American main battle tank during World War Two was the Sherman. This was
a medium tank weighing 35 tons and armed with a 75mm, 40 calibre cannon.
This gun was capable of punching through 3.7 inches of armour at 500
yards. The Sherman had an effective armour thickness of 2.8 inches in
the front, 1.6 inches in the sides, and 1.4 inches in the rear. It
carried a crew of five and had three machine guns.
Sherman was a poor match for any of the German tanks against which it
fought. Even the Panzer IV, the weakest of its opponents, had a more
powerful gun. Against the Panther and the Tiger, the Sherman was
hopelessly outclassed. The Panther and the Tiger had frontal armour of
4.8 and 4.0 inches respectively; thus, the Sherman's gun could not kill
either tank in a head-to-head encounter, even at close range. The German
guns were more powerful than the Sherman's; they could easily penetrate
the Sherman's frontal armour even at great ranges.
only chance a Sherman had against a Panther or a Tiger was to shoot it
in the side or rear, where the armour was thinner. This required that
the Sherman lay in wait and shoot its victims from hiding.
the Sherman possessed two less obvious advantages: reliability and
simplicity. These may not be very exciting traits, but in the heat of
combat a little thing like a sticky clutch can be disastrous. A minor
breakdown during a retreat can result in the complete loss of the tank.
Such problems were rare with the Sherman. And their simplicity made it
possible to manufacture them in astounding numbers.
49,000 Sherman tanks were built during World War Two -- more than all
the tank production of the Third Reich for the entire war.
|In March 1941
the United States Army decided it needed a new tank to replace the Grant
M2A1. After looking at five different proposals the Sherman M4 was
chosen. Production began early in 1942. The original armament was a 75mm
gun capable of firing high explosive shells. Its 500hp engine had a
maximum speed of 26mph. This was replaced by a 76mm high-velocity gun in
February 1944. The tank's suspension was redesigned and improved by the
beginning of 1945.
Although inferior to the best German
and Soviet tanks in armament and protection, it was superior in terms of
reliability, serviceability and cost-effectiveness. The
British Army used the Sherman Tank at El Alamein in 1942
by 1943 was the mainstay of Allied operations in Africa and Europe.