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M4A2 or "Emcha" in Soviet Service

M4 Medium or General Sherman Tank Part 2

By Evan Allen

Evan continues his look at the different varieties of Shermans and who used them.

Part I...


Another easy one, the Soviets, under Lend-Lease, only received the M4A2 diesel engined Sherman in both 75mm and 76mm gun versions.
In fact the largest share of the 76mm gun equipped M4A2(76) Shermans went to the Soviets who usually issued them to favoured Guards units.

Interestingly the Soviets never complained about the Shermans propensity to burn quickly which, given they only got diesel engined Shermans, would lend credence to those who would suggest fuel was the major cause of the "Ronson" effect.

M4A2 (76)W in Soviet Service
M4A1(Sherman II) with desert sandguards


British designation in brackets: e.g. M4 (Sherman I)

The M4 (Sherman I) in British/Commonwealth service first saw large-scale service in NW Europe and the British also received examples of the hybrid version from the last M4 production but again, they were just considered as another M4. The British tended to only issue one tank type per unit so, apart from Fireflies, it would be rare to see mixed models of Shermans in a British/ Commonwealth armoured unit.

As already mentioned in Part I the M4A1(Sherman II) saw its combat debut with the British and Commonwealth forces at El Alamein in October 1942 and served with British forces in both Italy and northwest Europe until the wars end. 

The next model to see service was the diesel powered M4A2 (Sherman III) and again this tank was issued in large numbers to British and Commonwealth armoured units.

The M4A4 (Sherman V) would have been the most numerous model of Sherman to arrive on the beaches of Normandy in June ’44 under the British and Canadian flags (also the FFL as well!) Approx 7500 of these Shermans were built and, apart from a couple, they were all used for Lend-lease stocks. Basically this Sherman had a lengthened hull (the extra space between the bogies is most noticeable) by about 6" to accommodate the type of engine fitted.

M4A2(Sherman III) in New Zealand Service
A column of M4A4(Sherman V) tanks

This engine was the Chrysler WC multi bank 370hp, which was 5 automobile engines joined to a common crankshaft!

It was an expedient engine to help increase production of Shermans and the US Army didn’t think it would be very reliable so they sent all M4A4 (Sherman V) to Lend-lease stocks. It proved to be very reliable and the British liked them and were most upset when production of this model stopped at the end of 1943. 

In Italy British and Commonwealth forces used the same Sherman models as their NW European counterparts but without as many Firefly Shermans until late 1944 as there wasn’t as much German armoured opposition. The British received some M4A1(76)W (Sherman IIa) and M4(105) (Sherman 1b) Shermans under lend-lease and some went to the Polish Armoured division in France and all the rest went to the British and Commonwealth armoured units on the Italian front.

M4A1(76)W (Sherman IIa) in South African service in Italy Firefly VC


The Polish forces with the Western Allies deployed two armoured units organized exactly like British units, the Polish 1st Armoured Division in Normandy and an Armoured Brigade in Italy. Both these units used Shermans extensively apart from a Recce. Cromwell unit in 1st AD. The Poles used M4A4 (Sherman V) and Fireflies (Sherman Vc) in NW Europe and M4 (Sherman I) and M4A2 (Sherman III) in Italy with Fireflies arriving there in early 1945. Another novelty for the Polish Armour was that by 1945 in NW Europe they had received M4A1(76)W (Sherman IIa) as well so you could have both Fireflies and 76mm gun armed Shermans in the same troop!

Sherman Firefly Ic


Every wargamer’s dream Sherman and armed with the 17pdr arguably the most combat effective of all the Shermans produced. Over 2000 Shermans were converted to Fireflies by British ordnance factories (the British designation system adds a "c" to denote a 17pdr armed tank, i.e. Sherman Vc) and were used to equip not only Sherman armed units but also some Cromwell armed units as well.

Polish Tankers at rest on their M4 Sherman
Sherman Firefly Ic

The most common model of Sherman Firefly at first was the M4A4 (Sherman Vc) but as time went by the M4 (Sherman Ic) slowly supplanted the Sherman Vc and became more numerous by the wars end.

The only other model of Firefly (apart from those US M4A3 versions!) was the M4 hybrid hull but this was still referred to as a Sherman Ic. The Firefly was issued on the basis of one per troop at first and as more became available you could find up to two per troop. They were also issued to some British armoured units equipped with Cromwell tanks as the Challenger (Cromwell redesigned to carry the 17pdr) was not so successful a design and wasn’t built or issued in any great quantity. 

Well there you have it, a brief breakdown of the Sherman Tank regarding who used what/where/when.

I’m sure there are other points to note that I’ve missed (such as who got all the Caterpillar diesel engine M4A6 Shermans?) but I think you’ll be able to use this information to pick the most appropriate versions of the Sherman for whichever army you’ve chosen to recreate.

Happy gaming!


Sherman Ic (hybrid)

Last Updated On Friday, August 22, 2008 by Wayne at Battlefront