Sherman tank is a medium tank. It was the most widely deployed battle tank in American army during the Second World War (WWII). It was in service during 1942–1955 in USA. Sherman tank was designed in1940 and started production in 1941. It weighs 30 tons, and measures 5.84 m long, 2.62 m wide, and 2.74 m high.
M4 Sherman tank was named after General W.T. Sherman. It was designed to replace the M3 Lee and Grant medium tanks. Because of the ease of production and maintenance, Sherman was produced in huge number and formed the backbone of American army during WWII. In total, 49,234 Sherman tanks were produced. Only T-34 tank was produced in larger numbers during WWII. 19,247 Sherman tanks were issued to the USA Army and 1,114 to the US Marine Corps. 17,184 Sherman tanks were sent to Britain, 4,102 Sherman tanks were sent to the Soviet Union and 812 Sherman tanks were sent to China.
M4 Sherman had 7 variants: M4, M4A1, M4A2, M4A3, M4A4, M4A5, and M4A6. Early Sherman tanks mounted a 75 mm M3 gun, a medium-velocity general-purpose gun. It could penetrate 77 mm armor at 100m and 61 mm armor at 1000m. The original Sherman tanks could defeat German Panzer III and IV by penetrating their armor within 1000 m. But, the original Sherman tanks were outmatched by the 45 ton Panther and wholly inadequate against the 56 ton Tiger I and later 72 ton Tiger II (King Tiger) heavy tanks.
In 1944, M4A1, M4A2, and M4A3 models received a high-velocity 76 mm M1 gun, which could penetrate 124 mm at 100m and 83 mm at 1000m
The British-developed Sherman Firefly with 76 mm QF 17 pounder anti-tank gun could penetrate 140 mm at 100 m and 120 mm at 1000 m, which gave Sherman a slight firepower advantage over Panther.
The 90 mm gun could not be installed on M4, so it was installed on the open turreted M36 tank destroyer.
The frontal turret armor of Sherman tanks was 64–76 mm thick. The turret side armor was 50 mm, the rear was 64 mm, and the turret roof was 25 mm thick.
The hull front armor was 51 mm thick, the hull sides were 38–45 mm, the hull rear was 38 mm, and the hull roof was 25 mm.
Progressively thicker armor was added to hull front and turret in later models. Sandbags and spare track links were often placed on tanks for increased protection. Mounting sandbags around a tank had little effect against anti-tank guns, but provided protection against HEAT weapons, primarily the German Panzerfaust anti-tank grenade launcher and Panzerschreck anti-tank rocket launcher. After the Battle of the Bulge, Patton ordered extra armor plates salvaged from knocked-out tanks welded to the front hulls of tanks.
(Heng Long 1/30 scale Sherman tank model. The pictures were taken by TankArmy.com in Australia on June 10, 2012.)