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Asuka Composite Sherman - British/Commonwealth markings?


SimonL
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I was browsing the the web for canopy masks for my long stalled Airfix Chipmunk when I came across an Asuka 1/35 Sherman going for a a very good price. With a sudden rush of blood to the head, I purchased it. It’s the “China Clipper” boxing of a M4 Composite, which from reading around did serve with British/Commonwealth forces where it was known as a Sherman Mk 1 Hybrid. I may well build it in US colours, but I would be interested to know if there are any British/commonwealth markings I could finish it in?  And would I need to make any significant modifications to the kit? Thanks!

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Fairly common in British units that operated the M4 (Sherman I) in the latter part of the campaign in NW Europe (late '44 -May '45) - ie 33rd Armd Bde.

 

33rd AB considted of East Riding Yeomanry, 1st Northants Yeomanry and 144 RAC, all belonging to 33rd Armd Bde. The British operated type-specific units (so 8th Armd Bde operated Sherman III and 4th Armd Bde operated Sherman II) so Hybrids were probably uncommon outside 33rd AB..

 

Star Decals offer a couple of sets of relevant British decals

 

35 967 - Formations and AoS markings for for the British 8th and 33rd Armoured Brigade in NW Europe 1944-45 (basic formation signs).
35 890 - British 33rd Armoured Brigade from Normandy to Holland. (Sherman Hybrid, Firefly IC, Firefly VC and generics).

https://www.star-decals.net/35scaleww2.html

 

 

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Thanks John. I’ve been taking a look and it appears I will need to make a few adjustments, including most obviously to me the addition of a stowage box on the turret. It looks like I may be able to source the specific sprue for that direct from Asuka - although it may take awhile to get here. 

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There are brass and resin options for the stowage box - or at least there have been.

 

Another British mod you would expect to see would be the triple racks for spare links on the glacis, usually 2 racks but the positions varied.  Also 2 UK-pattern fire extinguishers, one each side of the rear hull in front of the rear lights and outboard of the lifting rings.  These might be on the same sprue as the box.

 

Some etched brass detail sets for M4s give you the track racks and IIRC some also include the box.  Fire extinguishers are available from Panzer Art and Resicast, in both cases without annoying mould seams.

 

BNA Modelworld are worth a look for after-market stuff.  I've even used them from here in the UK!

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33 minutes ago, Kingsman said:

BNA Modelworld are worth a look for after-market stuff.  I've even used them from here in the UK!

Thanks for the helpful information, I’m familiar with BNA :-), that where my China Clipper is coming from! I looked at some of the aftermarket - but it appears to be a bit thin on the ground (perhaps not looking in the right places) and pricey. With the  Asuka sprues it looks like  the sprue with the stowage box is different to the ones with the extinguishers and the track links racks (of course). Thing is, the track links on these sprues are for T62 tracks (it’s  actually a sprue for Sherman Vc Firefly), while the clipper comes with T48 tracks (which I assume would be ok for a Sherman 1 hybrid). Still, have plenty of time, my package from Brisbane is going to take awhile!

 

My plan was to try and use the instructions available on the Scalemates site (and my completed RFM Firefly) to give me some guidance where I need to add the extras.

 

Sigh, I’ve been sucked into the Sherman morass, haven’t I?

 

EDIT: just checking a review website of the contents of China Clipper, and it looks like there will be the racks and spare track links AND the British style extinguishers. So that means I just need the turret stowage box - and some markings.

Edited by SimonL
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59 minutes ago, SimonL said:

Sigh, I’ve been sucked into the Sherman morass, haven’t I?

Welcome aboard Simon. We should have a dedicated thread for the Sherman, along the same lines as the one that exists for the Tiger.

I was going to say to you, until I read your edit, that Dragon have a habit of including whole sprues that only a couple of items on it are needed for the kit in the box. Meaning that there are often looooooooadds of unused items which may be of use to you in the build that you want to do.

Check any info that you can get hold of on whatever tank that you want to build, but more often than not, a lot of Shermans in N.Europe were fitted with the more common T54E1 tracks. But as I say, check your references as there were a lot of anomalies.

 

John.

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Think I may have find a likely candidate - as long as the sand shields from my RFM Firefly can be made to fit. There is a 3 CLY example on this sheet - and the added bonus is that I have the Bronco Humber Scout in the stash. I will perhaps not worry about the wading trunk…

 

https://www.star-decals.net/35-921.html

 

Intriguingly I have found a single Australian M4 composite (see http://anzacsteel.hobbyvista.com/Armoured Vehicles/australianshermansph_4.htm)

 

and there are markings available for that as well:

 

https://www.star-decals.net/35-C1194.html

 

although it is rather on the bland side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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T48 rubber chevron tracks were the common factory fit on M4 Composites.  But they wore down more quickly than the steel types, which is why the UK preferred the steel types - but we got what we were given.  So you might find replacement T54s or T49s in use.  A quick search found T54E1 and T45E2 tracks on British composites and T51 plain rubber blocks on US composites in the Pacific, so the T48 was not universal.  If you shave the 3 rivet heads off the T62 spare links they will pass for T54E2s: the chevron shape is almost identical.

 

Rubber tracks were back on the menu from late 1943 once the US had built up synthetic rubber production to compensate for the complete loss of natural rubber from the Far East early in 1942, only a few months into Sherman production.  T62s were only factory fit on M4A4s: it seems that Chrysler did not use them on the M4 Composites which followed the M4A4 in production there.

 

As @Bullbasket says, once you've built a few Shermans - especially Dragon ones - you will end up with a substantial spares box.  There must be some fellow modellers at your end of the Pacific with some spare bits they might part with.

 

BNA have an eye-watering and wallet-weakening selection of M4 after market parts if you just search "Sherman" and filter to 1/35 and in stock.  Your Asuka kit doesn't need most of these however, especially as you're building OOB.  You probably get enough etch in the kit to be going on with, without splashing out on more.

 

I would suggest that you might look at these (in price order).  The 2 I've underlined are the only ones I consider essential.  The others are more for ideas about how you might pimp your ride.  Commonwealth Shermans are rarely seen without various stowages, and most of what is in either of the 2 Firefly stowage sets will work.

  • Eureka XXL tow cable #3503, which also has some nice resin MG barrels (the 0.50 is the wrong type, though)
  • Panzer Art UK Cullin prong #35-060
  • Value Gear M4A1(76) sandbag armour #VG-SB008 (Composite glacis has same profile where this fits)
  • Aber 75mm barrel #35L-135, which is designed for the Tasca/Asuka kits
  • Resicast cupola #352279 if you want the hatch open
  • MJ Miniatures light guard set #EZ35004 (easier than bending etch!) or their Detail Up Set #EZ35017
  • Black Dog Firefly accessories and stowage #T35029
  • Legend Firefly stowage set #LF1144

The one thing I didn't see were appropriate replacement tracks.  Asuka kits come with vinyl tracks, which I don't like - but you may be happy with.  Bronco, Masterclub and Friul all do suitable replacement tracks - Bronco being cheapest but fiddliest in a lose-your-sanity way.  IMO Masterclubs are better than Friuls if only because the pins are longer and you get a jig - but either will cost you nearly as much as the kit itself.  I have all of those brands in my spare stash pile right now but I suspect that shipping from the UK will be prohibitive: you're probably looking at about AUD 75-80 inc postage.  It cost AUD 22 to send a set of metal tracks just to Italy!!  Probably better to wait for BNA to have stock or look elsewhere in Oz.

 

At a pinch you might get away with the AFV Club T51 plain rubber block type, which they do have: you could even scuff them up as worn-down T48s.  But the pins on these are fragile and once twisted off by a stiff end connector are very hard to repair and impossible to repair workably.

Edited by Kingsman
Barrel brand name was wrong
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Oh many thanks!!!! (Although my wallet probably hates you 🤣). You are not wrong about postage to and from Oz and Europe - it’s been an ongoing issue for us in the 25 plus years we have been over here. I’ve just received notice that my kit has been dispatched from Brisbane, so I have time to contemplate my choices.

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I've just had a look at a China Clipper in my LHS. The edition they have comes with a Value Gear stowage set. I thought £62 to be expensive, but when you pay £14-18 for VG stowage sets separately it isn't actually so bad.

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I saw that after ordering it 🤣. I actually paid A$67 for the kit (with discount) which was one of the reasons I snapped it up so quickly! I’m guessing some of the stowage may not be that useful for me as it appears to have US helmets and packs - but I guess useful for that spares collection

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The cheapest individual track links would have to be those from Bronco, simply because they are plastic injected.   They do require a lot more work to assemble as each section is comprised of three pieces plus the end connectors on either side.   They seem popular enough, but again, mostly sold out.   I have a set too, but I do find the angular cuff detail a bit anemic. 

 

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However, @JackG fails to mention how easy it is to lose your sanity with Bronco tracks.  With 5 pieces per link there are over 400 pieces and 800 sprue attachments per side: double for the complete vehicle.  I bought a stack of them for all of my VVSS M4 projects but after giving up on the first set I bit the bullet and splashed out on Masterclubs.  The Miniart T41s are a little easier than Bronco but not appropriate for this project.  Same with RFM's T62s.

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3 hours ago, Kingsman said:

 ....how easy it is to lose your sanity with Bronco tracks.  

 

Indeed. though I did once complete a set of Stuart tracks.    If you are not a fan of repetition it will get boring, so have to play mind games with yourself when approaching these tracks.   One way or another, there is a price to pay, whether it be through the wallet, sanity, or just the extra cost in time.    $$ cost though is relative, specially if you only build one vehicle every five years or so.   On the other hand, a speed builder might knock off several builds in one year.   In that case, then yes, it is an expensive aftermarket item. 

 

As an aside, if you have both Bronco and the more expensive track sets, you could always combine the two.   Use the Bronco type on the underside that touches the ground, and the more expensive ones around the rest (sprocket,  idler wheel and the area in between).

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5 hours ago, Kingsman said:

However, @JackG fails to mention how easy it is to lose your sanity with Bronco tracks.  With 5 pieces per link there are over 400 pieces and 800 sprue attachments per side: double for the complete vehicle.  I bought a stack of them for all of my VVSS M4 projects but after giving up on the first set I bit the bullet and splashed out on Masterclubs.  The Miniart T41s are a little easier than Bronco but not appropriate for this project.  Same with RFM's T62s.


Excellent point, I shuddered at the image @JackG posted. Need to also take into account my limited skill set.  I recently experienced the RFM tracks for my firefly, and they were great.

 

1 hour ago, JackG said:

    $$ cost though is relative, specially if you only build one vehicle every five years or so.   On the other hand, a speed builder might knock off several builds in one year.   In that case, then yes, it is an expensive


Very fair point. I was a dedicated builder of things with wings but a couple of years back made the move to AFVs - they appear to spend less time on the shelf of doom. I don’t consider myself a speed builder per se, but I do tend to stick to what’s in the box.

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I think, that way of track building as RFM has in their Firefly is quite good.

Sure, it's boring, but it works. I'd rather RFM, than metal with their "cut to size" pieces of wire.

My own (as always) point of view.

Keep glueing!

Zig

 

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Here's an idea if you liked the RFM tracks, but it does involve fiddly work.  If you remove the 3 rivets from the face of their T62 tracks you can't tell the difference from T54E2, which I have seen fitted on Composites.  The grouser shape on T62 and T54E2 was the same and the T62 was really a rivetted alternative to the cast T54E2 to improve supply. 

 

It still surprises me that the cast links had welded-on grouser strips but, rather like plastic kit moulding, the holes for the pins had to be cast in and slide moulding had not been invented.  I imagine that bending and welding-on the grousers was seen as an easier alternative to fully drilling the links: the cast holes always had to be drilled to tolerance.  Even more surprisingly, the grousers were U-section and hollow underneath and as they wore down a slot would appear.  I don't know for certain but I wonder if that was a wear indicator.

 

Here are worn down T62s showing the slot that appears as the links wear down. T54s wore in the same way.  Note also that the wearing surfaces are still bright some 13 years after the tank was last moved (OK, it's indoors) and the actual colour of the bare metal with the manganese content: it isn't silvery.......   Also the colour of the 79-year old links.  Regular readers will know that track colour and absence of orangey rust is something I have commented on many times.

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If it's individual link track in plastic that you want, Panda Plastics offer a range of tracks for VVSS Shermans. They are very easy to assemble especially if you make a simple jig. The problem at the moment is the cost of P&P. To the UK, it's almost the same as the cost of the tracks.

 

John.

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Thanks John, I took a look at Panda tracks and I fear it’s the same issue with postage to Oz. 
 

Great image of the track @Kingsman, and get what you mean about the adjustments to the RFM track, though as you say, fiddly! I’ve also noted your commentary on what the colour of tracks should be, I think that with Vallejo Track Primer I think I’ve found the ideal (for me anyway) starting point for future builds. 

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Panda's shipping price is sort of in the middle cost wise, until you add more items, the cost is just compounded ($24.00 x the number of items).  Just recently was looking at a figure vendor in the States, and they wanted USD $41.00 just for a single item.  Some vendors like SprueBrothers and Scalehobbyist still have under $20 shipping for a single item (depending on it's size).  

 

The above situation is worldwide, such that nowadays you have to shop not for just the best item price, but also shipping costs as well.

 

 

regards,

Jack

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

It also takes a LONG time to get to Australia from Europe or US. If it’s airmail I basically plan on it taking at least a month. And of course it takes longer now than before the pandemic. I’m not complaining - that’s just the way things are. 

Edited by SimonL
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Conversely, I have ordered from BNA in Australia, and my parcel arrived in just under two weeks.    Historex Agents in the UK, they too I have good delivery time with about seven business days to get to Canada.   These guys are quick too, usually within 24hours of putting an order in and they already have it out the door.

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BNA are fabulous - always had great service from them. Still takes a week to get across the country (but admittedly that’s with a lower cost of postage than from overseas).

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