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Thread: The Sherman tank is not what you thought it was. another great historical read

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    The Sherman tank is not what you thought it was. another great historical read

    "Death Traps" by Belton Y. Cooper is my current read. I never realized what a POS the Sherman really was. And the U.S. knew even in Africa, way before the European invasions-Italy and France.
    Every single thing about the Sherman, with the exception of it's speed, was so inferior to the German tanks and anti tank guns, and the crews knew it. Out gunned, out armored, very poor engines-at first. This book has shown me how very, very brave the Sherman crews were, getting into one day after day, knowing they had very little chance of surviving an encounter with a German anti tank gun, and even a less chance with a Panther or Tiger. To stop a Tiger, the Sherman had to get behind it at no more than 200 yards and hope they could destroy the engine. A Tiger could shoot a hole through both sides of a Sherman from one mile! The Panther was very close to this in it,s ability to destroy the Sherman.
    The author was an ordnance lieutenant, and his job was "to travel with the combat units during the day and assist in coordinating the recovery, repair, and evacuation of the battle-damaged tanks." Due to the high loss rate, the Americans did not want the Germans to know how badly they were killing off our tanks, so the author, every night, personally delivered these reports to HQ, at night, often driving through the fluid German lines. He had rigged up a wooden box where the rear seat was in his jeep, and had a thermite grenade in with all the daily reports, in case capture seems likely.
    Our armored losses were staggering, and this book will really change your perception on many levels about what really happened with U.S. armored divisions in Europe.
    This is really a great book, and a part of the war I certainly did not know was so bad for us.

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    I've listened to the old timers on docs. talk about them. They said with luck the german rounds would pass right through and detonate on the other side. If damage wasn't too bad they would hose and wipe the gore out, then patch them up and stick fresh men in them and do it all over again. A real shameful waste of men is an understatement, but they figured having the numbers that enough would survive to accomplish the task. Battles of attrition aren't pretty, but with enough men and materiel an enemy can be smothered.
    Joe
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    The men that used them knew this.
    They still went to war with what the had.

    A picture of my dad. He was a tank commander.

    Ron
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    The Sherman is basically a Grant tank with a turret. My Wife's grandfather was a gunner then tank commander who went in on the second wave at Juno beach. Yes they had lots of Guts, didn't hurt they were really young too, but after some of the battles they went through, WOW!! To get back into something after seeing what happens to your buddies, GUTS!
    Remember the Sherman was a Medium tank, It was more in league with the Panzers I-IV it was never designed to beat a Tiger, it's just that we could make them so quick by the middle of the war, and that's what we had lots of. The Tiger and Panther were built after the Germans got hammered by the T-34, our Pershing tanks were coming to fight the Tigers/Panthers but not quick enough.
    If you look at pictures later in the war almost all Sherman's have sand bags, logs, extra steel, (or all three) on the outside to try and slow down the 88mm round and the Panzershreks (which were probably more dangerous because there were more of them around then Tigers)

    Ron, It looks like your Dad is in front of the M-47 Patton tank, is that what he was on? Just a little tidbit, it was the last US tank that had a Bowgun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildBillCody View Post
    The Sherman is basically a Grant tank with a turret. My Wife's grandfather was a gunner then tank commander who went in on the second wave at Juno beach. Yes they had lots of Guts, didn't hurt they were really young too, but after some of the battles they went through, WOW!! To get back into something after seeing what happens to your buddies, GUTS!
    Remember the Sherman was a Medium tank, It was more in league with the Panzers I-IV it was never designed to beat a Tiger, it's just that we could make them so quick by the middle of the war, and that's what we had lots of. The Tiger and Panther were built after the Germans got hammered by the T-34, our Pershing tanks were coming to fight the Tigers/Panthers but not quick enough.
    If you look at pictures later in the war almost all Sherman's have sand bags, logs, extra steel, (or all three) on the outside to try and slow down the 88mm round and the Panzershreks (which were probably more dangerous because there were more of them around then Tigers)



    Ron, It looks like your Dad is in front of the M-47 Patton tank, is that what he was on? Just a little tidbit, it was the last US tank that had a Bowgun.
    I know, I guess I should have added that the picture was taken while he was in the Texas National Guard in the early 50's.
    My brothers and I got to ride in the several times, Not my favorite thing to do.
    Another story about my dad. He was in the Navy during WWII and drove Landing craft in the Pacific island's battles.
    He made 33 island landings.
    He made 26 first wave island landings and lost 4 boats.
    Many were Higgins boats.

    He was also assigned with the 1st Marine Raiders for a while and made several early island landings.
    Last edited by Planning; 08-28-2016 at 05:06 PM.
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    Senior Veteran sdk1968's Avatar
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    great stuff guys.


    those early tanks were no match for the German machines.. the Russians did the same thing as the US until they came out with the T-34... they just used mass numbers.

    couple of crucial tank battles on the eastern front where they outnumbered the Germans 15-1.... read lots of accounts of the Germans running out of shells because the tanks just never stopped coming at them...
    say what you mean & mean what you say!
    TEC Tactical=SOT/07 i work there.

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    I've read some of those biographies by fellows who wintered there for a few years. Otto Carius passed away just last year.
    Last edited by jbruney; 08-28-2016 at 08:13 PM.
    Joe
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    Really happy my post has inspired this interest. Please read this book, it really is good.
    The pic of the Sherman WildBillCody posted reminded me of another weakness in the M4-the tracks were much more narrow than the tracks on all the German tanks, and they got stuck all the time in mud and snow. The American remedy was to add extra extensions on the outside of the track, and the tank in the picture clearly shows these. Even with these, they still got stuck a lot more then the German tanks.
    Another interesting thing about our part in the war, did you know that the Tiger was only produced in a number of less than 1,400 total from 1942 to 1945? We built well over 50,000 Shermans. And most of those Tigers went East. To actually encounter one was actually rare, but it truly was memorable to any unfortunate to fight one.
    Last edited by jef1911a1; 08-28-2016 at 08:50 PM. Reason: added info

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    I read that book a while back and thought is was worth the time. I am very interested in U.S. armor from the 1940 to 1941 period.
    .

    It seemed the Sherman was a great tank by 1940 standards
    Interesting how the Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy tried to over-match their opponents one on one. Battleships were designed to win in stand up fight with another battle ship. Fighters were designed to shoot down a Bomber or another fighter. U.S. bombers were designed have maximum defensive firepower, range, speed and were armored
    Maximum fire power, armor and speed were critical areas for both combat ship and aircraft.

    Yet for American tanks the idea was to avoid tank vs tank combat if possible. Bypass strongly held areas, allow Anti-tank units , massed artillery to deal with enemy tanks. The Tank Destroyer concept

    pre war American doctrine had two general types of tanks. Infantry support and Cavalry. The Sherman gave the Army both at the same time. 75 mm gun that could fire HE for infantry support or A/P for other tanks. Fast agile, easy to build in great number and it could cross most engineer bridges.

    The Army did not demand that our tanks be able to slug it out like a battleship or win one on one dogfights like the Air Corps wanted from their machines.

    After reading it I understand how we used Sherman from North Africa to Italy. But after D Day how could we allow such high losses of trained crews in France. It would be like the Air Corps continuing to build massive numbers of improved P 40 or the Navy continuing to use large numbers of Wildcat and instead of Hellcat or Corsair. You were left wondering how it might have been if the M 26 Pershing had been given priority. I understand about the shipping aspect. Two Sherman for one Pershing and bridging equipment problems.

    Still at the end of the day the US Army did not believe it was necessary that American Tanks be stronger than enemy tanks one on one
    Sheer Numbers over combat performance.
    Last edited by Norton; 08-29-2016 at 07:28 PM.
    We thought about it for a long time, "Endeavor to persevere." And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norton View Post
    Still at the end of the day the US Army did not believe it was necessary that American Tanks be stronger than enemy tanks one on one
    Sheer Numbers over combat performance.
    Yep, borne on the backs of the men they told to fight in them! Good points about the bridges, that's why the German's Super Tiger couldn't get into the fight(among'st other things) the European bridges were too narrow, and they didn't have the bridging equipment we did, of course at almost 70 Tons, no one did.
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