Soviet M4 Sherman Emcha

Berlin: Soviet Soviet Shermans
The M4 Sherman “Emcha”
With Wayne Turner

The first M4 Sherman tanks to be delivered to the Soviet Union as part of the Lend-Lease program were the early model M4A2 diesel powered Shermans. Initially the M4A2 Sherman was not seen as suitable for Russian conditions by its new crews compared to the domestic T-34. However, the M4A2 Sherman vehicle soon proved quite effective as its campaigning continued.

They soon became known as ‘Emcha’ tanks, pronounced, Em-cha, because a 4 looks like the Russian letter ч–cha. The Emcha began to appear on all fronts in increasing numbers. 2007 M4A2 75mm armed Emcha tanks were delivered during the war. 

Combat soon found that the M4A2 Sherman tanks were much less prone to brew-up due to ammunition detonation than the T-34, but had a higher tendency to roll over in accidents or on rough terrain due to its much higher centre of gravity. 

Interestingly the Soviets never complained about the Shermans propensity to burn quickly which, given they only got diesel powered Shermans, would lend credence to those who would suggest fuel was the major cause of the "Ronson" effect (the Soviets having already noted previously that the petrol powered M3 Lee was rather prone to burning when penetrated). 76mm M4A2 Sherman Emchas and a IS-2
75mm M4A2 Sherman Emcha, with a 76mm Emcha in the background.

The American-built M4A2 Sherman was often derided by Soviet propaganda as an inadequate armoured vehicle, but in reality, it proved far more reliable than its Soviet built counterpart, the T-34. It had better optics, a powered turret traverse, carried more ammunition, and was more spacious inside allowing the crew more room to operate. In addition, the 75mm gun proved slightly superior to that of the T-34 tank's 76.2mm gun.

With lend-lease tanks ammunition supply was perceived as a problem. A number of Emchas were converted to carry the Soviet F-34 76.2mm gun as the M4M. However, it turned out there was no shortage of US 75mm ammunition, so there was little need to continue converting Shermans.

76mm M4A2 Emcha in Germany

The first 76mm armed M4A2 diesel-fuel Shermans started to arrive in Soviet Union in the late summer of 1944. By 1945 they were the main medium tanks of the 1st Guards Mechanized Corps, 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps, and the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps, amongst others.

The Sherman was largely held in good regard and viewed positively by many Soviet tank crews which operated it. Compliments were made on its reliability, ease of maintenance, generally good firepower (especially the 76mm gun), and good armour protection. They particularly liked its auxiliary power unit (APU) which allowed them to keep the tank's batteries charged without having to run the main engine for the same purpose as was required by the T-34 tank.

76mm M4A2 Emcha
The American Emcha tanks took an active part in the fighting during the winter and spring of 1945. The tanks of the 1st Guards Mechanised Corps were the first to enter Vienna. M4A2 Sherman tanks from the 1st Mechanised Corps played an important part in the encirclement of Berlin in the northwest sector. American tanks also took part in the liberation of Prague with the 9th Guards Mechanised Corps. The war was not over for the tanks of the 9th Guards Mechanised Corps, as their Emcha tanks were also deployed to the far east to take on the Japanese in Manchuria.
Colourised Photo of an Emcha
75mm M4A2 Emcha with late hull.
Emcha supporting infantry
Emcha crew pose for a photo in Vienna.
Emcha leading a column Emcha column
76mm Emcha
Rear view of a Emcha
Emcha drives through city ruins
An Emcha with a slogan painted on its side. Often the Emcha tanks had large 3-digit numbers on their turrets.
Emcha and riflemen advance through a park
Emchas advance pass motor riflemen in captured Hungarian Botond truck.
An Emcha carries additional ammo on its engine deck.
Emcha and its crew
Like all Soviet tanks, the riflemen often hitched a ride on Emchas.
An Emcha and T-34 in the Austrian Alps.
Emchas in Vienna Emcha crew stop for a meal.
An Emcha in Vienna
75mm M4A2 Emcha (with early hull)

Last Updated On Thursday, February 9, 2023