Warfare History Network
What can history teach us?
Because of its propensity to catch fire, the Sherman soon gained several nicknames. “Tommycooker” (which was a World War I trench cooker), “Ronsons” (a la the cigarette lighter that were guaranteed in their ads to “Light up the first time, every time!”), and also what the Free Poles called “The Burning Grave.”
For the Allied tankers and infantrymen of the American, British, Canadian, and Free French armies battling German Panther and Tiger tanks in Normandy in the summer of 1944, the Sherman tank’s failures were glaringly evident as their own shells bounced off the hulls of the Nazi armor and they were themselves destroyed at a far greater range by the powerful German tanks.
It was, therefore, somewhat ironic that the outgunned and lighter armored Shermans nevertheless defeated the retreating Nazis by their sheer weight of numbers. Today, more than seven decades after the end of the greatest war in military history, the debate continues. Was the American-designed and -built Sherman M4 medium tank a colossal blunder, a wonder weapon, or both?
Author Philip Trewhitt wrote, “The Medium Tank M4 Sherman used the same basic hull and suspension as the M3, but mounted the main armament on the gun turret rather than the hull. Easy to build and an excellent fighting platform, it proved to be a war-winner for the Allies. By the time production ceased in 1945, more than 40,000 had been built. There were many variants, including engineers tanks, assault tanks, rocket launchers, recovery vehicles, and mine-clearers. The British employed the Sherman extensively, notably at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. Though outgunned by German tanks and with insufficient armor to compete in the later stages of the war, the sheer numbers produced overwhelmed enemy armored forces. Its hardiness kept it in service with some South American countries until very recently.”
The Evolving M4 Sherman Series
The National Interest
1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)