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Sexton Mk.I - 25 pounder SPG - case report

      Today we are going to talk about artillery !!! Therefore, we must talk about this vehicle that arose from the need to standardize the logistics of ammunition in the Commonwealth armies. Let's talk about this very important "ecclesiastical figure": the Sexton 25 pounder SPG.

Sexton Mk.II (early) roaring in a French destroyed village - 1944.
      The 25 pounder SP, tracked, Sexton was a self-propelled artillery vehicle of the Second World War. It was based on Canadian-built derivatives of the American M3 Lee and M4 Sherman tank chassis, which entered production in Canada as the Ram cruiser tank  and Grizzly cruiser tank
Ram Mk II early with 6pdr gun Mk III (43 caliber)

Grizzly cruiser tank - drills in Camp Meaford, Ontario - Canada, 1944
      When Sherman production in the US expanded and supply was no longer a problem, in 1943 it was decided to switch the Canadian production lines to produce the Sexton to give the British Army a mobile artillery gun using their Ordnance QF 25 pounder gun-howitzer, which could fire an 87.6 mm (3.45 in) 11.5 kg  HE shell or an armour-piercing shell. It found use in the Canadian and British Army, as well as numerous other British Empire and associated forces.
Ordnance QF 25-pounder Gun, Saint John, New Brunswick
      In order to better provide artillery support in the highly mobile desert warfare of the North African Campaign, the British Army had quickly adapted a number of obsolete Valentine tanks with the 25-pounder gun. These were introduced in 1942 as the Bishop, but proved to have many problems in service. 
Bishop 25 pdr. SPG
      In particular, the turret left little room for elevation (only 15°) and gunners took to driving their tanks onto hills or dirt ramps in order to get the full range out of the gun.
A Bishop deployed on an earth ramp at a former German airfield in Sicily, October 1943.
     The Bishop was quickly replaced by the US-built M7 Priest, consisting of the US 105 mm gun mounted on the M3 Lee tank chassis.
M-7 SPG 105mm Priest under trials...
      However, the Priest used the American 105 mm howitzer rather than the British QF 25 pounder gun-howitzer. Having to supply different ammunition for just a few units complicated supply for the British Army. The US attempted to fit a 25 pounder to the M7 Priest, producing the T51 in mid-1942, but the program suffered delays including the destruction of the gun mount on the prototype during the first live-firing exercises. US resources were not available for a vehicle solely for British use, so Britain turned to Canada.
T51 SPG 25 pdr. prototype
Notice the 25pdr. gun in the M7 Priest chassis.

T51 SPG 25pdr. prototype - right side
Notice the pulpit, slightly different from the one installed on the M7 Priest.
     The Canadian Army Engineering Design Branch through the Canadian government's Department of Munitions and Supply were asked to build a vehicle similar to the M7 on the Ram tank chassis. A prototype was completed on 23 June 1942. 
Sexton prototype
      Following trials in Canada, the Canadian government ordered 124 vehicles in three batches. The prototype was shipped to the United Kingdom in early 1943, where it underwent further trials; the vehicle was found to be highly satisfactory and was given the designation "Sexton" (after the religious custodian) in May 1943. The British government ordered 300 Sextons in the summer of 1943; however, these Sextons were to be built on Grizzly tank hulls (Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman tanks) instead of Ram tank hulls. The Ram-based Sexton was designated as the Sexton Mark I and the Grizzly-based Sexton was designated the Sexton Mark II. British orders for the Sexton Mk.II eventually totalled 2,026 vehicles.
Sexton Mk I: notice the M3 bogies with T54E1 VVSS tracks,
the absence of the muzzle brake, the 3 piece transmission cover
and lower rear deck.

Sexton Mk.II (early) with gun in max elevation: Notice the canadian bogies, canadian dry pin (CDP) tracks,
3 piece transmission cover (early production) and stowage box in the rear deck
      Unlike the Ram, which was inferior operationally to the Sherman and never saw combat as a gun tank, the Sexton was successful. Between 1943 and 1945, the Montreal Locomotive Works manufactured a total of 2,150 Sextons for the use of both Canadian and British forces. 
Sexton Mk.I under construction
Montreal Locomotive Works - Canada
      The vehicle entered service in September 1943. The vehicles were first used in combat in Italy by the British Eighth Army. Later, Sextons took part in the invasion of France and subsequent Battle of Normandy and the campaign in north-western Europe. 
Sexton Mk.II moving up towards Escoville during Operation ‘Goodwood’, 18 July 1944
Notice the one piece transmission cover (late production) and T54E1 tracks
Sexton Mk.II  25-pdr self-propelled gun, carriers and jeeps move forward
south of Caen - Normandy, 1 August 1944.
      During the D-day landings, a number of Sextons were ordered to fire from their landing craft as they approached the beaches although the fire did not prove to be very accurate. In spite of its confused origins, the Sexton was a combination of proven parts and proved to be a successful design that remained in British service until 1956.
Sexton Mk.II GPO  - Military Museum, Dhaka, Bangladesh
      Britain and Canada used the Sexton for indirect supporting fire, keeping the Sextons back from the front line and used forward observers to direct overwhelming fire onto a target.
Sexton Mk.II in test. Notice the one piece transmission cover,
the CDP drive sprocket and tracks with canadian bogies

wireless no. 19 radio

Sexton Mk.I fighting compartment
QF Ordnance 25 pdr. gun.
      Three Sexton variants were constructed: Sexton Mk.I, Sexton Mk.II and Sexton GPO (Gun Position Officer). The GPO version being a derivation of Mk.I and Mk.II models.
Sexton GPO (Gun Position Officer) “DARLING” of D Troop, 36th Battery,
Canadian 23rd Field Regiment on parade in the Netherlands at the end of the war in 1945.
This particular vehicle was rebuilt from a Sexton Mk.I
Notice the 3 piece tranny cover and M4 bogie and VVSS track.
      The differences between them will be described next, being that the main changes were between the VVSS bogies (M3, M4, Canadian...) used  and its tracks. I recommend reading a real "lesson" about suspensions, bogies and tracks in the Sherman Minutia Website. It's worth reading the different "subjects" of the site !!!
  • Sexton I: The first 125 vehicles manufactured. Based on the Ram tank hull. 
    • main features: lower rear deck; M3 bogies (but she used the M4 and Canadian bogies, too...)  and 3 piece transmission cover.

  • Sexton II: Second and final line of production: 2.000 vehicles. Based on the Grizzly cruiser tank hull (Canadian built M4A1).
    • main features: rear deck with stowage boxes, canadian heavy duty bogies or M4 bogies with Canadian Dry Pin (CDP) or VVSS tracks. 3 piece transmission cover (early production: 474 vehicles) or one piece transmission cover (late production: 1.436 vehicles).

  • Sexton GPO (Gun Position Officer): Based in Sexton Mk.II .The 25 pounder was removed and an extra No. 19 Wireless was added along with map tables; extra telephone cables, and an extra Tannoy unit. This vehicle was used to control battery fire. Introduced in late 1943 (the prototype was designated "G" vehicle).

      Like the Shermans, in Sextons the characteristics described above varied greatly in its details. What really characterized and differentiated the Sexton Mk.I from the Sexton Mk.II was the presence or absence of the boxes on the rear of the deck. 
Sexton Mk.I - Notice the lower rear deck, the M3 bogies and WE210 "double-I" tracks

Sexton Mk.I rear view. Notice the WE210 "double-I" tracks
and the rear plate, with two doors in the sponsons...with lockers!!

      The all Sextons Mk.I had the transmission cover of the early type, in 3 pieces. There are records of the use of the 3 types of bogies: the M3 early (which was only used by the Sextons Mk.I), the M4 american type and the Canadian M4-like, but with thicker vertical reinforcements.
Stowage organization in the Sexton Mk.I (early).
Thanks a lot, Whelm!!
      But the Sexton Mk.II only wearing the heavy M4 (american and canadian) bogies . Never the M3 type. About tracks, all Sextons used all american tracks (and idler sprockets) and canadian dry pin (CDP) track, regardless of the type of bogie used.
Sexton Mk.I with canadian bogies and CDP tracks.
Sexton Mk.I HANNIBAL with american bogies and T54E1 tracks.
Notice the lower rear deck and 3 pieces tranny cover
13th Regiment - Royal Horse Artillery
NW Europe - 1944.
      There are Sextons with canadian bogies and drive sprockets with american VVSS tracks... Sextons with tracks and drive sprockets CDPs with american bogies... And Sextons with american and canadian bogies...A true mess!!!
Sexton Mk.II (Desert Rats) with T48 rubber chevron tracks and  M4 bogies...
Sexton Mk.II (early) with T54E1 tracks and 1st bogie canadian and
american the others (left side)
Sexton Mk.II (late) - 1st Polish Armoured Division during the Battle of Falaise Pocket
Notice the 1 piece front cover, CDP tracks and canadian bogies
Sexton Mk.II (early) from 11st Division crossing the Seine River - August - 1944.
Notice the 3 piece tranny cover, canadian bogies and T54E1 tracks
      See, below, an interesting movie with Sextons Mk.I and Mk.II in action.

Fun fact - British self-propelled gun naming:

  •  A British self-propelled gun armed with the Ordnance QF 25-pounder in design from 1941 was given the service name Bishop as its appearance was said to resemble a bishop's mitre. A replacement, the US 105 Millimeter Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 was called Priest by the British, as part of its superstructure (.50 MG station) was said to resemble a priest's pulpit. Following this line of names, a 1942 self-propelled QF 6 pounder on truck chassis was named Deacon, and a 1943 tracked QF 25-pounder was called Sexton. A post-war self-propelled gun was called Abbot.
  • In 29 April, 1943, the Canadians officially named the 25pdr.,tracked of Deacon, , until it was realized that had already been assigned in the past for the armoured lorry with 6pdr. gun. When they realized the error, they adopted the name SEXTON. Deacon was born in December 1942.
 Abbot SPG (FV433) -  British Army of the Rhine -1991.
Fun fact - The Canadian flaw: There was already a Deacon in the
"Ecclesiastical Community" of United Kingdom Artillery.
(Thanks, Whelm...)
      The Sextons were still being used by the British Army in the 1950s. Just after the war, a number of Grizzly and Sextons were sold to Portugal, who used them into the 1980s.


Sexton 25pdr SP, tracked
TypeSelf-propelled artillery
Place of origin                                                   Canada
Service history
In service1943–1956
Used byCanada
United Kingdom
South Africa
WarsSecond World War
Production history
ManufacturerMontreal Locomotive Works
No. built

Sexton I: 125
Sexton II: 2.000
VariantsMark I, Mark II, GPO (derived  from Mk.II)
Mass25 tons (25.86 tonnes)
Length6.12 m
Width2.71 m)
Height2.44 m
Crew6 (Commander, Driver, Gunner, Gun-Layer, Loader, Wireless Operator)

Elevation+40° to -9°
Traverse25° left 15° right

Armour15-32 mm (chassi Ram or Grizzly: 50mm front; 38mm side)
Ordnance QF 25 pdr (87.6 mm) Mk II
105 rounds (mostly HE) carried on board
Two 0.303 (7.7 mm) Bren light machine guns
50 30-round magazines
EngineContinental R-975 9 cylinder Radial gasoline
400 hp (298 kW)
SuspensionVertical volute spring (VVSS)
Operational range
200 km
Speed43,5 km/h

      For this project, I have the Dragon kit (#6760) Sexton II 25pdr. SP Tracked in my closet.
Sexton Mk.II - Dragon 6760 kit box art. Notice the American suspension...
     But as soon as this kit was released (2012), the bad reviews rained !!! "The kit is all wrong. There were no Sextons Mk.II with American suspension !!" "The Sexton Mk.II kit should be rendered with Canadian suspension!!" "Heresy... Anathema!!" "Dragon to the lions!!!" "Kill... Kill!!"
Poor Dragon!!!
     And I confess that it discouraged me a lot, because a boring thing is you buy a kit and have to buy a lot of "fix accessories", which usually cost more than the kit itself. The screaming was so much that Dragon released, two years later, the "correct" kit, that is, a Sexton Mk.II with the Canadian suspension: The Dragon (#6793) Canadian Army Sexton II with CDP track Canadian Dry Pin Tracks
Sexton Mk.II - Dragon 6793 kit box art.
Notice the Canadian suspension...
      But then, the damage was already done ... The Sextons almost did not appear in the building's forums and when they appeared, it was the same shout of always: "This is wrong!!!"
      The years passed and thanks to the Internet and the incredible photos that circulate everywhere, Sextons photographic records were being discovered wearing the most diverse "shoes" and then it was noticied that, after all, the Sextons were not much different from the Shermans, in terms of using interchangeable parts between the different models ... A nice and interesting big mess !!!
      So, let's build this amazing self propelled artillery, who was able to dethrone the venerable and efficient M7 Priest of the UK military.
      And since I like rare and different things, my kit will be a Sexton Mk.I. I'll downgrade the Sexton Mk.II from Dragon !!! Kojak is already rubbing his hands gladly !!!
My project: Sexton Mk.I with M4 bogies and VVSS tracks.
      Opening the box, the first surprise: Dragon's famous DS tracks were melting and, at the same time, dry and brittle. I had heard of this occurrence with other colleagues, but that had never happened to me ...
Holy crap!!

Tracks are "oily" and brittle !!!  Shame on you, Dragon!!!
      The best solution for these cases: Call an exorcist !!

The house is clear, now!!!
       Uff...After this metaphysical experience, we will continue the project: Beginning construction by the booklet ... suspensions VVSS. Notice the two different bogie wheels... My girl inadvertently strolled over a mine, poor thing ... New shoes !!

Drive station, in the right side of the hull (like the Rams..)
       As I intend to make the Sexton Mk.I model, with the smooth "tail" without bins, at this point in the construction things begin to derive from the booklet. Instead of using part A-24, I'm going to use piece C-12, typical of M4A1 and Ram, too. Thanks, Dragon ... this piece comes as a "spare-part" in the kit trees.
Transforming the Sexton Mk.II in Mk.I: lower rear deck (and rear plate...)

Another difference: using Blue C-8+C-9 and C-23 parts

The girl on her own feet ...
She's sexy!!!
       Surgery time: cutting the Mk.II side rails and the side walls of the hull. Remember; Mk.I have the lower tail!!
Lateral rails off...and the new cuts under study...

Transforming the Sexton Mk.II rear in a MkI one!!
No more stowage boxes!!

Smooth tail: main feature of the Mk. I model...

Internal view...
       The rear deck of the kit (model Mk.II) shows the cutouts of the stowage boxes. Let's measure the deck at its full length to be able to cut the vertical sides of the hull. In this case, the deck has a total length of 49mm.

Planning the cutting of the vertical walls of the tail. The same 49mm from the rear deck.

Cut planned to be perpendicular to the base: 90 degrees!!

The hull now is a model Mk I!!!
Notice the correction work on the rear deck...
Chuck's approves!!  And Kojak is happy!!
Reshaping the rear deck and the rear hull... The kit part A-2
was cutted and adapted in his place...

Dry-fit of the nose..All OK!!

The rear armour plate in position...3/4 left side

The rear armour plate in position...3/4 right side

Left side

Right side

So far...so good!!
     Working in the girl's rear..(ops...):
Rail guards and details in the rear armour...

Notice the details: mudguard (blue arrow), little doors
in the sponsons (red) with their padlocks (green)...
      Testing the gun shield:
Left front view...
The front hull is only in dry-fit

Right front view...

The gun in full elevation!!!
Next step: more details and starting the internal painting to finish the assemble... And meanwhile, let's put our girl in time and space: Meet "ANNA", a Sexton Mk.I, in duties with 11th Armoured Division, 13th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery HAC - (Honourable Artillery Company) - A troop - Gun A, fighting in Normandy, France - June 1944, elegantly dressed in green and black camo.

      Notice that the Formation Sign and the Arms of Service (AoS) appear to be reversed in the drawing above (the "normal" would be the Formation sign being on the left side and the AoS on the right side of the vehicle.) But this change of position is to be the common in 13th HAC vehicles. See the photos below... Interesting this detail.
Never say never!!
   The work is going... Starting the painting of the interior, for close de front deck. Self propelled vehicles has its interiors painted the same exterior color. The tanks is that has its interior painted in light colors, such as white (American) cream (German) or silver (English).
Interior of the Sexton in the same exterior color...

Radio number 19 painted


The radio in the cage and the cage in position!!

Dashboard in position...

The tranny cover complete and the front deck glued in position!!
      Painting time!!!
Ops...I was forgetting the Lee Enfield rifles .303

Dark grey with green!!
The painting is drying...

Notice the imperfections in the dark color...
Made with brush (not airbrush...) to reproduce the real one...
       Next step: Future - The Milk of the Mother Goddess!! I would like to thank Paul Roberts for the camouflage improvement tips. See below:
Future: the true  "Milk of the Mother Goddess" to prevent silvering..

Notice the Tarmac painting extended for the horizontal superficies...
Thanks to Paul Roberts for the tip...
      Next, the best part: markings!! I always try to review the markings before applying the decals ... I've already avoided many accidents like this ... Speaking on FB, Jim Guld warned me to detail that the troop and gun number markings were below of 25pdr. And he was absolutely right. let's remodel the design of the markings to the correct one. 

      And studying the Sextons, I discovered this important information in Steven Zaloga's fantastic book about the M7 Priests (but that also addresses the Sextons ..): the number of vehicles as they were produced. 
      As ANNA is a Mk.I girl, but the model "late" (bogies heavy duty), I got this information to situate our hypothetical "ANNA" in the correct production period (She was born in Jul-Sep. 1943). And the final markings look like this:
ANNA was born!!!
Notice the T54E1 tracks with extended end connectors
Nice shoes!!

Next: weathering...
      And after a light weathering:
97% done...

ANNA is almost there!!
Testing Value Gear stuff for crew!!

      And the girl was ready. I am proud to present to you "ANNA", Sexton Mk I (late) belonging to 11th Armoured Division (Black Bull) - 13th Regiment HAC - Royal Horse Artillery - A Troop - Gun A, new arrival in Normandy, France - 1944.
 Sexton Mk I  (late) "ANNA" - 11th Armoured Division (Black Bull) - 13th Regiment HAC - Royal Horse Artillery
A Troop - Gun A -  Normandy, France - 1944.

Sexton Mk I "ANNA" with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Ram Mk II (early) and Sexton Mk I (late) . Mother and daughter!!!

Canadian roots!!

Sexton Mk I  (late) "ANNA" - 11th Armoured Division (Black Bull) - 13th Regiment HAC - Royal Horse Artillery
A Troop - Gun A -  Normandy, France - 1944.

See you, soon...in my next project!!!