“A Tiger can destroy 10 Sherman tanks, but the Americans have 11.”
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
A military maxim proclaims that quantity has a quality all its own. Some 50,000 M4 Sherman tanks were manufactured by the US during the World War II. A speedy and maneuverable medium tank, the M4 was designed to be shipped easily by sea and rail. As an infantry support platform it was much loved by GI’s. The only problem was that the Sherman was totally outgunned by German Tigers and Panthers. One dismayed tanker recalled seeing a Tiger fire through two buildings and still take out a Sherman. The Sherman 75 gun could not penetrate the front armor of a Tiger. Tiger and Panther shells had little problem penetrating the Sherman’s armor, causing American tankers to sometimes refer to their tanks as Ronsons, after a popular lighter of the period. However, the Americans usually heavily outnumbered the enemy armor they confronted and almost always could call on air support to knock out enemy tanks. Enemy armor also had to confront endless American infantry with anti-tank weapons and mortars, backed up by plentiful artillery and abundant tank destroyers, which made most German armored offensives against American positions risky propositions for them.
Most losses of the Sherman were not caused by German armor. However, the fact that the Shermans were clearly inferior to the top classes of German armor was demoralizing for American tankers. Variants on the Sherman saw service during the campaigns in France and Germany with heavier frontal armor and mounting heavier guns partially alleviating the problem.