Sherman Reliability

Discussion around the Second World War.
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Sherman Reliability

Post by hammurabi70 »

It is my impression that it is received wisdom for WWII that American tanks were more reliable than those of other nations.

In reading Grint's LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT and COMMAND I note that he disagrees with this when he suggests that breakdowns were as frequent with American tanks as any other. He states that the difference was the huge administrative tail supporting these tanks, which enabled prompt recovery and repair of break-downs.

Does anyone have data that might throw light on this?
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Re: Sherman Reliability

Post by Richard B. »

I don`t have "data" as such, but from my reading of both sides tanker experiences -

British tankers seem to have just been able to go back to their HQ and wait for a replacement to arrive - sometimes a day or so. One crew I read about, their job was to bring up replacement vehicles then hitch a ride back to the rear and pick up another, etc, etc, until someone was wounded or killed in which case one or more of the crew then joined the active list as a replacement.

Germans less so, Edward Klapdor gives accounts of 4 changes of vehicle due to loses, vehicles just abandoned and the crew legging it to the rear.
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Re: Sherman Reliability

Post by cartfc »

That is going to be difficult to tease out. Availability rates only reflect the overall system performance. An unreliable tank with a very efficient repair team and well supplied with spares will have as good availability as a more reliable tank with a undermanned repair unit, short of spares. You would need something like utilisation rates of spares, particularly things like engine and transmission parts. Running gear spares could reflect battle damage as well as wear and tear. I have heard similar comments. The Chieftain in one of his YouTube videos mentions it. Citing the efficiency of the repair units, lavish supply of spare parts and the ease of maintenance as the key factor, not that the tanks were inherently more reliable than anyone elses.

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Re: Sherman Reliability

Post by Seret »

If all you've got is availability perhaps try comparing that between different users of the Sherman. Did US, Soviet and British units equipped with Shermans all achieve the same reliability?
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Re: Sherman Reliability

Post by dadlamassu »

The reliability of tanks is an ongoing problem even today. There are so many parts that can go wrong. The Sherman was a mass produced vehicle made with tried and tested compnents and, most crucially, supported by a comprehensive and well organised recovery and support organisation. Part of this was that there were parks of replacement vehicles so a breakdown or combat loss could be quickly made good. Each of these parks (British) had tank delivery units that took replacement tanks forward and brought damaged ones back for repair. So whether or not it was "more reliable" or not its availability was very high.

The Sherman was no more prone to burning as any other petrol vehicle. My uncle reminisced that the AP shot of his 75mm gun could not penetrate the front armour of a Panther tank but a hull hit with HE could set it on fire when the poor quality fuel lines and connectors burst under the shock of impact.
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Re: Sherman Reliability

Post by bannockburn bhoy »

The American methodology was , where viable , not to repair a component part in the first instance ,where it was quicker they would replace the whole unit .The defective unit would then go back to the workshop for a specific part repair.
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