tank in Sicily, 3 August
by Dwight E. Dolan. Department
of National Defence / National
Archives of Canada, PA-136670.
Selected as the Western Allies' standard
battle tank in the summer of 1943, the
Sherman had been designed in the United
States and was produced from February
1942 in several variations. In Canadian
armoured formations, it replaced the
Canadian-built Ram tank. The 1st Canadian
Armoured Brigade was equipped with Shermans
in time for the invasion of Sicily in
July 1943. These tanks were armed with
the standard 75-mm gun, although some
also mounted a 105 mm howitzer. The
2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and the
4th Canadian Armoured Division, training
in Britain for Operation Overlord, had
their Canadian-built Ram tanks replaced
with Shermans in the months leading
up to D-Day. Special "duplex-drive"
(DD) tanks had been developed for the
assault landing. This model featured
a collapsible canvas screen which inflated
around the hull of the tank, displacing
enough water to allow it to float. Two
propellers were fitted at the rear of
the tank for use in water; once on land,
it used its tracks for propulsion. The
four squadrons of 2nd Canadian Armoured
Brigade assigned to support the 3rd
Division's landings on Juno Beach-"B"
and "C" Squadrons of The Fort
Garry Horse and "A" and "B"
Squadrons of The First Hussars-"swam"
ashore in DD tanks on June 6th, 1944.
Other "Funnies" had also been
developed for the invasion, including
the Sherman "Crab", a mine-clearing
tank equipped with a large flail.
flail tank near Thaon,
France, 6 August 1944.
Mines are exploded as
chains attached to a rotating
drum hit the ground.
by Ken Bell. Department
of National Defence / National
Archives of Canada, PA-131366.
As the Battle of Normandy developed,
it became obvious that the Sherman
was seriously outgunned and inadequately
armoured compared to the German
Panther and Tiger tanks. The range
of the 88-mm gun mounted in the latter,
for example, was on average four times
greater than the Sherman's 75-mm.
To compound the problem, the Sherman's
high profile silhouette made it a
more visible target. A match for the
powerful German tank guns was found
with the conversion of British and
Canadian Shermans to mount the 17-pounder,
but it could not fire high explosive
(HE) rounds and only about 25% of
tanks were thus equipped during the
Battle of Normandy. The US Army developed
a 76.2-mm gun, but it proved inadequate.
Such technological disadvantages had
unfortunate consequences in battle.
The Sherman's saving grace was the
fact that it was more mechanically
reliable than its German counterparts,
thus requiring less down-time for
maintenance. If it could avoid being
hit, it was thus able to spend more
time in the field than the vastly
outnumbered German tanks. Allied numerical
superiority became a decisive factor
as the campaign wore on: while the
Germans were unable to replace their
losses, the Allies had no such difficulty.
Vehicles in the Second World War
fell victim to anti-tank mines and
projectiles fired from anti-tank
guns. Aside from striking crew members,
the projectile would frequently
ignite the fuel and ammunition carried
inside the tank
happens to a tank when hit?
||5 (commander, gunner, loader/wireless operator, driver, co-driver/machine-gunner)
||front: 50 mm; sides: 38 mm; rear: 38 mm
||front: 75 mm; sides: 50 mm; rear: 50 mm
||one 75-mm gun (97 rounds AP, HE, and smoke ammunition)
||two .30-calibre Browning machine guns, one mounted in the bow for the co-driver,
the other mounted co-axially in
the turret beside the main armament
||.50-calibre anti-aircraft gun could be mounted on top of the turret
||Chrysler A57 multibank 30-cylinder gasoline engine, essentially five 6-cylinder
engines working together, 425
horsepower at 2850 rpm. Other
variants had diesel engines.
Tank", Canadian War Museum
Fact Sheet No. 15, edited by Fred
P. Hunnicutt, Sherman: A History
of the American Medium Tank (Belmont,
CA: Taurus, 1978)