Tuesday, 14 May 2013

What do you add to a plastic tank to make it lighter...

In the course of building my British army, I thought a lot about the Shermans I would get. 144 RAC (who were supporting the 7 A and SH) were part of 33 Armoured Brigade. This brigade was (as far as I'm aware) the only one in British service equipped with the bog standard M4 Sherman (known in British service as the Sherman I).

While the M4 was the first version of Sherman designed, it was actually the third to go into production. The British actually started using the Sherman II (M4A1) during the North African campaign. The Sherman I and II both had the same engine, and were really only different in the shape of the front hull. The Sherman I had a welded hull, which was angular, whereas the Sherman II had a cast hull which is more rounded.

You can see that difference in the FoW minis: Sherman I vs Sherman II

Believing (mistakenly) that the Sherman tank in the Achtung! boxed set was a Sherman I, I grabbed that just after i got my Infantry Company. This box included 3 Shermans and 2 StuGs, along with the new version of the mini rulebook. Which was great till I discovered these plastic Shermans were actually Sherman V's (M4A4's).

Anyway, I decided to put them together and use them anyway, after much soul searching. They will do until I can pick up the Sherman I's I so desperately want to make things 'proper'.

This is where the title of this particular blog article comes from. This plastic Sherman kit was the first time in a long time (and I used to build GW kits) that I had to maul a plastic model just to get it to fit properly. Here are some shots I took after I had basically had to clip away much of the internal parts that were supposed to help the model go together.

The problem part in question seemed to be either the main hull or the track part on the left side of the above pictures. I had to clip the internal hull 'column' that the 'shelf' from the track side went onto, as well as the track side 'shelf' when that didn't work. Eventually I managed to get this to sit right. This problem was replicated on all 3 of the plastic Shermans.

I was also left with rather wide gaps along the top sides of the model when it was put together. This was still pretty early on in my experience with getting the details right, so I didn't do anything about this at the time. Neither did I put anything inside the model to add any weight to it (this I solved later, when I added some steel washers to the underneath of the tank prior to basing it, just to give it a bit of heft). 

I've included some pics below of the process as I went along, including the Firefly model. The Firefly is a mix of resin and metal, and just sits differently than the plastic kits. Almost like it's a millimeter smaller or shorter, or the turret is too squat.

 So those were some of the work in progress shots, and here are some of the finished unit.


  1. Very well done Jamie, I still have a couple of cracking books on Brits in France and Germany etc from concord. May give you some ideas.

  2. That would be cool Paul, once I get the current couple of units done, the next on my agenda will probably be new Shermans. I'll either keep these as 144 RAC or perhaps re-decal them as a Canadian unit - I think the Fort Gary Horse were in the same area at the time and I have read at least one account of some of their Shermans getting mixed up with 144 RAC during the night attack.


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