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(Login astursimmer) Missing-Lynx members from IP address 188.8.131.52
Few days ago I received my Tasca M4A3E8 kit, which I intended to build together with the Tasca Jumbo.
The versions I intend to build are
1) M4A3E8 of the 4th armored divisions, the very first HVSS ones reaching the front in Bastogne in january 1945. Assuming the early arrival at the front, they should be some of the earliest Chrysler-built ones.
2) M4A3E2 "Cobra King"
As soon as I searched for some details, I have found some unclear points related to the versions I would like to build, mostly related to the so called "early" and "late" M4A3 hulls, and when the manufactures Chrysler and Fisher introduced some features. After "some" research based in searching posts and books, but mainly "counting heads" observing pictures of existing tanks, I have reached some perhaps new conclusions which I put together here. It has been a very confusing task, due to the many tanks upgraded from VVSS to HVSS, and/or 75mm to 76 mm tank.
Of course all information I used comes from the USA register from Neil Baumgardner, the site of Pierre-Olivier Buan, the G104 site, Kurt Laughling, Mike Canaday, and many many others who take the time to research and publish their results, pictures, and very important in this case, serial numbers and manufacturing dates. Most of the information I used was available, I just put some things together in the proper order, and found some tendences. I hope they are new and useful for anyone else, and I hope not to be repeasting some other ones's discoveries...I just can find posts about early and late hulls, without time frames nor relationship to models and/or manufacturers.
Sorry if I donīt post first links to the pictures related; this post could have taken years to be written.
Letīs start with the Jumbo.
M4A3E2 "cobra King" was built by Fisher between may-44 and jul-44, with a Serial number 50487, Reg.nr. 3083084, being the 162nd tank in the build run (total 254 tanks). The tank is still surviving, it is built on a base "late" M4A3 hull with bevelled glacis top edge and narrow periscope splash guards. The Tasca kit is however provided with an "early" hull with horizontal glacis top edge, and wide periscope splash guards. Now I have a problem.
Checking the other surviving M4A3E2, they feature the following charateristics:
M4A3E2 in Portola Valley, SN50331, 6th in the serie, early hull
M4A3E2 in Camp Riley, SN50344, 19th in the serie, early hull
M4A3E2 in Carbon Hill Alabama, SN50418, 93rd in the serie, late hull
M4A3E2 in Patton Museum LST Building, SN50429, 104th in the serie, late hull
M4A3E2 "Cobra King" SN50487, 162nd in the serie, late hull
M4A3E2 in Brussels, SN50511, 186th in the serie, late hull
It seems that Fisher switched from early to late hulls around may to june 1944. I cannot say anything precise as I donīt have monthly production figures.
Did the same happen at Fisher with the more "standard" M4A3(W) tanks produced around the same period? Definitely yes. One more feature cames to play, the lifting lugs. Early hulls had them welded inboard, late hulls outboard.
The following Fisher M4A3 tanks show early hulls:
M4A3(w) in Curwensville, SN48779, Regnr 3081376, built in march 44
M4A3(w) converted to HVSS and 76mm in Fort Jackson, SN48923, Regnr 3081520
M4A3(w) in Bastogne, SN48935, Regnr 3081532
M4A3(w) in Strasbourg, SN49008, Regnr 3081605, built around abr-44
M4A3(w) in Bourg-la-reine, SN49475, Regnr 3082072
M4A3(w) in The Citadel, Charleston, SN49619, Regnr 3082216
M4A3(w) in Phalsbourg, SN49709, Regnr 3082506, built may 44
Now this tank shows the change in the glacis top edge and splash guards, but the
lifting lugs remain welded inboard.
M4A3(w) in Sparta, SN49880, Regnr 3082477, built in or after jun-44
And the following tanks show late hulls, including outboard lifting lugs:
M4A3(w) converted to HVSS 76 mm, in Fort Knox, SN49855, Regnr 3082452, built in jun-44
M4A3(w) in Fort Snelling, SN50068, Regnr 3082665, built in or after jun-44
M4A3(w) in Yuma, SN50232, Regnr 3082829, built in ago-44
M4A3(w) only hull in Sundhoffen, SN62059, Regnr 30115081, built in or before sep-44
M4A3(w) in Fort Stewart, SN62293, Regnr 30115315, built in or after sep-44
So the trasition early-late hull at Fisher was around may-jun 1944.
Now let's move on to Chrysler.
The following M4A3 tanks show early hulls including inboard lifting lugs:
M4A3 76 in Clervaux, SN43911, regnr 30100145, built in spring 44
M4A3 76 VVS converted to HVSS, Fort Knox Richardson Motor pool before in Books field, SN=44969, regnr 30101203, built in july-44
M4A3 76 converted to HVSS in Lincoln, no serial data available.
M4A3 76 HVSS in Renovo, SN59787, Regnr 3031650, built around august-sep-44
Now these tanks show the change in the glacis top edge and splash guards, but the lifting lugs remain welded inboard.
M4A3 76 HVSS, Fort Knox Keyes Park, SN59894, Regnr 3031757, built around sept-oct-44
M4A3 76 HVSS, West Point. No manufacturing data available.
And the following tanks show late hulls, including outboard lifting lugs:
M4A3 76 HVSS, AAF tank museum, SN60110, Regnr 3031973, built in nov-44
M4A3 76 HVSS, Fort Hood Motorpool, SN60633, Regnr 30113655, built in nov-44
There are some few more confirming the tendences, although the earlier ones I donīt have all manufacturing data.
So summarised, Chrysler might have done the conversion from early to late hulls between september and november 1944, much later than Fisher. Some HVSS tanks had the early hull, and quite sure all VVSS were built as early hulls.
Observing the turrets with split hatch or oval hatch, it seems that Chrysler changed to oval hatches at the same time as the switch to late hulls.
I do not do any statement about the change from single piece to split engine deck, as I donīt have enough pictures and this might have been a retrofitted feature.
Simmilar risk applies to turrets, they are swappable.
I will summarise some important facts deduced from the different transtion dates and features observed:
- The new position of the lifting lugs was a bit later in both Fisher and Chrysler, than the changes of the glacis top edge and pericope splash guards.
- Fisher built M4A3E2, M4A3(W) 75 mm and probably also M4A2 76 mm on early hulls till around may-jun-44.
- This implies that ALL Fisher-built M4A3 VVSS, 76 mm (starting oct-44) are late hulls.
- Chrysler built ALL their M4A3 VVSS 76 mm on early hulls, as they were finished in august-44.
- Chrysler built then SOME HVSS on early hulls, and they switched to late hulls in september-october.
- More or less simultaneously to the change early to late hull, they started with the oval loaders hatches. Please can anybody provide any more details or confirmation.
All the a.m. statements imply that:
1) An M4A3 VVSS 76 mm with split loaders hatch MUST have an early hull, and MUST have been built by Chrysler
2) An M4A3 VVSS 76 mm with oval hatch MUST have a late hull and MUST have been built by Fisher.
1) and 2) together are a simple way to distinguish Chrysler and Fisher built tanks from period pictures. Which is a useful fact if you want to model accurately some characteristic.
3) Of course M4A3 HVSS 76 mm can only have been built by Chrysler. Well I have this, I donīt know where it comes from, deep inside my brain. Is this right ??. As far as I know Fisher went to HVSS only in some M4A2 76 mm and some M4A3 75 mm.
I would like please wheter any member could provide details and/or confirmations of those changes, and also please about split engine decks and oval loaders hatches. More accuracy could be reached if monthly production figures (which I donīt have myself) are available. My dates are in most cases just estimates starting from piecemeal information available.
Concerning "my problem" (I bet you had forgotten after such a long post), I have a Tasca M4A3E2 with a non-proper hull type (early) for the particular "cobra King" (late). But I have a Tasca M4A3E8 late hull. I think I could swap them.
Please can anybody confirm if it is possible the following combination for a 4th AD M4A3E8 in january 1945?:
- Early Hull, with inboard lifting lugs, horizontal glacis top edge and wide splash guards. I think that's feasible
- Oval loaders hatch. I think that is a hard one. I donīt see in the few pictures that I have, and the surviving samples and their manufacturing dates point out that quite few early hulls were used, I am afraid they had split hatches.
- Which engine deck?
Many thanks in advance, and hoping to have myself been of help.