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"Wet Storage: Gooey?" Topic

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ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 4:35 a.m. PST

Supposedly the "wet storage" for ammo on later Sherman tanks had the ammo in bins filled with a mix of water and glycerin. Wasn't that kind of messy? Wet, gooey, slippery shells? Did they have to wipe them off before they loaded them? (Somehow I'm reminded of the barracks scene in the movie "Sergeant York" where the sergeant yells at one of the troopers because the barrel of his newly issued rifle is still full of grease. "Won't that make the bullet come out faster?" asks the private.)

Garand10 Apr 2012 6:19 a.m. PST

I'm under the impression that the shells fit into their own sleeves, and it is these sleeves that are surrounded by the water/antifreeze mix. The idea being if a fragment or splinter penetrates the wet stowage tanks and into a round, the water mix will flood in and extinguish the fire (hopefully) before it can detonate the explosives.


Jemima Fawr Inactive Member10 Apr 2012 6:47 a.m. PST

As Damn says, the shells were surrounded by water/glycerine-filled containers. The shells weren't sitting in a bath! :o)

Major Mike10 Apr 2012 6:49 a.m. PST

Garand is right. Think of a storage tank that is honeycombed with storage tubes going from one side to the other with a slight downward angle to the tubes. The rounds stay dry unless the integrity of the storage tank is compromised. Only then would the rounds in the affected area have the opportunity to get wet.

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member10 Apr 2012 6:52 a.m. PST


Griefbringer10 Apr 2012 7:12 a.m. PST

The shells weren't sitting in a bath!

Having the shells sitting immersed in a tub of liquid might also have affected the loaders ergonomics quite significantly (being able to only approach the shells from top and not from side).

Somehow I'm reminded of the barracks scene in the movie "Sergeant York" where the sergeant yells at one of the troopers because the barrel of his newly issued rifle is still full of grease. "Won't that make the bullet come out faster?" asks the private.

This reminds me of one firing range day in the military. Apparently I had not managed to clean all of the gun oil from the barrel, since the first shot fired resulted in a small cloud of smoke being released from the oil burning in the barrel.

Not sure if the bullet travelled any faster than normal, though.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2012 8:23 a.m. PST

Considering the volume of liquid involved it would have been expensive to put enough glycerin in there to increase the viscosity much. It was probably just a little glycerin to change the surface tension. But I'm guessing.

I can't imagine a little water in the gun barrel having much effect. After all, it will be just a little water, and then it will be a lot of steam but there will be so much other superheated gas that it wouldn't make much difference.

Rust? No liqid water is going to stay on those surfaces…

So the shells should have been dry but if they weren't I can't see a problem.

Does anyone recall anyone ever describing this as a problem?

striker810 Apr 2012 10:34 a.m. PST

Yep, the wet storage sytem is nothing more than a tube type rack enclosed within a box flooded with a non flamable/explosive fluid. The fluid used in the Sherman is just about the same thing we currently use as coolant in engines nowdays being glycol based just a different mix and while it may have gotten sticky it would of never been gooey.

As far as water/oil in the barrel that would not have much effect other than on a bit of accuracy. To be dangerous the barrel would have to be full enough to form a plug of sorts that could possibly due to liquids being non compressable cause a catastrophic failure of the barrel.

Griefbringer, I love that line by Pusher in SGT York! Used it many a time just to irritate the armorer. The puff of smoke you saw could of come from any where not just the barrel, it doesn't but a miniscule amount of oil in the gas system to do the same thing and you might of never been able to see or reach it to get it out. WE ran on the theory that you got things as clean as you could to make the armorer happy but once you got on the range you lubed the hell out of everything, The look on our 2nd LT's face when we poured BreakFree over the open 50 and M60's was priceless. We got covered in oil flying off the guns but they never failed to fire due to lack of lube.

Lion in the Stars10 Apr 2012 1:52 p.m. PST

And as much as I hate the smell of Break Free, I hate the smell of hospitals more. So I'll put up with an over-lubed gun that still shoots over an under-lubed one that isn't shooting!

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2012 5:37 a.m. PST

Originally it was just water but a small amount of glycerin was added to prevent freezing. Glycerin is flamable by the way.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2012 6:42 a.m. PST

and often it wasn't that much help, as the number of shellspossibly carried was reduced..crews naturally didn't like this fact and often stacked in as many extra shells as possible and the extras were all unjacketed of course and probably included the ever popular white phosphorus shell

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member11 Apr 2012 7:18 a.m. PST


Andy ONeill11 Apr 2012 9:12 a.m. PST

If you take a look here, you'll see the ammo stowage, including the ready rack.

It's my understanding that wet stowage tanks were significantly less likely to brew. I've read both 50% and 75% though so take your pick and add salt to taste.

I've also been told that floor stowage would be less vulnerable. IIRC the reason given was it's further away from any spalling.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2012 10:26 a.m. PST

Have to remember another improvement was in turret armor which was cast in eliminating the need for applique armor on the turret and protecting the ready ammunition in the turret better.

As I have mentioned before tests after the war showed the design of the storage racks did not substantially alter vulnerability, it was the relocation out of the sponsons.

As to shells reduced I would dispute that. All M4s were dry hull only. All wet stowage M4A1s were 76 (no 75) and no dry stowage M4A1/76s were produced other then prototypes. The same with the M4A2s, all wet stowage were 76s and no dry stowage 76s. Initially all M4A3s shipped overseas (75 or 76) were wet stowage. Only after a shortage late in the war were any 75 dry stowage shipped. And all M4A4s were dry stowage. So crews may well put extra rounds in a tank but it had nothing to do with the upgrade from dry to wet stowage.

jdginaz11 Apr 2012 6:12 p.m. PST

Actually the "wet" storage helped a lot. Only 10-15% of "wet" M4s burned as opposed to 60-80% of "dry" M4s.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2012 4:05 a.m. PST

But the design of the racks, the wet stowage, did not have anything to do with that, it was the fact that the rounds were relocated out of the sponsons and lower in the hull as part of the redesign that resulted in few M4s burning. Extensive US tests after the war confirmed that and the US dropped the rack design. The liquid was drained out of the racks after the war and tanks in Korea, for example, did not have them filled. Further the follow on, the M26, did not have wet racks mostly based on preliminary studies done during the war showing they were not very effective.

spontoon15 Apr 2012 8:28 a.m. PST

I thought it was a water/glycol mix. The glycol being thre to prevent freezing.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP05 May 2012 8:18 p.m. PST

Ever get LSA in your eyes? I'm suprized it dosen't still sting!

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