Have to agree with most if not all of what has already been said, so please forgive any repetition !
The story of Armour and its use is as with many stories from WW2 alternatively fascinating and , especially from an Allied point of view, enraging.
Without a doubt the Sherman was a fine tank , it was fast, reliable, available in large numbers, crew/user friendly & if it had been used in conjunction with a heavy tank it would have been a very useful tool.
But then as a medium or cruiser tank it needed good speed which meant that its armour was comparatively light and left the Sherman with the already mentioned liability to explode when hit. The 75 mm to be found on most Shermans, while lighter than comparative German guns,thus helping with the Shermans speed,was far out ranged by most German AT guns of the period. The German 75mm fitted to for instance the Panzer IV would penetrate 140/100mm of armour at 500/1000 mtrs while the Shermans could only penetrate 75/60 mms at the same ranges. This left the Sherman vulnerable to not just the much feared 88's but a vast proportion of the other AT guns & Tank Destroyers. It was only with the inception of the Firefly that they came anywhere near to compatability and that was only marginal when it came to the Panther, certainly not against the 88 of the Tiger.
The Shermans relatively light armour and its use of petrol meant that if the fuel system or Fuel tank was hit she could rapidly became a funeral pyre for her crew.
" Ronson" "Tommy Cooker " were but two of the names given to the Sherman because of this.
But the main problem with the Sherman is that it wasn't used the way it should have been. As a medium tank, upgraded with a decent gun, it would have excelled had it been used in conjunction with a good heavy such as the Pershing .But that didnt happen in time. Yes the Allies could call on air support but you couldn’t depend on a Tiffie or Jug being on call every time you moved round a corner .
And that is the thing that annoys me the most...the slowness of the Allies to develop new weapons of war, to keep improving and provided their troops with better weapons.It holds true for the Air and it holds true for Armour as well ...The Germans had operational Jets in 1944 that were light years ahead of anything the Allies had...The Germans continually developed their Tanks, Perhaps due to the fright the Russian T-34/ KV-1 combination gave them soon after the start of the invasion of Russia ,and to be frank had they got for instance the Panzer VI to the front in time in sufficient numbers & with proper back up they would have walked all over anything the Western Allies had.
The Tiger was good but as with the Sherman it had its drawbacks and limitations.
It had an excellent gun (perhaps the best AT gun of WW2) , Its armour meant that it was difficult to knock out, Its diesel fuel meant that it would rarely burn when hit and when fighting against the Western Allies its main enemies was the Typhoons and
P-47s of the Allied Air forces , Tank destroyers such as the Hellcat & extremely brave guys like Sgt Vetland of the 101st with his bazooka !
So it was a good weapon system But then Tiger had its problems as well. It was
heavy ,which caused problems when crossing bridges or moving over unsuitable ground , It was slow which made it vulnerable when under attack, Its gun turret was very slow to traverse compared to its opponents, its use of Diesel meant that while it was slower to burn it was difficult for it to “ live off the land “ and to top it all it had that most un-Germanic of traits………..Unreliability !
"It is suggested to the Red Army to use such German tanks as StuG III and Pz IV due to their reliability and availability of spare parts. The new German Panther and Tiger can be used until they broken down without trying to repair them. They have bad engines, transmission and suspension." - Department of Weaponry of the Red Army, late 1944.
Where the Tiger, its contemporaries and successors lost out was in numbers .German industry couldn’t keep up, even in 1942 and early 1943, with the numbers of T-34s & Shermans pouring out of the Russian & American factories that were free of the attentions of the enemies airforces. While the T-34 was seen as being an excellent medium tank with great armour it was usually sheer weight of numbers that carried the days for the Allies.
This however was something that should not have been acceptable to any of the allies as at least in Western Europe this meant , as previously said, 3 or 4 knocked out Shermans & probably 15 to 20 dead Allied tankers for every Tiger that was taken out, a cost that was far from acceptable.
But at least the Sherman gave its crews some chance in a fight, it was a massive improvement over the likes of the Crusader, Matilda, A-9/A-10, Valentine & Sentinal . The fact that the brave men of the Commonwealth Armies were sent to fight some of the best tanks in the world in what were without doubt complete death traps is a disgrace.
Which would I have chosen to go to war in ? Probably the Sherman but only if it was a Firefly and fire proof Suit was standard equipment ! At least you had a half decent gun, a good engine that wouldn’t normally fail and a good rate of knots to get out of trouble !