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Here's a sorta Sherman-esque tank for Jeeps

 


Here's why I phoned it in on the crapcar: an Academy M3 Grant, with full interior! Singe the Grant/Lee is a rather underappreciated tank, plus I had lots of fun with the M3A1 Stuart that also had a full interior, this seemed like an excellent project. I was already considering picking up the Academy M3 Lee, but this kit came with a crew and the early style HVSS suspension, so it was a no brainer.
 
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My enthusiasm decreased rapidly as I started putting the kit together. Almost immediately, as soon as you attach the crank shaft to the transmission, you will notice fitting issues. It is literally impossible to assemble it the way it's shown in the manual and still have the crank shaft fit. Interestingly enough, after the final transmission assembly step, it is shown in the manual with the final piece missing, so I'll take that as Academy's agreement that what they're asking for can't be done. 
 
The rest of the lower hull is relatively trouble free, barring the need to sand huge ejector marks on many pieces, some of them very small. You'll also run into some trouble when it comes to assembling all the pieces together. There is a sizeable gap around the 75 mm gun housing, both in front of it where it meets the lower hull and to the left, where the side bit of the driver's protrusion meets the fender. While a small length of link-to-link track is provided to cover up the latter, the former cannot be easily hidden. There are also large gaps in the rear behind the engine deck where the two halves meet. It's hard to cover these gaps with putty, as you would then have to replace the rivets around the area after sanding it down. This also wasn't an option for me, as I wanted to make the top removable like on my Stuart. I avoided the problem by covering the gap up with bags and an oil can. The final fitting problem is the fenders. The pieces don't seem to come even relatively close to fitting, although thankfully, they can be sanded to fit. The huge gap above the sand shields, however, cannot. You may consider leaving these off altogether, as the vinyl tracks are long enough to show sagging, but the sand shields will hide it. 
 
Thankfully, unlike with the Stuart, the turret remained mobile after I put it into the turret ring. However, the turret ring appears to be oval instead of round, as the turret turns very freely for a certain arc and then becomes very tough to turn. Both guns are very loose after assembly. The 75 mm gun is liable to fall out (since it's held by the very loosely fitting upper and lower hull) and the 37 mm gun flops about aimlessly. I decided to glue both in place. Speaking of the 75 mm gun, you get a choice of three: M2, M3, or M3 with a counterweight. I'm pretty sure only the M2 was supposed to have a counterweight, but I used the M3 anyway since it looked the coolest. The barrels are all molded in one piece with only a small mold seam to remove.
 
One thing very obviously missing from the kit, as with the Stuart, is the contents of the engine compartment. This is understandable, but the huge maintenance doors on the rear are molded in two separate halves, so if you really care, it would be possible to install an aftermarket engine and show it off. Another, more subtle thing, is ammunition for the 75 mm gun. There is plenty of it in the turret basket, and even in a closed crate, but I cannot see any 75 mm shells. 
 
The tank can be painted in marking schemes: "Fosios II" with green spots on a desert yellow base and "Atlanta II" in plain desert yellow. Despite the kit being called "El Alamein Grant", only Fosios II is from the Battle of El Alamein.
 
The kit comes with a MiniArt "British Tank Crew" figure set. They are neither dressed in appropriate desert clothing, nor are there enough of them (the Grant was crewed by 6 men), but they are very nicely built and come in a variety of interesting poses. 
 
Overall, even though it does not come with fiddly photo-etch bits, this is not a kit for a beginner. However, if you're willing to fill, sand, and curse your way to a finished product, you'll get a badass looking tank with high quality figures and a pretty interior to show off.

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A really neat scan from a Russian scale model magazine, instructing you how to convert an Italeri Sherman into a T6 prototype.

 

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The magazine is chock-full of DIY instructions, including how to cast your own rivets and track links, since pre-made models were very sparse. There is even an ad to buy one Sherman track link connector and cast them for your model yourself. The connector cost 5 rubles, or the cost of photocopying 5 pages.

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Yup. I replaced the turret with a Verlinden resin one, plus a few other bits and bobs, but most of that is your build. Here are some more shots of my Shermans.

 

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At 5 Sherman tanks (including the El Alamein Sherman), this is now the most numerous tank I have on display, followed closely by 4 T-34s (3.5, one is 1:48th scale) and 3 KV-1s. I really need to put out more ideologically correct tanks, or I'll lose my vodka rations!

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