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M4A3 (105mm) VVSS


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#1 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:55 PM

Hi again Gang!

I've been on a terrible Sherman kick lately... working on several different kits at the same time, most of which were already in various stages of construction. One Exception is my Tamiya M4A3 (105mm) VVSS in 1/35th scale. The kit is a rehash of their original M4A3 kit, with added detail parts to bring it up to more modern standards. Sort of... More on that in a minute. I found a 105mm conversion kit I'd bought years ago before Tamiya released this kit. I think it was Azimut's conversion, but don't quote me on it. The parts are molded in a very brittle dark green resin and the detail of the parts leaves a lot to be desired with chips, air holes and just plain mediocre casting. I quickly realized the Tamiya kit parts were much better detailed, and the only piece I'd be using was the part of the back half of the gun, with the breech and chamber. I also have had a Tasca VVSS suspension kit laying around which contained three full sets of roadwheels, the five armed open spoke, the stamped six spoke, and the solid dished roadwheels. For this kit, I chose the solid dished wheels.

The added parts in the Tamiya kit consist of two detail sprues from the M4 Early production, three new figures with equipment and weapons, and an upgraded turret and gun barrel. The mantlet was noticably different than the 75mm armed M4A3s, thicker, and more rounded in profile. The turret differed in having an oval hatch over the loader's position, and a second blower fan near the rear of the turret located where the machine gun pintle usually mounts. A unique bracket raised the pintle above the blower. The track is different in this kit as well, representing the rubber chevron T-48 track without duckbill extended end connectors. The track runs are flexible, and unlike the older style of material used for tracks, these can be glued!!!

M4A3 (105)s mounted the split hatch commander's cupols early on, and once sufficient quantities of the all around vision cupola were to be had, they began mounting them on the 105 armed Shermans as well. Check your photographic references for the vehicle you wish to build. The Tamiya kit comes with the all around vision cupola, however the early version of Tamiya's M4A3 comes with both cupolas.

As with any kit project, references are a must. For Shermans, I have the following reference books:

Squadron/Signal Sherman in Action
Squadron/Signal Sherman Walk Around
Zenith Press M4 Sherman at War
Concord Publications The M4 Sherman at War (42-45)(Steven Zaloga)
Concord Publications The M4 Sherman at War (2)(43-45) (Steven Zaloga)
Concord Publications Battle of the Bulge (Steven Zaloga)

I wanted to add the solid dished roadwheels to my kit to replace the incompletely molded Tamiya stamped roadwheels so I pulled out the Tasca VVSS Suspension kit and assembled the dished roadwheels. This kit is worth the price as it is one of maybe two kits where the stamped roadwheels have the back side stampings. this is one of those sort of's I referred to with the Tamiya kit.

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  • M4A3_105___1.jpg


#2 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:04 PM

The Tamiya VVSS bogies would suffice for what I had in mind but the axles on the Tamiya trucks were thicker than the Tasca roadwheels. I used a 7/64ths inch drill bit chucked in my cordless drill to drill out the axle holes in the roadwheels. CAUTION!!!!! DO NOT USE THE DRILL ON THE ROADWHEELS!!! YOU COULD MELT THEM!!! Instead, do as I did and lock the drill, and hand turn the roadwheels on the bit. Use a small round file to make small adjustments until the roadwheels slip easily, but not sloppily over the Tamiya Axles. Glue the trucks together as per the instructions. The pivots for the road arms were bolted to the botoms of the trucks, with three large bolts on the inner and outer flanges. Pulling out an old packet of 1.5mm hex bolt heads, I added these bolts to the outer flanges only. The inner flanges aren't that visible, and to be honest, I really didnt want to waste the bolt heads that I could use for other kits. I added three bolts per truck, 9 per side for a total of 18 bolts. I also used the Tasca Idler wheels. The reason I used the tasca idler is that at the back of the tank, the inside of the rear idlers can be seen and the Tamiya idlers just arent as accurate.

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  • M4A3_105___4.jpg

Edited by mpguy80/08, 14 April 2010 - 11:07 PM.


#3 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:14 PM

Turning to the upper hull, I wanted to add a few small details that go a long way to improving the look of the kit. Starting at the front, I found an old piece of brass from an old photoetch kit and cut two small pieces our and bent them at a right angle. I then superglued them to the front fenders in such a way that on real vehicles would support a thick board that crews used to help support expanded stowage on the front glacis plate. Moving back towards the rear, I drilled drain holes in the armor surrounds for the fuel caps. On the rear deck and hatched in this kit, the rab handles on all hatches are represented by small tabs of plastic. I shaved these off and replaced them with small bits of copper wire bent to shape and superglued into place. I also used copper wire to replicate the electrical conduit for the tail lights.

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  • M4A3_105___2.jpg

Edited by mpguy80/08, 14 April 2010 - 11:31 PM.


#4 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:16 PM

the fender brackets

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#5 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:16 PM

and the electrical conduits

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#6 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:22 PM

The detail on the turret was pretty good, but I wanted to add a bit more. Late production 105mm armed Shermans began to be mounted with the all around vision cupola, but there was also one other late model detail that often goes overlooked. Late model M4A3(105)s had brackets welded to the turret face and Mantlet to mount a foul weather cover to protect the trunion and keep water from entering the turret. I spent about two hours with copper wire and a fine pair of pliers bending and rebending the wire until I got it s close as I could get to the compound curves of the Mantlet. Once I had the shape, I took my time and superglued the wire to the mantlet and turret face to replicate the foul weather cover brackets.

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#7 mpguy80/08

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:26 PM

With the hatches open and figures in the hatches, you would still be able to see the breech of the howitzer, ao I then turned to the Azimut conversion kit and added the back half of the howitzer to the interior of the turret, super gluing it to the back side of the trunion. If done carefully, the gun will be able to move up and down. At this point in the construction, I have not yet glued the gun assembly to the turret. More to come as I proceed with this build... even a model builder has to sleep sometime and as its 3:30 am here right now, now is as good a time as any. Coming up: Base coat painting and lower hull weathering.

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  • M4A3_105___7.jpg

Edited by mpguy80/08, 14 April 2010 - 11:34 PM.


#8 korea drab

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 08:05 AM

Woawwwww keep us posted with your progress..... :w00t:
I will be startin a flame dragon soon.Korea of course.Its my favorite sherman.
Yours will be a nice one! :thumbsup:
Karl

#9 The Meatcan

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 09:18 AM

really cool, Wayne! I liked that trunnion cover - it's going to look awesome after painting. Really liked your graphics too - nice job! :thumbsup:
Terry

#10 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 10:20 AM

Woawwwww keep us posted with your progress..... :w00t:
I will be startin a flame dragon soon.Korea of course.Its my favorite sherman.
Yours will be a nice one! :thumbsup:
Karl


Looking at your picture I see that it appears to show an M4A3(105) HVSS with a coaxially mounted flame gun also referred to as the M4A3R3 (or is it a M4A3E8 HVSS POA-CWS H5?). Late in WWII and also in Korea the POA-CWS-H5 flame gun was mounted on some Marine Corps M4A3E8 (105mm) tanks. The tell tale sign in your pic is the Rotor shield (mantlet), which appears to be the howitzer shield. The flame gun was also mounted on M4, M4A2, and M4A3 tanks, just as the 105mm Howitzer was mounted on both the early M4, M4A1, and M4A3 hulls.

Wayne

Edited by mpguy80/08, 15 April 2010 - 10:24 AM.


#11 Linedoggie

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 11:37 AM

Weld Beads

Tamiya and other Older Kits have depressed Weld Beads, they should be raised. Several ways to fix from using Stretched Sprue, and various putties to Archer Fine Transfers surface details.

#12 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:50 PM

Weld Beads

Tamiya and other Older Kits have depressed Weld Beads, they should be raised. Several ways to fix from using Stretched Sprue, and various putties to Archer Fine Transfers surface details.


I'm not sure how or if I'm going to tackle that one... I was thinking about using Testors putty as it comes in the glue sized tubes, and can be used with the testors glue tips for a really fine bead. I'll have to see how I feel on that one, but you are 100% right. Real life Shermans had raised weld beads. Tamiya and Dragon both use sunken weld seams. The only raised seams I've seen is on the Academy M4A2 with the wading trunks... I'll have to put some thought into this one and see how I feel about it. I'm not looking to add 100% of the detail I could... I may finish this one as is... I'm not sure yet.

Another option is to use stretched sprue and a hot knife, but I've not worked with a hot knife before so I don't wanna mess things up. I could also use stretched sprue and liquid cement, and work the bead with a #11 blade. I think if I do it, it will most likely be the putty.

Wayne

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  • M4A3_105___8.jpg

Edited by mpguy80/08, 15 April 2010 - 01:57 PM.


#13 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:27 PM

The M4 Series of tank mounted two different types of commander's cupola. The first type was the split hatch design with integral socket mount for the .50 cal Pintle. The second style was manufactured by the Libby-Owens-Ford Glass Company. This newer cupola featured laminated glass periscopes providing all around vision for the commander. The newer cupola was in short supply until mid to late 1944 and was retrofitted to earlier models of the Sherman as they became available. The M4A3 (105) mounted both types. Check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.

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#14 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:33 PM

The M4 Sherman series up until the advent of the so called Easy eight or E8 suspension used the D47528 VVSS (Vertical Volute Spring Suspension) Trucks. There were several variations, some with casting seams, others without. The early VVSS suspension had the return roller on top of the truck itself, later versions moving the return roller to a following position with a skid on top of the truck itself. The Tamiya trucks come in halves, so you have to glue in the spring piece, place the roller and roadwheels on their axles, and glue the halves together. This results in a seam line that must be eliminated, especially on the skids.

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#15 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:36 PM

The VVSS bogie trucks were reversible, able to be used on both sides of the tank. The return roller arms could be bolted to either side of the truck face depending on which side it was mounted on with the roller arms pointing to the rear of the vehicle. To represent the bolt holes in the truck face, I drilled the four holes in the truck face with a #11 blade point.

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  • M4A3_105___12.jpg


#16 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:42 PM

A word on Paints here... I use just about anything I can get my hands on as you will see as this project progresses. I use mostly Testors Model Master paints. After being handled a few times the information on the label fades out, so as soon as I get a new bottle of paint, I use 3/4" round labels to write the info on and stick it to the top of the cap. The Paint I'm using for my base coat is Testors Model Master ANA 613 Olive Drab. I wrote the info on the label...

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#17 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:42 PM

and applied it like so...

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#18 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:20 PM

Here are some of the details included in the kit. On the left is one of two identical sprues included from the M4 Early Production kit, which includes the early model air cleaners, a driver figure, periscopes, fittings and track sections. On the right is the Weapons and equipment sprue from the Tamiya US Assault troops kit that came out a few years back. This is included to equip the three figured which are also included in the kit. Notice the M1928 haversacks with T handle shovels and meatcan pouches... a nice touch.

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#19 mpguy80/08

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:27 PM

These are the figures on the left, and on the right is the detail sprue from Tamiya's Pershing which is also included in this kit. The Pershing details include a half figure commander and ammunition boxes. Not shown on this sprue are the K Ration crates for which decals are included on the decal sheet.

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#20 mpguy80/08

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 03:59 PM

I gave the lower hull and running gear a wash of thinned Folk Art Burnt Umber Acrylic paint. Not enough to really affect the base coat of ANA 613 OD, but enough to settle in the nooks and crannies. The paint is very thick in the bottle, but thins out nicely and when dry leaves a very flat, almost dust or dried dirt like appearance. After the wash had dried, I drybrushed Model Master Panzer Dark Yellow 1943 over the hull and running gear before attaching the bogies to the hull. See the pictures below...

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#21 mpguy80/08

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 04:01 PM

This is the shot after the drybrushing. After attaching the bogies to the hull, I used Model Master Oiled Steel for the high wear areas of the idler wheel and drive sprockets, as well as the tops of the return skids where the track pads would have slid over the tops of the skids.

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  • M4A3_105___20.jpg


#22 mpguy80/08

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 04:07 PM

Shots of the front and rear of the hull. I do weathering before I decal so that there is a weathered base under any decals with large transparent areas such as the stars with the solid or broken surrounds. After the decals are applied I weather over the tops of them as well to blend them into the overall look.

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  • M4A3_105___21.jpg
  • M4A3_105___22.jpg


#23 Old Marine

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 05:03 PM

That's a great looking tank, I love the details. Evergreen strip styrene sells incredibly fine strips that are round, it's like round wire made of styrene. I have used it in the past for raised welds. I glued it on with liquid cement and then after it softens you can mush it and score it with a #11 blade. You did a fantastic job on that gun mantlet.

You are really making progress, I look forward to seeing it finished.

Dennis

#24 mpguy80/08

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 07:31 PM

While I was adding the copper wire handles to the driver and bow gunner hatches, I noticed a glaring mistake in the kit I'd never noticed before. As many times as I've built this kit in its various forms (Initial M4A3 release, M4A3E2 release, the new M4A3 release, and now the 105mm armed version) I'd never noticed that the periscope ports molded to the inside of the hatches are at a different angle than the periscope covers on the outside of the hatches. The ports are rotated 90 degrees from the outside covers. The two D sprues from the early production kit that come included in this kit provided a quick and easy answer. Part 15 on this sprue is the inside port guide for the drivers hatch and since each sprue has two, I would have enough to replace the drivers hatches ports AND add the port for the commanders hatch. Using Xuron cutters (flush cutters) I cut the stock ports from the driver and co driver hatches, sanded the spot smooth and added the two new ports, aligning them with the outside covers.

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  • M4A3_105___24.jpg


#25 Proud Kraut

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 03:53 AM

"Dr. Sherman" strikes again! I can hardly wait to see the next steps! One question: Did you paint or airbrush the OD color?

Lars


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