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M4A2 76(W) HVSS Sherman differences from M4A3 76(W) HVSS?


adrianforest
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I'd like to model one of the M4A2 76(W) HVSS Shermans sent to the USSR via Lend Lease towards the end of the war. My understanding is that these late-model M4A2s were almost indistinguishable from the M4A3 equivalents, as evinced by the use of an M4A2 to play the part of Fury in the movie. The major difference I'm aware of is the engine deck, which should look pretty much the same as any other late-model M4A2. But what other differences are there? If I were to take a late-model M4A3 76(W) HVSS kit as the basis of this model, say, Tamiya's 1/48 example, what other changes would I need to make to turn it into a Lend Lease M4A2 76(W) HVSS?

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Okay, so aside from the engine deck/doors area on the back/top of the hull, the primary differences seem to be on the lower rear hull. But in most cases that area is completely covered from the rear by the large exhaust grille. So any differences aren't going to be visible except from below the tank. I can barely see any differences in the walkarounds.

 

The Sherman minutia site has some interesting details on welded drivers hatches and fabricated bogie arms, but my reading of that is those aren't features that are common to all late M4A2s, They'd certainly be interesting to model, but I'm primarily concerned with differences that all late-model M4A2s *must* have.

 

Aside from the back/top of the hull and the lower rear hull, are there any other major differences I'm missing that show up on all late-model M4A2s?

Edited by adrianforest
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As mentioned, the changes between late-model "large hatch" M4, M4A2 and M4A3 were confined to the minimum necessary once production had reduced to 2 plants making fabricated hulls from early 1944.  Previously there had been 10 plants assembling Shermans.  There was a push to eliminate as many of the plant and supply chain variations as possible.  All the large hatch M4A2s were built by Fisher, who also built some M4A3s. 

 

So yes the engine deck layout is different: doors, grilles, fuel fillers.  The angle of the rear upper hull is different: more upright and a little deeper on the A2 than the A3.  The lower rear hull is completely different with no access doors and the external mufflers.  But with the late armoured exhaust deflector in place most of that is indeed hidden.  Although you would see the bottom of the A3 access door, not present on the A2.

 

I have a suggestion here.  Why not consider cross-kitting Zvezda's M4A2(75) and M4A3(76) kits?  These are both very nice and can be found relatively cheaply compared to other brands - at least in the UK and Europe.  The parts should be compatible as the 2 kits share many common parts anyway.  The left-over parts would go together to make a large hatch M4A3(75) as used by US forces in NWE and PTO.  Or with a bit more work and a few more parts an M4A3(105).  So nothing wasted.  Zvezda actually give you a fair selection of bogie, wheel and sprocket types, glacis variations etc in the kits so you probably don't need any more after-market parts unless you like etched brass detail sets. They have even found a way of giving you optional parts to build either early or late turrets with large or small loader's hatches. And you get link and length tracks.

 

There is an issue with the position of the loader's hatch on the Zvezda 75mm turret, which is not quite right.  There are resin substitutes but they cost as much as the kit itself!

 

I presume you are aware that the only WW2 user of the M4A2(76) was the Red Army?  Never used by US forces, nor by Free French or Commonwealth forces.

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3 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

I have a suggestion here.  Why not consider cross-kitting Zvezda's M4A2(75) and M4A3(76) kits?  These are both very nice and can be found relatively cheaply compared to other brands - at least in the UK and Europe.  The parts should be compatible as the 2 kits share many common parts anyway.  The left-over parts would go together to make a large hatch M4A3(75) as used by US forces in NWE and PTO.  Or with a bit more work and a few more parts an M4A3(105).  So nothing wasted.  Zvezda actually give you a fair selection of bogie, wheel and sprocket types, glacis variations etc in the kits so you probably don't need any more after-market parts unless you like etched brass detail sets. They have even found a way of giving you optional parts to build either early or late turrets with large or small loader's hatches. And you get link and length tracks.

Cross-kitting the Zvezda kits is a great idea, and if I was building in 1/35th scale, that'd probably be the way to go. Unfortunately their M4A3 is a VVSS model, so I'd still have to get the HVSS suspension from somewhere else.

 

The truth is, I've had the Tamiya 1/48 Easy Eight in my stash for a while now, and I really like building in quarter-scale. Unfortunately, there are absolutely no 1/48 scale M4A2 kits that Scalemates is aware of, although there are some conversion kits meant for Tamiya's other 1/48 Shermans. The advantage of starting with the Easy Eight is that, as we've established, most of the tank is identical to late-model M4A2s, and it has the HVSS suspension, so I can build one of those rare late models.

 

What I'm actually planning to do is 3D print some conversion parts. I have the engine deck modelled and ready to go as a drop-in replacement for the Tamiya kit, and I'm now considering doing some welded hatches and fabricated bogie arms. I just need to figure out the other essential details for the M4A2. My understanding is that the Dragon M4A2(76) is probably the most accurate 1/35 scale kit, so I can probably use that as a reference for the lower rear hull. I'm not entirely sure whether the angle of the rear upper hull is noticeable enough to be worth remodelling such a core structural part...

Edited by adrianforest
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Since you are working in 1/48 scale - if you're prepared to do some surgery, use the engine deck and rear panel from Tamiya's M10 or Achilles kits. That will give you the A2 deck (might need a bit of packing and filling). Also, the M10 lower rear hull panel is an A2 configuration.

 

It doesn't solve the upper hull rear overhang angle but gets you most of the way there.

Edited by John Tapsell
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4 hours ago, adrianforest said:

Unfortunately their M4A3 is a VVSS model, so I'd still have to get the HVSS suspension from somewhere else.

I failed to spot those clues - or the scale........... 

 

During WW2 the M4A2E8 was only used in small numbers by the Red Army in Manchuria against Japan.  No-one and nowhere else.  They had them sooner but did not like the initial T66 tracks and held them until replacement T80s were supplied.  By then the European war was over and the Far East war all but over.  The major post-war user of the M4A2E8 was Canada, who bought about 280, but did not take them to Korea.

 

The VVSS M4A2(76) is far more representative of the tanks actually used during WW2.  Have you looked at the Gaso.Line Quarter Kit website?  They specialise in 1/48 scale.  https://gaso-line.eu/gaso-line.htm

 

Are you stuck on 1/48??  Have you considered 1/56?  Rubicon do a nice M4A2(76) VVSS.  It doesn't have the HVSS option as some of their kits do, but they have other Shermans with the HVSS option such as their M4A3/E8.  Which you can still build as a VVSS M4A3 afterwards.  Detail level is on a par with Tamiya's 1/48 kits but there are as yet no after-market parts in this scale.  Rubicon do stowage and crew sets etc.  One drawback: they're moulded in ABS, not styrene, so you need a solvent that works with ABS.

 

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15 hours ago, Das Abteilung said:

During WW2 the M4A2E8 was only used in small numbers by the Red Army in Manchuria against Japan.  No-one and nowhere else.  They had them sooner but did not like the initial T66 tracks and held them until replacement T80s were supplied.  By then the European war was over and the Far East war all but over.  The major post-war user of the M4A2E8 was Canada, who bought about 280, but did not take them to Korea.

I'm well aware of the rarity of the M4A2 76(W) HVSS, but as is so often the case with modelling subjects, that's the primary appeal!

 

I'm committed to 1/48 because I want to use the Tamiya kit. This is primarily an exercise in modelling and 3D-printing conversion parts to turn it into an M4A2, so what I'm really looking for is to put together a list of what parts need to get changed/modified, rather than figuring out the best way to model a M4A2 76(W) HVSS Sherman in general.

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Then might I suggest that you equip yourself with some research material and plans.  The Son of Sherman book has pretty much everything you need to know and 1/35 plans of the hull layouts of most variant production variations.  The hulls of the different variants were different lengths as well as the rears being at different angles.  Chrysler and Fisher used different turret suppliers and there were slight variations here too.  Converting one variant of Sherman to another has always been more difficult than you might think. 

 

The Sherman Minutia and The Sherman Tank Site websites have a lot of free information and photos you will find useful, but lack any scale plans.

 

http://the.shadock.free.fr/sherman_minutia/index.html

https://www.theshermantank.com/

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I have a bunch of Sherman reference, most of the relevant Osprey books, and a copy of Hunnicut's Sherman book, but Son of Sherman cannot be had for love or money anywhere. WorldCat lists a single library copy in a small museum library in IIllinois, which is sadly a little out of reach for me in Australia. By all accounts it's an invaluable reference for Sherman modellers, but I just don't think I can get my hands on it.

 

To the best of my knowledge, Soviet M4A2s are probably the least well-covered variant across the breadth of available reference material on Shermans, and the HVSS-equipped Soviet M4A2s are the least well-covered of those. There's a bit more coverage of the post-war Canadian M4A2 HVSS models, but these are often confusing because it's not always clear what details are post-war modifications. This is actually pretty odd, considering that many of the surviving M4A2s are ex-Russian. 

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Scrolling through online pictures of Canadian M4A2E8s I can't see anything I would call a post-war modification.  They all look remarkably vanilla standard late production.  As late builds they did not go through the MDAP rework programme as did earlier vehicles destined for post-war sale 2nd-hand to allies.

 

There is some confusion with very late build standards as to what features actually saw WW2 service.  With typically at least 3 months delay between production and theatre arrival there are late production features that didn't make it to combat operations before the war ended.  The canvas mantlet cover is typically regarded as post war and was a common retrofit.  The T84 rubber chevron track is definitely post-war.  On A3s the engine door torsion bars were a common retrofit, but this doesn't apply to A2s.  The first aid box on the left hull side is often regarded as post-war as it was rarely seen in WW2.

 

Sheman Minutia actually makes a good job of identifying which features saw wartime service.  As you note, there are a number of preserved M4A2E8s in the former Soviet Union which should give some build standard clues.  As the Russian tanks arrived shod with T66 tracks they were clearly early HVSS production, so you can date your build features. M4A2E8 production began in Dec 44 and it is probable that the last Russian shipments were in May 45.  Although the T66 track was not preferred for the German front and meant that no E8s saw service on that front in WW2, photos of E8s on the Japanese front all seem to show the T66.

 

BookFinder.com did find copies of Son Of Sherman, mostly in the USA.  But the cheapest I noticed was US$160.  The most expensive was an eye-watering $3,750!!

 

However, there is a recent and very good book specifically about Russian Shermans which is very much cheaper and still available.  If Russian M4s is your thing you probably need this book.  Under £10 on Amazon UK.

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David Doyle has a series of books on the M4 including a volume dedicated to the M4A2.  I don't know what its coverage is like but as Russia and the Commonwealth accounted for the great majority of A2s it ought to be OK.  His stuff is generally good.  These books are still available.  Bookdepository.com in the UK currently has them all reduced to about £15 each.

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The Tank Power series has a book on 76mm Shermans  but I don't know if it covers the A2.  They generally have nice plans.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Printed a very early, very basic version of the M4A2 engine deck piece, just to get an idea of dimensions and fit, and see how the fuel cap details look at this scale. It's extremely rough, printed at 0.1mm layer height, where I'll print the final piece at 0.001mm ideally, so about 100x finer. This should give some idea what I'm going for. This test shot was worth doing because it showed I need to strengthen the plate by making it thicker to stop it bending up at the edges.

 

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Edited by adrianforest
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