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The 117th CRS M24 Chaffee by OKB Grigorov 1:72


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Named after the „father of the US Army armored forces”, General Adna Chaffee, the M24 - arguably the best light tank of World War II - was a fast, lightly armoured vehicle, capable of delivering relatively large caliber direct fire from its excellent 75mm M6 gun. This retained the ballistic capabilities of the Sherman M3 gun, despite the thin-walled barrel, developed for the M5 variant, intended for use in the B-25H Mitchell attack aircraft. The first vehicles reached Europe in late 1944, replacing the vintage M3 and M5 Stuart tanks, still armed with a 37mm gun.

 

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Christened in battle during the December Ardennes struggle, the M24 proved to be very effective and highly reliable. While the M24 was roughly (2 ft shorter and a foot wider) the size of the M4 Sherman medium (30 ton) tank, it retained a low weight of just 18 tons (the tiny M5 Stuart weighed 15 tons), making it better suited for a landing craft delivery, for crossing the smaller weightload bridges, and (thanks to the 15in wide tracks) negotiating deep snow and wetlands in Western Europe in the spring of 1945. Below you can see the M24 size compared to the Stuart, M4 Sherman and British Cromwell.

 

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The 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) underwent its baptism of fire in North Africa. Then the unit passed through Sicily to Italy (up to Rome), from where on 15th August 1944 it was directed to the south of France (Operation Dragoon). The Squadron then conquered Alsace, receiving the first M24s on 26th February 1945. Four days later, the last M5 Stuart left the unit, whose tank company (the F Troop, as there were also four M8 Greyhound troops there) become fully M24-equipped.

 

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In March 1945 they went from Marmoutier via Baerenthal and Pirmasens, and on the evening of 30th March, they crossed the Rhine between Ludwigshafen and Mannheim.

In April, the conquest of Rhineland continued from Heidelberg through Krautheim, Heilbronn, Stuttgart and Ulm, leading the 117th directly into Austrian Tyrol.

There the squadron celebrated VE Day in Reutte.  

 

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Crewed by five men and powered by two liquid-cooled 150hp Cadillac V8 engines, the original M24 was armed with a single 75mm gun, two 0.3” MGs and the external pivot-mounted 0.5” AA Browning. Almost all of the 4,700 vehicles manufactured by Cadillac and Massey-Harris in 1944-45 went to the US Army. After the war, the M24 became a mainstay of the US occupation forces in both Germany and Japan, where its light weight allowed it to reach places inaccessible to the heavier M4 Shermans. Replaced  during the Korean War by the M41 Walker Bulldog, several thousand of the withdrawn M24s were delivered to various forces around the world, with France (1,250), Italy (520), Britain (300), Turkey (240), Taiwan (230) and Belgium (220) being the main users. In at least two countries (Taiwan and Uruguay), the M24 was still in use in the first decade of the 21st century.

 

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The 2014 OKB Grigorov tooling is considered the world’s best Braille scale M24, light years ahead of the ancient (both dated 1974 incidentally) Hasegawa 1:72 and Matchbox/Revell 1:76 kits. The R72001 boxing (the first styrene kit of this Bulgarian company) contains 234 parts on 4 sprues. So again (after Unimodels Stug and Panzer III)  some 85 parts for every inch of the hull lenght - a massacre ! Luckily (for me at least) there is no PE fret to bother with. The only drawback encountered is the width of the sprocket wheels – when glued OOB they are about 1.5mm too narrow to fit in the corresponding lugs in the tracks. So they have to be widened by 1.5mm and then everything fits.

 

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The decals are provided for three US tanks from the 1945 campaign in Germany and several  (5 individual names and 5 registration plates, although not all correspondingly) French tanks from the 1954 Indochina War. All are plain Olive Drab, so I decided to build a vehicle from the 117th CRS, which in 1945 overpainted its tanks with large transverse stripes of No. 8 Earth Red (~ FS30117).

 

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The model was made OOB with the exception of the Aber 0.3 mm steel wire antennas and a transparent window fitted into the (kit-supplied) driver’s windshield frame.

The turret was made rotatable by adding a horizontal bar under it and cutting two notches in the hull upper deck.

 

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US white stars were taken from the original Grigorov sheet. Unfortunately, on the (rare) pictures of the 117th CRS M24s from their 1945 activities I did not see either serial numbers (e.g. US 30126435), or unit markings (e.g. 4C-117R-F-6). Neither on the hulls (front or rear) nor the fenders. So either the tanks were unmarked or US Army censorship intervened there.

 

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The paints are (as always) Humbrol enamels: 155 for No.9 Olive Drab and 70 for Earth Red, painted with Italeri brushes.

Then the Vallejo acrylic matt varnish was brush-applied overall.
The pictures are taken with an LG smartphone.

Comments welcome

Cheers

Michael

Edited by KRK4m
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  • 2 months later...

Michael,

 

That looks good OOTB. There are lots of OKB Grigorov after-market sets for this but you have a nice result without them. I have one of these which I was thinking about for the French Fancy GB later this year. Thanks for the word about the sprocket.

 

Alan

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