Sherman-Track Armour

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by canuck, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I've seen countless photos of Allied Shermans where crews have attached track armour for additional protection (who could blame them!!). What I have never seen in any written accounts is an assessment of how effective this might have been or a description of any action where this added armour made a difference.



  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    At the risk of stating the obvious, quite apart from the extra protection afforded it was the simplest way for tanks to carry their own spares.

    When I took over, after the war, the job of Tech Corporal, in which role I was responsible of seeing that the Squadron was always equipped to carry out running repairs, even my store lorry had 3 spare tank rollers mounted each side.

    I had a look in my Album pics to see if I could find any examples.

    The only one showing spare bogies was this one of Les's Squadron recovery tank.



    Attached Files:

    mark abbott likes this.
  3. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    I'd always assumed the extra tracks attached were for repair purposes, in case a track broke.
  4. Stig O'Tracy

    Stig O'Tracy Senior Member

    I imagine that they may have been somewhat successful at dispersing the damage from a Panzerfaust but I doubt that they would do much to deter a high velocity solid shot unless at a significant range. It's possible that it might make the damage from this type of round worse in that without the track protection the round may go clean through but obviously it must have improved their protection otherwise it wouldn't have been done.

    I don't believe that I can recall seeing any Russian tanks with tracks welded to them.
  5. Anglian

    Anglian Junior Member

    The armour was poor on Shermans, so I guess any extra metal on the front was reassuring. Patton, by the way, forbade this practice.
  6. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Anglian -
    you are right - the Sherman armour was very poor and an 88mm shot would go straight through from 1500 yards - that's why they were called Ronson's - they lit first time

  7. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    From what I understand, it was a bit of both. Easy way to carry spare tracks and offers protection. I have also seen photos of Sherman Fireflys (possibly Polish) with Panther tracks welded to the hull and turret for extra armour.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  9. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron does have a few references to the practice:

    Later Sherman models decreased the dangers of ammunition stowage by welding one-inch thick applique armour plates to the hull outside the stowage racks, and later moving ammunition to the hull floor and utilizing "wet stowage" where ammunition was kept in liquid filled jackets.
    However, as tank crews became familiar with enemy gun performance, additional armour solutions were created in the field, including the use of logs, sandbags, and especially common in Canadian units was the use of spare track welded to the hull and turret - including tracks from tanks other than Shermans, including captured German track. The use of field-applied armour was controversial; some technicians felt it increased the vulnerability to HEAT weapons, others pointed to the strain on drive trains caused by the additional weight. The crews' response was that there was no point preserving the drive train for an additional 500 miles of life if the tank did not survive to the next bend in the road.
    By the end of Jun 1944, armoured crews of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade began to make changes:
    The members of the (6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars)) took the opportunity to start making unauthorized modifications to their Shermans. They attached lengths of track from derelicts to the glacis plates (front of the tank) and the sides of the hull. The theory was that the additional armour would either deflect or slow down a round striking the tank. The crews were only too aware of the Shermans shortcomings and felt that they needed every additional advantage they could think of. The RCEME officers who saw these goings on were not impressed. The extra weight would drive up fuel consumption and cause premature track and engine wear, they said. They also stated that the extra padding was illusory, that it would do nothing in the way of adding protection. The crewmen remained singularly unimpressed with these arguments. They didn't care a hoot about fuel, track or engine wear; they cared about getting across the next one hundred yards of ground and living to tell the story. If the extra armour was not real protection, that didn't matter either, they liked it and if it helped their morale and gave them more confidence in their vehicles then it was worth the expense.McNorgan, p.156
    The 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division apparently did not wait long after arriving on the Continent to similarly modify their tanks:
    On 3 August (Major) Dave Currie's "C" Squadron (of the South Alberta Regiment) moved up to replace (Major) Lavoie's "A" Squadron, which was withdrawn to have German tank tracks welded to the turrets and hulls of their Shermans for additional armour protection. Apparently, as the War Diarist noted, the Regiment was the first armoured unit in 4th Division "to attempt such a modification and those who have had experience with it can vouch for its usefulness."Graves, p.106
  10. LesCM19

    LesCM19 "...lets rock!"

    The crews were only too aware of the Shermans shortcomings and felt that they needed every additional advantage they could think of.
    The RCEME officers who saw these goings on were not impressed.

    I am by no means an expert on this, and I thankfully have no first hand experience but what occurs to me is that welding track to the hull would create 'shot traps'
    However, as Canuck states...
    ...if the extra armour was not real protection, that didn't matter either, they liked it and if it helped their morale and gave them more confidence in their vehicles then it was worth the expense.
  11. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Den Haag, Netherlands
    May 1945

    den haag may 1945.jpg
  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I feel like I've read a report in which the DTD tested firing 6-pounder ammunition at track plates welded onto a Sherman but... I would have to go through all my photographed documents to find it.
  13. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    If welding wasn't your forte, you could always try masonry:

    Dave55 likes this.
  14. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Beautiful job. Look how smooth and even they got it on a steeply sloped surface with a perfect radius along the top edge and corner. Looks better than some Russian castings.

    Not their first session with a trowel.

    Patton would have plotzed if he saw that one :)
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
    canuck likes this.
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Canuck, is that a tank or a pillbox? I don't see a way for the driver to see, let alone exit!
  16. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    It isn't an isolated example.
    Presumably, they found alternate means.

    concrete.jpg concrete1.jpg concrete2.jpg
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  17. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    The gun mantle on this one makes me think it might be a Jumbo

    canuck likes this.
  18. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    Applique armour was a popular addition to the Sherman, but the crews may as well have added a lucky rabbits foot. according to this study by the scientists of the 21 Army Group ORS. (p397 note 1) PP 393-9
    These chaps inspected a sample of 45 Sherman casualties. In no cases did the applique armour prevent penetration of the tank. Adding mild steel tracks, sand bags or concrete added little additional protection.

    It is sad that it took two years before the connection was made between ammunition storage and catastrophic fires.
    canuck likes this.
  19. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I saw a reference to some testing which indicated that for guaranteed protection against direct hits from a 75mm gun you would need 60 cm of reinforced concrete (high quality), with reinforcing rods.
    The obvious but quite subjective benefit was psychological. If applique improved crew morale and therefore, combat effectiveness, it may have been a worthwhile exercise. That is impossible to measure and therefore is inconclusive.
  20. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Churchill had similar results. That said... I've found a handful of accounts (with a bit more evidence) where track applique armour did *something*, or was perceived to have done so by the crew/Regiment. No doubt these one offs encouraged wider practice.

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