NR Digital


by Ian Tuttle

Imagining battle in a Sherman tank

Uvalde, Texas — There is nothing elegant about atank.

I am currently seated in an M4 Sherman, workhorse of the Allied army. Just over 49,000 of these were made from 1942 to 1945, rolled off the assembly lines at the General Motors plant in Grand Blanc, Mich., and the Pullman plant in Hammond, Ind., and elsewhere. Thirty-three squat tons of welded steel cycling through the sand outside El Alamein, or mowing the jungles on Tarawa, or rumbling up the Komodienstrasse in Cologne, with five men — driver and assistant driver up front, commander, gunner, and loader in back — fitted into position like pegs. On top, scanning the horizon, is a 76-millimeter main gun, which will fire a 14-pound projectile round at 2,600 feet per second, or 1,773 miles per hour. This is a clenched fist of a vehicle, a monument to brute machine force.

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