The M4 Sherman, officially the Medium Tank, M4, was the primary battle tank used by the United States and the other Western Allies in World War II, and proved to be a reliable and highly mobile workhorse, despite being outmatched by heavier German tanks late in the war. Thousands were distributed to the Allies, including the British Commonwealthand the Soviet Union, in the lend-lease program. The M4 was the second most produced tank of the World War II era, after the Soviet T-34 Medium Tank , and its role in its parent nation's victory was comparable to that of the T-34. The tank took its name from an American Civil War General.
The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank (a.k.a. Grant and Lee), which had an unusual side-sponson mounted 75 mm gun. It retained much of the previous mechanical design, but added the first American main 75 mm gun mounted on a fully traversing turret, with a gryostyle enabling the crew to fire with reasonable accuracy while the tank was on the move. The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors made the M4 superior in some regards to the earlier German light and medium tanks of 1939–41. The M4 went on to be produced in very large numbers. It formed the backbone of most offensives by the Western Allies, starting in late 1942.
When the M4 tank arrived in North Africa in 1942, it was clearly superior to both the German Panzer IIImedium tank, with its 50 mm gun, and the older versions of the Panzer IV armed with the short barreled 75 mm gun. For this reason, the US Army believed the M4 would be adequate to win the war, and no pressure was exerted for further tank development. Logistical and transport restrictions (roads, ports, bridges, etc.) also would complicate the introduction of a more capable, but heavier tank.
The relative ease of production allowed huge numbers of the M4 to be produced, and significant investment in tank recovery and repair units paid off with more disabled vehicles being repaired and returned to service. These factors combined to give the Americans numerical superiority in most battles, and allowed many infantry divisions their own M4 and TD assets. By 1944 a typical U.S. infantry division had as semi-permanently attached units an M4 Sherman battalion, a TD battalion, or both. By this stage of the war, German panzer division were rarely at full strength, and some U.S. infantry divisions had more fully tracked armored fighting vehicles than the depleted German panzer divisions did, providing a great advantage for the Americans.The Americans also started to introduce the M4A3E8 variant, with horizontal volute spring suspension and an improved high-velocity 76 mm gun previously used only by TDs.
Production of the M4 Sherman was favored by the commander of the armored ground forces, albeit controversially, over the heavier M26 Pershing, which resulted in the latter being deployed too late to play any significant role in the war. In the Pacific, the M4 was used chiefly against Japanese infantry and fortifications; in its rare encounters with much lighter Japanese tanks with weaker armor and guns, the Sherman's superiority was overwhelming. Almost 50,000 vehicles were produced, and its chassis also served as the basis for numerous other armored vehicles.
The Sherman would finally give way to post-war tanks developed from the M26. Various original and updated versions of the Sherman, with improved weapons and other equipment, would continue to see combat effectively in many later conflicts, including the korean war,Arab-Isreali War, and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1956 (where it was used by both sides) into the late 20th century.
M4A1: First major production model
M4A2: New enfine, and more armor
M4A3: Given wet storage (to some of the later models) and a new 76mm gun (again later models) it also had some more armor.
M4A3E2 "Jumbo": Given either a 75 or 76mm gun and so much frontol armor, the Tiger 1 had problems penitrating it, but it's weight increased, and it was less mobile. All of this was added so that the Allied forces could have a breakthrough tank for D-Day.
M4A3E8 "Easy Eight": Given a better wet storage, new suspension, a modified turret, large hatches, and a long barreled 76mm gun with a muzzel brake.
M4A4: Had the most resistan welded armor, of all the other models, (evan though it was downgraded to 76mm). It was given a new type of engine (which consisted of 5 car engines). It was not liked as much by American troops so it was given to the other allied. The Russian took more of it, but they didn't like it as much either.
M4 Sherman FireFly: The British needed a tank with a gun that could penitrate the Tiger, and panthers armor. So they took some M4A3 and M4A4 shermans and mounted them with the exalent 17 pounder gun. It was called the firefly and could penitrate the tiger's and the panther's armor at any range. But it still had fairly thin armor, but it is one of the first allied tank to be able to penitrate Tiger's and Panther's armor.
Ram Medium tank: The canadians took the M3 Lee and took out the side sponson 75mm gun and pute a 2 pounder gun in a dully rotating turret. It was called Ram Mark 1 mark 2 had a 6 pounder. It was not aggsepted since by the time it was avalible the M4 Sherman was already in production. Used as trianing tank.
Grizzly Medium Tank: A Canadian built M4A1 Sherman. It was mad so it was more contorbuleto Canadian forces. Not many were made.
M50 Super Sherman: A post world war two Sherman built by Isreal. It was practicly the same as the M4A3E8 Easy Eight. But and a gun similar to the Panther's and some were evan given an MAX-13's tuuret.
M51 Super Sherman: Looks like an M4A3(76) but has a French 105mm gun instead of the 76mm gun and some more armor.