US M32 ARV – lot 233
Tanks break down during combat Mines blow off tracks and damage suspension. They can get stuck in mud, on a tree stump, in an anti-tank ditch or some other obstacle. Sometimes they even tip over, lose a track or have a major mechanical problem and no longer want to drive. In such cases, an ARV can make all the difference!
ARVs are designed to support and recover tanks when they are out of service. The boom and rigging on an ARV are essential in this case.
War production was instrumental in defeating the Axis power, but also emphasized the U.S. Army’s ability to repair its equipment and tanks on the battlefield. An effort that even the Axis power could not handle.
ARVs were assigned to tank battalions; usually a few were assigned to battalion headquarters with a dozer tank. These units went out and rescued disabled tanks and repaired them in cases where assistance was needed in pulling a turret, a broken final drive and tranny casing, replacing an engine, or repairing mine damage. In all these cases, an ARV crew is useful to have around.
They were very successful and welcome on the battlefield. But even in this day and age, they are almost impossible to find.
Only a few have survived, making this one a rare and highly collectible unit!
The M32 Armored Recovery Vehicle was used during World War II and later in the Korean War by the United States. It was based on the chassis of the M4 Sherman medium tank series. During World War II, the British also used several hundred M32s, which were obtained through Lend-Lease in 1944. The first four prototypes, labeled T5, T5E1, T5E2, T5E3, and T5E4, were produced in January 1943. After a series of tests at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, the prototypes were approved as M32, M32E1, M32E2, M32E3, and M32E4 however, the M32E4 never entered production. There were also variants that had Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS), which were demarcated by the suffix “A1” after the model number. Lima Locomotive Works started production of the vehicles in June 1943, with five pilot vehicles (one of each model, including the M32B4 which did not enter production), 26 M32B2s, and 20 M32B3s. Pressed Steel Car produced 163 M32s and 475 M32B1s in 1944. They also produced 298 M32B3s. Baldwin Locomotive Works produced 180 M32B1s, while 400 M32B1s were produced by Federal Machine and Welder Company before the end of 1944.
The M32s were used in the beginning of 1944 during Operation Overlord and subsequent battles in the European Theater of Operations. It was phased out after the introduction of the M74 Tank Recovery Vehicle in 1954, when heavier tanks were produced, such as the M46 Patton. The M32 had a 30 short tons (27 t) winch, 18 ft (5.5 m) boom, and an A-frame jib. It was armed with two machine guns and a mortar mainly to provide cover for an emergency retreat.
Tracks & Trade is offering this M32B1 Armored Recovery Vehicle on behalf of the current owner on an exclusive basis. It is an absolute masterpiece, Class A restored to factory conditions, of a model from which only a very few remain, especially when it comes to operational vehicles. Much rarer than, for example, the Sherman, Chaffee, or Stuart tanks.
Equipped with a fully overhauled Continental C1 radial engine it comes with many trivial details.
In this brochure you will find a detailed specification of this very unique and highly collectible unit. This will be a fantastic unit to add to any serious WWll collection, to tell the whole story of overseas maintenance in the field, highlighting the war effort and what it meant to fight in another country.
Please enjoy reading!
This M32B1; Highest quality: Class A restored!
This ARV, with production number #1281 is one of the 475 M32B1s produced and delivered by Pressed Steel Car Company in 1944.
Other producers of the M32 were Lima Locomotive, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and Federal Machine and Welde. After the WW-II many M32’s where supplied to the French Army where they remained in service till the late sixties. The French used them next to France also in Indo China (Vietnam) Algeria and many other countries.
After release by the Army this M32B1 was transported to a shooting range. Because the vehicle was still in very good condition and fully operational, it was quickly used by the site supervisor as a towing vehicle for range targets. As such it was used until 1985. In that year the engine broke down, so it was stored in a primitive shed until 1996. Luckily it was all these years under roof! A few years later it was discovered by its current owner. It took him many years to finally acquire ownership of the vehicle. For the release and transfer, an official transfer certificate was finally drawn up, which also guarantees ownership in the future.
The current owner has fully restored it since during a nine-year timeframe to its current Class A classification including a full overhaul of its Continental C1 9-cylinder radial gasoline engine and transmission.
Remarkable is that this M32B1, however based on the M4A1 small hatch hull, was upgraded with the latest updates from the A1 76 mm big hatches tanks such as the typical oil engine tanks, electrical wiring, clutch fork etc. So, it is a small hatch casted hull with inside most of last upgrade of A1 big hatches 76 mm model.
All restoration work has been carried out at the highest level!
Witness this on the photos that can be found on the following pages!
© Tracks & Trade BV the Netherlands, February 2023
Source: Joe DeMarco Tank Recovery Vehicles
As production of the T2 series ramped up in early 1943, Lima Locomotive Works was directed to develop a new design for a retriever based on the M4 series, the Army’s standard Medium Tank. At the same time, Baldwin Locomotive was tasked with producing a version of the T2 based on the Sherman. Above shows “Powerful Katrinka” as tested by the Armored Force Board at Ft. Knox in the Spring of 1943.
Baldwin pulled an M4 off its production line and installed the same boom in the turret in the same manner as on the T2.
A roller mechanism for the winch cable was mounted on the roof of the turret. A dummy gun was mounted on the turret’s bustle. It is thought that the bustle was cut off on the lower sides (arrow) to provide clearance for the drivers’ hatches to open and close when the turret and boom were in the traveling position as shown here. The T7 was installed with a working door on the right side only.
Tests revealed that the rotating turret and boom of the T7 had the same issues as the T2; for instance, the boom could not be traversed “when on slopes.” While the boom could lift an engine, it could not “handle medium tank turrets.”
On June 16 1943, the “Final Report of Tank Recovery Vehicle, T7” recommended that it “be considered as unsatisfactory and not be adopted for use by the Armored Force.
Lima Locomotive began work on the T5 series design in January 1943. Above shows the T5E3 (M4A3 based) pilot testing the lifting ability of the 60,000-pound capacity winch and A-frame boom on an object marked as “7 TONS.” This photo is undated, but 5 new production Shermans were released to Lima for the conversions, and the T5E3 was based on USA 3053972, an M4A3 that had been accepted at Ford Motor Company in March, 1943.
For stability, a fixed turret arrangement was adopted for this and subsequent versions of US tank retrievers.
The turrets of the pilots were fabricated from armor plates welded together. It is suspected that the first 5 T5E2s (M4A2 based) were the only production models equipped with turrets made of “welded, beveled plates.” “Turret ports” were provided in the front and rear for lifting operations in either direction.
The small slot with a hinged door (1) is only seen on the 5 T5 series pilots. The Armored Force Board found that the front and rear “under the hull” winching arrangement of the T2 and T7 was not entirely satisfactory, and the T5 series abandoned the rear winching capability. Instead, a “Dragline Door” and “Cable Rollers” (2) were installed on the front center of the vehicle.
During the design work, the fitting for the bow machine gun dust cover was removed in order to avoid any potential interference issues with the cable rollers and/or the fittings for the 81 mm mortar stand.
In the end this was not a problem, and the dust cover was standard equipment on the T5 series.
Both the T5E1 (M4A1 based) and T5E3 pilots were shipped to the Armored Force Board at Ft. Knox for evaluation. In June 1943, the AFB recommended the adoption of the T5 series for use by the Armored Force. During its tests, the Board found fault with some aspects of the T5E1 and T5E3 pilots and proposed that a number of changes be made to the design.
Picture on the right shows a “before” photo of the T5E3 taken during the initial trials. The original A-Frame boom struts were 4 1/2 inches in diameter (1). The brackets on which the boom pivoted were initially mounted to the hull in the vertical orientation seen here (2). The lifting arm (3) welded to the right boom strut originally had 2 connection points for attaching the lifting cable. The “as designed” cable roller assembly (4) was a rather simple affair which was substantially modified based on the findings of the Armored Force Board.
The “standard” T5 series had heavy duty towing pintles installed on the front and rear, but both the T5E1 and T5E3 were shipped without the front pintle. The designers were still finalizing the details of the Recovery Vehicle stowage when the pilots were shipped to the AFB.
Picture on the right provides an “after” view of the T5E3 taken at Lima Locomotive in October, 1943. A stronger A-frame with 5 9/16-inch diameter boom struts (1) was retrofitted. The lifting arm (2) was larger and more substantial than the original and featured 3 connection points. In the photo, the cable is affixed to the center point, used for recoveries on level ground.
The top and bottom connections were used for operations on upward and downward slopes, respectively. The external brackets (3) were welded to the hull on an angle, apparently so that the right-side bracket would provide clearance for the enlarged lifting arm (inset). The redesigned cable roller assembly (4) featured a housing holding 2 side rollers, which prevented the cable from slipping off while winching off center loads.
A towing pintle (5) was welded to the differential housing. Stabilizer plates (6) can be seen installed on the front and rear bogies. These limited the volute spring action when lifting loads over 10,000 pounds. Note how a little “stop” (7) was welded on to the bogie arm. A stronger “lifting cable safety connection” (8) replaced the original. A block (9) and another fitting (10) were added to hold a banana shaped tow bar, although the bar is rarely seen in place in period photos.
Even after modification, it can be seen that the T5E3 retained the original “plate” turret with small door. The turret stowage represents the “first” configuration and included a pair of spare road wheels installed on the front sides, along with two more affixed to the rear. Two spare drive sprockets were installed on each side of the turret as shown. On welded hull models, the siren was relocated from the left front fender to the glacis, and fittings were provided to hold a vise on one fender and an anvil on the other.
As M4A1 production came to an end at Lima Locomotive in September 1943, the company was contracted to develop fording kits for the Army’s tank and “tank-like” vehicles.
As mentioned previously, these had originally been designed and fabricated by the 5th Army Invasion Training Center in Northwest Africa. The Army wanted improved versions that could be mass produced in the US. The fording kits developed by Lima permitted vehicles to wade in surf for 8 minutes in depths up to 6 feet.
The US kits were not available in time for the D-Day Invasion but were supplied to troops in the Pacific starting in mid-1944.
Picture right shows the T5E1 photographed in September 1943, “test wading” in a pond constructed at Lima.
Note the double stack configuration Lima designed for the wading trunks of the retrievers. While the “banana bar” is rarely seen installed, the hinged tow bar (asterisk) was an important and universal item of equipment carried on the M32 series.
It was the practice of the Ordnance Department to preserve pilot models for future reference. This may have been the case with the T5E1 pilot. It would appear that it was taken “out of mothballs,” made “Ready for Issue” and shipped to Korea. This picture shows USA 3038255 in service with the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion in September, 1952.
The T5E1 with its slab-sided turret looks nearly unchanged from the previous photos taken 9 years before.
However, it is to be noted that stiffeners (asterisks) were retrofitted to the small diameter struts of the original A-Frame boom.
The Ordnance Department wanted a retriever version of each type of Sherman then in production, and the T5 pilot was completed and shipped to Aberdeen Proving Ground in August, 1943. This unit was converted from USA 3010995, an M4 that had been accepted at Baldwin in April, 1943.
Note the stowed position of the stabilizer plates on the glacis, and how 2 plates are stacked in each location. “HAND GRINDER” is stenciled just below the block like object (asterisk and inset) protruding from the side of the right fender. This item is something of a mystery. A pair of 3-inch square wood blocks sandwiched a metal plate.
It is thought that this served as a mounting for a hand operated grinding wheel. However, no period correct photos are available that show it installed. In any case, this “little block” can be seen on all versions of the M32 series, including the T14E1s.
On retrievers with 3-piece differential housings, the front towing pintle was not welded on as it was on units with one-piece diffs. Instead, the pintle was configured with a pair of side plates so that it could be bolted on to the flanges of the 3-piece housing (arrow).
The inset in the picture above is from the Technical Manual and provides a sort of X-Ray view of the pintle as used on the front and rear of the M32 series.
After evaluation, the T5 pilot was used at APG in tests of the T1E2 Mine Exploder. The inset provides an overhead view of the T1E2 assembly and shows the dangerous gap between the rollers. The T5 was an example of a pilot retained at Aberdeen “for historical purposes,” where it was photographed in March of 1947.
In October, 1943, the T5 series was standardized, and the nomenclature assigned to each type was “M32” (M4), “M32B1” (M4A1), M32B2 (M4A2), M32B3 (M4A3) and M32B4 (M4A4).
While the T1E2 Mine Exploder did not go into production, a similar version, the T1E1 did. As seen above on a later production M32, this version attempted to provide for more complete anti-mine coverage by incorporating a third roller to the front.
Gar Wood Industries (the winch company) produced 75 T1E1 assemblies, and 50 were shipped to the European Theater of Operations in the period from April through June, 1944.
The mine exploder assembly weighed over 30 tons, as much as the retriever that served as prime mover. Consequently, like all the pressure type Mine Exploder designs, the T1E1 became easily bogged down. Ultimately, it was concluded that the T1E1 “failed to meet the requirements” for “locating and breaching minefields, and expeditiously clearing and/or detecting scattered mines on roads and trails.”
Indeed, the 739th Tank Battalion (Mine Exploder), which had been specially trained in the use of such units, withdrew its T1E1s from service in mid-February, 1945. The assemblies were removed, and the vehicles were converted back to retrievers, and “applied against an acute tank recovery vehicle shortage.”
Author Richard Hunnicutt states that the T5E4 (based on the M4A4) was shipped to Camp Seeley in California after it was completed in August 1943.
Due to the complexity of the 30-cylinder Chrysler Multibank engine, the M4A4 was NOT released for overseas (combat) use by the US Army. Instead, 7,443 out of a total production of 7,499 units were supplied to the Allies as Lend Lease
Ultimately, the T5E4 was the sole version produced based on the M4A4.
This is the only photo we are aware of that shows the T5E4, which must have been shipped back to Aberdeen Proving Ground for historical purposes. It can be seen that the original boom was strengthened at some point with girders.
We would assume that the turret was recycled for use elsewhere.
The T5E2 was shipped to the Tank Destroyer Board at Camp Hood, Texas in September 1943. Despite it being a pilot, it was the single unit featured in the M32 series Technical Manual published in December, 1943.
The T5E2 pilot was converted from M4A2 USA 3056106, which had been produced by Federal Machine & Welder in April, 1943. The photos above are from the TM and provide front and rear views with labels.
Note that the early stowage configuration included spare tracks installed on the upper rear hull plate, using what appear to be the same fittings as on the T2. The “Hold-Out Bars” could be telescoped to various lengths, and as the name suggests, were used to hold the towed vehicle out from the towing vehicle in order to prevent damage to either. The TM has it that the Hold-Out Bars were stowed “at rear of vehicle” as shown here.
However, in most period photos, they are seen stowed on the differential housing just below the cable roller assembly. The M4A2 with its GM twin diesel engine power plant was another Sherman type that was NOT released for overseas use by the US Army. However, the US Marine Corps chose to use them. There is also some evidence that the Marines “required” M4A2s specifically made by Fisher Body.
Only 26 M4A2s were converted to retrievers. All were done by Lima for the USMC, and all appear to have been converted from new production Fisher M4A2s. Thus, it would seem that the T5E2 pilot was the only non-Fisher M4A2 based retriever conversion.
In the absence of much documentation, Joe DeMarco tried to piece together the story of the T5E2s and M32B2s supplied to the USMC. These were the first production Sherman based retriever conversions. The first 5 units were done in June, 1943, and according to some Ordnance documents, they were assigned Serial Numbers 1 through 5.
None of the retrievers converted by Lima were given new 401XXXX Registration Numbers, but simply retained their original Sherman RNs. It is Joe DeMarco’s theory that the first 5 were made before the design was finalized, so that they were somewhat pilot-like in appearance. Above a well-known photo of “Almighty” of the 3rd Marine Tank Battalion taken on Guam in the Summer of 1944. Unlike the T5E2 pilot of the previous caption, this unit is equipped with the earlier, non-standard cable roller assembly without the side rollers (1).
Note as well the absence of the front towing pintle. It is expected that the 5 T5E2s converted in June were the only production units installed with the flat plate turrets and the original boom with the 4½ inch struts.
The turret port (2) can be seen to be in the second, “chute” configuration, but it doesn’t look quite right, which leads to suspect that the original door port was modified. The distinctive welded together drivers’ hoods (3) were a feature exclusive to Fisher Body small hatch M4A2s.
The Marines had their own identification number system and painted out the US Army Registration Numbers. Joe DeMarco had a little trouble at the US Archives getting the scan reproduced above to lie flat. However, it shows what we think was one of the first 5 T5E2s, and it has a readable RN – USA 3035141.
This indicates that it was converted from an M4A2 accepted at Fisher Body in June, 1943.
Note the “T5E2” painted on the side, along with the flat plate turret and the original boom with the 4 ½ inch struts. It can be seen that the spare return rollers (1) are mounted inside the turret splash.
With the introduction of the heavier boom, the return rollers were moved outward, with the attachment fittings welded to the top of the turret splash.
Joe DeMarco suspect that the “Hold-Out Bars” (asterisk) were only mounted on the upper rear hull plates of T5E2s Serial Numbers 1 through 5, and that these were repositioned to the differential housing on Lima’s remaining retriever conversions. Unfortunately, Joe did not come across a front view of this vehicle.
In his book, “Marine Tank Battles in the Pacific,” Oscar Gilbert quotes an officer as saying that the 75mm turrets, guns and other items removed during the retriever conversions were retained by the Corps and shipped out as spare parts.
The first 14 T5E2s were converted by Lima on Production Order T-9273. As mentioned, the first 5 were converted in June. There was a 3-month lag, and then Lima converted 6 units in October and the last 3 in November, 1943. Joe DeMarco suspects this delay provided the time needed to procure the redesigned and updated components. An Ordnance document has it that these 9 were assigned Serial Numbers 97 through 105.
This photo was taken at the Lima plant on October 6, 1943. Based on the date, Joe DeMarco would guess that this was the first production unit built with the later features, including the turret formed of rolled armor, and the heavy-duty boom struts. Note how the “chute” sits an inch or two higher than the one seen on “Almighty.”
The fittings for the Hold-Out Bars are on the differential housing, and, indeed, “Hold-Out Bar” is stenciled on just below the standard type of cable roller assembly. This T5E2 can be seen to be USA 3035206, indicating that it was converted from a Fisher Body M4A2 produced in June 1943. Most small hatch, welded hull Shermans had cast drivers’ hoods, but in order save foundry casting capacity, Fisher was asked to fabricate a number of components from rolled armor.
Aside from the drivers’ hoods, the antenna bracket (1), the bow machine gun socket (2) and the turret splash (3) were produced in this manner.
Note that this unit is “still” identified as “T5E2.” We would interpolate that the 14 units produced by Lima in 1943 had “T5E2” on their data plates, and that all were converted from new production, small hatch Fisher M4A2s
Lima converted new production Shermans for the Marines, but it was the policy of the US Army to employ used tanks for conversion projects.
In the Summer of 1943, Pressed Steel Car was contracted to convert 936 M4s, M4A1s and M4A3s to M32 series tank retrievers. Production commenced in December, 1943, but there had been some difficulty in rounding up used Shermans. In order to get the program underway, an exception was made, and it was agreed that 91 new M4A1s would be pulled from the line at PSC.
The new Shermans required only conversion, not remanufacture, which was a much more extensive process involving the replacement of engines and other internal systems with new or rebuilt components. The 91 new conversions were done from December, 1943 through March, 1944, and were assigned Serial Numbers 6 through 96, and USA Numbers 40149307 through 40149397. As some of the earliest M32 series conversions done for Army requirements, a number of these were shipped to the UK in time to take part in the D-Day Invasion and subsequent build up in Normandy. Above shows a front view of Serial Number 59, USA 40149360, completed in January, 1944, and photographed at APG in February. The new M4A1s provided for conversion would have been from PSC’s last few months of production, and so would have had later features such as the cast in thickened sides in the areas of the sponson mounted ammunition bins (1), and the sharp nosed E8543 differential housings (2). This M32B1 can be seen in the “early” configuration with the “chute” turret port, and the turret mounted spare sprockets.
For operations in inclement weather, Shermans were provided with a “Driver’s Hatch Hood” (3) with windshield wiper and defroster as shown here.
This rear view of Serial Number 59 shows the original location of the spare road wheels (1) on the back of the turret, along with the initial position of the spare tracks (2). We suspect that not more than 100 of the PSC M32 series retriever conversions were built in the “early” stowage configuration. A number of the pioneer tools were stowed on the long toolbox (3) that ran across the rear of the engine deck. A pair of snatch blocks (4) were carried just behind the turret.
The boom can be seen locked in the traveling position by an A-Frame (5), pinned to a pair of sockets affixed to the hull.
In this configuration, the A-Frame supported the boom during lifting and towing operations from the rear. The lower cross support members (6) are in the early configuration. It is thought that a pulley was added between the cross members around June, 1944. PSC is reported to have introduced the Barber-Colman type exhaust deflector (7) into M4A1 production starting December 1, 1943
Thus, many of the 91 new M32B1 conversions would have had this item factory installed beforehand. Any that didn’t, along with the conversions based on used M4s and M4A1s, would have had the B-C deflector retrofitted during conversion. This unit can be seen with the double rear tow lugs (8) introduced into M4A1 production at PSC in late September, 1943. These served to accommodate the quick release towing shackle with handle, which can be seen in place. We don’t find any evidence that second tow lugs were retrofitted to any of the PSC retriever conversions that lacked them. For future reference, note the “hollow” configuration of the boom brackets (arrow) used on the cast hull conversions.
This photo shows M32B1 USA 40149313 which would have been converted from a new M4A1 in December, 1943. “Almighty” served with the 777th Tank Battalion, which was a test unit at Ft. Knox in 1944. Most notably, the unit conducted trials of the M4A6 radial diesel, the rarest Sherman variant.
Almighty can be seen with a pair of nonstandard fittings (1) retrofitted to the A-Frame sockets. These suggest that this retriever may have been involved in testing of the automatic tow hook, which we will discuss later. A barrel clamp (2) was provided to secure the .50 caliber AA machine gun in its traveling position as seen here.
Note that the elusive “banana bar” (3) is in place.
This unit is outfitted with the double rear tow lugs (4) as on SN 59 from the previous caption. It was common practice to paint the last 3 digits of the USA Number on the pioneer tools, and this can be seen on the track adjusting wrench (asterisk) and perhaps on the crowbars. The M32 Technical Manual has it that, like Sherman gun tanks, only one crowbar was provided, but it is obvious in a number of period photos, that there were fittings for 2 on the right rear and 1 on the left rear. The bent crowbar seen here was not a standard issue item!
Production based on the conversion of 845 used M4s, M4A1s and M4A3s commenced at PSC in December 1943 and ran through to December 1944. These were manufactured on a different Production Order from the 91 new conversions.
The official Government documents are hopelessly jumbled, but Jo did come across a PSC Production Order which has it that 800 units were assigned Serial Numbers 106/USA 40154680 through SN 905/USA 40155479, and that the last 45 were assigned SNs 1943/USA 40191700 through SN 1987/USA 40191744.
Within these ranges were 163 M32s, 384 M32B1s and 298 M32B3s.
M32B1, SN 245/USA 40154819 would have been accepted in May 1944 and was the subject of an Inspection Control Test at APG that same month.
At present, Jo is not aware of any surviving M32 series retrievers in the “early” stowage configuration. The photo above and on the previous page are screen captures from some Signal Corps motion picture footage shot around July 11, 1944 at Utah Beach.
They show “Bring Em Back,” an M32B1 of the 709th Tank Battalion.
This unit can be identified as USA 40149343 (inset) indicating that it was converted in January, 1944 from a new production Pressed Steel Car M4A1.
Note the thickened sides in the areas of the sponson mounted ammunition bins (1), and the sharp nosed E8543 differential housing (2). While the spare drive sprockets have been removed from the turret, the fittings (3) remain.
The spare tracks (4) are stored in the T2 type track holder fittings typical of the “early” stowage configuration.
This unit landed “dry shod,” but just in case, it was waterproofed and installed with the single stack wading trunk fabricated in the UK for use on retrievers slated for the D-Day Invasion and subsequent build up.
Another early configuration M32B1 was photographed on the streets of Sainte Mère Eglise in June.
Based on the earlier 1-piece differential housing, you can identify “Step N Fetchit” as another conversion of a used M4A1.
This may have been the “sister” TRV of “Shoot Six Bits.” Jo used a magnifying glass examination of the original Office of War Information print and recorded the last 3 digits of the Registration
Number as “684,” which would lead us to think that this might have been USA 40154684, one of the 6 used M32B1 conversion done by PSC in December, 1943.
Of interest is the vise installed on the left fender (1). The crew have moved the snatch blocks (2) from their usual stowage positions.
Item (3) is one of the two chock blocks provided. These were normally stowed on the engine deck with the snatch blocks as seen in the inset.
An oddity noted on “Step N Fetchit” is the “closed off” hinge brackets (arrows). This may have been done on “Shoot Six Bits” as well.
Aside from Prime Mover conversions, the Army needed a number of M32 series retrievers available for conversion to T1E1 Mine Exploders.
Fifty T1E1 (aka “Earthworm”) and 72 T1E3 (Sherman based, aka “Aunt Jemima”) assemblies were shipped to the European Theater of Operations in the months preceding D-Day. However, “since the plan for the initial assault of the beach had been finalized,…these mine exploders were not initially called for by First US Army.”
Due to training and organizational issues, the Mine Exploders saw very limited use during the Normandy Campaign and subsequent breakout.
Consequently, “two tank battalions (special) were converted to mine exploder battalions in the United Kingdom in September 1944, [and] moved to the Continent late in October.”
Both M32s and M32B1s were used for the T1E1 conversions. The “Special Mine Exploder” [SMX] Battalions were first employed in late 1944.
This photo is part of a series dated December 19, 1944, taken during a demonstration near Geilenkirchen, Germany. It shows a pair of knocked down Mine Exploders of the 739th Tank Battalion (SMX) being used as retrievers in an attempt to free an “Aunt Jemima” that became hopelessly mired after exploding 6 mines.
While all of the telltale features are not visible in this series of photos, it would guess that both of these units were based on “new” M32B1 conversions in the early stowage configuration.
Each retriever was supplied with a base plate for the M1 81mm Mortar as standard equipment, so that the mortar could be dismounted from the vehicle and fired from the ground if required.
Page 141 of the Technical Manual describes the procedure required to remove the mortar from the glacis as “Pull out pins which secure bipod legs on lugs on front plate of tank (fig. 82)”, as seen on the right.
Its later states to “Remove feet from bipod legs which are used on vehicle, and clamp on bipod feet which are used on ground.”
These spiked ground feet (red arrows) are shown in fig. 86 (on the right). The two small adaptor platforms attached to the lugs on the glacis and stood proud of the glacis when the mortar was fitted. They contained a frame type bracket that permitted the mortar to be mounted on the vehicle with the spiked ground feet still attached to the bipod, facilitating faster mounting and dismounting of the mortar, as it no longer required the feet to be swapped over.
Total production of the M32 series from the start of the conversion program in mid-1943 through the end of 1944 was 1101 units, including 26 M32B2s and 20 M32B3s converted specifically for the US Marine Corps.
The Procurement Master Plan envisioned that an additional 1,100 odd units would be produced from January through the end of December, 1945.
US requirements for the year were 755 units, including a Marine Corps request for 50 conversions based on new production M4A3 Shermans.
The British had designed their own recovery vehicle conversions but were held back by a shortage of winches. Consequently, they made a very aggressive request for 350 M32 series as part of their 1945 Lend Lease requirements. Ultimately, 578 units were completed before the retriever program was terminated in mid-1945. Studies show that, due to the average 4-to-5-month shipping time, very few AFVs built in December, 1944 or later were distributed to combat troops in Europe or the Pacific before the end of WW II.
Thus 1945 retriever production was superfluous to the war effort. However, the over production was not wasted, as many of the later units were used by the postwar US Army. Others were supplied to allied countries as part of the Military Defense Assistance Program, which was initiated in the late 1940s.
Aside from 5 pilot vehicles, Lima Locomotive Works manufactured retrievers for the USMC, including 14 T5E2s from June to November, 1943, 12 M32B2s from March to May, 1944 and 20 M32B3s from May to August, 1944.
Production Order T-9273: 14 T5E2: Serial Numbers 1 through S/N 5 and S/N 97 through S/N 104. These vehicles retained their original Sherman RNs.
Production Order T-12508: 12 large hatch M32B2s: Serial Numbers 906 / USA 3036487 through S/N 917 / USA 3036498 (RNs unconfirmed).
Production Order T-14813: 20 large hatch M32B3s. Serial Number 49459 / USA 3082056, S/N 49485 / USA 3082082, and S/N 49498 / USA 3082095; Serial Number 49904 / USA 3082501 through S/N 49920 / USA 3082517 (SNs & RNs unconfirmed).
Pressed Steel Car manufactured 91 M32B1s from December, 1943 to March, 1944; 163 M32s, 475 M32B1s and 298 M32B3s from December, 1943 to December, 1944.
Production Order T-9553: 91 M32B1s from new production M4A1s: Serial Numbers 6 / USA 40149307 through S/N 96 / USA 40149397.
Production Order T-10482: 845 units: 163 M32s, 384 M32B1s and 298 M32B3s. Serial Number 106 / USA 40154680 through S/N 905 / USA 40155479 (change in the RN sequence within this range) ; Serial Number 1943 / USA 40191700 through S/N 1987 / USA 40191744.Federal Machine and Welder converted 400 M32s and M32B1s from November, 1944 to May, 1945. (At present, no evidence of FMW M32s has been found.)
Production Order T-14407: 400 M32s and M32B1s. Serial Numbers 1343 through S/N 1742. These vehicles retained their original Sherman RNs.
Baldwin Locomotive Works converted 180 M32B1s from November, 1944 to March, 1945; 37 M32B1 with E9 suspension from May to ca. July, 1945; and 30 T14E1s from June to ca. July, 1945.
Production Order T-16140: 180 M32B1s. Serial Number 1763 through S/N 1942. These vehicles retained their original Sherman RNs.
Production Order T-16140: 37 M32B1s with E9. Serial Number 2143 through S/N 2179. These vehicles retained their original Sherman RNs.
Production Order T-22383: 30 T14E1s. Serial Numbers unknown. These vehicles retained their original Sherman RNs. International Harvester converted 50 T14E1s. Best evidence suggests that 15 were completed in March, and 35 in April, 1945.
Production Order T-19856: 50 T14E1s. Serial Number 3381 through S/N 3430. These vehicles retained their original Sherman RNs.
The Tank Recovery Vehicle M32 was an important part of any US Medium Tank unit. Tanks, like any vehicle, need a tow truck to get them unstuck or recovered from places another tank can’t pull them out from.
Like a ravine, or from under a collapsed bridge, deep in the mud.
The M32 was not just an Armored tow truck, it was also an armored repair vehicle as well, and was packed with tools and spare parts.
The heart of the M32 is the 60,000-pound Garwood Special 6M 814 winch, mounted in the hull behind the driver.
This was a PTO or Power Take OFF winch, driven by the propeller shaft running from the motor to the transmission. They used a shorter shaft, with a pulley and clutch system to drive the winch installed in the gap (See figure).
The Power Takeoff Clutch and transmission were Garwood model 7 Y 200 E, and it worked as a brake since it’s attached to the winch drum brake assembly (See picture on next page).
The 7 Y 200 e, had three speeds, high, low, reverse, and neutral. The winch could be used while the M32 was in motion, and was controlled by the driver, the driver would be doing nothing on his own and would need guidance from the rest of the four-man crew to operate the winch safely.
The Winch would be far less useful if the M32 didn’t have an 18-foot extendable boom, so the winch could be used to lift things. The boom was also useful for towing when in the lowered position.
The lifting boom is raised and lowered using special wire ropes and the lifting drums on the front-drive sprockets. Once the cables were in place the driver slowly pulled the M32 forward, and as the cable wrapped around the lifting drum it pulled the boom up into place. Once in place, there was rigging that needed to be installed before it could be used.
When lifting heavy weights using a boom and winch setup, the vehicle these items are mounted on needs to be stable.
If it can bounce around, the load can move around in unpredictable ways, and damage the equipment, or hurt someone.
Tank suspension is springy, and not ideal for use with cranes. To solve this problem, the M32 comes with stabilizer plates, that can be bolted, and safety wired in place to lock down the suspension. It also came with very large chocks blocks that lock into the tracks, to keep the vehicle in place and help prevent it from rocking (See picture on next page).
To make optimal use of the winch and boom setup, the vehicle also has two large snatch blocks and a variety of chains and wire ropes. The M32 also comes with tow bars, and telescopic hold-out bars, used in towing. The M32 is also a huge tool and spare parts box, the exterior has road wheels and sprocket teeth mounted to it. In the field, they probably piled spare parts on. One of their more common jobs would be helping repair mine damage to Shermans. They carried a complete set of mechanic tools, and all the specialized tools needed to work on US Tanks and armored vehicles. The M32 was armed, heavily armed, but was not a combat vehicle. With an 81-mm mortar, a .50 M2, and an M1919A4 in the bow mount, plus the small arms the crew carried, one submachine gun and pistols, but probably more than that in practice, they do seem heavily armed for a maintenance unit.
The main reason for this, is sometimes they are working right up on the front line, at night, often alone. The mortar gives them the option to lay down a bunch of smoke, rush in, hook up the tow cables and bug out.
The men operating these vehicles had very little combat training, and no interest in fighting if they could avoid it. In most cases, the mortar was not mounted and ended up being rarely used.
Location: & Collection
Current location of this object is 63360 Lussat France
Local collection is available for this lot.
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Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.
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This object is offered by Tracks & Trade pursuant to consignment sale on behalf of a private individual. Therefore, the margin scheme will be applicable, so no sales tax (VAT) over the hammer price will be applicable. For more info see General Conditions of Sale Article 9.
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Full Name(s) and contact details and phone number of the people that are coming to inspect. The LOT number(s) and Auction Name that you wish to inspect (items are stored on several locations, and we will need to retrieve them prior to your arrival).
Parts, accessories, and militaria
The batches of spare parts, various accessories and militaria are stored in the best conditions but are sold as-is and delivered without any guarantee of functioning.
Vehicles and vehicle related equipment such as
Cars, motorcycles, trucks, cannons or howitzers, armored vehicles, and tanks are sold in as-is condition, no technical guarantee and guarantee of authenticity and with or without registration (see description).
Parts, accessories, and militaria
The collection of the lots, subject to payment, starting by appointment only, date is listed in the Colophon page.
Vehicles can be picked up, subject to payment, starting by appointment only, date is listed in the Colophon page.
Handling costs for the removal of the vehicles will, when applicable, be applied at cost.
Arms & weapons
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If required and applicable (fire)arms can be made inoperable or permanently disabled by BAIV in The Netherlands as being a licensed Arms & Weapons Dealer Registration Nr. NL20191618779. In this case all relevant cost will be charged to the Buyer in addition and have to be paid in advance in full. Collection by appointment only!
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No storage fees will be applicable until that date.
Lots not picked up by Buyers will be returned to secure storage at Buyer’s expense. In this case storage fees will be applied as follows :
- Parts & accessories: € 25,- / lot / week
- Cars and motorcycles: € 50,- / lot / week
- Armored vehicles, tanks, cannons etc. € 75,- / lot / week
Above mentioned storage fees are excluding VAT.
General Conditions of Sale
General Conditions of Sale Version 2.0 dated 29-04-2022 are applicable
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|M32B1 Armored Recovery Vehicle
|Pressed Steel Car Company (PSC) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States (Hegewisch, Chicago, plant)
|Makers ID / SN:
|64,300 lb. (29.165 kg.)
|Continental C1 9-cylinder radial gasoline engine, Gross 420 hp / 890/ft-lb.
|Spicer manual synchromesh transmission, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
|Controlled differential; steering levers
|Vertical Volute Spring Suspension (VVSS),
|24 mph (39 km/h)
|120–150 mi (190–240 km)
Length: 19.3 ft (5.90 m) length of hull
18 ft (5.50 m) length of A-frame boom
Width: 8.9 ft (2.70 m)
Height: 9.66 ft (2.94 m)
· 1 × M1 81mm mortar
· 1 × .50cal M2HB machine gun (300 rounds)
· 1 × .30cal machine gun (9,000 rounds)
· 20 hand grenades (Fragmentation, Mk. II), 6 smoke grenades.
Note: Armament not included!
|30 short tons (27 t) winch, 18 ft (5.5 m) boom, and an A-frame jib.
|0.5–2 in (13–51 mm)
|Year of Delivery:
|Need further investigation
|Total No. built:
MV Historian, Editor Milweb.net , Long term contributor to Classic Military Vehicle Magazine and Market Watcher a.o..
For many of us, a large part of the pleasure of owning military vehicles is using them. This M32B1 Armored Recovery Vehicle gives the serious collector the best of both worlds – a tracked armored wrecker. It’s really akin to an armored Ward La France on tracks. These rarely come onto the market and when they do they are nearly always projects – I have even seen one that someone tried to convert to a gun tank and gave up.
With the power of a Sherman, there will be little that this could not recover so the lucky buyer will have lots of opportunities to join in with the armored owners and the heavy wrecker owners creating realistic and interesting recovery scenarios at military events – Like any other 80 year old military vehicle, sometimes Tanks do break down and any armored convoy will welcome the M32B1 as a participant who can add value to a convoy – nothing seems to fascinate spectators more than a tank being recovered and this M32B1 is certainly the man for the job.
All the hard work has been done and this clearly busy vehicle is fully equipped with all the recovery kit it would have been issued with and is ready to play – and enjoy.