Flames of War Wiki
Advertisement
Overview

The M4 Sherman, officially Medium Tank, M4, was the most widely used medium tank by the United States and Western Allies in World War II. The M4 Sherman proved to be reliable, relatively cheap to produce, and available in great numbers. Thousands were distributed through the Lend-Lease program to the British Commonwealth and Soviet Union. The tank was named by the British for the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.

Overview[]

The M4 Sherman evolved from the M3 Medium Tank, which had its main armament in a side sponson mount. The M4 retained much of the previous mechanical design, but put the main 75 mm gun in a fully traversing turret. One feature, a one-axis gyrostabilizer, was not precise enough to allow firing when moving but did help keep the reticle on target, so that when the tank did stop to fire, the gun would be aimed in roughly the right direction. The designers stressed mechanical reliability, ease of production and maintenance, durability, standardization of parts and ammunition in a limited number of variants, and moderate size and weight. These factors, combined with the Sherman's then-superior armor and armament, outclassed German light and medium tanks fielded in 1939–42. The M4 went on to be produced in large numbers. It spearheaded many offensives by the Western Allies after 1942.

When the M4 tank went into combat in North Africa with the British Army at El Alamein in late 1942, it increased the advantage of Allied armor over Axis armor and was superior to the lighter German and Italian tank designs. For this reason, the US Army believed that the M4 would be adequate to win the war, and relatively little pressure was initially exerted for further tank development. Logistical and transport restrictions, such as limitations imposed by roads, ports, and bridges, also complicated the introduction of a more capable but heavier tank. Tank destroyer battalions using vehicles built on the M4 hull and chassis, but with open-topped turrets and more potent high-velocity guns, also entered widespread use in the Allied armies. Even by 1944, most M4 Shermans kept their dual purpose 75 mm gun. By then, the M4 was inferior in firepower and armor to increasing numbers of German heavy tanks, but was able to fight on with the help of considerable numerical superiority, greater mechanical reliability, better logistical support, and support from growing numbers of fighter-bombers and artillery pieces. Some Shermans were produced with a more capable gun, the 76 mm gun M1, or refitted with an Ordnance QF 17-pounder by the British (the Sherman Firefly).

The relative ease of production allowed large numbers of the M4 to be manufactured, and significant investment in tank recovery and repair units allowed disabled vehicles to be repaired and returned to service quickly. These factors combined to give the Allies numerical superiority in most battles, and many infantry divisions were provided with M4s and tank destroyers.

After World War II, the Sherman, particularly the many improved and upgraded versions, continued to see combat service in many conflicts around the world, including the UN forces in the Korean War, with Israel in the Arab–Israeli wars, briefly with South Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and on both sides of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

In Flames of War[]

Whether your American troops are fighting in the desert heat of North Africa or in the deadly hedgerows of northern France, the M4A1 Sherman is a vital addition to your taskforce. A platoon of these medium tanks will help your infantry deal with those nasty enemy machine-gun positions as well as confront enemy Panzers! The main gun has a Range of 32”/80cm, ROF 2 (with Stabilisers), a respectable  AT 10 and FP 3+. In addition, they have Co-ax and Hull MGs to ward off enemy infantry.

All the Sherman tanks are medium tanks. They can be either deployed as formation support for another unit or as a separate formation:

  • Sherman Tank Company for the US Army (both in Mid-War and Late-War)
    Sherman-tank-company

    A Sherman tank company for Mid-War.

  • Sherman Amroured Squadron for the British Army (as above);
  • Lend-Lease Tank Battalion for the Soviets (described in Stalin's Europe).

The German players also have the options to deploy the Looted Tank units (Beutepanzer) with Shermans.

Mid-War[]

The 75mm gun performs comparably well as its German equivalent used in Panzer IV F2/G (both have Anti-Tank 10), making the Sherman on par with the standard German tanks from Afrika Korps formations. The tank has comparable front armour to uparmoured Panzer III (6) and superior side armour to most of the German tanks (4 compared to 3). The American crews have Confident Green ratings, while the British ones - Confident Trained.

The American 75mm M3 gun with Anti-Tank 10 was sufficiently destructive to endanger all Axis armour in theatre and the HE round is explosive enough with Firepower 3+ to cause Infantry and Guns to consider it as a serious threat. Added into the anti-personnel firepower is the excellent .50cal Heavy Machine-Gun on the cupola mount, backed up by Hull & Coax MG’s, providing a solid 4 shots of MG fire per Sherman to keep marauding Infantry hiding in their holes and reliably Pin enemy platoons as part of assault preparation.

The differences between Shermans fielded from American formations is the loss of the Stabiliser, which reduces the volume of cannon fire on the move, this was commonly disabled by British crews even if supplied. Also, the British bring in a penalty to their Last Stand, shifting from Confident 4+ to a more reluctant 5+ as a ‘Fight Another Day’ rule. Heroics were sometimes called for, but the respect between the opposing sides of the Desert War often meant evasion or captivity was not so bad, better than the cold certainty of being dead.

Late-War[]

As for 1944-45 standards, the 75mm gun Sherman tanks can be compared to Panzer IV H/J, T-34/76 and Cromwell tanks:

Sherman platoon
  • the have slightly worse Anti-Tank value than the Panzer IV (10 against 11), the same frontal armour (6) and top armour (1), better side armour (4 against 3) and similar mobility;
  • the Soviet T-34/76 tank has better side armour than the Sherman (5 against 4) and better mobility at the cost of a weaker gun;
  • finally, the Cromwell surpasses Sherman only in superior mobility.

The 76mm gun Tanks[]

The up-gunned variants (M4A1/76, M4A2/76, M4A3/76, M4A3E2/76 and M4A3E8) have the anti-tank value of 13, on par with Tiger tank and the M10 tank destroyers.

Uparmoured Tanks[]

M4A3 tanks can be fitted with additional armour on front and sides, which gives them Front Armour 8 and Side/Rear Armour 5. The M4A3E2 Jumbo variant also has the same increased protection, making it more difficult to blow up than the older variants.

Model kits[]

Metal/resin model kits:[]

  • AARBX05 Arab M4/FL-10 Sherman Tank Platoon (Arab-Israeli wars)
  • UBX05 M4A1 76mm Sherman Platoon (five tanks)
  • UBX02 M4A1 Sherman Platoon (five tanks)
  • UBX25 M4A3E2 Jumbo Tanks (four tanks)
  • UBX28 M4A3 (late) Sherman Platoon (five tanks)
  • UBX29 M4A3 Sherman Platoon (five tanks)
  • US040 M4 Sherman (early production model)
  • SBX15 M4 76mm Sherman Tankovy Company (five M4A2/76 tanks)

Plastic model kits:[]

  • OFBX05 M4A3 Sherman (two M4A3 tanks) - discontinued
  • USAB03 7th Armored Division (13 Sherman tanks plus one objective marker) - discontinued
  • USAB05 Grimball's Beasts (Late-War US Army, 5 Sherman tanks included) - discontinued
  • USAB09 US Combat Command (Late-War US Army, 8 Sherman tanks included)
  • USAB06 Patton's Fighting First (Plastic) (five M4A1 Sherman tanks included)
  • UBX55 Sherman Tank Platoon (Mid-War US Army, five models)
  • TANKS01 The Panther vs Sherman Starter Set (two M4A3s included)
  • TANKS02 American Sherman Tank Expansion (one M4A3 Sherman)
  • TANKS07 British Sherman Firefly Tank Expansion (can be built as M4A4 Sherman V or Sherman VC Firefly)
  • TANKS47 American Sherman (early) Tank Expansion Set
  • TANKS59 Sherman II Tank Expansion Set (the same model as TANKS47)
  • FWBX09 Hit the Beach (eight M4A1 tanks with M4A1/76 options and a  commander sprue)
  • USAB10 American Combat Command (five plastic M4A1 models included with 3 options for M4A1/76)
  • American Starter Force - Spearhead Force (expected to contain one plastic M4A3E2 with 76mm gun, four M4A3E8s and four T34 Caliope rocket launchers)
  • M4 Sherman (Late) Platoon (Plastic) (five plastic model kits from OFBX05 set with American crew figurines and decal sheet)
  • M4 Easy Eight Tank Platoon (Plastic) (five platic model kits with American crew figurines and decal sheet)
  • M4 Jumbo Tank Platoon (Plastic) (four platic model kits with American crew figurines and decal sheet)
  • T34 Calliope Tank Platoon (Upgrade Pack with ABS plastic pieces for three tanks)
  • SUAB16 M4 Sherman Forward Detachment (Plastic) (four model kits just like SBX84 set)
  • SBX84 M4 Sherman Tank Company (Plastic) ( (five platic model kits just like OFBX05 with additional M4A2 upper hulls, Soviet crew figurines and decal sheet included)

Substitutes[]

Model assembly[]

Metal and resin model kits[]

The pre-2013 metal and resin Sherman model kits consist of the following parts:

Jumbo 01 (5)

Resin and metal M4A3E2 Jumbo Sherman before assembly.

  • resin hull
  • resin turret
  • pewter threads (left and right)
  • pewter gun barrel and machineguns
  • pewter turret hatches and cupolas
  • tank commander's bust made of pewter (one in a blister pack, five in platoon box sets).

The platoon box sets also contain rare earth magnets and US Army decal sheets. The assembly itself is straight-forward, though some care is necessary when attaching the gun barrels to their locations. The included Browning M2HB AAMGs are often bent in not convincing angles and lack details - the best solution is replacing them with plastic machineguns.

Plastic M4A3 model kits[]

Sherman assembly

The plastic M4A3 Sherman assembly diagram.

Those are assembled as shown in the diagram to the right.

These sets have been available since 2013 and they contain two turrets for each tank - the 75mm gun turret and the 76mm gun turret. A 105mm howitzer turret can be built instead of the 75mm gun turret - the 75mm gun barrel has to be replaced with the howitzer mantlet with the short barrel.

Additional armour plates are included for the front and the rear hull, if an uparmoured tank is planned to be built.

The SUAB16 and SBX84 model kits[]

Those are assembled in the exact same way as M4A3. The only exception is that M4A2 hull is used instead the M4A3 one- the one with nine fuel slots and pre-cast hull front.

Plastic M4/M4A1 model kits[]

TANKS-ShermanEarly

The Mid-War Sherman variant was released in 2018. It is available both for the US Army and the British Army as "Sherman II".

It is assembled in a similar way to the M4A3, just the sprue contains fewer parts and only one turret.

The Late-War kits released in June 2019 contain hull and turret options to build a M4A1/76 tank.

Plastic M4A3E2 model kits (UBX92)[]

The plastic M4A3E2 was released in November 2021, with M4A3E8 Easy Eights. Just like the basic M4A3 Sherman, the Jumbo model contains two turrets - one with 75mm gun, another one with 76mm gun. Both turrets have closed- and opened commander cupola options, though only five commander figurines are given per 1 box.

Plastic M4A3E8 model kits (UBX91)[]

The plastic Easy Eight was released in November 2021, with M4A3E2 Jumbo on a brand new sprue. The pieces contain enough parts to build the hull and the turret with closed- and opened commander's cupola options, plus stowage composed of spare wheels and track links.

The Caliope (US147 Upgrade Pack and USAB11 American Spearhead Force)[]

Plastic model kits are required to build the Caliope - the USAB11 starter set contains three M4A3 models, while the US147 Upgrade Pack has to be used in conjunction with any plastic Sherman model kit from Battlefront offer.

This Sherman variant is the most demanding to assemble amongst the plastic model kits due to the fact the launchers are made of ABS plastic, which requires super glue or polymer glue to join the parts, the pieces contain mould shortcomings, and the material itself tends to bent in odd shapes. The latter issue can be solved by putting the pieces before assembly to a container with warm water (60 C - 90 C) for half a minute, when it gets malleable and can be shaped before drying.

The best way to assemble "the Rocket Sherman" without too much exercise in frustration goes as following:

  • Build the 75mm gun turret as the assembly diagram shows. Do not glue the plastic gun barrel included to the basic model!
  • Join the launcher top and the bottom, then add the racks, where the launcher joins the turret sides.
  • Glue the ABS plastic mantlet-barrel part to the turret and secure the turret, so the bound can cure. The gun should be pointing upwards at around 45 or 65 angles. A jig to secure the turret while the glue dries will come in handy.
  • When the launcher and the mantlet-gun pieces cure, set the launcher to the turret. The glue should be applied in the following places: the side prongs, which touch the turret, and the front prong, which touches the launcher.

The Caliope pieces fit any plastic M4 75mm gun Sherman model released by Battlefront Miniatures - those will fit both the cast-hull M4s and M4A1s, as well as the welded hull M4A3s. Model kits released by rival companies lack proper dimensions, thus they will require lots of cleanup and moulding.

The M4A2 assembly[]

The same steps are used for American M4A3 model kits.

Painting[]

US Army[]

All the US Army tanks and military vehicles deployed to Europe between 1944 and 1945, as well as to the Northern Africa between November 1942 and 1943, were overall painted Lusterless Olive Drab as their standard colour. It was a compromise between typical earth colours and foliage colours in temperate areas. It was inexpensive to produce, as it used a mix of just two pigments: ochre and black.

Since March 1943, the orders were given to add camouflage patterns to armoured vehicles and some units did apply improvised camouflage on their vehicles, though no official pattern was specified, so the camouflage patterns varied from one vehicle to another. During the 1944-45 Winter in Western Europe, the vehicles were also winterized with whitewash.

American Shermans usually had white American stars painted on turret sides, hull sides and the glacis plate. The engine deck was adorned with a US star in a roundel as an air recognition mark.

The British Army and the Commonwealth[]

The Sherman tanks delivered to the Eight Army before the El Alamein battle were painted sand yellow as the primary colour, completed with black blotches. The tanks received for the Italian campaign 1943-45 and the North-Western Europe 1944-45 were usually left either in the original Olive Drab colour or painted with its British equivalent - the S.C.C. 15 Olive Drab. The British Army also used the white-wash winterization.

The Soviet Army[]

The M4A2 Sherman tanks received by the Soviets during the Lend-Lease program were usually painted the standard Olive Drab colour, supplemented with white tactical numbers and propaganda slogans applied to the hull.

M4Emcha

The Lend-Lease M4A2 Shermans.

In the German service[]

Most of the captured Sherman tanks retained their original colours adorned with Teuton crosses for recognition. Painting a model in a German two- or three-colour camouflage will not be a mistake, though - such vehicles were encountered in Normandy 1944, Eastern Front 1944-45 and the final days of the World War II.

Suggested paints:[]

  • Battlefront Sherman Drab or Citadel Base Death Korps Drab (US Army/Soviet Lend Lease)
  • Battlefront Firefly Green or Citadel Base Castellan Green (Commonwealth Lend-Lease Shermans)
  • Humbrol H155 Olive Drab (universal)
  • Citadel Base Ceramite White or Corax White (whitewash)
  • Citadel Base Ahriman Blue (visors)
  • Citadel Base Rhinox Hide (wooden tool parts, stowage crates, and 0.50 cal AAMG trigger mechanism)
  • steel metalizer (for machineguns and exposed metal parts, can be used for treads)
  • any black (for treads in US Army service)
  • any tone of yellow or brown (camouflage) (optional)

Combat efficiency[]

Mid-War[]

The 75mm M3 gun is one of the most powerful tank guns in the Mid-War period - with the Anti-Tank value of 10, it can easily harm any enemy tank except the heaviest ones. Only the Tiger I, the KV-1 and the Churchill have good chances of defending themselves from the shots, though their side and rear armour can also be pierced, depending on dice rolls. The tank's armour is also good for the game period.

The only drawback is the poor crew rating - American crews for Mid-War are Confident Green, which means they succeed in carrying out orders on 5+ roll and the British crews for the same period are Confident Trained with 5+ Last Stand. Due to the crew's rather poor skills, they have to be led cautiously.

Enemy heavy tanks and anti-tank guns are the main threats for the Sherman; if approached, they should be attacked in their sider armour or rear, not in the front plates.

Late-War[]

The advent of up-gunned German tanks such as the Panther and Tigers proved the M3 75mm gun being obsolete as an anti-tank weapon. It still has chances against late Panzer IV variants and might work well against Panther's side or rear armour, however, its efficiency against heavier vehicles remains low. The new German tank guns pierce Sherman's armour easily, especially the Tigers' 88mm guns or Panther's 75mm L/70 gun. Uparmoured variants are significantly more resistant to enemy fire, though they should also avoid getting shot from bigger guns.

The 76mm gun Tanks[]

With the Anti-Tank value of 13/12 (depending on edition), the 76mm gun Shermans have greater chances of defeating the enemy tanks. Only the heaviest vehicles, such as the King Tiger or Jagdtiger, maintain frontal armour impervious to the shots; still, their side and rear armour (8) remains quite a good target.

Sherman platoon2

The Easy Eight has Smooth Ride Special Rule - the tank can move up to 4"/10 cm and it won't suffer +1 penalty to hit from the main gun using the stabilizer.

Uparmoured Tanks[]

Once the improved Sherman tanks with better armour become available, they are worth deploying them in combat. Company command tank is always a good choice for either a Jumbo or just an uparmoured M4A3, as well as at least one tank per platoon. An optimal 4-tank platoon should contain at least one Jumbo or an uparmoured Sherman with the standard 75mm gun to take the shots through the Mistaken Target rule, and at least one 76mm gun tank for AT purpouses.

The 105mm Howitzer Tanks[]

Despite their quite poor AT capabilities, the 105mm howitzer tanks remain quite useful even in tank-against-tank battles, as they provide smoke screen for tanks with better AT values.

The howitzer tanks shine in facing enemy infantry, towed guns, and fortifications - with Firepower 2+, even two tanks pose a lethal threat for soft targets. A full-strenght 6-tank battery brings mayhem to enemy positions when Ranged In successfully and with a little luck on dice rolls.

The Caliope[]

In Flames of War, the T34 Caliope variant cannot use its 75mm gun nor the 0.50 cal AAMG. Due to those limitations, it should be used for artillery support, using the Salvo rule while Shooting.

Shermans in the Soviet service[]

The Sherman tanks can be deployed using the rules from the book "Berlin. Soviet Forces on the Eastern Front, 1945". Both the 75mm and 76mm gun tanks are available, however, they do not have Stabiliser special rule. All of them have Front Armour 7, Side/Rear Armour 4 and Top Armour 1.

The 75mm gun tanks[]

They perform comparably to T-34 tanks with 76mm gun, having thicker front armour at the cost of weaker side and rear armour.

The 76mm gun tanks[]

Being equivalents of the T-34/85, the M4A2/76 (W) tanks share the different armour with longer range of their main gun (36"/90 cm compared to 28"/70 cm), at the cost of No HE Special Rule. The Emchas work good as dedicated anti-tank vehicles, yet they require support against soft targets.

Suggested Tactics[]

An optimal platoon of Sherman tanks should contain four tanks, two of those should be 76mm gun tanks and the remaining two the 75mm gun ones. The 76mm gun tanks are the main firing team against the armoured opponents, while the 75mm gun tanks are supposed to protect the better-armed ones from enemy infantry and weaker vehicles. It is also a good idea to assign hits aimed at the 76mm gun tanks at the 75mm tanks using the Mistaken Target rule.

For games played above the regular 1700/100 point limit, taking a full five-tank platoon with 76mm guns is even better option, since they provide enough damage to stop even a Tiger I or an IS-2 heavy tanks. Ganging upon heavier tanks can also bring victory as long as those are attacked from the rear or sides.

Improvements[]

With the advent of the American and British Command Cards issued since 2018, the Sherman tank units can be upgraded with commanders and crew members boosting the units' performance at the point cost.

American[]

Fighting First[]

  • Bullseye command card from Fighting First set works the same as Lafayette Poole, except the lack of Follow Me bonus. Costs 4 points.
  • Charge the Guns gives the Unit a bonus to Follow Me Movement Order (passed on 3+ instead of 5+) and allows shooting after passing the Follow me order.

D-Day[]

  • Lafayette Poole is an excellent upgrade for a Sherman tank platoon. For the cost of 4 points, he grants the Unit Leader's tank no penalty for shooting the main gun on the move and improves the result needed for using Follow Me order to 3+.
  • William Wilbur Command Card grants a re-roll to one failed to Hit roll and one failed Firepower test to one tank, on the condition the tank unit is attached as a support to a rifle company.

The Battle of the Bulge[]

  • M4 Sherman tanks, which allows fitting older cast-hull Sherman tanks instead of welded hull tanks (M4 Sherman (late) (75mm)) for -1 point per tank. A good way of getting points for upgrades.
  • Tank Telephones - for the cost of 1 Point, the upgrade allows one tank in the Unit to re-reol one failed To Hit roll when targeting enemy Infantry or Gun teams, as long as the Unit Leader is within 2"/5cm of a Unit Leader from a friendly Infantry Unit;
  • 76mm Hyper-Velocity AP - increases Anti-Tank rating of 76mm gun tanks to 13 for 1 point per two teams (or part thereof);
  • Uparmoured cards - M4A3 Shermans and Easy Eights might improve their Armour ratings to Front 8, Side & Rear 5 and Top 1 at the cost +1 point per tank and worsened Cross rating (4+ and 3+ respectively).
  • Sandbag Armour - for the cost of +1 point per tank and all the Dash Speeds reduced by 2"/5 cm, it gives a protection against weapons with Firepower 5+ or 6. When the tank is hit with those and fails its basic Armour Save roll, the controlling player rolls another die - on a roll 5+, the Sandbag Armour stops the shot and the failed Armour Save roll is ignored. Otherwise, the hit is resolved as normal.
  • M4 Easy Eight 105mm - for the cost of 1 point, all the tanks in Assault Gun Platoon gain Cross rating 2+.
  • Sherman Crab Mine Flail Tank Platoon - for the cost of 2 points, all the tanks per platoon receive Mine Flails and they might attempt to clear Minefields.
Advertisement