When it comes to patriotism and sacrifice, every military veteran deserves our gratitude, no matter how large or small their role in protecting our freedom. Suffice it to say, as we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, this particular service member’s contribution was bigger than most.
A 1943 M4A1 Sherman tank—one of fewer than 20 known-running M4A1s, according to the seller—is up for auction on Bring a Trailer. The World War II hero has already been bid to $300,000 with nine days left in the auction. Equally impressive: the auction has more than 3000 watchers and hundreds of comments, ranging from celebratory and humorous to awestruck, nostalgic, and somber.
Although this M4A1 Sherman is painted as a U.S. military tank, multiple commenters pointed out that it likely went to war in Europe with Canadian Forces, not American soldiers.
Undoubtedly the most famous WWII tank serving the Allied Forces, nearly 50,000 Sherman variations were built. The M4 features a fully rotating turret equipped with a 75 mm M3 canon, without modifying the M3 tank’s engine or driving system.
According to the listing, “This M4A1 was built in late 1943 and is a cast-hull variant of the Sherman medium tank, powered by a Continental-built 975-cubic-inch Wright Whirlwind nine-cylinder radial engine. Equipment includes the demilitarized 75mm main gun, a propane-fired .50 caliber replica machine gun on the turret, and a dummy .30 caliber machine gun in the forward hull.” The turret can be rotated hydraulically or manually using cranks inside the tank. Each M4A1 was operated by a five-man crew, with the driver located at the front left of the hull next to a machine gunner.
Prior to the sale, prep work on the tank included flushing the hydraulic system, changing the engine and transmission oil, adjusting the clutch and brakes, repairing wiring, greasing the road wheels and fittings, and repairing the tachometer. The exterior was also refreshed, and the fighting compartment was stripped and refinished in white.
The M4A1 features a cast, single-piece upper hull welded to an armor-plated lower hull. The seller notes that there is some evidence of damage repair on the left-front corner of the hull, plus a “pair of drill marks showing where the repair was tested.”
The radial engine is accessible via a pair of hatches at the rear of the vehicle, as well as additional hatches atop the engine deck. “Induction is handled by a single updraft carburetor fed by dual top-mounted intakes, which allowed the Sherman a maximum wading depth of 40 inches without additional gear … Power is sent to the drive sprockets at the front of the tank via a prop shaft that runs through an enclosed housing in the fighting compartment to a front-mounted Spicer five-speed manual transmission.”
While running Sherman tanks are rare, they find their way to the market on occasion. Artcurial sold a 1944 Sherman M4A4 for €347,200 ($389,800) and a 1944 Sherman 105 for €296,360 ($332,700) at its French D-Day Auction in September 2016. Two years earlier, RM Sotheby’s sold a 1942 M4A3 for $299,000, but a 1944 M4A2 that was estimated at $350,000–$450,000 failed to sell.
Offered at no reserve, the Sherman M3A1 on BaT will soon have a new home. As we honor the men and women who bravely served in our armed forces, check out this historic military vehicle and take a few moments to imagine what it’s been through. You’ll get a better understanding of what these military machines meant to our soldiers and what our soldiers mean to our country.