“Good Enough” Tanks Won WWII

By Jeremy Hsu | October 16, 2014 8:00 am
Brad Pitt plays the commander of a five-man crew in a U.S. Sherman tank near the end of World War II in the film "Fury". Credit: Courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

Brad Pitt plays the commander of a five-man crew in a U.S. Sherman tank near the end of World War II in the film “Fury”. Credit: Courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sometimes a “good enough” military technology can achieve victory over better military technologies. Such a fact probably gave very little comfort to the five-man crews of U.S. Sherman tanks who faced an uphill battle against more powerful German tanks during World War II. British tank crews gave Sherman tanks the unflattering nickname “Ronson” — a grim reference to the Ronson cigarette lighter’s ad slogan “lights first every time” and the unfortunate fact that Sherman tanks often burned after taking just one hit. But that did not stop the U.S. from supplying tens of thousands of Sherman tanks to U.S., British, Canadian and other Allied forces, tipping the scales against the smaller numbers of elite German tanks on World War II battlefields.

The armchair historian debate over the Sherman’s war legacy could blaze up once more with the new war film “Fury”, starring actor Brad Pitt as a U.S. tank commander leading a five-man Sherman crew deep within Germany in the closing days of World War II. Some historians and military history enthusiasts still scoff at the capabilities of Sherman tanks when compared with the German Panther and Tiger tanks that carried both more armor and more firepower. But the U.S. strategy of mass-producing a reliable tank in large numbers should not be underestimated, according to the book “Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II” by Steven Zaloga, a military historian and senior analyst at the Teal Group Corporation. The tale of the Sherman tank’s road to victory represents a history lesson with implications for the future of warfare.

“In battle, quantity has a quality all its own,” Zaloga writes. “Warfare in the industrial age requires a careful balance between quality and quantity.”

The idea of overwhelming an enemy with quantity rather than quality may seem at odds with a U.S. military that has usually emphasized having the best weapons and vehicles since World War II. But finding a balance between quantity and quality could prove a useful lesson for the modern U.S. military that is considering whether to invest in swarms of unmanned drones and robots that could supplement or replace more expensive manned aircraft, vehicles and ships, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a military research institution in Washington, D.C.

“Overwhelming adversaries through greater numbers is a viable strategy for technology competition, and was used successfully by the United States in World War II,” writes Paul Scharre, a fellow at CNAS,  in a preview for the new report titled “Robotics on the Battlefield Part II: The Coming Swarm.”

Quality vs. Quantity

In the case of the Sherman, the U.S. generally struck a good balance between quality and quantity despite the tank’s relative weakness in firepower and armor, Zaloga notes in his book. Sherman tanks were well-designed for mass production and engineered with a rugged reliability that allowed them to keep rolling and fighting far longer than their German counterparts without breaking down. By comparison, “overengineered” German tanks such as the Panther — Germany’s main battle tank during the later phase of the war — were expensive to produce and difficult to maintain under battlefield conditions. The cost and complexity both limited production and led to a high rate of mechanical breakdown on battlefields, which limited the impact such elite tanks could have on the war.

Troops of the 60th Infantry Regiment advance into a Belgian town under the protection of a Sherman tank. Credit: Sgt. William Spangle, September 9, 1944 / Courtesy U.S. National Archives

Troops of the 60th Infantry Regiment advance into a Belgian town under the protection of a Sherman tank. Credit: Sgt. William Spangle, September 9, 1944 / Courtesy U.S. National Archives

That situation only became more desperate for Germany as Allied airpower bombed factories and disrupted supply lines. A growing wartime shortage of materials such as molybdenum — combined with steel to give tank armor its durability — led to more brittle protection for German tanks. Slaves working in German tank factories deliberately sabotaged the oil and fuel lines of armored vehicles. German mechanics also had to deal with a growing shortage of spare parts to repair the tanks.

By mid summer 1944, the Allied forces had 4,500 Sherman tanks in France, representing more than three times the size of the German panzer (tank) force facing them. That numbers advantage meant that the Allies had enough tanks to support infantry attacks against enemy defenses and additional tanks to act as a mobile armored force ready to exploit breakthroughs in the German battle line. By comparison, German infantry rarely had enough tank support and relied more on a wide array of armored vehicles such as assault guns and tank destroyers with fixed guns that lacked turrets to turn.

“The Sherman offered a better balance than the Panther, which, because of its cost and complexity, could be built in enough quantities to equip only one of the two panzer battalions in each panzer division,” Zaloga writes. “In contrast, there were so many Shermans that they not only filled out the U.S. and British armored divisions, but also were plentiful enough to provide each U.S. infantry division with a tank battalion.”

Outgunned in a Duel

The numbers advantage gave the Allies a strategic edge, but it didn’t make Sherman tank crews feel any better when they had to face heavier German tanks on the battlefield. Most Sherman tanks had 75mm and 76mm cannons that usually failed to penetrate the thick front armor of panzers such as the Panther or Tiger tanks at most ranges, whereas German 75mm or 88 mm cannons could penetrate the thinner armor of Sherman tanks from the front at long ranges. The sense of being outgunned and vulnerable led many U.S. tank crews to call every German tank they faced a “Tiger” and every anti-tank gun a dreaded “88”, even though German combat records showed that U.S. tanks in those specific encounters were usually facing weaker types of German armored vehicles and anti-tank guns.

Sherman tank crews paid the price in blood to learn how to deal with the German Panthers and Tigers by using the Sherman’s mobility to maneuver into a position where they could fire upon the weaker side and rear armor of the German tanks. But they still encountered frustrating scenarios such as the one faced by Sgt. Francis Baker, commander of Sherman tank with an improved 76mm gun, during a battle with German Mark V Panther tanks on Nov. 20, 1944, as recounted in Zaloga’s book.

“Ordering my gunner to fire at the closest tank, which was approximately 800 yards away, he placed one right in the side which was completely visible to me,” Baker wrote. “To my amazement and disgust I watched the shell bounce off the side. My gunner fired at least six more rounds at the vehicle hitting it from turret to the track. This German tank, knowing that I possibly would be supported by a tank destroyer, started to pull away. I was completely surprised to see it moving after receiving seven hits from my gun.”

U.S. tank crews also couldn’t help but feel cynical and discouraged when some U.S. commanders continued to boast of the Sherman being the best tank in the war, Zaloga writes. That sense of confidence and complacency among senior Allied commanders only began to change during the Battle of the Bulge in Dec. 1944, when the desperate Germans launched an armored counterattack led by Panthers and Tigers in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg. While the Battle of the Bulge raged on, Hanson Baldwin, a New York Times war correspondent, wrote an influential story published on Jan. 5, 1945, titled “New German Tanks Prove Superior to Ours — Inquiry by Congress Urged.”

“Why, at this late stage in the war, are American tanks inferior to the enemy’s?” Baldwin asked. “That they are inferior the fighting in Normandy showed and the recent battles in the Ardennes have again emphatically demonstrated. This has been denied, explained away and hushed up, but the men who are fighting our tanks against much heavier, better armored and more powerfully gunned German monsters know the truth. It is high time that Congress got at the bottom of a situation that does no credit to the War Department.”

Tank Evolution

Why did the U.S. mostly fail to build better tanks beyond the Sherman to deal with more powerful German tanks during World War II? The answer provided by Zaloga represents a complex stew of misguided military doctrine, a relative lack of U.S. combat experience against German tanks, and the failure to use available intelligence to predict future battlefield threats.

Soldiers of the 55th Armored Infantry Battalion and tank of the 22nd Tank Battalion, move through smoke filled street. Wernberg, Germany. Credit: Pvt. Joseph Scrippens, April 22, 1945 / Courtesy U.S. National Archives

Soldiers of the 55th Armored Infantry Battalion and tank of the 22nd Tank Battalion, move through smoke filled street. Wernberg, Germany. Credit: Pvt. Joseph Scrippens, April 22, 1945 / Courtesy U.S. National Archives

First, U.S. military doctrine emphasized the idea that tanks should act as a mobile, armored force capable of racing through holes in enemy lines to wreak havoc on infantry, artillery and other softer targets as they outflanked and encircled the enemy. The doctrine suggested that U.S. tanks should never actually fight enemy tanks — a dangerously unrealistic assumption — and should instead leave enemy tanks to be dealt with by a separate group of “tank destroyers” consisting of vehicle-mounted or towed anti-tank guns. That institutional attitude was biased against creating U.S. tanks with more armor and more powerful guns capable of taking on new generations of German tanks. (U.S. tank destroyers also performed poorly against the improved German tanks until the U.S. Army belatedly equipped some with more powerful guns.)

U.S. military doctrine also neglected the critical battlefield role of tanks supporting infantry assaults against enemy defenses. The U.S. Army initially preferred to keep its tanks grouped in large divisions as armored cavalry ready to exploit breakthroughs by charging into the enemy’s rear — a role that was well-suited for the mobile and rugged Sherman tank. By comparison, the Germans, British and Soviets all developed a second class of heavier infantry-support tanks separate from the first class of cavalry tanks. Such infantry-support tanks, such as the German Tiger tanks, required heavier armor to survive direct assaults against enemy defenses consisting of anti-tank guns.

At the same time, the U.S. Army was lulled into a sense of complacency by its early World War II combat experiences in North Africa and Italy. That’s because the Germans deployed relatively few Tiger and Panther tanks in those theaters of war from 1943-1944 — they were pouring most of their best tanks and troops into their increasingly desperate struggle against the Soviet Red Army on the Eastern Front. Both the German Panther and Tiger tanks were developed as part of an arms race against new generations of Soviet tanks such as the excellent T-34. (The latter also represented the most widely-produced tank of the entire war.)

The Soviets did share intelligence on the new German tanks with the U.S. and British armies. But U.S. commanders did not demand better armor or firepower for their tanks, failing to envision how the Germans would deploy growing numbers of the next-generation Panther tank in particular. Their complacency about the Sherman being up to the job was fed by the fact that the Germans had not used their best anti-tank guns early on in the North Africa or Italy campaigns. They also failed to anticipate the growing threat from German infantry anti-tank weapons modeled on captured U.S. bazookas — the two-man panzerschreck and one-man panzerfaust — until they confronted many more of those weapons after Allied forces invaded France in 1944.

For a lesson in what the U.S. could have done differently, we only need to look at how the British military reacted to the same pieces of intelligence, Zaloga writes. The British wisely developed more powerful anti-tank guns and also created a new version of their own Sherman tanks, nicknamed the Firefly, with a more powerful gun to deal with the German Panthers and Tigers prowling Western Europe.

Good Enough Tanks

When the New York Times published its Jan. 1945 story about the superiority of German tanks, the U.S. public and Congress were confronted with the unpleasant fact that their boys were outgunned on the battlefield. U.S. commanders suddenly became much more interested in figuring out ways to upgrade the armor and guns of existing Sherman tanks and speeding up development of a more powerful heavy tank, the T-26 Pershing, which wouldn’t arrive until 1945 when most German resistance had already collapsed. Much of this scramble was too little, too late, as Zaloga describes it. But the U.S. Army did upgrade the Sherman tank in smaller ways throughout the war, such as making newer versions of Shermans with better ammunition stowage that didn’t burn so easily, improving the Sherman’s main gun and providing better armor-piercing ammunition, and making a more heavily armored version of the Sherman tank for infantry support missions.

A line of M4 Sherman tanks and M3 Grant tanks at Ft. Knox near Louisville, Kentucky in June 1942. Credit: Alfred T. Palmer / Courtesy Library of Congress

A line of M4 Sherman tanks and M3 Grant tanks at Ft. Knox near Louisville, Kentucky in June 1942. Credit: Alfred T. Palmer / Courtesy Library of Congress

Fortunately, the weakness of Sherman tanks in duels against elite German Panther and Tiger tanks didn’t actually matter much in the grand scheme because duels between large groups of tanks were rare experiences for the U.S. Army during the war. Feared German weapons such as the Tiger tanks and 88mm antitank guns only existed in relatively small numbers. More common German foes such as the PzKpfw IV tank, 75mm antitank guns, the StuG III assault gun, and German “panzerjager” tank destroyers could still kill Shermans from ordinary combat ranges of 1,000 yards or less, but Sherman tanks fought those foes on more equal footing. If anything, Sherman tank crews spent the vast majority of their battles shooting at non-armored targets such as buildings or enemy troops.

The technical superiority of German tanks also did not necessarily guarantee easy victories for the Germans in tank duels. U.S. and British military studies in the later years of the war found that the single most important factor in tank duels was which side spotted the other first, engaged first and landed the first hits. Such scenarios tended to favor defenders, which is why German tanks on the attack suffered about as heavily as Sherman tanks on the attack. But such situations also favored well-trained and experienced tank crews who knew how to ambush or surprise enemy tanks. Even Panther and Tiger tanks could easily fall prey to Sherman tanks striking from the side or rear. (Zaloga also observes that the myth of the U.S. Army needing five Sherman tanks to knock out a single Panther or Tiger tank appears to have no basis in World War II combat records.)

In the end, Zaloga concludes that the Sherman’s good qualities of being mechanically reliable and easy to mass produce outweighed the tank’s disadvantages on the battlefield against the elite German tanks. He also points out that the Sherman tanks represented just one part of a well-honed U.S. war machine that included the hard-fighting infantry, excellent artillery support, and close air support from the U.S. Army Air Force. In fact, the U.S. Army spent almost six times as much on aircraft as tanks from 1941 to 1945 — $36 billion versus just $6 billion — in a successful effort to dominate the skies and cripple Germany’s wartime industry through strategic bombing raids.

“The Sherman succeeded on the World War II battlefield not because it was the best tank, but because it was part of the most modern and effective army,” Zaloga writes. “The U.S. Army did not insist on fielding the best tank, but it did insist on fielding enough tanks that were good enough.”

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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    If you are willing to lose brave or at least disciplined personnel, you can do wonders with mere production of numbers. Polish Lancers on horseback were effective against German tanks at WWII’s beginning. ID a command tank (antennas), spear the officer standing in the hatch, drop in a grenade. A good horseman vastly outmaneuvered a tank driver. Mount a small machine gun on your turret, Fire into your enemy’s path rather than follow it. Aim for the horse – it’s the important modality.

    In 2014, ISIS is scything the “Allies.” Do not expect to win if lead by poltroons and administered by REMFs. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara killed more GIs than the VC by cost-cutting hard chrome plating out of US rifles. AK47s never failed to fire.

    • Jacek Dz

      Polish Lancers on horseback were not effective against German tanks at WWII because Polish Lancers _NEVER_ attacked German tanks. Polish Lancers attacking German tanks were only a Nazi propaganda’s invention to stress how a poor and primitive country Poland had been at that time. And as we can see, the propaganda’s still alive and kicking.

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        I bow to your scholarship.


        My past oral source had pride beyond knowledge.

        • Emkay

          believe nothing you hear..
          half of what you see..
          but all that you feel…

          • canuckingermany

            It that statement is true, then it is also false.

        • BW

          Uncle Al,

          Nobody else bothered to say it, so I will: Very big of you to acknowledge that you had some facts wrong. Thank you. And look further into the Polish experience in the war. They fought on every front in Europe during the war and proved to be tough soldiers. Cheers !

      • james solak

        Dziękuję – thank you (Jen KOO yeh), Apart from countless battles and skirmishes in which the Polish cavalry units fought dismounted, there were 16 confirmed Cavalry charges during the 1939 war. Contrary to common belief, most of them were successful. In addition, every infantry division had an organic cavalry detachment used for reconnaissance.

    • horrido

      No, cavalry was never effective against tanks. Ridiculous. When I served, I spent about half my time repairing a 50s era M113, while congress was buying 2 billion dollar bombers. And the problem with the M16 was not its lack of plating, it was an inferior design in general to the AK (not to mention it’s smaller round).

      • Nixie

        The Polish cavalry was equipped with a portable anti-tank rifle that fired tungsten carbide-cored APCR rounds. The projectiles were quite effective against the light armor of the German tanks.

    • Robert Maybeth

      not sure what books you’ve been reading but they represent isolated incidents not generally effective tactics

  • Brett Champion

    The US actually continued to pursue the “good enough” strategy into the 1960s at which time it switched to emphasizing quality over quantity when it realized that it would’t be able to outproduce the Soviets. So US military planners decided to emphasize what we were best at: technology. We decided to build better tanks, planes, submarines, etc. than the Soviets because we knew we could. And unlike the Germans in WWII, we knew that we would probably be able to build enough of these technologically sophisticated weapons not to be overwhelmed by the Soviet’s greater production of “good enough” versions.

  • bozotheclown

    Goes to show that history can repeat itself. China, Middle East, etc…..good enough against superior forces and technologies…..sheer numbers over brains.

  • rick baca

    The United States and the Allies won the war against the Nazis for three reasons: 1) Hilter was a psychotic twit and 2) most of the Allied technical material was designed to be user-proof, that is, simple to fix, operate and build. 3 Extermely durable–my father’s friend a bomber pilot in Europe would recall, how his B-17 otter had more in common with swiss cheese than a flying machine yet it still did its job and got them home. The Nazis were wasteful of men and material and could could never sustain a fight against a country that could build planes, tanks, etc. faster while saving their crews for another fight. In addition, the Nazis wasted entire armies in obeying the madman Hilter’s orders to not surrender. It must have been clear by the summer of 1942 that the Nazis were doomed

    • Falcon642

      It wasn’t that American equipment was drastically easier to repair, it was that the average GI had more experience with motors than their German, Soviet, Japanese, or British counterpart.

      Because almost all American GIs had some experience with cars, if their Jeep for instance broke down most GIS could jury rig it and get it going again. Your average Axis soldier had no experience with cars.

      • outragex

        American vehicles used more standardized parts than the German habit of constantly refining their designs thus leading to semi-custom vehicles that were hard to stock parts for. Also, the US built effective school programs to train our soldiers in specialties like tank or truck repair. We also had efficient mobile repair trucks and mobile shops. The Germans fought well but were more ad hoc about salvage and repair, partially because they were often retreating and leaving damaged tanks behind. Also, the Germans were forced to use a variety of equipment from captured armies and manufacturers in occupied nations. They just did not have the industrial base of the US to produce equal quantities of standardized designs.

        • skari60

          you mean after june 1944 ?

      • Nixie

        Not true: as an example, the Sherman’s front transmission was bolted to the front and could be easily removed for maintenance, while the German Panther required a complicated teardown.

        • Falcon642

          Sherman vs. Panther is one narrow example. By all accounts the Pz IV was pretty easy to repair and work on as evidenced by the number of field refits that were done on Pz IVs. If the Sherman was easier to work on than the Pz IV, it wasn’t by a large margin.

          Another example is the American Jeep vs. the German Kubelwagen. The Kubelwagen is no harder to work on than a Jeep. Look at trucks, German trucks were no harder to work on than a deuce and a half.

          American equipment may have been slightly easier to work on overall, but the big advantage remained that American GIs were far more familar with motor vehicles than the soldiers of any other nation and as such were much more adept at field repairs than any other soldier.

      • skari60


    • Serge Krieger

      It must be Soviet Union and the Allies. This sounds just right.

  • terry

    Adding heavier armor to the Sherman tank would have only limited its mobility and made it more vulnerable.

    Worse, it would have limited the Allied ability to advance, requiring different parts already in the field, fuel for the Shermans to run with the added weight, and secondary supply logistics to run the extra supplies (which means that you have trim down in other supplies being transported).

    But the worst thing adding more armor would have done would ultimately be to prevent the Shermans from getting to high-priority strong points in the field – exactly the fatal deficiency in the Tiger tank’s “design”.

    People forget that a tank’s design (or any weapon) must take into account its logistical footprint as well as its ability to transport itself (or be transported) to the battlefield in the first place.

    A tank that does not get to the battlefield has essentially been “destroyed”.

    Force that cannot be used is Force wasted.

    The Tiger tank broke down far too often. Its fuel requirements meant that it had limited range from the railroad tracks and was therefore useless in the field for much of the war. When it was in range to contest, it was often beaten by the faster and more easily maintained/less-fuel-hungry Sherman, at which point the Tiger was attacking and the Sherman had already defeated German infantry and lighter tanks – and was defending.

    As the article notes, the greatest factor in tank-to-tank battles was determined by who was Defender vs Attacker:

    Dug-in Vs Charging but vulnerable.

    High-ground Vs Low-ground.

    Already-in-position-to-fire Vs Trying-to-get-in-position-to-fire

    First-to-see, First-to-fire Vs Looking-for-the-enemy and Waiting for his first shots to reveal himself.

    The historic record of many Battles, including the Battle of the Bulge stipulates that Sherman tanks were destroyed at around half the rate of the Tiger Tanks (with the Battle of the Bulge’s records corroborating this literally with 90 Sherman tanks destroyed vs 180 Tiger tanks).

    That is not to say that the Sherman tank won “Duels” vs the Tiger Tank every time; indeed the records don’t stipulate how many Tiger tanks the Sherman destroyed or vice versa. The Officers were apparently just happy to count the burnt or captured hulks and call it a day most of the time, leaving future historians wondering whether the tanks (on both sides) were destroyed by mines, mechanical breakdown, cannibalism, enemy action, or post-action destruction.

    And the Officers were right.

    No matter how a tank met its end, it demonstrated an exploited deficiency one way or another when looked at the beast “From tooth to tail”. Any deficiency from its fuel and material requirements to its fit in the doctrine and surrounding system of weapons (like infantry and bombers), to its crews, to its lack of numbers, even the Sherman’s reputation as an inferior tank on the morale of its crews (a false reputation, as it turns out) can contribute to the fatal defeat of that tank.

    As it is, history demonstrates that the Tiger tank succumbed to its deficiencies first and foremost. Historians will have to begin with this 800 lb gorilla in the room, if they are to be taken seriously in Historic (and Contemporary) Military Affairs.

    • Nixie

      “Adding heavier armor to the Sherman tank would have only limited its mobility and made it more vulnerable.”

      As it turned out late in the war, improving the Sherman’s protection via improvised appliqué armor fashioned from scrapped tanks had only minimal impact on the Sherman’s powertrain. In fact, one variant of the Sherman, the M4A3E2, was factory-equipped this way. Far from making the tank more vulnerable, the extra protection allowed it to shrug off frontal hits from various German antitank weapons, including the Tiger I’s 88mm.

      • Robert Maybeth

        I’d like to point out, that adding the hillbilly armor also had little effect against German AT shells. But it did make the troops feel a bit better, perhaps, which is certainly worth something

        • Nixie

          Some of the techniques were of little use, but welding on double thicknesses of armor plate was definitely effective.

  • stargene

    Back in the Vietnam War period, I read a deep technical study of WWII
    tanks by a colonel at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. He concluded that
    the Soviet T-34, especially the T-34-85, was hands down ‘the queen of
    the field’, despite some early problems. However, he noted, as does
    this article, that the Brits called the Sherman the ‘Ronson’, and that its
    crews considered it a death trap in certain circumstances, e.g.: when the tank was afire, and the gun turret was by chance placed near the
    driver’s door, completely blocking it and trapping the driver. I cannot
    prove but strongly suspect that the obvious and continuing deficiencies
    of the Sherman were a result of both a conservative military mindset
    and a private industrial sector (e.g.: Chrysler) which was reluctant to
    retool and spend any more than was necessary to obtain big profits
    from the federal government. In this regard, I remember my father
    relating that, not long after Pearl Harbor, the feds actually had to threaten to sue or even nationalize some big companies, which had refused to use certain crucial war patents in the new war effort, because it would “violate contracts” held with their counterparts in Nazi Germany (e.g.: Krupp, I.G.Farben, Messerschmidt, etc.). For probably more unbiased evaluations, I recommend the actual field reports made by the Wehrmacht troops on the ground at the time,
    and not so much later texts which often have a decidedly
    ideological and political bias.

    All that being said, I find that I have the highest regard for both
    U.S. and Soviet fighters who made the best use of what they
    were given to “tear the guts out of the Nazi war machine”.

    • http://sciencehsu.com/ Jeremy Hsu

      I haven’t read enough on the T-34, but from what I know it sounds like the Soviet tank probably deserves the MVP tank award for World War II. Pretty sure it holds the title for the most mass-produced tank of the war, and it caused a minor panic in the German military when it first appeared on the battlefield — the German Panther tank seems to have been built as a direct response to the T-34.

    • Jeremy Hsu

      I haven’t read enough on the T-34, but from what I know it sounds like the Soviet tank probably deserves the MVP tank award for World War II. Pretty sure it holds the title for the most mass-produced tank of the war, and it seems to have caused a minor panic in the German military when it first appeared on the battlefield. Plus the German Panther tank seems to have been built as a direct response to the T-34.

    • carlisimo

      Everything said in the article could apply to the T-34: it was ‘good enough’ and won through sheer force of numbers. It did have great stats, but its ergonomic and visibility issues hampered performance. T-34 losses were absolutely terrible, even late in the war when most were T-34/85 models. They were so high that it’s hard to accept that it was really that great. To be fair to the tank, Soviet tactics contributed significantly to those losses – but the Soviets received a few thousand Shermans and their crews were generally happy with them.

      Going back to the Sherman, its reliability and strategic mobility (ability to get anywhere it was needed pretty quickly) saved thousands of infantrymen’s lives. The Pershing probably couldn’t have done that.

      • Robert Maybeth

        Your comment on the T34 was dead on – crude in the extreme, barely good enough! Most T34’s did not have a radio, only 1 in 5 did! This meant they gave orders to the one with the radio and the others followed along like cattle. The Russians had a shortage of radio sets. EVERY German (and American) tank had a radio for communications. Moreover the design of the T34 was so crude, the floor of the turret did not rotate with the turret itself…So when the turret turned, the seats stayed where they were and the crew had to scootch in their seats! Also most of the ammo was stored under the turret floor. To get to this ammo, two steel floor panels had to be removed, the heavy ammo hauled out, and the floor panels quickly replaced, (or not)?! And the electric drive for the T34 turret was usually broken meaning, the 20 ton turret got cranked by HAND…Imagine fighting with all these flaws against a German heavy tank which has you in his sights! So even just being in a T34 was often just a recipe for instant death.

        • Serge Krieger

          Still, it was T-34 which won the war and by the way. Germans were shocked already in 1941 when they met T-34s first time and Germans military asked to copy those. instead, Germans engineers went for Tigers and Panthers.

          Again, the war was won Soviet T-34s not by Shermans which basically had similar idea behind them. Good enough.

    • Nixie

      “I recommend the actual field reports made by the Wehrmacht troops on the ground at the time …”

      In that case, you might be surprised to hear of an October 1944 German report that concluded the Tiger I’s 88mm main gun failed point blank against the original Sherman’s steeply-sloped front glacis plate (at an angle of 30 degrees).

      The Sherman design had a number of important advantages over the T-34/85. One of them was its ability to mount the 90mm M3 gun, which, when firing T30E16 ‘HVAP’ ammunition, could defeat any of the plates of the King Tiger and Panther tanks. The cramped T-34 hull was not amenable to a powerful gun, and thus had to make do with an 85mm weapon that was ineffective against either of the German heavies’ frontal armor. One mass-produced Sherman variant, the M-36 tank destroyer, was armed with the M3 gun, and was fielded in quantity in the autumn of 1944.

      • Robert Maybeth

        i dont know take a look at “Greatest Tank Battles, Normandy” a guy describes pulling up directly in front of a Tiger hidden behind some hedgerows – did not know it was there but shot first, it bounced off, then the German fired his 88…i am amazed the guy was alive to tell the story.

        • Nixie

          The 75mm gun failed point blank against the Tiger I’s frontal armor; no 76mm M1A1-armed Shermans were employed during the Normandy landings.

      • skari60

        a fault in the shell i presume..

    • Nixie

      ” However, he noted, as does
      this article, that the Brits called the Sherman the ‘Ronson’,”
      ‘Ronson’ is a myth, because the slogan “Lights up first time everytime” wasn’t used until the 1950s.

      The fires were traced to ammunition stowage, and later versions of the Sherman had their ammunition stored in liquid-lined bins, greatly reducing the vehicle’s propensity to burn in the event of a shell penetration.

      As for the T34-85, the M4A3E8 Shermans was easily a match, and postwar, the HVAP round was vastly improved with new propellant and a redesigned penetrator that was much more effective against high-obliquity armor (like the Panther’s). The M93 HVAP round was good for 178mm of penetration at 1000 meters, versus 130mm for the BR-365P 85mm APCR, and the Shermans carried plenty of it in Korea, unlike WWII. The T34-85 had aggressively sloped armor, at the expense of a cramped hull, but the turret was large, slab-sided and carried ammunition, meaning that in the event of a turret penetration, a catastrophic ammunition fire would likely result (and that’s why knocked-out T34-85s in Korea typically had their turret roofs blown off).

      Contrary to the myth, the M4A3E8 was such a good design that it wasn’t completely replaced until the 1950s (by the M47/M48 series). Meanwhile, the M26 Pershing, which overmatched the T34/85 in armor and gun power (the M304 HVAP projectile could punch through the Soviet machine, end to end), suffered so many mechanical problems that it was withdrawn.

  • The History Man

    Yet another article that seems to present the only battle as one between the Germans and the USA, while the Germans were suffering massive setbacks on the Eastern front due to the superiority of numbers on the Soviet side.

    Without the huge sacrifice of literally millions of Russian soldiers, the American front might have found even their large numbers of Sherman tanks were of little avail, had the Germans not been so fully engaged elsewhere.

    No article about the Second World War and defeat and victory should overlook this fundamental point.

    • http://sciencehsu.com/ Jeremy Hsu

      Thanks for your comment. I completely agree with what you stated about the Russians taking up the majority of the Wehrmacht’s resources. I did actually mention the huge Soviet contribution in this article, though I mainly focused on the debate over the performance of the Sherman tank.

    • Oliver Neal Ward


    • Jeremy Hsu

      Thanks for your comment. I completely agree with what you stated about the Russians taking up the majority of the Wehrmacht’s resources. If you read far enough, I actually did mention the Soviet contribution in this article from both a tank development and resources standpoint, though I wanted to focus on the debate over the performance of the Sherman tank.

      • mmur

        The debate? the allies referred to them as rolling coffins, lol

        • Nolan Scherr

          He’s stating facts about Sherman tanks such as their reliability in combat circumstances, and the fact that they were cheap and easy to mass produce compared to elite German tanks such as the Panther and Tiger tanks which take more effort to maintain and would often brake down way more frequently than Sherman Tanks.

          • Nolan Scherr

            That was the debat…

        • Evaris

          Most did not. The soviets loved the shermans, the brits liked the later models with HVSS suspension and wet ammo storage. Even the Germans liked the Sherman, using them when they were captured, with several reports of them preferring it to the Panzer IV.

          • mmur

            I guess if you want to be comfortable prior to dying ..Here is a quote from an article on the issue.”I did see a documentary where Carius and a British tank soldier compared the Sherman to Tiger and both agreed that the Tiger was a big, clumsy, mechanically unreliable hunk of junk compared to Sherman. However… when asked which tank they’d prefer to fight in both said immediately “Tiger!” I think that speaks to how both German and Allied soldiers viewed the Sherman”……………Just the facts!

          • Evaris

            Most action in a tank was anti-infantry or anti-fortification. Only something like 10% of combat was enemy armor encountered, and even then, you weren’t on your own. Most enemy tanks were Panzer III’s and Panzer IV’s, even at the end of the war. The former the Sherman could pen, and had frontal armor immune to the gun of. (as PzGR 40 APCR was very rarely issued, and when it was, a tank only received 1 or 2 rounds due to tungsten shortages in Germany), and in the latter case the 75mm shermans and PZ IV’s were relatively similar in gun and armor, and could penetrate one another, however due to the Sherman’s stabilizer the sherman had a better chance of hitting the initial shot, which drastically weighed things in their favor.

            Against Panthers and tigers, the Sherman had better optics, and the aforementioned stabilizer, and with the later ones armed with a 76mm, had similar gun performance, again, it was as in the case of the PZIV. Both tanks could penetrate each other, shermans had a higher chance of shooting first, and winning the engagement.

            In US service, Sherman tanks had a kill ratio of 3.2:1 versus Panther tanks. Partly because of the above, partly because the standard platoon size for Shermans in US service was 5 tanks, and partly because all the panther crews on the western front were green recruits, but the green recruit thing could be said about the american tankers too, so… eh.

            But there is a lot to say about the first-shot capability of a sherman, as well as how good it was mechanically. Reliable, easy to maintain, easy to keep in the field, comfortable to drive / ride in, superior to 80% of the enemy’s tanks, and with a gun upgrade, equal or better in standard combat effectiveness than everything that wasn’t a Tiger 2.

          • mmur

            Lots of good information about the various tanks and how they stacked up against each other.
            So to be clear you are saying that even in a conflict between a few tigers and Sherman’s , the latter would stand a reasonable chance of victory all other things being relatively equal?

          • Evaris

            Even numbers against each other, a late-model sherman with the 76 vs a tiger, it would be even odds, perhaps with a slight advantage for the sherman due to the gun stabilizer, superior optics, and they had slightly better crew surviveability due to the larger hatches – seeing as both can penetrate each other at any angle at any distance they actually hit each other.

            Pre-76 shermans, the advantage would be to the Tiger, as the shermans would need to close within 200m or get a flanking shot to penetrate, or otherwise fire enough rounds to incapacitate the tiger’s crew, whereas the tiger can penetrate at any angle and any reasonable distance.

            Historically, I only know of one instance where shermans met tigers and the tigers had a number advantage, but then air support was a thing.

          • mmur

            Once again thank you for taking the time to put the information together, as you certainly know a lot about the individual specs of these tanks.
            As someone who enjoys a good debate because honestly it is the only way one learns , I am intrigued by what seems to be a real disconnect between many comments in articles, vs the words of those who were actually there.
            It would be easy for me to say “well all one needs to do is look at “Death Traps” by Milton Cooper and the staggering losses his command suffered , but of course Cooper is just one veteran.
            However , What is puzzling is the reoccurring 3-1 kill ratio , because the evidence seems to be nothing more than posters referencing other posters. With no real evidence that includes sherman’s defeating a number of tigers, I can find numerous comments saying that ” Death Traps” has been widely debunked and the oft repeated notion it took 4 sherman’s, to be even with one tiger, is in reality , the real myth.
            What I am finding with regard to the Sherman, and what I am continuing to look for evidence to refute , is the testimony of more than 30 allied and German tank commanders, which to a man, describe the hopelessness the Sherman’s faced unless good fortune was on their side.
            I am very interested in knowing some actual numbers which back up this supposed 3-1 kill ratio. Do those numbers include the allied advance at Goodwood were tigers distroyed 400 Sherman’s before the tanks could even get in range to return fire?
            Furthermore, where are the names of famous Sherman crews, as would be expected with units having 3-1 kill ratio’s. I find people throwing around all kinds of Eastern and Western numbers, in an Attempt to defame German commanders such as Michael Wittmann and others which had over 100 kills. It is hard to understand how people refute the claims of the tiger as having no rival when there was only 90 tigers in Normandy, and yet they did so much damage a British General banned reports surrounding the tiger ,”because it was demoralizing tank units that already panicked at their sight”
            I have read numerous, probably hundreds of comments that suggested the tigers may have had a big advantage in the open areas like Russia, but that in Normandy the close cordons largely eliminated that advantage.
            If this was true , than my only conclusion reading accounts such as the battle at villege Bocage ,would be allied tank units were largely incompetent, because that would be what the evidence suggests.
            While I am still looking for encounters that would lead one to believe that Sherman’s did not deserve the reputation of “Tommy Lighters” I would ask you how one tiger could engage an entire line of tanks and armor at 50 yards and drive away leaving 12 destroyed tanks and 257 dead soldiers, all the while sustaining little more than missing paint, if indeed, sherman’s could stand against tigers?
            I mean it when I say I am fully open to the discovery that the sherman being woofully inadequate is a myth. But I was not there and so far I have found account after account that goes like this ” We thought we saw tigers where there was none and it gave you shivers just knowing they were out there”..”one veteran said “if he saw you first you were done and if you saw him first…(other vet chimes in) ..You were still done”!
            I would be interested in some sources for some balanced first hand accounting of veterans claiming they were not afraid of the tiger, as I am sure there will be some?

          • Evaris

            Also, I believe the “Oh my god, my tank is on fire.” test is a viable part of the equation of how good a tank is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6xvg5iJ4Zk

          • Petter Danielsen

            The Sherman had better optics? Most allied tanks did not have optics or communications. The Sherman tank was weak in every aspect , and never had to go toe to toe with the real power of the Germans. They were mostly occupied on the eastern front. The Americans mostly fought kids in wehrmacht uniforms on D-day. The Zeiss optics of the German tanks was the best during the war, and this biased crap that you are writing here is sad…sorry.

          • Evaris

            Every sherman had a radio and intercom system, and yes, the sherman had better optics than any German tank, with a Unified sight system that allowed the commander and gunner to see the same target, both the unified sight and the gun sight had wider fields of view than any german tank, and the optics had more clarity / less opacity than german optics.

            That the zeiss optics had greater magnification than the American models doesn’t mean they’re better, especially where target acquisition is acquired.

            And “the sherman tank was weak in every aspect” When every sherman was superior to every PZIV, (armor, gun, speed, mobility, ease of repair, crew surviveability) which was the most produced german tank, and the 76’s could penetrate a Panther or Tiger 1 at any range you could reasonably hit the other tank at. Heck, the Sherman Jumbo’s even had more effective frontal armor than a Panther or Tiger 1.

    • Falcon642

      Once the Allies landed in Normandy, the Western front received priority from Hitler. The majority of supplies and the best troops went to the Western front, while the Eastern front was badly neglected. Hitler believed he could trade space for time in the Eastern front and use that time to defeat the Western Allies. After the D-Day landings Hitler famously said “The Eastern will have to take care of itself.” Read Guderian’s book “Panzer Leader”.

      The Soviet Union did destroy 90% of all German divisions destroyed in the war, but most of that happened before June 1944. After D-Day the Allies got the best the Wehrmacht could field while the Red Army fought the JV.

      • technoreaper

        Ridiculous nonsense.

      • idontcare

        After D-Day the US forces fought with small part of german army. In many cases german soldiers were old, poorly armed, with little artillery or air support, they had few tanks which lacked fuel. And this germans were facing US Army with young soldiers, air support,artillery, huge amount of tanks. Before every offensive operations US smashed germans with artillery and from air and then they maybe met some germans.

      • FDR-JFKforAll

        Do you have any idea who supplied the plant, equipment; and, means under “Lend-Lease” for Russia to do this. Take a look at what we sent. By the way “Lend-Lease” at http://www.airforce.ru, is now working between the U.S. Russian cooperation on getting Russia Air Support for it’s many battles in which 27 million died.

        • Ivan McIntosh

          Britain, Canada and the US supplied lend-lease. Most people here would have some idea of it. However if you look at the amounts supplied in each year, you will see it didn’t really become a significant amount until 1943, by which time the Eastern Front had already turned. Lend lease was of particular help with Soviet logistics and doubtless shortened the war, but did not determine the outcome of the war in Russia…it was just too little an amount at the crucial time (albeit, I am sure, very welcome)/

      • skari60

        not true dude

      • Jan Houkes

        That is not true. It might have been so that Hitler said this, the numbers, facts and strategical notions prove otherwise.

        • Falcon642

          I have looked at the numbers. The western front received the bulk of new tank production. The majority of Tiger 2 and jagdtiger fought on the western front. Hitler transferred forces from the east in anticipation of d-day and again for the battle of the bulge. Read guderian book panzer leader, it backs up all my claims.

          • Jan Houkes

            The numbers differ; it is said that 1350 Tiger tanks were produced where others say that the number was 2000. Some say that 72% of it were deployed on the eastern front. Fact is that the first Tigers were active on the eastern front (501st and 503st P.Bat). Fact is also that the greatest tankbattle was Kursk. Of the 5 German soldiers killed 4 died on the eastern front . Kursk, Bagration and of course Stalingrad were the real reason for Germany losing the war. The numbers of fighting , and killed soldiers, indicate that , simply by necessity Hitler was forced to deploy most of his men and materiell on the eastern front.

          • Falcon642

            Go back and read my post again, I said Tiger TWO not the tiger 1. Of course most tiger 1 went to eastern front. Germany stopped making the tiger 1 2 months after d day

          • Ivan McIntosh

            That’s such a small number of tanks that it really made no difference. I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from where the Tiger IIs went.

          • John D

            You silly,silly boy’s! The real reason we are all here today is because Hitler was an egotistical maniac severely drugged up and wouldn’t allow his general’s to do the actual planning and troop placements on either front which is the real reason Germany lost the war! Oh I also am wondering just how the Russians we’re even going to get to Japan since they didn’t have any kind of navy to move the equipment or troops for that matter to Japan!?

      • Ivan McIntosh

        The “eastern front will have to take care of itself” is when Hitler tried to build up forces for the Battle of the Bulge. Around that point, both before it and after it, there were still many elite forces facing the Soviets, and plenty of german divisions being destroyed. The destruction of Army Group Centre by the Soviets happened in June 1944, after D-Day, and in one offensive killed, wounded and captured 400,000 Germans. The western front never saw, even during the Battle of the Bulge, more than 1/3 of German land forces.

    • BenjaminBrown

      The allies won for two reasons. 1: The Russian’s threw everything they had at the Germans. As a result they died in great numbers. Nobody disputes this. 2: Arguable more important though, the United States gave the allies an edge when it came to manufacturing. Without the United States involved in the war as a manufacturing powerhouse, the war might of been very different.

      Even the Soviets needed replacements for aircraft’s and what not. Especially after Hitler betrayed Stalin, and wiped out a sizable bit of Stalin’s military.

      Yes, its important to realize that the allies won because of the Russian’s sacrifice, but arguable its more important to realize the importance of simply having more planes and tanks/etc.

      I’d even say that Russia and the United States contributed the most to the allies winning. Russia on the battlefield, and the United States with its factories and shipyards that simply produced more planes/tanks/ships than the Germans/Japanese could destroy.

      • skari60

        basicly.. russians won the war 😉

        • Mark Sniatkowski

          Against Japan? Oh, when they declared war on the empire the day after we dropped the atomic bomb?

          • emcourtney

            Hey, don’t discount the Red Army’s campaign in Manchuria. Japan’s fallback strategy was to bring the 1 million man strong and fully equipped Kwantung army home to defend against the coming American invasion of the home islands. But, to put it bluntly, the Red Army smashed the Japanese in Manchuria. Within days of the start of the campaign it was clear to Tokyo that there would be no Kwantung army to bring home.

            Being a new class of weapon the reality of the atom bomb wouldn’t sink in for some time. However, the immediacy of your last best chance for a negotiated peace evaporating under the onslaught of the Red Army can’t be underestimated when considering motivations to surrender.

          • glennk

            This is so rarely pointed out. The Japanese surrender came after the Soviets smashed them in Manchuria and the Emperor et al. knew that if they didn’t surrender to us fast their country would be invaded by the Russians and end up like Germany had at that pt. The A-bombs didn’t have as big an impact as many historians give them.

          • mmur

            Thanks- I didn’t even know that and always thought it was just the bombs.

          • glennk

            Yea, because of the Cold War historians didn’t want to give the Soviets much credit for the final acts of the Pacific War. Here’s another mostly unreported historical fact, had it not been for the Imperial Armies commanding general in the Tokyo district the Emperor and his staff might have been captured in an attempted coup by a small contingent of rebels that didn’t want to surrender. The whole surrender hung in the balance for 24 hrs. while this coup came undone because this General refused to join and instead arrested the coup leaders. Who then committed Hari Kari ( ritual suicide.) So ende WW2. Stalin was furious at the Allies because he wanted to send troops into Japan like he did in Germany. The Japanese at the end of the War still had most of it’s land based Army in China undefeated, over 2 million men. They could have fought on maybe for yrs. had those troops been brought back to Japan. Fortunately, PM TOJO had been deposed a year earlier and the new PM and Emperor Hirohito had no more stomach for War.

          • John Linares

            Are you kidding? Historians bend over backwards to give the Soviets credit. Did the Soviets spend almost four years pushing the Japanese out of the South Pacific? Did the Soviets block the Japanese supply route from the Dutch East Indies? Did the Soviets flatten Japanese cities and establish air superiority over Japan? Did the Soviets destroy the offensive capability of the Japanese navy? Did the Soviets develop nuclear weapons and drop them on Japan?

          • John Linares

            When the Emperor addressed Japan by radio to announce the surrender he never mentioned the Soviet Union’s attack, but he did state the following; “…the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.”

          • glennk

            Stop already your revisionist nonsense is disgusting and absurd. No historian of any significance would agree with your rant. The Soviet Union was a nasty piece of work so what it still bore the brunt of the fighting and dying in WW2. Without the Soviet s The Nazis would have probably prevailed in Europe and the World would be a much different place today.

          • John Linares

            Ha! You are telling me not to believe what I believe. I would never say that to you…

          • glennk

            HITLER was to blame for the WAR. He wanted a War to justify killing off the Jews on the planet. Read Mein Kampf stop already with trying to shift the blame onto everyone else. Stalin was an opportunist who made a deal with Hitler to buy time. He wasn’t ready in 1941 to fight the Nazis and he almost lost to them over the next two years. Stalin was indeed another evil man and I don’t deny to beat Hitler we had to make a deal with a devil. Such are the fortunes of War all through time. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your ally and after together you defeat him you find yourselves once again as enemies as happened rapidly at the end of WW2. I’m not trying to defend what Stalin was I’m not a Communist. Stalin was a murderous thug like Mao and we spent the next 45 yrs. dealing with the Soviet regime till its collapse. It’s sadly been replaced with something almost as dangerous a Neo-Fascist Revanchist Russian Federation that inherited the Soviet’s Nukes and the Czar’s Russian Imperialist ambitions.

          • John Linares

            Agreed. Hitler had the lion’s share of blame for the war. However, how can the Soviet Union justify invading Poland and Finland, as well as forcing the Baltic Republics to relinquish their independence? That was more than buying time. That was collaboration in Hitler’s scheme to wage a war of aggression. Then at the end of the war the Soviet Union displayed the same behavior as they did in 1939. They began rounding up Poles representing the legitimate government of Poland and executed them. Then they enslaved Eastern Europe and took advantage of the situation to seize new territories.

            At the end of the war the Nazis stood trial at Nuremberg. Not one Soviet war criminal was charged with a crime…

            I don’t fault the Allies for siding with the Soviet Union during the war. I just don’t get a warm fuzzy loving feeling from Nazi collaborators who had a choice. I understand the Judenrat. They didnt have much choice, but the Soviet Union had a choice in 1939 and they chose to help the most detestable regime in history wage a terrible war of aggression. They are guilty of terrible crimes and share some blame for the war…

          • glennk

            Yes, I agree Stalin was a POS. It didn’t matter we needed him and he needed us to defeat Hitler.

          • John Linares

            I agree we needed the Soviet Union and I agree they did a good job killing Nazis, but I am not thankful to a country that helped to start the war. If they made amends for Poland I would feel differently. I believe in forgiveness for those who deserve it, but there was no regret and no shame in the Soviet Union in 1945. After the war they continued with the same behavior that they displayed as an ally of Nazi Germany.

          • mmur

            Glennk – you are sooo right on point. Listening to the yanks go on about their contribution is like listening to Donald Trump talk about his amazing accomplishments as President. At least when he tried it speaking to other members of the UN………they literally broke out laughing !!!!

          • mmur

            I am fairly certain Trump and most Americans tell others the true story of Fury, as loyal US soldiers died, while killing hundreds of the enemy with only a broken tank to defend with………….

          • glennk

            We were lucky the Japs and the Soviet Union did engage till the end. This allowed for the earlier defeat of the Nazis. The Russian Army and the Soviet people paid dearly doing just that. Our main job was supplying the munitions for that and defeating the Japs. Blaming the Russians. For not helping in that endeavor is an absurd backassward revisionist view of history.

          • John Linares

            That makes no sense. The Germans would need a navy to invade the US. You are engaging in hyperboles, that is not rational. If the Soviets weren’t allies of the Nazis at the beginning of the war, the Nazis wouldn’t have been able to defeat France. The point is that the Soviets were to blame for the early success of the Nazis and in addition the Soviet “liberation” of Eastern Europe replaced one problem with another. Overall, the US was engaged in a far wider war than the Soviets were. The Soviets were in it for themselves. They annexed parts of Finland, Poland, the Baltic Republics, Germany, and Japan. Their occupation of North Korea directly led to the Korean war.

      • chris chuba

        The Russians outproduced the Germans in tanks and even modern aircraft during war, not simply the U.S.
        They produced 22,000 T34-85, introduced in 1944 alone, similar to the 10,000 up gunned Sherman M4’s that we produced. I’d say the T34-85 had wider tracks, it could traverse muddier conditions as well as thicker armor.
        They produced a combined 65k Sturmoviks, PE-2, LA-5/7, and Yak-3’s which were all very successful, modern aircraft.

        The Russians clearly mobilized better than the Germans, they died in appalling numbers in 1941 and in high rates until the end of the war. However, their loss rate did decline in every year of the war as they got more efficient. From 1941 – 45 their loss rate declined by 80% but was high by any standard.

        • mmur

          absolutely correct. The Russians had more better tanks and there sacrifice in soldiers was 10-1 of the US. I am sure the allies where grateful that America did more than profit in the war (only country that was financially ahead when counting money owed) but to list them besides the Russians in contribution? . It’s like listening to Trump about his amazing business success lol.

          • John Linares

            What rubbish. The US and Britain fought the Japanese from Burma to the Solomon Islands without Soviet help. German troops were tied down from Norway to France to North Africa to Sicily to Italy to the Greek Islands. It was US airpower that defeated the Luftwaffe. Lend lease supplied the Soviet Union with the raw materials it needed to increase production. Lend lease was also provided to many other Allies because US production sometimes outpaced the production of the rest of the combatants combined. The Soviets helped no one except themselves, they didnt send supplies to anyone except the Germans when the Nazis were attacking France and the rest of Europe. The Soviets were content to be the Nazis ally and watch the Nazis swallow Europe and North Africa whole. They are very much to blame for starting the war. Anti-American buffoons love twisting history to fit their narrow minded prejudices…

          • mmur

            John – while your post is so delusional it’s not worth a ref perhaps you should take a look at the top ten battles of ww2. There is some debate over the rank but what is not in debate is the fact that Russia was primarily alone for 5 of the 6 largest battles. Your comment about sending supplies understates your total lack of understanding about how the war unfolded -I WONDER WHY THEY DIDN’T LOAN A BUNCH OF STUFF LIKE THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH …..AT LEAST TO 350 MILLION THAT IS??
            Speaking of countries that only looked out for themselves, it sure was good for the allies that japan attacked, or USA would have stayed on the sidelines forever
            Only someone totally committed to bullshit ( Donald Trump comes to mind) could offer an account were a country that lost 400,000 could be anymore than “an also contributed nation” in comparison to one that totally destroyed the German war machine and suffered between 9- 12 million casualties doing it.
            Rubbish you say ! I find it particularly hilarious that you compare the US contribution in Europe with 400,000 casualties to Russia which lost at least 20 times that figure and who’s margin of error on deaths is actually larger than the total amount of US soldiers that died.
            You can brag about the lending program which accounted for less than ten percent of Russia’s equipment and about the battle of the bulge , but to any real historian , the US contribution in Europe was no more than a mop up after all the heavy lifting had already been done.
            As is often said to those who come from a country that now ranks 37th in education “you are entitled to your opinion, but not your narrow minded facts” OH and I love that Trump got elected…finally someone that really does represent half of the nations values!

          • John Linares

            In the name of fighting arrogance you have proven to be bombastically arrogant yourself. Think of this… Russia was Hitler’s number one ally until Operation Barbarossa. If Russia attacked the Nazis in 1939 there would have never been a holocaust. Instead, your heroic Soviet Union allied themselves to the Nazis and helped them invade Poland. The Soviet Union started the war as a land grab and ended it by stealing land from Poland, Finland, the Baltic Republics, and Romania.

            Russia didn’t help anyone but themselves (except if you count the Nazis), but you praise them and bash the USA. After the war the Soviets either enslaved their conquered territories or annexed them. The USA was generous to Japan and Germany. If the allies listened to us after WWI Hitler would have never came to power.

            The bottom line is that if Russia didnt help the Nazis start the war and pass up the opportunity to stop them before they could do so much damage, and if Russia helped its allies by fighting Japan then I would have been happy to jump up and down and praise them. I don’t jump up and down to celebrate Hitler’s defeat of France or Japan’s early Pacific campaign. All of these victories led to Iron Curtains being drawn across the world.

      • Mark Sniatkowski

        the Russians would not have done as well without the planes, Shermans and trucks we sent them. Don’t hear about that much.

        • glennk

          That is very true. I had an Uncle in the Merchant Marine who took many a ship load of arms to Russia and had two ships sunk right under him. It was one of the most dangerous jobs of the War and lots of sailors died doing it.

        • mmur

          I think this statistic should shed light on your fantasy lol ”
          By July 1942 the Red Army had 13,500 tanks in service, with more than 16 percent of those imported, and more than half of those British.” source- the HistoryNet

          • Mark Sniatkowski

            I’ll look for the amount of arms The USA sent over there. It was quite a lot.

          • Kev Hammer

            Yes the US sent tanks, munitions & food to Britain! ..But not for free!!!! The US charged UK $millions in silver&gold after the war. As well as land in UK (land leases) on which the US built military bases on.
            WW2 made America & many farmers & factory owners etc, very very rich.
            As well as major advances in science/technology (rockets to the moon ,etc) thanks to all the nazi scientists you made US citizens .
            Yep they did well outa ww2 did america.

            While UK had to rebuild most cities & still had food/petrol ration books long after the war ended.

          • Sampson

            Shouldn’t have cheated and then high hatted us in WW1. Shouldn’t have frozen us out of the peace negotiations, publicly humiliated Wilson by ignoring and going back on his word and so set the stage for WW2 with a malicious treaty. Shouldn’t have defaulted on the loans that we extended to save you from the Kaiser. By 1920 the US had a bellyful of Europe and especially arrogant Britain. We washed our hands and remember, it was YOU that declared war on the Germans while pitifully unready for war. Again.

            FDR bent over backward to get those lend-lease deals that you so eschew in spite of a nearly universal desire in the US not to be ripped off or caught up in the coils of Europe again. If idiot Hitler had been smart enough not to declare war on us before Japan declared war on the Soviet Union, Exports and lend lease would have stopped in its tracks on December third as we concentrated on Japan. Hollywood has rewritten history, but in 1941 no one here really saw any difference between Stalin and Hitler except for the Jews, for obvious reasons. Both were unrepentant mass murderers after all.

        • Kev Hammer

          Who’s We??
          ..British were supplying Russia all throughout the war, my granda was in the british merchant navy – he even got sunk transporting supplies to Russia.
          …never heard of yanks doing it though!

          • mmur

            Yup my dad and his brother were part of that. Russians handed out Commemorative metals to Canadians in the 90″s and called it the Murmansk run. The ships they were on did not have great defensive abilities so if they were spotted a lot of them ended up sunk in brutally cold water.

      • mmur

        In fact it was the British that delivered most of the tanks and imported tanks only accounted for 16% of the total in 1942. Hardly the reason for Russia’s victory. Keep your argument real with battles like the Bulge as it’s bad enough the US sat on the fence while Russia did the work without trying to make some ridiculous claim to victory. Know I see the logic behind “the Fury” lol
        By July 1942 the Red Army had 13,500 tanks in service, with more than 16 percent of those imported, and more than half of those British.” source- the HistoryNet

    • Radu Gheorghe

      You omit quite some important facts:
      – Lend lease program- Stalin was crying for help from US and England he got money, tanks ( Churchill, Matildas ) ammo, guns etc.
      Because Ucraine was in german hands Russia was on brink of starvation …..guess who’s grains were feeding the Russian war machine?….US
      The allies not Russia started to bomb Germany since 42 destroying most of the manufacturing capacity ……..meaning less tanks, assault guns for eastern front.
      Allies were keeping germans busy in Africa and Sicily, american subs and english marine were sinking the german supply ships.
      Don’t forget that also Russia invaded foreign territory in 39 and 40 with no rights same as Hitler….Poland, Romania, Finland to name a few.
      So don’t try to rewrite history Stalin style….without allies Moscow would’ve been gone.
      OH….what about 2 million russian people Stalin itself ordered murdered?
      Allies had to choose the lesser evil.

      • FDR-JFKforAll

        Britain was flat bust economically; and, otherwise. Look how FDR initially gave economic aide. They were so bust, they accepted 50 old destroyers for bases. Then check out U.S. contingency plans til 1942 for Plans Crimson through Pink; and, Plan Orange to bust the British Empire for building up the “Anglo-Japanese” for such as attacking us at Pearl Harbor. And, read FDR’s son on how we really saw the British Empire in “As He Saw It.” WW II’s end was to develop everyone from Empire and slavery.

        • FDR-JFKforAll

          And, ever hear what top U.S. Generals tied down by tea-and-crumpets Monty (“A Bridge Too Far”) really thought save 1-2 about “dabbling around the Med” at millions of U.S. G.I.’s lost? They wanted the 2nd Front by 1942 mainly. We only reinforced our historic enemy; because such as Prince Philip’s family were running the “electronic intelligence” for Hitler to crush Jewish, German; and, our own intelligence behind their lines. Try “The Royals and the Reich” for starters.

          • Kev Hammer

            What a complete load of bollox! Britain was wealthy b4 the war, we started at the beginning & wete left alone with our commonwealth allies while your country got fat charging us for every boat tank bullet , while u lot sat on your arses till 42 , complete typical ignorant yank comment, Your an embarrassment to your countrymen that study & know the real facts! Usa last in again just like ww1

          • Sampson

            That’s a nice little conceit you Brits have, but after the disrespectful brushoff we got during the WW1 peace negotiations when British Pluck and French Elan set the stage for WW2 as well as the defaults on our emergency loans, you were lucky that we would talk to you at all.

          • Ivan McIntosh

            Well, you’re right but Kev didn’t exactly start that. As for your post, you’re forgetting that Germany declared war on the US (a really stupid move) rather than the other way around. So suddenly the US and the British Commonwealth were a team…..and about time!

          • Sampson

            I forget nothing. Until Germany declared war, we had no obligation to help Britain, but we did, even though it gained us nothing at all but dead men and debt last time around. What did WW2 gain us? A huge standing army, dead men, debt and useless war after war for decades. FDR started it all with the ‘Neutrality Patrol,’ which was undeclared war. He should have been impeached.

          • Ivan McIntosh

            That’s an extraordinarily negative view. You think Hitler would have just gone away if the US hadn’t entered the war? The Russians would probably have done the job against the Germans eventually, in 46 or 47, but the world map that resulted wouldn’t have been a good thing. Here’s another view: the end result of Japan and Germany declaring war on the US was an extraordinary expansion in US industry and prosperity even as their rivals had their economies decimated, and set the scene for the US to economically dominate the world for the next fifty years. Now, that isn’t worth a single dead citizen…but Hitler and Hirohito had to be stopped, and it wasn’t going to happen without sacrifice.

          • Sampson

            I lost a grandfather in WW2, an uncle in Korea, a father and another uncle in Vietnam. F-the map and some rich guys getting richer. Hitler was no worse than Stalin and I wouldn’t care which one was around. As to Hirohito, he was still F-ing Emperor 1n 1970 so what stopped him? He was going to conquer China? So what? Same as the other one. We had to fight China too, in Korea. I still lost my job under the flood of Japanese cars. The USA is a crazy piece of crap like Brazil today because we wasted our best fighting other peoples worst.

          • babalugatz .

            Strong weed yew ave there, mate

        • Mal Duncan

          Oh yea the Brits were so busted that they gave the US almost 2.5 billion dollars (in 1944 dollars) of reverse Lend-Lease aid. Everything from tea kettles to monkey wrenches to diving suits to buttons came from GB. US pilots flew Spitfires,Beufighters and Mosquitoes. All of this from a country that had a third of the manufacturing base of the US and had already been at war for over 2 years before Pearl Harbor.The reason the Brits accepted those 50 obsolete destroyers is that they were taking a creaming in the Battle of the Atlantic with the German U-boats sinking transports left and right and the English shipyards could not build destroyers fast enough.

      • mmur

        While some of what you say are valid points any serious scholar knows that it was the Russians that delivered the blow which crippled the Germany army. Fighting in bitter cold and with so little of those supplies (they needed help with) that some men carried ammo and waited for a soldier with a gun to be killed before he could have a gun, they encircled and destroyed most of the ^the 6th army at Stalingrad.
        The exact number of casualties will never be known. However, it is estimated that the German Army lost more than 750,000 men killed, missing or wounded. Archives record that the Soviet Army, by comparison, lost 478,741 men killed or missing, and 650,878 wounded.
        While some historians may debate the order or a couple of battles Russia was involved in 6 of the 10 largest battles of the war including all of the top four. Furthermore at Kurst (rank around 8-9) the largest tank battle in history, Germany lost an additional 500 tanks and suffered enough damage on the German army overall, that it signaled the end of Hitlers ability to mount large offensive battles.
        The Us played a critical role in the eventual defeat of Germany but any attempt to portray them as the reason Germany lost would be akin to holding the water bottle of an MMA fighter and then taking credit for the victory.

    • obot

      The movie is about a US Army unit, not a Soviet unit. Do you think the Russians make WWII movies about the US and British defeating the Germans? Duh!

      • Serge Krieger

        Why should theyÉ They defeated Germany and UKé US role was secondary. There is a lot of Soviet war movies, but they are far more realistic…

        • aaron1313

          Nope.Lend lease provided by the western allies was far from secondary.Those trucks the Americans provided gave your army a mobility it never had before.And it was the western allies whose airmen defeated the Luftwaffe in 1944 allowing your airforce to protect your army during Operation Bagration in 1944.(and later as well)

          • Ivan McIntosh

            The UK role was definitely secondary in comparison to Russia. Just didn’t have the numbers to make the impact that the Eastern Front did. Over 80% of all German combat deaths occurred on the Eastern Front. I’m kind of amused about this, because I normally find myself talking down US lend lease to yanks that reckon it won the war, but US lend-lease was definitely more important than Kev is giving it credit for. However Kev is likewise right to focus on 1942…which is really the year in which the Russians turned the tide. In that year US lend lease hadn’t really started…it was British and Canadian lend lease that was making a difference. In 1943 onwards, US supplies became a torrent..not so much tanks and aircraft, but high explosive, food, and especially trucks and railway locomotives. That allowed the Red Army to (a) focus on fighting vehicles and (b) operate with some mobility. But if the US lend lease hadn’t arrived, the Russians would still have won, just more slowly….would have been harder to supply their offensives and breakthroughs etc.

          • John Linares

            Serge you are so wrong because the Anglo-Americans forced the Nazis to hold down troops stationed in Norway, France, North Africa, Sicily, Italy and the Greek Islands. If the Nazis didnt get tied down in all of those campaigns and occupations they would of had a lot more troops to send to Russia and they could of beaten the Soviets. In addition, it was the Anglo-Americans who defeated the Luftwaffe. The Soviets low level air force was incapable of that feat. And air power was a major factor in WW2. Not to mention Lend Lease and the fact that the Anglo-Americans were fighting in the Asian theatre without help from the Soviets until the end of the war.

          • Ivan McIntosh

            You make some good points, but it all comes down to this. Four of every five Germans that died in WWII died on the Eastern Front, at huge sacrifice….a sacrifice that I am quite sure the Anglo Americans were thankful they could avoid. That doesn’t at all diminish the contributions of the Allies, the destruction of the Luftwaffe and the eventual second fronts in Italy and France. Just means the overall burden of defeating Germany was on Russia…and that’s a fact we can accept without thinking it detracts from anything else or failing to acknowledge the help Russia received which, even if it wasn’t decisive, was still very welcome.

          • John Linares

            Thats not the point. There was no burden that the Allies created. This was the Soviet Unions’ own fault. They were horrible allies who helped the Nazis defeat Poland and France. In their greed they gave the Nazis access to attack them. Germany’s borders were cleared of enemies, who could have been the allies of the Soviets. The Nazis then turned on the Soviets when they were defeated by the UK in the Battle of Britain, (with no help from the Nazis’ ally, the Soviet Union). Then at the end of the war the Soviets continued their purge of Poland and raped Eastern Europe. I do not criticize the Allies helping the Soviet Union. It was the best option, but we can’t forget the whole picture. The Soviet Union was a terrible ally, who from beginning to end used this war for territorial expansion and were faithful to only the Nazis.

          • Ivan McIntosh

            I’m not sure what the point is then. I thought this sub thread was about whether the Soviets bore the brunt of WWII vs the Germans, which they did. I don’t disagree with your other points, except that the Soviets were only faithful allies of the Germans out of a desire to delay what they knew was the coming storm as long as possible. I completely agree that the Soviet leadership was an evil empire, comparable to the Nazis.

          • John Linares

            The Soviets needed the Western allies to win that war. To trivalize the Anglo-Americans as many people do in these threads is silly. Lend lease was vital for the Soviet war effort. As Stalin stated, “Without American production the United Nations could never have won the war”. Without help from the Anglo-Americans the Soviets couldn’t defeat the Luftwaffe, which inflicted terrible losses on their low flying airforce. The Luftwaffe’s priority was switched from the front lines to protecting the motherland from the horrible Anglo-American bombing campaign. This was disasterous for the Nazi war machine because they had pioneered the integration of airpower and ground attacks with great results early in the war. In addition, without the Anglo-Americans the German navy would have operated with impunity (almost all German capital ships that were lost during the war were destroyed by the British).

            The point is that the Anglo-Americans were great allies, who contrary to propaganda opened up numerous fronts from North Africa to Sicily to Italy to South France to Northern France. However, the Soviets were not faithful allies. They didnt open a second front against the Japanese until the end of the war. I understand they wanted to concentrate on the German front, but they could have helped their allies. Instead they only helped themselves by pillaging Eastern Europe and yet they are continually praised despite their greed.

            P.S. The Italians lost 340,000 deaths during the war. Almost entirely to the Western allies. The German Kreigsmarine lost 433,000 and Luftwaffe lost 138,000… Most of those naval and airforce casualties were inflicted by the Western allies, but no one compiles these statistics in this manner because anti-Americanism and anti-Capitalism is such a strong bias, even in the US.

          • Ivan McIntosh

            Wow. When I read, the overwhelming meta is US posters claiming lend-lease is the only reason the Soviets could do anything, the British were pathetic and did more or less nothing until rescued by the brave Americans, the French all ran away, and therefore the US won WWII all by itself. That’s the attitude I push back against. I assure you that if I came across people trying to minimise the Anglo-American contribution as nothing substantial as you describe, I’d push back against that as well. I live in New Zealand, and am very proud of my country’s efforts in WWII, so I fall very much into the camp that you see people disparaging.

          • John Linares

            When the US troops first fought the Japanese in New Guinea they performed poorly. The Aussies and Kiwis were already seasoned troops by then. Cheers!

            The angry Conservatives who push back hard against anti-American agit-prop are frustrated by a well oiled propaganda machine. They hate the false propaganda that makes martyrs out of North Vietnamese Communist invaders, Iraqi “freedom fighters”, Al Qaeda butchers, etc… So they say incredibly stupid things out of anger and have elected an incredibly warped President simply because he fights back when past Republican leaders shied away from confrontation. There is very little rational reasoning on either side of this civil war.

            A fellow American liberal told me that I should be glad that I’m not speaking German thanks to the Soviet Union. Any informed person knows that such a scenario is almost impossible because the Nazis were incapable of invading the UK, let alone the US. His self-loathing bias is so strong he cannot see that…

          • Ivan McIntosh

            I’m sorry you have to deal with such nonsense regarding anti-US combatants, I really am. I would certainly get touchy about it.

            As for your political situation, down here we view it all with dismay and sadness. It’s easy to agree that the political “swamp” exists in the US, as it does in far too many countries….but at present I don’t expect that Donald Trump will prove the right person for the job.

          • John Linares

            The answer to radicalism should be rationalism. However, extremism in one direction is always followed by reactionary extremism. Liberals understand this concept when talking about how we need diplomacy with Islamists and Communists, but they view Conservatives as their real threat and ignore how their efforts to race bait and shut down free speech is only going to make things worse. They never advocate diplomacy with Conservatives unless they have to (for political expediency).

            I am sorry that you have to deal with Americans that denigrate other countries. They are continually pushed into a corner by a flexible ideology that can promise paradise without results. This allows propagandists to unfavorably compare the US to a utopia that has never existed in all of human history. Its an ideology that dominates our education system, arts, government bureaucracy, non govt agencies, media, etc… The Conservative reaction is to always be excessively proud of America when our fellow Americans embrace anti-Americanism. Pride is great, but too much of a good thing is bad. So Conservatives tend to counter a radical ideology with reactionary extremism.

            As soon as Conservative trolls detect a bias they attack. Sometimes what seems like a bias is motivated by something else. I wasn’t sure if you were in Serge’s camp. He is a Russian apologist who thinks that Stalin was a great leader. It became clear that you are nothing like that. Everything is good as gold, mate!

          • Ivan McIntosh

            Internet comment sections can bring out the worst in anyone, American or not, so I don’t take it as representative :) The Americans I meet in person, and those I count as friends, are with only one or two exceptions (no more than anywhere else) good people.

          • John Linares

            Its hard to picture why Americans would disparage New Zealand. I would imagine they might view your country as wimpy, but all Westernized countries are swamped by white guilt and believe that everything bad in the world is the fault of White Europeans or their descendents.

            I grew up in a black neighborhood and the prevailing racist sentiment among a large segment of the population is that whites are simultaneously both sissies and violent oppressors… Depending on whether they are victimizing whites or complaining about being victimized by whites. In the modern world we compartmentalize our talking points without even thinking about the contradictions because we have our set beliefs that make perfect sense in an echo chamber.

            I can’t hate liberal countries that hate themselves. The contradictions are a fact of life for a society trying to figure out how to move past war and intolerance. Its a learning process. We may consume ourselves with self-loathing or we may figure out a new way of living. The answer is not in extremism, but none of the warring factions have figured that out yet.

          • Ivan McIntosh

            They don’t do it specifically, they just lump us in with the British Commonwealth as far as WWII goes. I don’t mean that these days Americans disparage NZ, far from it. In general everyone is super nice to us :)

            You’re essentially describing the maturing process, and it can’t really be hurried. People have to work it out on their own and, as you mention, the internet echo chambers and algorithms that just spit back more of the same at you, make it more and more comfortable for people to live in a world of their own pre-conceptions and prejudices without challenge of any kind.

          • John Linares

            True. In addition, I’m also addressing the main issue pressing humanity. How to evolve as a species… 1) Living peacefully when there are still people who desire aggressive conflict to solve problems when they are not threatened and 2) How to distribute wealth equitably. That is the source of conflict between liberal conservatives and left-of-center liberals.

            Some left-of-center liberals feel that conservatives subscribe to hateful American exceptionalism and that is why conservatives refuse to credit the Soviets for the WW2 victory. Some go further and want to emasculate Conservatives and therefore attack the idea of American military prowess any way they can. These are some of the ways the left-of-center feels they are addressing the issue of peaceful co-existence. They view Liberal American Conservatives as a threat to humanity.

            The truth that the Soviets are partially responsible for starting the war and helped bring about their own problems due to their own greed is difficult for some modern leftists to grasp under these circumstances. The fact that the Soviets ended the war in the same manner that they helped to start the war, by seizing land and arresting/executing members of the legitimate Polish government is overlooked. Its hard to appreciate the Soviets war effort when they used the war to seize parts of Finland, Poland, the Baltic Republics, parts of Romania and the Kuril Islands. There were forced population transfers, massive political arrests, executions and massive thefts of whole industries.

            The only ally the Soviets were faithful to during WW2 was the Nazis. I’m not too grateful for that…

        • Kev Hammer

          Serge Krieger your seriously saying the UK role was secondary??
          If so, your stupid! really stupid! & need to do some serious reading 🤔

      • Art Anderson

        Exactly. Wardaddy said as much himself: “Hey, you want to talk Mexican? Join another tank, a Mexican tank. This is an American tank, we talk American.” :)

      • mmur

        If they did it would be hard to top the Fury as a piece of fiction lol

    • Nixie

      It’s also true that without the Western Allies drawing off vast German forces away from the Eastern Front, the Russians would likely have lost their fight.

      • skari60

        not true.. because west didnt draw so much from easternfront as you might think.. russia won the war almost alone

        • Nixie

          40% of the field divisions, two-thirds of the air force and virtually the entire navy was deployed in the West. Meanwhile, the Western Allies filled huge gaps in the Soviet war machine; large numbers of locomotives and rolling stock, plus 450,000 state-of-the-art trucks (that the Soviets were incapable of making themselves) gave the Soviets a huge edge in mobility over their German opponents. Finally, the U.S. and Canada supplied food to the point of a pound per soldier per day, helping to stave off famine.

          Meanwhile, had the British signed an armistice with the Germans, which would have kept the Americans out of the war, the strong Japanese forces in the Pacific would have been used against the Soviets.

          • skari60

            3 SS divitions, and non excisting airforce was drawn from eastern front.. the germans even joked about the luftwaffe in france after normandy.. they say.. just shoot at all airoplanes.. they are not ours anyway.. I can read in your words that you try to dimish the huge sacrifices the russian did to win the war .. they did 10 times what US and UK did.. thats for sure.. even german war report will tell you the same

          • Nixie

            From the Army’s official history: “Overall, far greater masses of troops had been employed over the truly vast distances of the German Eastern Front than in the west. Even as late as December 1944, over 3.5 million Germans struggled against the Russians along a 700-mile front compared with fewer than 1 million on the Western Front along a much narrower frontage. Yet the Soviet contribution was less disproportionate than would appear, for the war in the east was a one-front ground war, whereas the Allies in the west were fighting on two ground fronts (Western Europe and Italy) and conducting major campaigns in the air and at sea, as well as making a large commitment in the war against Japan. At the same time, the United States was contributing enormously to the war in Russia through Lend-Lease, almost $11 billion in materials: over 400,000 jeeps and trucks; 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks, enough to equip some twenty-odd U.S. armored divisions); 11,400 aircraft; and 1.75 million tons of food. While Russian casualties against the Germans dwarf American and British losses, it should be clear that only the Allies working together won World War II.”

          • skari60

            no one denies that allies won together,, but the russians did the job 😉 however the fighting units of german forces in west in june-august was under 600.000 man.. allies had 1.7 million.. in most battles the germans was 1/4 .. often few as 1/10.. still hold their ground amasingly long.. the result of this was obvious.. germany coutlnt possibly win

          • chris chuba

            Any ‘what-if’ scenario you can throw at how the Russians could have lost the war could be thrown back at our faces as well. For example, if the German forces in the East were able to consolidate in the West there is virtually no chance we could have landed an army in France in 1944.

            The Russians were able to re-build their army after being eviscerated by a vicious and relentless enemy. Let them take a well earned victory lap, I never got why we Americans need to take credit for everything. Yes, our Lend / Lease aid helped but the Russians did a lot to help themselves. 80% of our lend / lease aid arrived in 1943 and later, the Red Army was out of intensive care.

          • Nixie

            In the words of the Army’s official history: ” Overall, far greater masses of troops had been employed over the truly vast distances of the German Eastern Front than in the west. Even as late as December 1944, over 3.5 million Germans struggled against the Russians along a 700-mile front compared with fewer than 1 million on the Western Front along a much narrower frontage. Yet the Soviet contribution was less disproportionate than would appear, for the war in the east was a one-front ground war, whereas the Allies in the west were fighting on two ground fronts (Western Europe and Italy) and conducting major campaigns in the air and at sea, as well as making a large commitment in the war against Japan. At the same time, the United States was contributing enormously to the war in Russia through Lend-Lease, almost $11 billion in materials: over 400,000 jeeps and trucks; 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks, enough to equip some twenty-odd U.S. armored divisions); 11,400 aircraft; and 1.75 million tons of food. While Russian casualties against the Germans dwarf American and British losses, it should be clear that only the Allies working together won World War II.”

            The Russians are entitled to a victory lap, but not to claim that they won the war single-handedly. Furthermore don’t forget that they themselves engineered the situation where they would be fighting the bulk of the German ground forces alone, conniving with Hitler to ensure the defeat of France and Poland, both powerful enemies of Germany.

          • chris chuba

            The Russians didn’t win the war in Europe singlehandedly but it wasn’t exactly 50/50, it was more like 80/20 or in that ballpark. They did receive significant help from the west but I do get their resentment by the way the war is summarized in the average U.S. documentary. I recently saw an episode of Oliver North’s War Stories, ‘The Untold Story of the Russian Front’ where he was fixated on Lend Lease aid. Untold? It’s a borderline fetish in the U.S.
            In 1941 the Russians evacuated about 10,000 factories from western Russia by rail east of Moscow (I should say factory equipment). In 1942, they managed to product 12,000 T-34’s. Some people in the U.S. don’t even realize that they had any of their own wartime production and believe they got everything from us. I think the best summary of the Eastern front I have read is David Glantz, Clash of the Titans and he gives a balanced mention of Lend Lease. He basically says that the trucks were the most useful thing that we sent them because it increased their mobility in 1944. However, the military equipment, like tanks was not as well received / utilized. Personally, I think the raw materials they BOUGHT in 1941 was well utilized. I used caps because when you buy something, you tend to be selective. I agree that the trucks were extremely important, over 50% of their stock. However, I think a lot of the other stuff was Stalin looting us, ie. getting free stuff that they probably didn’t even utilize that well. I bet the North Koreans are still eating some of that Spam. I’m certain the Russians did eat their fair share during the war but dividing the total amount of food by the number of soldiers and saying ‘look, we fed them for 8yrs’ is a dubious calculation but fun.

          • aaron1313

            Lend Lease didn’t just help.It was crucial to the recovery of the Red Army.

          • aaron1313

            You forgot the air war over Germany in which the western allies defeated the Luftwaffe-thus allowing the Soviet Air Force to protect their ground forces in 1944-45.

      • Serge Krieger

        Wrong. By the time Allies landed Soviet army was closing on Germany borders. The last Bagration operation summer 1944 completely destroyed Groups army Center and with it Germany ability to resists. Otherwise, German army was on the run since winter of 1943. Without Allies, it would take few more months but the outcome of the war was already decided back in 1942-1943 long before D day. You obviously have no idea of the topic you are talking about. I suspect too many Hollywood movies.

        • Nixie

          Nonsense. The Germans had plenty of warmaking power in 1942-43, and they could easily have fought the Soviets to a standstill had they not been forced to split their forces in two.

          • Serge Krieger

            Soviet Union did just that. Lend lease started arriving by any meaningful numbers only at the end of 1943 when the tide was already turned and by calculation military gear in lend lease amounted to basically what Soviet army used in the battle of Stalingrad, which is while significant numbers but far form being something tide turning. Soviet industry was turning out equipment on American scale by the way.
            I will point that after the war there was no doubt in mind of even American politicians as to who actually won the war and there is a lot of those acknowledgments in written form. One even went to say that basically the West won war with Soviet blood and American spam which is what it was. The great and most important lend lease help were trucks. Which by soviet calculations helped to bring the end of war by some 6 months at least by increasing mobility of advancing Soviet troops.
            Otherwise, it was Soviet army that turned the tide and there is nothing you can add to this. You landed and started fighting in serious in 1944 when outcome of the war was already crystal clear.

          • aaron1313

            Actually,the western allies were fighting the Nazis long before June 1`944.Ever hear of the war in North Africa and (later) in Italy,the battle of the Atlantic,the air war over Germany?Your claim that the (former) Soviet Union won the war all by itself is stupid and unsupported by the facts.(Commie propaganda)

          • Mark Sniatkowski

            Perhaps Russia fought like they did because they had to- they were invaded. Part of their casualties were due to the fact that their tactics were so crude and wasteful of manpower. You also seem to forget that the US and Brits (and others) fought from North Africa thru Italy. We also fought someone called Japan at the time.

    • Trey

      The article was about the war in the west, which for tank means the M4, As a side note the USSR used M4 as well

      ( http://iremember.ru/en/memoirs/tankers/dmitriy-loza/ )

      The article points out several times that the Germans sent most of the advanced armor to the east.

      The issue of “what if” is of course rather hard to claim to be right or wrong, but IF the Soviets had fallen it would have been much harder to fight the Germans for the Western Allies. Of course if the Western allies not supported the Soviets they would have fallen almost with out question.



      And to be honest the T-34 was in the “good enough” class in many ways,


      It is true that the evil of Stalin and the soviet union fought the evil of Hitler and Nazi Germany to a stand still.

      Soviet Marshal G.K. Zhukov is quoted as saying “Today [1963] some say the Allies didn’t really help us…But listen, one cannot deny that the Americans shipped over to us material without which we could not have equipped our armies held in reserve or been able to continue the war.

    • mmur

      I could not agree more. The Russians lost between 8 and 10 and the spread that is debated is larger than American causalities. The Fury was one of the worst movies I have ever suffered through as it depicted an army far superior ( according to the allies who I watch on the History channel) as incapable of taking out an immobile tank that was not much better functioning. Brad Pitt’s character apparently has no problem shooting a man in the back while on his knees holding pics of his family but is such a loyal patriot that he gets his team killed instead of abandoning a piece of junk! It is the kind of propaganda one would expect from China or Russia ( maybe not even them ) when the US had many heroic victories such as the bulge that could have been the basis of a great movie. So sad!

  • TomD

    Much of the problem with the Sherman tank’s survivability came from the decision to use gasoline powered aircraft engines rather than diesel engines, gasoline being much more volatile than diesel oil. The article mentions the ‘Ronson’ nickname but not the other the Brits gave it: ‘Tommy Cooker’. After the war the U.S. Army made a massive ten year effort to replace almost it’s entire fleet of tanks, trucks, and other vehicles with diesel vehicles. Only the jeep and a few others were retained with gasoline engines.

    • sensaywhat

      I understand that while gasoline fires were and issue, the primary problem in the early Shermans was the ease with which the ammunition could be set alight. Rounds were stored in dry-stowage in the sponsons above the tracks. After the design was corrected to add additional armor to the sponsons and then a change to wet-storage (at the expense of total ammunition capacity), the brew up problem seemed to abate. In 1945, a study done by the U.S. Army showed that only 10–15 percent of wet-stowage Shermans burned when penetrated, versus 60–80 percent of the older dry-stowage Shermans. Also it is interesting to note that the Panzers III, IV and V were all powered by gasoline engines from Maybach.

      Zaloga, Steven (2008). Panther vs. Sherman: Battle of the Bulge 1944. Osprey Publishing Ltd. pp 116-118

    • conor147

      The “Ronson” and “Tommy Cooker” is a confirmed urban legend. No contemporary evidence exists. It is a post-hoc fabrication that became a meme.

    • skari60

      all german tanks were gasoline driven

  • William Volk

    US Crews also had the advantage of troops who had grown up tinkering with automobiles (Model T etc,), where the German crews were less likely to have had that experience. This made repairs in the field possible with existing crews.

  • Plenum

    The article, to me, has a subtext of a deliberate military-institutional bias against tank warfare.

  • jack

    This is pathetic and repulsive. Your pathetic country had nothing to do with winning World War II. Suck a lemon and get over that long debunked myth of American exceptionalism. No country masquerading as the best in the world would be so pathetic.

    • Falcon642

      Without Lend Lease Britain would have collapsed by early 1941 and the Soviet Union would have collapsed in last 1941.

      Furthermore, you forget about the war against the Japanese. Yes the Soviets did most of the heavy lifting against the Nazis, but the Americans did most of the heavy lifting against the Japanese. Educate yourself before you comment.

      • technoreaper

        Lame, pathetic excuses.

      • skari60

        ehh .. russia won the blody war for u

    • Mitch

      What’s the matter, Jack? Did some American brute throw sand in your eyes at the beach and walk off into the bushes with your girlfriend? And all she would say afterwards was “uhhh Jack….do I turn you on…I don’t think I turn you on, do I…not like that American man….Jack, let’s see other people, ok? …we can still be friends…ok?”

  • jason aristotle

    If you want Quality go with Protoss if you want quantity go with Zerg.

  • Charles Cosimano

    There was another reason they kept with the Sherman even though heavier tanks were being worked on. Transport. You could fit a lot more Shermans onto a ship than you could heavier tanks.

    • marketfog

      Our interstate highway system also has the term Military in its official name. About 15 years ago, the govt replaced a perfectly good bridge on I84 in Ct because it wasn’t sturdy enough to take a tank transporter. Even today, heavier truck traffic has to diverted around the bridge complex in Waterbury, CT because it is not strong enough..

  • InklingBooks

    Perhaps we should have gotten ourselves one of Russia’s excellent T-34s and copied it in the thousands. That’d have provided a good companion to the Sherman.

    • Falcon642

      The T-34 had thinner armor and a weaker gun, plus it broke down alot more. The casualty rates of T-34 tanks is absolutely staggering.

      • J.L.

        That’s as much of a consequence of (a) how T-34 was used, and (b) how casualties were counted in the Red Army.

        Also, the T-34 had a bigger HE shell and a stronger turret.

        • bg

          Bullshit. Casualty rates are 3 or 4 to 1 vs German tanks. How the tanks were used? What an idiot. Did you think they were used for farming. Red Army stats – yeah, now THERE’S some info you can trust! Do a little research before you post .

          • J.L.

            The Red Army counted any tank, stuck in mud, even for a short time, as one that was “lost”, resulting in situations where the entire tank force of a unit was “lost” multiple times without reinforcements. Any tank that couldn’t immediately fight, in fact, was lost. (All the Allies counted losses in this way, because it was easier for planning.) On the other side, a hull shipped back to the factory to be refurbished was “built”.

            In contrast, the Germans only counted losses when they were completely sure it was never going to be recovered. This led to situations where, several weeks after a force of Tigers was captured, they were finally recorded as “destroyed by their own crew”.

    • Nixie

      The T-34/76 was inferior to the original Sherman in several important ways. Among them was its two-man turret, which reduced its rate of aimed fire to about one-third that of its German contemporaries (and the Sherman). In gun power and frontal armor, they were about equal. Mechanically, the Sherman was superior.

      The T-34/85 was equipped with a three-man turret, but the anti-armor performance of the 85mm main gun was inferior to that of the American 76mm. It also had a cramped hull, which forced ammunition storage in the vulnerable slab-sided turret.

  • Barzuma

    So the Sherman is the AK-47 of tanks? :-)

  • outragex

    Here is what I’ve learned from a variety of books, many of which were written by US Army vets of WWII. The Sherman was rated as a medium tank compared to the best of the German tanks. It was light enough to be carried on amphibious ships and craft and unladed by smaller cranes in ports that the Allies quickly constructed. It also had to be light enough to cross pontoon and temporary bridges constructed by the advancing allies after they destroyed permanent bridges with air power to hinder the enemy’s transport. The German heavy tanks operated mainly on continental Europe and did not face this need. The Sherman had more standardized parts (though it was upgraded throughout the war) which mean that matching spare parts could more easily be stocked. Also the US Army developed a very efficient system of retrieving disabled tanks after the fighting moved forward, these tanks were cannibalized for parts or repaired and quickly put back into service. The Germans were never as organized at this, partially because there disabled tanks were left behind as they retreated, but also because they could not easily stock spare parts for the semi custom tanks that they used. This situation was much the same for the American versus German trucks as well. In general, the US was more systematic and organized about building and repairing our fleets of motorized equipment because we hand more industrial capacity and were more mechanized as a nation in the pre-war period. Germany depended upon railroads supplying horse drawn wagon trains for most of its units throughout the war. Only a few elite German units had large numbers of vehicles or tanks. Perhaps this was due to the US auto maker’s experience before the war of large scale mass production with more standardization of parts. The US Army did field a much better tank late in the European war, the M-26 Pershing, but only a few got to the war before it ended.

  • idontcare

    OMG. The movie is as bad as the Sherman was. Wiping out 200 SS soldiers with one tank?they are americans so why not… I do not say that Sherman and t-34 were bad tanks. They were good for mass production and they were good in some way. But if you learn something about ww2 you just find out that the german tank were the best. Their armor,guns, training, tactics and the casualties they caused on russians and allies only prove my opinion. So the best tank was : Tiger I (and all other german AFVs like Pz V,Pz IV, Jagdpanzer, Stug III and IV, Jagdpanther,Nashorn,Marder I,II,III and Hetzer.

    • bg

      Goebbels, I thought you killed yourself after you murdered your children. Oh, that’s right, you couldn’t pull the trigger on your vainglorious self. They did annihilate Russians, but not because of tank superiority.

      • skari60

        ehh ?

    • skari60

      damn true

  • UnderCoverBrother

    Shouldnt the saying of “Quantity has a quality all its own” be attributed to its author, Josef Stalin?

  • Timothy Agin

    To me the better solution would have been the British approach. Mount a high velocity gun for better armor penetration and then possibly change the engine package to a diesel rather than the air cooled radial with its highly volatile gasoline fuel. Adding armor would have limited mobility. They did add some patches to weak points that were found in the castings but an improved turret mold could have been developed to deal with that in later production and for repairs.

  • Timothy Agin

    As stated earlier the draining of resources to fight Russia reduced the available equipment to fight the allies. Fighting wars on multiple fronts is always a special challenge. Lots of room for rethinking strategy on the parts of all players in any battle. What ifs abound. What if the Germans had not relied on the invincibility of their Enigma code which turned out to have been broken early in the war? What if the Germans had not bothered building a surface fleet instead focused on many more and better submarines? What if they had continued the assault on Britain until they won in turn allowing them to secure North Africa with the oil fields they needed and secured Western Europe before turning on the Soviets? What if……

  • Nandor Vass

    I would have welcomed reading details about how these thousands of tanks were shipped over the Atantic.

  • Abhinav Tella

    Not a fan of the Sherman, but I agree that it was “good enough” to win, thanks to production numbers. I think it had a good cost to benefit ratio.

    Retooling for newer vastly different designs would have affected production rates. The Tiger (~1,500 produced) and Tiger II (489 produced) made up for their cost in kill ratios but it was like putting all your eggs in one basket as each Tiger lost was a bigger loss due being rare, and a lot were lost due lack of fuel or breakdowns. They should have focused more on Mark Vs and Mark IVs. They could have made a lot more Mark Vs (Panther) if they stopped wasting resources on the heavy tanks.

    Fortunately for us they (Germans) made the mistakes they did. The best weapon is not always the best option for an army, as mentioned quality needs to balanced by production rates.

  • Robert Maybeth

    Adding heavier armor to the Sherman was polishing a turd. It was some use to add the high velocity 76 mm gun like the “Fury” tank as at least they had a, nearly comparable weapon to that on the Panzer Mk IV. But the Sherman was underarmored, a mistake the germans did not make after 1944. I would not want to be a crewman of a US Sherman tank in Europe – a US Army Captain, in charge of recovering and repairing damaged Shermans in WW2 wrote a book about it called “DEATH TRAPS” – all I need to know really.

    The US really had no excuse NOT to give the armor corps a good tank. They already had one, the M26 Pershing. It was heavily armored and had a powerful gun and it was up to “Old blood and guts” Patton himself to pick which tank to take to Europe. Even after seeing the powerful German Tiger tank (the british had captured one intact in North Africa, so there is little doubt Patton must have seen one himself) and assuming the Germans had more then one (sarcasm here) – what kind of decision process made this “military genius” pick the wimpy Sherman rather then the far superior M26 tank?

    Yes, the M26 would have been rushed into service – a few flaws would have resulted in “teething troubles” similar to the ones the Germans had with the Panther at Kursk in 1943. So what? This decision might have saved many US lives, perhaps thousands!The US had plenty of Shermans to act in the support role…meanwhile the first battle the M26 was used was the battle of the Bridge at Remagen (thus proving my point that they’d been ready since 1944)…! In March 1945…

    Poor leadership is something that characterized US warfare in the 20th century – as the EXACT SAME MISTAKE was made, 5 years later in Korea! The North Koreans were rolling south in hundreds of Russian made T-34 tanks – the US formed the Pusan perimiter the last ditch piece of real estate left in Korea . The existence of the T-34 tanks was made known to the leadership – yet all the troops had to stop them was the bazooka, an inferior and under-powered weapon, which repeatedly bounced off the T-34’s…and later what tanks were sent? That’s right Shermans, and the same thing happened as against the Germans – rounds bouncing off, T-34’s blowing up Shermans one after another. Only AFTER US had sent some M26 tanks to Korea, were the T-34’s finally routed.

    Learning from experience or history, is not the US leadership’s strong suit. What conflicts ARE virtually the same: Vietnam 1965-73, Iraq 2003 – ? Afghanistan 2001 – ? In each: No strategy, NO goals, NO definition of victory…

    No, i would not want to have been in the crew of real life “FURY” , because some things about “leadership” never change!

    • Nathan Peterson

      Never have I seen such a ridiculous argument.

      Deathtraps shouldn’t be cited as a source ever, too many inaccuracies.

      Sherman crews had it exponentially better than T-34 and PanzerKampfwagen IV crews without a doubt.

      The 76.2mm gun M1 was outright superior to the KwK 40.

      Patton had nothing to do with tank development. However, Montgomery, the USMC, and the men in Italy all agreed on keeping the 75 as its high-explosive performance was better.

      The M26 in Korea was pulled out of service where as the M4A3(76)W HVSS and M4/M4A3(105) HVSS were kept in service. The M24 Light tank ‘Chaffee’ was being put into the role of a Medium Tank, and that’s why US Armored Force Branch had a difficult time with the T-34s…

  • Bear Artorius
  • Alex Anderson

    M4’s were, overall, very effective. They didn’t need to be good at dueling with Tigers or Panthers, because it was very rare that they ever had to face Tigers or Panthers, especially not in even numbers. It was not possible to make an “ideal” tank to fight the Germans… However, the Sherman was in general, fairly well designed and fairly effectively used. Yes, it is demoralizing to realize that their quality was exaggerated in propaganda, and that commanders would sometimes fail to use their tanks effectively, and send the crews into terribly deadly situations, or even to deliberately sacrifice large numbers of them in order to achieve strategic victories. That’s war. Just about any tank in WWII that saw a lot of combat had a really high chance of getting badly hit… War is really dangerous!

  • Serge Krieger


  • Antonio Roland

    the article mentions how British tank crews gave Sherman tanks the nickname of “Ronson’s”. That’s false. The slogan for Ronson, “Lights every time” was created postwar. Another myth that will not die.

  • Mark Sniatkowski

    Pretty much all of what you said is not true. The Ronson term is not true- “lights first time…” did not become the Ronson motto until the 1950’s. German tanks burned just as badly as American tanks. American tanks traveled in groups of five, hence the five to one ratio. The US Army had tank battalions attached to divisions….this list goes on and on. Read something else if you want to know the truth.

  • robertson buttley


    • Nathan Peterson

      So many? So under 1,000 is so many in the grand scale of things? The U.S. Armored Force Branch concluded that 1,399 men had been K.I.A.. A good solid third of them were Light Tank crews.

      It was arguably the best Medium tank of the Second World War.

      Your father, though I do respect his service, is not looking past his own service to find how the German and Soviet crews had it.

  • robertson buttley

    what really, really won the war for us was our AIR POWER, nothing more !!!

    • Nathan Peterson


  • mikekrohde

    Bravo History Man. The Germans suffered almost 70% of their casualties in the “East”. The Russians probably lost up to 20 million uniformed combatants in the a”East” including those taken prisoner. Some believe that number is low. It was a peasant army with around a 30% literacy rate. Since Stalin had no concern about casualties once he figured out the calculus i.e., Germany would run out of men in 1945 no matter what, he did not hold commanders feet to the fire about casualties so they had no reason to try to hold them down. Stalin probably had more Russians murdered than Hitler killed in the war for a comparison. A man capable of killing 40 million of his own people to maintain power is certainly capable of sending 20 million soldiers to their doom. The Germans held a technology edge through out the conflict so they had bigger and better guns and armor which tended to inflict high casualties when engaged by an inferior force.

    Our participation in the victory in Europe was substantial, especially in material contributions. We gave the Russians 100,000 trucks which basically transported the Red Army throughout the war and gave them an edge in mobility as often as not after 1942. Compare the approximate 20 million Russian dead to our 350,000 dead. Do you really need to look at any other figures to assess who did what in the European Theater?

  • NoMoreMarxistsInDC

    Watch the movie “Action in the North Atlantic” with Humphrey Bogart. That says it all about how America supplied the Russian war machine.

  • Michael Kinney

    The reason the Sherman wasn’t replaced was because they had to fit as many inside of a ship/landing craft as possible. Another reason they figured in was they had to get tanks across rivers. If the bridges were destroyed it’s a lot harder to get an heavy tank across a temporary floating bridge. The Sherman was designed for infantry support and in that role it excelled with it’s excellent HE 75mm shells. I believe they expected most German tanks to be destroyed via air power and that wasn’t too far from wrong. The Sherman got a bad rap for it’s anti armor failings but it wasn’t actually designed for that role. Things improved when the M10 and M36 arrived.

  • mmur

    Anyone here that believes any allied tank was a match for a german tank is living in fantasy land and needs to re read some historical accounts. Fury was absolutely painful to watch as any stationary target would have lasted seconds against a German platoon. Fury would be comparable to the Syrians making a movie in which a stationary Syrian tank fought for hours against incompetent Israels. I am all for patriotism but in a battle of equal numbers i doubt any ww2 allied tank veteran would pick any allied tank if they could pick a german tank and knew how to use it. Maybe a slight hint to superiority would be the fact that the German’s only had 6000 tanks and it took 6 years to put them in their place- common people read some history!!!!

    • Nathan Peterson

  • Jeff Fisher

    If the Sherman was as dangerous as the author thinks, I wonder how they would explain that only 1398 enlisted tankers were killed in action during the entire war, even though 1/3 of US tanks were light tanks, and as least some of the losses were suffered when the crew was outside he tank (some estimates are that half that number would have been among crew that we outside their tank). By comparison 979 enlisted personnel in the Quartermasters corps, 5,922 enlisted Field Artillerymen, and 111,100 Infantrymen were killed in action. It is harder to track tank officers because tank officers were officially counted as being from other branches at that point in history.

    The Scan of the orginal report by he US Adjutant General is here:

    A more user friendly table (but with a few typos or scan errors) is here : http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/Casualties/Casualties-2.html#duty

  • Stan

    One of the problems the German military had as an overabundance of types of weapons.

    Supplying many different but similar weapons systems makes logistics an even bigger nightmare.

    The Brits and their Sherman Firefly were a great compromise, it used the stock Sherman tank parts, and used the ammo and parts from the 17 pounder which was a common British gun.
    And the 17 pounder was arguably as deadly as the famed 88.

    The long supply lines that the US military had favoured having as few different weapons as possible.

  • Kev Hammer

    So instead of building better Tanks -your gov just made more & more – all those replacements all those horrible deaths – because USA wouldn’t build a new tank that could fight on equal terms , ..reminds me a bit of the ‘freak bro’s -side cartoon about the ‘cockroach General’ sending his ..errr men to fight the cat after they got wiped out he’d say .. “plenty more where they came from”
    .But WW2 wasn’t a cartoon ,yet that’s the basic summary.

    • Nathan Peterson

      All those horrible deaths? So your blatantly disregarding the fact the M4 had the lowest crew casualty rate of any Medium tank to see proficient service? The M4 was arguably the best medium tank of the Second World War. This article appears to be simply a reiteration of Belton Cooper’s ‘Deathtraps’ long since invalidated as an educational and reliable soruce.

  • Galahad

    New book on the M4 Sherman tank-

    “For Want Of A Gun: The Sherman Tank Scandal of WWII”



  • Galahad

    New book on the M4 Sherman tank-

    “For Want Of A Gun: The Sherman Tank Scandal of WWII”



  • Galahad

    New book on the M4 Sherman tank Scandal-

    “For Want Of A Gun: The Sherman Tank Scandal of WWII”




    This article is good, but ignores that Britain did not replace all of its native tanks with the Sherman. British tank design, in fact, followed its own path, leading…via the Cromwell and the Comet (both superior to the Sherman) to the first modern “main battle tank”, the Centurion, which entered production in January, 1945.
    Going a bit further, as other commentators have: ….Germany’s pre-war generals did not want to go to war with Britain and France because they knew they could not win, but Hitler fired his best generals and promoted sycophants. As Churchill clearly saw, even after the occupation of Norway, the Low Countries, France and Greece, Germany and its allies would inevitably be defeated by the British Empire and its allies provided they had the tenacity to stick with it. Hitler may have realised this too, though the usual reason given for his attempt to give Britain an honourable way to back out of the war was that he loathed fighting fellow Germanics (that didn’t stop him invading the Germanic Low Countries, Norway, or Denmark…even the French had as much claim to be a Germanic people as the British did).

    Even before considering US production and manpower, Britain controlled the seas despite the best efforts of German submariners, drew supplies and soldiers from all over the planet, had greater production capacity, part of which was beyond the reach of German bombers, survived the Battle of Britain, in which Germany lost most of its medium bombers, and was innovating with new weapons, such as the four-engined heavy bombers like the Lancaster which Germany was not. The obsolete equipment abandoned at Dunkirk was being replaced with new weapons into which the lessons of combat were incorporated.

    Germany, by comparison, was short of materials and fuel, and its supplies from abroad were increasingly throttled by Britain. Britain’s radar and first-rate interceptor (from the middle of the war including the ever improving Spitfire, and new types like the Tempest) force rendered its dwindling number of medium bombers useless as a strategic force, while its fighters and anti-aircraft guns were unable to stop the annihilation of their cities by the RAF. Their entire manufacture and supply infrastructure was within the range of British bombers. It had to keep its combat personnel (notably Luftwaffe aircrews and Kriegsmarine submarine crews) in action til they war was over or they were wounded, killed, or captured, and was forced send ever younger men into combat with ever less training, whereas the Royal Air Force, by example, could afford to rotate aircrewmen to training jobs in Canada after completing a set number of missions.

    Japan’s entry into the war might have offered Germany a chance had they co-ordinated strategy globally the way the Allies did. Had the Japanese focused on the drive through SE Asia and India, while the Germans and Italians thrown everything into the capture of Egypt and the Middle East, they might have linked up and obtained the Suez Canal, Middle Eastern oil, and controlled a strip from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Instead, the Germans (realistically) gave up on the idea of seizing Britain but poured their energies and resources into an attack on the Soviet Union (often overlooked is the material and men they also wasted in South-Eastern Europe, though possession of Yugoslavia and Greece were hardly worth the effort), while the Japanese expended massive resources and personnel fighting the United States for control of the Pacific Ocean and its sand atolls, while seizing the Philipines and the Dutch East Indies, attacking British Malaya, Papua New Guinea and bombing Australia with a view to invading, all while invading French Indo-China, Thailand, and Burma on the route to India, and continuing its war in China.

    War between Germany and the Soviets may have been inevitable, and between Japan and the United States, but both Axis countries would have done better to delay those campaigns to concentrate on a common strategy to seize an unassailable control of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Southern Asia and North Africa. This might have enabled Germany, for its part, to establish parity with the British Empire and Commonwealth, and left it in a more secure position to commence a war against the Soviet Union (for which it would have fared better had its racial policies been dispensed with and it supported the nationalists in the Soviet territories it liberated, instead of convincing them their interests best lay with supporting the Soviets. Leaving out the what-ifs that might have enabled Germany to maximise her chances, Allied victory was inevitable once the Germans realised they could not invade Britain, and turned away at a time that Britain was greatly out producing it in every type of weapon, and mobilising a vastly greater Empire with vastly greater manpower and resources. Despite the more-or-less simultaneous entry of the Japanese, the entry of the US and Soviets into open war with the Germans and their European allies hastened the inevitable.

  • 7 Moore

    I appreciate the writer and this article. As a WWII enthusiast and the son of a WWII veteran of the ETO I grew up enjoying talking to the vets who would tell of their experience and I would pester them about their equipment and anything else related to their service. In college my english lit class essay was on the same subject. Interviewing the people won the war in the 1970s I probably got more reasoned stories with less emotion than I did pestering them as a youngster in the early 1960’s, the passage of time itself mellowing some of the fury and hatred and possible enhancing some of the respect and maybe understanding of their counterparts who were trying as hard as they were to kill THEM and stay alive themselves. Yet the stories of the beloved/hated/indifferent Sherman stayed the same. To some of the then young tankers the Sherman was exactly what they wanted. To others, probably a majority, they were death traps. It seemed to be the general attitude of the person talking, their own personality, their own self image, drive, in other words their own way they looked at the world and the War they were in. The people who loved the machine were still hard charging men who did not wait on others to do things, to initiate things. They were the guys who didn’t make excuses. The ones who didn’t like them seem to have a less positive attitude towards the war and their officers etc. Not to disparage any of these guys, who all of them face down death way better than I know I ever would, but their personal attitudes seem to always cloud their opinion of what they had to work with. And to be honest, even the ones who didn’t like the tank were successful in it, the evidence being they were alive and well enough to talk to me thirty years later, and their stories were no less exciting and even spectacular than the positive reviewers. But they forcefully said they HATED that tank, for all the reasons everyone has stated since the war. And to the positive reviewers, they said almost to a man that they liked their iron rides and got on it with the goal of killing Germans. All of them, 100 percent said they were scared of the Tigers and the Panzers but more as a sign of respect than an overwhelming “alas, we are lost” type emotion when they encountered one or more. Their attitude was,”We are here, our job is to take out these tanks or cripple them or support our infantry, so whatever we face we deal with someway or how. What a lot of younger people don’t realize, I think, is exactly how good our guys were at getting stuff done, at surviving. These guys could THINK. And that is a big, big, deal. Daddy said the one big difference between us and then, the Germans, was Americans and British soldiers were accustomed to autonomy. We were good at performing without supervision. We came from a free country. The German servicepeople were smart, and obedient. A lot of the time if they were separated or lost contact with their superior unit they would not do ANYTHING. One example he gave was they had a battalion sized unit cut off from their superior unit. They didn’t do anything. They stayed where they were. They didn’t attack. They didn’t try to break out, sneak out, nothing. After some number of days the American commander sent an envoy asking them if they wished to surrender. They declined. He didn’t attack them. It sounds kinda funny now, but he reasoned that they weren’t bothering anyone and he didn’t wish to waste the lives of his men, NOR the enemy men by mounting a pitched battle to ‘officially’ capture them. So each day, WE, our men loaded trucks with food, drove it to where they could recover it under cover, and left it there for them. At sunset we would go pick our truck up and leave some more. Granted this was during the later stages of the war, but our kindness in some cases is not a well known thing. I guess kindness in war doesn’t make the news, or good movie material. Conversely during our march across France and into Germany when SS troops were encountered and captured alive, some of our soldiers battlefield ‘justice’ was just as newsworthy in the opposite darker direction. But I digress. I learned from any two different tank crew members one may get the exact opposite opinion of the very same model of equipment they operated and fought with. And I learned that it probably really is the man in the machine that may matter more than the machine under the man. But everyone has their own opinions and I appreciate that, and hope they keep them, because, well they are right. If you enjoy and appreciate the subject enough to have a reasonable opinion of either side in the argument, I applaud you for your interest in our history, your love of cold hard steel toys made to protect and to terrorize, and your appreciation of the men who whatever their personal feeling climbed up in them and stopped tyranny and evil, freeing millions of very real suffering human beings.

  • Keith Patton

    Nice summation of Zaloga’s book.

  • John T. Barker

    It is all too common to see opinions like the above written by those that have done some research (a good thing) but not enough, have some understanding of WWII armored warfare but not enough. The Sherman tank was durable and reliable which means a commander had tanks on the battlefield when he needed them. It was not a gas guzzler like the Tiger so it could remain on the battlefield longer, or prone to overheating like the Panther.
    Mr. Hsu makes the common mistake of imagining a war of tank versus tank battles while this is pretty far from the truth. The majority of armor use in WWII involved the use firing of high explosive rounds, not armor piercing rounds. The tanks best purpose, and the Sherman is a very good example of this, is to blow stuff up. The tank breaks through lines and fires on troops, machine gun nests, pill boxes, supply vehicles, command and control, etc. This is not to say that Sherman tanks were not sent out to kill other tanks, another mistake to be read above. Tanks most definitely, as laid out in armored doctrine, were the best weapon for killing other tanks. If this was not the role of the Sherman then it was carrying a lot of armor piercing rounds for no reason.
    There are many mistakes throughout the above writing and it would take too long to go into each one. Mr. Hsu needs to know that U.S. Shermans faced few Tiger tanks and held their own often in confrontation with Panthers. If this not the case perhaps he would like to list the battles where our Shermans were decimated by Panthers.Post war study showed that technological advantage in a battle between tanks was not the deciding factor but tactical advantage. The tank that shot first usually won and the training level of Sherman crews compared to that of the suffering Wermacht was superior so U.S. crews usually had the upper hand.
    While the Panther had a superior gun for AP shot the tank itself had faults that had its own crews complaining as late as 1945. Example above of a Panther receiving multiple shots from a Sherman before leaving the battle…why didn’t it return fire? There are numerous reports like this and post war study/use of the Panther showed that the crew had extremely poor visibility when closed up for combat and they often were fired upon numerous times and showed no awareness of the position of their enemy.
    Mr. Hsu ignores the versatility of the Sherman. When a heavier armored tank was asked for Shermans were built with more armor than the Tiger. When Shermans were burning from taking hits – LIKE ALL TANKS DO – the Sherman was then fielded with wet stowage for the ammo, reducing fires (the only tank this was done with.) When the Sherman sank too deeply in the mud grousers were put on the treads to increase flotation. The Sherman was capable of handling numerous guns in its turret including the 90mm gun later used in the Pershing tank.
    To make it sound as though the Shermans ability to be a war winning tank came solely from its numbers is a misrepresentation. One must understand completely the extent of armored warfare in WWII and the importance of logistics in war. Building less than 2000 of any tank (Tiger) in a war like WWII is a waste of resources and manpower while building tens of thousands of tanks the likes of the Sherman is what wins a war.


Lovesick Cyborg

Lovesick Cyborg examines how technology shapes our human experience of the world on both an emotional and physical level. I’ll focus on stories such as why audiences loved or hated Hollywood’s digital resurrection of fallen actors, how soldiers interact with battlefield robots and the capability of music fans to idolize virtual pop stars. Other stories might include the experience of using an advanced prosthetic limb, whether or not people trust driverless cars with their lives, and how virtual reality headsets or 3-D film technology can make some people physically ill.

About Jeremy Hsu

Jeremy Hsu is journalist who writes about science and technology for Scientific American, Popular Science, IEEE Spectrum and other publications. He received a master’s degree in journalism through the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at NYU and currently lives in Brooklyn. His side interests include an ongoing fascination with the history of science and technology and military history.


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