The Sherman tank was the most commonly used American tank in World War II. More than 50,000 Shermans were produced between 1942 and 1945. They were used in all combat theaters—not only by the United States, but also by Great Britain, the Free French, China, and even the Soviet Union. Initially developed to replace the M3 "Grant/Lee" medium tank, the first Shermans were manufactured in 1942 and some early productions examples saw combat in North Africa in 1943. The model proved itself somewhat effective against German Mk II and Mk IV Panzers, but it was thoroughly outclassed by the Tiger, Panther, and King Tiger tanks. Notorious for their flammability, Shermans were nicknamed “Ronsons” after a lighter with the slogan “lights every time.”
The Sherman tank’s primary role was infantry support, spearheading attacks as well as bolstering defensive positions. Though frequently outgunned by their German counterparts, Shermans proved easier to maintain—often fixed on the battlefield. This particular tank, a rare M4A3E9 model (only a few hundred were built), carries appliqué armor for additional protection.
M4A3E9 Sherman Tank
The Museum’s Sherman is an M4A3, built by Ford Motor Company in 1943. No unit markings were discovered when previous coats of paint were removed from the tank. Because the tank was manufactured in 1943, it is almost certain that it was deployed overseas during the war, although no battle damage was discovered.
When the Sherman tank arrived at the Museum in December 2000, its engine was completely rusted and it was painted in a color appropriate to the Korean War era rather than World War II. Restoration work began in late October 2004, when the tank received a running Ford GAA engine and a new paint job. The tank was restored with the markings of an actual vehicle which served with D company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division. The tank’s nickname, “Draftee,” is from a tank in the unit commanded by Staff Sergeant Julian Czekanski of Cleveland, Ohio. It was common practice in the US Army and Marine Corps to have nicknames for armored vehicles. The names typically started with the letter of the company to which the vehicle was assigned.
Type: Medium Tank
Date Produced: 1943
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Number Produced: 12,500+
Crew: 5 (Commander, Loader, Gunner, Driver, and Assistant Driver)
Speed (sustained, level ground): 26 miles per hour
Engine: Ford GAA-V8 4-cycle, 8-cylinder (500 hp)
Weight: 68,000+ pounds
Armament: One 75 mm main gun; two .30 caliber machine guns; one .50 caliber machine gun
Produced from 1942 to 1944, the Dodge WC-54 was the standard US ambulance. Roof-mounted slings and folding-bench seating provided room for four stretchers or six seated patients.
The US Army began development of a light tank in the early 1930s. After a number of models which progressively increased armor and fire power, the M3 series was initiated in July 1940. Provided to British forces as part of the Lend-Lease Act, the M3 first saw combat with British forces in North Africa in November 1941. The British found the M3 to be under-gunned, but were so pleased with its mechanical performance that they nicknamed it “Honey.”
As modern armies became mechanized, they needed to find ways to transport material across uneven terrain. One solution, developed by several countries during World War II, was a truck with wheels in the front and tracks in the back to help drive it over rough country—the “half-track.”
Trucks such as this 2.5-ton vehicle played vital logistical roles—mostly famous in the Red Ball Express, when over 5,000 vehicles maintained supply lines to the front-line forces after the D-Day landing. Most drivers in the convoy were African American, reflecting a segregated military in which black troops were often relegated to non-combat, but essential, roles.
This tracked vehicle was designed to rescue people in flooded areas after hurricanes, using its cup-like metal tracks to “swim” through the water and “crawl” over obstacles, such as coral reefs.