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"Korean War M4A3E8s: ratio of 76mm to 105mm?" Topic

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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4th Cuirassier28 Dec 2023 9:15 a.m. PST

So I have some late war western front allies and some Germans to fight them. I recently realised that I could buy some late war Russians to fight the same Germans. The Russians and western allies could then fight each other in hypothetical battles.

Belatedly I have realised that the same forces could fight each other in non-hypothetical KW battles. I have no idea why this took me so long.


Info on US tanks in Korea is easily found but what is less easily found is how many 105mm Shermans there were. Also, were these regarded as standard Shermans with a better gun, or were they intended to provide infantry fire support like the 75mm variants used to?

KarlBergman28 Dec 2023 10:29 a.m. PST

In WWII there were three 105mm Howitzer equipped Sherman tanks per battalion. Sometimes they were issued out to the companies and sometimes they were retained by the battalion commander.

I am not sure about in Korea, I don't have any TO&E lists for that time yet.

The Sherman 105mm Howitzer was used in a support role, Some 105mm HEAT rounds were available by that time so they could affect a tank, but that was not their primary duty.

As a fun fact, all US M4 Shermans and some other US vehicles had the necessary equipment to allow them to conduct indirect fire as well as direct fire support. Using them as indirect support removed them from any other functions due to the amount of time needed to set them up and the fact that once set up they couldn't move or it messed up all of the calculations needed to hit what they were firing at.

Wackmole928 Dec 2023 11:09 a.m. PST


Check out


It has detailed report of unit TOA and Losses in the Korean war.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2023 4:14 p.m. PST

That is an excellent resource, Bill. Thanks for sharing!

Griefbringer29 Dec 2023 2:18 a.m. PST

In WWII there were three 105mm Howitzer equipped Sherman tanks per battalion. Sometimes they were issued out to the companies and sometimes they were retained by the battalion commander.

Actually, the full TOE compliment was six 105 mm Shermans per tank battalion – one per medium company and three in an "assault gun" platoon. Some battalion commanders grouped all six into a single support unit.

4th Cuirassier29 Dec 2023 3:36 a.m. PST

Yes indeed, thank you. So it looks like all Shermans in Korea were of WW2 vintage with the 105s used as artillery support.

Looking at Guns Vs Armour it appears that apart from M24 Chaffees, both sides' tanks could blow holes in each other at 2km. This could make for interesting encounters because unlike WW2 you can't ever risk being hit first.

SeattleGamer Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2024 12:42 a.m. PST

By the end of 1950, a total of 1,326 US tanks had been delivered to Korea, as follows:
M24 Chaffee 138 10%
M4 Sherman 679 51% **
M26 Pershing 309 23%
M46 Patton 200 15%

** (including M4A3(76) and M4A3(105) variants)

I have been looking myself to break this 679 number down to determine how many of each type, but the data is hard to find. But I feel confident that the vast majority were 76mm armed. Maybe as many as 90% of the Shermans there were 76mm. But with that said, various units had small numbers of "dozer blade" equipped tanks as part of the HQ groups, and these were very often 105mm armed.

I suppose the thinking was if they needed a dozer to the front, they were probably facing enemy infantry, not enemy tanks.

I have found nothing (yet) to dissuade my notion that around 90% of the Shermans were 76mm armed (so around 600 or so), leaving 10% to be 105mm (around 80 or so).

Also, note that there were a small number of M4A3E8 105mm armed tanks that ALSO had a flamethrower in the turret. I have tracked down at least one unit that had 9 such flame-throwing 105mm tanks. I don't think there were many, but there had to be more than just those 9 (I have tracked down photos of several different vehicles, belonging to different units).

So maybe 15-20 of those 80 105mm versions were ALSO flame-throwers?

cool2frog06 Jan 2024 8:41 a.m. PST

Makes me wonder how many M45 Pershing's/Pattons (the 105mm fire support version, not the 90mm armed version and not the m68 105mm armed versions either, in case you thought I got confused) were used per battalion/company/platoon…

SeattleGamer Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2024 3:30 a.m. PST

Only 6 M45(105mm) tanks served in Korea. They arrived with the 6th Medium Tank Battalion assault gun platoon in early August 1950. The 6th was technically assigned to the 24th Infantry Division on paper, but it was actually loaned out to the 1st Cavalry, as one of their three tank battalions.

By February 1951 they had been replaced by M46, so the 6th Medium Tank Battalion at that point was 100% M46 Pattons.

They saw a LOT of action in their 6 months.

The bottom line, however, was that the M4A3(105) Sherman was 9-11 tons lighter than other 105mm armed tanks, was more reliable, and was able to handle the terrain better. So to simplify maintenance the M45 was replaced after that first period of use (when the US threw everything they could at the advancing hoard).

4th Cuirassier19 Jan 2024 5:33 a.m. PST

@ SG

Interesting – given the scale I'm contemplating working in (1/76) there would only be half a dozen vehicles on the table most of the time, so all I really need to get straight is a rough idea of how many of each type there were and how they were used. One 105mm and four 76mm on the table could be proportionately correct but operationally not likely to be seen. It does seem though like the 105s were not so rare they can't be justified.

It's potentially quite an interesting period though because Chaffees generally couldn't defeat the armour of a T34 from any direction or range (well, point black through the lower side maybe). Conversely T3s couldn't trouble Centurions much. So there appears to be a lot of scope for "blind" encounters where you don't know what you're facing until it appears and you then have to re-evaluate accordingly…

@ wackmole: I have just belatedly read your link and that is fascinating. Have I read it correctly? Half of all 105mm Shermans built were on the original M4 (Mk1 in UK parlance) hull and gear? That's fab news if so, it means I just need 105mm turrets for venerable Airfix Sherman hulls which are M4s…

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP06 Feb 2024 5:39 p.m. PST

Half of all 105mm Shermans built were on the original M4 (Mk1 in UK parlance) hull and gear? That's fab news if so, it means I just need 105mm turrets for venerable Airfix Sherman hulls which are M4s…

That's pretty much correct as built. During WW2 the US Army first adopted the M4 and M4A1 (both using the Wright radial engine). Once the M4A3 (with the Ford V8 engine) became available the US Army adopted this as their new standard model Sherman. M4A2 (diesel) and M4A4 (Chrysler multi-bank) were never adopted as standards by the US Army, although during the war just about any odd exception might appear in some unit or other.

By mid 1943 the M4 and M4A1 were set as "alternate standard", meaning units that had them were fully supported, but all new units were receiving M4A3s.

When the 105mm Shermans went into production the approach was to provide M4 105s (radial) to the M4 and M4A1 units, and M4A3 105s (V8) to the M4A3 units.

At the end of the war, as the standing army was reduced, the regular US Army pushed all M4 and M4A1 Shermans from it's inventories, standardizing on the M4A3. So M4s and M4A1s went as aid to client nations, and to national guard units.

By the time of Korea you would be exceedingly unlikely to find an M4 105mm Sherman in regular US Army service. Might be present in some National Guard mobilized unit, but not in a regular army division.

Or so I understand it. Could be wrong. Wasn't there to check under the hood, as it were…

(aka: Mk 1)

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