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What The Sherman Could Have Been


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http://www.theshermantank.com/sherman/the-sherman-of-the-future-advanced-sherman-updates-that-almost-made-it-into-production/

 

 

I just found the above article and thought I would share it here. I can't vouch for any of what is in the article, and I apologized if this has been covered before - or if this belongs in a different section.

 

The article is too long for me to cut and paste the entire piece, and there are quite a number of photos. Interesting concepts, such as up-armoring, a hedgehog like anti-Panzerfaust array, anti-personnel measures, and a power cupola with twin M-2 or M-1919 machine guns.

 

Thoughts/opinions? Derision and scorn for bringing it up perhaps?

 

 

 

 

-K

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Some excerpts from the above article:

 

Bolt-on armor kits: CDA was asked to develop a set of bolt-on armor for the Sherman, there are pictures of wooden mockups, but this program was canceled before the second gen large hatch hulls started production. At this point, the best source for info on this program is R.P. Hunnicutt’s Sherman. He does not note why it was canceled. It seems like with the success of the M4A3E2 Jumbo, and it’s only marginal effect on the reliability of the automotive components of the Sherman, this would have been a hit with the troops.

Up-armored differential covers: There was another program to improve the armor of the early differential covers. Both the early three-part bolt-together designs and the early one-piece cast designs, were found to have areas more vulnerable to penetration than the rest of the differential cover. They came up with add-on armor for each type. After testing these kits were found to be good enough to make the differentials the best protected front area of the tank after installation. The Army approved them, but no evidence of any being used has been found. The final production cast differential cover was improved and would not have needed these kits. That may have been the reason the kits didn’t get used since they could just use the ultimate production casting when doing rebuilds.

Plastic armor and spikes: When the threat of AT sticks like the panzerfaust become more prominent, an add-on armor kit made from called the HCR2 plastic armor kit was developed. It was made from a mixture of quartz gravel and a mastic compound made from wood flour and asphalt. It was held on by cables and could be jettisoned with ease. The armor from this kit protected the Shermans turret well, but sponson penetrations could still happen. It also offered a little extra ballistic protection. It also did not cover the front of the hull or turret.

Another attempt to defeat shaped charged weapons involved installing spikes in lengths varying from 7 to 8 inches all over the armor. The idea behind this was to break up a heat warhead before it could detonate properly. Testing on this continued after the war.

Fragmentation grenade mounts, mines, and pipe bombs: The Army decided to try mounting these on tanks and test how they would work to combat close in enemy infantry as a kind of last resort weapon. This did not work very well and only the grenades were found to have an effective fragmentation effect. They all risked damage to the tank so they were dropped. Shielding to protect the tank made them even less effective. None of these worked as well as having close infantry support, and the idea was dropped.

The Scorpion/Skink anti-personnel flame projectors: This might have seen use if the war had gone on. This is just the type of thing to use on Japanese suicide troops if they have scared or killed off all your close infantry support. This system had four self-contained, phosphor based, flame projectors mounted at each corner of the tank. Each one could let off 20 to 30 bursts of the flaming phosphorus in a fan from each device, giving great coverage all around the tank. They could be fired off individually or all at once from inside the tank.

-K

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What people forget is that the M4 was overkill on steroids.

 

In 1940 the Germans were driving around in 10 to 15 ton tanks, with 30mm of vertical armor and 37mm pea shooters. The American reaction, a 30 ton tank with a gun twice as big and three times the effective armor. Not surprisingly this tank gave no cause for complaints as late as 1943 even though German armor was very different now. Thus no M4 Improved. Sloped side armor is no improvement BTW.

Things only began to change mid 1944, first for the British, later for the Americans too and from what I learned it was too late to do many things. Even if this or that has already been developed and tested, it needs to be shipped.

 

With regard to the specific upgrades. I’m not sure I share the assessment that the automotive parts of the so called “Jumbo” still worked ok despite the added weight. The VVS suspension showed its limits even with the original 30 ton weight, thus HVSS.

 

HEAT protection. When was that ready? It looks like the Allies didn’t run into the Panzerfaust until mid 44 and at first not a lot. So unless that was done much earlier in case “the German have a Bazooka too” it’s nothing that could have been used during the war.

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Fundamentally, anything that interferes with the ability to produce absolutely shit loads of them or that makes the tank significantly less mobile and/or reliable is probably not worth the bother.

 

The Alliies were perfectly capable of producing large numbers of Jumbo Fireflies. Would they have been better off with them though?

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The Alliies were perfectly capable of producing large numbers of Jumbo Fireflies. Would they have been better off with them though?

No, they weren't necessarily capable of doing that. 17-pdr was not produced in the U.S. M4A3E2 manufacture required M4A3. To install the 17-pdr, assuming sufficient quantities were manufactured in Britain, shipped to the US, installed in M4A3, and then shipped back to the ETOUSA required the M4A3(75)w or the M4A3(105). The later was desperately wanted by the troops to fill the doctrinal assault gun role spelled out in 1943. The former began production in February 1944, just before the decision to build the M4A3E2. So the problem, aside from the back and forth of 17-pdr, was that the 17-pdr would fit in the turret of the M4A3(75)w and possibly the M4A3(105), but not in the M4A3(76)w. Except that the E2 used a modified version of the M4A3(76)w turret...it is unclear to me if an uparmored casting of the M4A3(75)w was practical?

 

See the complications?

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Ahh but (given pie falling from sky), would it not be easier for the US to adapt/rechamber the 3" or 76mm to take the 17pdr cartridge and thus streamline production of the 'firefly.' :D

Rechamber? Nope. Ordnance would never agree. They refused to increase the chamber pressure on the existing 76mm M1 Gun claiming it was already stressed to the max from being cut down from the 3" M7 Gun. It is possible they could have rechambered it to fire the British 77mm...they were all 3" after all, but that would just be reinventing the wheel. It also does not solve the HE issues. Finally, it appears from the evidence that the problem was not the Mv of the American 3" or 76mm, it was the design and manufacture of their AP and APC projectiles.

Edited by Rich
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Ahh but (given pie falling from sky), would it not be easier for the US to adapt/rechamber the 3" or 76mm to take the 17pdr cartridge and thus streamline production of the 'firefly.' :D

Rechamber? Nope. Ordnance would never agree. They refused to increase the chamber pressure on the existing 76mm M1 Gun claiming it was already stressed to the max from being cut down from the 3" M7 Gun. It is possible they could have rechambered it to fire the British 77mm...they were all 3" after all, but that would just be reinventing the wheel. It also does not solve the HE issues. Finally, it appears from the evidence that the problem was not the Mv of the American 3" or 76mm, it was the design and manufacture of their AP and APC projectiles.

 

 

I was being arch if not openly facetious mate. But yeah, US Ordnance were want to take the conservative view at inopportune moments :)

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Ahh but (given pie falling from sky), would it not be easier for the US to adapt/rechamber the 3" or 76mm to take the 17pdr cartridge and thus streamline production of the 'firefly.' :D

Rechamber? Nope. Ordnance would never agree. They refused to increase the chamber pressure on the existing 76mm M1 Gun claiming it was already stressed to the max from being cut down from the 3" M7 Gun. It is possible they could have rechambered it to fire the British 77mm...they were all 3" after all, but that would just be reinventing the wheel. It also does not solve the HE issues. Finally, it appears from the evidence that the problem was not the Mv of the American 3" or 76mm, it was the design and manufacture of their AP and APC projectiles.

 

 

I was being arch if not openly facetious mate. But yeah, US Ordnance were want to take the conservative view at inopportune moments :)

 

I figured you were. Indeed, the consistent conservatism of US Army over the centuries is a wonder to behold.

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The Alliies were perfectly capable of producing large numbers of Jumbo Fireflies. Would they have been better off with them though?

No, they weren't necessarily capable of doing that. 17-pdr was not produced in the U.S. M4A3E2 manufacture required M4A3. To install the 17-pdr, assuming sufficient quantities were manufactured in Britain, shipped to the US, installed in M4A3, and then shipped back to the ETOUSA required the M4A3(75)w or the M4A3(105). The later was desperately wanted by the troops to fill the doctrinal assault gun role spelled out in 1943. The former began production in February 1944, just before the decision to build the M4A3E2. So the problem, aside from the back and forth of 17-pdr, was that the 17-pdr would fit in the turret of the M4A3(75)w and possibly the M4A3(105), but not in the M4A3(76)w. Except that the E2 used a modified version of the M4A3(76)w turret...it is unclear to me if an uparmored casting of the M4A3(75)w was practical?

 

See the complications?

 

Absolutely, which was kind of my point.

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A slight change in emphasis: what if the USA had maintained both neutrality (instead of pretending to in 1940 and most of 1941) and went all laissez faire / capitalist and invited trade with Germany? After all the French were seeking at one time to have the Somua manufactured in the USA (of course with the metal fixings so beloved of Nic for shipping overseas).

 

A German trade delegation to the USA in 1940? Seeking to produce something like a PzIII or PzIV but with US engines / transmissions etc?

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A slight change in emphasis: what if the USA had maintained both neutrality (instead of pretending to in 1940 and most of 1941) and went all laissez faire / capitalist and invited trade with Germany? After all the French were seeking at one time to have the Somua manufactured in the USA (of course with the metal fixings so beloved of Nic for shipping overseas).

 

A German trade delegation to the USA in 1940? Seeking to produce something like a PzIII or PzIV but with US engines / transmissions etc?

Just an ex-sailor here, but I don't think a U.S. radial engine would fit in a early German tank. Then there is that whole political and public opinion on Germany and Great Britain at this time. Now if Germany continued Eastward when they defeated Poland...?

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A small problem with trading with Germany at the time was getting past the RN. Last time, the way Germany tried to blockade the UK made the US a lot more annoyed than the way the British blockaded Germany.

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The Alliies were perfectly capable of producing large numbers of Jumbo Fireflies. Would they have been better off with them though?

 

If more APCR had reached the front by mid 1944 the M4 with 76mm guns would have been ok. Now if only the 75mm guns had HESH available... :D

 

Unlikely. It wasn't until summer 1944 that the failed experiments with APDS began to wind down and late May before the Shoeburyness tests demonstrated there were problems with American APC and fusing. That and Eisenhower's rocket to Marshall is apparently what spurred the early deployment of APCR for the Isigny test. Reading between the lines, Ordnance was more interested in the technical superiority and elegance of APDS - even though they couldn't make it work - and considered APCR an inelegant brute-force solution they could do at any time. Never mind of course that it was too late and took too long to secure priority to get sufficient quantities of tungsten carbide. The repeated exhibitions of complacency in the face of evidence exhibited by US Army Ordnance during the war tends to negate much of their achievement.

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,,, Now if only the 75mm guns had HESH available... :D

 

75mm HESH is very borderline stuff, it would have changed practically nothing.

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Ahh but (given pie falling from sky), would it not be easier for the US to adapt/rechamber the 3" or 76mm to take the 17pdr cartridge and thus streamline production of the 'firefly.' :D

Rechamber? Nope. Ordnance would never agree. They refused to increase the chamber pressure on the existing 76mm M1 Gun claiming it was already stressed to the max from being cut down from the 3" M7 Gun. It is possible they could have rechambered it to fire the British 77mm...they were all 3" after all, but that would just be reinventing the wheel. It also does not solve the HE issues. Finally, it appears from the evidence that the problem was not the Mv of the American 3" or 76mm, it was the design and manufacture of their AP and APC projectiles.

 

It still boggles my mind that army ordnance did not consult with the Navy about AP design. I would have thought that there would have been communication channels due to several decades of the army having coastal defense guns.

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Still, compared to the Navy Bureau of Ordnance and the Mk 14 Torpedo debacle, US Army Ordnance was looking pretty good.

The Navy did manage to produce a functional 3" ap round. I'm not saying they were perfect but one thing they seem to have done pretty well was research into AP.

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It wasn't until summer 1944 that the failed experiments with APDS ... and considered APCR an inelegant brute-force solution they could do at any time

 

 

That's why APCR too so long.

 

Um, no, it took so long because Ordnance assumed it would be an easy development and preferred to chase its tail in developing the "better" APDS. In this case better replaced perfect as the enemey of good.

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Ahh but (given pie falling from sky), would it not be easier for the US to adapt/rechamber the 3" or 76mm to take the 17pdr cartridge and thus streamline production of the 'firefly.' :D

Rechamber? Nope. Ordnance would never agree. They refused to increase the chamber pressure on the existing 76mm M1 Gun claiming it was already stressed to the max from being cut down from the 3" M7 Gun. It is possible they could have rechambered it to fire the British 77mm...they were all 3" after all, but that would just be reinventing the wheel. It also does not solve the HE issues. Finally, it appears from the evidence that the problem was not the Mv of the American 3" or 76mm, it was the design and manufacture of their AP and APC projectiles.

 

It still boggles my mind that army ordnance did not consult with the Navy about AP design. I would have thought that there would have been communication channels due to several decades of the army having coastal defense guns.

 

I think I've addressed this before, but no there is no evidence of any such cooperation. It still astonishes me that in 1945 Dahlgren tested Army 3" APC versus Navy 3" and found it inferior.

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When did they develop that 3" AP round? 1940ish for anti submarine use or was it a pre WW1 relic when 3" was still an anti surface gun?

The US Navy? The 3"/50 dates to the 1890s, the US Army? The 3" Model 1902 (IIRC) was the basis for the 3" AA and later 3" M7 and 76mm Gun. However, AFAIK, the Navy got to 3" AP Mark 27 by 1945 after about 50 years of development...the Army was still using 3" and 76mm AP M79 and APC M62A1, which development began in 1941. I have found no evidence that there was any cooperation in that development.

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