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"British tank types for 30 Corps in Market Garden..." Topic


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1,200 hits since 14 Sep 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 12:43 p.m. PST

Good afternoon. I was hoping someone might have a list of the types of tanks used and the numbers of each type used by each Brigade during operation Market Garden.

I've had no luck on the internet so far. Thanks for any help.

MajorB14 Sep 2020 12:53 p.m. PST

Shermans mostly …

JimDuncanUK14 Sep 2020 1:43 p.m. PST

That would be XXX Corps.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 1:53 p.m. PST

Sorry Jim! There's only so much room in the Thread Titles so i take the blame for the editing!

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 2:10 p.m. PST

Guards Armored – Sherman's for Grenadier, Coldstream and Irish Guards. Cromwells for the Welsh Guards, as they were the armored reception regiment. Churchills for any Army Tank brigades That may have been attached.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 2:39 p.m. PST

Funny thing I have learnt about "Shermans".

I am after all primarily a Napoleonic nerd.

But I now know they can be M4s, M4A1s with cast hulls, M4A2s (only for Lease Lend and US Marines), M4A3s (but not for British), any of the above with a 76mm gun instead of the 75, not to mention the 105 Howitzer on the M4 and M4A3. Oh, did I mention VVSS versus HVSS? There were further variants and higher numbers of M4 variants.
Was there not legendary Firefly with a 17lbr gun that could kill anything at ten miles?

Was the Comet not in action by then also (maybe not I admit)? Did none of XXX Corps use M5 Stuarts for recce?

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 3:06 p.m. PST

"Did none of XXX Corps use M5 Stuarts for recce?"

M3a3s were more likely.

McWong7314 Sep 2020 3:34 p.m. PST

No Comets at Market Garden.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 3:35 p.m. PST

Thanks Mserafin!

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 5:08 p.m. PST

But I now know they can be M4s, M4A1s with cast hulls, M4A2s (only for Lease Lend and US Marines), M4A3s (but not for British), any of the above with a 76mm gun instead of the 75, not to mention the 105 Howitzer on the M4 and M4A3. Oh, did I mention VVSS versus HVSS? There were further variants and higher numbers of M4 variants.

Sorry, but you missed the all-important M4A4 ("Sherman V" in British parlance). This was probably the dominant type in British hands at the time, and would likely have been the most numerous in 30 Corps.

These would mostly have been mid-production M4A4s, with 75mm guns, applique armor, and split CO hatches.

This was the lend-lease version that the Brits preferred, as the multi-bank Chrysler engine gave better automotive performance than the radial engines in the M4 (Sherman I) or M4A1 (Sherman II) models.

The Brits also operated a fair few diesel-engined M4A2s (Sherman IIIs).

Fireflies would have been the Sherman Ic (on the M4 tank) and Sherman Vc (on the M4A4), the latter being more common to my understanding.



"Did none of XXX Corps use M5 Stuarts for recce?"

M3a3s were more likely.


Agreed. The M3A3 was a lend-lease Stuart, used widely by the British and the French (and probably Polish) armored formations in ETO.

That said, I do believe at least some M5s (and more likely M5A1s) were operated by the Brits.

There may also have been some M3A3 "Jalopies" -- ie Stuarts with the turrets removed. These were evidently a popular mod in British forces.

Or so I understand.

But a specific count of how many of which, in what formation, I can not say.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 6:51 p.m. PST

Yea, what he said, M4A4s.

Heedless Horseman Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 7:09 p.m. PST

Mark 1
Not all Brit tankers liked the Sherman V. M4A4.

'Tank Action' David Render
link

My copy is somewhere under 'a pile of stuff', but from memory:
The experienced troop leader was very displeased to have his 'earler variant' Sherman replaced by the Sherman V as he did not think it had the pulling power in sticky situations. Sure enough, when crossing soft ground, it bogged…and as they were in view of the Germans, he called for a 'Bail Out'. As they were running for cover, a German gun got a direct hit on the stuck tank.
He was not getting on well with his CO…and, due to his complaints about the Sherman V, he reckoned that his CO thought that he had got bogged and 'lost' the tank 'ON PURPOSE!" lol.

Rather a good account of a British tank/troop commander's war in NWE. For 'gamers', it gives some very useful scenarios for 'troop level' scenarios… as well as some tactical info that I found very useful, and rather surprising. The hardships and problems of a troop leader and his crew are well recollected in a vey readable account. I thoroughly recommend this book.

Heedless Horseman Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 8:56 p.m. PST

Incidentally, a while back,I read what I think was a link to a written account…somewhere on TMP.
It described recollections of NWE combat in a British Cromwell tank. Including:
Having 20mm rounds embedded in the 'soft' armour…(it turned out to be a 'Training only' vehicle!
'Jumping' a canal to evade fire.
I would be interested in finding this book, if anyone can advise?

Hope I am not 'derailing' , but should be of interest! :)

Heedless Horseman Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 9:27 p.m. PST

Back to Market Garden…for reference, there is an excellent series of DVDs from 'Pen & Sword', covering all aspects of the Arnhem operation. These include 'Hells Highway'…the problems encountered by XXX Corps.
In the UK, I need to switch my player to NTSC to watch…easily done…and back again.
Although the 'team' of presenters do sometimes repeat the same script, and you seem to see the same young re-enactor all over the series…these DVDs are an excellent visual guide to the battlefield and with an in depth perspective of the various aspects of the operation from both UK and US viewpoints.
Pen & Sword 'presenter team' also cover 'Normandy', 'The Bulge' and Napoleonic Peninsular War/ Waterloo, WW1, etc. !
Love these DVDs! :)

link

If considering orders, Read the blurb if you want to get 'the presenter team' and not just archive footage…Pen & Sword have a whole lot of stuff!

Rod MacArthur14 Sep 2020 11:31 p.m. PST

I like going by Authorised Establishments:

That for the Guards Armoured Division in 1944 was:

link

If you then click on 5 Gds Bde you can see more detail:

link

If you click on any of the Armoured Regiments (1CG, 2IG, 2GG) you will see exactly how many tanks of each type there should have been. For each of the 3 Squadrons that was 4 Troops, each of 3 x Sherman 75mm and 1 x Sherman 17 pdr (Firefly).

The Guards Armoured Division switched some battalions between 5 Gds Bde and 32 Gds Bde to create very two similar brigades, each of 2 x Armoured Battalions and 2 x Infantry Battalions, then grouped those by capbadge (5 Gds Bde: GG & IG, 32 Gds Bde: CG & WG).

Rod

emckinney14 Sep 2020 11:35 p.m. PST

I've always been a bit in awe of the archaic design of the Cromwell.

"Let's have a perfectly vertical face for the turret! And the upper hull! And bolt heads everywhere!"

Rod MacArthur14 Sep 2020 11:40 p.m. PST

Incidentally, one of the enablers for that capbadge grouping was the return of 2HCR from Army level recce to the Gds Armd Div, thus freeing up 2WG from the Armd Recce Role.

2HCR establishment can be seen here:

link

And their detailed Sqn establishment here:

link

Rod

Col Piron15 Sep 2020 3:14 a.m. PST

June 1944 there was the following number of M3 tanks with the 21st AG:

Stuart III = 198

Stuart V = 177

Stuart VI = 52 (44 of them were in the Guards AD )

Windy Miller15 Sep 2020 3:50 a.m. PST

For Market Garden you'll be concentrating primarily on the Guards and 11th Armoured Divisions. They were equipped with Shermans and Fireflies, apart from the Armoured Recce Regiments (2nd Welsh Guards and 15th/19th the King's Royal Hussars) who had Cromwells and Challengers. In addition every armoured regiment (including the Recce Regts) had its own Recce Troop of 11 Stuarts, always as part of HQ Sqn.

Vintage Wargaming15 Sep 2020 5:16 a.m. PST

Heedless – The Book is Troop Leader by Bill Bellamy

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 9:27 a.m. PST

@ emckinney

Yes, the Cromwell looks like the last word in tank design for about 1940. For fighting other tanks not so good, but that's not what tanks were for in 1940.

In 1944, er, not so much.

What's truly extraordinary is that not long after the Cromwell came along, so did the Centurion, a tank lighter than the Tiger I yet faster, better armed, better armoured, more reliable, and designed and deployed by the country that had previously come up with nothing but a string of abject duds.

It's as though New Zealand had followed up the Bob Semple tank with the T34.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 11:36 a.m. PST


June 1944 there was the following number of M3 tanks with the 21st AG:

Stuart III = 198

Stuart V = 177

Stuart VI = 52 (44 of them were in the Guards AD )

For those who might have mis-placed their Secret Sam Decoder Rings, I offer the following English-to-English translation:

Stuart III = M3A1
(Radial engine, pressed/rounded turret vs. original welded/angled turret)

Stuart V = M3A3
(Radial engine, redesigned hull with sloped front and sides)

Stuart VI = M5 or M5A1 (not distinguished in Brit-speak)
(Twin Cadillac V8 engines, redesigned hull with raised engine deck,, sloped front and vertical sides. M5 had same turret as M3A1 / M3A3. M5A1 had enlarged turret with bustle to enable radio to be mounted in the turret vs. hull.)

Please note: NONE of the above were M3 model Stuarts, which of course was referred to as Stuart I.

Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

DBS30315 Sep 2020 2:02 p.m. PST


Yes, the Cromwell looks like the last word in tank design for about 1940. For fighting other tanks not so good, but that's not what tanks were for in 1940.

In 1944, er, not so much.

What's truly extraordinary is that not long after the Cromwell came along, so did the Centurion, a tank lighter than the Tiger I yet faster, better armed, better armoured, more reliable, and designed and deployed by the country that had previously come up with nothing but a string of abject duds.

More than a tad unfair. Furthermore, tank vs tank was very much envisaged in 1940 – that was why every early British tank in the war except the Light Tanks and the A11 had 2 pounders, the best available anti-tank gun, as their primary armament.

The Matilda II and Valentine can hardly be described as duds either, for the period in which they were designed and built, and the Valentine was kept in production a year longer than planned to satisfy the Soviets; no matter how obsolete it might have been in 1944, it was still far better, and far more reliable, than any Soviet design for the recce role.

Bear in mind that there is some evidence that the first tank to reach the Reichstag in 1945 may have been a Valentine. Bit like raising the Star Spangled Banner on Iwo Jima, a bit of photographic restaging with T-34/85s was needed!

forrester15 Sep 2020 2:21 p.m. PST

Yes mostly you're looking at the Sherman V [M4A4] and the Vc Firefly for Guards Armoured.
But let's put in a word for the often unsung heroes of the independant armoured brigades, who supported infantry formations as required.
XXX Corps had under command 44 RTR of 4th Armoured Brigade which shuttled up and down Hell's Highway and lost half its strength in the process.
They used, unusually, the cast hull M4A1 with often non regulation stowage racks made from cut up pieces of sand skirts.
For Sherman nerds, a chance to do something a little different.
A link to my 44 RTR troop if anyone is interested.

link

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 3:13 p.m. PST

I am jealous of your 44 RTR Shermans. They're lovely. Well done.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 3:36 p.m. PST

IIRC someone once posted on here evidence that on D-Day there was only one Sherman Ic among the Commonwealth forces, but by Septemberish, there were oodles of them.

The probably explanation was that Britain converted Is and Vs to 17-pounder spec, and as the campaign progressed, the Mark I was the more numerous in Britain. Hence the number of the new and resupply IC Fireflies went up.

I wish I could recall the thread, but I recall taking comfort from it, because it justified the bother of converting Airfix Shermans to Fireflies.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 3:39 p.m. PST

@ DBS303

You make some fair points :-)

However, I'll see your (HE-free) Matilda and Valentine and I'll raise you the A9, A10, Covenanter, Crusader….

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 4:55 a.m. PST

What brilliant responses. Three months ago I could just about tell a Sherman suspension as either HVSS or VVSS (but still have no idea what a volute is anyway) but that was it. Even now my reading is purely to get it right for Free French 2nd Armoured Div. tanks, Half tracks, A/Cs and soft skins.

The biggest surprise for me is not the trouble folk take here to add their knowledge, but that all the discussion proceeds without the abuse, aggression and accusations of complete ignorance that characterises the Napoleonic Forum! What a gentlemanly board this is

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 6:31 a.m. PST

@ deadhead

It's because Hitler and Stalin are much less controversial and divisive figures than Napoleon.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2020 9:10 a.m. PST

They were both taller too. Napoleon was a little chap (Discuss in no more than 400 words). Both had a moustache, which Napoleon was unable to grow (my theory anyway)

uglyfatbloke16 Sep 2020 11:33 a.m. PST

You might like Elstob's 'Warriors for the Working Day' for a view of life in Shermans. Probably get it for a quid on Ebay or Amazon.

DBS30316 Sep 2020 3:57 p.m. PST


@ DBS303

You make some fair points :-)

However, I'll see your (HE-free) Matilda and Valentine and I'll raise you the A9, A10, Covenanter, Crusader….


Oh, not trying to defend some of those, most particularly the Covenanter which was a brave but flawed idea.

That said A9 and A10 were no worse than their contemporaries, such as the early PzIII, let alone most of the French tanks or the M11/39, or even the US M2 Medium.

A13 and Crusader were troubled by their Christie legacy of a Liberty engine. A13 actually did quite well in the desert, and the horrendous problems with Crusader were finally fixed, but too late to save its reputation. The M3 Medium, and even more so the M4, benefitted massively from the lessons of 1939/40; the US ability to advance tank design before committing to mass production was something denied most of the other combatants, especially the British after Dunkirk.

Yes, the lack of HE was a problem for the 2pdr, but only goes to show that the most important characteristic for British tanks, even Infantry Tanks, in 1939 was the ability to kill other tanks. A British doctrinal reliance on machine-guns for soft targets was no different from the US approach at that period, hence the latter's mania for MGs on every corner. The Yanks only came up with the requirement for a 75mm on the M3 after noting the usefulness of the PzIV in the support role, but luckily had a 75mm they could use that was valuable against both hard and soft targets, much more so than the short German 75s.

Bear in mind that the US seriously contemplated adopting the 57mm (ie the British 6pdr) as the main armament in place of the 75mm, given that at shorter ranges the 57mm was actually the better anti-tank gun, but decided in the end that the greater HE capability of the 75mm was worth more than the extra AP punch.

DBS30316 Sep 2020 4:10 p.m. PST


The probably explanation was that Britain converted Is and Vs to 17-pounder spec, and as the campaign progressed, the Mark I was the more numerous in Britain. Hence the number of the new and resupply IC Fireflies went up.

You are probably right. David Fletcher attributes it to the supply of 75mm M4A4s from the States drying up in the second half of 1944 as they moved over to second generation M4s. Since the US refused to use M4A4s itself, they basically dropped off production. What was available was the M4 Hybrid (mix of M4 and M4A1 hull components built by Detroit) which the British classed under Sherman I. So yes, M4A4 probably favoured for the initial Firefly conversions, but by late 1944 the only new petrol 75mm Shermans readily available to the British and judged appropriate for Firefly conversion were the Sherman I Hybrids.

Starfury Rider16 Sep 2020 5:20 p.m. PST

This might be the thread you were thinking of 4th Cuirassier

TMP link

There was a detailed enthusiast site on the 17-pr Sherman (and the Challenger) many years ago, I think the owner did have a book published on the Firefly (Mark Hayward it seems). I seem to recall he mentioned there were limitations on which Sherman models could re-armed with the 17-pr but had not been able to find an explanation of what these were.

From correspondence with Mike Taylor (of Tracklink and other publications) many years back, 21AG were expecting an increase of 17-pr Shermans in Sep/Oct 1944, however they were expected to become a 'wasting' asset by about Apr/May 1945, as the supply of replacement tanks suitable for conversion began to dry up. That does seem to be borne out by the 21AG figures for 1945, with the Ic becoming the predominant type.

Gary

Col Piron17 Sep 2020 6:34 a.m. PST

@ Mark 1 ,cheers for that , as I forgot to edit the post . grin

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 7:18 a.m. PST

@ DBS / SR

Thanks both.

I'd be interested to know what differences there were between Mk I and Mk V Shermans that allowed 17-pounder conversion where with Mk 2, 3 and 4 it wasn't, but it may be something we'll never know. I wonder if it was something as simple as most Shermans supplied were I and V, and it wasn't thought necessary or worthwhile to figure out a way to convert the others as long as there were sufficient Is and Vs.

Bill N17 Sep 2020 7:35 a.m. PST

Bear in mind that the US seriously contemplated adopting the 57mm (ie the British 6pdr) as the main armament in place of the 75mm, given that at shorter ranges the 57mm was actually the better anti-tank gun, but decided in the end that the greater HE capability of the 75mm was worth more than the extra AP punch.

Interesting. I thought the U.S. had already experimented with the 75 on some of its M2 chassis, so that is why it was chosen for the M3. Did not realize another candidate got in the running.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 7:38 a.m. PST

I'd be interested to know what differences there were between Mk I and Mk V Shermans that allowed 17-pounder conversion where with Mk 2, 3 and 4 it wasn't, but it may be something we'll never know.

But that won't stop us from speculating. Given that the turret was pretty much the same on all of them, I wonder if it had something to do with the ammunition storage arrangements?

DBS30317 Sep 2020 8:26 a.m. PST


I'd be interested to know what differences there were between Mk I and Mk V Shermans that allowed 17-pounder conversion where with Mk 2, 3 and 4 it wasn't, but it may be something we'll never know. I wonder if it was something as simple as most Shermans supplied were I and V, and it wasn't thought necessary or worthwhile to figure out a way to convert the others as long as there were sufficient Is and Vs.

Fletcher admits to being puzzled. Diesels (therefore M4A2s) were ruled out, without a reason being given. Which led to the only non-DD British armoured regiment to land on D-Day doing so with a complete fleet of M4A2s except for its twelve petrol Firefly M4A4 conversions.

No mention of M4A1 (which we Brits did have) that Fletcher could find – not explicitly ruled out by the War Office, but equally no evidence any were ever converted.

Brits not allowed to have the M4A3 in nay numbers as the US kept them for themselves.

Which basically left M4, M4A4, and M4 Hybrid.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 2:48 p.m. PST

I'd be interested to know what differences there were between Mk I and Mk V Shermans that allowed 17-pounder conversion where with Mk 2, 3 and 4 it wasn't …

Fletcher admits to being puzzled. Diesels (therefore M4A2s) were ruled out, without a reason being given. …

No mention of M4A1 ….

Which basically left M4, M4A4, and M4 Hybrid.

I think the statement that is mostly likely to give a working answer is:

… not explicitly ruled out by the War Office, but equally no evidence any were ever converted.

The "Firefly" was constructed by applying a conversion kit to an already completed working Sherman tank.

The conversion kits addressed several things. The first, of course, was mounting the gun. But there were several other parts of the conversion process.

The turret rear wall had to be cut out, and an extension of the bustle added. This was an armored box that projected out the back of the turret to house the radio in a location that was out-of-the-way of the long recoil of the 17pdr gun. It also served as a counter-weight to balance the turret for rotation when the tank was on sloping ground, as the 17pdr was a heavy beast relative to the original 75mm gun.

17pdr ammunition was substantially larger than 75mm rounds. The projectiles were about the same, but the cartridge was not only substantially longer but also notably wider (larger diameter), and was significantly necked-down near the end of the cartridge to fit the 76.2mm diameter projectile. 75mm rounds were not necked, but only had a very mild taper for their whole length (appearing almost tubular). So ammunition stowage had to be completely reconstructed. All ammo racks had to be removed from the tank, and and new racks added in their place. The bow gunner / co-driver's position was eliminated to make room for more ammo, as the original stowage space didn't provide enough room for the quantity of larger ammo that was deemed necessary. So the conversion kits included not only replacement racks for the existing space but new racks for the new space, as well as plates to be welded over the bow MG ball in the hull front.

All fine and good. Make the kits, cut up and empty out the tanks, and slap the new stuff on.

Except that a kit could only be developed and built to FIT one model of Sherman. You needed different kits for each model. A Sherman I conversion kit could not fit a Sherman II, as the ammo stowage racks were different in the cast-hull Sherman. And the Sherman V, with it's longer hull, had different racks yet again. And the turret extension box was only ever designed for what we now call "low bustle" turrets, which meant it could not be fit onto any of the late-war US Shermans M4A1, M4A2 and M4A3 all shifted to "big hatch" hulls which required the turret bustle be raised to allow clearance for the driver and co-driver hatches so that these crewmen could escape if needed when the turret was traversed.

As the US Army was no longer accepting new production of 75mm gun-armed M4s, and was never taking M4A4s, they had no objection to leaving those in production with the older small-hatch hulls.

So as I read the history, it's not that an M4A1 (Sherman II) or M4A2 (Sherman III) Firefly could not have been developed. It's just that it would have required yet another conversion kit to be developed, produced, and inventoried. Once they had kits available for Sherman models that were scheduled to come in large enough quantities, with 2 kits to manage any disruption in deliveries of one sub-model vs. the others, it was deemed to be enough. They just didn't bother to create yet another conversion kit.

This was one contributing factor to why the US Army never actually got any Fireflies. There were offers and acceptances conveyed between the two armies, but the details of what tanks they would go on were never ironed out, as the US was running out of M4s, and had no interest in M4A4s, and the Brits felt they were being quite generous enough offering to supply the guns and do the conversions, without feeling compelled to pitch in the M4s to be converted out of their own supply, or develop entirely new conversion kits just for use on American M4A1s or M4A3s.

Or at least that's how I understand it.

(See, it isn't all about logistics. First it is all about production, and only then can it be about logistics.)

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 6:20 p.m. PST

On continuing consideration I should probably have added, that I'm pretty sure there were no conversion kits with ammo racks to replace wet stowage.

So any late production Sherman was twice as in-eligible for conversion, first because of the high-bustle on newer turrets, and second (or maybe first) because of the wet ammo stowage in newer hulls.

Again, that's not to say a conversion couldn't have been made. Just that they already had conversions for the mid-production M4 and M4A4 tanks in hand, and had sufficient quantities to convert, so why bother?

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 1:16 a.m. PST

That is fascinating. thanks for all that effort. Answers many a longstanding question that I had.

laretenue18 Sep 2020 4:10 a.m. PST

Brilliant, careful and very informative answer, Mark, which explained a lot Thanks very much.

Interesting to be told about the ammo storage for the 17pdr not fitting into cast-hull M4A1 Sherman IIs. It occurs to me that, nonetheless, that there were quite a few Sherman I Hybrid Fireflies, with rolled frontal glacis. I wonder if they had to compromise on ammo stowage?

DBS30318 Sep 2020 6:10 a.m. PST

With all due respect, I do not think that we KNOW the ammunition racks were the issue, but rather that what Mark is offering is a plausible extrapolation. He makes a good case, but my hesitation is that the ammunition racks were by far the easiest bit of the conversion. I am not sure that it is right to talk of kits, as opposed to workshops getting out the welding and cutting torches and adjusting the available metal wherever possible. What needed to be supplied from the factory were obvious items such as the 17pdr and any armour plate required.

A definite factor was that the tanks had to have a) the wide M34A1 mantlet (not the earlier narrow M34 model), and b) had to have hydraulic traverse motors, not the Westinghouse electric option, which was not up to snuff. Fletcher suspects that, given the British Army rated the Oilgear hydraulic traverse as better than its Logansport rival, they probably prioritised tanks with the former to get the new armament.

mkenny18 Sep 2020 10:31 a.m. PST

Rather a good account of a British tank/troop commander's war in NWE. For 'gamers', it gives some very useful scenarios for 'troop level' scenarios… as well as some tactical info that I found very useful, and rather surprising.

The Render book ('Tank Action' David Render)has two authors. Render gives his overall account and the second author stitched in known historical fact/detail that the unwary might think is also Render's recollection. It really stood out to me when I first read it.

mkenny18 Sep 2020 10:38 a.m. PST

Yes, the Cromwell looks like the last word in tank design for about 1940. For fighting other tanks not so good, but that's not what tanks were for in 1940.

That is because it is an early 1940s tank design the A24 Cruiser. These 1942 hulls were re-engined and became the 1944 Cromwell.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 10:52 a.m. PST

@ mkenny

Thanks, I didn't know that. I do find it odd that the rationale for the vertical glacis armour was because, AIUI, the BESA machine gun mounting couldn't be fitted to sloped armour. You do wonder why on earth in that case nobody thought to redesign the mounting or, better still, use a different hull MG. It wasn't as if it were the only belt-fed show in town, and its rate of fire was nothing special either.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2020 12:07 p.m. PST

I do not think that we KNOW the ammunition racks were the issue, but rather that what Mark is offering is a plausible extrapolation.

It is entirely fair to characterize what I have described as an extrapolation. For some of the bits I feel I am on pretty firm ground, on other bits I am connecting dots in a way that seems reasonable, but it is entirely possible that there are other ways the dots can connect.

Also, I do not mean to suggest that ammo racks were THE issue. In no way should that be read into my description. There was no "THE issue". It could well have been entirely reasonable to do a Firefly conversion of M4A1s (Sherman II) or some other variety. I am suggesting that the answer is not "we can't", but rather "why should we bother?".

Back to the point of extrapolation. I will admit that I am extrapolating with regards to the conversion kits being "produced and inventoried."

I extrapolate on kits because, well, that's what makes sense in terms of production efficiency. As an example, you can see almost all Fireflies have applique armor. Many M4s and M4A4s were provided to the British before the mid-life production upgrade program that led to Shermans coming from the factories with this extra armor. For those tanks that were already in the UK, the US did not ship over an instruction sheet that said "go find some rolled homogeneous steel plates with these material characteristics, this level of Brinell hardness, and this thickness, and cut it into 3 pieces with these dimensions. Then apply the plates here, here and here." Rather, the US shipped kits with 3 plates, and instructions that said, "Apply them here, here and here." That doesn't mean workshops didn't do any work. They had to do quality welding, and in the case of cast hull M4A1s they had to first cut the plates into 2 (back plates) or 3 (front plate) pieces to get them to conform to the varying curves of the cast hull. But still, they got the plates in a kit.

But the British were under no obligation to run their tank conversion program in a manner that makes sense, so they may well have just given detailed instructions and let the techs jump in with blow-torches and rod, and hoped that each tech chose the right materials. If you have a surplus of skilled workers and lots of time to get the work done, it's not an unreasonable approach.

However I am confident I am on firm ground with conversion being developed for specific models of the Sherman.

If every workshop doing conversions just did what they thought was reasonable, we would see evidence in the Fireflies produced. They would have differences based on where and when the conversion was done, or even who did it. But we don't. The materials, dimensions, and construction / layout of the conversions were evidently well tested and standardized. And the documentation (from the US archives) of correspondence on the issue of Fireflies conversions being done for the US Army in ETO clearly describes that the British had conversions available for M4s and M4A4s, but that the British had not developed conversions for M4A1s or M4A3s, and had no plans to develop such conversions.

At least that's what I've read/seen/understood so far. Doesn't mean there isn't more info out there somewhere that might change my understanding. Just that I haven't found it yet.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Starfury Rider19 Sep 2020 12:36 p.m. PST

I posed the question of Sherman suitability for conversion to 17-pdr standard over on another forum, because I know it's frequented by folks familiar with War Office files held at the UK National Archives.

link

It proved a an informative conversation and does suggest there was a long list of requirements for a tank to meet before it could be fitted with the 17-pdr, including the mantlet and the traverse gear as alluded to above, as well as the bustle.

It doesn't seem that anyone has found a definitive explanation in recent years for the concentration of effort on Sherman Vs originally and the later shift to Is, with nothing in between seemingly considered. Mark Hayward's book still looks to be among the premiere references, along with Fletcher's (and the discussion did prompt me to find a webarchive version of Mark's long gone site).

Gary

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