The M4A3, also known as the Sherman IV to the British was a medium tank used by the United States during World War II (WWII); it was manufactured by the Ford Motor Co. and was first brought into the field in June 1942. The M4A3 was a variant of the original M4 Sherman that was first produced and brought along a few modifications and upgrades. The primary upgrade that set the A3 apart from its predecessors was the Ford GAA V-8 engine that powered it, the welded hull, and its 76mm and 105mm guns; countries that used the A3 series were France, Nicaragua and the United States, where the A3 series was the preferred US Army vehicle.
VARIATIONS OF THE M4A3
Although the A3 was a variant of the M4, there were also six variations within the A3 series; the A3 (75) used a 75mm M3 gun while the A3 (105) used a 105mm m4 howitzer. The M4A3E2 Assault tank, also known as “Jumbo” or “Cobra King” had extra armor and a vertical sided turret but was about 3-4 mph slower than the other models; it also used a 75mm gun but this was often replaced with a 76mm gun.
The M4A3E4, otherwise known as the M4A3(76)W used a 76mm M1 gun; the M4A3E8, or M4A3(76) W HVSS “Easy Eight” was an upgraded version of the A3 series which used a wide-track Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS) which allowed for more armor to be added to the tank. This model also used the 76mm M1 gun.
Finally there was the M4A3E9 also known as the M4A3 (105) HVSS which was the same as the E8 but used a 105mm M4 howitzer instead of the 76mm M1 gun.
DESIGN OF THE M4A3
The basic M4A3 accommodated a five-man crew; the commander in the right rear of the turret, the gunner in the right front of the turret, the loader in left rear of the turret, the driver in left front of the hull and the assistant driver in right front of the hull. The A3 weighed over 66,000 lbs and was equipped with five guns, the main 75mm M3 gun, a .50cal M2HB MG, a .30cal M1919A4 MG, another .30cal M1919A4 MG in the right bow, and a 2″ Mortar M3 fixed in the turret.
The A3 series traveled at a sustained speed of 26 mph and all A3s were fitted with heavy-duty suspension bogies and single-piece final drive and differential housing. The A3 series was the most developed and popular of the M4 Sherman variations and it was a successful war winner despite its many drawbacks in armor and firepower; it was a mechanically reliable vehicle but had a high silhouette and gasoline engines which made it highly flammable.
AFTER THE WAR
Even after WWII was over, the U.S. still kept the M4A3E8 Easy Eight in service, equipped with either a 76mm gun or a 105mm howitzer; the tank was still commonly used during the Korean War although it was no longer the primary battle tank but rather fought alongside the M26 Pershing and M46 Patton. Finally in the 1950s the M4s were replaced with Pattons.