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M4A3 Sherman W/T24 “Calliope” Academy 1:35 History The American Sherman tank has to be one of the most famous tanks from World War 2. What a lot of people may not know is that it was once adapted to carry 60 rocket tubes above the turret, a conversion nicknamed the Calliope, after a musical instrument which had similarly arranged pipes. The launcher was developed in 1943 and could fire a barrage of 4.5” M8 rockets. Only small numbers were produced and were used by various US armoured units in 1944-45. The Model The kit comes in a top opening box with an interesting picture of the vehicle firing its rockets, although the effects aren’t particularly well rendered, not that it’s that important. What is important is what’s in the box. There are eleven sprues of bluey grey styrene, a small sheet of etched brass, a pair of vinyl tracks, a piece of string and a small decal sheet. The parts are all well moulded, although the detail is a little soft and perhaps not as effective as some other kits of the Sherman. The provenance of the kit is a little uncertain, but it looks like Academy’s own tool Sherman M4A3 with the rocket launcher parts possibly coming from Italeri. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections on any of the moulded parts and only a few moulding pips. Construction begins with the assembly of the sprocket wheels, each provided as two halves, two piece idler wheels, plus the road wheels, with two piece wheels and two part axle units. The road wheel assemblies are then fitted into the five piece suspension units. The escape hatch and rear track guard sections are fitted to the lower hull, followed by the rear bulkhead, which has been fitted with the exhausts, an access hatch with handle, three piece towing hitch and two small stowage boxes. The idlers and road wheel assemblies are attached to the lower hull, along with the front hull extensions on which the sprocket wheels and their gearbox covers are attached. The drive cover is fitted to the front of the lower hull whilst on the upper hull the bow machine gun, its ball sockets, front headlamps, two lifting eyes and the engine deck hatch with two grille piece are all glued on. The drivers and machine gunners seven part hatches are next, along with the four fuel caps, rear lights and ventilation mushroom. The upper hull is kitted out with the various pioneer tools, front and rear lights, their respective cage guards, the guards being made of either styrene or PE depending on what you prefer, and grab handles. At the rear of the tank the exhaust grille is attached, with the rear mounted covers mounted behind where the idler wheels would be. Above the exhaust shield a four piece storage rack is attached, and another two grab handles fitted to the top of the engine deck. The build then moves onto the main gun and the turret. The main gun is a nicely produced item, moulded as a single piece, with a similarly moulded muzzle attached. The trunnion mount consist of three parts and is fitted to the inside of the inner mantlet, with the outer mantlet covering that. The barrel is then slid into position, being glued to the trunnion mount. The main gun assembly is then attached to the front of the turret, which does as least have some casting texture on it, from the outside, whilst the 30 cal co-axial machine gun is mounted from the inside, with the turret ring glued to the turret base. For the fitting of the rocket launcher legs, you will need to open up the oblong holes on either side of the turret. The commanders cupola hatches are assembled, with the left hand hatch having a periscope fitted from the inside and with a cage guard fitted on the outside. The two hatches are then glued to the cupola which is then glued to the top of the turret. The gunners hatch is also attached, along with the aerial base, which has the option of either a straight or bent version, turret lifting eyes, plus the gunners periscope and guard. The gunners hatch also has a couple of spring like objects fitted and there is a second aerial base fitted to the rear of the turret. The commanders sighting arm is attached in front of his hatch, whilst a searchlight is attached via a PE plate to the base of the main gun. To accommodate the rocket launcher elevation support the gun is fitted with a ring attachment point. The rocket launcher consists of two full width cluster of tubes and four smaller widths. Each sections is made up from two halves with single piece end caps to the rear. Having built the Revel version of this vehicle I found that getting the seams all cleaned up in the bores of each tube was quite difficult. But you can always cover the fronts with a sheet of tarpaulin made form tissue paper and watered down PVA glue. The large rocket tube sections are joined together, as are two pairs of the narrower width tube sections. The launcher frame is made up from four parts, with the front cross member being fitted with the elevation support rod and its attachment block. The launcher side arms are each made up from three parts which are then glued to the side of the turret. The moving gas struts are then slid into position and the attachment plate holds them in place on the side of the rocket tubes. Strangely the is a very nicely detailed M2 50 cal machine gun and mount consisting of fifteen parts included, but this wasn’t normally fitted to a rocket carrying tank, but it can be fitted to one of the options which is carrying the rocket pack. The build is finished off with the vinyl tracks fitted to the lower hull assembly, the upper hull assembly then glued to the lower hull and the slotting into position of the turret/rocket launcher assembly. Decals The small decal sheet is quite well printed, and not as thick as Academy decals used to be. They’re in register and nicely opaque, particularly useful as the stars and other markings are printed in white. There are four stars that have been over-painted in olive drab, although I’m not sure the reason why, they do make for an interesting look. There are markings for three vehicles. Sherman M4A3 Calliope of the US 12th Armoured Division, Fletrange, France, March 1945 Sherman M4A3 Calliope of the 14th Armoured Division, Germany, Early 1945 Sherman M4A3 of the US 95th Infantry Division, Germany, January 1945. Conclusion Ok, this isn’t an uber kit of the Sherman. But it is a great little kit with some nice details, nothing too taxing, which could make for a pleasant break from more complex builds. If it’s anything like the Revell kit, which this does bear a marked similarity to, it will build into a nice looking kit, just right for some heavy weathering. Perhaps one for the weekend? Recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for