Veteran Rehabilitation: Bringing A Sherman Tank Back To Tip-Top Shape

Veteran Rehabilitation: Bringing A Sherman Tank Back To Tip-Top Shape

The only Sherman tanks I ever got to see during my military days were display tanks. The oldest tank I ever saw that wasn’t a pretty statue was an M60 Patton variant that was sitting on a back lot deep on Fort Lewis, rotting away, looking for all the world like it was minutes away from a team of scrappers with torches, ready to carve it up into tiny bits. Tanks are in many ways rude, crude machines that weigh in with aircraft-style scales of measurement and require power of high magnitudes just to get that bulk moving at all. The M1 Abrams utilizes a turbine, but prior to, diesel engines were the order of the day. In the M4A2 Sherman tank of World War II, the powertrain was a team of GMC 6-71 inline six engines known as a 6046 setup. Together, this would have offered up 375 horsepower. The Sherman tank lineage saw multiple engines used, including the Ford GAA, the Chrysler A57 Multibank 30-cylinder, and radials made by Continental and Wright/Caterpillar.

It’s not an easy thing to keep a World War II tank in operating order and it’s even more difficult to find parts when things go wrong. Luckily enough, the 6406 isn’t as hard as it initially seems to be, since it’s based on the Detroit Diesel -71 engine series. And there happens to be a guy who goes out of his way to keep as many of these old engines up and running in top form…

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8 thoughts on “Veteran Rehabilitation: Bringing A Sherman Tank Back To Tip-Top Shape

  1. bob

    I’ve been watching this guy’s videos for quite a while and mostly it’s the old silver sides, that’s old buses for anybody who doesn’t know, that I watch it for. It’s kind of amazing how they designed and built those old 671’s all those years ago, with no computers.

    1. Tim

      I crewed on a restored helo for a couple years. Was funny flying into the Robinson Helicopter plant. All the engineers running out to see this terradactyl that was built. Before their dads were born and dsigned with a slide rule!. Thanks to all who keep these old beasts alive.

  2. phitter67

    I have a cousin that was a tank mechanic in the Vietnam era. He said you always kept enough tools stashed back to take that lower armor off to retrieve the tools that were dropped.

  3. Tim

    But diesel wasnt the order of the day. The M4A2was a bastard stepchild of the US. Some were used for training in the states. Uncle Sams Misguided Children used some.The diesel engines would run off the fuel in the Navys ships if needed. Most M4A2s went to our allies under lend lease. Most US tanks …. M4, M4A1, M4A3 …. Were gasoline powered. So where the M4A4, but the US hab no use for the Chrysler Multi Bank engine. !umped those off on lend lease.

    1. Whelk

      The Brits loved the multi bank. After some initial teething problems Chrysler got the bugs worked out and it was a very reliable power train.

      1. Michael E Wanninger

        The funny part is the multi bank was the most difficult and least reliable of all Sherman engines. Yet the Brits loved it because Is was so much better and more reliable than any British tank engine – as all 4 different Sherman engines were reliable. Thanks to the US auto industry.

    2. Michael E Wanninger

      The US Army did not want to have store, transport and then deliver in the field 2 different fuels, so no diesel engines. The Russians had the same requirement – and since most Russian military vehicles used diesel fuel, they preferred the M4A2. Hey – it worked best for both Armies. Same thing with the multi bank & the British. Early on all they could get was the multibank. Later when other options were available, they stayed with the multibank to have only one parts supply. Amazing how many military decisions were based on logistics.

  4. Michael E Wanninger

    He makes the statement that is took 5 Sherman\’s to kill a Tiger. That statement is misleading. According to post war US Army and other research, the were only 3 times any US tank engaged a Tiger. The 1st time the Sherman won, the 2nd the Pershing lost and the 3rd the Sherman caught 2 Tigers being loaded on a train & unable to defend themselves – so lost to to Shermans.

    The 5 Shermans to 1 Tiger is based on the way tanks were deployed. The Germans were short on tanks, so we\’re forced to deploy single tanks. The US with
    plenty of tanks deployed tanks at the minimum as a platoon. A platoon was 5 tanks. So you in any engagement the least number of US tanks was 5 regardless of the enemy it meet.

    The vast majority of allied tanks were taken out by tank destroyers. By the time US forces broke out of Normandy and would have seen a Tiger, most German tank destroyers used 88mm guns – the same guns on a Tiger. A Tiger & a Panzer 4 looked the same. If tank crew saw a Panzer IV & then was hit by an 88mm fixed position gun, they all assumed the tank was an Tiger. But post war Intel says no US Sherman was ever taken out by a Tiger. British & Russia Sherman did engage Tiger tanks but quickly learned to take them out by hitting them from the side – not the rear.

    The 5 tanks to kill a Tiger and the rear shot is based on Belton Cooper\’s book Death Traps written by a man who never was in a Sherman or in combat. The book while a descent memoir is almost nothing factually correct when it comes to a Sherman, the Pershing or any US armor. The death rate for tankers in Europe was 3% – the safest combat job in entire US Army.

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