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Weapons of World War Two

M4 Sherman medium tank

M4 Sherman medium tank

Born from a series of studies made in 1941, the M4 tank can be defined, without further ado, as the most widespread tank used by the United States Army. During little less than four years, a total of 48000 exemplars would be built, many of which would become part of the armored forces of many countries, taking part practically in every conflict emerged from 1945 to decades later. Some of these tanks still remained in active service four decades after the war, however in an enhanced form.

Even if not offering exceptional prestations like, for example, the German Tiger, the Sherman, as it was denominated the M4, was a tank which earned the sympathy of its crews. Albeit presenting certain vulnerability to side impacts, specially in the versions with welded hull, its acceptable comfort and the quickness with which the routine maintenance could be made were enough to make of it a discreet tank. But in combat it was often inferior to the German tanks, and here we clearly see the diverse standpoints with which the war was approached by Germans and Americans.

The first ones were builders of superb machines, but compared with the American ones they seemed of artesanal level. Little more than 1300 Tiger versus 48000 Sherman. The second ones, instead of seeking for perfection wasting energies for the war effort, settled for something that were good, albeit not excellent, but in large quantity (the manuals stated: "To face a Tiger are needed four Sherman, with the prospect of losing three"). It was not only a disparity of industrial potential, but of a true encounter between the old mindset of the European industry, similar to the one of the early century, and the one of the American industry, more elastic and already looking to the future.

The tank was developed in about twenty series, each of which solved specific problems according to the canons of the company that built it. Hence there were tanks with the hull totally obtained by casting, or with the front casted and the rest of the hull welded, or with riveted parts, and so on... The same would happen with the engines. They would be used Ford, Chrysler, Wright, of petrol, Diesel, with power from 350 to 500 horsepower. The armament, which comprised in the basic version a 75/37 cannon plus five machine guns, would have that cannon replaced by a piece of 76/52 or 76/55 in the versions destined to operate as antitank weapon, while some exemplars would be fitted with a 105/22 howitzer. On the other hand, the machine guns soon were reduced to three: one coaxial with the cannon, one for the radio operator and one of 12.7 millimeters in antiaircraft position in the top of the turret.

With the Sherman would be ellaborated many special tanks such as the minesweepers, which hit the ground with multiple chain "whips" to make the mines to explode, or the amphibious DD (Duplex Drive), which had flotability ensured by an extensible fabric curtain and a blade propeller for moving in the water. To end, it can be said without further ado that the Sherman, albeit not shining by its exceptional characteristics, was a good tank that contributed in a determinant way to the victory of the Allied forces.

Year: 1942

Weight: 28 tonnes

Length: 6.04 meters

Width: 2.60 meters

Height: 2.71 meters

Ground clearance: 43 centimeters

Maximum armor: 76 millimeters

Engine: Continental R975 of 350 horsepower

Maximum speed: 40 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 300 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 75-millimeter cannon; two 7.62-millimeter machine guns; one 12.7-millimeter machine gun

Ammunitions: 90 of 75 millimeters; 6750 of 7.62 millimeters; 600 of 12.7 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 1.9 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.60 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 50 percent

Fording: 0.90 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

LVT 3 BushmasterJagdpanzer HetzerPanzerkampfwagen VI Tiger