By U.S. ArmyJune 24, 2019
The M4 Sherman tank was the standard U.S. tank in World War II. The tank displayed at Memorial Field was assigned to the 4th Armored Division and disabled by German gunfire during the Battle of the Bulge. The additional armor plate applied to the front and turret of this tank was partially successful. Several enemy anti-tank rounds ricocheted harmlessly. One enemy round bounced off the armor and destroyed the gun barrel.
A Legend in Armored Firepower
The M4 Sherman Tank was a staple of World War II in Allied inventories. Supplied to Free France, Britain, and the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease program, the tank was relatively cheap and plentiful. Almost 50,000 Sherman tanks were produced over the course of the war with a large number of variants and modifications made by its respective operators. The M4 saw three gun mounts across its more than 20 variants, including 75MM, 76MM, and 105MM barrels.
Due to the vast number of modifications available and the ease of upgrading components, the Sherman continued to see active combat well after the end of World War II. It was not until 2018 that the last M4 variant was removed from service in Paraguay, marking the end of the Sherman's 76-year operational history. This makes the Sherman the longest operated tank in history.
A large number of U.S. weapons systems used the M4 as a springboard for the design. Flame tanks, artillery tractors, recovery tanks, engineer tanks, and motorized howitzers all credit the Sherman as a predecessor.
The Sherman on display at Rock Island Arsenal is an M4A3 variant. Many of these variants were produced by the Ford Motor Company and were powered by a Ford engine. About half of the M4A3 variants (M4A3, M4A3-75W, M4A3E2, and M4A3-76W) utilized the 75MM gun, whereas others would use the slightly improved 76MM gun. A total of seven M4A3 configurations existed in the U.S. arsenal, making it the largest family of configurations of the tank. Of all 21 variants, the M4A3 was the preferred design of the U.S. Army.