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Sherman BARV - case report

     Continuing the building of vehicles from WWII, now it is the time to see this girl who loves the beach, but that does not escape the heavy duty: The Sherman BARV.
Sherman M4A2 BARV
Notice the absence of the rear deck...
      The beach armoured recovery vehicle (BARV) is an armoured recovery vehicle used for amphibious landings. There have been three different BARVs in British service since their introduction during World War II. They have also been tested by the Canadians and used by Dutch and Australian forces.
      Midway through World War 2, with a growing experience of amphibious warfare (landing armies ashore from assault landing craft) the major operation in planning was Operation Overlord. This was to launch the allied invasion of continental Europe and liberate it from German occupation.
      The practice of the waterproofing vehicles had contributed to the success of earlier amphibious operations. When landing across open beaches it is necessary to keep the flow of traffic moving to allow speedy disembarkment from landing craft and the crafts swift removal from the area of operation. This enables the fighting units to become operational on land quickly and maintain the momentum of the assault.
      Tracked tractors had been used on the beaches to tow away any broken down vehicles, but where vehicles failed to get ashore (drowned) they became a hazard to incoming landing craft. A deep wading recovery vehicle was needed to remove such obstructions. One solution was to fit high sided armoured and watertight bodies to the tracked tractors, but these vehicles were very slow.
Tractor Caterpillar D8 BARV and Sherman BARV in Normandy, 1944
     Early experiments were carried out by Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) who developed a trials vehicle based on the Churchill ARV (Armoured Recovery Vehicle) I.
Churchill ARV I towing a tracked trailer
with Churchill Mk II
       Further tests were made with turretless water-proofed Churchill and Sherman tanks fitted with fixed fabricated box-type structures and wading equipment. Trials with these vehicles provided valuable experience which led to the choice of the Sherman tank with an all-welded hull.
      The design of a BARV based on an M4A4 (Sherman V) was commenced in November I943.
Sherman V (M4A4)  BARV prototype
    The Sherman III (M4A2) for having a welded hull and having a diesel engine, was also an obvious option when choosing a vehicle in contact with water. The photo below was sent to me by our colleague Pocahontas, an good "X" REME, to enrich this article. Thank you very much, man!!!
Sherman III (M4A2) modified as primitive BARV
No. 1 Experimental Workshops REME at Weymouth, Dorset
circa 1943-1944 (Again, thanks a lot, are the man!).
Notice the catwalks and ropes, typical of production versions of the BARVs
     Fitted with a welded armoured top superstructure and various modifications that included an internal structural design air intake to the crew and a bilge pump to eliminate any water intake. the vehicle proved capable of operating in water to a depth of  3 meters surge.
Sherman BARV towing a Jeep
      Because of the urgency of getting these vehicles into production by D-Day it was impossible to devote time to further development such as the installation of a winch and the fitting of earth anchors. The vehicle was therefore limited to straight pulls.
BARV in readiness on the landing beach
      A requirement for 50 BARVs was placed. this being later raised to 66. By D-Day 52 vehicles were completcd and delivered to Beach Recovery Section. production vehicles being based on the diesel-engined M4A2 (Sherman Ill). The choice by the Sherman III  (M4A2) was found to be most suitable, as its welded hull was easier to make watertight. Another reason for the choice of the Sherman M4A2 was that its diesel engines were less affected by the sudden cooling of the vehicle being plunged into deep water.
      The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Experimental Beach Recovery Section, working with the ME Directorate of the War Office, developed the design. The design attached a boat shaped superstructure to the top of a turretless Sherman, enabling it to wade in over nine feet of water. It was not practical to fit a winch in view of the difficulty in sealing the winch cable aperture, So the ARV operated in deep water with one member of the crew equipped for shallow water diving. Drowned vehicles were hooked up and towed ashore.

Sherman BARV
      The original BARV was a Sherman M4A2 tank which had been waterproofed and had the turret replaced by a tall armoured superstructure. The vehicle was fully sealed and equipped with periscopes and breathing apparatus for the crew. It came as a severe shock to the Germans when it made its debut, as they had been trying to perfect a similar vehicle for considerable time.
Sherman BARV
      Around 52 were deployed on the invasion beaches during the Battle of Normandy. Able to operate in 2.7 metre deep water, the BARV was used to remove vehicles that had become broken-down or swamped in the surf and were blocking access to the beaches. They were also used to re-float small landing craft that had become stuck on the beach. As stated before, unusually for a tank, the crew included a diver whose job was to attach towing cables to stuck vehicles.
      On D-Day, June 6, 1944, they proved to be quite valuable during the Normandy landings.
A Sherman BARV tows a disabled Bedford
articulated lorry and trailer off the beach.
      Although it played a vital role in the Normandy landings, the BARV was not without shortcomings. To produce the BARV more quickly, and because of difficulties involved in waterproofing, no winch was included. So the BARV’s crew of five included a diver who connected the towing cable to the vehicle, at a point which was often underwater.
BARV ready for landing...
      As with all tanks, visibility would have been poor, and when not in combat the hatch would typically have opened to increase the field of view. For the most part, the commander would have been up top giving orders to the driver. In combat the hatch would be secured and the driver would use a small vision slot or periscope – the slot affording a slightly wider view than the periscope. In the side catwalks was hanging ropes to assist crewmen mounting the tank in the surf.
BARV pulling a British truck ffrom landing ship...
     Also important is the large wooden bumper mounted on the front of the vehicle for pushing unloaded landing craft back off of the beach.
      The Sherman BARV is often referred to as one of Hobart's Funnies, however, since it was not developed or operated by the 79th Armoured Division it is technically not one of the Funnies.
A Sherman BARV and Sherman tanks of 13th/18th Royal Hussar
 during the regiment's move from Petworth to Gosport.
      The Sherman BARVs together with wading tractors and normal wheeled recovery vehicles equipped REME beach recovery sections, which were among the first troops to land on D Day. The BARVs were invaluable and found an additional role in pushing stranded landing craft back into deep water.
BARV working in his office...
BARV among the customers at the beach...
      After the landings in Normandy, the BARVs were seen again in preparations for the crossing of the Rhine River, in the end of WWII in Europe.
      A few Sherman BARV's continued to be used until 1963, when they were replaced by a vehicle based on the Centurion tank, the Centurion BARV (12 were built).
Centurion BARV
      In England, in 2003, the Centurion BARV's replacement was introduced. This is the Hippo BRV, which had been in development under the project name of "Future Beach Recovery Vehicle" (FBRV). The name change reflects the fact that, unlike previous generations of vehicle used in this role, Hippos are not fully armored.
Hippo BRV
Hippo BRV and Centurion BARV
      In England, the REME Museum of Technology in Arborfield and the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth both have Sherman BARVs on display. Another, in running condition, is held by the War and Peace Collection, a private military collection in the UK. The wrecked hulk of another is at Bovington Tank Museum, after being used as a firing range target. Another Sherman BARV is a museum-piece in India, at the Armoured Corps Museum in Ahmednagar Fort, Ahmednagar.
Another BARVs:
      One Ram was modified for test the BARV concept:

Ram cruiser tank - BARV
The Netherlands Marine Corps operates four similar Dutch Leopard 1V-based BRV vehicles known as Hercules, Samson, Goliath and Titan which operate out of the Royal Netherlands Navy assault ships of the Rotterdam class. The vehicles have a similar specification but a different cabin appearance. They too replaced Centurion BARVs
Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle der Niederländischen Marine.
      A single M3A5 Grant tank was converted into a BARV in 1950 by the Australian Army. This remained in service until 1970 and is preserved at the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum at Puckapunyal, Australia. The museum also has a second BARV that was based on a D8 Caterpillar bulldozer.
M3A5 Grant BARV
Caterpillar D8 BARV

Sherman M4A2 BARV
Type                      Specialized recovery tank
Place of origin                                                                   United States- Great Britain
Service history
Used by                Great Britain
Wars                      World War II
Production history
Produced by              Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) workshops
Number built 66 (1943-1944)
Weight                   28 t
Length                  6,19 m
Width                     2.66 m
Height                    2,97 m

Armor                    12-67 mm Steel
Main armament     none
Sec. armament  none
Engine                         General Motors 6046 twin - diesel - 410 bhp at 2900 rpm
Transmission               Synchromesh, 5 speeds forward, 1 reverse
Suspension           VVSS - vertical volute spring
Ground clearance  0.46 m
Fuel capacity         662 liters (175 US gallons)
Oper.  range  193 km 
Speed                           47 km/h (road)
26 km/h (off-road)
Steering system    Controlled differential

The kit:
      For this project, I'll use the Resicast Sherman BARV conversion kit (#35.1126) and the M4A2 Tarawa from Dragon (6062). The Resicast recommends Tasca Sherman III (M4A2) kit but as I don't have this kit in particular, I will use the Dragon. Let's see...
Resicast and Dragon
      The parts of Resicast kit:
Notice the upper hull. Superb casting...
      As I said before, Resicast recomends the Tasca M4A2 or Sherman III, but i'll use the Dragon's Tarawa M4A2. The first problems is the rear hull:
Surgery to fit the resicast rear hull...

      A couple years ago I got from my friend Mano a semi-built BARV in a project in scratch... He used a M4 Tamiya kit as host and made plastic cuts according to the book Scale Military Vehicle Conversions. But the aspect obtained was a bit strange and the Mano sent the semi-ready kit for me as a gift...He knows that I like weird things...
BARV scratch...
      The superstructure seemed to be very high ...When I started to build Resicast kit, I could compare the two hulls ... and really the kit in scratch was very tall ... 4mm to be exact !!
Discrepancies between the hulls ...
      After surgery in the lines seemed above, the BARV in scratch It looked like this:
Resicast and Mano's BARVs
Growing...growing...Using additional parts of Resicast in the scratch...
      How is quoted in First Law of Conservation of Matter in Plastic Modeling of Lavoisier-Panzerserra:
"In military modeling, nothing is lost or thrown away: everything is recycled and turns into new model kits."
      The girls under construction:
The BARV in scratch...
Almost ready for painting...BARV scratch

...and the Resicast one...

Primer Vallejo white
       About the colors, these REME girls were bluish ...
BARV restored
D8 Caterpillar REME BARV in Normandy
      Well, blue will be;

       The markings, after researching the photos and references, will be BARVs from the 13th / 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) - 27th Armoured Brigate - REME, in the Sword beach, June 6 - Normandy, by Saint George!!!

13th / 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own)
27th Armoured Brigate - REME
13th / 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) 
27th Armoured Brigate - REME
      And the girls were ready: Sherman BARV from 13th / 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own) 
27th Armoured Brigate - REME - Sword Beach, June 6 - Normandy!!  First, the Resicast kit:

Sherman BARV - Resicast kit
13th / 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own)
27th Armoured Brigate - REME - Sword Beach, June 6 - Normandy

Sherman BARV - REME
13th / 18th Royal Hussars  - left side

Sherman BARV - REME
13th / 18th Royal Hussars  - right side

Sherman BARV with Kojak and Rover, the dog.
        And the Sherman BARV in scratch:
Sherman BARV - Mano's kit
13th / 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own)
27th Armoured Brigate - REME
Sword Beach, June 6 - Normandy
Sherman BARV - REME
13th / 18th Royal Hussars  - left side

Sherman BARV - REME
13th / 18th Royal Hussars  - right side

The two BARV girls...

Shermans BARV - REME
13th / 18th Royal Hussars with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

      Well, Gents!!!  See you soon...

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