#Featured Blogger: Ordnance – M4 Sherman Tank in the Pacific War #AceHistoryDesk report

Once again, we come upon a piece of ordnance that is more well-known in the European Theater, but did get use in the Pacific – the M4 Sherman Tank, named by the British for the American General William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891).

The M4 Sherman pilot unit was assembled by Lima Locomotive works in February 1942 varying from the T6 mainly in the removal of the hull side doors. Total manufacturing in 3 factories, Lima, Pressed Steel, and Pacific Car & Foundry began the next month, every one of these original manufacturing models being cast hull tanks, named M4A1.

In the Pacific Theater, the Japanese fought fanatically, but were hampered by obsolete and inferior weapons of all types, the Shermans clearly outclassed enemy light tanks.

Japanese Type 97 Chi-Ha tank

The M4 Sherman in the Pacific Theater first saw combat was at Tarawa Atoll in 1943 where it fought against Japanese tanks such as the Type 97 Chi-Ha. In this area of operations, the Shermans were better than the Chi-Ha due to the Sherman’s armor was thicker and the M4 Sherman also had better firepower. The Japanese Army began develop countermeasures to take out Shermans such as the Towed 47mm Guns that were capable to penetrate certain parts of its armor at shorter distances, however, other methods were used under extreme measures such as soldiers who voluntarily used Type 99 hand-thrown Mines or Lunge Mines.

The M4Could be easily be adapted for a variety of different uses, such as: the Mark 1 flamethrower which could throw napalm 150 yards; fitted with floatation screens for amphibious landings; plows; additional firepower; steel teeth to push through hedgerows and Sherman ‘Crab’ fitted with rotating chains to detonate land mines.

While only a bit over 49,000 M4’s being produced, half of that production and the other variants were given to other Allied Nations, including Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union under the Lend Lease Program.

American Heritage Museum, Korean War tank

Later, in the Korean War, an astute soldier realized that 1950 was the Chinese Year of the Tiger.  Word went out for tanks crews to paint tiger faces on the front of their tanks instead of the usual camouflage.  The idea was that “superstitious” Chinese would not shoot at them for fear of ‘bad luck’ or

Tiger Tank, Korean War

the very least hesitate long enough for the tankers to get the first shot off.

The 5th Regimental Combat Team, known as the Bobcats got the most frightening and complete tiger scheme.  But once the Chinese New Year passed in March 1951, the tanks were painted over, so the results of this psychological scheme is difficult to find.

The American Heritage Museum has been restored and re-painted, by Dan Wrightington, exactly as the 5th RCT’s M4A3 appeared in combat January 1951 near Inchon.

Sherman in the Pacific 1943-1945

For further data on the Sherman in the Pacific, the book by Raymond Giuliani, shows the extraordinary metamorphosis of the famous American tank, its first disastrous engagement on “Bloody Atoll” Tarawa, in the island of Okinawa, the last bastion of the Rising Sun. The terrible experience of fire against an enemy, as brave as fanatical, required Americans to adapt and transform the Sherman to resist and win the war.

Resources: WWII History magazine, The Collins Foundation & the American Heritage Museum yearly report; and WWII Weapons.com

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elwood Culp – Hazelton, PA; US Navy, WWII, PC-491, radarman

Arthur ‘Jerry’ Hamilton Jr. – UT; US Army, Japanese Occupation

Irene Ladish – Knoxville, TN; US Navy WAVES, WWII

John Le Carre (David Cornwell) – Poole, ENG; British Army, Intelligence Group, German Occupation / MI5

Jack Robinson – Fort Wright, KY; US Army, WWII

John Stevenson – Paris, TX; US Navy, WWII

Patricia Truitt – Kelso, WA; Cadet Nursing Corps, WWII

Merl Utsler – Winterset, IA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Norman Winterhoff – Asheville, OH; US Army, WWII / US Navy, Chaplin, Commander (Ret. 22 y.)

James Yeatts – Chesterfield, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., Forward Observer, 188th Field Artillery Battalion

Source: Ordnance – M4 Sherman Tank in the Pacific War