Welcome to the suggestion post for the M4A4 FL-10! This is a vehicle somewhat similar to what is currently in-game as the M4A1 FL-10, but uses a different hull and engine. This means it combines the M4A4 Sherman hull with the powerful French FL-10 autoloading turret as used on the AMX-13.
While this vehicle was not used by France to my knowledge, I do still think the M4A4 FL-10 could have a place in the French tech tree, given France made the conversion for Egypt, as well as the turret. Let’s find out a bit more about this fascinating tank!
A 2nd Free French Armored Division M4A2 Sherman debarks from an LST at Utah Beach, Normandy, August 2nd, 1944.
During the latter stages of World War II, the M4 Sherman and its variants were some of the Free French Army’s mainstays in terms of armor. Used in the hundreds by the French from the beaches of Normandy all the way to Paris and into Germany, the Sherman had a long service life in France extending into the early 1960s with the Gendarmerie. However, following the war, the Sherman, a design aging in a quickly advancing era of new technology, was replaced by more modern vehicles, such as the AMX-13 light tank. In 1955, though, the French faced an issue. They had over a thousand Shermans in storage. What could be done with them? They could be sold, but there weren’t many nations that would want an older tank, especially with far superior options on the market, such as the (at the time) new T-54 from the Soviet Union. This was soon answered by a subsidiary of the Société de construction des Batignolles.
The M4A1 FL-10 prototype, equipped with the FL-10 turret used on the AMX-13.
Compagnie Générale de Construction de Batignolles-Châtillon, based out of Nantes, a commune in western France, proposed a project to use the new AMX-13’s CN-75-50 gun in the turret of the Sherman. This would make the vehicle more attractive to third world countries, who were buying World War II-era vehicles for their militaries. With the much more powerful main gun on a reliable chassis, the French would have a strong contender for international marketing. A similar project was being done for Israel, which would culminate in the M-50 Sherman. However, modifying the turret proved to be tricky and expensive. It was eventually decided to mount the AMX-13’s turret directly on to the Sherman hull, instead of just the gun.
This was ultimately a better choice, as the turret not only was lighter, but featured an autoloader, improving the sustained rate of fire. A prototype was tested, using an M4A1 75 (W) hull, but this conversion could be done for any country. Despite being intended for export, the French Army took a look at the vehicle, and did not pursue it further, given that it had no advantages over the AMX-13, which was intended to be light, low profile, and fast. While it may not have caught the attention of the French Army, there was still a whole world of potential buyers. The conversion was offered to Israel, who declined, as the Israelis did not like the autoloader, preferring a human loader for their tanks. Just when the project seemed doomed to history though, a country fresh out of a revolution in 1952 expressed interest in upgrading its Sherman fleet.
An Egyptian Army M4A4 Sherman being driven in front of the royal Abdeen Palace during the coup d’état, Cairo, July 26th, 1952.
By 1955, Egypt was recovering not only from its defeat at the hands of Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but also a coup d’état in 1952 that saw the removal of King Farouk I. Egypt had originally bought Shermans from the United Kingdom, and rather reluctantly on their part, Italy, during the late 1940s, and by the time of the coup, had around 110 Shermans, the majority being M4A4 variants, with some M4A2s mixed in. Egypt found itself in an advantageous position politically, as both the West and the Soviet Bloc were vying for influence in the region, allowing Egypt to purchase equipment from either side. While it was in the process of purchasing British Archer tank destroyers, Czech SD-100s, license built copies of the Soviet SU-100 tank destroyer, as well as Czechoslovakian built T-34/85s, Egypt still wanted to upgrade its existing Sherman fleet. Thus, going back to France, who offered to do just that. The French proposed mounting their FL-10 turret on the hulls of Egyptian Shermans, which Egypt accepted.
Part of the upgrade program included an Egyptian request for the vehicles to use a reliable diesel engine that could be used in the sands of the desert it would be likely to fight in. Since Egypt already had the M4A2 Sherman in service, it was decided to use the General Motors GM 6046 engine of the M4A2, to not only fulfill Egypt’s request, but improve logistics commonality between tank units. The tanks themselves were exactly as proposed, a 4 man crewed M4A4 with an FL-10 turret on top. Egyptian soldiers tended to have a shorter stature, and did not have many issues with comfort inside the two-man turret. Over the following years, about 50 M4A4s would be converted into the re-engined and upgraded M4A4 FL-10.
An M4A4 FL-10 knocked out or abandoned on the northern road from El Arish to Suez Canal.
The first M4A4 FL-10s were delivered the same year Egypt expressed interest in an upgrade, 1955. Around 12 of these were delivered in time to participate in the 1956 Suez Crisis, during which Egyptian Shermans would face Israeli Shermans. However, given their limited numbers, the M4A4 FL-10s did not see as much combat, with one being knocked out during an advance towards El Arish. This tank would later be reclaimed by the Egyptians in the 2000s, and exhibited at the El Alamein Military Museum. Another was also either knocked out or abandoned while retreating towards the Suez Canal from El Arish.
A former Egyptian M4A4 FL-10 converted into an Israeli M-50 Sherman.
While Egypt hadn’t had much success with the vehicle, Israel captured a number of Egyptian armored vehicles, including a few M4A4 FL-10s, with some sources claiming as many as 8 of the 12 at the time were captured. Israel, as mentioned, wasn’t overly fond of the AMX-13 turret, and as such, replaced the turret with their own modified M-50 turret. It’s unknown if these tanks ever fought against their former owners, but one is known to have been used at an Israeli training school.
A hull down M4A4 FL-10 of the Mixed Sherman Brigade in service with the 20th Palestinian Division in the Gaza Strip, 1967.
Nearly 9 years later, in 1965, Egypt found itself at war with Israel again during the Six-Day War. By this time, Egypt, with France’s help, had converted yet more of its Sherman fleet into M4A4 FL-10s. In the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Egyptian forces put up a fight with heavy losses of around 2,000 men and 40 Shermans, 20 of which were M4A4 FL-10s. Israel captured a number of these still in their defensive positions. Days later, on June 7th, during a major attack on the entire Sinai, Egyptian troops counterattacked, but due to poor planning and a lack of coordination, lost even more soldiers and tanks, a number of which were M4A4 FL-10s. This counterattack was to be the M4A4 FL-10’s final battle, and following this, the fate of any non-captured or destroyed tanks is not as clear, with some speculation being that they were converted into armored recovery vehicles, bridge layers, and other specialized Sherman hull variants. The Egyptians would soon replace them with Soviet tanks, and thus ended the life of the vehicle.
While taken out of service, M4A4 FL-10s would still appear in movies. In the 1969 Italian film I Diavoli della Guerra (The Devils of War), they played the role of German tanks in Tunisia in 1943. They also starred in the 1977 film Kaput Lager - Gli ultimi giorni delle SS, playing the role, once again, of German tanks.
An M4A4 FL-10 with a German Balkenkreuz in I Diavoli della Guerra.
Though it was a promising vehicle, in the end the M4A4 FL-10 was still just an attempt to upgrade an aging Sherman in an era of Centurions and T-54s. Combined with poor maintenance and tactics in Egyptian use, they didn’t get to see their full potential. However, in War Thunder, players can use the M4A4 FL-10 to its full extent, combining it with its M4A1 hulled predecessor.
A destroyed M4A4 FL-10 east of El Arish in the Sinai.
- Length: 7.37 m
- Width: 2.61 m
- Height: 3.00 m
- Weight, battle ready: 31.8 tons
- Armament: 75 mm CN-75-50, 60 rounds
- Secondary armament: Coaxial 7.5 mm MAC Mle. 31C & hull mounted 7.62 mm Browning M1919A4
- Crew: 4 (Driver, machine gunner, commander, gunner)
- Engine: General Motors GM 6046, 410 hp at 2,900 rpm
- Range: 200 km
- EGYPTIAN SHERMANS: A Photographic History of the M4 Tank and Variants in Egypt 1949-1973, Christopher Weeks
- M4A4 FL-10 - Tank Encyclopedia
- A Visit to Latrun – a brief look at Israel’s armored corps history (II.) | For the Record (For pictures at Latrun)