All the Guns on an M4 Sherman Tank (with Nicholas Moran, the Chieftain)

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Today Nicholas Moran (the Chieftain) and I are at DriveTanks.com courtesy of Wargaming.net, to show you around a World War Two Sherman tank and all its various armaments. We will discuss and shoot the bow machine gun, coaxial machine gun, Commander’s hatch machine gun, antiaircraft .50 cal M2 machine gun, 76mm high velocity main gun, and the crew’s small arms, an M3 Grease Gun and a 1911 pistol.

If you enjoy this video, check out World of Tanks – and maybe they will send Nicholas and I back again to do the same thing for a different tank!

36 Comments

  1. Sight-less bow machine gun might looks to be terribly inaccurate, but keep in mind it at least have crew member aiming it – earlier U.S. tanks often have fixed forward firing machine guns, activated by driver – for example M2 Light Tank machine has 2 such machine guns – one in left sponson and one in right sponson, M6 Heavy Tank have 1 fixed forward machine gun. For more data see page 26 of this pdf: https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/TM/pdfs/TM9-721.pdf

  2. Yeah!
    Whooped!
    My two favourite YouTube channels cooperating!
    Brits removed the top-mounted .50 cal. to reduce the heighth of the Sherman’s silhouette. Stock Sherman’s were as tall as Tigers!
    Brits used bow guns for “prophylactic fire” clearing hedges and ditches of lurking Panzerfausts.

    • “(…)Stock Sherman’s were as tall as Tigers!(…)”
      According D.F. Loza memoirs:
      The Sherman had its weaknesses, the greatest of which was its high center of gravity. The tank frequently tipped over on its side, like a Matryoshka doll (a wooden stacking doll). But I am alive today thanks to this deficiency. We were fighting in Hungary in December 1944. I was leading the battalion and on a turn my driver-mechanic clipped a curb. My tank went over on its side. We were thrown around, of course, but we survived the experience. Meanwhile the other four of my tanks went ahead and drove into an ambush. They were all destroyed.

      As for anti-aircraft MG:
      We used this machine gun against both aircraft and ground targets. We used it less frequently against air targets because the Germans were not fools. They bombed either from altitude or from a steep dive. The machine gun was good to 400-600 meters in the vertical. The Germans would drop their bombs from say, 800 meters or higher. He dropped his bomb and departed quickly. Try to shoot the bastard down! So yes, we used it, but it was not very effective. We even used our main gun against aircraft. We placed the tank on the upslope of a hill and fired. But our general impression of the machine gun was good. These machine guns were of great use to us in the war with Japan, against kamikazes. We fired them so much that they got red hot and began to cook off. To this day I have a piece of shrapnel in my head from an antiaircraft machine gun.

      You can read his memoirs translated into English here: https://iremember.ru/en/memoirs/tankers/dmitriy-loza/

      • Sherman might have had its plusses, among them most cited being suitable size and weight when comes to loading/ unloading to and from boats, but otherwise in Europe it was sub-standard junk.

        When I first looked at pictures of it (being well accustomed to Russian tanks) I thought it was a joke. How such ridiculously towering booth on tracks could have survived even against Panzer II? My sum-up is that it did it only thanks to overwhelming numbers and ever present of air and artillery support.

        • Panzer II infantry support scout tank easily total-killed by even the earliest Sherman? I think you meant to say “Panther II” medium tank with ridiculously heavy armor for a tank of its classification. And yes, the Tiger II and Panther II could not compensate for the fact that America usually preferred to send in planes and lots of artillery BEFORE sending the main tank force into battle. As Daweo once stated, the Luftwaffe was so thinned out by 1945 that German soldiers on the western front joked that to recognize planes, “Silver planes are American, green ones are British, and ours tend to be completely invisible.”

        • “(…)in Europe it was sub-standard junk.(…)”
          So how do you explain fact that it was used by Guard units, which have priority in delivery of weapons and equipment.

          “(…)such ridiculously towering booth(…)”
          Well, it looks like totally reasonable tank design if you compare it with its progenitor – M3 Medium Tank, which have quite high hull, turret on top and then smaller turret atop turret.

    • “doctrine”
      Then you might be interested in fact that 76 mm high-velocity gun (appear as gun with muzzle brake in D.F.Loza memoirs) was adoption to existing situation – need to deal with German armored vehicles, thus marking the revision of U.S. doctrine which earlier says that tanks are supposed to not fight against enemy tanks, which was role destined for tank destroyers. Interestingly despite minimally bigger nominal caliber, HE shell for 76 mm gun carried less explosive mixture, making in less effective against soft targets. Also due to bigger ammunition size tanks(76) carried less rounds that tanks(75).
      So there was cost to pay for enhanced penetration, thus tanks(76) were serving alongside tanks(75), rather than replacing them.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/76_mm_gun_M1#Acceptance_for_production_by_the_tank_forces

      • There were four different variants of the M1 76.2mm guns on the M4 series, the M1, M1A1, M1A1C, and M1A2. Length of bore, 156 inches (52.0 calibers).

        Projectile weight (M69 APCBC shot); 15.44 lbs. Muzzle velocity; 2,600 F/S. ME; 724 ft-tons.

        (M93 HVAP-CR tungsten shot); weight 9.4 lbs, MV 3,400 F/S, ME 753 ft-tons.

        Penetration in homogenous steel armor at 500 yards at 30 degrees incidence;; (M69)93mm, (M93) 157mm.

        By comparison, the 17-pounder in the British Sherman Firefly had a MV of 2,900 F/S with Mk VIII APCBC-T shot (17 lb.), and 3,950 F/S with SVDS (APDS-T) shot (7.9 lb.). At 500 yards and 30 degrees incidence, Mk VIII penetrated 140mm of steel armor, SVDS penetrated 208mm.

        Source; Sherman; A History of the American Medium Tank by R.P. Hunnicutt (Presidio Press, 1978).

        cheers

        eon

  3. By far, one of your best videos. Tank warfare is one aspect of my wwII study that is lacking. Also I like the length of the video.

    • “(…)wwII study that is lacking(…)”
      Not strictly “wwII” but Gutenberg project has available Tanks in the Great War, 1914-1918 by J. F. C. Fuller http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/49808
      It does show state of art of year 1920, nonetheless it might be interesting to become aware of experience from then recent Great War and attempt of future prediction (see CHAPTER XL)

  4. I really enjoyed this video. I especially liked that you included a discussion of the issued submachine guns and the individual crewmen’s pistols. Having Chieftain’s insight as a tread head was an added bonus.

    One surprise was FIVE M3 submachine guns issued per tank. I’ll have to look into that because later tanks didn’t get a submachine gun for every crew member. Might be the difference between wartime armies and peacetime armies–the peacetime armies usually left the AFV’s submachine gun back in the armory at garrison while conducting field maneuvers. There weren’t any MILES gear for the M3 series submachine guns anyway.

    • D. F. Loza – https://iremember.ru/en/memoirs/tankers/dmitriy-loza/ – says that
      Each Sherman came with two Thompson submachine guns, in caliber 11.43mm (.45 cal), a healthy cartridge indeed!
      but they found captured German sub-machine guns much better suited for their needs
      Take a German submachine gun with folding stock (MP-40 SMG by Erma -Valeri). We loved it for its compactness. The Thompson was big. You couldn’t turn around in the tank holding it.

  5. Wow, that chieftain is tall! How he can load himself into a tank, especially a Russian tank? He is a charming fella with mighty big knowledge though.

    Now, as I understand, the common M4 tank gun is derived from old good French 75mm field gun. That’s the gun U.S. troops took with them from WWI.

  6. On the other team, the closest equivalent to this Sherman was the horrendously overworked Panzer IV Ausf. H, which had a long-barrel KwK 40 and whose hull supported extra “skirt plates” to protect the woefully thin flank hull armor. Unlike the Sherman, which was intended to be the armor equivalent of the cavalry of the past, the Panzer IV was intended to support infantry and was thus given a short-barrel artillery gun fed mostly with HE rounds (and a few AP rounds) and much thinner armor than its stablemate, the Panzer III (which had been designed from the get-go for tank fights). One big problem for the later Panzer IV variants from F.2 onwards receiving the longer gun was driving/handling instability owing to the longer gun offsetting the center of gravity, with the tank suspension getting lots of wear and tear just going down the street. Needless to say, the decreasing production quality of German armor steel didn’t help the Panzer IV against the regular 75mm-gun Sherman.

    OFF TOPIC: Given a choice between three platoons of M4A2 HVSS (making a total of 12 tanks) and three platoons of Panzer IV Ausf. H with Schürzen fitted, which would you take into an urban brawl assuming no planes or artillery got into the mix? And, yes, you may add as many infantrymen with anti-armor weapons as you’d like to both teams. It’s going to look like a Wild West shootout with tanks… Just kidding!

    • “(…)with the tank suspension getting lots of wear and tear just going down the street(…)”
      I would say that was caused due to increased weight, which was caused by increase in armour rather than longer gun. Note that suspension of Panzer IV changed little between different Ausf.-s unlike Panzer III https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panzer_III_LW.svg?uselang=ru
      despite grow of mass from 18,4 tons* in Ausf. A to 25,7 tons* in Ausf. G.
      F-subvariants different in armament but not armour weighted respectively 22,3 tons* (F1, short gun) and 23,0 tons* (F2, long gun) thus meaning new gun added 0,7 ton* – while overall mass increase during evolution was over 7 tons*.

      * metric

    • I do not want to sound like a troll, but as it became clear I am not a big fan of M4 tank. Probably influenced with Felton’s documentaries, rather than irrational prejudice.

      If I had to choose between it and similarly fat creation, the Gee Bee plane, I’d take the latter. It was fast, much faster than M4
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V_VJblkupE

  7. Surely .45 is a very poor cartridge in any circumstances EXCEPT when it actually hits someone? Its big – so you have fewer rounds in the magazine. It’s relatively low velocity – makes hitting things less easy. It’s subsonic – no supersonic crack from a near miss so less suppressing effect.
    From a tankers point of view a 9mm seems to make more sense.

    • Probably the best all-around choice of SMG during WW2 would have been the Russian PPS-43. It had a folding stock like the MP40, making it more compact, and fired the highly penetrative 7.62 x 25mm round.

      In terms of muzzle energy, the .45 ACP, 9 x 19mm, and 7.62 x 25mm had almost exactly the same, about 350 FPE/475J. So there was no real advantage in “stopping power” (killing power) of one over either of the other two.

      My one uncle who commanded a Sherman troop in 2AD observed that probably the best all-around personal weapon for tankers would have been the folding stock M1A1 .30 carbine, as it had greater accurate range (about 250 yards) and more power (about 900 FPE at the muzzle) than any SMG. But they were intended for the paratroops and were in short supply. His personal weapon was an M1 Thompson .45 ACP, because it retained the detachable shoulder stock of the M1928 and was thus easier to get in and out of the Sherman.

      Contrary to popular belief, M3 “Grease Guns” were not commonly used by U.S. tankers in the ETO. Initial issues of the original M3 with the crank-type cocking handle went mainly to the Pacific Theater, with a relatively small allotment slated for OSS for delivery to resistance groups. These were supposed to have 9mm conversion units (9mm barrel,9mm bolt, and adapter for the Sten MK II magazine) but few ever were delivered so.

      The M3A1 SMG finally became the standard tanker PDW during Korea, when my uncle was an instructor at the Armor School at Fort Knox.

      cheers

      eon

      • I have to agree with your comment regarding 7.62×25 PPSh SMG. That was a masterpiece by any standard. Not only shot performance was adequate to typical combat range (no more than 200m), but it also delivered lots of grains of lead in fraction of time. In addition it was so sturdy that you could break someone’s skull or arm with it, in final stretch of encounter. I would take it rather than Sturmgewehr.

        • “(…)Never seen picture of WWII Soviet soldier with L&L gun.(…)”
          Then see 20th image from top here: https://che-ratnik.livejournal.com/388356.html
          Naval infantry of Northern Fleet, posing with Lend-Lease Tommi-gans, Kola Peninsula

          “(…)Was is filtered out by censors(…)”
          I do not know, but I would attribute it more to little usage of Lend-Lease guns in general rather than censors meddling. U.S. sub-machine guns firing .45 Auto means more problems with keep them feed as opposed to 7,62×25 guns (cartridge already in supply change) or 9×19 guns (opportunity on capturing ammunition on Germans).

          • Superb pictures… maybe staged but that’s ok. I like them – real ‘dessant’. The best of course is the man with garmoshka.

  8. Seeing Ian in the Sherman made me think of the film Kelly’s Heroes, for some strange reason.

    Enough with the negative waves!

  9. I trained on M-48 at Ft Knox in the ’60s, and qualified with the 90mm, the M-1919
    coax, and the M-2 .50 cal. Our on-board individual weapons were the 1911 .45, and the M-3 ‘grease gun’. The M-3 was a total POS (IMO). Cruder than any STEN I’ve handled. Most of the sears were so worn that one tap of the trigger often resulted in a runaway gun. Storage was a problem, and of what use were they, really? If you were reduced to having the rely on the M-3,well, you were in serious trouble.
    The (30-06) coax was uber reliable. I often thought about mounting the .50 in the coax position for use against targets not worthy of the main gun. Say for example, an M-113 with that 1″ aluminum “armor”: Put a few cal 50 ‘API’ rounds into them, and they were a real mess inside. The combat load for the 90mm gun included two Cannister rounds–each one, basically a 90mm shotgun shell containing 1281 pellets. Those were considered as ‘anti-personnel’ rounds, to be used in the event of an enemy ‘banzai charge’. I never had occasion to fire one.
    When I got Germany,they were in process of phasing out the ’48s in favor of the new
    M-60A1. What a joy to move into a brand-new tank! New 105mm gun, new tracks!
    Ours even had that ‘new car smell’. I was stationed in the “Fulda Gap”, the pass through which invaders throughout history poured east and west. Our opponents were mostly T-54/55s, but we were more worried about the latest T-62.
    Anyway, this is supposed to be an article about ‘all the guns on an M-4’ so I should stop! Just one more comment: Shoulder holsters are safer than hip holsters for tank crews, especially when you need to bail out.

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