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The M4 Sherman at War (1): European Theatre 1942-1945 (Armor at War 7001)
By Steven J. Zaloga
Publisher: Concord Publications 1995 72 Pages
PDF 102 MB
The US Army was a relative latecomer to the tank business in World War 2. The US tank force on the eve of war In Europe in 1939 was that of second-rate power; indeed the US Army had fewer tanks than armies like Italy or Poland. The neglect of the US armored force was caused by a complicated set of conditions including the economic stagnation of the Great Depression, and the tendency towards isolationism in US foreign policy. By 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt had begun to commit the US Army to a major rebuilding due to the perception that the United States would eventually be dragged into war. An important element in this effort was the considerable expansion cf the US defense industry, to supply Lend Lease needs as well as the growing US Army.
The clearest evidence of the stagnation of American tark design was the US Army's first medium tank, the dreadful M2AI medium tank which was manufactured from December 1940 through August 1941. This embarrassing design was manufactured simply because no other types were available. It is a grim curiosity that the M2A1 entered production at exactly the same time that the T-34 medium tank entered production in the Soviet Union. Although US tank design had suffered from a lack of funding, the US Ordnance Corps had wisely chosen to invest its scanty budget in tank components, such as guns, transmissions, and suspensions. So when new tanks were demanded, the Ordnance Corps could -espond reasonably quickly, as occured in 1940.