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Armor/AFV: Allied - WWII
Armor and ground forces of the Allied forces during World War II.
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M4A2 at Normandy? M4 Expert Advice Needed
Kevlar06
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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 05:06 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I don't think there were many (or any at all) M4A3 gun tanks in Normandy. The Large hatch M4A3s were produced too late to reach the front lines by that time. The small hatch M4A3s were used for Stateside training until a number were sent to the ETO as replacement tanks after the Bulge.

John



John, Thanks-- Yep, I'll have to adjust my timeline somewhat. But I've found photos of several small hatch M4A3s in France as early as July 1944, near Coutances, and some small hatch M4A3s before and after the BoB in Germany. I'm using "M4 Sherman at War", Kagero's "M4 Sherman", "Sherman in Action", along with Osprey's "Operation Cobra". But as a military researcher, I've learned not to always trust everything in print, and frankly there's a lot of incorrect stuff out there. Photo captions are always suspect to me, especially in modeling applications. As for replacements, the research I've done all agrees US Army tank units in the ETO sought to ensure the same types of tanks were in a single unit-- and since the Ford GAAengined M4A3 was the most numerous type produced, units were seeking to get some form of standardization to make re-supply and repair easier. The upshot of all this is that I really need the Sherman as a load for an M25/M15 "somewhere in France" (or Germany). I have in mind a double sided diorama-- the WWII Dragon Wagon with a "tank dozer" load on one side going in one direction, and Takom's new M1070/M1005 & D9R going in the other direction, as a comparison in size.
VR, Russ
m4sherman
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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 07:28 AM UTC
Russ, your diorama idea sounds good. I think your best bet would be the early M4 dozer. I suspect the reason so few 76mm armed dozer tanks are shown is that the 75mm and 105mm tanks were the preferred types for dozer tanks.

Large hull hatch M4A3's were in France in August 1944, and went into combat late in August. The best example is the Free French Champagne.
GeraldOwens
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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 08:54 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

I don't think there were many (or any at all) M4A3 gun tanks in Normandy. The Large hatch M4A3s were produced too late to reach the front lines by that time. The small hatch M4A3s were used for Stateside training until a number were sent to the ETO as replacement tanks after the Bulge.

John



John, Thanks-- Yep, I'll have to adjust my timeline somewhat. But I've found photos of several small hatch M4A3s in France as early as July 1944, near Coutances, and some small hatch M4A3s before and after the BoB in Germany. I'm using "M4 Sherman at War", Kagero's "M4 Sherman", "Sherman in Action", along with Osprey's "Operation Cobra". But as a military researcher, I've learned not to always trust everything in print, and frankly there's a lot of incorrect stuff out there. Photo captions are always suspect to me, especially in modeling applications. As for replacements, the research I've done all agrees US Army tank units in the ETO sought to ensure the same types of tanks were in a single unit-- and since the Ford GAAengined M4A3 was the most numerous type produced, units were seeking to get some form of standardization to make re-supply and repair easier. The upshot of all this is that I really need the Sherman as a load for an M25/M15 "somewhere in France" (or Germany). I have in mind a double sided diorama-- the WWII Dragon Wagon with a "tank dozer" load on one side going in one direction, and Takom's new M1070/M1005 & D9R going in the other direction, as a comparison in size.
VR, Russ



Don't rely on the captions in Squadron's old "Sherman in Action." The photos purportedly showing M4A3 dry stowage tanks do not show the engine deck or tail plate, nor the glacis, and it is unclear exactly why they were identified as M4A3's. Many of the telltale identifiers of the Ford production vehicles were not properly documented until much later.

The large number of M4A3's that appeared starting in late summer were brand new wet stowage tanks produced by Fisher. I have only seen five photos of dry stowage M4A3 tanks in Europe, and these were all rebuilds photographed in 1945. The Army did not send worn-out training vehicles overseas, unless they had been rebuilt, and the earliest photo of rebuilt M4A3's I have seen is dated to August, 1944. Given a four-month turnaround from factory floor to front lines, the earliest any of these would arrived in Europe is December, 1944.

From the rear, a dry-stowage M4A3 may be identified by the engine deck grills and the extended, flared-out, upper tail plate and exhaust louvers. From the front, the oversized cast radio pot on the glacis and the weld pattern around the drivers' hoods and the shape of the hoods' upper corners are distinctive. Pullman Standard M4's also had a large radio pot casting, but the driver's hoods were more rounded on the upper corners, and the castings did not meet on the vehicle centerline. The M4A3 hood castings, like those on the M4A4, were extended on the inner edges, so they met on the vehicle's centerline, and no insert was needed in between them. Obviously, a photo needs to be a reasonably close shot to make such distinctions.

A large cast radio pot and direct vision hood castings welded together along the vehicle centerline are a recognition point for early production M4A3 models. Small appliqué armor plates were welded over the vision ports during rebuild. Early and late models were rebuilt in no particular order, and were sent overseas as needed.

Other features sometimes seen on rebuilt M4A3's include fender extensions (to allow for duckbill tracks), and gun travel locks on the glacis. These were sometimes installed, sometimes not.

As for assignment of tanks by type, ideally a tank battalion would have only one type of engine, but the M4-equipped battalions eventually had to accept M4A3's as replacements, once the reserve stocks of M4 and M4A1 tanks ran out. In late 1944. the Army was short of tanks due to higher than expected loss rates, and re-equipping an entire battalion just for engine uniformity was out of the question, so repair teams had to stock both Continental and Ford engine parts.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 09:27 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Russ, your diorama idea sounds good. I think your best bet would be the early M4 dozer. I suspect the reason so few 76mm armed dozer tanks are shown is that the 75mm and 105mm tanks were the preferred types for dozer tanks.

Large hull hatch M4A3's were in France in August 1944, and went into combat late in August. The best example is the Free French Champagne.



Randall, Yes, thanks. Here's the deal-- I had the Takom kit, an Academy Dragon Wagon and a 1/72 Dragon M4A1(76)W from Operation Cobra on hand. What I didn't have on hand was a 1/72 dozer tank, so I started "scouting the 'net", and ordered a very detailed Uni-Models (UM) kit of an M4A2 which UM advertises as operating with the 746th Tank Battalion in Normandy (most of the other available 1/72 M-1 dozer blade add-ons in 1/72 are either white metal or incomplete in detail). But UMs labeling must be an error, as the M4A2 was for export and the USMC use (although whole Battalions were used be the Free French Forces in Normandy, there is no evidence of their use in the ETO by US forces. However, In exploring the UM boxing, I found they include most parts for an M4A3 (small hatch)version. At least one of my sources states (and has a photo) of "small hatch" M4A(75)s operating in France before 1945 (one photo purports to be from Coutenances in July 1944). Others definitely show small hatch M4A3(75)s operating in Belgium and Germany in 1945. So I figure I can depict one of these tanks fitted with a dozer blade. I agree with others that the 100 or so M4A1(76)W tanks rushed into Combat for Operation Cobra were likely not fitted with blades (at that time). But it stands to reason older M4A3(75) small hatch tanks tanks might have had dozer blades added. Supposedly one dozer tank was allocated per M4 company, and they proved very helpful during the Bocage operations. So iguess im trying to come up with a fairly accurate depiction while trying to avoid having to buy another M4 Sherman in 1/72 scale!
VR, Russ
m4sherman
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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 11:52 AM UTC
Russ, I feel your pain! I looked online at some of the pictures of the sprues for the Uni-models kits and they are interesting. Your kit has parts for either an M4A2 or A3, and a few things for the radial M4's. To bad they didn't put in a few more parts and call it a 3 in 1. If you bite the bullet and get a 105mm M4/M4A3 kit you could use the M4 parts on your build, and still have everything needed for a M4A3 105 tank.

However, it you go with the early hull M4A3 dozer, put it on the Autobahn circa 1945, your project could be made with what you have on hand.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 06:12 PM UTC
Gerald, Randall, thanks for all the info and encouragement. I just finished the Uni-Models suspension system today-- there are 9 parts in each suspension unit (that's 54 parts for the suspension, not counting the driver's and idlers!) Pretty impressive in 1/72 scale for sure! In comparison, there are only 4 parts in the Dragon suspension. Yes, there are a ton of extra parts in the kit, including two different drivers hatch inserts as Gerald mentioned, and all the M4 early and late gun mantlets. Several different hatch covers, separate tools, etc. What's missing from the kit for a complete M4A3 is the exhaust grill at the back-- but guess what?-- there's one in the Dragon M4A1 kit! And with just a little sanding it fits perfectly! The UM kit is quite detailed, the molding is just a little rougher than the Dragon kits. I'm going to try anfpd make it work.
VR, Russ