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ABSTRACT
The M4 tank was one of the principal armored vehicles used by the United States
during World War II. The U.S. also supplied the M4 in large numbers to its allies; it
became the most important Allied tank of the war. In spite of this widespread use,
historians, veterans, and post-war commentators frequently denigrate the M4 as a weapon
and claim that it was a mistake to employ it against the Axis powers. The critics’
argument is that the M4 was cheaply designed for easy mass production as part of the
American strategy to overwhelm the Axis powers through the quantity rather than the
quality of its weapons. These critics point to the technical inferiority of the M4 to latewar German heavy tanks as proof of this claim and argue that by employing the M4 the
Americans wasted thousands of lives and delayed the end of the war.
This argument is flawed and does not portray an accurate story of the M4 in
World War II. Interior Army disputes over the role of tanks in battle and the resulting
doctrine developed to defeat the German army were the primary determinants of the
M4’s design; ease of production was not the overriding factor. The record of the M4 in
combat from 1942 to 1945 was exemplary when it was used as it was intended.
Additionally, the 1944 modifications to the M4 demonstrated the soundness of its overall
design. The M4 struggled (but still occasionally succeeded) in duels with the heavier
German tanks, a task it was not designed for. Considering its overall war record, the M4
was an invaluable resource for the Allied powers and must be considered a successful
tank.

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