Today, I'll show to you guys a very fun project from 2007. Everything started with this photo:
|M4A1 with dozer blade - discussion only|
Well, from the desire to build for the implementation of the project, just search a bit for the players...I needed a M4A1 and M1 dozer blade. After dig in my closet, I found these kits:
|Dragon 6048 M4A1 Sherman plus Verlinden 646 conversion kit Sherman M1 dozer|
But before the fun, let's look at the history of this interesting vehicle ...
The destruction generated by military operations, and various obstacles deployed by the Axis forces to slow down the progress of the Allied armour led to the need for a dozer tank. The US Army needed an armoured dozer able to clear roads, fill in ditches and bomb craters, clear rubble and move destroyed vehicles blocking roadways. The allied armies used several types of bulldozer, however, these machines were un-armoured and could be used only in zones far away from the frontline.
|British Sherman dozer and Crusader AA Mk III of|
2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
during Operation 'Epsom', 29 June 1944
The association of a bulldozer blade with a medium tank was first tried by the British Army in North Africa during their campaign of 1940-1941, as a means of eliminating mines in the path of advance. By 1942, mine detectors were capable of finding hidden mines and the bulldozer blade equipped tank could then excavate the mines and move them to the side. This could be accomplished without significant risk to the tank crew who were protected by the tank's armor and had the tank's guns for defense.
After American officers observed the British success, the US Army Corps of Engineers was assigned the role of creating and testing a tank/bulldozer vehicle. During 1942, the Engineer Board considered several different ideas. Destroying mines was only one potential task for a tank dozer that could also tackle overcoming ditches, craters, and other antitank obstacles. It was not obvious that a tank was best; armored tractors were considered as an alternative design.
|M4A1 Sherman dozer in the winter - Notice the duckbills in the tracks|
Ignoring bureaucratic struggles between Ordnance and Engineers, and conflicting orders from Services of Supply, Major Karl F. Eklund, who supervised the Mechanical Equipment Section at the Engineer Board, pushed ahead with the tank dozer development. Working with the Caterpillar Tractor Company and two industrial producers of tractor blades -- the LeTourneau and LaPlante-Choate Companies -- Eklund and the board's project engineer, William J. Murwin, experimented with mounting various blades on tanks. The board's researchers concentrated on developing the best possible blade for mine removal. Further, they felt that a blade capable of removing mines might also be useful in other clearing operations. Eklund talked each company into constructing two pilot models, each with a different style blade, at no expense to the US government. The board and the companies tried several variations of weight, height, teeth, hydraulic and cable controls, designs to control the blade's rising out of the ground, and other features. The project's high standards required that the tank dozer be as easy to control as a bulldozer.
Eklund conducted experiments at Fort Pierce, Florida's beach obstacle course; at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with the armored forces; and at other installations. The June 1943 Fort Pierce tests of the LeTourneau and LaPlante-Choate blades were successful, making the tank dozer was a reality. Meanwhile, Ordnance researchers continued experimentation on a blade suitable for light tanks to use in the Pacific's jungle warfare.
Both tank dozer blades were then approved and purchased for the Army's M4 Sherman medium tanks as what was officially named the "Bulldozer, Tank Mounting for M4A1, M4A2, M4A3 Tanks." The LeTourneau blade was cable operated and the LaPlante-Choate system used a hydraulically-operated blade. By September 1943 all levels of the Army accepted the usefulness of the new blades, which operated from the tank's internal power supply and which the driver could jettison within ten seconds in case of emergency. Large-scale production of the dozer package began in December 1943 and the first units arrived in Italy in time for the spring 1944 Allied offensive.
While efforts to produce a standard tank mounted bulldozer were in process, field modifications under local command were already in use.
|M4 Sherman with dozer - field adaptation|
|M4A1 Sherman with dozer - field adaptation|
By 1943 the hydraulic dozer blade from a Caterpillar D8 had been fitted to an M4 Sherman as well as other combinations of tank and blade.
|Caterpillar D8 tractor|
The standardized version of the bulldozer attachment for the M4 Sherman was finalized with two variants: The M1 for vertical suspension tanks (VVSS) and the M1A1 for the wider horizontal suspension (HVSS). The M1A1 blade is 14 inches wider than the M1 and the M1A1 has a 3-section telescopic jack while the M1 has a single section telescopic jack.
Use of the M4 Sherman Bulldozer Tank in World War II
Italy was the first combat use of the Sherman Bulldozer tanks. There the German Army was careful to destroy the bridges, culverts, and mountainside shelf roads that the Allies needed in their advance up the Italian peninsula. German units then used light-caliber weapons to stop the men and bulldozers sent forward to restore the roads. The Sherman tank-dozers solved this problem making immediate positive changes in the situation. At the Anzio beachhead, tank-dozers were used to extinguish fires in the large ammunition dumps that were targeted by German artillery. Once the tank-dozers were available, even large fires could be quickly contained by scooping dirt and pushing it over the burning containers.
|M4A1 dozer - 16th Engineers - 1st Armored Division - Italy, 1944|
The lessons learned in Italy made the Sherman-dozer an item of high demand for the European Theater (ETO) from the invasion of Normandy to V-E Day. General Eisenhower expressed a personal interest in increasing the supply of these versatile machines, but manufacturing never caught up with orders from the field. For D-Day, a total of 393 tank dozers were requisitioned prior to 9 May 1944 for US forces, and another 100 for the British and 24 for the French. Only 24 were received in April 1944 and another 81 in May, far fewer than the requests. Nonetheless, the tank dozers were essential in clearing beach obstacles and allowing units to move off the beaches on D-Day and immediately after.
|M4 dozer "Apache" - 746th Tank Battalion - Utah Beach, Normandy, 1944|
|M4 dozer "Double Troble" - 70th Tank Battalion - Utah Beach, Normandy, 1944|
Following D-Day in the early stages of the Battle of Normandy before the Culin Cutter was developed (also called Rhino or Hedgerow Buster), the dozer Sherman was the best method of breaking through the Bocage hedgerows.
|M4 Sherman dozer pushing through hedgerows - the best option|
|M3 light tank with Cullin hedgerow|
|M10 GMC with hedgerow cutter in the front|
Working with artillery and infantry, the tank dozers were highly effective in disrupting German defenses and making territorial gains. As the Allied armies moved out of France and closer to Germany, the tank dozers prepared tank and gun emplacements, cleared roadblocks, removed wrecked vehicles, snow and debris, filled craters, cleared mines, and built approaches for river crossings.
|M4A3 with M1 dozer blade - Notice the trailer in the Shermie's rear|
While there were some mechanical and operational problems with the Sherman tank dozer, the value far outweighed the deficiencies with great benefit to the users.
Relatively few Sherman tank bulldozers were used in the Pacific Theater of WW II, with some dozer-equipped light tanks filling the role.
|M4A2 Sherman dozer of the 4th Marines Tank Company|
Where the Shermans were used, the tasks were similar to the ETO, such as clearing beach obstacles, creating ramps for landing craft, filling craters, removing road obstacles, sealing cave defenses, and general earthmoving duties.
As I said earlier, I chose the version of dozer based on actual photo below:
While the putty dries, I started the building of the dozer blade: My kit came with fractures at the base from dozer. Nothing serious ... a piece of plastic and putty solved all ...
Olive drab in the beast:
The girl with dozer:
Testing the tracks:
Almost ready !!!
While the primer dries, I go back to working on the tank ...
And the girl was ready for action:
As I said earlier, I chose the version of dozer based on actual photo below:
|Cleaning the suspension parts...|
|..and the wheels. for that, I used dental tools to sand the wheels...|
|Notice the tread, after sanding (left) and before (right)|
|Doing the same in all the wheels...|
|Making defects in the treads, with scalpel....|
|Building the arms of the bogies...|
|Bogies in place and aligned|
|Notice the air filters...|
|Closing the upper hull. The kit is awesome...|
|Front view...One piece transmission cover.|
|The grills (PE from Dragon kit) of the rear air intakes.|
|Adding the hatches and turret...|
|Correcting the turret's shape with putty...|
|I increased the turretand hull's surface roughness with putty diluted with acetone .|
Notice the hull's extra armour made with plasticard.
|Notice the cracks in the side of the blade...|
|Fixing the defect....|
I used the kit's template for welding the metals:
|Metal work and welding....|
And I used straight pins as rivets in armrests:
|straight pins in the armrests|
|adding and scratching details...|
|details and details in the dozer...|
|And finally, the blade installed in the tank ...dry-run !!!|
|Starting the painting. Aluminium first...|
|Internal view of the dozer....|
Starting the weathering. I used oils for rain marks:
|the spots of oil colors...right side|
|spots of oil colors...left side|
Same treatment in the front glacis and turret:
|...and in the dozer blade, too !!|
I already told you guys that I hate tracks LBL??
|The worst part !!!|
Back in the hull of the tank, I applied the decals with the assistance of Future ...
|Tracks done !!!|
The treads of the bogies were painted ....The tracks can be built, now...
To compensate for the weight of the dozer blade, I applied counterweights of lead in the tank's rear. I glued the weights with epoxy.
|Lead (Chumbo, in portuguese...) as counterweight...|
|The lead in position !!!|
Normally I do not add crew in my tanks. I'm not very good at painting figures. But, in this case, I painted two tankers for my dozer tank:
|The driver !!|
|And the Comander!|
|Ready for paint...|
|My torment ...|
|The crew in position!!!|
|I discovered that the driver is a distant cousin of Pharaoh Amenophis IV...|
|tools and tools...|
|Sherman M4A1 medium tank with M1 dozer.|
Big hug, Gents...
...and stay tunned !!!