By all accounts, the M4 Sherman medium tank was regarded as the workhorse of the US Army during World War II. In fact, virtually all of the Allied armies employed the Sherman in their armed forces, including the British, who developed an upgunned variant called the "Firefly". Eleven different US plants manufactured six basic models of the Sherman, and by June 1944 over 49,234 battle-ready vehicles had been produced. While it was no match for the German Panther or Tiger tanks, the Sherman soldiered on, using its weight in numbers to wrest control of Europe from the Wehrmacht. The M4A3 was fitted with a long-barrel M1A1 76mm gun, which replaced the shorter and less effective 75mm gun, and sported a larger, more angular turret to house the bigger gun. In addition, the slope of the M4A3's frontal armor was changed to 47-degrees to increase frontal protection and simplify the production process.
Pictured here is a Corgi 50th Anniversary Collectible: a US M4A3E8 Sherman medium tank, nicknamed "Thunderbolt VII," from the 4th Armored Division, then serving in Germany during 1945. Only 1,956 pieces produced. Sold Out!
Length: 4.5 inches
Width: 2 inches
Release Date: July 2006
Historical Account: "Nightfall's Cling" - On the morning of December 26th, 1944, as part of a concerted effort to relieve the 101st Airborne ("Screaming Eagles") defending the all-important crossroads town of Bastogne, the 4th Armored Division's ("Breakthrough") Combat Command Reserve (CCR) was ordered by Division HQ to link up with Combat Command B (CCB), which was still fighting for the town of Chaumont in southeast Belgium. Colonel Wendell Blanchard, commander of CCR, called together Lt. Colonel Creighton Abrams of the 37th Tank Battalion, and Lt. Colonel George L. Jaques of the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion. He told them to attack and seize the village of Chaumont, which was just 3 miles from Bastogne. From there, they were to advance in earnest up the main road, break through the German cordon, and make contact with the beleaguered 101st, which was rapidly running out of ammunition.
After capturing Chaumont, the two commanders initially planned to attack the town of Sibret, but because it was so heavily defended, they instead chose to assault the nearby village of Assenois, which was located on a secondary road but still provided access to Bastogne. With artillery firing in support, the leading element of CCR, comprised of three Shermans followed by a halftrack full of infantry, then two more Shermans, stormed the village. Abrams' tanks blasted their way through the obstacles, while dismounted infantry mopped up the remaining strongpoints. After eliminating several enemy soldiers laying Teller mines along the road, Abrams command linked up with elements of the 101st at 1700 hours. The siege had been lifted and with it came the collapse of Hitler's "Wacht am Rhein" operation.