Inside A Working M4 Sherman Tank

Remember that time we almost got mangled by an open drive shaft? We do.

M4 Sherman Tank

Perhaps you remember that we recently had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of American Armor on Long Island, New York, and that the amazing team there actually let us drive some of the collection—by which we mean a freaking tank—right off the museum floor and across a neighboring stretch of field. (Being easily excited and quick to abuse all power, we had to be strenuously dissuaded from invading neighboring Old Bethpage Village.) Driving the M48 Patton tank—you can see a quick introduction to that awesome machine here—was dead simple, just a gas pedal, brake, no clutch, steering wheel, and semi-automatic transmission. But the M4 Sherman, one of the great Allied weapons of WWII and the machine we're inside here, was not so easy to operate.

There are a pair of lever-operated brakes, one for each tread, a clutch pedal with about three feet of travel, and a shift lever that's like armwrestling a welding robot. There's a periscope that has to be turned by hand, so that's essentially useless. And let's not forget the open drive shaft running right down the middle of the cabin, just waiting to grab any dangling cord or loose bit of clothing and turn you into the type of pulpy nightmare mops use to scare their little mop-kids. In other words, it's glorious. Come along for the ride as the museum's Sherman operator, the badass Steve Demeo, shows us what's what. (It's noisy in there, so used the closed captioning if you're having a hard time understanding us.)