M4A5 'RAM'

The 'RAM I' prototype during testing at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds

This type was developed and built in Canada. It was a mix of American and British idea's. The RAM had a large hatch at the front for the driver and a little turret with a machinegun was installed on the port side, next to the driver. Of the RAM I 50 were produced. It had a 2 pounder gun.

Two 'RAM II' tanks during an exercise

The RAM II had a 6 pounder gun and was known in the USA Army inventory first as the Medium Tank M3 (Canadian) but became the M4A5 (even M4A6 was considered). Later models of the RAM II had the pistolports and the doors in the sponsons (flank) deleted. Another feature was later lost on the RAM, the small turret for the front machine gunner/assistant driver. This was replaced with the machinegun in 'the ball', just as the Sherman had.

this late production M4A5 'RAM II' lost it's doors in the sponsons

The driver of the RAM was sitting on the right side (starboard side), as opposite to the American M4 Sherman. Of the RAM II 1899 were built at the Montreal Lcocmotive Works before the production was stopped in the summer of 1943. But it was not a success and never saw action. Instead, it became a great training vehicle.

This M4A5 'RAM II' is preserved as a museum object

But the basis of the RAM was not thrown away. The chassis became useful for two new vehicles. One was for the 'Sexton', the British/Canadian version of the American selfpropelled howitzer M7. The British called the M7 the 'Priest' after the pulpit for the machine gunner on the starboard side. The Sexton had a 25 pounder howitzer.

The RAM was also the basis for the armored personal carrier 'Kangaroo'. It had the main turret and the sideway doors removed, but retained the original shape of the hull, with the small machinegun turret.

A RAM 'Kangaroo' personal carrier

M4E1 & M4A6

To replace the troublesome Chrysler engine, a model with the Caterpillar D200A Diesel engine was introduced. The D200A was an adaptation of the air cooled radial Wright G200 engine with fuel injection that was also capable of using other propellant like gasoline. Because of the size of the engine the hull of an M4A4, built at Chrysler at the Detroit Tank Arsenal, was used. The engine was that big that a bulge had to be made in the floor and the top of the deck of the tank. There were a lot of problems, but they were all overcome.

A production M4A6
(notice the big space between the bogies, and the half welded and casted hull)

On 28 January 1943 an order was given to produce a 1000 D200A engines. An other department of the Ordnance Committee re-named the D200A the Ordnance Engine RD1820 and 775 were to be built into the M4A4 for further testing. These production tanks were to be designated as the M4A6. But the production seized when only 75 were built (all with the 75mm gun). A change of re-thinking by the army and to concentrate production to the gasoline engine driven M4A3 halted the production.

Topview of the M4A6 (notice the bulge on the rear deck)

Ten production models of the M4A6 tanks were tested by the Armored Force at Fort Knox from March 1944. It was superior to all other M4 models. The fuel consumption was a lot better than with the other M4’s. When the production was finished, the M4A6 was placed with training units and the 777th Tank Battalion at Fort Knox. Not a single M4A6 went over sea (despite that, the model was called by the British the Sherman VII).

An M4A6 of the 777th Tank Battalion at Fort Knox


A Sherman Mk Ic Firefly (M4) in Holland

Approximately 2000 British Shermans were rebuilt to house the high velocity 17pdr (pounder) cannon. 600 of these were ready for action in June 1944. Called the Firefly it was the only Sherman that could attack a German Panther or Tiger tank. All types of M4's were used to house the 17pdr, but mostly it was a Sherman V. When the 17pdr was fitted it was designated with an extra 'C'.

A Sherman Mk IIc Firefly (Hybrid) near Namur, Belgium

During the development of the Firefly there was a double machinegun installed in the front plate. But the use of the gun was restricted and the gun was dropped altogether and the hole welded over. To speed up the production the slits for the driver and the co-driver were also removed.

This M4A4 Firefly Mk Vc is preserved in Belgium
(notice the covered place for the front machinegun)
(picture; Paul Hermans)

A Sherman Vc Firefly from 3 Troop, A Squadron, Northamptonshire Yeomanry (Sherman 12) was credited with the Tiger I of Michael Wittmann, when it was put out of action on 8 August 1944. The same Firefly destroyed two other Tigers during the fighting around St. Aignan de Cramesnil in Normandy. (Other sources claim the Tiger of Wittmann by a Typhoon , see for more info 'HERE').

A Sherman Firefly Mk Vc in German hands is being tested

There is some confusing on the numbers of produced Fireflies. But a reader of these pages, Bram Risseeuw, sent me the correct numbers (source: Sherman Firefly by Mark Hayward). Winston Churchill received the monthly numbers of produced Fireflies on a list. The list mentioned that from January 1944 until March 1945 a total of 2002 were produced. In the months after that a couple more were built. The June 1945 report of ‘RAC six-monthly Progress Report’ gives a final total of 2139.

A Firefly Mk IIc (Hybrid) from the 5th Canadian Armoured Div. in Holland, April 1945.
As extra 'armour' it carries Churchill tank tracks on the hull,
(notice the 'bumb' halfway the barrel, at the front painted in a broken pattern,
to give it the illusion that it has a short 75mm barrel)

After the second World War there were just a few Firefly users. The biggest user was Argentina who had 206 in it’s arsenal. Belgium has some 200+ and Holland used 57 Fireflies. Paraguay received in 1971 three ex-Argentine Fireflies, the so called ‘repotenciado's’. In 1978 120 Argentina Sherman (Firefly)tanks were modernized when the tension between Chili and Argentina was building. The Shermans were given an FRT 105mm L44/57 gun and a Poyaud 520 8 cylinder V diesel engine of 450 hp. It had a speed of 48 km/h.

The Sherman tank is a populair tank with the modelmaker,
such as this Sherman Firefly Mk Vc from Matchbox

For the next chapter on the M4 Sherman tank