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Modelling the US Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank

Modelling the US Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank

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Modelling the US Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank

Lunghezza:
174 pagine
47 minuti
Pubblicato:
Apr 20, 2012
ISBN:
9781780966366
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

The Sherman was the most widely used Allied tank of World War II and was built in larger numbers than all German tanks combined. There was also a huge number of variants, powered by different engines, and manufactured with different types of hulls and turrets. This book presents an expert guide to modelling the 75mm gun versions used by the US Army in the ETO, in 1/35 and 1/48 scale. The projects featured include an early M4A1 from Operation Husky (July 1943), an intermediate M4 during Operation Cobra (August 1944), an M4 mine-roller in the Ardennes (January 1945), and a M4A3 during Operation Grenade (February 1945).
Pubblicato:
Apr 20, 2012
ISBN:
9781780966366
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Steven J. Zaloga received his BA in History from Union College and his MA from Columbia University. He has worked as an analyst in the aerospace industry for over three decades, covering missile systems and the international arms trade, and has served with the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federal think tank. He is the author of numerous books on military technology and history, including NVG 294 Allied Tanks in Normandy 1944 and NVG 283 American Guided Missiles of World War II. He currently lives in Maryland, USA.


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Modelling the US Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank - Steven J. Zaloga

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Introduction

The Sherman was the most widely used Allied tank of World War II and was built in larger numbers than all German tanks combined. Due to the enormity of the subject, this book takes a look at part of the Sherman story in World War II, the 75mm gun versions used by the US Army in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). The primary focus of this book is on 1/35 scale, but with the revival of 1/48-scale kits from Tamiya and Hobby Boss, a 1/48-scale project is also included.

In 1942, the US Army decided to limit its combat use of the Sherman to versions with the R-975 radial engine, namely the M4 and M4A1 tanks. These two types are in fact identical except that the M4A1 used a cast upper hull while the M4 used a welded hull. Other types of Shermans, such as the diesel-powered M4A2 and the M4A4 with the Chrysler multi-bank engine, were reserved for Lend Lease, though the US Army did use some for training in the United States. So for most of the combat from Operation Torch in November 1942 through the Italian campaign, and up to D-Day and the campaign in France, the M4 and M4A1 were the standard US Army types. In the summer of 1943, the US Army changed its policy and decided that the M4A3 with its Ford GAA engine was automotively superior to the R-575 versions, and so future production focused on the M4A3. Photographic evidence indicates that no M4A3 tanks reached combat in the ETO until the late summer of 1944, and the type did not become common in Europe until the autumn and winter of 1944.

Due to the large production run of Shermans, there was an enormous amount of detail difference. This short modelling book cannot hope to address the many detail issues, but I have attempted to provide a rough guide by selecting Shermans representative of US Army use in World War II. The chapters are arranged chronologically with an early M4A1 from Operation Husky in Sicily in July 1943, an intermediate M4 in France during Operation Cobra in August 1944, an M4 with T1E3 mine-roller in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, and an M4A3 in Germany during Operation Grenade in February 1945. While going through these modelling projects, I will deal in part with the technical evolution of the Sherman.

The welded hull M4 was by far the most common Sherman variant in US Army service during the summer 1944 fighting in France. This is the Tamiya kit, modified to represent an M4 manufactured by the Baldwin plant in 1943 and in service with the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division.

The granddaddy of all 1/35 Sherman kits is the Tamiya M4A3, released in 1981.

The US Army never adopted a set of specific sub-variant designations for the Sherman like the German system (Panther Ausf. A, Ausf. G, etc.). The process of improving the Sherman was almost continuous during the key years of 1942–43 when most of the 75mm Shermans were built. Nearly every month, manufacturers received instructions to change this piece or that, based on combat experience or engineering tests. Instead of clustering all these improvements in a nice little package, they were continuously incorporated into the production line, often at a varying pace at the many production plants. To make matters even more complicated, the Army sometimes would issue a technical bulletin or a maintenance work order for ordnance depots in the field to modify tanks after they were manufactured but before they were issued to the troops. So for example, in the summer of 1943, there was an urgent work order issued about the adoption of appliqué armour on tanks that was undertaken at the plants in the US, at tank depots in the US, and at US ordnance depots in Great Britain.

There was also some detail variation due to the many plants that built Shermans. For example, the M4 tanks built by Baldwin had direct vision hoods all through production and a vertical rear plate; the final production run of M4 tanks at the Chrysler-operated Detroit Tank Arsenal used a unique composite hull with a cast front and a welded rear superstructure. The table on page 6 summarizes the many plants that built the 75mm M4, M4A1 and M4A3 during the war. The last column shows the registration numbers issued for these production batches. This is included since it was the only marking painted on the tank at the factory and it helps to identify the production batch of Sherman on historical photos. Readers will also notice that this book uses wartime Ordnance part numbers such as ‘D47527’ to distinguish between different components. While awkward to remember, they are more precise than terms such as ‘early production’.

The kits

The first 1/35-scale 75mm Sherman kit to appear was the Tamiya M4A3, first released in 1981. At the time, it was a major leap forward in Sherman kits compared to earlier and inadequate kits such as the Revell 1/40-scale M4A1 or the early Tamiya M4A3E8 kit. The Tamiya kit represents a fairly typical M4A3 with the 47-degree wet ammunition stowage hull, high bustle turret, and T54 steel track with extended end-connectors. By today’s standards, it is still a very good kit, though it has many annoying problems. For whatever reason, Tamiya does not provide sponson floors under the upper hulls of their Shermans, and they continue to inaccurately depict the upper hull welds as depressions rather than as raised weld beads. The initial version of the kit (kit no. 35122) used typical shortcuts of the time such as the lack of detail on the rear of the road wheels, and the loader’s hatch on the turret was only provided in the close position. Tamiya also did a spin-off as the M4A3E2 ‘Jumbo’ assault tank, which has a new, but badly misproportioned turret. Due to space limits, the Jumbo is not covered in this book but will be covered in a future proposed Osprey Modelling book. The basic Tamiya M4A3 kit was reissued in an improved version (kit no. 35250) 20 years later in 2001, with some detail improvements such as an open loader’s hatch on the turret, and the addition of a set of D52861 disc wheels.

Sherman production: the gritty details

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