Re: [EXT] Re: [RealSTMFC] Late 40's to mid 50's military rail movements

Gatwood, Elden J SAD



Interesting topic.


I read much correspondence, also on how many M-4’s you could fit in a cargo ship, vs. larger tanks.


Bruce is correct, and I’d also add that until Leslie McNair was killed, his philosophy was exactly that, and not until the tests of the Panther following D-Day, did the U.S.Army (even the “upgraded M4/76) figure out that the M-4 was extremely vulnerable to almost everything, and started the crash program for the M4A3E2 “Jumbo” for the “point”.


PRR had very few flat cars for use in heavy tank shipments, and certainly more than most, but I have not yet found the correspondence giving the PRR’s perspective.


Elden Gatwood



From: <> On Behalf Of Bruce Smith
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2021 1:30 PM
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: [EXT] Re: [RealSTMFC] Late 40's to mid 50's military rail movements




While size may have played a role (in addition to offloading capabilities, there were concerns about mobility, infrastructure strength, etc… with heavier tanks), probably the biggest reason that the US focused on medium tanks was the WWII era doctrine of US Armored forces, which was, in part, that tanks were for infantry support and were not supposed to engage in tank on tank duels. That was left to the tank destroyer branch. Heavy tanks were specifically envisioned in a headquarters defense role and thus were not typically thought of as an “action force”.  Post WWII, armored doctrine changed, with the elimination of the tank destroyer and a more multi-role approach to tanks. It was in recognition of these changing roles that the M26 Pershing was reclassified as a medium tank, although its mobility was impaired compared to a typical medium tank of the time. Ultimately, the derivative of the M26, the M46 and then the M48 were the genesis of the classification of “main battle tank”. As these tanks came on board, their proportion of the tank force increased and the need for enhanced rail transport also increased. Obviously, the ability to load/unload and for the tanks to negotiate infrastructure on their own tracks was also impacted.



Bruce Smith

Auburn, Al


From: <> on behalf of Hudson Leighton <hudsonl@...>
Reply-To: "" <>
Date: Monday, October 18, 2021 at 11:31 AM
To: "" <>
Subject: [EXT] Re: [RealSTMFC] Late 40's to mid 50's military rail movements


CAUTION: Email Originated Outside of Auburn.

The M4 tank was a Medium tank and one of the reasons that the US did not field a Heavy tank was that the M4's
weight was just about the maximum capacity of the onboard ship cranes of the era.


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