'Little bit of an odd question, but my reference materials are failing me. How heavy a load is/was an M4 Sherman tank capable of towing? Let’s say an…M4A3, for the purposes of the question, and not a dedicated recovery or engineering model, or anything like that.
The closest I’ve been able to find to a clue is a stock footage clip on YouTube, apparently (from a date on a clapboard) taken in Korea, of one M4 towing another M4 that had thrown a track out of a river (I’m not personally able to ID the models, I’m sorry to say), apparently with little trouble.
That’s all I’ve got—although I recognize that, say, towing something on wheels is a different matter than dragging a non-rolling weight. But assuming it’s the former case—can anyone enlighten me?
Most Shermans were powered by a pair of air-cooledradial aircraft engines. These types of engines are not known for having excessively large amounts of ‘torque’, like diesel engines do. In that video of one Sherman towing another you can see its on completely flat terrain. My educated guess would be that they couldn’t tow a heavy load very well (or up hill at all).
As usual, a bit of a cheat - Image of a Sherman M4A4 towing a fuel trailer - Caveat, this is a Sherman Crocodile Flame-Thrower tank, not a regular tank, but the main gun should be the same (the flame thrower is mounted on the tank’s right front side).
This video is not really evidence of any towing capacity.
The ground is flat, and made of rock.
The broken tank is stuck because one river rock got into the rollers and wedges the track off, but the towing tank on ground is safe… and the slope is very very slight.
This is equivalent to a person towing a jumbo jet with his teeth ! yeah airports are very very flat. OR a train ? On very very flat rail…
What happens next is that we need to have some idea of the gears in the tank… Is it geared to be a donkey, eg go very slowly towing much more than its own weight ?
The M4A3E2 Sherman was an M4A3 with applique armor welded to the hull front and sponson sides … The tank’s final drive ratios were altered to better cope with the increased weight.
The shermans were built to be able to climb 60%… 6 feet up for 10 feet across…
So increasing the mass a bit required tweaking the gear ratios. Ah what does that tell us ? It was not geared to be a great towing machine, it wasn’t even geared to tow a single artillery piece. It was geared to ensure it could travel as fast as possible, and that not meant having extraneous weight, such as having a low gear for towing.
Basically, towing capacity varies between 100 giant freight trains, if they are all on the flat, to zero zilch none, if its facing up a 60 % slope itself.