Although not on par with the Tiger or the Panther in 1944, the Sherman rarely engaged in one on one tank battles with either vehicle. The standard American doctrine was to employ the tanks in platoons of five tanks, and most engagements were centered around infantry support. True, large numbers of the Sherman tank were lost in theater, but the tanks were conducting almost non-stop offensive operations against dug in anti-tank guns that were capable of knocking out much heavier vehicles. Up armored Shermans, the "Jumbo" or M4A3E2, did exist, and they proved far more durable, even if production numbers were low. Also, in a number of battles, such as the Battles at Arracourt in September, 1944, French and American tank crews achieved a better than 2:1 kill ratio in several pitched engagements.
From my own perspective, the Sherman is comfortable. All positions provide reasonable freedom of movement to accomplish all assigned tasks. The turret crew can easily abandon the vehicle in a hurry, and while the front hatches on the examples pictured above are a bit on the small size (compared to an average WWII GI), but later war vehicles corrected these shortcomings, and improved ammo stowage. Overall, the staff of the Museum of the American GI finds the Shermans relatively easy to maintain and keep running, even compared to later Cold War era vehicles. Although the Sherman was increasingly outmatched by the end of the war, it still performed very well. It was a balanced design that often performed better than expected in the hands of skilled crews until the end of the conflict.
Sources and Recommended Reading
Zaloga, Steven. Armored Thunderbolt: The US Army Sherman in World War II. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2008.
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareeem and Anthony Walton. Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes. New York: Broadway Books, 2004.