Long before the Invasion of Normandy in northern France was finalized, American warplanners were aware of the fact that the Germans would be ready to fight a determined defensive battle from coast to Berlin. They would be well armed, well prepared and well situated to take on any Allied advance heading their way through their skillful use of tanks, upgunned armored vehicles and towed artillery systems placed at strategic chokepoints. The requirement, therefore, would be for an "assault tank" to make its way through the enemy front and dislodge or destroy the prepared enemy at the heart of the defense. As such, the Americans knew that they would need a tank of some superiority in terms of armor protection and lethal armament - something beyond the current offerings of the time. With the M26 Pershing already in development, the hope was to have the new heavy tank ready to go to war by late 1944. However, all was not proceeding as planned and the M26 was delayed from arriving in Euopre until 1945. As such, other stopgap solutions were entertained.
US authorities took what it already had in some number, the M4 Sherman medium tank, and began a process of uparmoring the beast for the dedicated assault role. The engine remained the Ford V8 GAA series powerplant though the gearbox was altered to compensate for the added weight of the extra armor. Of course the additional armor also served to bring down the operational speed of the base Sherman design - normally a stately 25 to 30 miles per hour - now degraded to 22 miles per hour. The front hull of the tank received no less than 5.5 inches of armor thickness and protected the valuable drive train system. The upper front hull retained its base Sherman angled facing as it served well to combat incoming enemy projectiles, measuring 4.5 inches at its thickest. The glacis plate was protected by up to 4 inches of armor while the turret was revised to 6 inches of protection. Up to 7 inches of armor was used around the gun mount and 1.5 inches of rolled armor was utilized over the superstructure sides. Although initially intended to carry a 76mm main gun, the production form of the new Sherman fitted the standard 75mm main gun due to its proven characteristics when firing its High-Explosive (HE) projectile. 106 projectiles of 75mm ammunition could be stored about the hull and the new turret, allowing the crew to sustain fire for periods of time. Anti-infantry and aircraft defense was from the M4 standard, made up primarily of a 0.50 caliber heavy gun on the turret top, a 0.30 machine gun in a coaxially fitted mount next to the 75mm main gun and a 0.30 caliber machine gun in a bow mount at the front right face of the hull, opposite the driver's position, manned by the radio operator. All told, the vehicle weighed in at 42 tons and suspension remained the base Vertical Volute Spring Suspension (VVSS) system found on other Shermans. Its operators were therefore warned to proceed with some caution when utilizing the new tank in a cross-country setting, the suspension system being prone to failure under the added weight.
In March of 1944, the US government inked a deal that would bring it some 254 of the modified Shermans to life to which the Ordnance Committee applied the designation of "M4A3E2" to the type - "E" signifying the type as an "experimental design". Production of the upgraded Sherman commenced at light speed to help get the armor up to the front lines as quickly as possible. By late 1944, the M4A3E2 was already being delivered into the eager hands of awaiting American tank crews and commanders in Europe. The new mount was christened the Sherman "Jumbo" by her crews to signify its improved, oversized stature.
Traditional operating tactics held that US tank formations proceed in columns for a quick response to enemy action and offer lesser approaching targets to the awaiting enemy. Once the enemy was located, the column could then fan outwards and call upon a more uniformed response. With the Jumbo now in inventory, the heavily armored system was called upon to head up such column formations and absorb the first volley that the awaiting enemy had to offer - volleys that would have traditionally annihilated base Shermans in the same role.
Once in action, the Jumbo performed admirably well to the point that they were being requested by both commanders and tank crews. Even American General George S. Patton himself went on the request list. When the need went unfulfilled, he quietly gave the order to strip any non-functioning M4 Sherman (those with welded hulls) of its armor and upgrade existing Shermans to something like the new "Jumbo" standard. As such, the M4A3(76)W and M4A3(76)W HVSS systems in his stable were uparmored "in-the-field" thanks to the ingenuity of Army welders and those local European craftsmen hired by the military. Even armor from cast-off enemy German tanks was used in the endeavor, leaving these Shermans as a collective eclectic group of medium tanks with no original Sherman "face" to be found among them. These quick-field conversions went on to be known as "Expedient Jumbos" and some 100 existing M4s were converted to Sherman Jumbos in the short span of three weeks. Ultimately, the Jumbo did see her 75mm main gun give way to a more powerful 76mm caliber, completing her metamorphosis from medium tank to legendary war winner. The Sherman Jumbo proved instrumental in reaching pinned 101st paratroopers at Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge - the 101st having always denied the idea that they needed rescuing from Patton to begin with.
With the Allies advancing against Germany in the west and the Soviets taking Berlin in the east, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his underground Berlin bunker in mid-April. While an air war still raged over the skies of Germany to an extend into May and pockets of German resistance still waged war, the war in Europe was essentially over, made formally so by early June. This left the world with the task of taking down the Empire of Japan in the Far East, to which the Sherman Jumbo, and all her fast conversions, were shipped back stateside in preparation for the ultimate invasion of the Japanese mainland out in the Pacific. However, Japan capitulated after a lengthy failed sea campaign, a determined Allied bombing effort that decimated morale, infrastructure and mar-making capabilities and the two American atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The surrender of the Empire of Japan in August of 1945 completed the Second World War in whole by September.
With the war over, production of most war-goods was curtailed or ceased altogether. Much of the war time equipment remained for training or was placed in storage. Some 96 Sherman Jumbos were still in the US inventory in 1948, this out of the 50,000 or so Shermans produced in all.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Support allied ground forces through weapons, inherent capabilities, and / or onboard systems.
Design providing enhanced armor protection and firepower over that of lightweight offerings - but lacking the general capabilities of heavier solutions.
Engage armored vehicles of similar form and function.
24.7 ft 7.54 m
9.5 ft 2.9 m
9.7 ft 2.95 m
83,776 lb 38,000 kg
41.9 tons MEDIUM
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Sherman Jumbo (Medium Tank, M4A3E2) production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
1 x Ford GAA 8-cylinder 4-cycle 60 degree gasoline-fueled engine developing 500 horsepower at 2,600rpm driving a conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
1 x 75mm main gun OR 76mm main gun (later).
1 x 0.50 caliber anti-aircraft heavy machine gun on turret.
1 x 0.30 caliber caliber coaxial machine gun.
1 x 0.30 caliber bow-mounted machine gun.
1 x Smoke Mortar.
(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
104 x 75mm projectiles.
300 x 12.7mm ammunition.
4,750 x 7.62mm ammunition.
12 x M3 smoke projectiles.
T6 - Pilot Model Designation by Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
M4 - 1 x 75mm main gun (some 105mm versions as well); welded hull (some with cast front and welded sides); gasoline Continental R975 radial engine.
M4(105) - M4 fitting a 105mm howitzer.
M4(105) HVSS - M4 fitting a 105mm howtizer; fitted with HVSS suspension system.
M4A1 - Continental radial engine; single-piece cast hull; 75mm OR 76mm armament.
M4A1E4 - Upgraded with 76mm M1 series gun.
M4A1(76)W - Upgraded with 76mm M1 series gun; cast hull; gasoline Continental R975 radial engine.
M4A1E8 - Widetrack HVSS suspension systems.
M4A1(76)W HVSS - Widetrack HVSS suspension systems; 76mm main gun.
M4A1E9 - Upgraded M4A1 models with 76mm main gun.
M4A2 - 1 x 75mm main gun OR 76mm main gun; welded hull; diesel GM 6046 2x6 engine.
M4A2E8 - Widetrack HVSS suspension systems.
M4A2(76)W HVSS - Widetrack HVSS suspension; 76mm M1 gun.
M4A3 - Fitted with Ford GAA V-8 gasoline engines; 75mm, 76mm or 105mm main guns; main US Army operational Sherman.
M4A3(75) - 75mm M3 main gun
M4A3(105) - 105mm M4 howitzer cannon
M4A3E2 "Jumbo Sherman" / "Cobra King" - Increased armor; revised turret angles; track-fitted Grousers; 75mm OR 76mm main guns; welded hull; Ford GAA V8 gasoline engines.
M4A3E4 - 76mm M1 main gun
M4A3(76)W - 76mm M1 main gun
E8 - Experimental Designation for ultimate M4A3E8 production model.
M4A3E8 "Easy Eight" - Widetrack with HVSS suspension system; 1 x 76mm M1 main gun; increased armor protection; welded hull; gasoline Ford GAA V8 engine.
M4A3(76)W HVSS - Widetrack with HVSS suspension system; 1 x 76mm M1 main gun; increased armor protection; welded hull; gasoline Ford GAA V8 engine.
M4A3E9 - Widetrack with HVSS suspension system; 1 x 105mm M4 howitzer cannon; gasoline Continental R975 radial engine.
M4A3(105) HVSS - Widetrack with HVSS suspension system; 1 x 105mm M4 howitzer cannon; gasoline Continental R975 radial engine.
M4A3W - 1 x75mm main gun; welded hull; gasoline Ford GAA V8 engine.
M4A4 - Fitted with Chrysler A57 Multibank engine; welded and lengthened hull; 1 x 75mm main gun; models becoming the Sherman "Firefly" tank destroyers mounting the QF 17-pounder main gun.
M4A5 - Reserved for Canadian Sherman production; never used.
M4A6 - 1 x 75mm main gun; cast front with welded sides lengthened hull; diesel Caterpillar D200A radial engine.
105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7B1 (M7 "Priest") - 105mm self-propelled howitzer based on the M4A3 Sherman chassis.
155mm Gun Motor Carriage M12 - 155mm self-propelled howitzer.
Cargo Carrier M30 - Based on M12 sans gun and ammunition storage.
155mm Gun Motor Carriage M40 - Self-propelled 155mm howitzer; based on M4A3 chassis with HVSS suspension
8in Howitzer Motor Carriage M43 - Self-propelled 8" howitzer.
3in Gun Motor Carriage M10 "Wolverine" - Tank Destroyer; based on M4A2 Sherman chassis.
3in Gun Motor Carriage M10A1 "Wolverine" - Tank Destroyer; based on M4A3 Sherman chassis.
90mm Gun Motor Carriage M36 "Jackson" - Tank Destroyer; based on M10A1.
90mm Gun Motor Carriage M36B1 - Tank Destroyer; based on M4A3 Sherman chassis and hull.
90mm Gun Motor Carriage M36B2 - Tank Destroyer; based on M10; diesel engine.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32 - Fixed superstructure; sans turret; winch; 81mm smoke mortar.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32B1 - M32 systems converted from M4A1 Shermans.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32A1B1 - M32B1 systems fitted with HVSS suspension; later models nixing the 81mm mortar.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32B2 - M32 systems converted from M4A2 Shermans.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32B3 - M32 systems converted from M4A3 Shermans.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32A1B3 - M32B3 brought to M32A1B1 standard.
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32B4 - M32 systems converted from M4A4 Shermans.
M74 Tank Recovery Vehicle - Based on M32 and converted from M4A3 Shermans with HVSS suspension systems; fitted with crane, tow winch, auxiliary winch and utility winch.
M74B1 - Similar to M74; converted from M32B3 systems.
M34 Prime Mover - M32B1 TRV systems converted to artillery tractor by Chester Tank Depot.
Sherman DD "Duplex Drive" - Amphibious M4 Sherman
M4 Mobile Assault Bridge
M4 Dozer - Fitted with dozer blade to front hull
T15 - Mine Resistant Sherman
E1 - Mine Resistant Sherman
E2 - Mine Resistant Sherman
Mine Exploder R1E1 Roller "Earthworm" - Armor-plated discs
Mine Exploder T1E2 Roller - Development Model; mine-clearer; twin forward 7-disc systems.
Mine Exploder T1E3 "Aunt Jemima" - Twin forward 5 x 10" discs
Mine Exploder M1 Roller "Aunt Jemima - Same as T1E3.
Mine Exploder T1E4 Roller - 16 discs in forward unit
Mine Exploder T1E5 Roller - Development Model; mine-clearer; based on T1E3 but with smaller wheels.
Mine Exploder T1E6 Roller - Development Model; mine-clearer; featured serrated discs
Mine Exploder T2 Flail "Sherman Crab I" - British-designed mine-clearer with forward-mounted flails.
Mine Exploder T3 Flail - Development Model; British-designed flail system; based on British-designed scorpion concept.
Mine Exploder T3E1 Flail - Development Model; based on T3; extended arm structures.
Mine Exploder T3E2 Flail - Development Model; based on T3E1; rotors replaced with large steel drum.
Mine Exploder T4 "Crab II" - British-designed mine flail.
Mine Exploder T7 - Development Model; smaller rollers with twin discs each.
Mine Exploder T8 "Johnny Walker" - Steel plunger system meant to stomp the forward ground area.
Mine Exploder T9 - 6-foot Rollers
Mine Exploder T9E1 - Based on T9; lightened weight.
Mine Exploder T10 - Development Model; remote-controlled mine-clearer.
Mine Exploder T11 - Development Model; fitted with six forward mortars.
Mine Exploder T12 - Development Model; fitted with 23 forward mortars.
Mine Exploder T14 - Development Model
Mine Excavator T4 - Development Model; fitted with standard straight plough.
Mine Excavator T5 - Based on T4; fitted with v-shaped plough instead.
Mine Excavator T5E1 - Based on T4; fitted with v-shaped plough instead.
Mine Excavator T5E2 - Based on T4; fitted with v-shaped plough instead.
Mine Excavator T5E3 - Based on T5E1 and T5E2; adjustable dozer.
Mine Excavator T6 - Based on T5; non-adjustable dozer
Mine Excavator T2 - Based on T4 and T5; adjustable dozer
Mine Excavator E1 - Based on T4 and T5; adjustable dozer
Mine Excavator E2 - Based on T4 and T5; adjustable dozer
Sherman "Firefly" - British conversion of M4 and M4A4 models as tank destroyers; 1 x Royal Ordnance QF 17-pounder main gun.
Rocket Launcher T34 "Calliope" - Rocket Artillery Vehicle; fitted with 60 x 4-6" rocket tubes.
Rocket Launcher T34E1 - Based on T34; fitted with 14 rocket tubes.
Rocket Launcher T34E2 - Based on T34; provision for launching 7.2" rockets.
Rocket Launcher T39 - Enclosed box mounting; 20 x 7.2" rockets.
Rocket Launcher T40 "WhizBang" - Fitted with 20 x 7.2" rockets.
M17 - Same as T40.
Rocket Launcher T72 - Based on T34 with shorter tubes; never produced.
Rocket Launcher T73 - Based on T40; 10 x firing tubes; never produced.
Rocket Launcher T76 - Development Model; rocket launcher; based on M4A1 Sherman; fitted with 7.2 rocket launcher; sans main gun.
Rocket Launcher T105 - Development Model; rocket launcher; based on M4A1 Sherman; rockets fired from enclosed case; sans main gun.
Multiple Rocket Launcher T99 - Development Model; twin enclosed box mounts fitting 22 x 4.5" rockets.
M4A3R3 Flame Thrower "Zippo" - Fitted with flame thrower.
M4 "Grizzly" - Canadian-built Shermans used exclusively for training purposes; production by Montreal Locomotive Works.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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