Cobra King, an M4A3E2 Jumbo Sherman, is probably the most famous, documented and researched vehicle employed by U.S. forces in World War II. In April 1944, the Army requested that a heavily armored "assault tank" be produced to support infantry against heavily fortified positions, especially against the Siegfried Line, and to be able to withstand the heavier antitank guns employed by the Germans. The Fisher Tank Arsenal at Grand Blanc, Michigan already producing M4A3 Shermans, was employed to create the Jumbos. A standard M4A3 Sherman with the new one piece glacis was used as a base. 1 1/2" armor plate was added to the front and upper hull sides giving an armor thickness of 4" and 3" respectively. A new 5 1/2" cast transmission housing was installed to house an improved final drive and a new turret based on the T23 was added. This turret had 6" armored sides, 2 1/2" rear and a 7" mantlet on the front. The 75mm main gun was retained because of its superior HE round. Because of the increase in weight from 30 to 42 tons, all Jumbo tracks were fitted with extended end connectors on the tracks to improve flotation. 254 M4A3E2s were built in a three month program between May-July, 1944, Cobra King being most likely built in early July.
On September 11, 2009, the debris collected on the previous day by Don Moriarty was gone through, with notable artifacts separated from incidental debris. It soon became evident that there were a lot of ruptured .30 caliber cases and loose projectiles and after finding a starter tab from a cloth ammo belt, curator Charles Lemons theorized that, based upon the ruptured casings and lead missing from the projectiles, the ammunition must have been destroyed in a fire. After entering the bow gunner's position and making a closer inspection, Don discovered charring and soot, obvious evidence of a fire. He also found more projectiles and casings, one even wedged under the driver's instrument panel. What caused the fire that cooked off the ammo is unknown, but it must have happened close to the end of Cobra King's operational life since no one attempted to clean out the ammo debris after the fire.
Through these observations of Cobra King and research, then Patton Museum curator Charles Lemons proposed at the time the following: "Cobra King is slowly revealing its secrets. The Patton Museum staff and volunteers have been brain-storming over the implications of what we have been finding. We all agree that this is "Cobra King" - no doubts what-so-ever. What the big question has been - what happened to the tank after December 26, 1944."
"We can safely state that the vehicle remained in the 4th Armored Division - and remained as the command tank for Company C until its demise in combat. Yes, in combat - in fact the information we have indicates that the vehicle met its end in March of 1945. We firmly believe that Cobra King was lost with the rest of Company C, 37th Tank Battalion, and Task Force Baum, on the raid on Hammelburg."
"Reminiscences from then Captain Baum, as written in the book "RAID!", place Cobra King at the assault on Lager Hammelburg, where it was hit and put out of action. Unfortunately, Abe Baum does not note the damage."
Click on the links below to see photos of the Cobra King restoration. Use your back button to return to this page to see each gallery. Hover your cursor over each photo to see captions.