M4A3E2 Jumbo in the E.T.O.

The Allies 1939-1945, and those fighting against Germany.

Moderator: John W. Howard

Post Reply
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:34 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

M4A3E2 Jumbo in the E.T.O.

Post by castro323 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:20 pm

I found this information on one of my old hard drives and is better to archive this information here.
Sadly I cannot give the proper credits who ever did this extensive research.
If anyone knows, please posted it.
Here is the available information on the M4A3E2 shipped to the E.T.O.
Note, first off that apparently only 250 were actually shipped,
the remaining four probably stayed in the U.S. for tests and evaluation.

This information is taken from a number of sources including:
The Armored Fighting Vehicle and Weapons Section of
the U.S. Forces in the European Theater of Operations (U.S.F.E.T.),
The Armored Section of the U.S. 12th Army Group
The Armored Section of the U.S. 1st Army
The Armored Section of the U.S. 3rd Army.

In January 1944,
the War Department offered the M4A3E2 to fill the E.T.O. request for the T26 Medium-Heavy Tank.
The offer was accepted by the E.T.O. and preparations were made to ship the vehicles.

The effect of producing 254 M4A3E2 at the Fisher Tank Arsenal at Grand Blanc
may be looked at in a number of ways.
The production of the type itself took two months for an "average" of 127 produced per month.
That could be seen as "low" priority or low-rate production.
However, when examined in light of the total production at Grand Blanc and
the overall capabilities of that plant, then the M4A3E2 is more significant.

Prior to February 1944,
Grand Blanc was entirely occupied in producing the M4A2 75mm.
A total of 4,614 were produced between April 1942 and May 1944 (25 months),
an average of just 184.56 per month.
Then, between June 1944 and December 1944,
2,894 M4A2 76mm (w) were produced at Grand Blanc,
an average of 482.33 per month.
This appears to reflect a number of realities.
For one, the M4A2 had low priority for the U.S. Army,
since it was only used by the U.S.M.C. and for Lend-Lease.
The rapid production increase between June and December is very interesting,
since that was the main 76mm-type supplied through Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union
(2,095, mostly M4A2, but also apparently some M4A1).
It was also supplied in lesser numbers to the United Kingdom,
which eventually received 1,335 76mm-armed Sherman tanks
(450 M4A1 in spring 1944 and 885 mostly M4A2,
but also apparently some M4A1, from fall 1944 through 1945).

Even more significant is an examination of M4A3 production at Grand Blanc.
Production of the M4A3 75mm (w) began in February 1944 and ran 13 months until March 1945.
In that time 3,071 were built, an average of 236.23 per month.

From September to December 1944,
another 525 M4A3 76mm (w) were built,
an average of 131.25 per month.
But it is most significant to look at M4A3 production overall,
recalling that this was the type chosen by the U.S. Army as its preferred standard.

Between February 1944 and March 1945,
a total of 3,880 M4A3 were built,
an average of 298.46 per month.
In other words, the M4A3E2 were completed at 42.55 percent of the average production rate of all M4A3. This implies that if all M4A3 completed at Grand Blanc were built to M4A3E2 standards,
then the total production would have been nearly half that actually produced run
or the time required to produce the same number would have nearly doubled.

Note also that between September and December 1944,
the average production of all M4 types at Grand Blanc was M4A2 76mm (w) at 482.33,
plus M4A3 75mm (w) at 236.23 and plus M4A3 76mm (w) at 131.25 per month
for a total "average" of 849.81 per month.

For June and July 1944,
that "average" was M4A2 76mm (w) at 482.33,
plus M4A3 75mm (w) at 236.23 and plus M4A3E2 at 127 per month for a total of 845.56 per month.
By this calculation it could be assumed that production rates and
priorities remained about the same throughout the period,
but that emphasis shifted from producing the more heavily armored Jumbo
to production of the 76mm-armed Sherman.
However, that is not precisely true, since the Jumbo was really just a "one-off" specialty type.

Overall, the 254 M4A3E2 was a fraction of the total of 10,906 late-production M4A3.
But if these figures are considered illustrative, then the result of producing those M4A3E2
(and the M4A3 76mm, which also materially slowed production rates)
was to reduce the monthly output of tanks by a significant fraction, not unexpected,
since they were essentially hand-crafted.
Now it is probably true that more M4A3E2 could have been built, if the authorization had been given,
but it is likely that the slowing of production resulting - however temporary -
would have further exacerbated the problems with medium tank shortages in the fall of 1944,
just when they were most serious.
Like everything the possible benefits of such an action - improved armor protection -
must be balanced by the possible problems caused by such an action - an increased shortage of tanks.

On 14 August,
it was noted that 115 M4A3E2 were at the embarkation port (Boston or New York) and
were loading or preparing to load on board convoys to Britain.
At the same time there were 135 in the U.S. authorized on release for shipment to the E.T.O.
However, a memo of 10 September remarks that the first 12
were not shipped until sometime prior to 24 August,
an additional 29 had "been floated" between 24-30 August,
35 between 30 August and 2 September,
48 between 2-5 September, and
84 between 4-8 September, a total of 208.
All of these were expected to arrive in U.K. waters between 8-15 September.
In addition, 11 were at the port waiting to load, 28 were en route to the port,
5 were processing at U.S. depots, and 2 were canceled as unavailable.
There is no explanation for the cancellation,
they were probably retained in the U.S. for further testing and evaluation or
may have been so worn out by previous testing as to have been written off.

The first shipment of 128 (another memo cites the number as 126) arrived at Cherbourg and
began unloading sometime on or before 22 September 1944.
The whereabouts of the remaining 80 (or 82) presumably shipped to that date are not remarked.

By 14 October,
36 had been received by the U.S. 1st Army.
They were issued
15 to the 743rd Tank Battalion
15 to the 745th Tank Battalion
6 to the 746th Tank Battalion
It appears that 9 more were received and issued to the 746th by 9 November,
giving each battalion 15 and the 1st Army at least 45 on that date.

By 18 October,
it was noted in a visit to the beach depots that they had 17 on hand,
24 released to the armies and 19 en route to U.S. 3rd Army for a total of 60.

On 20 October,
it was noted that 99 were on hand with the troops.
That implies that 140 had been unloaded on the continent
(counting the 17 on hand and 24 released at the depots,
but not counting the 19 en route to 3rd Army which evidently were counted as "with the troops"
whether or not they had actually arrived).
Note that the total unloaded was 68 fewer than the 208 noted as being "afloat" over a month prior and
only 12 more than what had been unloaded on 22 September.
It is evident that shipping and unloading priorities for the Jumbo were in practice somewhat low.

On 24 October,
the allocation for the delivery of the Jumbo was confirmed as lots of 15 each
until the following was achieved:
U.S. 1st Army = 105,
U.S. 3rd Army = 90,
U.S. 9th Army = 60.
Why they planned for 255 when only 250 were being shipped is unclear,
the U.S.F.E.T. may have been under the impression that more were to be manufactured in the U.S.,
an error that apparently persisted into April 1945.

On 5 November,
it was noted that 180 were in the theater.
However, on 10 November it was noted that 118 had been delivered to the armies and
that 26 were in depots or were unloading, implying that a total of 144 had arrived,
only 16 more than on 22 September.

On 22 November,
40 were reported as having been issued to U.S. 3rd Army units.
5 to the 10th Armored Division
5 to the 702nd Tank Battalion
5 to the 712th Tank Battalion
5 to the 735th Tank Battalion
5 to the 761st Tank Battalion
15 to the 737th Tank Battalion

On 28 November,
154 were on hand, 4 were en route from E.T.O. ports to depots and
55 were afloat in E.T.O. waters for a total of 213.
Note that this is only 5 more than the 208 that had been noted as being "afloat" by 8 September.

On 3 December,
a clearer picture was given.
A total of 250 had arrived in the E.T.O. of which it was noted that 10 had been destroyed in combat
(in fact 14 had been destroyed to 28 November and 17 to 5 December).
There were 40 with the U.S. 1st Army (which had lost 6 to 28 November and 8 to 5 December),
59 with the U.S. 3rd Army (5 had been lost to 25 November and 6 to 2 December), and
30 with the U.S. 9th Army (3 had been lost to 28 November), a total of 129.
En route were 14 to the 1st Army, 5 to the 3rd Army, and 6 to the 9th Army, a total of 25.
En route to E.T.O. depots from the ports and not allocated to the armies were an additional 28.
Afloat in E.T.O. waters, but as yet unloaded, were 46.
Finally, it was remarked that 12 were unaccounted for, either unloaded,
but unreported, or simply unaccounted for.
This is the last information on shipments to the Continent and appears to account for all 252 shipped
(or 250).

By 22 February 1945,
the U.S. 1st Army reported losing 22 Jumbos,
in fact the weekly reports indicate that 24 had been lost.
As of that date U.S. 3rd Army had lost 8 and U.S. 9th Army had lost 6.
An additional 5 were lost by 1st Army, 3 by 3rd Army, and 15 by 9th Army prior to the end of the war.

Tank units in the E.T.O. with Jumbos on hand (the assignment of units to armies as of mid December).
This listing appears to account for all units issued with the Jumbo.

U.S. 1st Army
3rd Armored Division with 6 M4A3E2 (16 Dec)
5th Armored Division with 3 M4A3E2 (19 Dec)
70th Tank Battalion with 4 M4A3E2 (11 Feb)
743rd Tank Battalion with 15 M4A3E2 (14 Oct), 3 M4A3E2 lost as of 3 Dec
745th Tank Battalion with 15 M4A3E2 (14 Oct), 1 M4A3E2 (15 Dec)
746th Tank Battalion with 6 M4A3E2 (14 Oct), 15 M4A3E2 (9 Nov), 5 M4A3E2 (21 Dec)
774th Tank Battalion with 10 M4A3E2 (16 Dec)

The 70th Tank Battalion's tanks were in very poor condition in mid December.
Unit diaries note that they were all "original issue" and worn out.
Thus it appears that the Jumbos assigned to the 70th Tank Battalion
may have been from some of the last available.
These units account for about 37 in mid December and a total of 22 were lost to 28 January.
That total of 59 is very similar to the 54 on hand and en route as of 3 December.
It is likely that all 40-odd of the remaining 105 allocated to the 1st Army
were utilized as replacements and to equipped the 70th Tank Battalion.

U.S. 3rd Army
4th Armored Division with 20 M4A3E2 (22 Dec)
6th Armored Division with 11 M4A3E2 (29 Dec, this may include the 5 reported en route on 3 December)
10th Armored Division with 5 M4A3E2 (22 Nov)
702nd Tank Battalion with 5 M4A3E2 (22 Nov), 5 M4A3E2 (29 Jan)
712th Tank Battalion with 5 M4A3E2 (22 Nov), 1 M4A3E2 (11 Feb)
735th Tank Battalion with 5 M4A3E2 (22 Nov), 2 M4A3E2 (12 Feb)
737th Tank Battalion with 15 M4A3E2 (22 Nov), 5 M4A3E2 (15 Dec), 3 M4A3E2 (29 Jan)
761st Tank Battalion with 5 M4A3E2 (22 Nov)

The available reports tend to indicate that this is a fairly accurate picture of all the Jumbos
assigned to the 3rd Army.
By mid December some 68 may be accounted for including 7 that had been lost.
This closely matches the 59 on hand and 5 en route count for 3 December.
It may also be concluded that 10 were probably withdrawn from the 737th Tank Battalion prior to 15 December and were assigned to the 4th Armored Division (or less likely the 6th Armored Division).
The remaining 30-odd allocated to the 3rd Army were probably utilized as replacements
in these units during 1945.

U.S. 9th Army
709th Tank Battalion with 1 M4A3E2 (19 Dec)
747th Tank Battalion with 5 M4A3E2 (27 Nov, plus 10 en route)
778th Tank Battalion with 4 M4A3E2 (27 Jan)

This appears to account for only 20 of the 36 on hand or en route as of 3 December.
3 had been lost to that date and another was lost between 21-28 December.
The remaining 12 or 13 may have been issued later (likely to the 709th Tank Battalion),
may have been issued to other units (possibly the 3rd Armored Division),
or they may have been retained as replacements.
It appears probable that the remaining 24 of the 60 allocated to the 9th Army were never in fact shipped,
given the strategic situation in mid December, the losses sustained to date, and
the reduction in the number shipped from 254 to 250.

It does not appear as if the
2nd Armored Division, 7th Armored Division, 8th Armored Division, 9th Armored Division,
11th Armored Division, 12th Armored Division, 13th Armored Division, 14th Armored Division,
16th Armored Division, 20th Armored Division
were ever issued M4A3E2 Jumbo.

Post Reply