Re: CCB photo

Bruce Smith

On Apr 15, 2008, at 9:16 AM, Gatwood, Elden J SAD wrote:
BTW, M4A3 and M4A1 were almost never found together due to the fact that the
M4A3 were segregated in certain units of the US Army. Units (tank
battalions) were generally only provided parts and tools for one type of
engine. M4 and M4A1 were mixed in units sometimes, as they had the same
Continental engines, but the M4A3 had a Ford GAA, and all different parts.
Since they were shipped from different plants, it would also be unlikely
you'd see M4A1 and M4A3 on the same flat.

Thanks! I would differ on this point. I think that saying an M4A1 and M4A3 loaded together would be unlikely might be too strong, and the reason used to support the statement is not exactly correct. The important thing to realize is that domestic shipping of M4 tanks was NOT to units, but to depots. There was a huge backlog of tanks at arsenals mid war, waiting for flats. Thus, for example, it is my understanding that Detroit Tank Arsenal had something like 6 different M4 models on site at one time! In clearing that backlog, a variety of tanks would have been loaded for depots around the country. Depots as well would have had mixed M4 models. When tanks were shipped from depots to embarkation depots and ports, it would still be possible for dissimilar tanks to be co-shipped because distribution to units occurred overseas, although it is certainly more likely to see more segregation. Note that the Signal Corps Archive photos appear to show segregation of types, but these tanks are being loaded for the invasion of North Africa, and there would not be an opportunity to further sort them upon arrival. By my 1944 date, these tanks are being sent to depots in England.

One could speculate about the mix of what RRs flats got used most, but with
wartime demands, one could also speculate that they could end up on anything
that was available, as long as it wasn't too overloaded. Each M4 was
somewhat over 30 tons, if I remember right. I don't know if two of them
would buckle a 50-ton flat.
With a shipping weight of 28-30 tons depending on the spares tied to the rear deck, two Shermans comes very close to or exceeded the load limit of most 50 ton flats and as I noted previosuly, there is also an issue of weight distribution which would reduce the load limit of the flat even more. It may be that cars were loaded with 2 Shermans if the load limit was ~120,000 lbs or more, and only one was loaded for cars with lower load limits.


Bruce F. Smith
Auburn, AL

"Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield."
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