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M4A3 Sherman Calliope - T34 rocket launcher - case report

    Time for an American tale, now...The story of a tank with bad attitude, with a devastating firepower, but still unpopular among their crews: T34 Calliope rocket launcher -Sherman M4A3(75).
Sherman Calliope playing her music
      The Rocket Launcher T34 (Calliope) was a tank-mounted multiple rocket launcher used by the United States Army during World War II. The launcher was placed atop the Medium Tank M4, and fired a barrage of 4.5 in (114 mm) M8 rockets from 60 launch tubes. It was developed in 1943.
      The US Navy pioneered the use of rockets to supplement conventional artillery since they could be fired from landing craft and other small vessels that could not carry conventional guns.    
    In 1943-44, the US Army began examining the use of these rockets as a means to supplement tank guns. The first efforts as mentioned above involved the use of 7.2 inch demolition rockets from the T40 launcher for breaching seawalls during amphibious landings. This was later standardized as the M17 Whiz-Bang launcher.
M4 and M4A1 Sherman with T40 Whiz-Bang rocket launcher
M4A2 with T40 Whiz-Bang
     This device was never very popular since its proximity to the turret roof created problems for the crew entering or escaping from the vehicle. and the rockets had a relatively short range.
M4A2 Whiz-Bang - rear view. Notice the turret hatch closed by the device
     Being intended for firing from only a hundred meters with a maximum range of barely a thousand meters. After being rejected for use on D-Day in Normandy, and after being used with little success during Operation Anvil in southern France,  the army decided to hand over the surviving launchers to tank battalions in the Italian theater for possible use in the artillery role. 
      The 752nd and 760th Tank Battalions each converted a tank platoon with four T40 Whiz-Bang launchers in mid-August 1944. These rocket platoons did not serve with their parent units, but were instead transferred to the 755th and 757th Tank Battalions for operations along the Gothic line. They were used in very small numbers and had modest results. In December 1944, the 525th Ordnance Battalion converted eight T40 launchers by replacing the 7.2 inch demolition rockets with the longer-range 4.5 inch aircraft rocket launcher. They served with the 752nd and 760th Tank Battalions and saw combat starting in March 1945.
M4A1 with T40/M17 modified Whiz-Bang - Notice the 4.5 pol. tubes (air rockets) 
      The US Army had already developed a launcher for the 4.5 inch rocket as the T34, better known by its nickname as the "Calliope".  It adopts its name from the musical instrument "Calliope", also known as the steam organ, which had similar lined pipes.

T34 Calliope - Notice the trailer in the Shermie's rear
Another Calliope with trailer in the rear...
     The original plan was to use these for obstacle breaching on D-Day, but this was rejected out of hand since it was felt that the high mounting of the launcher on the M4 tank would make it unstable in landing craft.
T40 and T34 under trials in landing crafts. Instability in open sea...
     After D-Day, the 743rd Tank Battalion had 30 Calliope launchers installed for a planned attack by the 30th Infantry Division in December 1944. However, the German attack in the Ardennes pre-empted this operation and the launchers were discarded without being used.
Changing the tubes...
      The T34 was more extensively deployed in early 1945, and was used in small numbers at various times by the 2nd. 4th, 6th, 12th, and 14th Armored Divisions and by the 712th, 753rd, and 781 st Tank Battalions. In general, the launchers were unpopular with tank commanders who felt that the artillery mission should be performed by artillery units and not tank units.
Calliope being reloaded. This task was time consuming and dangerous...
font: and Zaloga, S.  in U.S. Armored Funnies: U.S. Specialized Armored Vehicles in the ETO in WWII

Based on a George Bradford drawing

Medium Tank M4A3 (75mm)
Place of origin                            
United States

Medium tank
Service history
In service          
1942–55 (U.S.)
Used by            
United States and France
Production history  
U.S. Army Ordnance Department
 Fisher Tank Arsenal and Ford Motor Company
Number built    
31.500 Kg
6,27 m
2.66 m
2.93 m
5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver)

10 cm (max. hull) to 9 cm(turret)
Main gun
75 mm M3 L/40 gun (104rounds)


15.8 hp/metric ton 
Spicer manual, synchromesh, 5 forward and 1 reverse gear
Fuel capacity
630 litres 80 octane
Operational range
161 km - road
42 km/h - max. sustained
T34 Calliope - launcher device
Type                   Tank-mounted rocket launcher (Rocket-Artillery Tank)
Place of origin                          United States
Service history
WarsWorld War II
Production history

Main armament
Launcher weight
Elevation and depression
60×114 mm  (4.5inc.) rockets
835 kgs (tubes and rack)
+25 to -12 degrees
M8 Rockets
TypeAir-to-surface and surface-to-surface rocket 
Place of origin                                                         United States
Service history
In service1941-1945
Used byUS Army, US Navy, US Air Force and Allied countries
  • World War II
Production history
DesignedPicatinny Arsenal  - 1941
No. built2,537,000
Mass17 Kg
  • 840mm
Diameter110 mm - 4.5 inch
2 kg
EngineSolid-fuel rocket - 2.     15 kg fuel
4,2 km
Max speed
Launch platform

The kit:
      For this project, I used an old Italeri M4A3 Calliope:
Italeri kit n. 288 M4A3 Sherman Calliope
       Let's go...Correcting the suspensions: Dragon bogies and wheels; Italeri arms and drive sprocket and track (with duckbills) from Tamiya...
Multimedia kit...

Suspensions done...I love my spare parts box !!!
The Dragon bogies, with casting !!!
The Calliope tubes...
and the Italeri turret
      In the Calliopes, the elevation and depression of the rocket tubes was achieved through an arm connecting the gun barrel to the tubes assembly. But this provision limited the degree of elevation achieved by the weapon.

The original version of the elevation device (see red arrows)

The original version of the elevation device (see red arrows)
     The field engineers solved this flaw with a not-so-elegant but functional adaptation: they welded a metal plate to the uppermost portion of the "armored lips" of the mantel at the base of the cannon, and then soldered the original ring of the lift system. 
Field adaptation of the elevation device

      With that, they gained a few degrees and a few hundred meters in reach of the rockets. My version will be with the field adaptation!!!

The elevator device in the Italeri kit is wrong for my version
fixing the device...
Front view...
Building the rockets tubes...
With thin metal wire, doing the triggers in the rockets
In position...
Tons of metal wires..

Done !!!

The eletric wire: from tubes to periscope...
option based in photo below
rear view
Notice the antenna support
      And this photo (LIFE) , with all details:
Notice the details...
      The real and the model:
Turret with details..
Final touch: bracket in the wires...
         Uops... I almost forget the reinforcement in the turret's cheek armour.
Plasticard and putty to do the turret's cheek.
        While the cheek dry, we will do the rear rack, characteristic of these Calliope Shermies ...
Field modification: rack in the Shermie rear

Let's do the same in scratch... Thin plasticard
and stretched sprue. The measurements and profile
of the stowage rack are shown in the image.
(I put the measures to make it easier for someone who
wants to dosomething like that. Thanks for the alert,
Richard Cramer, a friend from the Netherlands!)

With this, the crew has more space for their things and tools...
     Making casting surface with diluited putty: tranny cover, mantlet  and turret:
Rough surface...
      After the primer and first coat of olive drab, I applied casting marks from Archer.
Archer's casting marks...
Casting marks in the turret
Ready for the decals...
      My markings guide:
M4A3 Cold Storage Calliope T34 from 12th Armoured Division
714th Tank Battalion
drawing based in Bison Decal art
Future (or Pledge) to prevent silvering

Bison Decals !!!
      And the Shermie Calliope was done !

M4A3 Cold Storage Calliope T34
12th Armoured Division, 714th Tank Battalion
France - March, 1945
Bye, Gents !!!

6 comentários:

  1. very nice finish.. I want to build 1 /72 scale Calliope and here is lot of reference for me..

  2. this photo of the calliope suggests that Italeri got it correct the detail of the ring attached to the tank's gun. It looks like the field engineers installed the kit differently in different units.

  3. @choen: Indeed. But in the version that I built, the ring placed on the gun's base. It's a field adaptation to increase the range of the rockets, with an elevation of the whole weapon by a few degrees. I explained better in the article, Choen!! Thanks for your tip!!

  4. How much did the Calliope setup mass on the original tanks? I.e. total launcher cost, plus mass of the individual rockets?

    1. Todd, good morning!! See above, in the Specifications tables. I updated the data and I think I was able to answer your question. Thanks for stopping by ...