M4A3 (76) W
1 backGear box
|This page is about the American medium tank M4A3 (76) W. For similar vehicles, see M4A3 (105) and M4A3 (76) W (Japan).|
The Medium Tank M4A3 (76) W HVSS Sherman (also known as the M4A3E8) is a Rank IV American medium tank with a battle rating of 5.3 (AB/RB/SB). It was one of the first American tanks to be released with the American ground tree in Update 1.45 "Steel Generals". This tank gives the M4 Sherman the best upgrades possible, with a new suspension and a high-penetrating 76 mm cannon with access to APCR rounds.
Compared to the previous Shermans, this one presents better mobility than the last few due to the new horizontal volute suspension system (HVSS). The suspension, like in real life, also seems to give the vehicle a much smoother ride across terrain, making it easier to acquire targets while on the move due to the stability. Another feature about this Sherman is the access to the HVAP rounds (APCR) for the 76 mm gun. The HVAP rounds give the tank a much greater firepower boost to fight the tanks at its rank.
Survivability and armour
- Rolled homogeneous armour (Front, Side, Rear, Roof)
- Cast homogeneous armour (Turret, Gun mantlet, Transmission area)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides||Rear||Roof|
|Hull|| 63.5 mm (47°) Front glacis
63.5-107.9 mm (13-77°) Transmission housing
|38.1 mm|| 38.1 mm (22°) Top
38.1 mm (13-44°) Bottom
|Turret|| 63.5 mm (10-62°) Turret front
88.9 mm (1-74°) Gun mantlet
|63.5 mm (1-72°)||63.5 mm (0-80°)||25.4 mm|
|Cupola||63.5 mm (55-56°)||25.4 mm|
- Suspension wheels are 15 mm thick, bogies are 10 mm thick, and tracks are 20 mm thick.
|Weight (tons)|| Add-on Armor
|Max speed (km/h)|
|Engine power (horsepower)|
|Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
|76 mm M1|
| Horizontal |
|Turret rotation speed (°/s)|
|Mode||Stock||Upgraded||Prior + Full crew||Prior + Expert qualif.||Prior + Ace qualif.|
|Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Stock||Prior + Full crew||Prior + Expert qualif.||Prior + Ace qualif.|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration in mm @ 90°|
Mass in kg
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass in g
| Normalization At 30°
Mass in kg
| Screen radius
| Screen time
| Screen hold time
| Explosive Mass in g|
|71||57 (+14)||43 (+28)||29 (+42)||15 (+56)||1 (+70)||Yes|
|12.7 mm M2HB|
|Capacity (Belt capacity)|| Fire rate
| Horizontal |
|7.62 mm M1919A4|
|Capacity (Belt capacity)|| Fire rate
| Horizontal |
Usage in the battles
Playing as the M4A3 can be tricky since it features armour that can't stop most calibers at its rank such as the German 8.8 cm or the Soviet 85 mm, including the fact that it isn't the fastest tank. The M4A3 plays more of a support role, use its' powerful 76 mm as you assist your teammates during an advance or defense. The number one rule of this tank is to never fight alone with it, always be with a teammate and use cover when available since it will give you a great advantage.
Pros and cons
- Single-plane gun stabilizer.
- Decent 76 mm gun.
- Better maneuverability than its predecessor.
- Easy to use if you played the M4 Shermans before it.
- Very fast turret traverse.
- Quick reload for the 76 mm Gun.
- Wet ammo storage - Which reduces greatly ammo rack chances, is indicated by the "W" in its name, this also means tightly packed ammo only placed under the turret.
- Top-mounted .50 cal useful against fighters and open topped/light vehicles.
- Access to APCR shells.
- Great cross terrain performances due to larger tracks, same as the M4A3 (105).
- All-around armour is very weak against most cannons.
- 76 mm gun, while adequate when top rank, is lacking against opponents.
- Doesn't like being uptiered against big tanks such as the Tiger II (P) and IS-2 1944.
- Tall profile.
The M4 Sherman has become a proven and well-respected tank design by 1944. It was highly reliable, adequately armoured, and could be produced in a very large number with a dedicated support arm to ensure that all of the ones in the field could be kept operational. It was also by 1944 that the Sherman's faults were becoming a more defining trait than its advantages, namely with the increased prevalence of German anti-tank weaponry and tanks, such as the Panther tank. The German anti-tank abilities, ranging from rocket launchers, anti-tank guns, mines, and tank guns, all became more capable of penetrating the frontal armour or disabling the Sherman. This resulted in an increased Allied tank attrition rate of nearly double during the Normandy Campaign than that of the Allies' previous campaigns. Criticisms were raised on the Sherman's inability to destroy the heavier tanks with its 75 mm gun, the tendency of catching fire easily when a penetrating round hits an ammo stowage bin scattered in the Sherman interior, and the lack of mobility on the muddy terrain due to the track design. The first and second criticism was addressed with the high-velocity 76 mm gun and a "wet stowage" ammo containers, but mobility became a big issue especially once the Allied front in France reached the Siegfried Line on the border of Germany, where the ground became very muddy in the fall season. An attempt to fix this was improvising "extensions" on the tracks, but these were difficult to add and there were never enough to go around. The problem had to be addressed in the manufacturing plant and Ordnance Department set to work finding a better solution to fix the track flotation for better mobility.
The result was to be the basis of the next generation of Sherman models. Under the E8 program, new suspension was trialed on the Sherman, one was the horizontal-volute suspension system (HVSS) taken from the T20 program. The trials showed that the new suspension gave the Sherman a ground pressure that is even less than the heavier Panther, and this model was approved for production in March 1944, beginning in August 1944. Despite the time of production, the distance of the Atlantic Ocean between the American factories and Europe cause the delivery time of the first batch of the new models to be three months, meaning they would not see service until December 1944 the soonest. Nevertheless, the new Sherman, dubbed the M4A3 (76) W HVSS Sherman on papers and shortened as the M4A3E8, was considered the best overall Sherman design with its new upgrades.
Aside from the enlarged T23 turret, the Sherman interior layout was largely unchanged from the original design. The driver and bow gunner still sat in the front, the three-man turret crew in the center, and the engine compartment in the back. The exterior was changed with the new horizontal-volute suspension system (HVSS), which presented a different bogie system with larger road wheels that allow the usage of a wider track for better mobility cross-country. The new suspension system helped defeat the problems the Sherman's original tracks had with sinking in the mud from poor flotation and poor traction on slippery terrain. Another advantage the HVSS gave was the ability to change out individual road wheels on the bogie rather than replace the entire bogie, easing maintenance and repairs. The suspension was also reported to be a very smooth ride in comparison with the vertical-volute suspension system (VVSS), leading tankers to nickname the tank the "Easy Eight" from the tank's experimental designation M4A3E8, with the E8 corresponding to the usage of the HVSS.
The M4A3(76)W HVSS ran on a gasoline Ford GAA V8 engine, which was the standard engine used in all M4A3 Sherman variants. The tank construction was welded and had a frontal armour plate sloping at a 47 degree angle. The (76) in the name indicated that the tank was armed with the more powerful 76 mm gun as a counter to the heavier German armour. The "W" designation on the Sherman indicated that the vehicle had the "wet stowage" feature in response to complaints that the Sherman can easily catch fire due to exploding ammunition. The "wet stowage" encased the ammo containers in a liquid mixture that would douse the flames when penetrated or block flaming shrapnels due to penetrating shots from hitting the ammunition. The containers also placed all the ammunition in the bottom center of the tank, reducing the likeliness of it being hit by a shell as the penetrating shell must go through every armour and obstacle to hit the tank center. This feature was only present after February 1944 and severely decreased the rate of Sherman fires. The "HVSS" indicated the usage of the horizontal-volute suspension system on the tank. The M4A3E8 started production in August 1944 and its production life ended around the end of World War II, probably September 1945. M4A3(76)W HVSS production consisted of 4,542 tanks out of the total 49,234 Shermans produced in its production life.
As a newly developed Sherman late in the war, the M4A3E8 did not see much use in the European theater until near the end of the war. Earlier deployment of such tanks did not take priority as military commanders did not take the 76 mm gun with much enthusiasm as the 75 mm gun could fire a much better high-explosive round to fight softer targets, which consists of more than half of the engagements the Shermans typically face. Another reason why these tanks did not see service earlier was the lack of battle need. The 75 mm gun was doing its job well and there were already a few 76 mm Shermans going around fine with the older VVSS. These opinions changed with the Battle of the Bulge, where the German offensive with large numbers of their heavy tanks such as the Panthers and Tiger II's decimated armoured units stationed in the Ardennes. The M4A3E8 saw its first service in the Battle of the Bulge in low numbers, but their prevalence increased after December 1944 when the Battle of the Bulge urged many military commanders, even Eisenhower, to request further deliveries of Shermans to only be armed with the 76 mm cannons. The new units deploying in Europe afterwards had exclusively 76 mm Shermans and as standardization in the suspension went on, the HVSS became more and more common in the European theater.
When World War II ended, many tank units and their Shermans were decommissioned and put out of service, distributed out to NATO allies. Of the 10,000 Shermans the US Army had in 1945, only about 3,202 units were left by 1950 with almost half unserviceable. The need of such tanks returned with the advent of the Korean War in 1950, which had the US military scrounge up whatever tanks they had in their storage to assist the South Koreans and their troops on the ground. This allowed them to build up units with the M4A3E8 and the heavier, but better armed M26 Pershing, building up around five tank battalions. The 8072nd Tank Battalion was raised from Shermans from the occupational forces of Japan and were the first to be sent to Korea in July 1950. By the end of the year, 1,326 tanks were on the ground, of which half were the M4A3E8. The M26 Pershing and M4A3E8 served alongside in the tank battles ensuing from August to October 1950. The most common enemy tank the Allies faced were the Soviet-supplied T-34-85 medium tank. Between the M4A3E8 and the T-34-85, they were nearly identical in statistics as both were able to take each other out easily. Of the two, the Shermans prevailed with the better crew training and gun optics, allowing for an edge in a combat scenario. After these months, tank-vs-tank combat dropped significantly and the tank soon returned to the role of infantry support. It was this role that the Sherman won out against the M26 Pershing as the Pershing suffered from mechanical issues due to weighing ten tons more than a Sherman, but used the same engine. The Sherman was a proven design and was easier to maintain, more mobile, and reliable. It wasn't until the M46 Patton, an upgraded Pershing with improved reliability, that the Shermans were formally replaced in US service.
While the Shermans were finally replaced in American service, many other countries that received the Shermans still used them all the way to the turn of the century. The most famous is Israel, who received a large handful of Shermans from the British to fight for its war of independence in 1948. When the Soviet started aiding the Middle East countries with tanks like the T-34-85, PT-76, and even the T-54s, Israel launched a program with cooperation with France to upgrade the Shermans. The result was the implementation of the AMX-13's 75 mm gun, based off the Panther's gun, onto the Sherman turret. Another program in the 1960s attached the larger 105 mm Modèle F1 French gun from their AMX-30 into the Sherman. The upgraded 75 mm and 105 mm Shermans were designated the M-50 and M-51 respectively, both more well known as the "Super Sherman" abroad. These tanks served in the Middle East conflicts that Israel had to deal with such as the 1956 Suez Crisis, 1967 Six-Day War, and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where the "Super Shermans" proved itself as adequate against the superior and more modern Soviet tanks. These Shermans serve as a symbol of how desperate Israel's situation is with their neighbors, and also an example of how the Sherman is a proven design able to keep up with the arms race with adequate upgrades in its armaments.
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