M4 SHERMAN MEDIUM TANK
'THE MINE CLEARING TANK'

America does it big

On the previous page we saw the British development of the mine clearing Shermans. But the Americans were evenso busy with the principle of rollers. The first anti-mine roller was the T1 which was attached to an M3 medium tank. The installation consisted of two heavy wheels, built out of four discs of 40 inches, at the front and one wheel at the back which had five discs, so the whole width was covered

The T1 connected to an M3, February 1943

Inspired on the T1 was the T1E1 Earthworm. All three wheels where connected to the front of a M32 recovery vehicle and consisted of six 2.5 inch thick discs of 48 inches. The whole contraption weighted 16330 kilos. When a mine exploded the contraption dipped into the crater. With the crane onboard of the M32, it was lifted up and put back on track. For mine clearing it was effective. It operated with a speed of 3 miles p/h. It was almost indestructible, but was difficult to handle.

The T1E1 Earthworm connected to an M32

Itís successor, the T1E2, lost the middle roller, but the other two rollers got seven 1.5 inch discs of 72 inches. To contain the weight and not exceed 680 kilos, eight holes were made into the discs. The whole contraption weighted 12700 kilos. This solution, the T1E2, was also connected to the M32 recovery vehicle.

The first production model of the T1E3

Working with the T1E2 was difficult and the M32 had no cannon for self protection. The design was reworked and as the T1E3 connected to an M4A1. The first design was with two wheels consisting of four discs. But the final production became five discs in a wheel. A disc was 3 inches thick and had a diameter of 88 inches (244 cm)! To contain the weight to 2.086 ton per disc, it had four large holes in it. The whole contraption consisted of 10 discs and a total weight of almost 27 tons! Between March and December 1944 two-hundred T1E3ís were produced by the Whiting Corporation. Four prototypes were sent in May to Europe, two to England and two to Italy. The two for England, ĎAunt Jemima 1í and Ď2í, were demonstrated for British and American officers. Major-General Grow wanted three for his 6th Armored Division.

A T1E3 on October 11, 1944 near Nancy
(with the GI next to it, the large size of the discs is obvious)

Beside the sixteen T1E2ís, and nine British Crabs twenty-seven T1E3ís were placed halfway July with the First Army. Two T1E3ís were first deployed on July 29 near Lessay, France. The first ten miles they led the way, until one broke down with a oil leak. There were so far no mines detected and the advance continued without the T1E3ís. The T1E3ís were deployed near Brest and between Metz and Nancy. But the difficult handling of the vehicles were a big problem when operated. If necessary, for example in rough terrain, the T1E3 could be pushed by another Sherman. At the rear of the T1E3 a push bar was constructed for this purpose (see picture below, and on top of this page).

A T1E3 of the 6th Armored Division in action
near Nancy, France

The successor of the T1E3 was the T1E5. Every roller had an extra disc and the edge was crenated to give it more grip. The diameter was made smaller and measured 72 inches.

The crenated discs of the T1E5 in the factory of Whiting Corp.

An other concept with rollers as anti-mine vehicles came with the T1E4. Chrysler used the principle of 16 crenated discs of 48 inches in diameter. The whole contraptions covered the complete width of the tank, 115 inches (292 cm). Two arms on the side of the tank ended in a bal-connection on top and in front of the rollers. The movement of this vehicle was better than the T1E3, but not that much to produce it in great numbers. A handful were built until June, 1945.

The T1E4 installed on an M4A3 76mm
(the advise was to use the 75mm version for production)

The T1E6 was identical to the T1E4 but the T1E6 had three extra discs to use it on the wide tracked M4ís (like the ones with the HVSS).

The T2 was a pull contraption for the light tank M3 and will not be discussed on this page. The T2E1, had the same apparatus as the T2 (15 sauces shaped discs that did not roll) were tested with an M32 but not further developed.

For the next chapter on the American M4 mine clearing tanks,

CLICK ON THE T1E3

model below