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Yes, they did ship tanks home, at least for evaluation. Examples of
a number of captured WWII tanks and other vehicles are on display at
Aberdeen Proving Ground. Take a look at page 60 of PRC 20 for views
of Japanese and British tanks on American flat cars.
As I noted in my
response, I doubt that this is a (normal) M4. Looking
at the shape, whatever the vehicle is, it has
prominent fenders and what looks to be a sharply
pointed front “glacis”. I don’t think that this
would be the case for any
normal M3 (Grant/Lee) or M4 (Sherman). It is possible
that it could be the back end of an M3, or that the
tanks have some sort of special equipment (and hence
the tarps… since most tanks were shipped untarped).
That struck me as odd also. The signs remind me of the
"THE BASE COMMANDER HAS AUTHORIZED THE USE OF DEADLY
FORCE..." signs still occasionally used. They didn't
want anyone looking at these.
I'm not much of an armor expert, but the German Panzer
III had those prominent flat angled fenders. The US
didn't ship any captured German armor back home for
desert war games, did they?