Just inside the front gate of the Chièvres Army Airfield in Chièvres. Combat Vehicle The M4A1 (76) W Sherman Tank named "In the Mood", surrounded by six metal information panels in English and French.
M4A1 (76) W Sherman “IN THE MOOD” replicates the third of three tanks named after the Glen Miller melody “IN THE MOOD” assigned to the United States Army 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division and commanded by Staff Sergeant Lafayette G. Pool. In September 1944 this tank and crew participated in the liberation of the area around Mons, tank battles around Namur, and the capture of Liege. Length: 19.1 feet, Width: 8.58 feet, Height: 9 feet, Weight: 31.5 tons.
The 76mm gun replaced the original 75mm gun used on the first Sherman tanks. Although useful in supporting infantry attacks while firing high explosive shells, the 75mm could not penetrate the frontal armor of the German tanks it encountered on the battlefield at battle ranges. A higher velocity, larger cannon required the turret to be redesigned to the T-23 model seen on this tank. The 76mm gun could destroy an opposing Panther or Tiger German tank with either a side or frontal shot at a range of about 875 yards. Shermans with the 76mm gun could engage the heavier German tanks on the northern European battlefield on more equal terms.
Five men manned a M4A1 (76) W Sherman series tank: Tank Commander – Trained the crew, gave directions to the crew for maneuvering and selected targets for the gun and machineguns to engage. Gunner – Aimed, operated, fired, and maintained the turret gun and machinegun. Usually second in command of the tank in the absence of the tank commander. Loader – Took shells from the storage racks and loaded the turret 76mm gun by hand. Also loaded the turret machinegun and assisted with maintenance. Driver – Drove the tank. Performed most of the maintenance on the engine and tracks with help from the co-driver and loader. Co-driver – Assisted the driver with his duties. Operated the hull machinegun. Also operated the radio of the tank.
This particular M4A1 (76) W carried a 76mm gun in an improved T-23 turret. Storage racks inside the hull and turret allowed 71 rounds of a mixture of armor piercing, high explosive, or smoke ammunition to be carried. The crew used the 76mm gun to engage enemy tanks, light armored vehicles, buildings, and fortifications. Two .30 caliber M1919A4 machineguns in the hull and turret provided a way to engage enemy troops and light vehicles. The tank could carry 6,250 rounds of ammunition for these two machineguns. A .50 caliber M2HB machine gun mounted on the top of the turret could be used against troops and vehicles of against enemy aircraft. The tank carried 600 rounds of ammunition for this weapon.
US industry built approximately 50,000 of the M4 Sherman series tank chassis during WWII. All different models of the Sherman would have been a familiar sight to the Belgian population from early September 1944 until mid February 1945 at the conclusion of the Battle of the Bulge. 6,281 M4A1 Shermans were built. Many of them were modified to the “(76) W” standard by upgunning them with a 76mm cannon and arranging for “wet” stowage of ammunition to prevent fires and explosions when the tank received damage in combat. The “wet” stowage system used racks that surrounded the 76mm shells in a mixture of water and antifreeze.
The Wright/Continental 400 horsepower, 9-cyclinder, air-cooled radial engine mounted in the M4A1 series Sherman gave the tank a road speed of 26 miles per hour/41 kph and much more cross country agility and speed that the German tanks it commonly opposed. The speed advantage over battlefield conditions enabled the tank to maneuver for a close shot at the sides or rear of the heavily armored German tanks. The M4A1 (76) W carried 210 gallons / 796 liters of gasoline to give it a road range of 120 miles / 193 kilometers. This large amount of fuel behind relatively thin armor often caused explosions and deadly fires then hit by German tank guns.