Saturday, September 3, 2011
The M4 Sherman Tank was one of the most popular Allied Tanks during the war. Over 50,000 of them were produced and it saw action in all theaters of operation, from North Africa, to Europe, the Pacific and even the Eastern Front through the Lend Lease program. The Sherman is what is considered a medium tank, and it offered a good balance of speed, armor and gun power, while at the same time, being reliable and easy to service in the field. All this made it a popular tank and many variations of it were made. Its 75 mm or 76 mm gun was able to take on most light and medium enemy tanks, like the German Panzer III and IVs, and the light Japanese tanks were no match for it. But its gun and armor were at a disadvantage against the heavier German Tanks like the Panther, Tiger and King Tiger (Tiger II), however the US made up for this disadvantage with numbers as well as air and artillery superiority. The Sherman's high profile also made it vulnerable as it made it easier to spot, particularly when it was silhouetted against the morning or evening sky, which made some of its crew men refer to it as a traveling coffin, particularly when fighting against the heavier German tanks. The book 'Brothers in Arms', the story of the 761st Tank Batallion, describes frightfully well what it was like to be a Sherman tank man fighting in Europe, and how the German shells would sometimes go right through the Shermans' armor wreaking havoc inside. In any case, the contribution of the Sherman during the War was substantial and they deserve proper credit for it. Manufacturers of armored vehicle models have done their part to help this happen, as illustrated below.
21st Century Toys Sherman Tank
This is a plastic model with plenty of detail. It comes with a driver and a tank commander. The other figures around it are just guys that I added for the scene.
Notice the pieces of track welded to the front of the vehicle to give the driver extra protection against head-on shots.
BMC Sherman Tank
If you are looking for a good deal on a Sherman Tank or you are considering getting a large fleet of them, this is the tank you are looking for. You can get it for about 5 dollars and if you take some time to paint it slightly, it can look really good.
It is also a bit taller than the other models out there, which seems to be more in line with reality.
New Ray Sherman Tank
This is a die cast model, so it has a nice heavier feel to it. The scale is a bit on the smaller side though, but still acceptable and for some reason I've often seen them on sale, which can make it an affordable addition to your army.
This one also has some tracks welded on to protect the driver. The stars and the motif on the side are actually stickers, which is not great as they might come off, but you just need to be a bit careful with them so that they remain glued.
InAir / New Ray EZ Build Sherman Tank
Another all-plastic kit requiring some small amount of assembly. As with the other models in this line, the appearance is acceptable. The feel is a bit on the light side since it is all soft plastic and we've now become used to the FOV or 21C models. It was still a good find (ran into it at Amazon.com)
21st Century Toys Sherman Firefly
The Sherman Firefly was a British variation which contained a more powerful 17 pounder main gun capable of penetrating the armor of the heavier German tanks. Given that it is a British variant, I suppose I should have used British guys for this picture :-)
This model from 21C Toys is made of plastic, did not feature any figures with it and has a very light feeling to it, but its appearance is still fairly decent. The long gun gives it a more impressive look.
Forces of Valor U.K. Sherman Firefly - 7th Armoured Division
FOV must be in cost cutting mode because this is the first vehicle that I come across which is pretty much made out of plastic entirely. The level of detail is still very high. For instance, the armor surface is all nicely pockmarked, but for the prices that they command these days, it was a bit disappointing that it was all plastic. Good thing that I found it on sale...
21st Century Toys Sherman Bulldozer
Another nice variation of the Sherman vehicle by 21st Century Toys. Vehicles like this might have been used in the rocky island campaigns in the pacific like Iwo Jima to clear paths for the other Shermans behind them with flamethrowers, which was the only way to clear some of those caves from where the Japanese fought.
A bulldozer like this might also come in handy in the hedgerow country in Normandy, to create gaps in the hedgerows for the tanks and infantry to move through, avoiding the pre-set fields of fire. There is also a hedgerow cutter variation of the Sherman from Forces of Valor which is even more in line with what was used in that theater of operation.
Click here to see a post about other American Tanks
Click here to see a post about German self-propelled guns
Here are some pictures of GIs in action against German troops in Normandy