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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tanks for the Memories

I heard something on Christian TV the other day - an expression that I'd thought passed out of use.

"Tough as a Sherman tank."

The speaker was a young man, and I wondered - did he know whereof he spoke?

The M4 'Sherman' was the definitive 'American Tank' of World War 2. Built in the tens of thousands, it saw service from North Africa to Germany, and in the Pacific from New Guinea and the Solomons to Okinawa.

After the war it was distributed to our Allies, and was used in conflicts on every continent. Shermans are still part of various Christian militias in Lebanon, and are in the reserve forces of African and South American countries.
And yet - the Sherman was not a very good combat vehicle. It was fast, but lightly armed and armored, with a rather unsettling propensity to catch for (resulting in the nickname 'Ronson'...yes, like the cigarette lighter).

Shermans were no match for the heavier German tanks when taken one-on-one, but could overpower their adversaries through speed and weight of numbers. The Japanese had no comparable armored vehicles, but did possess a wickedly effective anti=tank gun that could make short work of the Sherman.

As the twentieth century passed, the Sherman pretty well passed into history with it, I had thought that the comparative, "...(blank) as a Sherman tank" was dead and gone. Glad to see I'm wrong.

(And if you happen to have a spare $400,000, you can buy your very own restored Sherman...with everything operating but the guns.)

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