ARM: Book Review - The Postwar Sherman in Canadian Service

Book Review: =93Weapons of War=94 Series; The Postwar Sherman in Canadian S=
ervice by Rod Henderson; Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 201=
2; 24 pp. with B&W photos and a 1/35 scale diagram; price CDN $9.95; ISBN 9=
78-1-894581-76-9
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=20
Advantages: interesting little tome on what happens AFTER the war to a majo=
r weapons system
Disadvantages: from a modeler=92s standpoint perhaps more markings info wou=
ld have been useful
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all =93Shermaholics=94 and military historians
When fighting a war, you usually want all of the weapons you can get if th=
ey are serviceable, reliable, and can accomplish most tasks with relative e=
ase. During WWII two tanks stood out as meeting those requirements: the Ame=
rican M4 medium tank - Sherman in Commonwealth service =96 and the Soviet T=
-34. At the end of the war, thousands of these tanks were in service with t=
heir respective armies, but due to developments during the war were seen as=
somewhat obsolete and past their prime. While the Soviets initially stored=
their 76mm T-34 tanks - scrapping them much later after the war was over -=
the US refurbished their Shermans and sold them to other nations at bargai=
n basement prices or furnished them to emerging governments under the Milit=
ary Assistance Program.=20
The Sherman in its final form was still capable as a tank when used for ba=
sic functions such as infantry escort or mobile fire support; it just was n=
ot capable of standing up to newer Soviet tanks like the IS-2 and IS-3 and =
the nascent medium tank of the 1950s, the T-54 with its 100mm gun then in d=
evelopment. So it was a cheap way to =93bulk up=94 one=92s forces.=20
The Canadian Army decided after the war to switch from British-designed to=
American-designed vehicles and weapons systems, as it was an easier arrang=
ement and many factories in the Detroit area share both parts and productio=
n tasks. Offered a lot of M4A2E8 tanks originally slated for the USSR at pr=
ices equivalent to scrap metal, the Department of National Defence (DND) pu=
rchased 294 of these tanks in 1946 along with 90 M5A1 Stuart VI tanks for a=
paltry $772,000 and used them to equip a number of active duty and reserve=
units.=20
Since the Canadian Army had used earlier marks of the Sherman in WWII, the=
new tanks were not a great technological jump, nor were they a training pr=
oblem. The new tanks were the final models with =93Wet=94 stowage hulls, T2=
3 type turrets with 76mm guns, and the horizontal volute spring suspension =
with 23" wide tracks. The only part that the Canadians did not like to use =
were the SCR-528 VHF FM radio sets, preferring to swap them for the then-Co=
mmonwealth standard No. 19 HF AM radio sets.=20
When the Korean War broke out, and the US brokered a UN mission to retake =
South Korea from the North Koreans, the Canadians moved to sent a contingen=
t of M10/17-pdr tankd destroyers to Korea as part of their formation. They =
soon decided this was incompatible with US equipment, and rather than send =
the M4A2E8 tanks they had trained on they drew M4A3E8 tanks from US forward=
based stocks. The tanks were nearly identical other than the Ford GAA gaso=
line engine vice the twin GMC diesels of their A2s, so the transition was q=
uick. This unit was designated as C Squadron, Lord Strathcona=92s Horse. Th=
ese were used effectively against Chinese and Korean SU-76M self-propelled =
guns, and even with the age of the Shermans this was not a fair fight! By t=
he end of the war they had been replaced in situ by A and B Squadrons.=20
But back in Canada, starting in 1952 the Canadian Army began to transition=
to the new Centurion tanks and as such the Shermans were then delegate to =
the reserves. These tanks were used until the late 1950s when in 1957-58 th=
e reserves began to transition to functions similar to the US National Guar=
d, e.g. more emphasis on support to natural disasters and civil defense. Th=
is was reversed in 1964 and tank units once more trained as tank units. By =
1970 all of the units had given up their Sherman with the exception of the =
Ontario Regiment. These were sorted out for scrap in early 1972, ending the=
Sherman=92s active use by the Canadian Army.=20
While there were some experiments with the tanks over the years such as =
=93Badger=94 flamethrower units and some =93Kangaroo=94 like armored person=
nel carriers, for the most part the tanks remained as combat vehicles while=
in service.=20
The tanks were given DND registration numbers by the Canadians running fro=
m 78-693 to 78-992. The book includes a 1/35 tone painting of 78-748 while =
in service with the Regiment de Hull, Provincial forces of Quebec.=20
Overall this is a book that =93completes the record=94 for every Sherman f=
an regardless of nationality. The cover picture of an M4A2E8 in service wit=
h the Fort Garry Horse in 1950 with polished (!) tracks needs to be seen by=
modelers!=20
Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review copy.=20
Cookie Sewell
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