The Canadian Sherman M4A1The Grizzly tank was a Canadian-designed tank developed during World War II. It was based on the chassis of the American M4A1 Sherman tank but incorporated several modifications and improvements: The Grizzly tank was developed by the Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW) in Canada. Due to the urgent need for tanks during the war, Canada sought to contribute to the Allied tank production effort by manufacturing tanks domestically. The decision was made to produce tanks based on the M4 Sherman, which was widely used by the Allies.
The Grizzly tank featured a number of modifications compared to the original M4 Sherman design. It had a different engine, the Canadian-built General Motors 6046 diesel engine, which was more reliable and efficient. The Grizzly also had a dry ammunition stowage system, which improved crew safety in case of ammunition fires. Additionally, the Grizzly had a larger and taller turret, providing more interior space and better visibility for the crew. However, despite these modifications, the Grizzly tank never saw combat. By the time it entered production in 1943, the M4 Sherman had become the mainstay of Allied tank forces, and there was no urgent need for additional tanks. As a result, only a limited number of Grizzly tanks were produced, and most of them were used for training purposes in Canada and the United Kingdom.
After the war, the Grizzly tanks were gradually phased out and replaced by more modern tank designs. Today, surviving Grizzly tanks are rare and highly sought after by military vehicle collectors and enthusiasts. They serve as a reminder of Canada's efforts to contribute to the Allied war effort and its development of armored vehicles during World War II.
Grizzly FireflySpring of 1945, four Firefly turrets (with the 17-pdr gun) are sent to Canada and the US for evaluation of production swap. The three in Canada were mounted promty on Grizzly hulls, although the British war office cosidered the M4A1 ill-adapted for it. The cast hull indeed could not accommodate the Firefly internal stowage arrangement, and it had to ber entirely redesigned. But it was eventually, and three "Grizzly Firefly" were actually converted and tested, notably having the co-driver’s position swapped to add more ammunition, plus a right sponson ammunition racks. Loke the rest, and with the war cliding to an end, they were used for training onlt. The one that survived is displayed at Base Borden Museum, renamed after Canadian Tank ace Sydney Valpy Radley-Walters (a Firefly ace) by 2015 "Radley-Walters".
Skink SPAAGThe Skink was a Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun based on the Grizzly, developed in 1944, one of the very few AA variants of the M4 chassis, featuring the same tracks with 17-tooth sprocket wheel. It had a new cast turret bearing four 20 mm Polsten Anti-Aircraft autocannons. As tested, the Skink proved also a deadly close support tank. However it never went past the prototype stages with three out of the 135 initially planned being "produced", and never deployed as the Allies gained air-superiority by 1944. One was sent to the UK also for evaluation.
Sexton Mk.II, 25 pdr. SPGThe end of Grizzly tank production was divered to base the Mark II Sexton Self-Propelled Gu, on unused Grizzlies, contrary to previous Mark I using the Ram hull. In total, 2,026 Sextons were ordered an ddelivered in 1944-45, the latter all based on Grizzly hull, hence the turret production ceased after the tank production was halted. The Grizzly was also modified as an attempt to produce a Armored personnel carriers, as the turret was removed from the hull, an expedient measure to create an had-oc APC, but it saw no service.
Links about the Grizzly TankLaw, Clive M. Making Tracks: Tank Production in Canada. Service Publications, 2001.
M4A1 Grizzly Production Variants
Defence, National. “Government of Canada.” Canada.ca, / Gouvernement Du Canada, 9 Oct. 2018
Grizzly I specifications
|Dimensions||5.81 m x 2.62 m x 2.99 m|
|Total weight, battle ready||34 tons|
|Crew||5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, bow gunner)|
|Propulsion||Continental R-975-C1 9-cylinder radial petrol/gasoline engine|
|Suspension||Leaf springs HVSS|
|Speed (road)||38.6 km/h|
|Armament||75mm M3 L/40, M2 Browning .50 (12.7 mm), 2x Browning M1917 0.30|
|Armor||Maximum 76 mm (3 inches)|
Grizzly Mk.I used for training in Canada, 1943.
Grizzly Mk.1 during a drill at camp Meaford, Ontario. Photo: Panzerserra.blogspot.com
Grizzly Mk.I on display outside of CFB Borden, cc
Extra welded-on applique armor for the Grizzly tank. This was made of one plate that was cut up and then welded to follow the contour of the rounded M4A1 hull. Right: The cast-in extra armor over the ammunition bins. Source: Sherman Minutia
Grizzly No.1 showing the rear turret stowage box along with rolled up material. Please note the standard 13-tooth drive sprocket and the regular Sherman tracks. Source: Sherman Minutia.
Grizzly Mk.I tank Photo: Panzerserrabunker
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