Work in Progress

Airfix 1/76 Sherman Crab

Posted by huib on 07 Jun 2019, 12:45

Sherman Crab

The Sherman Crab was a British mineclearing tank based on the American Sherman M4A4 tank (British designation: Sherman Mk.V). The Crab was based on the flail principle: by rotating iron chains with iron balls on its end at high speed, they hammer the soil with great impact, causing mines to explode in front of the vehicle. This way a safe path could be created in a minefield.

Image
Sherman Crab in action.

The Crab was a succesful development of earlier flailtanks, like the Scorpion and Baron, both built on the Matilda chassis. The Crab became operational during the Normandy landings in june 1944, as part of 79th Armoured Division, aka Hobarts Funnies, that consisted of a variety of specialised armoured vehicles.

Image
Sherman Crab of 79th Armoured Division "Hobarts Funnies".
User avatar
huib  Netherlands
 
Posts: 491
Member since:
12 Dec 2015, 15:57


Posted by huib on 07 Jun 2019, 12:59

Airfix 1/76 Sherman Crab

As a starting point for this build I use the Airfix 1/76 Sherman Crab. That has some consequences, mildly said (Also known as masochism :mad: )

Image
My 2005 boxing

The Airfix Sherman Crab van Airfix is dating from 2005. Quite recently, you could say. The base of this kit however is the aged notorious Airfix Sherman kit from 1961. Not quite up to date, maybe.

Image
This shows it all: lovely old style Airfix sprues! Who doesn't remember them from their youth? Lovely!

Image
Added to that these awful Airfix tracks, of wich is said that they are too short. I will see.... :shock:
On the other hand a quite nice decal sheet with emblems of 79th Armoured Division. That's an advantage of a 2005 boxing.

Image
And, remarkable, two sprues for the flail apparatus in a completely different colour and style.

Now, there are a few issues:
1. It is well known the turret of the Airfix Sherman is too small for its scale, although the hull is ok.
2. The Airfix Sherman is a Sherman Mk.I. The Sherman Crab was a Sherman M4A4. There are a few differences, especially on the engine deck, the backplate and the length of the hull.

I will see what to make out of that. So, this will be old-fashioned hacking and sawing on a classic (a euphemism of old and outdated) kit. So let's start!
User avatar
huib  Netherlands
 
Posts: 491
Member since:
12 Dec 2015, 15:57

Posted by huib on 07 Jun 2019, 13:13

Making the turret a bit bigger

It is quite well known (among certain modellers that fancy vintage nostalgia) that the turret of the Airfix Sherman is too small, both in hight and width.

Image
This is the one. There are several solutions for this issue:
a. Bin the kit and buy a decent Sherman (Drawback: what a waste of a nostalgic kit!)
b. Use a better turret from another kit, for example the Matchbox Sherman Firefly, (Drawback: what a waste of the Matchbox Firefly kit!)
c. Cut the turret in four parts and fill it up from the middle (Drawback: it is quite difficuilt to get a circular turret again)
d. Laminate the turret from the outside with plastic. (Drawback: the distance of commanders cupola to the edge of the turret increases.)

I have chosen for the last approach. Maybe I can solve the issue with the commanders hatch.

Image
Most detail was sanded off, and the turret is laminated with some strips of plastic. Also a plastic circle was glued under the turret, to increase its hight.

Image
The big gaps were filled with Milliput, which was also used to shape the exterior of the bigger turret again.

Image
Then the turret was treated with filler, sanded smoothed and primed to check for irregularities. It stil looks like a Sherman turret, right?

Now I have to replace all the details on the turret exterior.
User avatar
huib  Netherlands
 
Posts: 491
Member since:
12 Dec 2015, 15:57

Posted by C M Dodson on 07 Jun 2019, 15:18

Ingenious solution.

Best wishes,

Chris
C M Dodson  United Kingdom
 
Posts: 845
Member since:
01 May 2015, 18:48

Posted by Bluefalchion on 07 Jun 2019, 16:19

option a. would be easier, but not as entertaining.

option b. a crying shame to waste a kit. I really couldn't stand it. I try to end up with the original number of soldiers when I hack off arms or heads for coversions.

option c. seems most huib-like to me. But I can just hear the phantom screams of frustration! Or scratch build the turret completely.

option d. I never saw coming. Of course it is the best, and so far, very well executed.
Bluefalchion  United States of America
 
Posts: 1969
Member since:
23 Dec 2010, 07:57

Posted by huib on 11 Jun 2019, 17:56

Thank you guys!

Detailing the turret

Now that the turret has more or less the correct size, I again apply all the detail I sanded away earlier, and more. But first this:

Image
Airfix's 75mm gun appeared a bit too thin and too short to me. I was sure when I tried to drill the barrel with a 1mm drill. So I made a new barrel of carefully stretched sprue.

Image
The old barrel on top, the new one below: A bit thicker and longer. Now I was able to drill out the muzzle with a 1mm drill.

Image
The new barrel in position, and a variety of detail added to the turret: pistol port, lifting eyes, periscopes, antenna mounts, turret bustle box, etc.

Image
Also lifting eyes on the early style gun mantlet. And some detail on the inside of the hatches, including the commandes periscope.

Image
The turret painted green. Some irregularities have to be dealt with, but for the rest the build of the turret is finished.

Now on with the hull!
User avatar
huib  Netherlands
 
Posts: 491
Member since:
12 Dec 2015, 15:57

Help keep the forum online!
or become a supporting member

Posted by huib on 14 Jun 2019, 19:23

Lengthening the hull

As I wrote before there are some serious issues with the Airfix Sherman Crab. One of the important ones is that the Airfix Sherman is an M4 (Sherman Mk.I) and the Crab in operational service always was an M4A4 (Sherman Mk.V). Now one of the main differences between the M4 and the M4A4 was a different engine that resulted in a longer hull. 15 cm longer. Not that much, but still visible, especially in the spacing between the road wheels. Now at first I decided to neglect this issue (who will notice?), but as I suffer chronically from AMS (Advanced Modeller Syndrome) in the end I decided to try and tackle the issue. As I couldn't find any precedent on the web I thought out my own approach. Let's see how this works out:

Image
The lower hull parts were glued together. As a counterweight to the mine flail I glued a piece of lead in the back of the hull. I could have done this in a later stage, but at that moment I didn't know yet AMS was going to force me to cut the hull in half.

Image
Then I marked were to cut the lower hull, using modellers tape. The cut is exactly on the vertical axle of the middle bogie, so wheel spacing will end up evenly distrubuted.

Image
This is always the best moment in modelling: cutting your model in two! No way back now.... :drool: :mad:

Image
Then I inserted a 2mm shim of plastic, more or less approaching the 15cm extra length I need in 1/76 scale and glued the two halves together again.

Image
In the mean time the upper hull was freed from most of its detail.

Image
Now a 2mm shim was glued to the back plate. This is convenient, as the M4A4 has a different shape of backplate anyway, compared to the M4.

Image
Then lots of filling and sanding, to get everything smooth again.

Image
Job done!

Image
From another perpective. Now there is a lot of work to recreate and add all that detail.

By the way:
AMS dilemma: If people notice this lengthening I did a bad job. If I do a good job, nobody will notice it. :eh:
User avatar
huib  Netherlands
 
Posts: 491
Member since:
12 Dec 2015, 15:57

Posted by Bluefalchion on 14 Jun 2019, 22:45

huib wrote:...but as I suffer chronically from AMS (Advanced Modeller Syndrome)...


I have seldom seen an acuter case of this curious disorder.
Bluefalchion  United States of America
 
Posts: 1969
Member since:
23 Dec 2010, 07:57


Return to Work in Progress