M4A3 (75) W: American Workhorse

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Overview
The M4A3 (75) W was a mid-production Sherman model introduced in late 1943, first seeing combat during Operation Overlord. The M4A3 (75) W combined features of early and late Sherman designs. As an M4A3 it was powered by the Ford V-8 GAA and had large radiators on the rear hull. It featured VVSS suspension (except for the last 538 vehicles), a “large hatch” frontal hull, wet ammo stowage, the standard 75mm M3 cannon, and a redesigned turret bustle. With 3,071 produced it was the most common Sherman subvariant in US service. The type served through the end of the war in both Eruope and the Pacific, with surviving vehicles being retrofitted to M4A3 (76) Ws after the war.

History
Development
The M4 Sherman was developed in 1940 to replace the M3 Lee. It was initially produced in two models- the welded M4 and the cast M4A1. Both were powered by the Continental R975 radial engine. However by late 1941 it was clear that Sherman production would soon eclipse R975 production and alternative power plants were investigated. The first new engine was a pair of GM 6-71 diesel engines, M4s with this powerplant would be designated the M4A2. However, the US Army disapproved of the use of diesel engines so a second alternative was pursued. The Ford GAA, a copy of the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin, was selected, with the engine being cut down from 12 to 8 cylinders to fit in the Sherman hull. This engine had higher cooling requirements than previous powerplants so the M4 hull was modified to feature large radiators on the rear roof. Shermans with this engine were designated the M4A3.

Small-hatch Shermans
Production of the M4A3 started in June 1942 at the Highland Park, MI Ford plant. Initially, the M4A3 was produced in “small hatch” configuration as seen in-game on the M4 or M4A4. 1,690 small hatch M4A3s were produced until September 1943. These Shermans would be allocated to training stateside until early 1945 when small numbers were sent to replace lost large-hatch M4A3s in Western Europe. Small-hatch M4A3s were only ever fitted with 75mm guns.

Large-hatch Shermans
In 1943 a new model of the M4A3 was developed with the goal of improving survivability and simplifying production. The small crew hatches of the M4 proved difficult to exit in an emergency while also being a weak spot in the frontal armour. To remedy these issues, the large-hatch Sherman was developed. This configuration featured a redesigned frontal hull with a thicker but less sloped uninterrupted front plate and larger crew hatches. This design also required fewer welds, simplifying production. The large-hatch design can be seen on the M4A2 in-game. The turret was also redesigned with a hatch for the loader and higher turret bustle that wouldn’t block the hull hatches when traversed backwards. In addition, the ammunition was relocated from the sponsons to wet racks in the hull floor with the goal of reducing the M4’s tendency to cook off on even minor penetrations. This also meant that the applique armour on the hull sides were unnecessary and not added.
M4A3s of this design were built in both 76mm versions with the T24 turret and 75mm versions with the high-bustle M4 turret. These two tank models were designated M4A3 (76) W and M4A3 (75) W respectively. Later, the M4A3 (105) W assault tank was also developed, replacing older M4 (105)s. Since the 75mm was the standard version the (75) in the designation was redundant and these tanks were often simply called M4A3Ws. Other M4A3 variants included the M4A3 (75) W T34 Calliope, M4A3 (75) W T40 Whizbang, M4A3E2 Jumbo, M4A3E4 rearmed with a 76mm M1, as well as a multitude of SPGs, TDs, recovery vehicles, and other specialized modifications. Essentially every version also had an HVSS-equipped counterpart.

Production and Service
Production began in February 1944 at the Grand Blanc, MI Fischer Tank Plant, the sole manufacturer of M4A3 (75) Ws. Production would continue until March 1945 with 3,071 produced. The M4A3 (75) W saw minor changes over its production history, the most significant of which being the switch from VVSS to HVSS in January 1945 for the last 538 vehicles.
The M4A3 (75) W first saw combat in August 1944 with the French 2nd Armored Division near Paris. The type would quickly become the most common Sherman variant in Europe, being particularly significant during the Battle of the Bulge. Smaller numbers went to Army and Marine units in the Pacific from January 1945, participating in the assaults on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Philippines.
After the war, the US standardized on the M4A3 (76) W HVSS and all M4A3 (75) Ws were retrofitted to this standard, while the small-hatch M4A3Ds (for “dry”) were scrapped for parts. This means unfortunately very few M4A3 (75) Ws survive today. While the type was never exported during the war, post-war reserve stocks, disabled vehicles, and and scrap hulls found their way into many nations’ armories, most notably Israel with the M4A3 serving as the basis for the M-50 Degem Bet and later M-51.

Specifications
General
Mass: 31.1 tonnes
Length: 6.27m
Width: 2.67m
Height: 2.94m
Crew: 5

Mobility
Ford GAA V8
500hp (gross)
5 forward gears, 1 reverse
42/6 km/h max forward/reverse speed
31.1 tonnes
16.1hp/tonne

Armour
UFP: 63.5mm at 47deg
Transmission: 63.5-107.9mm cast
Hull sides: 38.1mm
Hull rear: 38.1mm at 10-22 deg
Gun mantlet: 88.9mm, cast
Turret front: 76.2mm, cast
Turret sides: 50.8mm, cast
Turret rear: 50.8mm, cast

Armament
75mm M3
4 rounds ready in turret*
*protected by 6.35mm (1/4 in) RHA
10x 10-round wet ammo racks in lower hull
360 degree traverse, 24deg/s
-10/+25 degree elevation
Gyroscopic stabilizer (single-plane)
M72 Shot AP
M48 Shell HE
M61 Shot APHECBC
T45 Shot APCR
M89 Shell Smoke

7.62mm M1919A4, coaxial, 4,750 rounds
7.62mm M1919A4, hull front ball-mount, 4,750 rounds
12.7mm M2HB, roof-mount, 300 rounds (additional ammo stowage brackets on turret external rear)

The M4A3 (75) W in game
The M4A3 (75) W would be extremely similar to the M4A2, though a bit more mobile. The relocated ammo racks may improve survivability, but a penetrating APHE shell is likely to completely knock out the crew anyways. Likely the only other significant difference from the M4A2 is the ammunition stowage - the ready rack likely would mean slightly faster initial reload rate, though slower sustained rate of fire.
It’s justification for inclusion comes more from its historical significance as the primary late-war US Sherman than any tech tree gap. I’d have it as tech tree in the folder with the rest of the 75mm M4s at BR 4.0 alongside the M4A2 or 4.3 on account of its mobility.

Gallery

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Perhaps the most famous surviving M4A3(75)W, or M4 of any type- Barracuda. Knocked out by a Panzer IV on Dec 30th, 1944 during the Battle of Bastogne, it was turned into a monument in 1948. It wasn’t until 1999 that the tank’s identity was uncovered


A clearer view of the penetration that knocked out Barracuda

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This M4A3(75)W was knocked out by several shots from German 75mm AT guns on Nov. 21st 1944

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The same tank the day after it was knocked out and the following day after all useable parts had been salvaged

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Another surviving M4A3(75)W

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Schmuel, the only M4A3(75)W in running condition. This vehicle is owned by the WW2 Armor Collection and participates in their annual WWII reenactments. Note the turret is not original to the vehicle but borrowed from an M4A2


The earlier M4A3D with small hatches. Because this version was primarily used for training instead of combat, they are far more common nowadays

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The M4A3(75)Ws were fitted with sand guards as standard, though these were almost always removed in the field as the type was never deployed in the Mediterranean theatre and the guards got in the way of track repair

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M4A3(75)Ws were frequently fitted with track extenders to increase buoyancy on soft ground or snow. This would be nice to see as a modification similar to ostketten/winterketten on many German tanks

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Like most tanks of the time, M4A3(75)Ws were often fitted with tracks as improvised applique. This was particularly common in Marine units in the Pacific, where ambush by infantry with shaped-charge weapons were the primary threat

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Another common attempt to improve the armour of the M4A3 was through bags of sand or concrete. These were found to have very limited protection against shaped charges and no effect on kinetic projectiles

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Some Marine M4A3(75)Ws were fitted in spring 1945 with an inch (25.4mm) spaced armour on the upper sides to improve protection against shaped charges

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Starting in 1945, M4A3(75)Ws were produced with HVSS. Some existing vehicles were also retrofitted with HVSS possibly during repairs. I prefer the VVSS for the game, as it was far more common

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The difference between the “low” bustle of the M4A2 and “high” bustle of the M4A3. The difference is small, but it had a huge impact. With the low bustle, the hull hatches would be blocked when the turret was traversed rearwards, as can be seen in-game. The high bustle remedied this

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The M4A3(75)W was intended to be fitted with the new all-around vision cupola. However, 76mm Shermans had priority so many instead had the older cupola style

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The 4-round ready rack located on the turret floor and protected on all sides by 1/4in armour

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The titular bitchular wet ammo racks, holding 10 rounds each and protected by three containers of a water/antifreeze mixture called Ammudamp. This was intended to reduce the risk of ammunition fires (a huge problem on the M4) and to slow down or contain ones that started. It was never found to have any effect and post-war wet ammo racks would be drained and plugged. However, this early attempt at protecting ammunition was followed by experiments wit armoured ammo compartments with exhaust ports, leading to the modern blowout rack

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One of the first M4A3s (rear) to see combat, near Paris, August 1944

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The whitewashed camouflage of an M4A3(75)W in Belgium, Jan. 1945

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Infantry hitch a ride on an M4A3(75)W through Belgium, Jan. 15th 1945


M4A3(75)W, Germany, April 1945

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Many M4A3(75)Ws and M5A1s at a staging ground in Normandy, late 1944

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M4A3s advance on Luzon

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Too beeg :(

Sources
http://the.shadock.free.fr/sherman_minutia/manufacturer/m4a375w/m4a3_75w.html
https://www.theshermantank.com/the-sherman-tank-variant-page-pages-for-each-type-of-sherman-tank/the-sherman-m4a3-medium-tank/
https://www.militarytrader.com/military-vehicles/a-look-at-the-m4a3-75mm-w-sherman
http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/m4sherman.html

3 Likes

Gib more Sherman!!

“Catalog of Standard Ordnance Items, Volume I” gives the M4A3 a gross weight of 68,500 lb (that is approximately 31.1 tonnes) rather than the 31.6 tonnes you have showed. Gaijin uses this source for weights, top speeds and engine powers whenever possible, so this is the weight that the M4A3 (75) W would have in game.

Nonetheless, it would be cool to have.

4 Likes

good to know thx

Easy +1.

Arguably one of the most iconic tanks of World War II, it should absolutely be added. +1!

plus, its odd why its only the japanese tech tree
+1 for it being added in the US Ground forces Tree

It’s… not?

The Japanese have an M4A3 (76) W HVSS, which is a different vehicle, and also one that is on the US tech tree.

i got the numbers confused then, its a common mistake

Ngl I did the same thing when I read this. Was kinda confused, especially when I saw a Sherman with a 75 and not a 76. I had to scroll back up to check if I had read it right. I had not XD

I definitely see this more likely to be 4.3 than 4.0. There’s a few reasons why.

The mobility difference between the M4A3 (76) and M4A2 (76) is pretty massive. Sure the M4A2 has higher top speed (47 vs 42 km/h), but top speed only matters if you can actually reach it, and the M4A3 has a massive advantage in acceleration due to the significantly more powerful engine (and slightly lower weight). For example, it takes around 13 seconds for the M4A3 (76) to reach 42 km/h, compared to the M4A2 (76)'s 20 seconds. This mobility difference would also carry on to the 75 mm versions of the M4A3 and M4A2.

Additionally, later Shermans had reinforced armor on the turret cheek, where the weakspot of the M4A2 is found.
From Sherman 75mm turrets :
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The in game M4A2 should probably have a thickened turret cheek as it is also part of these late production Shermans (after all, it has the large driver and co-driver hatches), but it doesn’t. Nevertheless, the M4A3 would likely have this modeled.

Overall, potentially better armor and much better mobility makes this more likely to be 4.3 in my mind.

2 Likes