The Normandy Tank Museum near Catz is unique in offering tank rides to visitors on restored WW2 US Army tanks. This M4A4 short barreled 75mm Sherman tank is one of the two vehicles used for tank rides. The other is a M36 Jackson Tank Destroyer. Tickets are not cheap.
You can pay to ride on this M4A4 75mm Sherman Tank at the Normandy Tank Museum near Catz
The Normandy Tank Museum is not hard to miss. It is next to the main N13 (E46) motorway. Set your Sat-Nav to the town of Catz in Normandy and then the road of La Fourchette or Rue de la Fourchette to be directed to the Museum entrance.
The M4A4 Sherman Tank was powered by a Chrysler A57 multibank petrol engine. The Sherman tank hull had to be lengthened to enable the engine to fit. It produced 470 hp. The tank had a top road speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). It had an operational range of around 120 miles (193 km).
The tank had a crew of five, commander, driver, gunner, loader and co-driver/machine gunner. Its armour thickness ranged for 25 mm to 75 mm. It was armed with the standard 75 mm M3 L/40 gun and two 30-06 Browning machine guns, one in the hull and the other next to the main gun in the turret. Between July 1942 and November 1943 7.499 were manufactured.
British Sherman Tanks
To the British Army, the M4 medium tank was named the 'General Sherman', more often called the 'Sherman', by which name it also became popularly known by other nations. The Sherman was, in fact, the most important tank in British service and more widely used than any of the British designed or British produced types from 1943-45.
British built tanks with comparable 75mm AP/HE gun power (eg, the Cromwell IV and Churchill VII) were not available for service until the end of 1943 and not in wide service until spring 1944.
The first Shermans, almost all the cast-hull M4A1 variant, were shipped to the 8th Army in the Middle East in October 1942 and about 270 of the first batch of 300 were in service at the start of the Battle of Alamein on October 24, 1942, where they supplemented the M3 mediums (Grants) to make up almost half of the British tank strength of 1,100 vehicles committed to battle.
To make up the numbers of M4s available, some of the vehicles had been withdrawn from American armoured units in USA to replace vehicles lost by the sinking of one of the freighters convoying the initial batch to Massawa. At the end of 1942, also, shipments of M4s started to Britain and there was a steady flow of these vehicles to the British, both in Britain and the Middle East from then until the war's end, all vehicles being supplied on the Lend-Lease basis.
While numbers of all production variants were supplied to Britain, major deliveries were of the M4A4 type (more than 1,600 supplied to 8th Army in Italy in 1943), M4A2, M4, M4A1, and M4A3 in roughly that order of quantity. Few M4A3s were sent, since this was selected as the principal service type for the US Army.
Very late production vehicles with HVSS, 76mm guns, and 'wet stowage' were not delivered until late 1944, then only in very small numbers, since most of these improved types went to the US Army. Some of these late vehicles were used by the British however.
The major development in British service was the fitting of the 17pdr gun to a proportion of Shermans to provide the most powerfully armed British tank of the war. Known as the Sherman Firefly, the fitting of the 17pdr gun had been suggested in January 1943 as a safeguard against the failure of the Challenger programme, this latter tank on trials, to have several shortcomings.
Though there was some opposition to this idea at the Ministry of Supply, the British War Office insisted on a pilot conversion being produced. This was ready in November 1943 and in February 1944 the Firefly conversion was given full priority for service following delays and uncertainties with the Challenger, which prevented it being in service in time for Operation Overlord, the Normandy landings.
The Sherman Firefly was the only British tank landing at Normandy which could take on the German Tiger and Panther tanks on anything approaching equal terms and proved a most successful expedient design. Initially Sherman Fireflies were issued on the basis of one per troop, due to the shortage of 17pdr guns available for fitting in tanks.
By early 1945, however, the type was in service in more generous numbers. In late 1945, a Firefly turret was sent to APG for test firing mounted on a M4A3 chassis. It was evaluated for the US Army but not adopted for service. In British service a large number of indigenous special purpose conversions were produced on the Sherman chassis as were many experimental types.
British Army Sherman tank designations
Sherman I: British designation for standard M4.
Sherman Hybrid I: British designation for late-production Detroit-built M4 with combination cast/rolled hull front.
Sherman IB: British designation for M4 (105mm)
Sherman IBY: British designation for M4 (105mm) HVSS. Delivered late 1945.
Sherman II: British designation for standard M4A1 (cast hull).
Sherman IIA: British designation for M4A1 (76mm).
Sherman IIC (Firefly): British designation for M4A1 rearmed in Britain with 17pdr gun.
Sherman III: British designation for standard M4A2.
Sherman IIIAY: British designation for M4A2 with 76mm gun, 'wet stowage', and HVSS. Delivered late 1944.
Sherman IV: British designation for standard M4A3.
Sherman IVA: British designation for standard M4A3 with 76mm gun and 'wet stowage'.
Sherman IVB: British designation for M4A3 (105mm).
Sherman IVC (Firefly): British designation for standard M4A3 rearmed in Britain with 17pdr gun.
Sherman V: British designation for standard M4A4.
Sherman VC (Firefly): British designation for M4A4 rearmed in Britain with 17pdr gun. Most Firefly conversions were on the M4A4 chassis. Hull machine gun (and gunner) deleted in all Fireflies to increase ammunition stowage.
Sherman V II: British designation for M4A6. Few, if any, delivered to Britain.
Sherman V (Rocket) : A field modification by the Coldstream Guards, Guards Armoured Division, to provide twin launchers for 601b aircraft rockets (taken from Typhoon fighters) on sides of Sherman V turret, late 1944. Though demonstrated to senior officers, the modification was not adopted elsewhere. Some vehicles so fitted were Sherman VC.