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1/76 El Alamein Sherman M4 A1


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This is my first WiP, so apologies for layout, picture and build quality.

I have always wanted an early production cast hull Sherman as used at El Alamein. Thought the Nitto M4A1 would do the trick, but the rather pathetic running gear was too obviously wrong.

I decided to cannibalise an Airfix Lee/Grant from the stash to get the early running gear and front hull.

I believe this is now called "kit bashing" - how the hobby has come along since I last built much.

We start here:


And here:


These are the main reason for all this work:


Crude or what?

After a dry fit of the Airfix hull offered up to the Nitto body, a few judicious cuts were made to give this:


Decided to keep the Airfix rear hull structure, which seems to be slightly "better" detailed:


The Nitto road wheels are also being replaced as they appear to be nearer 1/87 than 1/76:


Although I am inclined to use the Nitto Drive wheels.

That's it for piccies this far and I apologise if they are too big - it has taken me four attempts to write this post, a steep learning curve.

In parting for this post, both subject models leave a great deal to be desired by modern standards. The Airfix kit is '69 vintage and I remember the original releases being hailed as "state of the art", being crisply moulded and generally accurate, despite the horrendous attempt at the Grant turret. Not so my current subject: soft plastic lacking definition, a nasty case of ejector pin marks and definite softening of the moulds - hardly surprising for the age. The Nitto offering has a lovely hull and turret that is let down by under scale, crude running gear.

In both cases the less said about the tracks, the better - standard issue post office rubber bands would probably be an improvement.

I aim to get an update posted in a couple of days, so thanks for looking and see you soon.


Edited by JerryS
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I started a similar hybrid, but using the Matchbox Priest for the running gear. There are however other changes that should be made (ideally) because the hull shape isn't right - I did do some filing but (as I recall) only in a compromise manner. I must dig it out and try to finish it. There was at least one dedicated booklet on the subject but I doubt that it is still available. I'll dig out a reference if you're interested.

The other problem with the Nitto kit is that the tracks are too short.

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Graham, I would be very interested in the booklet reference, thank you.

I thought of using the Matchbox Priest, as I have one in my stash, but decided on the Lee/Grant because I would probably never build it OOB.

I have already picked up on a few areas where surgery may be required, we'll see whether "100% accuracy" or "good enough for folk" wins.

I've already picked up on the tracks, thank you - the tracks in both kits will be retired, I am looking for after market replacements - any ideas?

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"Codename Swallow: British Sherman Tanks at Alamein" Dennis Oliver, Mushroom magazine Special no.402 ISBN 83-89450-33-X, Stratus 2006.

You can also try Oliver and Starmer's "The New Breed: North Africa" part one in their Colour and Markings Series, from The Factory Publishing 2007 ISBN 978-0-9804631-0-1 Which has more and wider text but lots of Shermans, and something for your Priest.

Both are fairly slim but chock full of goodies.

Aim for 100% accuracy, do an honourable amount of work, and accept a gracious defeat. Works for me.

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Hmmm! I thought the hull looked a little strange. Graham is right, it is slightly squashed at the front and has a distinct knuckle in profile just behind the turret.

Purists and those of a delicate disposition, look away! This is going to get ugly.

The thing about cast hulls is that drawings tend to be a little unhelpful (if you have any, that is). A reference structure is much more beneficial. It just so happens that I have a 1/72 Humbrol M4A1 with a cast hull lying around doing very little. Patience, Grasshopper. Patience.

To be continued following deliberations.....


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Thank you for the references, found both on Amazon and only need a fairly small extra mortgage to purchase. Added to wish list, though. Maybe one a month when SWMBO isn't looking.


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I recall it being said that the Nitto wheels were too small because the suspension is too tall. Whatever the sequence, the latter is true.

There's lots of 1/76, but you do have to tip your toe into resin and white metal kits. Two major producers of Shermans (and others) are Milicast and MMS, the latter in white metal. There does tend to be some simplification of track, particularly in Milicasts's Battlefield series, but otherwise they are comparable to the better injection moulded kits and generally more accurate than the Shermans available in this scale. You will pay a little more, and you do have to be careful with removing the resin parts from the runners, but they are not particularly difficult.

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Thank you for your comments and all your information - very helpful and providing much food for thought. This hobby has really evolved since `i was last active.

Breaking news on the Alamein Sherman front is that I have been focusing on the turret assembly while I mull over the hull question. I have also been "populating" the interior, most of which won't be seen again once the hull is closed up, but I will know it is there and I need the practice. Basically, on the "because it's there" principle.

Photos and further update to follow.


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Graham: I will try Abe Books, I have used them before and they are very good and competitive, thank you.

Bodmin: yes. this is terrible running gear. I built another Nitto Sherman (same gear) and had to glue the wheels because they would not stay put otherwise, and it didn't look right when done - now I know why.

I have decided to use this build as a test bed for various techniques, as I have come to the conclusion that to achieve 100% accurracy requires more skill than I possess - to quote a cinematic hero "a man has to know his limitations". Besides, time is too short to put lipstick on this pig when Milicast do a very acceptable alternative for a reasonable price that will introduce me to the world of resin.

So, to summarise the current position:

The lower hull is coming together (complete with what will be a hidden interior) - photos to follow.

The turret is ready for internal painting before final assembly - photos to follow

The upper hull is a dog's dinner - incorrect profile, incorrect edge radii, front and rear track guards over-scale, and on it goes. I shall attempt to rectify this to some degree using filler and filing - we'll see. Track guards will be replaced with constructs from drinks can (for the practice) and inaccuracies can hopefully be disguised with suitable quantities of stores/bedding/boxes etc.

I am away for the weekend so no updates after today until next week.

We will keep on keeping on.


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Graham: checked out Abe Books. Surprisingly, Amazon is significantly cheaper (by a factor of x10!). Will probably order at end of month.

I promised further updates and some photos:

To start with, this shows the difference in height between Airfix (top) and Nitto (bottom) - quite significant. I am not totally convinced that the Airfix unit is the right height as the angles look as if the volutes are in the "unloaded" position - face not too bothered.


Next, the lower hull with additional - soon to be totally hidden - interior detail ready for painting:


The crew supplied with the Nitto kit look suspiciously like Airfix WW2 American Marines / British Paras that have got too close to a very hot thing:


Replacement is in order, if only to get something approaching the correct uniform. Enter Claude, ex-Matchbox M3 Stuart, I believe and legless after a night misspent with several ice-colds in Alex:


I have continued to assemble the Airfix running gear, which is definitely showing its age with what we shall politely refer to as "muted" detail. However, Claude has now recovered from his overhang, found his legs and is busy inspecting his new chariot:


That's all for now, once again, apologies for the photo quality and if they are too large - please let me know.



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