"The Comb"

This is one of the mysteries which have remained unsolved for years. This device is usually located on the final drive housing just below the hull MG mount. It comes in various shapes and forms, the most common being an L-shaped piece of metal with several teeth cut into the vertical edge. Pete Harlem named it the "comb device" since it looks a bit like a comb on a rooster's head. Another version is made from sheet metal and curved rod stock, while they also come as more elaborate, hinging designs.

The Comb - variations on a theme

(Please click on the photos (as applicable) to jump to large-scale copies)
From: TM9-2853 'Preparation of Ordnance material for Deep Water Fording'. Scan courtesy of Joe DeMarco.
This is the most common type of "the comb", with respect to shape, location, and vehicle application.
To date, this is the only image showing the comb found in a Technical Manual - though there is no explanation for its use.
Scan courtesy of Joe DeMarco.
This is another version, made of sheet metal and curved rod stock. Different manufacturing method, but stil performing the same function as the one shown above.
Photo courtesy of Joe DeMarco
This is a completely different version of the "comb". The strip hinges through 90 degrees from perpendicular to the plane, down to the surface to which it is fitted. It folds down between two lips where it can be fixed with a piece of wire or similar. When folded down, the teeth are also pointing downward, which concur with the most widely seen version.
The example shown left is located in front and below the driver's hatch, to the left of the tank. Another example has been found fitted between the headlight guard and the siren guard on the left front glacis. 

While on his extensive trips around the USA, Joe DeMarco found this comb variation on various rebuilt & modernized Shermans.

Photo courtesy of Joe DeMarco
Yet another variation, though it works the same as the hinged version shown above. It also hinges at the top, but has its "teeth" on the outside. It is located below and in front of the hull machine-gun mount, to the right of the vehicle.
This example is fitted to an ex-Canadian Army M4A2(76)W HVSS.
This type can also be found on Sexton 25 pdr SP Guns.

The comb device has been spotted on the following vehicles:

But, what was the purpose of this device? The range of suggested uses includes: and then some...

Gradually, the case for the shipping brake lock has been documented:

click here to read the definitive story about
the shipping brake lock

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Page created: 20-08-1999
Last update: 11-01-2001

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