Dean Cornwell: Better than a Rabbit’s Foot. Ca. 1942. Four-man tank crew gathers around the artist among them as he uses a piece of white chalk to draw the elegant logo of Fisher Body, a large division of General Motors, on the hull of their M4 Sherman medium tank. The Fisher Body division started life as an independent coachbuilder, but was purchased by GM in 1919. Coachbuilding, although it sounds as antique as the logo looks, is actually the building of a chassis or the outer structural frame work of a vehicle. During the war the government made GM switch from manufacturing cars for civilians to making a total of nearly 50,000 Shermans for the Army and Marines. These performed well in the Pacific theater where the Japanese armament was decidedly inferior, but they were no match for the heavier German Panther or Tiger tanks that they faced in the European theater.
Shermans didn’t have the armor or firepower to get close enough to these model enemy tanks to make a kill without suffering heavy casualties themselves. General George S. Patton, Commander of the Third Armored Division, valued speed and maneuverability over armor and firepower. This calculation caused heavy casualties for the M4 Sherman’s tank crews. Only the Pershing Tank, which succeeded the Sherman at the very end of the war, had the necessary fire power to match the Tigers and Panthers with their 88 mm. main guns. A Patton’s main gun was a a hefty 90 mm. Today you can buy a fully restored Sherman tank on Ebay for between $275,000 and $550,000.