Good morning, Gentlemen ...
Enjoying my vacation, I decided to build this rare machine to my collection of CDL vehicles. The M4A1 Sherman - E type - CDL (Canal defense light) tank.
|Sherman M4A1 prototype E - CDL tank|
CDL tanks were characterized by carrying in the turret a powerful projector light (spotlight) for illuminating the battlefield at night. It was a top secret project and was developed primarily for the protection of British beaches against a possible German invasion (the origin of the name: Canal Defense Light).
When the danger of invasion passed, the design was adapted for use in night operations and was effectively used only at the end of the war, in the Crossing of the Rhine.
Several models were tested as CDL tanks during the conflict: Matildas, Valentines (Valentine is quoted, but there is no concrete evidence of its existence), Churchills, Lees and Grants. The latter were actually used in battle.
|Matilda CDL - Bovington Museum|
|M3 Grant CDL - British version|
|M3 Lee CDL - Leaflet T-10 - American version|
As the M4 Sherman was an evolved version of the M3 Lees, nothing more coherent than the allies test the M4 Sherman with this device. The Americans built their Sherman CDL in a big hatch M4A1, with casted CDL turret.
|Sherman M4A1 CDL|
The British version presents a laminated turret, similar to the American, but assembled in M4A4 hull DV. Only one version of each prototype was built.
|Sherman V CDL - British version|
The lighting system of a Sherman CDL consisted in a turret with two light projectors that through prisms and mirrors, reflected strong light beams through vertical slits in the front of tower. This permitted illuminate the battlefield at a time that night vision technology in low visibility was crawling.
|CDL light beam projector|
Tray to use two light projectors in a new Sherman turret would be a natural evolution in relation to Grant and Lee CDL, whose turrets had only one projector. But the Sherman project was abandoned because with the exchange of the turret, the tank was armed with only a .30 MG in the hull and another .30 in the turret. If the light projector suffered some damage, the tank would be virtually useless. Something that will not occur with the M3 Lees and Grants because they still carried a gun in the front hull.
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E turret|
CDL Medium tank
Place of origin ..................................................................
1944 - tests only
3 (Commander, driver, co-driver)
76 mm maximum
Continental R975-C1 or -C4 9 cyl.
radial gasoline engine,350 or 400 hp at 2,400 rpm
170 km at 605 L; 80 octane
40 to 48 km/h
Does not exist, currently, a conversion kit that allows building the Sherman CDL. Searching on eBay, I found and bought a turret from an old resin backyard Company, called I-Corps, has long since extinct, which manufactured thius CDL turret as conversion kit. As I had in mind build this version of Sherman to my collection, bought the kit in a bid on eBay and waited their arrival at my house. Here's the kit:
|The I-Corps kit box|
When the kit got in home and I opened the box, a great disappointment befell me. The turret, very rustic and simple, was bent and twisted, beyond repair.
The walls of the turret was slanted and was not perpendicular to each other, like a bride cake that collapsed ...See the close-up bellow:
But the worst is coming: Studying the pictures of the Sherman CDL turret, I noticed that the details of the resin turret were totally wrong.
|Sherman turret CDL - American version|
In summary, the turret was completely useless!!!
But as always we make lemonade when life gives us lemons, I decided to put the brain and hands to work, since I had already planned to build an American Shermie CDL!
Surgery time !!!!
I put the (eeww) turret on my mini-lathe and grind the walls and ceiling ...No mercy and no prisioners!
I removed almost 2mm of resin in the circumference of the turret, rectifying the walls and smoothing the ceiling, removing the wrong details.
Here is the result of radical surgery, with an old Italeri M4A1 hull , a scrapped tank, the ideal victim of my crazy project ...
|The rectified turret, with walls in 90 degrees|
The idea is "to insert" the resin turret "in" the original tank turret (scrap), using the original casted base of the Italeri´s turret:
|Poor Shermie turret...|
Voiláá.. The heresy was completed! As I removed material from the turret sides, I'll add plasticard blades to reach the desired diameter. A dental tool was very useful for that stage. Super Glue to complete the reconstruction...
|Adding new walls...|
|The turret belly...|
|In the hull...|
A tricky part was making the front portion of the turret "flattened" and inclined, as seen in real photos:
|Testing the turret-master|
After that, I decided to cast in resin the master-turret, because I could miss something in the next steps and lose all the work. I made a tower in polyurethane, in order to do better details and have a possibility of "retreat" in one step wrong ...
|The master and the test-bed turret|
|Using dental acrilic to conform and texturize the turret ears...|
At this stage, I added the sloped roof in the turret and some more details on plastic (Dragon )of my scrap box ...
|Notice the sloped roof...|
|The rear view of the turret|
|Testing the turret in the hull (virgin)|
|I used a scrapped hull, too !!!|
|Look at the base of the turret: increased the diameter of the|
base with a disc of plasticard, cutted with compass .
With that, I considered the turret almost ready. Sanded irregularities, added foundry markings (Archer Decals) and made a silicone mold, to preserve the master model.
|The turret evolution: amoeba with flat roof and the final turret, with the final master|
|The Archer foundry decals....fantastic!!!!|
|Casting turrets, for the Victory !!!|
|Wartime production !!!!|
Now, I can add little details in the resin turret. See the arrows...
|Thin copper wires, Plastruct and plasticard. The .30 is RB Models|
|Notice the rear details|
Well, after this crazy work, it´s time to build the Shermie tank. A virgin kit for this stage:
|Kit Italeri M4A1 76mm - the host for this project...|
|Love the turret...Notice the casting mark...|
The project is almost done...Yesterday, I finished the build of th CDL. The build of Italeri Shermie is very smooth and fun...
|The .30 in the hull is RB Models too...|
|Ready for colors...|
|Adding casting surface with putty...|
|More details in the turret...|
Olive drab time. Notice the gloss aspect: Future to prevent silvering. The handwriting markings I did with white pen, reproducing the original marks...
Finally, my Sherman CDL is ready... I did the vehicle with dirt typical of a test vehicle, but without the baggage and junk of an operatinal tank. The chipping was minimal, as well as aging of the armour. The final pics:
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E type|
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E type - right view|
|Sherman CDL - E type - rear view|
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E type - left side|
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E type|
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E type - the real beast|
The stars markings are fictitious, as they would be for an operational vehicle. Notice that the American stars are superimposed to graffiti:
|M4A1 Sherman CDL - E typeL with grafitti|
Thank you for accompanying the birth of this girl ...
A big hug and stay tuned ...