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John Kettler

M4 & M4A1 gunnery optics surprise

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Got quite the shock recently when reading Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt, which covers many little-addressed aspects of the Sherman and the Sherman in combat. Was astounded to learn that both the M4 and M4A1 in the narrow mantlet first version (called Sherman 1.0 by him) did not have a telescopic gunsight, but instead had a 1X gunner's periscope on the turret roof. Unsurprisingly, this didn't sit well with the British in the Western Desert, and urgent fixes to this were applied in the wide mantlet intermediate model (Sherman 1.5). I don't own CMFI, but I was wondering whether this to me astounding lack of magnified gunner optics on the original Sherman types  is modeled in the game? If that's not tactically significant, I don't know what is.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Would this be a timeframe issue in terms of CMFI?

I'd assume something like this would have been addressed by the American Army prior to the Sicily landings, particuarly if they discovered the problems with the Sherman in Tunisia. Still would be a good thing to model in any CM: Africa game. Commanding the green/troubled US Army in it's first major deployment in late '42 and early '43 would be quite interesting for us Armchair Generals I think. :)

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While you can sometimes see very old Shermans (with M3 style bogies) in pictures from Sicily, Italy & even Southern France in 1943-44, I'd very much doubt any of them would still rely on the periscope.....I can't guarantee it, there are exceptions to every rule where the Sherman is concerned, but the numbers would be so staggeringly small I don't think it should effect the game.

EarlyM4A1France1944

Early M4A1, Operation Dragoon, France, 25 August 1944

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Guys,

From what I read, if it's got the narrow M34 mantlet (no aperture other than for coax), then all it has is the 1X roof mounted gunner's sight. I find it practically impossible to believe that at the time Sicily was invaded we didn't have lots of such Shermans running around. A quick "Google search under "Shermans in Sicily" turned up numerous examples, including landing operations. Am unqualified to speak on how fast improved Shermans (with wider M34A1 mantlet featuring a prominent opening for the gunner's telescope on the TC's side of the turret) made it to the MTO thereafter.

Further, got brother George interested, and he sent me some Bing links. But you don't need them, for a simple search under "Shermans in Italy" turns up many examples and from a variety of nations.

All in all, I do believe there's evidence to support my contention there may well be a valid issue here, one I believe deserves some sort of response from BFC or one of its designated voices. That said, I have no idea whether or not this gunsight situation is modeled already or somehow got missed.

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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You are right JK, they are still very common in Sicily, I'm surprised at just how common in fact.....Well spotted fella.  B) 

I'd got it into my head that this applied only to the earliest vehicles with the M3 style bogies (which is ironic really as I've built enough Sherman models to know better), but that isn't the case as you can clearly see.

I'm guessing these were tanks delivered to North Africa from the initial batches (I actually have the wherewithal to check, but I'm too tired tonight!  ;)), they seem to start being replaced in fairly significant numbers by the time of the invasion of Italy, but they are not as uncommon as I'd expected even there.

PS - I should probably also check whether the periscope optic was upgraded at all, Shermans can be tricky like that.....Some of these early Shermans certainly received upgrades prior to arriving in Italy, as the presence of cheek & hull applique on several examples indicates .

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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Did some more checking.....The early gunner's periscope incorporated a M38 1.44-power telescopic sight, later replaced by the M38A2 telescope with 'superior reticle pattern'. 

This sight was not further upgraded as far as I can see, but it was retained as a back-up when M70F 3-power direct telescopic sights were fitted with the M34A1 mantlet.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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Narrow mantlet Shermans without coaxial gunner's sight is certainly in CMFI. There's so much unseen going on 'under the hood', though, that its impossible to say how gunner accuracy is affected without extensive testing (which may have happened years ago). My *guess* is early Sherman types receive a penalty of some sort.

I read a first use report by crews of then-new Panthers complaining to the manufacturer that the Panther gunner ONLY has a high-powered telescopic sight. They said it greatly reduced the gunners situational awareness over T-34 (and Sherman) which included a secondary panoramic periscope for the gunner. The manufacturer did nothing to address their concerns, except give the loader a periscope.

 

Narrow mantlet.jpg

Edited by MikeyD

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M4 Sherman at War, by Brown and Green, has a useful description of the M38, successors, and Sherman gunnery on p.86 et seq. Book says the M38 was 1.44X, the same number Andy reported above. Adding to the confusion is what's on The Sherman Site on this matter. It says the M38 was 1X and launches from there into subsequent Sherman sights and FCS material. In any event, it's clear the M38 sysyem was a mess because of linkage issues causing lots of misses, and the successors required a lot of work, too.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Have a plot twist to the story, and it involves the CMBN side of things for the CW. Just got off the horn with brother George, who informed me the British, for reasons he didn't understand, did not do the upgrade kits that put the wide mantlet and the all-important telescopic sight on what had been narrow mantlet Shermans with their associated optical deficits. He thought this was pretty shocking, considering it was the British who raised a ruckus about optics in the first place. He further noted they didn't fit the protective plates to the near vertical driver and bow gunner bulges in the glacis and didn't always have sponson armor added, either. Said the overall situation was the norm in Normandy, and that they were still campaigning narrow mantlet Shermans at Arnhem! Seems to me this is something which ought to be looked into because of its potentially substantial impact on combat performance and also addressed by scenario builders. He sent a photo to my phone of a British welded hull Sherman in Normandy in June 1944, and that tank is very much the OEM first model with the narrow mantlet. Not sure what the situation was for the Canadians and the Poles.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Posted (edited)

Since you've brought this up I've noticed the old mantlet in quite a few images (one does once one starts looking)

2 hours ago, John Kettler said:

Said the overall situation was the norm in Normandy, and that they were still campaigning narrow mantlet Shermans at Arnhem!

Looking through images in a couple of texts now (from the Armour At War range), it seems almost 50% of the British Shermans pictured (at least up until the time of the breakout) still had the early narrow mantlet.   While almost all of them seem to have the sponson & turret cheek applique, almost none of them have applique over the driver & radio operator's hatch bulges.

Nice spot JK (& family).....Have another.  ;)

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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Posted (edited)

Brother George sent me a phone pic of a vanilla (narrow mantlet) US Sherman destroyed ner Villiers-Frossard (hard to tell, partial caption in frame) in support of an also not in frame infantry division number. Tank was destroyed on June 13, 1944 and has the OEM M34 series mantlet, so has gunner's periscopic sight only. Might be instructive to start inspecting the unit rolls to see how common the original model Shermans were for the US at Normandy.

Further inquiry resulted in being told the photo is from page 16 of Zaloga's Panzer IV vs Sherman. Tank is from B CO 747th TK BN. 

https://www.amazon.com/Panzer-IV-Sherman-France-1944/dp/147280760X  

Short video review of above. Kitmaker TV YT channel has many more of these short video reviews.
 

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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On ‎2‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 11:10 PM, MikeyD said:

I read a first use report by crews of then-new Panthers complaining to the manufacturer that the Panther gunner ONLY has a high-powered telescopic sight. They said it greatly reduced the gunners situational awareness over T-34 (and Sherman) which included a secondary panoramic periscope for the gunner. The manufacturer did nothing to address their concerns, except give the loader a periscope.

One thing that surprised me greatly as I began reading more into the manufacturing side of the war is how much the manufacturer is responsible for these sorts of upgrades.
It really gives me warm fuzzies when you read reports of how responsive American manufacturers were, even sending teams of company men to the front to directly listen to the gripes of the soldiers in the field!
It's a whole side of warfare I had never considered before.

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