the field. Thus, welding was prioritized as the primary manufacturing method in the other Sherman variants.[2] Nevertheless, up to 6,281 M4A1s were produced from February 1942 to December 1943, out of the 49,234 Sherman units produced in the war.

Combat usage

European theater

The Shermans first saw combat in the North African Campaign in the Second Battle of El Alamein at October 1942 in the hands of the British. It was much quicker to reinforce the British armoured divisions with the more than 300 M4 Shermans sent to North Africa than it was to create new American ones. It proved much better than the German Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs, able to eliminate them at distances more than 2,000 yards away. The Americans received their first Shermans in the next month in Operation Torch. However better the Shermans were to the German tanks at the time, the Allied armoured units still suffered casualties against the German tanks and anti-tank guns, most notably in the Battle of Kasserine Pass. In Italy, the Shermans proved much more mobile than the German Panzers, able to travel cross-country on the hilly terrain with ease. However, it was at this stage that the Sherman's shortcoming began to take face in the advent of the newer German tanks, the Tiger Is and Panthers. These two tanks featured armour that proved impenetrable when fired at the front, and with guns that could take out the Shermans from farther than the Sherman's effective combat range. The Shermans have to hit the side of these tanks for a penetration, and at ranges that were considered suicidal. Although programs were initiated to up-gun the Sherman with a 76 mm gun, American leaders determine that the Panther and Tigers would not be produced in large quantities and were not as great as a threat as these two vehicles could still be destroyed by the 75 mm gun and standard anti-tank equipment.

During the Invasion of France, it was clear that the Sherman's current build with a 75 mm gun was no longer going to cut it against the German armoured forces. While the Sherman was adequate against what little Panzer III and IVs the Germans have left and against infantry and fortifications with the 75 mm gun, the Panthers and Tigers were in much large quantity than expected, and proved better in armour and firepower to the Shermans. Though in the bocage country of France, the Allies lost more tanks to hidden anti-tank guns and infantry weapons than to tanks. Despite these losses, the mass production of M4 Sherman back in the United States ensured that enough tanks were available for the Allied Forces as they spearhead through France, plus the lack of any other capable tanks meant they had to use the Shermans for the time being. The large quantities of Shermans produced during the war gave the Allied armoured units a major advantage of being fully equipped as the German panzer divisions were rarely in full strength, with some US infantry divisions having more tracked vehicles than some of the panzer divisions. Due to the high attrition rates, tank crews sometimes add improvised armour onto their Shermans in the form of sandbags and logs in hopes of increased survival, but these were determined to be ineffective from evaluations. A more effective method was to have metal armour welded on in improvisation, and an official project was made for such "assault tanks" that ended with the M4A3E2 "Jumbos" with 250 made for the Battle of Normandy. During the Battle of Normandy, the first 76 mm Shermans on the M4A1 were put into combat in Operation Cobra in limited numbers. The Allies continued to primarily use the 75 mm Shermans until the Battle of the Bulge in Winter 1944, when the commanders request only 76 mm Shermans to be brought into Europe as the battle showed the intense armour disparity with the German's large numbers of Panthers and Tiger II's. While new units arriving in Europe were armed exclusively with 76 mm armed-Shermans, the veteran units kept the 75 mm Shermans, to which it continued to do well against softer targets with little threat from German armour due to their extreme declining numbers.

Pacific theater

The M4 Sherman's importance in the Pacific theater was less than that of the European theater due to the different tactical doctrine established from the amphibious nature of combat. Only about 20 tank battalions fielded by the US Army were sent to support the Pacific theater of operations, compared to the total 16 armoured Divisions and 70 tank battalions they have in service. The low priority in tanks were due to the following reasons. Firstly, the jungle terrain on most of the islands fought for against the Japanese were unsuitable for the deployment of large-scale armoured units, relegating armour support to light tanks such as the M3 Stuarts. Secondly, the Japanese forces' armoured units were rather inferior to the American tank forces by 1943. While the Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go tank was comparable to the M2A4 Light Tank, the Shermans out gun these tanks by a large margin. Such a large margin that the tank crew prefer to use high-explosive shots against the Japanese tank than regular armour-piercing as the AP rounds would penetrate straight through without causing much damage in the interior of the tank. The Japanese developed the Type 3 Chi-Nu and the Type 4 Chi-To to fight back the Shermans, but these two never saw combat as they were kept at the Japanese Homeland for the defense against the Allied invasion.

The Shermans, when deployed, were superior to most of the Japanese anti-tank equipment and often were essential to some of the Marine's advances on some of the island assaults. In 1945, the equipping of flamethrower Shermans known as M4A3R3, nicknamed "Zippos", were a significant boost to the infantry's firepower in having a very long range of fire compared to the standard infantry-modeled flamethrowers with the benefit of being in an armoured vehicle. The Zippos are able to flush out enemy combatants from within heavily fortified bunkers and caves that would be dangerous for even flamethrower infantry to take out. The Japanese solution against the Shermans, other than with their 47 mm anti-tank guns, were often suicidal tactics ranging from placing satchel charges right onto the tank, using pole-mounted anti-tank mines to reach and destroy the tank, or even simply throwing oneself underneath a tank with a mine or other explosive and triggering it manually.

Lend-Lease

The Sherman tank was given out in large numbers to American Allies during World War II under the Lend-Lease policy. While America retained about 20,361 Shermans in the Army and Marine Corps, 17,184 went to Britain (about 34% of Shermans produced and 78% of Shermans given out) and the Soviet Union obtained 4,102 Shermans.[3] China obtained 812 Shermans, Brazil with 53, and New Zealand and Australia for 153 Shermans total. Other countries using the Shermans were Poland, Free France, and Czechoslovakia. The British deployed the Sherman among their armoured squandrons in such a large number to become the standard tank of their armoured forces. The increased threat of German tanks in the European theater also provoked the British to upgun the M4 Sherman with a more capable gun, resulting in the Firefly.

Post-War

After the war, the Shermans continued serving America and its allies as the M4A3E8 with a new suspension and 76 mm gun. The M26 Pershing that was introduced late in World War II was phased out for the Shermans due to its unreliability, and the Sherman stayed until the M46 Patton was introduced. After being phased out of American service, many other countries still used the Sherman as their main tank, mainly Israel where they up-gun the tank with the much powerful post-war French 75 mm and 105 mm gun as the M-50 and M-51 respectively (nicknamed "Super Shermans"). These proved successful as they were able to fight against the Soviet-supplied T-54 tanks and T-34-85s in Middle East service, proving the Sherman as a successful and adaptable design for many years to come.

Screenshots and fan art

Skins and camouflages for the _____ from live.warthunder.com.

Images

A M4A1 named "Eternity" leaves Red Beach during the invasion of Sicily.

Additional information (links)

References

  1. Zaloga Steven. Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II Stackpole Books, 2008, "Baptism Of Fire"
  2. Zaloga Steven. Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II Stackpole Books, 2008, "The School of Tank Technology"
  3. Zaloga Steven. Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II Stackpole Books, 2008, "The British Sherman"
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us_m4a1_1942_sherman.png

Icon-country-usa.png M4A1 Sherman
Nation USA
Type Medium tank
Rank 2
Battle Rating
3.3
3.3
3.3

   Metric✓       Imperial   

   Metric       Imperial✓   

Characteristics
Weight
30,600 kg
67,461 lb
Number of Crew 5
Hull armour thickness
50.8/38.1/38.1/19.5 mm
2.0/1.5/1.5/0.77 inches
Statistics
Engine power (stock)
620 hp
354 hp
354 hp
Engine power (upgraded)
763 hp
400 hp
400 hp
HP/ton ratio (stock)
20.26
20.59
11.57
11.75
11.57
11.75
HP/ton ratio (Upgraded)
24.93
25.33
13.07
13.28
13.07
13.28
Max speed
42 km/h
26.2 mph
38 km/h
23.6 mph
38 km/h
23.6 mph
Main Weapon
1 x 75 mm M3 Cannon
Ammo stowage 90 rounds
Vertical guidance -12°/18°
Secondary Weapon
1 x 12.7 mm M2HB Heavy machine gun
Ammo stowage 600 rounds
Mount Pintle mount
Vertical guidance -10°/25°
Horizontal guidance -60°/60°
1 x 7.62 mm M1919A4 Machine gun
Ammo stowage 3,000 rounds
Mount Coaxial
Economy
Required RP 14,000 RP
Vehicle cost 55,000 SL
Crew training cost 16,000 SL
Max repair cost*
1,080 SL
970 SL
1,100 SL
Free repair time (Stock)
5h 01m
8h 18m
8h 18m
Free repair time (Upgraded)
1h 40m
2h 46m
2h 46m
Warning: this sidebar is a WIP, and can be incorrect. Last updated 1.77.2.149.