M4 Sherman Tank

Main American Tank of WW2


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M4 Sherman tank on display in NJ

Marine Sherman tank on Iwo Jima

M4 tank on New Britain

Sherman tank on Iwo Jima

Sherman tank with battle sleds

Bulldozer-equipped Sherman tank

click to enlarge

The M4 Sherman, officially 'Medium Tank, M4,' was the primary tank used by the United States during World War 2, and was also distributed to other Allied forces. It was the first American medium tank with the main gun mounted on a fully traversing turret.

More than 50,000 Sherman tanks were produced,and its chassis served as the basis for numerous other armored vehicles such as tank destroyers, tank retrievers, and self-propelled artillery. Only the Soviet T-34 tank was produced in larger numbers. Sherman tanks were also adapted with flails for mine-clearing, bulldozers, bridge-layers, flame-throwers, and other devices.

The M4A1 was an early version of the Sherman tank, The model used by the Marines weighed 34 tons, mounted a 75mm gun, and had frontal armor some three inches thick. Although a more formidable weapon than the 16-ton high tank, with a 37mm gun, the medium tank had certain shortcomings. A high silhouette made it a comparatively easy target for enemy gunners, and narrow treads provided poor traction in muddy conditions. The most lethal problem of the Sherman was it's inferior 3 inch thick armor. The Sherman could not withstand much punishment from enemy tanks and even the panzerfaust (a German equivalent to the bazooka) would focus a heat blast into the Sherman's armor and punch a hole clean through the armor without much difficulty. American tank crews had to compensate for this in a variety of ways. One, was to tie tree trunks to different parts of the tank for additional protection. Another was to add a sharpened bulldozer to the front of the Sherman so tank crews could pop through hedge and tree lines anywhere as opposed to heavily-defended choke points. These did not make the Sherman better than its German counter parts but merely increased its survivability. Only later increases in gun size and armor thickness gave the Sherman a fighting chance against German tanks crews.


Shown at left, in descending order:

Sherman M4 tank on display at the New Jersey National Guard museum

Iwo Jima - Weary troops of Company G, 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, rest in a ditch, guarded by a Sherman tank. They are waiting for the tanks to move forward to blast the numerous pillboxes between Motoyama Airfields No. 1 and No. 2.

New Britain - Marine infantrymen, some of them using the M1 rifle for the first time in combat, and a Sherman tank form a deadly team in the comparatively open country near the Cape Gloucester airfields.

Iwo Jima - The crew of the Sherman tank "Cairo" awaits a repair crew to replace its tread after it hit a Japanese mine. Note wooden sheathing on sides of vehicle to protect against magnetic mines. Damaged vehicles became prime enemy targets.

Italy - M4 TANK PULLING BATTLE SLEDS AROUND A CURVE to demonstrate sleds' flexibility, Nettuno, Italy.

On a European landing beach, 1944. - M4 "Sherman" tank with bulldozer blade attachment (wearing number "82019-Y" and nicknamed "Defiance"). The event is probably either a rehearsal for the Normandy invasion, held at Slapton Sands, England, in the spring of 1944, or the invasion of southern France in August. Photographed by a U.S. Coast Guard photographer from USS Samuel Chase (APA-26), using a 35mm camera. Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian.


Weight 66,800 pounds

Length 19 ft 2 in

Width 8 ft 7 in

Height 9 ft

Crew 5 (Commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)

Armor 63 mm

Primary armament 75 mm M3 L/40 gun

Secondary armament: one .50 cal Browning M2HB machine gun

- - - two .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns

Engine 400 hp Continental R975 C1 gasoline

Speed 25 to 30 mph


New Jersey National Guard

Cape Gloucester: The Green Inferno

CLOSING IN: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima

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