Designed in 1940, the Sherman was the armor backbone of the American and Allied armies during World War II and became one of the most important battlefield weapons of the war.
The M4 entered its first action with the British 8th Army on October 24, 1942 and played a decisive role at the battle of El Alamein in North Africa. It was the British too, who first named it the "Sherman" tank in tribute to the American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.
Despite its tall silhouette and glaring weakness in both armor and firepower, Shermans proved their combat worthiness in all terrain and weather conditions and in every major theater of the war. Reliable, robust and and easy to operate, it became the most widely used battle tank of World War II and was supplied in considerable numbers to the Soviet Union and England, as well as free French and Polish forces.
Over the course of the war, the tank went through a steady series of refinements and improvements to its armor, engine, running gear and weapons systems. Some versions were modified for special duty as armored bulldozers, minesweepers, rocket launchers, recovery tractors and personnel carriers.
Sherman flame thrower tanks, or "Zippos" became a key weapon in the Pacific theater from mid-1944 on and were heavily used by the U.S. Army and Marine units to knock out enemy bunkers.
By the time production ended in June 1945, American factory workers had turned out a total of 49,234 Sherman tanks to help win World War II. Thousands remained in active service after the war and fought again in Korea, forming divisional tank companies for close infantry support.
Although declared obsolete by the U.S. Army in 1956, the Sherman's combat career lasted for another two decades with the Israeli Defense Force and over forty other armies around the world.