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View Full Version : M-27 Tank: Should the US Have Replaced the M4 Sherman?



Nickdfresh
02-18-2008, 07:55 AM
Designed from the T-20 prototypes, the US Army Ordinance Dept. had a ready replacement for the Sherman that was already beginning to show it limitations. The M-27 had sloping armor, mounted a 76mm higher velocity gun putting it roughly on par with the T-34...
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/69/T20E3.jpg


The M27

With their 76mm guns, torsion bar suspension and low silhouettes, the T20E3 and T23E3 were roughly comparable to the Russian T34, and the German Panzer IV so, on the basis that the M4 was becoming obsolete, the Ordnance Department requested the T23E3 and the T20E3 be standardised as the M27 and M27B1 in July 1943. However, the request was rejected and neither design was ever mass produced.

The reason for this lay partly in the decision of the Army Ground Forces command (AGF) not to act upon the growing obsolesence of the M4 design. The Sherman had performed admirably in North Africa and Italy so there was no sense of urgency to replace it. German Tigers had already been encountered by this time, but only in small number and the AGF did not expect to see them fielded in quantity.

Additionally, the AGF declined to adopt the M27 as they did not wish to interrupt M4 production, although by 1943 the manufacture of M4's had reached such a mammoth scale it seems unlikely that a staged switch over to M27 production would have significantly reduced tank output. Perhaps also of significance the M27 would have mounted the 76 mm gun, the introduction of which to the tank force was opposed by the AGF. The Ordnance Department would later suffer almost equal difficulty convincing the AGF to accept the upgunned versions of the Sherman with the net result that not a single 76 mm armed Sherman was in service in time for D-Day, even though they could have been available months earlier. The AGF's reason for rejecting the 76 mm gun was that it would encourage tank crews to stalk enemy tanks, an idea in conflict with then current US armour doctrine, and had a much less effective high explosive shell than the 75mm M3 Gun. The 76mm and 90mm guns were both accepted much more readily into the Tank Destroyer service, however US tanks would not always be able to avoid direct confrontations with German tanks and the shortcomings of the 75mm M3 gun against armour would handicap American tanks for much of the war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T20_Medium_Tank

The M-27 would ultimately evolve into the M-26E3 Pershing Tank, with a more powerful gun and thicker armor...

B-17engineer
02-18-2008, 08:30 AM
I think the should've just because of the fact the Tiger and the 88 gun the Sherman didn't have a chance but maybe this may of had a bit more of a chance to survive

Panther F
02-18-2008, 08:42 AM
That wasn't the US doctrine at the time, tank VS tank.

the_librarian
02-18-2008, 09:16 AM
Just found these that might show some light either way:

Combined Arms Research Library: Kasserine Pass (http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/u?/p4013coll2,31)

Combined Arms Research Library:Army Doctrine 1938-1945 (http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/u?/p4013coll3,1175)

Panther F
02-18-2008, 10:46 AM
Good stuff! Thanks for the read! :mrgreen:

overlord644
02-18-2008, 05:13 PM
it sure would have saved alot of lives of tank crews but could these be produced as fast as the sherman?, there would be a brief period of time after switching production from the M-4 to the new model, but that means that for a very short period of time there would not only be a shortage of shermans for a while, but there wouldnt be any new of these new, improved tanks better, so the US would be sacrificing quality AND quantity

Carl Schwamberger
02-21-2008, 09:23 PM
it sure would have saved alot of lives of tank crews but could these be produced as fast as the sherman?, there would be a brief period of time after switching production from the M-4 to the new model, but that means that for a very short period of time there would not only be a shortage of shermans for a while, but there wouldnt be any new of these new, improved tanks better, so the US would be sacrificing quality AND quantity

First note that there were hundreds of production changes in the M4 Sherman series. Some wereas great as the difference between cast upper hulls and welded hulls. Several completely different turrets were fitted. All of these changes had their effect on slowing production.

If you get hold of Hunnicutts book on the M26 Pershing Tank you will find detailed information on the components of the entire T20 thru T26 series. Nearly everything in the T20 & T23 was compatible with the older M4. Same basic engine, same track parts, same motors for turning the turret. One of the turret designs for this series was used on the M4 with the 76mm gun. The only fundamental difference between the M4 & T20 was in the hull or chassis. It was a completely new design, derived from observations of destroyed tanks in Africa in 1942. A lower sillouete, better side armor, better ammo storage. Changing over hull production would have been the only significant manufactoring change.

Nickdfresh
02-21-2008, 10:03 PM
First note that there were hundreds of production changes in the M4 Sherman series. Some wereas great as the difference between cast upper hulls and welded hulls. Several completely different turrets were fitted. All of these changes had their effect on slowing production.

If you get hold of Hunnicutts book on the M26 Pershing Tank you will find detailed information on the components of the entire T20 thru T26 series. Nearly everything in the T20 & T23 was compatible with the older M4. Same basic engine, same track parts, same motors for turning the turret. One of the turret designs for this series was used on the M4 with the 76mm gun. The only fundamental difference between the M4 & T20 was in the hull or chassis. It was a completely new design, derived from observations of destroyed tanks in Africa in 1942. A lower sillouete, better side armor, better ammo storage. Changing over hull production would have been the only significant manufactoring change.

Excellent points. And I think the link states that with overall production of the M-4 in 1943, little disruption would have been noticed...

tankgeezer
02-22-2008, 06:53 AM
Although the Sherman was not as good a tank as the Pershing, or others of its type, there was a problem with supply. Not just of component parts, (those not common between the two vehicles,) but of transport. While rail cars should carry either one, the ships that carried the things were designed & set up to carry Shermans, and the other such vehicles that went with them. The loading plans for ships were very detailed, and took a long time to configure (development stage) It may have been too difficult for the shipyards to re-configure for the pershing, and its equipment, different ammo, all of that. It seems a trivial point, but that may have bearing on why the T-20 types took so long to get into the war.Just a thought.

Nickdfresh
02-22-2008, 08:15 AM
I think it should be clarified that the M-27 is similar too, and of the same DNA as, the M-26E1 Pershing. In fact he M-27 was almost a mini-Pershing that was lighter and could have gone anyplace the M-4 did. The Pershing was just an up-armored, slightly larger version with a bigger gun. A much bigger gun. The M-27 was pretty close to a T-34 in most other respects...

The Pershing was ready for the War by August of 1944 in truth, but was rejected by the US Army Ground Forces Command despite several complaints that the Tank destroyers, while useful vehicles, were not up to par and the idea of using them to "stalk" panzers was simply impractical when on the offensive and commanders tended to find other uses for them. I think someone referred to them as the "US Army's most successful failure" although the M-36 Jackson "Slugger" served on into Korea...

wlee15
02-22-2008, 05:13 PM
The problem with the T-23 was it's troublesome electrical drive system and wasn't ready for production. The T-25 was the better choice with a more conventional drive system and was essentially a t-26 with 1 inch less armor. In my opinion the better option was adapting the 90mm M3 tank gun for the M4.

overlord644
02-23-2008, 06:28 AM
First note that there were hundreds of production changes in the M4 Sherman series. Some wereas great as the difference between cast upper hulls and welded hulls. Several completely different turrets were fitted. All of these changes had their effect on slowing production.

If you get hold of Hunnicutts book on the M26 Pershing Tank you will find detailed information on the components of the entire T20 thru T26 series. Nearly everything in the T20 & T23 was compatible with the older M4. Same basic engine, same track parts, same motors for turning the turret. One of the turret designs for this series was used on the M4 with the 76mm gun. The only fundamental difference between the M4 & T20 was in the hull or chassis. It was a completely new design, derived from observations of destroyed tanks in Africa in 1942. A lower sillouete, better side armor, better ammo storage. Changing over hull production would have been the only significant manufactoring change.

yeah good point i didn't realize that,

gumalangi
02-28-2008, 12:38 AM
I think,. Sherman would do just fine,.. few heavy's might be good,. but Allied won't won the war without Sherman,..

let those Motor Carriages with their 9incher knock off those panza,..

bwing55543
03-02-2008, 08:31 PM
The Americans had no major need to replace the Sherman since the Allies had air superiority. Tigers slowing troops down? No problem, they can order a tank buster air strike.

The only Allied tank that could really take a Tiger on was the Soviet T-34, yet the Allies were not really cowering in fear on the Western front.

Nickdfresh
03-08-2008, 07:42 AM
The Americans had no major need to replace the Sherman since the Allies had air superiority. Tigers slowing troops down? No problem, they can order a tank buster air strike.

Somewhat true, but the tiger really wasn't the main problem since there were less than 100 operational at any one time in Normandy. The Sherman's high profile and overall exposure of side armor above the tracks made it quite a tempting target for infantry with panzerfausts. And even the far more numerous Pzkpfw IVs, long since upgunned (with the long barreled 75mm) and armored went from being an inferior tank to the Sherman to a much better one. Then of course, the Panther was simply in a different class...


The only Allied tank that could really take a Tiger on was the Soviet T-34, yet the Allies were not really cowering in fear on the Western front.

Not really. The supposed T-34 kill ratio to German tanks (11:1) was even greater than the Sherman's...And the improved Sherman (M-4A3E8) "Easy Eight" was pretty much equal to the T-34s (76) used by the Chinese and North Koreans during that War...

Chevan
03-08-2008, 09:24 AM
Where have yo got that "supposed kill ratio" ?
According you ratio soviets should lost all their tanks 4-5 times during the war:)?
It seems you rather underestimate the M4 Sherman gentlemens.
This was enough effective medium tank , the some of modification (like Firefly) could be used succesfully agains germans tanks Panthers and T-IV.
I think that the serious replacing of the basis Medium tank during the total war- this inevetably would had the bad consequences for mass production.Neither Americans , nor Soviets did it.And this was absolutly right.
We have the one excellent example- Germany.
That's right , they had fully developed from zero and creted the absolutly new kind of HEavy tank Tiger and half-heavy Panther.( with Great figures of lacks initially)
And what?
Since the 1942 till the end of the war they made ONLY 1250 of Tiger all of modification ( 1/2) and about 6 000 of Pantheres:)
This is NOTHING in comparition with over 35 000 of Shermans and over 50 000 of T-34 all of modifications that were prodused during the entire war.
Do not forget the mass production is the first condition to win the war.
So although some of GErmans crew could destroy the fantastic figures of allies tanks ( especially from ambush) - the Germans tanks armies lost strategic advantage i the end.

Nickdfresh
03-08-2008, 10:00 AM
Where have yo got that "supposed kill ratio" ?
According you ratio soviets should lost all their tanks 4-5 times during the war:)?

That's why I said "supposed" as these things have been exaggerated, including the supposed 5:1 kill ratio of panzers over the Sherman, for the reasons you correctly mention. I was only illustrating a point, that the exposure of maneuver warfare led to German tanks essentially picking off Allied tanks as a sniper would shoot up exposed infantry. Never-the-less, exposed T-34s maneuvering on the offense, where going to take losses higher than they could inflict...


It seems you rather underestimate the M4 Sherman gentlemens.
This was enough effective medium tank , the some of modification (like Firefly) could be used succesfully agains germans tanks Panthers and T-IV.

I agree that the improved Shermans were more than a match for the vast majority of the actual German AFVs on the battlefield, including the PzIVs. And of course the Red Army was the beneficiary of the upgunned US 76mm variant..

The M-27 design, as evidenced with the heavier, but very similar hull-layout, of the Pershing which lowered the hull flush with the tracks giving the crew better protection from side shots. US production would not have really suffered much as most of the components (aside from the hull) were pretty much identical to the Sherman. And even the numerous, mostly political and bureaucratic, obstructions to the Pershing development, over 2500 were still produced by the end of the War showing that the Allies could still eclipse Germany in armored production, even with newer designs..


I think that the serious replacing of the basis Medium tank during the total war- this inevetably would had the bad consequences for mass production.Neither Americans , nor Soviets did it.And this was absolutly right.

You may have an argument here. But the M-27 was still a medium tank about the size and class of the T-34. And an orderly, phased over production would have resulted in little, if any real, loss of production.

In addition, variants of the Sherman would have been continued to have been produced on a limited basis for infantry support and where they were more ideally suited after 1943: The Pacific Theater of Operations...


We have the one excellent example- Germany.
That's right , they had fully developed from zero and creted the absolutly new kind of HEavy tank Tiger and half-heavy Panther.( with Great figures of lacks initially)
And what?
Since the 1942 till the end of the war they made ONLY 1250 of Tiger all of modification ( 1/2) and about 6 000 of Pantheres:)

This is true, but again, only part of the picture. The Tiger was around in concept since about 1937(?) and the Panther was an unnecessarily equivalent of the T-34. Part of the problem was the great complexity of these tanks. Another problem is that the Germany never completely switched over to a War economy until 1942, and the disruptions in production by Allied bombing, the resulting problems brought by dispersion of production, confused, duplicate design programs, and the use of obstinate slave labor also combined to hinder German war production...


This is NOTHING in comparition with over 35 000 of Shermans and over 50 000 of T-34 all of modifications that were prodused during the entire war.
Do not forget the mass production is the first condition to win the war.
So although some of GErmans crew could destroy the fantastic figures of allies tanks ( especially from ambush) - the Germans tanks armies lost strategic advantage i the end.

I agree overall with your points on this, but they are not in anyway necessarily relevant to the introduction of newer, better models as it would have been a blip in US production.

Uyraell
03-10-2009, 11:23 AM
Where have yo got that "supposed kill ratio" ?
According you ratio soviets should lost all their tanks 4-5 times during the war:)?
It seems you rather underestimate the M4 Sherman gentlemens.
This was enough effective medium tank , the some of modification (like Firefly) could be used succesfully agains germans tanks Panthers and T-IV.
I think that the serious replacing of the basis Medium tank during the total war- this inevetably would had the bad consequences for mass production.Neither Americans , nor Soviets did it.And this was absolutly right.
We have the one excellent example- Germany.
That's right , they had fully developed from zero and creted the absolutly new kind of HEavy tank Tiger and half-heavy Panther.( with Great figures of lacks initially)
And what?
Since the 1942 till the end of the war they made ONLY 1250 of Tiger all of modification ( 1/2) and about 6 000 of Panthers:)
This is NOTHING in comparition with over 35 000 of Shermans and over 50 000 of T-34 all of modifications that were prodused during the entire war.
Do not forget the mass production is the first condition to win the war.
So although some of GErmans crew could destroy the fantastic figures of allies tanks ( especially from ambush) - the Germans tanks armies lost strategic advantage i the end.

Hello Chevan,
Inaccurate figure there.:idea:
It is, as far as I know :1300 Tiger 1's Plus 485 Tiger 2's
which gives a figure of 1785 Tigers of both versions.
The 6000 Panther figure is, as far as I know, 5985 excluding the Panther 2 and Panther F prototypes, so I'm not debating your figure, there.

As to Germany having lost the strategic advantage I somewhat agree.

As to the viability of replacing the M4 medium with the M7 medium tank, I see no real reason it should not have been done, as self-propelled howizers such as the M7 Priest were available in reasonable numbers for bunker-busting etc. and could easily have been employed in that role, much as the Soviet army employed its' SU series AFV's for the same role, though the SU's had the advantage of being employable against tanks also.

It therefore would not have cost the USA much in operational terms, to make the change to the M7 medium tank. The point elsewhere made in this thread about having to reconfigure the transport ships, while fair, is a little misleading, since such ships were based on deck area a cargo occupied, and had multiple chain anchoring points grouped between and around each specific vehicle location.
The "square areas" occupied by a Sherman and an M7 medium would have been identical, within inches.

Regards, Uyraell.

Dixie Devil
03-11-2009, 09:02 AM
Perhaps the reason for sticking with the Sherman was simply because the Sherman perfectly fit the role of what a tank was supposed to do by the U.S. doctrine of the time. The new tank would have better filled the grey area between a tanks job of infantry support and a tank destroyers role of engaging enemy tanks. With the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see that a tank to fill the role between the Sherman and the tank destroyers was exactly what the U.S. needed but that would have also required a complete overhaul of training doctrine for armored warfare. Perhaps the high command didn't want to go through all that in the middle of a war that they were already winning. It is tragic for many brave tank crews but throughout history high commands have usually been very reserved about changing doctrine, especially when the current doctrine is succeeding.

Uyraell
03-11-2009, 12:17 PM
Perhaps the reason for sticking with the Sherman was simply because the Sherman perfectly fit the role of what a tank was supposed to do by the U.S. doctrine of the time. The new tank would have better filled the grey area between a tanks job of infantry support and a tank destroyers role of engaging enemy tanks. With the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see that a tank to fill the role between the Sherman and the tank destroyers was exactly what the U.S. needed but that would have also required a complete overhaul of training doctrine for armored warfare. Perhaps the high command didn't want to go through all that in the middle of a war that they were already winning. It is tragic for many brave tank crews but throughout history high commands have usually been very reserved about changing doctrine, especially when the current doctrine is succeeding.
Inclined to agree.
Though I am glad you drew the distinctions you did, in your post.
Yes, the US Army was winning that war, but doing so despite the doctrine as regards the employment of armour, rather than because of that doctrine.
As regards revising a doctrine in the middle of a war, I certainly agree that it is a thing rarely done, even if it should be.

Regards, Uyraell.

Nickdfresh
03-11-2009, 02:57 PM
Perhaps the reason for sticking with the Sherman was simply because the Sherman perfectly fit the role of what a tank was supposed to do by the U.S. doctrine of the time. The new tank would have better filled the grey area between a tanks job of infantry support and a tank destroyers role of engaging enemy tanks. With the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see that a tank to fill the role between the Sherman and the tank destroyers was exactly what the U.S. needed but that would have also required a complete overhaul of training doctrine for armored warfare. Perhaps the high command didn't want to go through all that in the middle of a war that they were already winning. It is tragic for many brave tank crews but throughout history high commands have usually been very reserved about changing doctrine, especially when the current doctrine is succeeding.


The Sherman tank was good enough to do the job, provided IF (like it's most direct comparable German panzer -the Mark IV) it was continually upgraded. You bring up some good points, but I would argue here as elsewhere that the unreality of the "Tank Destroyer Doctrine" as laid out in FM18-5 (I think) was realized as early as during North Africa as TDs were only ever deployed as they were trained too in one instance as far as anyone knows, and with some mixed success. But according to Christopher Gabel who wrote a very specific work on the subject, even the tank destroyer crews realized that their stated role was a unworkable and even folly, and they were soon put to uses as indirect fire artillery, assault guns, and even as conventional battle tanks rather than as 'hunters' and 'stalkers.'

There was in fact a sometime rancorous debate between the main proponent of the TD Doctrine, Army Ground Forces Command and the Ordinance Department, which favored newer tanks matching the Panthers and Tigers. One thing that Gabel plainly states though that cannot be refuted was that the numbers of tank destroyer units were marginalized and fewer and fewer of them were being sought to fill allocations by actual combat commanders that realized it simply wasn't working and was based on a flawed theoretical premise and not real world experience. This was especially true as the TDs doctrine was articulated in post-Battle of France panic that set into the unprepared US forces and was essentially a defensive concept that was wholly inappropriate to the coming offensives the US would undertake that perhaps they could not have foreseen at that point. I would argue that it isn't "hindsight," but non-sight by certain generals in the USAGFC that was responsible for what was a minor debacle and key blunder..

You can see a copy of Gabel's paper/book here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=IA1ljqnb7IwC&dq=tank+destroyer+doctrine&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=PgYF0Ncp-e&sig=Jwe03N18p2-s8cdCYBl6zm1gbK8&hl=en&ei=rRS4Sej8NpbGM8-kmdcK&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result

You can also download it as a PDF file from the link in this thread: http://ww2incolor.com/forum/showpost.php?p=120143&postcount=53

Dixie Devil
03-12-2009, 09:44 AM
Nice link Nick. As far as the flawed doctrine of using tank destroyers you have a good point but I stop short of placing all the blame on the generals with the information they had at the time. The only real test of their doctrine they had prior to Normandy was the fighting in North Africa since Sicily and Italy were mountainous areas that didn’t favor tank warfare and in the limited time U.S. forces were engaged it would have been hard to justify (per the views at the time) throwing out a doctrine. Compound that with the fact that in North Africa the only tanks that the Sherman faced that were even on par in firepower and armor were the few up gunned Panzer IV and very limited numbers of Tigers and I have trouble faulting them completely. Now perhaps if the high command hadn’t got complacent after North Africa or if the Soviets had acted like the Allies they were supposed to be in sharing information about tanks like the Panther the general staff would have been more at fault. Also it was June of 1944 before the general staff even realized they had been outclassed by the Germans in tanks and in a one year period the U.S. along with the British had essentially caught back up with the Germans in tank development and was already reversing their doctrines.

The U.S. army probably noted also that the Germans were still using tank destroyers themselves so this was a vote of confidence for the use of tank destroyers. The Germans just benefited in having advanced tanks in late 1944 and early 1945 to fill the void that American Forces still had.

tomo pauk
03-13-2009, 12:36 PM
My 2 cents:

US Army did have the T-34-like tanks almost from day one: the M4 Sherman. The 75mm armed variant was as good as T-34-76, while 3in armed one could pierce as much steel as the T-34-85 could.

What US Army needed was a heavy tank to fill any gaps that could open; something like KV-85. A tank with tick armor, even with 3in until the 90mm becomes available.

Nickdfresh
03-13-2009, 02:10 PM
It should be noted that the Allies captured Tiger tanks as early a mid-1943 in North Africa and some Panthers were also encountered. And in my opinion, the upgunned Mark IV was panzer, and reason, enough to begin to upgrade the Sherman.

The truth is that even with relatively few modifications, some of the tank destroyers would have made fine tanks. The M-36 Jackson/Slugger was essentially a defacto tank...

snebold
03-17-2009, 06:14 AM
Perhaps the reason for sticking with the Sherman was simply because the Sherman perfectly fit the role of what a tank was supposed to do by the U.S. doctrine of the time. The new tank would have better filled the grey area between a tanks job of infantry support and a tank destroyers role of engaging enemy tanks. With the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see that a tank to fill the role between the Sherman and the tank destroyers was exactly what the U.S. needed but that would have also required a complete overhaul of training doctrine for armored warfare. Perhaps the high command didn't want to go through all that in the middle of a war that they were already winning. It is tragic for many brave tank crews but throughout history high commands have usually been very reserved about changing doctrine, especially when the current doctrine is succeeding.

That is probably correct. I saw it coined something like this in a book: The US decided early in WWII, that they would win or loose that war with the Sherman.
The non-replacement of the Sherman was partly a result of the flawed tank-hunter doctrine, partly pre-occupation with mass-production. In my opinion, the US should have put the T27 in production, but in a climate where even the fitting of the 76mm gun to the Sherman was opposed, it probably didnīt have a chance. Iīve always thought the unneccesary lateness in fitting the 76mm to the Sherman as something close to criminal ineptitude among decisionmakers. Superior weapons after a few months production line disruption due to relatively minor modifications would have done the US better in case of the T27 and the P-38K. All those variations to the Sherman theme, and yet it had to retain itīs high ugly profile...

Dixie Devil
03-17-2009, 11:18 AM
Well remember the only reason that mounting the 76mm gun in the Sherman was opposed was because of the tank destroyer doctrine. The medium velocity 75mm gun was much better at firing HE rounds that were better for infantry support while the high(er?) velocity 76mm gun was better for penetrating armor. To mount the 76mm gun in the Sherman was in a small way admitting that the tank destroyer doctrine wasn't effective on the battlefield since the only reason it was fitted was to improve the Shermanís anti tank capabilities and actually decreased their effectiveness in infantry support.

Panzerknacker
03-17-2009, 08:56 PM
Replacing the Sherman no, but probably it could complement it in relationship 3 Sherman with one M-27. Replacing it completely would cause a lag in production with a downfall of available tanks in the front.

Nickdfresh
03-18-2009, 02:54 PM
Replacing the Sherman no, but probably it could complement it in relationship 3 Sherman with one M-27. Replacing it completely would cause a lag in production with a downfall of available tanks in the front.


The change over of production would have been almost seamless and a non-issue, since they US Army had more tanks than they had shipping for anyways. In any case, there always would have been Shermans (or M-27s) that mounted the M-3 75mm short gun for infantry support while a 76mm armed tank would have gradually phased out the "tank destroyers" which were only effective in defense. Their shining moment was perhaps during the Battle of the Bulge, where an M-10 Wolverine made several critical hits with tungsten rounds on two Panthers, knocking out both and halting the German onslaught into Bastogne bluffing the Germans into believing the defenses were stronger than they were until the US units of the 101st and stragglers were organized into a cohesive, mobile defense...

Cpt_Prahl
05-15-2009, 10:06 AM
Make note gentlemen that when trying to apropriate new machines into the military there is a thing called the arms appropriation comitty, everything has to go through them too and with a strained economy, supply lines all over the world and inter Military relations these things get difficult, make note the 76mm high velocity cannon started its life as an anti aircaft gun belonging to the navy if I rember correctly.

Also during the war when my Gramps unit (H co 2ndbat BRO)was supported by TD's the platoons consited of 4 to 5 shermans and one 76mm TD, untill the bulge few if any 90mm TDs were available to front line units like the 634th. Not to mention the 76mm Shermans.

After WW II TD doctorine was completely abandoned, as the Slugger became a TANK not a TD as the classification of TD was an open turret and a Tank a Closed turret.
Patton was also very against changing the doctorine as he stated if we change it then they are Tanks and not Tank Destroyers, and thats what happend in the end.

Also most TD units were equipped with Half Track mounted cannons or the 37mm AT gun and 57mm at gun untill the complete change in TO&E for Normandy.

Dnillik
07-27-2009, 04:58 PM
I guess Iíll get flamed for this but IMO the M4/75 is a better tank than the T34/76. I think the T34 is held is such high regard today because it came as such a shock to the Germans and scared the hell out of them. However it had some serious problems and if the Germans had not invaded the Russians had planed to stop production and introduce the T43. The T34/76 had a two man turret this meant that the commander was usually the gunner, the lack of skilled crew meaning that a less experienced crew man had to serve as the loader. It also suffered from very poor visibility when buttoned up, there are accounts of T34ís driving right past German tanks because they could not see them. When the T34/85 was introduced they finally got a 3 man turret. In addition the T34 had the drivers hatch in the glacis plate and this proved to be a weak spot that was never fixed. While the early M4ís had a problem with the cupolaís over the driver and assistant driverís heads it was quickly fixed. The T34 also suffered from a weak transmission, especially in early models though this improved as the war progressed. Both tanks had comparable armor over the front arc and similar guns. The lower height off the T34 was some what of an advantage but did mean that it was tacticly limited due to lack of gun depression. Both the T34 and M4 suffered from burning ammunition due to exposed ammo stowage in the sponsons and it was a bit worse for the M4 since it carried more ammunition.
The problem with the M4 was a failure to upgrade the armament, the hull could accept a 90mm gun as proven by the M36B1 but Army tactics prevented this. By time the error was realized in Normandy and reinforced during the Battle of the Bulge it was easier to introduce an improved tank, the M26.
Just a thought, I donít think Patton would have been able to make the sweeping advances he did it he had the German Panther, it just broke down too much. The M4 was dependable , easy to repair, and easy to operate.
The usual American response to a concentration of German armor was several batteries of heavy artillery and fighter bombers.

Deaf Smith
07-29-2009, 08:38 PM
It's my understanding Patton was given the option of producting Shermans or Pershing. He told the production board he wanted Shermans so he would have enough tanks.

Same old quantity .vs. quality arugment. He felt the Sherman was good enough as long as we had enough of them (which we did.)

Deaf

Nickdfresh
07-30-2009, 06:29 AM
It's my understanding Patton was given the option of producting Shermans or Pershing. He told the production board he wanted Shermans so he would have enough tanks.

Same old quantity .vs. quality arugment. He felt the Sherman was good enough as long as we had enough of them (which we did.)

Deaf

Patton didn't have such command authority as too deciding which tank to produce. He certainly had input and probably favored the Sherman. But it was the Ground Forces Command that hindered the Ordnance Dept's development of better and heavy tanks in favor of the ever more discredited Tank Destroyer doctrine. His name escapes, but the commanding general of USAGFC, who later was killed in combat, had far greater leverage than Patton over what got built and what remained a testbed mule, and continued to favor the TD doctrine long after US field commanders had begun requesting less and less TD units...

Christopher R. Gabel wrote an excellent paper (The Leavenworth Papers (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/csi.asp#papers)) on tank destroyers (download "No. 12" if interested) and their US doctrine...

Carl Schwamberger
07-31-2009, 10:14 PM
Patton didn't have such command authority as too deciding which tank to produce. He certainly had input and probably favored the Sherman.

This story probablly originated in a January confrence of armored unit leaders in in the UK. A variety of subjects were discussed, including recomendations for changes in tank design and armament.


But it was the Ground Forces Command that hindered the Ordnance Dept's development of better and heavy tanks in favor of the ever more discredited Tank Destroyer doctrine. His name escapes, but the commanding general of USAGFC, who later was killed in combat, had far greater leverage than Patton over what got built and what remained a testbed mule, and continued to favor the TD doctrine long after US field commanders had begun requesting less and less TD units....

Gen Leslie McNair was commander of Army Ground Forces from its inception to the late spring of 1944. He was holding a job with SHAEF when killed by a stray USAAF bomb at the start of Operation Cobra in late July. In his defense McNair was not a dolt or buercratic moron. He did a credible job at completing the mobilization and equipping the US Army Ground Forces in 1942 - 43. But it is inevitable mistakes would be made and the critics snipe.



Christopher R. Gabel wrote an excellent paper (The Leavenworth Papers (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/csi.asp#papers)) on tank destroyers (download "No. 12" if interested) and their US doctrine...

I've frequently seen copies of this in the used book stores. Its cheap and worth diverting a bit of lunch money for.

Zalogas book on the M26 is also recomended. A good outline of the history of the T20 series & the M26.

The rare & expensive holy grail of M26 books would be Hunnicutt. His thick volume is a' MUST BUY' if you find a copy at a yard sale table.

tankgeezer
08-02-2009, 03:15 PM
Amazon lists 5 copies of hunnicutt's book from $100.- to $190.- (US) should someone wish to acquire a copy.

The Historian
02-19-2010, 10:08 PM
Patton didn't have such command authority as too deciding which tank to produce. He certainly had input and probably favored the Sherman.

His media power probably helped: congressmen couldn't brush aside his thoughts without angering their constituents, and congressmen dictate the Army's budget...

Nickdfresh
02-20-2010, 03:42 PM
Amazon lists 5 copies of hunnicutt's book from $100.- to $190.- (US) should someone wish to acquire a copy.

I got Hunnicutt's book for quite a bit less on Ebay...

Nickdfresh
02-20-2010, 03:49 PM
His media power probably helped: congressmen couldn't brush aside his thoughts without angering their constituents, and congressmen dictate the Army's budget...

Who knows? Patton did hold up the issuing of the 76mm toting M-4A3E8s until it was blindingly obvious that U.S. tankers needed something more than a "medium velocity" gun.

Interestingly the U.S. Army also started equipping some Shermans with the British "Firefly" 17 pounder gun. But a few hundred conversions were made when it was stopped in favor of the Pershing....

Deaf Smith
02-20-2010, 08:54 PM
Interestingly the U.S. Army also started equipping some Shermans with the British "Firefly" 17 pounder gun. But a few hundred conversions were made when it was stopped in favor of the Pershing....

The Firefly should have been THE Sherman to begin with! Yea I know arming an American tank with a British gun would have sent Patton into a tizzy, but still it really was the best solution. The 17 pounder was a proven gun and a real good solution.

Deaf

The Historian
02-21-2010, 01:05 AM
How reliable was the 17-pounder's anti-personnel round?

pdf27
02-21-2010, 02:59 AM
The Firefly should have been THE Sherman to begin with! Yea I know arming an American tank with a British gun would have sent Patton into a tizzy, but still it really was the best solution. The 17 pounder was a proven gun and a real good solution.
Unfortunately, what Patton thought about it or otherwise is pretty much irrelevant. UK production was essentially maxed-out during WW2, and worse still was a very poor fit to US mass-production methods*. To get an understanding of this, read up on the implementation of Merlin engine production at Packard. It took just under a year to get the first prototype engine running in the US, and although I can't find a date for when mass production started I'd be amazed if the engine was available in significant numbers for at least another 6 months. Follow this argument through to tank guns (a slightly less complex device, but one which requires a specialist industrial base to make the barrels), and you're looking at being forced to make the decision about what tank gun to use before D-Day if you're going to use the Firefly before the end of the war, or even by the end of 1942 (at which point no US tank units had any significant experience) to have it available for D-Day. Not going to happen.

* US mass production methods relied on relatively low-skilled people repeating a very small part of a process, with the process being defined by very highly skilled manufacturing engineers and with extensive use of Statistical Process Control (abandoned by the US and taken up by the Japanese after the war - resulting in the Japanese economic miracle. For further reading start with William Edwards Deming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming)). The UK approach was a much more craftsman-led, with it not being uncommon to find say an engine using Metric, Imperial and Whitworth fastenings, and even on occasion selective assembly to get something to fit. Converting something from one production method to another requires a complete redesign, not merely building a production line.

Rising Sun*
02-21-2010, 06:03 AM
Gen Leslie McNair was commander of Army Ground Forces from its inception to the late spring of 1944. He was holding a job with SHAEF when killed by a stray USAAF bomb at the start of Operation Cobra in late July. In his defense McNair was not a dolt or buercratic moron.

I can't find my source, and maybe I've got it wrong in my ancient brain, but I seem to recall that McNair was partly responsible for his own death when he supported a bombing approach wanted by the army against that proposed by the air force.

My recollection is that McNair went forward to observe the bombing and was duly killed by a bomb which fell back into the US lines in accordance with the army bombing approach imposed on the air force and exactly as the air force had warned would happen.

I think my source for this might come from The War Between the Generals by David Irving, before he became less reliable on the Holocaust denial stuff, but I don't have a copy now.

Nickdfresh
02-21-2010, 06:09 PM
I can't find my source, and maybe I've got it wrong in my ancient brain, but I seem to recall that McNair was partly responsible for his own death when he supported a bombing approach wanted by the army against that proposed by the air force.

My recollection is that McNair went forward to observe the bombing and was duly killed by a bomb which fell back into the US lines in accordance with the army bombing approach imposed on the air force and exactly as the air force had warned would happen.

I think my source for this might come from The War Between the Generals by David Irving, before he became less reliable on the Holocaust denial stuff, but I don't have a copy now.

I'll comment on the gun stuff later, after the U.S.A. vs. Canada Olympic hockey game...

As far as Gen. McNair, he may have been capable in some organizational sense. But Gable describes McNair, and a cohort at the Army Tank Destroyer school, as "an island of faith surrounded by a sea of doubt" regarding their dogmatic interpretation of, and adherence too, the Tank Destroyer doctrine. Field commanders were questioning its wisdom even early on in North Africa as being wasteful and unrealistic--as the Ordinance Dept. was coming out with innovative tank designs that rivaled anything coming out of Germany or Tankograd...

Carl Schwamberger
03-26-2010, 12:13 PM
I can't find my source, and maybe I've got it wrong in my ancient brain, but I seem to recall that McNair was partly responsible for his own death when he supported a bombing approach wanted by the army against that proposed by the air force.

My recollection is that McNair went forward to observe the bombing and was duly killed by a bomb which fell back into the US lines in accordance with the army bombing approach imposed on the air force and exactly as the air force had warned would happen.

I think my source for this might come from The War Between the Generals by David Irving, before he became less reliable on the Holocaust denial stuff, but I don't have a copy now.

Mcnair had no command authority on tis issue. His official job at that point was commander of the First US Army Group (FUSAG), which existed only as a deception operations directed at German intelligence agencies. He had been recently transfered from the US and command of Army Ground Forces there to Europe. It was Eisenhowers habit to keep a number of supernumaries around in case he had to fire a General or two and the FUSAG job was somewhere to park McNair till a real job opened up.

What McNair did call wrong was ignoring Ike's directive that senior generals not unecessarily expose themselves. He was not suposed to be that close to the combat zone. McNair had ignored this warning in January 1943 and been wounded in Tunisia. Ike sent his bandaged *** back to the US posthaste & Marshall let it ride thinking McNair had learned his lesson.

A brigadier General Varnum had ignored this directive in 1943 & was shot down over Germany. Unfortunatly Varnum had inside knowledge of the ULTRA system and the penetration of the German Enigma encryption system. Fortunatly the German never suspected Varnum and did not interrogate him on that subject.

Bradley & Dolittle were the principle players on the questions of heavy bombers making tactical airstrikes in Normandy.

Carl Schwamberger
03-26-2010, 12:33 PM
I'll comment on the gun stuff later, after the U.S.A. vs. Canada Olympic hockey game...

As far as Gen. McNair, he may have been capable in some organizational sense. But Gable describes McNair, and a cohort at the Army Tank Destroyer school, as "an island of faith surrounded by a sea of doubt" regarding their dogmatic interpretation of, and adherence too, the Tank Destroyer doctrine. Field commanders were questioning its wisdom even early on in North Africa as being wasteful and unrealistic--as the Ordinance Dept. was coming out with innovative tank designs that rivaled anything coming out of Germany or Tankograd...

It went far beyond TD doctrine, or the US Armys use of early 20th Century industrial management theory. Perhaps the most important failure was one of intelligence analysis. Very few senior commanders, including Patton, had any idea how many heavy tanks, Panthers and Tigers, the Germans had sent to France before 6th June. Nor were they up to speed on the effectiveness of the many other German AT weapons. In Tunisia and Italy the Germans had never possesed more than 20 operating Tigers on any day and the average was far lower. Because the US Army test showed too many problems with the use of heavy tanks, and the Germans had used so few in 1943 it was thought they would not be significant in 1944 either.

Note that in this assumption the US tank leaders were partially correct. From June 6th through 30 July less than a dozen Tiger tanks wandered into the US sector of Normandy. If I recall correctly only one German armored division in the US sector had any Panther tanks. It was not until the middle of August that the US 1st and 3rd Armies begain fighting significant numbers of Tigers and Panthers. The severe losses of US Army Sherman tanks in Normandy were for many other reasons than the inferiority of the M4 Sherman to the Mk VI Tiger or the MkV Panther. Overall perhaps 30% of the US tanks knocked out in the Normandy fight were hit by German tanks. The majority were nailed by AT guns, assuallt guns, infantry AT weapons like the Panzerfaust, artillery, or mines.

Tiger205
03-27-2010, 06:39 PM
Interestingly the U.S. Army also started equipping some Shermans with the British "Firefly" 17 pounder gun. But a few hundred conversions were made when it was stopped in favor of the Pershing....

Dear Nick!

Do you have any evidence? Pls,. send me a quote!
i have just sources (incl. Zaloga books) stating NO any 17prd-gun in US service.

Other hand: tell the truth guys, the REALLY succesfull post-war US tanks had no US guns (british L7 and german 120mm SB)

Nickdfresh
03-27-2010, 07:45 PM
Dear Nick!

Do you have any evidence? Pls,. send me a quote!
i have just sources (incl. Zaloga books) stating NO any 17prd-gun in US service.

That would be correct. Indeed NO 17-Pdr's entered U.S. service. The few hundred conversions were made, but never left Britain--at least in American service IIRC...

Here's the quote you so desperately need:


Additionally, interest in mounting the British 17 pounder in U.S. Shermans flared anew. In February 1945, the U.S. Army began sending 75 mm M4s to England for conversion to the 17 pounder gun. Approximately 100 tanks were completed by the beginning of May. By then, the end of the war in Europe was clearly in sight, and the U.S. Army decided that the logistics of adding a new ammunition caliber to the supply train was not warranted. None of the converted 17-pounder M4s were deployed by the U.S., and it is unclear what happened to most of them, although some were given to the British as part of Lend-Lease.[27]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Sherman#Gun_development

I think I first read this in the book about the Pershing I acquired off Ebay...


Other hand: tell the truth guys, the REALLY succesfull post-war US tanks had no US guns (british L7 and german 120mm SB)

So? What's your point?

The British L7 105mm gun was excellent in it's day, and a U.S. source modification was made increasing its effectiveness and prolonging its life on the M-60A3. And the Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore was actually a sort of a joint, German-led, project IIRC...

SonOfWWIIVet
06-12-2010, 12:48 PM
There were a lot of quantum leaps in technology during World War II and the peripheral years prior to and after, perhaps more than during any war in the 20th century. We saw it in aircraft, small arms, electronic warfare, production capabilities, etc. My consensus is that if a proposed change interfered with the steady rate of production, delivery and training, then it was shelved or put on the back burner, but not abandoned altogether. It would have been great if the M26 Pershing tank could have been the MBT of U.S. and perhaps British forces. Perhaps if the U.S. entry into World War II had been a couple of years later or if the Germans had held off on starting the war for a few years, there would have been more Pershings and less Shermans, Grants, and General Lees. Look at the sudden obsolescence of the U.S. submarine force which had to be brought up to post-war standards with streamlined hulls and superstructures, improved steering and diving capabilities, snorkels and other "add-ons" until the first generation nuclear submarines came on line. Look too at the sudden transition from un-supercharged piston aircraft engines and aircraft with silk covered control surfaces to flush riveted all aluminum frames, pressurized cabins and jet engines. That quantum leap in aviation took place in the span of about five years, yet when C-54 and B-29 production commenced, B-17, B-24 and C-47 production continued as a matter of necessity. When World War II ended, almost all of America's air power was suddenly obsolete and so was everything else. The temporary relief from war gave the major powers a little time to cull their huge and obsolete arsenals and modernize their production capabilities. Going back to the issue of tanks, it is unlikely that the U.S. will ever again be caught flat footed with an inferior tank. The ongoing priority since the end of World War II has been to maintain tank design superiority over all potential enemies.

azza
06-12-2010, 12:59 PM
A lot of people debate wether or not the m27 should have replaced the m4 as it was originally intended to do, but the ease of build of the m4 couldn't be met by the m27 and it would have been impossible to change a mbt in the middle of war. Thats why they ended up fighting along side each other. They were both replaced after the war by the heavier m26 Pershing.

SonOfWWIIVet
06-12-2010, 01:07 PM
A lot of people debate wether or not the m27 should have replaced the m4 as it was originally intended to do, but the ease of build of the m4 couldn't be met by the m27 and it would have been impossible to change a mbt in the middle of war. Thats why they ended up fighting along side each other. They were both replaced after the war by the heavier m26 Pershing.

Thank you azza. I corrected my statement in identifying the Pershing tank as the M27 to the M26. I think that the problems faced in production between two entirely different designs was the reason for continuing M4 production, with extensive modifications in the form of the M4A3, M4A4 and M4E8, and a gradual introduction of the later tanks.

Vsshooter
07-06-2010, 04:08 PM
A lot of good tankers died due the faults of the Sherman. When the Germans found out that we were rehabilitating battle damaged shermans in mass they made sure that the next ones that they knocked out were burned to destroy the armour plating or should I say the heat treating of the hull which made it useless to rebuild. From what I understand, It was Patton's call on the armour that he wanted and he chose the M-4 over the Pershing even though the Pershing was starting to enter the logistic pipeline before June 6, 1944.

tankgeezer
07-10-2010, 10:59 AM
Good Tankers have died in every model of tank ever put into the field, its the risk everyone assumes when they swear the Soldiers Oath. As to General Patton, as influential as he may have been, he did not have the brass to control the decision of which vehicles would be issued beyond organizing operations for his own units. Its not just a question of what,and how much is in the pipeline, there is also the matter of training men to fight these machines, and utilize their strengths properly.A tank is nothing without a trained and competent crew to operate it.This takes time, and maybe it was time that could not be spared. These are just my thoughts on the subject.

Rising Sun*
07-10-2010, 11:42 AM
When the Germans found out that we were rehabilitating battle damaged shermans in mass they made sure that the next ones that they knocked out were burned to destroy the armour plating or should I say the heat treating of the hull which made it useless to rebuild.

How did the Germans do that?

Specific rounds for those tanks?

How did the Germans identify those tanks in the field?

tankgeezer
07-10-2010, 12:31 PM
Recovery and repair of vehicles & equipment damaged in battle was a common practice for all sides of a conflict, even before WW II. As far as I have discovered, there was no particular heat treating provided to Sherman armor, it being described as homogeneous. As for fires, it was difficult to keep the M-4 from burning after a hit, so it wouldnt take any real sort of effort to set one blazing. Even with the advent of wet storage for main gun ammo, there was always the gasoline problem to consider.The decision of salvage or scrap was more likely one of repair turn around time, those tanks with more severe damage plundered for spares used to refit vehicles with less damage. With the degree of replacement availability the M-4 had, it may not have been time/ cost effective to refit badly damaged tanks The M-4 was able to deal with Panzers I through III fairly easily, and early IV were manageable, It wasnt until the V&VI showed that things got out of hand. The truth is that the M-26's larger, higher velocity gun was its principle asset for dealing with Panthers and Tigers, its armor(also homogeneous) while better than the M-4, was not all that could be hoped for.

Nickdfresh
07-11-2010, 12:27 PM
A lot of good tankers died due the faults of the Sherman. When the Germans found out that we were rehabilitating battle damaged shermans in mass they made sure that the next ones that they knocked out were burned to destroy the armour plating or should I say the heat treating of the hull which made it useless to rebuild.

This tactic was hardly exclusive to the Germans nor the Sherman. I'm rereading tracts of An Army at Dawn, and it was very typical early on for sapper teams to take the field in the early morning after the battle and blast apart the wounded hulls of enemy tanks. Specifically, the British did this to good effect in Tunisia in a follow-up battle after Kasserine where a major Afrika Korp offensive was blunted and Rommel ended up losing many of his remaining tanks for no gain...


From what I understand, It was Patton's call on the armour that he wanted and he chose the M-4 over the Pershing even though the Pershing was starting to enter the logistic pipeline before June 6, 1944.

That's a myth. Gen. Patton had little actual say and was in no position to order what tanks the U.S. should develop and deploy. It was far more the fault of Army Ground Forces Command(er) Gen. Lesley McNair --who piously held the faith in the failed Tank Destroyer Doctrine and who attempted to frustrate not only the deployment of the Pershing, but upgrades of the Sherman into a AFV with sufficient antitank capability so as to prevent its crews from "tank hunting" or "stalking"...