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-   -   M4A3 "early" used by USMC on Okinawa? (http://www.planetarmor.com/forums/showthread.php?t=348)

dharper 08-18-2004 06:08 PM

Fellow USMC tank enthusiast, and also son of a WWII Marine veteran, Barrie Malcolm is a good friend of mine. I met Barrie 25 years ago when I was living in Portland, Oregon. Barrie is a top knotch modeler and a high school teacher of history, (he had Tonya Harding as a student!!).

He and I have shared an interest in researching the USMC in WWII. Last year Barrie sent me a copy of the First Tank Battalion's after action report from April 14, 1945 through June 22, 1945, during their action on Okinawa. This report is a day by day account of all of the FTB's engagements in great detail. It tells how many rounds of all types of ammo expended, damage to vehicles and personel, vehicle maintenance details, tank losses and replacements. It even gives the details of the particular vehicle (M4A2, M4A3, M32B2, M32B3, etc.).

I have read the document in detail numerous times to glean details or answer questions from what appears in photos of tanks on Okinawa. Which brings me to my discovery. On page 67 (lower photo) of the Concord book on "Tank Battles of the Pacific War", is a photo of several tanks of the FTB, loaded with bundles of small logs tied with rope to their front hull. Detnation cord has been rigged to the rope so that these logs can be dumped off of the tank and into Japanese anti-tank ditches without anyone having to be exposed to enemy fire.

If you look closely at the tank in the foreground, clearly marked as tank no. 1, you will notice that it is a welded hull Sherman with the front protrusions for the driver and hull gunner. The caption says it's an M4A2 (W) but I don't think that it is.. There are no vision blocks in the hull forward of the crew hatches like on Tamiya's M4 kit, and it has a travel lock for the gun. It appears to have the right front turret cheek armor welded on. The tool storage resembles that of the M4A3. Anyone have any constructive input on just which Sherman this is?

http://www.harpercastings.com/images...sts/122560.jpg

The official caption for this photo is: A welder from the maintenance department welding on extra armor on a new tank just recieved. The photo is dated May 1945.

http://www.harpercastings.com/images...sts/128656.jpg

This second photo is from June, 1945. Its caption reads:Group of five Marine tanks at staging area ready to leave.

Dan Fong 08-19-2004 06:46 AM

Dave,

You've got a good eye. I think you are correct about these Shermans being the M4A3 dry stowage. In the top picture, the Sherman in the background has a rectangular post between the shovel and mattock head. That post is unique to the M4A3. It supports the grill doors when they are open.

The second picture from the Concord book also seems to have that fitting. I'll have to look at my copy when I get home.

It's also unusual that these Shermans are fitted with the 1 piece hatch for the tank commander. I imagine these tanks are the fruits of the effort to re-build the old training tanks to make up for the heavy losses that caused a tank shortage in late 1944.

Dan

Kurt Laughlin 08-21-2004 01:33 PM

Some further info on the top photo. . .

I'm pretty sure that the tank in the background is a M4A3(75)W. As far as I know, only the large hatch hulls had the rectangular engine door posts. (M32B3s had square posts.) Conceivably they could have been added in the field, but none of the survivng M4A3s I've examined or seen in photos had this added, despite any number of other mods. Also, this was not an official MWO or TB.

What's really interesting is that this tank mounts a D50878 "low bustle" turret with applique armor. I don't think this was a field lash-up because there is a photo of two of these - also USMC - that was published in an issue of the Japanese magazine Ground Power. (Ken Estes told me that he is pretty sure it was taken in the late '40s during maneuvers.) I have read reports of D50878 turrets being "salvaged" in early 1945, perhaps these are some of the vehicles that used them?

As to the tank in the foreground, I would say that it is probably a Ford M4A3 based on the visible features.

KL

Guest_Ed Gilbert 10-01-2004 05:58 PM

The tanks with the logs belonged to 4th Platoon, C Company, 6th Tank, and are M4A3s. The photos in this suite were taken on 17 June 1945 during the attacks on Mezado Ridge. The logs were used in an atempt to fill gaps blown into bridge approaches on the marshy ground in front of the ridge.

This photo is in the Okinawa section of my WW2 book.

Other photos from the suite showing the welding were taken in a 6th Tank shop, so they would be M4A3s also.


Ed Gilbert


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