The M4A3(76)w HVSS Sherman was a medium tank built and used by the U.S. during WWII and in the Korean War. The M4A3(76)w entered service in late December, 1944 and was used until 1958.
The M4A3(76)w HVSS or M4A3E8, commonly referred to as the “Easy 8”, was equipped with a 76mm gun which had more penetrating power than the 75mm gun originally equipping the M4 series. It was also equipped with “wet storage” ammunition racks for the 76mm shells. Wet storage consisted of racks and bins surrounded by water to help limit ammunition fires in the event of an enemy round penetrating the tank. Another major upgrade for deployment in Korea was the use of wider tracks and improved suspension for better mobility in mud and snow.
Why does this Sherman have a wild “Tiger” paint scheme?
Normally, machines of war, especially tanks, are covered with camouflage. Most often, they are painted colors similar to the landscape in which they will be operating, or have branches and foliage added to break up their silhouette. The paint scheme on this tank is quite the opposite. It is even more incredible to learn that this type of Sherman tank, sporting its wild paint scheme, rode into combat! It was part of a little known military plan. In 1950, somewhere deep in the Psychological Warfare Department of the US Army, an astute soldier realized that 1950/1951 was, according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, the year of the Tiger. In late 1950, with North Korea leaning on China to provide soldiers, word went out to tank crews all over Korea to paint tiger faces on their tanks. The idea was that
“superstitious” Chinese would not shoot at these tanks for fear of bad luck, or, perhaps, that they would hesitate long enough for the tankers to get the first shot off.
At the American Heritage Museum, our M4A3 76(W) HVSS (or, M4A3E8/“Easy Eight”) is painted exactly like the 5th Regimental Combat Team, 4th platoon’s TK-45 that fought around Ichon in January of 1951. Perhaps because the 5th RCT was known as the “Bobcats,” their TK-45 (and likely, a few other tanks in the platoon) got the most frightening and complete tiger scheme of them all! It is not known how effective the paint schemes were and difficult to find accounts from either side that address its success. After about a month, for unknown reasons, the Tiger on TK-45 was painted over and the rest, as they say, is history. (As a side note, by the time the tanks were actually deployed into combat in March 1951, the Chinese New Year had passed, and it was the Year of the Rabbit.)