It Begins! My M4A1 based Sherman Firefly Build.

This section is for you to give a commentary / build log of your Tamiya tank. Remember - lots of pictures please!

Postby X82d Pathfinder » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:52 am

Well, I would like to start off with thanking the many gifted members here for the encouraging builds. I wasn't aware of the multitude of detail parts available for 1/16 armor prior to stumbling onto this site.

My intention was to purchase some updates and convert an un-ran mint condition 1974 Sherman 105 kit I picked up some years ago and put in my kit morgue.

Post shopping for electronics I noted that I would be better off starting with a brand new Tamiya Sherman Kit, 56014.

I started shopping on Ebay and located a dealer in Michigan who had the kits for 460.00 and shipping. The best deal I found anywhere. After our discussion I found that he had many spares at very, very reasonable prices. So I picked up spare gear boxes, drive sprockets and a lower and upper hull with the sprues needed to complete the hull less suspension for about 65.00. I will building an M4A3E8 with the spare HVSS suspension and a T-23 turret from Nick Aguilar.

Dave, AKA Forgebear was kind enough to supply me with a Mato Sherman lower so I could pirate the VVSS suspension components for my build as well.

My build is based on pictures taken by a member of my Grandfather's unit during Market-Garden on 27 Sept 44 near Nijmagen, Holland. He made the jump into Grave, Holland on 17 Sept 44 with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. The first allied troops to land in Holland. I have given rights for the picture to be reproduced for an upcoming publication on Sherman variants and was asked not to post it elsewhere until the publication has been released.

The M4A1 late "large hatch" ( Sherman II) hull was obviously and oddity for a Firefly and has created many debates over the years, however it seems conventional wisdom has been that all variants of the Firefly were based on either the M4A4, (VC) or the M4 Composite hull (1C Hybrid, however many have stated the conversions started on the M4A1. The specifications for conversion were: M34A1 Wide Mantlet,Petrol Engine and Hydraulic Turret Transverse, Hence the late M4A1 (Sherman II) meets all criteria.

With that said, I am sure I will catch some flak by some over this build as a "Non-existent" variant of the Firefly, however I know better.

The builds on this forum have been an encouragement to take on a large conversion of this nature and this is my first. Even though I am a veteran model builder and a miniature painter I'm sure this will be challenging for me none the less.

I encourage ideas, constructive criticism and feedback. Please feel free to do so.
I will be posting pictures as I work through the build.

I thank you all for the stirring of imagination and the ideas provided.

-Dan
Attachments
New Sherman Kit.jpg
New Sherman Kit.jpg (19.52 KiB) Viewed 6101 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:53 am

Well, I elected to start the turret first being I had everything on hand. I am still awaiting bits and pieces for the bogie conversion to VVSS.

I started with the rotor sheild. As many may recognize this unit as one offered through Ethan at DAK. I also purchased the hull, M34A1 mantlet, as it is a good basis for a Firefly mantlet.
Fitted rotor sheild.jpg
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:09 am

I completed the " smoke launcher" as well as cutting down the rear turret bustle to convert this to a low bustle turret.I replaced both antenna base mounts, the commander's coupola side correct for this version.
Attachments
Bomb thrower.jpg
Bomb thrower.jpg (12.81 KiB) Viewed 6061 times
Blended plastic on rear bustle.jpg
Bustle modification. Sheeted and shaped.
Blended plastic on rear bustle.jpg (22.41 KiB) Viewed 6061 times
Relocated loaders side antena mount filled.jpg
The antena base was removed in part from the Tamiya's turret.
Relocated loaders side antena mount filled.jpg (14.74 KiB) Viewed 6061 times
Replaced antenna mout.jpg
The antenna mount filled and shapped with Miliput.
Replaced antenna mout.jpg (16.54 KiB) Viewed 6061 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:56 am

I decided to make an ACCURATE Mantlet fitting of the 17 Pdr. I started with Nick Aguilar's M34 A1 and with a few 080 fillister head screws, Miliput and some Zap Poly glue and a bit of elbow grease I have a mantlet fitting the role.
Attachments
Completed Mantlet.jpg
The lined out area must be removed. Do NOT cut straight across, but cut the chin off even with the face of the shield. Re-shape to follow the same curve.
Completed Mantlet.jpg (24.53 KiB) Viewed 6054 times
Firefly Mantlet and barrel side view.jpg
Firefly Mantlet and barrel side view.jpg (22.05 KiB) Viewed 6054 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:09 am

I have been plugging away at the loader's hatch, the stop and some of the welds around the bullet splash shield.
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Loaders hatch filled in.jpg
Loaders hatch filled in.jpg (15.71 KiB) Viewed 6021 times
Turret from top.jpg
Turret from top.jpg (24.07 KiB) Viewed 6020 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:02 pm

Here is the completed loader's hatch with door stop and welds.
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Loaders hatch side view.jpg
Loaders hatch side view.jpg (15.72 KiB) Viewed 5988 times
Completed loaders hatch with welds.jpg
Completed loaders hatch with welds.jpg (11.21 KiB) Viewed 5988 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:44 am

I completed the latch and close lever and interior pads on the loader's hatch. I have decided to open a couple of the periscopes, so I am working on finding clear plastic to complete them. The thickest I have been able to find is .060, so I wound up cutting up a 3.5 disc box that is obsolete to make the periscopes.
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Open loaders hatch with latch and closer.jpg
Open loaders hatch with latch and closer.jpg (21.28 KiB) Viewed 5972 times
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Postby Dietrich » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:03 am

Hi X82d Pathfinder,
You are doing great work at the moment and I look forward to seeing the future posts and pictures of your build.
Alb
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:06 am

Hello, Alb.
Thank you for the compliment. I am finding that few Sherman "historians" agree on anything except the fact that they existed. Wartime production, depot modifications and rebuilds and expedient field repairs often keep anything from really being uniform. My grandfather made three of the four combat jumps the 82nd made during the WWII. I was looking through his photos and I noted the cast hull Firefly. They are listed as being produced, but it seems the pictures of the Firefly based on the Sherman II seems to be rather scarce in any form. You were the first to comment thus far. I was starting to wonder if I offended someone here in the forum.
Anyway, I will continue to post as I go. I look forward to sharing them and getting feedback on the build. This is my first major conversion/ Scratch build. Most of the conversions I have done have been in 1/35 scale and based on resin/photo etch kits. So a different venue all together in me. My intention is to do the Firefly, not something that resembles one. I am working on the brass support for the barrel which will recoil. The aluminum barrel offered from Tamiya/Impact isn't made to recoil, but has a huge lip that is designed just to be mounted to the M59 Mantlet.
I machined the odd ridge down so it should function reliably via the Tamiya recoil unit.
Anyway, thank you again for the encouragement.
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Postby caddyshack » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:56 am

Looks like you are off to a great start..keep up the good work :thumbup:

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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:02 am

Caddyshack:

Thank you for the kind words. I am rather happy with it thus far being my first major kit-bash on a large scale kit. I hope it meets the expectations of the others who are more giften than I.
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Postby MarkofZollo » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:55 am

X82, some great work there.
What you said about pictures I understand, direct quote from my build thread (viewtopic.php?f=23&t=7587&start=20) of recent findings;
"Near where I live in Devon, there is a monument to Exercise Tiger and the lives lost in the practise for Overlord, Im sure if you guys have read the book 'The Forgotten Dead' by Ken Small you will know. The monument is an M4A1 'DD' tank, with my recent knowledge building on this build I thought back to that tank and was a tad confused, so I got a pick of it the other day;

Image

You may notice or know this has a 75mm turret (high bustle, M34A1 mantle and split hatch) but the late wide hatches and I guess wet stowage too then. I havnt seen evidence of another one of these so this is odd to me but shows they do exist, and it being a DD means they invested money in it so probably was intended to be used in the war and maybe others were."
So yeah as long as you have picture evidense or documented as being produced, it is historically acceptable.
Look forward to the updates :D Dave
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Fri Jul 22, 2011 4:11 am

Dave:
Don't you find it rather interesting that everything an "expert" says has to be cold hard fact with no exceptions. Far too many conversions were done based on what was available at the moment.
Feasibility studies were often done under combat conditions. Throwing them into the Frey was how many implements became issue. Being a Paratrooper, I know all too well how many times out of necessity we improvised to make expedient equipment for a particular mission parameter.

Regards,
-Dan
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:08 pm

Well, I have completed more work on various items. I completed the idler mount detail and modification. I used .60, .100 and 1.25 plastic sheet and hex rod. Brass .080 and .90 bolts are far too expensive. I also utilized Tamiya's adjuster. I sanded the elogated faux bolt head into a hex bolt shape so it was much closer to a prototypical adjuster. I was going to use a 3MM counter sunk screw and glue it in place on the rear portion of the Mato mount so the idler would mount from the side as well as the rear, however the genius engineers at MATO lined up the mount hole exactly with the side mount hole. The nuts would have interfered with eachother had I done this. Being I used the Schumo plastic back plate I will just cement the mount to the plastic rear plate and screw it to the side via the Schumo screw kit I purchased. I probably should have sanded all the detail off and started from scratch, however I was concerned with the integrity of the part had I done so. I also wanted to incorporate the metal reinforcement that came with the idler. Anyway, here is what I came up with.
Regards,
-Dan
Attachments
Front Side Idler Mount.jpg
Rear Idler Side View
Front Side Idler Mount.jpg (28.87 KiB) Viewed 5881 times
Idler Back View.jpg
Idler rear view
Idler Back View.jpg (6.28 KiB) Viewed 5881 times
Idler Rear View.jpg
Idler back side view
Idler Rear View.jpg (34.31 KiB) Viewed 5881 times
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Postby sassgrunt » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:42 pm

Your modified idler mount is a vast improvement on what comes as stock. Great build so far - I am really enjoying it! -Mike

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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:19 am

Mike:

Thank you. I am way behind. I will be posting here to catch up with where I am shortly.
Thanks again for your help with the idlers.

-Dan
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:33 am

Well, Nick Aguilar comes through again! I got the first of his new "Early" Sherman commander's cupola. This is the early style with the aiming vane and the hatch locks. This is much thicker than his earlier offering. I will be converting the M2 .50 barrel rest to the early style "goal post" that was common on M4 Shermans and most common wealth Shermans with the split hatch.

Another work of art and came just in time so I have the correct style hatch!
Attachments
Early Cupola Kit.jpg
New Cupola Kit
Early Cupola Kit.jpg (26.04 KiB) Viewed 5805 times
Early Cupola Side View.jpg
Cupola side view
Early Cupola Side View.jpg (25.98 KiB) Viewed 5805 times
Early Cupola hatch.jpg
Not the vane and the hatch locks. Outstanding!
Early Cupola hatch.jpg (26.44 KiB) Viewed 5805 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:18 am

After looking at options to make the elevation reliable and smooth being I used Ethan from RCU's rotor shield I came up with a clean mounting and smooth operation.
I used the piece of 1 1/4" tubing supplied with the rotor shield and used my self-adhesive sand paper and used several different grades attatched to the tube and rotated it in the recess where it is designed to move for elevation. Finishing with 600 It's smooth as a baby's ass. I then cut the tube length-wise to about 1/3 of it's width. I used the tube to trace a pattern of the interior tubing to make a pattern on .125 sheet plastic. I made the half moon portions and after careful measurment of a non-modified turret I located the half-moon plastic in the back of the tubing where it would allow attatchment of the Tamiya elevation lever. I wound up being able to maintain factory locations and geometry. It's a very clean install and maintains room in the turrret.

Now that I have completed all of the mechanical but the recoil link I can seriously attack the exterior turret details so I can move on to the hull and the completion of the VVSS conversion.
Attachments
Turret Elevation 1.jpg
Turret Elevation 1.jpg (18.37 KiB) Viewed 5771 times
Turret Elevation 2.jpg
Turret Elevation 2.jpg (24.22 KiB) Viewed 5771 times
Turret Elevation 3.jpg
Turret Elevation 3.jpg (22.95 KiB) Viewed 5771 times
Turret Elevation 4.jpg
Turret Elevation 4.jpg (13.81 KiB) Viewed 5771 times
Barrel 1.jpg
Barrel 1.jpg (20.26 KiB) Viewed 5771 times
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Postby X82d Pathfinder » Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:24 am

Well, I have been under the weather for a few days, however I have been plugging along and have now completed the Sherman 1C turret. The recoil and elevation are positive and work flawlessly. I used my Tiger 1 to test the electronics. I must admit, it makes the Sherman turret look puny in comparison to the Tiger 1 hull.
Here within I am posting the equipment rings and their installation, as well as the Early MG mount I fabricated, and also the radio compartment I scratched. I only have to do the cast texture now, which I'll be doing with Mr. Dissolved Putty.
I can finally start the hull and the dreaded bogie modification. I dread the thought of replicating the same work six times on the VVSS bogies. LOL

Anyway, enjoy. Comments, suggestions and constructive criticizm always welcomed!
Attachments
Turret Testing.jpg
Turret Testing.jpg (25.91 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Radio Compartment.jpg
Radio Compartment.jpg (10.54 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Elevation Assy.jpg
Elevation Assy.jpg (16.03 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Complete RH Turret side.jpg
Complete RH Turret side.jpg (22.02 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Equipment Hooks Complete.jpg
Equipment Hooks Complete.jpg (25.46 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Equipment Hooks Turret.jpg
Equipment Hooks Turret.jpg (17.45 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Mounted Barrel Support.jpg
Mounted Barrel Support.jpg (23.8 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Mounted Radio Compartment.jpg
Mounted Radio Compartment.jpg (10.44 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
Turret from top.jpg
Turret from top.jpg (24.07 KiB) Viewed 5718 times
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Postby maintcoder » Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:29 am

Very nice build. I am super curious about the recoil added to the Sherman. It is the biggest detractor for me given all the other Tamiya kits have it.
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