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Sportsguy64

Are Shermans THAT bad?

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You know...I used to wonder what Donald Sutherland's problem really was in that movie, but after playing a few Bocaage scenerios (AND with Fireflys) I thoroughly understand now - and Gavin Macleod's concerns about running into more tigers in the future was well justified. ...this is just an ordinary 76 millimeter but we add this extension and the krauts think like...maybe it's a 90 millimeter :eek: Did anyone really try this with any of our tanks?

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Shermans are pretty good. If you're fighting tank vs tank then you're fighting, apparently, a fairly uncommon battle. IIRC most battles were allied combined arms vs German infantry, maybe with AT guns.

From my one book on the subject it seems that 17pdr or 76mm were the largest guns fitted and sent to war in the Sherman. Presumably clever men with beards attempted to fit other weapons.

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Originally posted by Sportsguy64:

You know...I used to wonder what Donald Sutherland's problem really was in that movie, but after playing a few Bocaage scenerios (AND with Fireflys) I thoroughly understand now - and Gavin Macleod's concerns about running into more tigers in the future was well justified. ...this is just an ordinary 76 millimeter but we add this extension and the krauts think like...maybe it's a 90 millimeter :eek: Did anyone really try this with any of our tanks?

It's called the M36B1 Jackson:

m36_b1_01.jpg

A 90mm gun mounted on a Sherman chassis. (Though, most production models went with the M10 chassis --- the M36B2). It came over to France in July of 1944, so one could expect that Oddball would have seen one, and came up with his brilliant piece of mis-direction from there.

Sergei: Is it a 105mm Sherman mounting a flamethrower? Would be a great bunker-buster, I expect.

[ October 04, 2006, 02:50 AM: Message edited by: von Lucke ]

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Von Lucke, IIRC the flamethrower was hull mounted, wasn't it? That tube looks like it's attached over the co-ax machine gun hole.

Interesting photo of the Jackson turret on the Sherman hull. I always imagined the turret ring on the Jackson was larger which is why they didn't put the 90mm in the Sherman, but you live and learn. How many of them made it in to the war?

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Originally posted by von Lucke:

Sergei: Is it a 105mm Sherman mounting a flamethrower? Would be a great bunker-buster, I expect.

You could be spot on, von Lucke. It is from the Pacific theater, after all, where even toothpicks came with flamethrowers.

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Nothing wrong with the Sherman tank. The early short 75mm models were undergunned for 1944, though adequate for what they faced before that, and heavier than almost everything in the field in 1942 when they first arrived. Once upgunned in 1944 and after, it was an entirely serviceable MBT in every respect. Flotation improvement with E8 also helped, to be sure.

The US used them very effectively in the Korean war. The Israelis had 180 in 1956, 515 in 1967, and 340 still in the 1973 war. All worked fine. Pakistanis and Indians also used them, on each other.

The post war varieties continued to upgun. But the Sherman 105 and the Fireflies were already in the league even in WW II, and the 76mm E8 was adequate for anything actually faced. Against the biggest cats, because of shatter problems you wanted some APCR, but there was not production difficulty in making getting or using it, only command sluggishness because they didn't grok the need rapidly enough.

US armor outscored German in absolute loss terms (the US lost fewer than 4000 mediums in the whole western front campaign). TDs were particularly effective. In the west as a whole, the German may only have broken even or they may have reached something like 3:2, but they had no great kill disparity as they had in the east. Showing it wasn't tech but tactics, mostly.

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I said it before, I'll say it again. If you want renewed respect for the Sherman play a few CMBB battles with T34-76s. Two man turrets, no smoke shells. The gun (in the game) unable to even hole a Stug III! Then grab a couple Lend Lease Shermans to play with - especially the 76mm gun versions. Fast 3-man turret. .50 cal to play with on the roof. Smoke rounds. suddenly life is good again! :D

Still, U.S. tankers got the short end of the stick, due as much to the 75mm Pak AT gun than to any ├╝bertank. The U.S. Army did not expect ETO to be the black hole for U.S. tank crews that it turned into. They weren't set up to field enough necessary replacement crews and by late summer the tanker force was in dire straits, often leaving the bow gunner position vacant, pulling in untrained infantry to serve as tank crewmen, etc. Luckily, by the time of the Bulge battles tank crew training had ramped-up and the Army was getting the replacement crews it needed.

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The Commonwealth used the Sherman with no real hardships after Normandy; few German tanks on the roads by then, anyway, and for the First Canadian Army, not real good tank country in the Netherlands at any rate. Panzerfaust made operating any kind of armour tricky at best, but since doctrine was firmly artillery-based, which is not portrayed accurately in CM for obvious reasons, makes the Sherman discussion a little moot IMO.

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Originally posted by von Lucke:

[snips]

It's called the M36B1 Jackson:

[snips]

A 90mm gun mounted on a Sherman chassis. (Though, most production models went with the M10 chassis --- the M36B2).

There was a request by the Armored Board to install 90mm guns in 1,000 Shermans in Autumn 1943, which was disputed by the Ordnance Board and rejected by Army Ground Forces. Following experience in Normandy, interest in a 90mm Sherman was renewed, and this time a demonstration vehicle was prepared at Detroit Arsenal using an M4 chassis fitted with a Pershing turret (both tanks haveing the same diameter turret-ring). This was not proceeded with, as it was thought that by the time production could be ramped up the Pershing would be available anyway.

Pictures of two proposals for 90mm-armed Shermans appear on pages 212 and 213 of Hunnicutt's "Sherman".

All the best,

John.

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Originally posted by Sportsguy64:

...this is just an ordinary 76 millimeter but we add this extension and the krauts think like...maybe it's a 90 millimeter

Funny, I always thought this was a mistake in the script - ought to say a 75 mm that should look like a 76 - and that they changed that to 90 to make the difference more obvious (how could a non-grog know why a mere 1mm should make any difference. ;) ) Never expected they really considered a gun that big on the little tank. You can aleays learn something new on this board.

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Originally posted by Soddball:

Interesting photo of the Jackson turret on the Sherman hull. I always imagined the turret ring on the Jackson was larger which is why they didn't put the 90mm in the Sherman, but you live and learn. How many of them made it in to the war?

About 187 of the Sherman version, 500 altogether --- though most looked like this:

m36_03.jpg

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Basically the same 90mm gun as on the Pershing. Roughly equivalent to the 88 Flak or Tiger I gun. The contemporary Tiger II gun and the 100mm gun on the Soviet SU-100 could eat its lunch.

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Originally posted by Soddball:

Von Lucke, IIRC the flamethrower was hull mounted, wasn't it? That tube looks like it's attached over the co-ax machine gun hole.

It's a Sherman flame tank with a flame gun in lieu of a coax MG. KG_Jag has it spot on. Pacific theater, yes, but Korea.

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"The U.S. Army did not expect ETO to be the black hole for U.S. tank crews that it turned into."

Considering that loss rates for tankers were 1/3rd what they were for the armored infantry and no higher than the were for combat engineers, methinks someone is exaggerating just a tad. It was vastly safer to be in a tank than not. The typical experience of an armored battalion was to have high losses on 1-2 occasions over the whole campaign - Normandy if in by then, Bulge if on that part of the front, being the common ones - and otherwise to lose about 1 tank per week. Hardly suicide.

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Odd that you and I have totally different perceptions of the same war. I was under the impression that some front line tank units had vehicle losses during the war exceeding 100%! By late summer '44 units were struggling to find replacement crews and by '45 they were struggling to keep thier units up to strength due to too few working tanks. The 'one tank per week' figure's a bit misleading considering a unit could spend four weeks behind the lines waiting for the big offensive then lose four tanks inside the first fifteen minutes of the opening assault.

[ October 05, 2006, 02:23 PM: Message edited by: MikeyD ]

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Vehicles losses for formations in from shortly after D-Day to the end did indeed run about the vehicle strength. Which means it took months to kill one of the things. For units that arrived after the Normany breakout, it was more like half.

Those losses were concentrated in precisely 2 periods, when the Germans threw 2000 AFVs at the western front - Normandy and the Bulge. Outside of those two periods, allied armor losses were tiny. Within those two periods, they were about as high as the Germans.

The average US AB lost only about 1/3-1/2 of its initial strength in manpower terms, infantry formations turned over 1-2 times. A KOed tank typically produced 2 causalties.

The Allies were never short of tanks. They were occasionally short of trained crews, merely because they were supplied so abundantly with tanks. The only times you will find tank shortages are specific units in the heaviest action, simply because they haven't come out for replacements.

Armored strength in the AD battalions averaged 90% of TOE before the Bulge, and 80% in the non-divisional battalions. For comparison, German PDs in Russia averaged 30 tanks apiece for much of the war.

A unit that just came off the line to take replacements at the end of the Bulge, might indeed have a tank strength of only a company or so - step reduced. But would be pulled off the line for exactly that reason, rebuilt, etc. And for every such, there was another entering action near full, and another not in that portion of the front near full, etc.

The US built about 10 times as many tanks overall as the US lost in the entire ETO campaign.

The Germans lost essentially every tank sent to Normandy. After the breakout, they sent a wave of green Panzer brigades to try to hold in the west. All were smashed by mid fall, often within days of entering action. The Bulge wave lost about half of the vehicles committed, some remaining to be pulled out to fight the Russians, others remaining and being ground down by the counteroffensive that followed it. Mortain, Arracourt, the Bulge, and Alsace were all fiascos from the German armor's standpoint.

Their largest success was the defensive period on the British front in Normandy. They were outscored on the American portion of the front.

The US lost less than 1000 mediums in Normandy. The Germans sent about as much armor against the US as against the Brits, it was just sent in piecemeal fashion and half of it later. 17SS early, 2 Panzer, Lehr in early July, 2SS, several StuG brigades, 116 Panzer in the breakout, and the Mortain roundup of most of the remaining armor in the theater after it - which was a fiasco - total about 1000 AFVs. Few made it past Falaise.

They were outscored again in Lorraine, as the Panzer brigades evaporated on contact. They had running battles with 3rd army armor after that, with the better 11th PD and 3 and 15 Pz Gdr, and a cadre from 21 PD. They did not better than trade off in that period and did not make up the lopsided PB fiascos.

There was minor armor use at Schmidt but it was mostly an infantry battle. Nothing within a factor of 10 the size of the previous. Bulge was a fiasco, with entire PDs abandoned once surrounded or left out of fuel at the tip etc. Alsace stuff lacked even that one's level of strategic point and was delivered piecemeal, most of the involved armor thereby thrown away for nothing and the allies enjoying fine exchange rates etc.

If the Germans had consistently used their armor on the operational defensive, as linebackers etc, they might have done better. Instead they either didn't have any, or threw most of it away in a grandious counterattack or three. Dealing with the few that survived that procedure was as unpleasant as you please, certainly, but there wasn't very much of it to do. (Brits for a month and a half in Normandy excepted).

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so how was it the Germans lost 2000 AFVs in Normandy when the allies were saying it took 5 shermans to take out a panther? Were the AFVs mostly abandoned?

(lack of repair parts, fuel, over run?

As far as the CM engine goes I'd be most concerend with how many were knocked out during the battle (i.e. totally KO'd or disabled/knocked out and not able to be evacuated immedialely or shortly after the battle as opposed to taken back to the shops and left there when the eventual front lines got to the shops but there was no time to get the tank out of there.

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Originally posted by coe:

so how was it the Germans lost 2000 AFVs in Normandy when the allies were saying it took 5 shermans to take out a panther?

It "took" 5 allied mediums to KO a German heavy (or Panther). It didn't "cost" 5 Allied mediums to do that.

There is a not-so-subtle and very distinct difference between them.

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This should resolve the flame tank ID problem, as well as providing a groggy book even by grog standards. The POA in the designation stands for Pacific Ocean Area, CWS for Chemical Warfare Service, the H for Hawaii, where the conversions were done, and the 5 is the model number.

http://www.flamedragons.com/ShermanFlameTank.html

According to the Army Green Series, in THE CHEMICAL WARFARE SERVICE: From Laboratory to the Field, pp.155-156, the first ten such tanks were ready in time for Okinawa but were instead diverted to the Marianas to reequip a MarDiv. Most of the initial batch had 75mm guns, but the remainder had the 105mm with twenty rounds and a full flame fuel load. By war's end, there were seventy of this variety of flame tank ready to go for the invasion of Japan.

Here's an overview of the unit which used this flame tank in Korea.

http://www.flamedragons.com/FlamePlatoon.html

Regards,

John Kettler

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