Was the Sherman Under-rated?



  • I hope this sparks some discussion about the USA’s technological, and industrial capabilities, along with her war aims.



  • Americans tend to be a bit harse about being, and having the best. Because the Sherman was outclassed by Hitler and Stalin’s giant metal monsters we beat on the poor thing a little hard. We after all want everything we have to be better than everything everyone else has.

    Compare the Sherman to other medium tanks of the era and it doesn’t do badly. Yes the first version got the well deserved nick name “Tommy cooker”. Yes it was too tall. In fact the overall shape needed a little help. This was the result of someone saying they wanted it to be narrow. The short barreled 75mm M2 gun wasn’t the best choice of main armament. Heck I don’t even like the vertical volute spring suspension.

    When upguuned with the 76mm M1 gun the Sherman became a more serious threat on the battlefield. She was easy to build on large quantities. Let’s not forget Stalin’s famous quote about quantiity. We have to remember the enormity of US WW2 factories. Shutting one down to retool for a new heavy tank would have had a big effect on the battlefield.

    The Sherman’s maxium armor thickness measured favorably against other medium tanks of the day. The front plate was set at a decent angle. (The degree escapes me right now) The mechanical reliability of the Sherman was far superior to that of the larger tanks built by other countries.

    Even though I’m no fan of the Sherman I voted yes in my poll.



  • The Sherman was held in high esteme by Albert Speer Minister of Armaments for Hitler. He would use this tank to show the German Army what an all around tank should be. Medium weight, all terraine, all weather, adequately armed and armored, easy to transport, easy to maintain, with a very reliable engine.

    Speer rightly noticed that the German tank industry had too many tank designs, not enough overall tanks, too many different calibers of guns and so forth. While Speer was able to do a great deal with the German industry, increasing output all the way through 1945, he was never able to bring order to the chaos which was German tank production.

    Total German tank production (all types) was in the area of 27,000 + vehicles

    Total Russian tank production was around 40,000 + vehicles

    Total Sherman tank production was around 50,000 vehicles.

    In this case numbers trumped quality but the Sherman had a quality all its own.



  • I guess I should have worded the question “Is the Sherman under-rated?” I was thinking more of the negative a modern day armchair general comments I’ve heard and read about the thing. I know our enemies and allies had an appreciation for the Sherman. It might not have been the perfect tank but it was the right tank at the right time. Even if it was too tall.



  • @11HP20:

    I hope this sparks some discussion about the USA’s technological, and industrial capabilities, along with her war aims.

    When the poll for the T-34 was released I thought the next best tank in line for discussion was the Sherman. Great poll question!



  • The Sherman as an effectice anti-infantry tank, it woul send most germans running for the hills, unless he had a pazershrek, then it was game over :-P. When it cam down to armor vs armor it would usually take the Shermans 2 tanks to destroy every 1 panzer, and i there was a Tiger involved the Allies were flat out screwed.



  • Sherman with air power was good.  Sherman alone with enemy Panzer not good.



  • @F6FHellcat:

    Sherman with air power was good.  Sherman alone with enemy Panzer not good.

    that about sums it up  😄



  • yep under-rated it had gyro-susspension. I very technological advancment in tanks. It also was built for quanity which is a very good quality on the field. 1 sherman vs 1 panzer=panzer win but 3 shermans+1 inf squad vs 1 panzer+ 1 inf squad=almost certain Sherman victory!!!



  • I voted ‘Not over or under-rated’ because the Sherman’s weakness and strength have been well documented.



  • It was the perfect tank for the Americans

    pretty fast, reasonably armed and armored, and produced in the thousands.

    Sure a King Tiger alone against a group of Shermans was like a Lion being attacked by stray dogs, but the Sherman was a solid medium tank.



  • I think the Sherman deserves to be rated as a “crappy piece of metal”, “armored coffins”, and “firetraps”, because the US was very good in designing war machines in almost every other aspect, although some units were only slightly better than the units of other allies and axis powers of WW2. It’s a matter of prioritizing, American engineers could easily made something much better, the just needed a year of trying and failing, after that the US could have 30.000 “equivalent” US “panthers” instead of 50.000 Shermans.

    It was not only until the end of the war that Germany made ME 262 which the US couldn’t match, eventually until aircraft designers was handed over some captured fighters, they would copy the jet tech and make even better fighters than the Germans.



  • @Subotai:

    I think the Sherman deserves to be rated as a “crappy piece of metal”, “armored coffins”, and “firetraps”, because the US was very good in designing war machines in almost every other aspect, although some units were only slightly better than the units of other allies and axis powers of WW2. It’s a matter of prioritizing, American engineers could easily made something much better, the just needed a year of trying and failing, after that the US could have 30.000 “equivalent” US “panthers” instead of 50.000 Shermans.

    It was not only until the end of the war that Germany made ME 262 which the US couldn’t match, eventually until aircraft designers was handed over some captured fighters, they would copy the jet tech and make even better fighters than the Germans.

    Um what?

    I think you are undervaluing the technical experitise and weapon design skills of every nation other than the US in your post.

    The US did excel in some areas, Carrier development, Naval Aircraft and Heavy bombers immediately spring to mind. But they were behind other nations in other fields, Self propelled guns, Tanks and Anti Tank guns for example.

    You mention the ME262 as the only time someone was ahead of the US in technology during the war, this is patently untrue. What did the US have in 1942 that out performed a FW190?

    And as for American jets exceeding the ME262, that took time and didn’t happen until long after the war. Unless you consider the f-80 a roaring success (And many would not)



  • Maybe I didn’t make myself clear, and also I’m not an expert, just an armchair A&A general 🙂

    Imo, except for the many types of tanks of WW2, the US designed and constructed war machines that was better or equal in most categories. The tanks category is where the US did have a “wrong” philosophy. While US made more planes that other nations due to production capacity, the fighters and bombers were pretty good. I could be wrong here, but I thought that tank ability is much more important than other ground vehicle units, like artillery etc. when you’re facing an enemy on the battlefield. When US decided to go with the Sherman as the main tank, this seems to me like a kind of Stalin philosophy, “quantity has it’s own quality…” :roll:

    The US could do both, and manage to combine both quality and quantity in regards to naval and air units, and I guess the other US ground units of WW2 did not got pwned to the extend that their tanks were, when they faced the the German panzers.
    I did not know the German fighters were better than the US fighters, except for very late stages of WW2. If I remember correctly, it was a US fighter that first had the range so it could escort the allied bombers all the way to Berlin and return to England.
    As a layman, my impression is that even if the German fighters were slightly better, the didn’t have the extraordinary advantage over US fighters to the same extend that the German panzers had against the US tanks.



  • I agree that the US did manufacture some fine pieces of kits during the war. By 1945 they had the best air and sea power in the world and the 2nd strongest land forces.

    However, the US started behind in many areas at the start of the war.

    Rolling into WWII they had the Grant Tank, which was not the best design (originally had a small turret gun 37mm if i recall, but hasetley upgraded to carry a 75mm in a front mount with poor traverse)

    The Sherman started off rough, but once they switched to diesal engines it didnt erupt into flames as readily as the first run petrol engine Shermans.

    The Sherman was a fine medium tank, and thats probably where people get the misconception that it was a poor tank. It was never intended for the heavy tank role (The Pershing, which arrived too late to make a huge impact was in that role). All the anecdotes and accounts of Tiger tanks slaughtering Shermans is due to a mismatch of Heavy vs Medium tank.

    If you put the Sherman against its equivalents on the Russian and German sides (The t-34 and PZIV) its compares favourably. Probably not as good in a stand up fight as either of those two tanks, but quite agile and had good operating range.

    Defensive warfare favoured the German Heavy Tanks, they could sit in a covered position and wait for the Shermans to come to them. However, as the Battle of the Bulge showed the German Heavy tanks were limited in offensive operations due to slow land speed and high fuel consumption.

    The Sherman was a great infantry support tank and mobile fire unit. They could be rapidly deployed and filled a myriad of operational requirements.

    It is that flexibility of operational deployment that makes me think they are a good tank.

    PS. The fighter you referred to was the P-51 Mustang, and it was a beast of a fighter, argueably the best propeller fighter in WWII. While very good it was numbers that held the sky over Germany in the later war as the Germans never fell behind in fighter technology, what they lost were skilled pilots and the ability to manufacture enough planes.


  • Moderator

    The Sherman is Way Overatted IMO.  The Shear Numbers produced Alone Was it’s Only Advantage.

    If I was A Tanker in WWII for what ever country I wanted, The Sherman would Most Likely be Near the Very Bottom of the List. I would Rather Drive a Assault Gun then a Sherman.

    As For the “Mechanical” Problems For the TIGER I.

    The Biggest one they Had was the Gearing in the Drive Wheels. When The Driver of the Damn thing Got to excited and Started Beating on the thing, The Gears would Shear Off and the Tank obviosly wouldn’t Move.  Kinda a Shitty thing during a Tank Battle. I Know I would Put the Hammer Down if My vehicle CO. said Go.

    I sure Beat the Crap out of my APC in the Service.

    But again it is Not Fair to Compare Shermans or even the Easy Eight Model to Tigers and Panthers, Let alone the K Tiger.
    It’s like comparing Apples to Oranges, not a fair Comparison.

    If you are going to compare Shermans to Stuff, Then the real fair way, would to only Compare Shermans to PzIV, or T-34/76.

    or Just Compare the Sherman Base Chasis with other Base Chasis of Vehicles in it’s class



  • The logistics problem was a significant design issue, but another skewed part of the comparison is the fact that we were advancing and they were defending.  The defense gets a bonus for artillery, mines, channeling obstacles, prepared positions and surprise if it is well prepared.  They usually get the better terrain too.  It is a difficult comparrison to make.  However, I’d probably want to be in a big German machine rather than a smaller US tank that had to get here on a supply ship.



  • Perhaps this would have been a better poll question: “Which would rather be in, a Sherman or a Tiger?”  8-)


  • '10

    high profile, poor slope to armor made the sherman at best, a mediocre medium tank. the allies vast quantitative superiority ,however, more than offset any german qualitative advantages.  the T 34 , and when working well , the  panther were the best medium tanks of WW2



  • @Battlingmaxo:

    high profile, poor slope to armor made the sherman at best, a mediocre medium tank. the allies vast quantitative superiority ,however, more than offset any german qualitative advantages.  the T 34 , and when working well , the  panther were the best medium tanks of WW2

    Panthers tended to break down after you rolled them out of the factory.



  • @Upside-down_Turtle:

    Perhaps this would have been a better poll question: “Which would rather be in, a Sherman or a Tiger?”   8-)

    I say Sherman, if I’m in a Tiger it means I’m German, and the Germans lost 😄



  • @bbrett3:

    @Upside-down_Turtle:

    Perhaps this would have been a better poll question: “Which would rather be in, a Sherman or a Tiger?”   8-)

    I say Sherman, if I’m in a Tiger it means I’m German, and the Germans lost 😄

    There’s a big difference between being a looser and being dead.  😉



  • Well, would you rather be in a Sherman with a whole company of other Sherman tanks, air and artillery support, or would you rather be in a Panther with two other tanks in what is left of your platoon?

    The problem is that the question you wish to pose compares apples to oranges.



  • @dinosaur:

    Well, would you rather be in a Sherman with a whole company of other Sherman tanks, air and artillery support, or would you rather be in a Panther with two other tanks in what is left of your platoon?

    The problem is that the question you wish to pose compares apples to oranges.

    I said Tiger, not Panther.  Oh, and btw, I prefer oranges.  😉



  • Well if we’re talking Tigers, then I suppose we are comparing apples to Honey Dew Mellons.


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