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M4A1(76)W Hvss / M4A1E8 - Why No Pictures Of Us Examples In Combat?


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#1 Chris Werb

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 1644 PM

I was just chatting on FB with Bryan Whalen about one of the above cast-hulled M4 variants surviving as a monument at one of the D-Day beaches. We both think it's odd that we can't find any pics of a cast-hull HVSS 76mm gun Sherman in US servic abroad. How many were made, why did they apparently not see widespread (or any?) combat with US forces, and what ultimately happened to them?

 

28883472231_22fd52f878_b.jpg​


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#2 DougRichards

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 1704 PM

Just a guess about service, but by the time M4A1(76)HVSS would have been sent for service overseas, many M4(76)E8 were having extra armour plate added, by way of pieces of armour salvaged from other damaged / destroyed M4.  

 

There were examples of the entire glacis plate of an knocked out M4 being welded on, and used the fittings of that glacis plate for things like lights etc.  Extra plate being added to the hull sides as well.  It would have been much harder to effectively fit that applique armour to the curved surfaces of the M4A1.

 

Of course the British used the hybrid hull VVSS for a number of 1C Hybrid Fireflies (yes I know, they were not called Fireflies at the time).

 

Israel later used M4A1 with HVSS as the basis of some of its Isherman variants, so it could be assumed that they were from excess war stocks exported from the USA rather than from anything that had been sent to Europe in 1945.

 

 

 

***** Correction*****

 

Many Israeli Shermans came from France, so it can be assumed they were late model M4A1(76)E8 supplied to France by the US under MDAP, and many M4A1 were supplied to other allies / friendlies post war, many of which would have been HVSS.  The one in the photograph above may have been not a WW2 service vehicle but a post war vehicle supplied to France that someone thought would have been a good memorial.


Edited by DougRichards, 10 June 2019 - 1801 PM.

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#3 Rich

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 1818 PM

I was just chatting on FB with Bryan Whalen about one of the above cast-hulled M4 variants surviving as a monument at one of the D-Day beaches. We both think it's odd that we can't find any pics of a cast-hull HVSS 76mm gun Sherman in US servic abroad. How many were made, why did they apparently not see widespread (or any?) combat with US forces, and what ultimately happened to them?

 

All of the M4A1 with HVSS and 76mm were manufaactured by Pressed Steel Car Company as part of the "Ultimate" Medium Tank M4 series. However, the exact number is not recorded in any records I (and other researchers) have found. It is known that all after 1 January 1945 were HVSS, so at least 1,255. Scant evidence indicates production may have begun earlier, in December 1944, with possibly 1,344 completed. In any case, turnaround from factory finish to delivery at the front could run as long as 135 days. The 135th day of 1945 was 16 May. Even at the original ASF assumption of 75-day turnaround, which was never achieved in the ETO, it would have been 17 March before the first arrived. I suspect reality was somewhere in between.

 

The earliest HVSS production was the M4A3 76mm from DTA in August 1944 and the M4 and M4A3 105mm, also from DTA, in September 1944. They are the ones usually seen in ETOUSA photos.


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#4 DogDodger

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 2144 PM

Rich is probably the final word on the subject, but FWIW Stansell and Laughlin claim that 1,465 M4A1(76)W HVSS were constructed (210 accepted in the 4th quarter of 1944, 600 in the 1st quarter of 1945, 625 in the 2nd quarter, and 30 in July 1945), and reproduce a single photo of one on a transporter at a dock in Antwerp that a veteran took and dated 14 May 1945, which of course jives exactly with Rich's time estimate. The Army took only GAA-engined Shermans to Korea, but the M4A1s were found in NG units postwar.
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#5 R011

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 2159 PM

I get the impression the ex French Shermans in the IDF were VVS models- a mix of 75 mm and 75 mm that had been retrofitted with 76 mm guns. The Israelis removed the VVS units and bolted on HVSS units to replace them.
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#6 DogDodger

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 2212 PM

That seems to be the case: Myszka says, "By 1956 the French suspected that the Egyptian President Nasser was providing support to the rebels fighting against French authority in Algeria. This spurred the French to assist the Israelis by selling 'modern' tanks in the form of M4A1 VVS suspension and armed with the 76mm M1A1 high velocity gun...By 1967 many if not most M1 Shermans [this designation probably derived from the 76 mm gun M1] had their VVS suspensions replaced by the wider and more comfortable ride HVS suspensions."
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#7 R011

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 2248 PM

Sherman seems almost to have been a plug and play tank given how they could apparenttly change suspension and even engines.
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#8 JasonJ

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 2302 PM

M4 were highly upgradable but partly due to starting low. Suspension were bolt ons and the engine compartment and hull itself was large and tall to fit the Continental engines. M4 still proved itself in realiabilty, ease of maintance, and usually sufficient firepower. But the low hull height with improved efficency of hull armor use and the generally regarded as the best suspension type would be implemented in the M26. Those two items couldn't be upgraded into the M4. But even then in some cases, M4 still proved more valuable than even M26.

Edited by JasonJ, 10 June 2019 - 2302 PM.

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#9 Rich

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 2344 PM

Rich is probably the final word on the subject, but FWIW Stansell and Laughlin claim that 1,465 M4A1(76)W HVSS were constructed (210 accepted in the 4th quarter of 1944, 600 in the 1st quarter of 1945, 625 in the 2nd quarter, and 30 in July 1945), and reproduce a single photo of one on a transporter at a dock in Antwerp that a veteran took and dated 14 May 1945, which of course jives exactly with Rich's time estimate. The Army took only GAA-engined Shermans to Korea, but the M4A1s were found in NG units postwar.

 

I'd be curious where they reference that from, since I never ran across a count in the Ordnance records I have and Joe DeMarco never ran across a figure in his extensive search of the T-AC records.


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#10 DogDodger

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 0004 AM

M4 were highly upgradable but partly due to starting low. Suspension were bolt ons and the engine compartment and hull itself was large and tall to fit the Continental engines. M4 still proved itself in realiabilty, ease of maintance, and usually sufficient firepower. But the low hull height with improved efficency of hull armor use and the generally regarded as the best suspension type would be implemented in the M26. Those two items couldn't be upgraded into the M4. But even then in some cases, M4 still proved more valuable than even M26.

Well, torsion bars were installed on a couple M4A2s in July and August 1943 (M4A2E4; coincidentally the torsion bar-suspended T20E3 was also completed in July 1943). This suspension on the Sherman was considered unsatisfactory due to "maintenance problems," according to Hunnicutt, and HVSS by that time was progressing and would be presumably easier to implement whether or not the maintenance issues were resolved. Likewise, the GMC M18 obtained a lower hull than the M4 while using both torsion bars and the R975 with the expedient of using a rear transfer case that lowered the propeller shaft. Perhaps it wasn't as much that torsion bars and a lower hull couldn't be designed into the M4 as it was that it might not have been worth the hassle since the follow-on designs were progressing by that point, HVSS was decent and easy, and there was a need to have the "ultimate" Sherman designs locked in so production could commence?
 
 

I'd be curious where they reference that from, since I never ran across a count in the Ordnance records I have and Joe DeMarco never ran across a figure in his extensive search of the T-AC records.

They have a couple possible sources in their bibliography, but unfortunately the production info itself is not footnoted. :(
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#11 Walter_Sobchak

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 0335 AM

The only thing I can add to the conversation regarding M4A1(76) tanks with HVSS is that many seemed to have ended up as flowerpots in Indiana.  According to the USA AFV registrar, the following Indiana towns feature HVSS M4A1(76) tanks: Attica, Brazil, Brownstown, Crownpoint, Edinburgh, Griffith, Hartford City, Huntington, Indianapolis, Kokimo, Muncie, Scottsburg, St Leon, and Winchester.  For point of comparison, just to the north of Indiana in my home state of Michigan, we have exactly zero M4A1 tanks of any configuration on public display.  So obviously there was something going on in Indiana which led to a number of HVSS M4A1(76) tanks being assigned to public display.  I'm guessing an Indiana National Guard unit retired these vehicles out?  I'm not sure how exactly that process works.  


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#12 Rick

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 0444 AM

Do you happen to do where at in Muncie, Indiana? I've lived here 32 years and haven't seen any tank in town.


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#13 Walter_Sobchak

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 0530 AM

Do you happen to do where at in Muncie, Indiana? I've lived here 32 years and haven't seen any tank in town.

 

Here is a list with pictures http://www.warbirdsa...hermantanks.htm.  I have not seen any of these vehicles in person.  Apparently, the one in Muncie is at the National Guard Armory.  No idea if it is still on display.


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#14 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 0636 AM

Would any of these have ended up fighting in Korea? Ive a nagging feeling that I cannot substantiate, that ive seen Shermans of a similar type to this in footage of Korea.

 

Judging by how many interesting examples were kitbashed postwar out of wartime production, would this be appropriate to view this as a cold war variant, rather than one that appeared in WW2?


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#15 Chris Werb

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 1620 PM

Do you happen to do where at in Muncie, Indiana? I've lived here 32 years and haven't seen any tank in town.


Hi Rick. I just checked Google maps satellite view and it's on a lawn at the SW corner of the main NG Armory building next to the car park.
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#16 Rick

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 1955 PM

 

Do you happen to do where at in Muncie, Indiana? I've lived here 32 years and haven't seen any tank in town.


Hi Rick. I just checked Google maps satellite view and it's on a lawn at the SW corner of the main NG Armory building next to the car park.

 

Thank you Chris. I'll check it out tomorrow.


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#17 Rick

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 1957 PM

 

Do you happen to do where at in Muncie, Indiana? I've lived here 32 years and haven't seen any tank in town.

 

Here is a list with pictures http://www.warbirdsa...hermantanks.htm.  I have not seen any of these vehicles in person.  Apparently, the one in Muncie is at the National Guard Armory.  No idea if it is still on display.

 

Thank you Walter.


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#18 DougRichards

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 0410 AM

I have just received "Sherman Tank Volume 1"   'America's M4A1 Medium Tank in World War Two' by David Doyle. (2018)

 

quote:

 

"Photographic evidence of the M4A1E8 in Europe during World War Two is scarce; it is not believed that any of the few that reached the theater saw combat"


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#19 Chris Werb

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 1354 PM

 

 

Do you happen to do where at in Muncie, Indiana? I've lived here 32 years and haven't seen any tank in town.


Hi Rick. I just checked Google maps satellite view and it's on a lawn at the SW corner of the main NG Armory building next to the car park.

 

Thank you Chris. I'll check it out tomorrow.

 

 

Could you please try to get some photos of it?  There also appears to be another tank lurking under some trees at the SE corner of the armory. It looks like an original M60 to me. 

 

https://www.google.c...!7i13312!8i6656

 

Just a PS, but your town is amazingly geometrically laid out compared to cities over here. I guess that's the benefit of starting with a clean sheet of paper and presumably some kind of centralised control of layout?


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#20 DogDodger

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 1727 PM

There also appears to be another tank lurking under some trees at the SE corner of the armory. It looks like an original M60 to me.

You're correct. :)
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