Ordnance – M4 Sherman Tank in the Pacific War

M4 Sherman tank with the 24th Marines, Iwo Jima, WWII

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

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 17, 2020, in Korean War, Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 99 Comments.

  1. While I have heard of the Sherman tanks, I never realized they were painted like tigers to scare the Chinese. Would be interesting to know if that had any effect. Also had no idea there were 49,000 of them scattered around the world. You find out amazing things!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would not enjoy being inside the tanks! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have a very Merry Christmas, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another fascinating post. I watched a program on those mine busters, what an incredible machine. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “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’ ” was a very good observation!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I was growing up, the Sherman tank was frequently used as a comparator. It was interesting to learn some details about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In case you think the only Marines in the PIs in WWII were fighter pilots and POWs of
    Japanese army here is a bit of 411. Marine Howitzer teams were utilized by the 11th AB
    on Leyte. I heard a few paratroopers blamed them for friendly fire casualties but that is
    not substantiated at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hence the expression: “She’s built like a Sherman Tank!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. These tanks would have made General Sherman proud of his name sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I know a few places in Belgium where is standing a sherman to remember at WOII. and the people who helps us for liberation. That they are painting the shuman in the Koreon world as a tigre was unknown for me. “ Superstitious”can help in that part of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Remember so many films and photographs showing the Sherman and its flamethrower.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello GP, I Wanted To Wish You A Merry Christmas And Happy New Year 2021 ! I Rest My Case For Awhile, Tomorrow I Receive A Special Guest..A Cat, I Share That Because I Will Face The Unknown..And I’m Puzzle By It Right Now, The Only Cat I Know Is Garfield And I Suppose Lasagna Will Do lol. Thanks Again GP For Your Irremplacable Friendship !

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think faced with a tank, whether you hesitate or not your luck has most likely just run out anyway. What else could be worse for the lightly armed Japanese soldier I wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello my friend. I want to thank you for helping me with my father. He never spoke of WW2. We had photos and silence. Some men could hide away the war. He did. He accomplished many things and was a preacher in the church for 40 years. We must remember the cost of freedom and I love your site. I hope you are doing well and staying safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I didn’t know Sherman tanks were so versatile, and the tiger paintings was such a brilliant idea. It’s a shamed nobody recorded the effect of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As others have mentioned I think it would be very claustrophobic inside a tank. However if that is where one needs to be then a Sherman tank sounds like a good choice.
    I think the idea of the tiger face painting is intriguing. Are there reports of the distraction method actually working?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The Japanese tanks certainly don’t look the part, do they? I’ve always wondered why they didn’t ask the Germans to build Panzers under licence as they were clearly better than what they had. Perhaps it all stemmed from how difficult jungle terrain was, and that many of the heavier tanks would have just got bogged down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The jungles and mountainous areas were all a problem for tanks, but sometimes they proved to be problem solvers. The Japanese and Germans were passing engineering plans back and forth, so the only reason I can think of off hand as to why they were stuck with old tanks is their lack of metal resources.

      Like

  18. My idea of hell would be to be crammed into a tank . God bless the tankers but my clautrophobia wouldn’t be a good match with that kind of duty.
    I think that there must still be a lot of those tanks strewn around some of those Pacific islands , left by the American military rather than carting them back home .

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Aw… now you’ve gone and done it. First you get me interested in old planes — and now I like tanks too. LOL. This is terrific, GP. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I did not know about the use of the Tiger motor in the Korean War. This was a terrific article, GP

    Liked by 2 people

  21. That is a powerful piece of machinery! Just the sound of it coming towards you could make you tremble. It mowed down everything in its path, just like Tecumseh Sherman burning his way through the South.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. For the tank crews, painting a rabbit on the tanks for 1951 Year of the Rabbit was probably too much to ask. 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  23. The Tiger was a great idea. I expect you are aware that Churchill invented the tank during WWI – it had come on a long way with the Sherman

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thanks for continuing this series. I didn’t know the Sherman made it into the Pacific. This was an interesting bit of history. I have so many books on WWII, I am amazed when I read something here I never read about before. Thanks, As always for the terrific information.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Maligned in Europe, a superstar in the Pacific…

    Liked by 2 people

  26. All the more reason to get to the American Heritage Museum!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Off topic…

    I got mail.
    Merry Christmas also.
    Hoping 2021 will bring all people together again.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thanks for adding that bit of history GP. Never thought of the Sherman as a Tiger before !

    Liked by 1 person

  29. There’s one in a country museum down here, they were also given to Australia and some have been preserved by collectors. I have noted the movies Kelly’s Heroes and Fury have a Sherman. I wonder that the Japanese had planned on a short war and weren’t then focussed on their military tech? They took Malaysia and Singapore with light tanks for jungle use but these, I assume, are useless in open battle?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I love the idea of painting the Sherman in Tiger colors for the Lunar New Year. Great picture. This was a very informative post. When I click on the first cartoon, where it looks like there is laundry flapping from the gun, I get a close-up of the Hooters cartoon, which is also a very funny cartoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. For those of us who have no real idea of war, that the word “only” could be applied to 49,000 of those fearsome M4 ordnance being manufactured, lends some scope – given we all know generally, of the Sherman Tank.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Indeed a great tank. Thank you for sharing the information, GP! Enjoy your day! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  33. The British Army used these tanks extensively after D-Day. They had a tendency to catch fire when hit by German anti-tank rounds though. The Germans gave them the grisly nickname of ‘Tommy-Cookers’ as a result.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Thank you, Ned.

    Like

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