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"Early M4A1s in NW Europe?" Topic


18 Posts

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Comments or corrections?

ChrisKing20 Oct 2023 3:27 p.m. PST

Calling Sherman experts! Did early narrow mantlet and bolted transmission M4A1s see action in Normandy with the US Army?

I have a Blitzkrieg Miniatures model link and wondered if it could be used "as is"?

I doubt it and suspect I would have to change the gun mantlet and add applique armour at the very least?

Can someone please help?

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2023 3:49 p.m. PST

I don't know if they showed up in NWE, but Ihave a picture of an early one as part of a tank battalion in Italy at war's end. Not sure about the transmission, though.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2023 5:03 p.m. PST

By that point any remaining in the US would have gone through their rebuild programs.

Three piece transmission models for sure but the tiny mantlets would have been replaced by then. The transmission piece was pretty interchangeable and showed up everywhere.

Also a lot of those rebuilds wee of the early M4, M4A1 and M4A4 which mostly went to the UK, France and Polish troops.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2023 5:50 p.m. PST

Mserafin, do you know what army? The thought occurs that the earliest production models went to 1st US Armored Division and then were shipped off to 8th Army after Gazala and before Alamein.

But if I wanted to use one in the ETO, I'd just paint it up as 2nd or 3rd Armored Division and dare anyone to prove me wrong.

Trockledockle24 Oct 2023 9:44 a.m. PST

In Normandy they would have been rare but the site below implies that there may have been a few. As best I can understand it, the "Quick Fix" upgrading programme was implemented to almost all the Shermans in the UK for the invasion and replacement of the mantlet was part of that.

However, the programme was not applied as thoroughly in Italy and some of the units redeployed to the South of France in Operation Dragoon had narrow mantlet Shermans. There is a photo of one taken in August 1944 in France in the link.

link

After the Battle of the Bulge, there was a shortage so some may have been pressed into service but that was much later than Normandy.

At the end of the day you are balancing a degree of accuracy against the cost of another model and that's a personal decision. I've seen plenty of games with the British using M4A3s. We can be very certain that they didn't.

ChrisKing24 Oct 2023 10:22 a.m. PST

Thank you all. Very useful.

Col Piron25 Oct 2023 3:01 a.m. PST

For those that don't use the cesspit known as facebook .

This picture is from Squadron's "Sherman in Action" and was taken 21 Apr 45. Note the positively ANCIENT early M4 with 3-piece transmission cover, short mantlet…and direct vision slots.

subheading
Trockledockle
25 Oct 2023 3:53 a.m. PST

Colonel P

Absolutely correct but I think that picture was taken in Italy- Bologna?

CK,

Have you thought about asking Blitzkreig if they will sell you a 76mm turret? Butlers 3D models will sell you a variety but I find their postage high for small orders.

link

A small conversion with a piece of plastic card would also be possible. If you are going to cut, file or sand resin, wear a dust mask.

Trockledockle25 Oct 2023 4:15 a.m. PST

This is a very interesting link which gives a lot more information on Colonel P's photograph.

The M4A1s were worn out tanks used on the front of the column to clear minefields. They only had a driver and commander as crew and were there to protect the newer 76mm M4A3s.

link

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2023 8:50 a.m. PST

Mr Piepenbrink,

Col Piron posted the picture to which I was referring. Also note the apparent substitution of a company of tanks with M18 Hellcats. The same book shows a picture from the same battalion in the field with a mixed column of M4s and M18s, IIRC.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2023 8:57 a.m. PST

Some "obsolete" M4 and M4A1s were used by artillery regts of the Free French 2eme DB and as command vehicles, with no plans to see front line action.

Trockledockle's link is to a Sherman with a Cullin Hedgerow cutter, that is not for mine clearance. Shermans with various rollers or ploughs (plows US) and, of course, Crabs could venture into a minefield, but I would not care to be in one without such a fitting

Trockledockle25 Oct 2023 2:37 p.m. PST

Deadhead

There was a flail tank attached to the battalion; however, it is a long article and the part I was referring to was this.


"This is my close up of the nearest M4A1 in the Piazza. The 752nd had lost most of their M4/M4A1 tanks by February 1945. As replacements, the 752nd had received a full complement of (used) M4A3 76mm tanks. Intelligence (G-2) reported that the roads and fields along the approach to Bologna were very heavily mined so the 752nd was allowed to draw a number of old M4/M4A1 tanks as excess inventory. These obsolete tanks were used as sacrificial lambs when crossing minefields or traveling on mined roads instead of risk losing the newer tanks. As the lead tanks of the columns, they carried no ammunition and crewed only with a driver and a tank commander. Five of these tanks were lost to mines during the advance to Bologna."

It must have required considerable courage to be the crew on one of these.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2023 1:44 a.m. PST

Now apologies. I only noticed the first link, to the company making Shermans and showing a Cullin fitted one.

The second link is a superb site (I liked the captured Allied Aircraft topic even more).

I thought there must be a misunderstanding and that no-one (well other than the USSR) would have expected tanks to routinely act as sacrificial lambs. I guess anti tank mines do more damage to the suspension than the crew and the tanks would not be laden with ammo. But even so…that took guts

Trockledockle26 Oct 2023 2:12 p.m. PST

No problem Liam. Very gracious of you to reply. That is an excellent site.

CK,
I have some good news for you. I had a look at Steve Zaloga's Armored attack 1944 and Armored Victory 1945. The vast majority of Shermans in Normandy had the later mantlet which had an improved gunsight. However, I found two pictures with the older mantlet. One was an M4 on 7/7/44 (page 90) and the other was an M4A1 with a dozer attachment (page 143). It looks like it was rare but used in the Normandy period.

Those two books are excellent if you have an interest in US Armour.

There were a number of pictures of Shermans with the early mantlet in the period after Normandy (to as late as February 45) but these came from units transferred from Italy.

ChrisKing03 Nov 2023 6:48 a.m. PST

Sorry for the late response, I have been busy in my council role.

Trockldockle, I cannot see those photos doe I need an FB account to do so?

So is the consensus that early M4A1s with M3 style bogies were more of an Italy and Southern France thing? EG Veterans from Afrika as it were?

I have been looking but cannot find any such tanks in NW France.

Trockledockle03 Nov 2023 1:50 p.m. PST

CK,

I saw the pictures online in copies of the books in a reference library but am not allowed to take copies of them. I saw another one of a very early Sherman M4A1 (with the narrow mantlet and the rollers on top of the running gear) today in the Osprey book on Nordwind (pg 87). This was of the 709th Battalion and sourced from NARA. That places them in eastern France / Germany in very late 1944/early 1945.

I would say that unmodified M4A1s are pretty rare in the Normandy campaign but did exist. They were still rare but more common in Eastern France and Germany in late 1944 to the end of the war. These were largely present in units that had been supplied with them in Italy. I suspect (but don't know) that these had gone directly to Italy from the US.

Trockledockle03 Nov 2023 2:08 p.m. PST

I see that there is a FB page for the 709th and they served in Normandy as well as Eastern France. I don't do FB so can't help but it may be worth looking at.

ChrisKing05 Nov 2023 11:58 a.m. PST

Thanks TD. Top info.

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