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Rolling with the Sherman Tanks


You can guarantee that William Tecumseh Sherman would have been mighty proud to see the M4 Tanks named after him. This was the United States entrant medium tank into the Second World War and it was to prove part of the decisive elements that enabled the allies to win the war in North Africa and Europe. The Tank was so successful it meant that the United States army did not need to develop a larger heavier tank like the Germans Konisg Tiger. It was so adaptable they were able to fit a larger gun on it so that it became a simple tank destroyer. Whilst you can’t drive a Sherman you can have a go at something similar to get the idea on a Tank Driving Experience day at https://www.armourgeddon.co.uk/tank-driving-experience.html.

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Whilst there were some problems aiming the actual gun, the shell was said to go generally in the direction it was pointing. The gyrostabiliser was a bit dodgy and firing when moving was a bit problematic but ok if you were immobile. However, whilst this might seem a rather important factor in its use it turns out that the fact the tank was incredible mobile, armoured enough to withstand some tough hits and give it back with interest, was durable and easy to manufacture plus the parts were standardised so if one tank broke down you could cannibalize others that were totally gone but had some bits left over.

They were rolled out on a lend lease basis to the British and the Russian armies where they provided a real shot in the arm to the already outgunned and beleagued troops. They were a godsend to the Russian who needed to buy time so that their tank factory city of Tankograd could start knocking out the T-34s. In North Africa the Sherman was added to the British forces and not a moment to soon. Under the leadership of Erwin Rommel the hastily put together Afrika Korps were gaining victory after victory forcing the Allies back to Torbruk and El Alamein. The introduction of the Sherman’s turned the tide and the British were finally able to drive back the German and Italian troops. It is slightly ironic that the tanks that helped to turn the tide were named after a general that Rommelhimself  had been likened to in tactics and in style.

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By this stage the talk of a second front in France to help relieve the pressure on the Russians was in full swing. It would be the light Sherman that would help to take the charge to the German beach defences and beyond through the French countryside. By this point the Sherman was outgunned and out armoured. But the sheer weight of numbers and the tank s mobility meant that it could still best the German armour and it was the tank that received the attention as it liberated Paris.

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