All started when a friend of mine bought some ESCI's M4A1 back in 1978. Being also a wargamer, very soon these 75mm Sherman were exchanging rounds against my Pz.Kpfw. IVs and Vs.
As we used to play 1:1 skirmish (using them Charles GRANT Battle wargames rules, with Tank/Gun tables from Bruce QUARRIES' NW Europe Wargaming from PSL) very soon my friend was asking for a heavier punch -something dejá vu.
After buying Shermans in Action, the despair increases, first the version presented in the ESCI box, never existed (well now we know that it did, but.) and we needed a new turret to mount a heavier gun, nothing like the Firefly: same turret, new gun - wise guys those Brits.
With some searching, the discovery of the Hasegawa Sherman, with a complete out of scale hull, but a right scale turret, saved the day. And so started our conversions.
First, it was simply a question - after improving/correcting the Hasegawa part - of inserting a 76mm turret on an ESCI Hull.
At the same time, the original hull, started to be converted back to a 60º hull, by reinforcing the back of the kit glacis (with Araldite), and with some hard cutting and scratching reverting a 47º hull into that inclination. After that there is only a question of rebuilding the hatches, from a angle opening to a direct side opening, and so on, to be used as a 75mm gun tank.
Next a M4 Hybrid was made, by cutting part of the sides, replacing them with some plastic card, and creating with putty, the angles typical of this version.
The normal M4 version was accomplished by cutting an old Airfix hull, so that it could be inserted in an ESCI kit chassis, with new sides and rear in plastic card, and rebuilding the detail.
A normal M4A3 (dry) could be accomplished by the same method, as Bjorn shown on the Missing Links site , but very soon, the problem of the lousy protection arises. Those 76mm armed Shermans while capable of defeating StuG & Pz.IV and with a lot of luck and skill even Panthers and Tigers, could not withstand the 7,5cm L/48 or L/70 powerful punch, with the same easy as the Germans, so in most cases they were death meat.
So started another Quest, and at first, my friends models started to use Sandbags - using those from plastic boxes as Fujimi, Nitto's, ESCI and even made from DAS Pronto modelling clay - Extra Tracks & Wheels and Logs/Planks, to cover the thin armour.
But some new look on that marvellous in Action book, gives us clues about what now were named Expedient Jumbos (excellent article from P. DYERS in a old MM).
Simply by attach cut out parts from another Shermans, or Tigers/Panthers to the Hull front and Hull/Turret side, they increase the protection.
The present version used a ESCI M4A3, with a 76mm Hasegawa turret, a cut out Hasegawa frontal glacis, glued on the original ESCI ones, and some other bits of plastic. We also discover that some of them even carry US Army Field Issue 1" Armour plates, for the M4A3 family.
A exceptional photo of a M4A1A (W) even carries 2x1" Armour plates - photo in In Action, carrying a pair of boxing gloves and a switched loaders/commander hatches - so another model in the production line...
After some work and reorganisation of the Battle units, a M4A3B (105mm) was made using plans from Bellona Books; looking at the Fujimi Kit; and discovering that they used the same turret, from the 75mm, but with a new mantlet mount.
With some measurement, I discover, that the Fujimi Mantlet is something above the 1:76 scale, while not exactly at 1:72, but as the ESCI turret, is something bellow 1:72, and the thing looks good, Who Cares?
I also included a MR Models Combi Kit - Parts in resin and metal, to convert the ESCI M4A1 - M4A3B (105) so you can compare both things.
My model (made by me, but in the collection of Filipe Cunha) was based on a normal ESCI M4A3 and it have 2 turrets, the normal 75mm and the 105mm so I can swap for the scenario requirements.
More impressive conversion was the M4A3E2 Jumbo or Cobra King - the uparmoured Assault Tanks issued in July 1944, and first used during Operation Cobra - using as basis the "famous" ESCI M4A3.
Cutting the frontal and sides parts from an Hasegawa M4A3E8, using the transmission block from Hasegawa, gluing them over the ESCI kit, after some rework, and making a new turret from Balsa Wood, to the dimensions (in 1:72) of a Bellona plan, did the work. The Commander cupola, is a Hasegawa 76mm turret "clone", moulded using the "Plasticine/Araldite" method (see instructions below), while some bits came from the ESCI model, while others from the Hasegawa ones. And voilá a Cobra King (the name we normally give to this version, reserving the Jumbo one for the 76mm armed Tank) to blast those pesky Krauts (most of them mine).
As in the previous model, a MR Models Combi Kit, to compare - this time I lose, as their model is exceptional, just look at those tracks, with end connectors and the serial numbers on the cast turret.
In the case of the long narrow hood M4, I just presented my standard process of converting them, as I always made versions with frontal appliqué armour. But in the case of anyone interested in making a early long narrow hood, without the appliqué the description is more or less wrong. The corners are not totally round, from top to bottom, but indeed with "taper chambered corners" in the words of Phil Dyer, as the rounding starts on top but the bottom do not have round corners, but the normal angular corners.
Most M4 used by the British & Commonwealth, were late versions, meaning also re-manufactured ones, but all with the 1 piece tranny, most, if not all, with the sharp one.
While some of the British M4, do not have the frontal appliqué armour, all have the ones on the side.
Almost all rolled/welded hull Fireflies Ic were build on late version M4, so a sharp tranny, and a front travel lock (taken from Fujimi kit)
Some Canadian units, from Operation Veritable onwards used a special smoke launcher on their M4 and Fireflies. These "smokers" were installed on turret top deck, more or less on the central axis of the gun, as could be seen from the pictures posted on the Files section in the MiniatureZone Forum. For this just get a suitable brass or plastic tube and made the mounting. Sorry I didn't have any plans of it, perhaps some of the members of the group could help.
Another innovation, used for the first time during Veritable (February 1945) was the All Round Vision Cupola, indeed a improved system to be standardized on all British AFV, associated or not with Tabby (The British Infra-Red Vision system). Most of the cupolas were to be installed on the Cromwell & Churchill, but some of them were also retrofitted in some Shermans (M4, M4A2 and M4A4). For this I intend to used the one from Matchbox Comet (I didn't remember if the Airfix Churchill Mk. VII has one, as I never build any), and insert it on place of the original double hatch commanders ring.
The new cupola must have short diameter, as the original, so an adapter ring should be made from plastic (in reality a simple annulus, like the real thing).
By José Ventura (March-2002)
01 March 2002
15 January 2002
The part will deal with the fabled Airfix model. This is an old model, my very first was in a plastic bag, after that it appears in clear perspex/cardboard to end in a card-box. It ranged from Airfix, Humbrol to Heller labels, but under the skin it's always the same model, with their strong parts and weakness. An interesting trivia, is that this model was cloned (this is the modern terminology to indicate a copy) by MIDORI, for their sadly death Armour Series, making it their only WW2 US AFV entry.
By now most models presents a lot of flash and some noticeable sink marks in some parts, needing some careful cleaning and some liberal use of putty. The model is at 1:76, all-round - with the exception of the turret - perhaps a little short in terms of hull length (around 1mm shorter), but this is hardly perceptible, after putting some stowage on the rear, as appears in most British and Commonwealth versions.
The positive side is that this is a Sherman (always a positive one :-)), it's a 57º hull rolled steel/welded version (the only other one, in 1:76, is the now sadly missing Matchbox Firefly). And the last but not the least, this model have a lot of conversion potential, and, I almost forget, it's a cheap model.
I will deal mostly with the NW and Italian ETO versions. I will leave PTO and post-WW2 for others, as my knowledge in these areas is very thin. As always the bibliography I presented previously is of interested here, and if one as the possibility to look at the Militaria Hors-Serie, on the Great Battles of WW2 (sorry only in French, but a good source for some rare photos) you will not regret...
I will ask that you should excuse me, first for my bad English and second for the loose organisation of these lines, but this is not a lovely kit as Fujimi's M4, meaning a lot of work/corrections to be done.
I organised this text with an analysis of the basic kit, as you get it from the box, followed by advice - my own opinion - how to improve, correct and/or modifying it, so lets start with the work.
Starting with the wheels/track arrangement, while the wheels/bogie arrangement is correct they are a little simplistic, but they will do (if one could afford, replacing them with the Matchbox ones will be great). They represent a normal horizontal return roller arms version, but the way the later were made, is imperative that some care is need when glue them, so not to twist them to much on the vertical plan to made them as the upswept return rollers version.
The tracks could range for bad, to awful bad. While some of them with time will turn in a blob of rubber, others will dry out, shrink and turn into dust. The later ones, from Heller - in a light grey/metallic finish - seem to be better, but only time will say that. Again, an alternative, especially to a Sherman in 1944/45, you could use the proposal from Matchbox Firefly, or even the ones from the M7 Priest, from the same company, or even adapting the ones from ESCI/Italeri, after trimmed to the correct scale.
The first proposal of modification, is to made one, using the M3 suspension units, borrowed from an Airfix Grant/Lee (due to be re-release this year) or from a Matchbox M7 Priest. This way you could made a very early version as used by the US Army in the Tunisian Front, in 1943, and also during the Sicilian/Italian operations, some ones soldiering well into 1945, even without being rebuild / remanufactured.
Some detailing of the sprocket wheels is needed, using real ones photos or replacing it for another more detailed one, especially if a very early (M3 suspension) was made. In my opinion, the sprocket seems to be a little advanced, giving a disproportionate look to the chassis/tracks, mostly due to the shorter length of the hull, so perhaps relocating it a 1mm shorter will help.
Now the hull, as represented is a 57º rolled / welded version, with cast bow MG, narrow hoods for the driver and co-driver, as presented in the 1942-43 production series, which is a good thing, but.
Starting with the nose / transmission cover (tranny), these versions could appear with 3 different types: The early 3 piece bolted one, the rounded cast one piece, and the later cast sharp one, as it appears on the Fujimi's M4, ESCI/Italeri M4A1 just to name a few well know model. The kit represents. all of them in one. So if the shape is very near the late sharp tranny, the presence of the bolted parts, seems to indicate an early one.
So the modeller have 3 alternatives:
# Leaving the kit like that, Who Worries! Keep on smiling :-)
# Cover it, with a lot of sandbags/paraphernalia/stowage, so no one should notice. And if anyone even attempts to look carefully, just give him/her that look :-(!
# Rebuild it!
I took the later approach, so I removed the lines representing the bolted joints, and sanded/carved it until I get the correct shape, for a late sharp tranny - the easiest of them all. With some more shaping, the middle one was made, very like the one presented - wrongly - in the M36 from Nitto/Fujimi. To make the early 3 parts bolted nose, you should reinforced the interior, with plastic card (also some on the exterior would help) and/or epoxy glue (5minute Araldite, for example), so that you could carve it, with their distinct shape. As an alternative you could use one from a Matchbox M7 Priest, a Nitto/Fujimi's M12 or M30 (or perhaps a Airfix M3 ?), as Dugz made in his M4A2 version (using the Matchbox M7), cutting the original, and inserting the new one.
By now, you could have 2 different wheels/bogie arrangements, the M3 and the M4 one that comes with the kit, and also three different noses/trannies. The M3 suspension should only go with the early 3 parts bolted one. This 3 early nose together with the other two were also present in vehicles with the normal M4 suspension.
Continuing with original kit, now going to another area with some problems, the drivers positions or hoods (the protuberances in the frontal plate, and were the hull hatches are).
The ones in the kit are hybrid ones, as while they are of the cast narrow type, which are the correct ones for a M4 and of the short type, typical of the early hulls, with direct vision devices. Unfortunately these are not modelled. Another drawback is that they are more like of the angular welded type, which to my knowledge were never used on a M4, only M4A2.
But this "error" could be a blessing, as with it we could modelled all the different narrow hood types. Simply by rounding the front and edges of the kit's hood, we could modelled a early direct vision one, to go with a early 3 pieces tranny, with M3 suspension, typical of a Tunisian M4. One could modelled easily the vision slips, using the In Action sketch on page 6, as a guide to all this "conversion" carving a small "lip" and inserting a small rectangle of plastic (most of them were welded shut later on 1944). The same hull with 3-piece nose, direct vision narrow hoods, and M4 suspension will made a typical Sicilian/Italian M4, as used by the US Army (the only users of the M4 on Italian Campaign). These direct vision narrow hoods, could also use the later 1 piece cast round tranny, on the Italian battlefields.
Now if one wants a later long narrow hood, with additional periscopes, you should simply glue a piece of plasticard 1,5mm thick (naturally with the same width and height as the front of the hood) in front of it. After that, just use some putty to hide some gaps and round their corners, and add a small rectangle of plastic on the top of the roof, just in front of the driver's hatches, to simulate the added periscopes. A 0,6mm high rectangle will mean an open periscope, and a flat one the retracted one, and voilá a late M4 (some good info on In Action Page 7).
Tanks with long narrow hood could use any type of trannies, but only M4 suspensions. These are also used in the Italy, but not in Tunisia.
Continuing with the hull, one major flaw was the top of it, mostly due to the under sized turret (attention! not on height but on diameter). If one wants to correct it this is a major work, as it will need to clean all detail, use a new turret, the most useful for this version will be the one from Nitto/Fujimi's M4A1, or adding plasticard to the original's sides to correct it. After this, remade, from scratch all the detail, using the plans from In Action. Wonderful, but. In the end, unless you are a "expert" in this kit, and if this area is not clutter with extra stowage, this is hardly noticeable.
And also I'm a modeller and a wargamer, and I game with 1:1 ratio, which is the same to say that one tank in TOE represents 1 tank on the table. My skirmishes are large, as I use entire units/platoons, so I need to model some numbers of vehicles, normally 2 to 3 troops, in the case of the British or 2 platoons in the case of US or German (around 9 to 10 tanks). This means that I always dispense these improvement, leaving the original turret and hull disposition.
The rest of the Hull is correct, needing only to:
# Add a pair of rear Air Cleaner (I cheat always here, using the ones from ESCI/Italeri M4A1 which are the same, but a suitable round (early) square (late) plastic piece will do);
# Adding the front mudguards/sandshields, missing in the original, and a item that normally is present, contrary to the side sandshields which get loose very quickly;
# I also added a little strip of plastic, on the base of the side sponson to replicate the attachment points to these missing side sandshields.
That turret! As I already stated is a little on the small size, in terms of diameter. It represents a typical low bustle turret, with M34 combination gun rotor, so early small frontal shield, without side protectors. In some kit batches, the left-hand side pistol/ejection port is a little malformed, almost passing for the cast bulge on some late low bustle turret. After this, I must only stress that the turret needs only a few improvements, like extra detailing, with the periscopes guards, lifting eyes made from copper wire (also the same on the hull, and the frontal lights and respective guards, altogether missing).
If one wants an early low bustle, some detailing of the pistol port is needed, I have used a replication of a Nitto/Fujimi's M4A1 one, using the plasticine/Araldite technique, on mine. If the choice is a late low bustle you simply remove it. For a early late low bustle, you could simply leave like the original, perhaps doing only some sanding to represent a welded/sealed/cast pistol port.
As mandatory on late low bustle turrets, is the cast in side armour reinforcement, on the side front cheek.
The only other area of major variation, on the turret is the mantlet arrangement. For these, I only have 3 major variations
# The original one from the kit for an Tunisian or early Italian M4;
# Adding side guards (small rectangular plastic pieces) and/or adding an external shield for the CoaxMG, to make another type of early M4 as used on the Italian Theatre;
# 3rd alternative, replace all the shield arrangements by an M34A1 one, the large one. For these, you could "borrow" one from the ESCI/Italeri M4A1 and trimmed it to 1:76, or simple using plasticard. To bend it permanently I moulded around a suitable round surface, like the handle of a large brush, fixing it with some office fixing tape, and emerging it (but not the hand/fingers) on a recipient with boiling water, for some 5 seconds, this will fix the shape of it for good. After this you just added another plastic piece, for the central part, added the side protectors, do the holes for the rivets, sight and CoaxMG and it is finish.
The rest is only a question of improving details all around the model, with perhaps new tools, extra stowage, improved rivets (particularly on the join between the nose and the glacis) and so on.
Before we continue, lets make a state of situation, before speaking of the remanufactured versions:
# A typical Tunisian M4, should use a M3 suspension, with 3-piece bolted nose, direct vision hoods and early low bustle turret with simple M34 mantlet (as on the kit)
# The same version, but with the normal M4 suspension made it debut during the Tunisian Campaign, so this could still be used.
# During the Sicilian/Italian operations, while numbers of the already mentioned versions were still in use until 1945, you could made a M4 with M4 suspension, 3-piece tranny, but with long narrow hood, and the same turret as previously.
# Another variation will be replacing the 3-piece tranny, by an early rounded cast one. These later two are the more typical appearance for a late 1943 or early 1944 M4 in this theatre of operations, with the original M34 mantlet turret or with the variation of the added CoaxMG shield and/or side flanks for the gun.
# The later versions have 1 piece cast tranny, mostly round (as the sharp version seems to appear only in versions with appliqué armour), long narrow hood, and low bustle turret with M34A1 mantlet, most of them, but not all, with appliqué armour on the right hand cheek of the turret.
# Some interesting variations also appear, on the Italian front, with early turrets with appliqué armour. Low bustle turrets, with appliqué armour and M34A1 mantlet or versions with low bustle turrets with cast in side armour reinforcement and M34A1 mantlet, could be found in early hulls, mostly with 3-piece tranny and long narrow hood, so for these just get a picture and .start modelling.
# The very late version, most of them issue during 1944, with 1-piece sharp nose, long narrow hood, with travel lock on the hull glacis (take the one from Fujimi's M4 105mm), late low bustle turret, with cast in side reinforcing, and most of them, if not all, with hull appliqué armour, so we need to look at those remanufactured versions.
MAKING A REMANUFACTURED M4 (not the exact term, but useful for modelling)
The next step, in terms of M4 evolution, was the remanufactured versions. It all started, with the planning of the Overlord operation, and the equipment of the US units, leading to the stocking of vast numbers of AFV and other military equipment. On the case of the M4, this means that a lot of all versions - but not the very early ones with M3 suspension, limited to the Italian front - were stocked in England. At the same time, reports from the front were referring to some problems on the basic design: the famous incendiary feature of the Sherman, and lack of protection when confronted with long barrel German AFVs. At the same time the shot traps presented by the exposed frontal hoods here also studied.
As a stopgap 1" thick appliqué plates were welded over the three sponson ammo bins, two on the right hand side and one on the left. At the same time appliqué armour, mostly made of two separate plates, of the same thickness as the hull was welded on the right hand frontal side of the turret, to protect that side, as the armour there was thinner due to the M3 L/40,5 gun assembly. To negate the exposed frontal hood surface, 1 1/2" thickness armour was welded in front of the driver's hood, at an angle, providing some spaced armour protection. Later, the turret appliqué armour was replaced with the introduction of the late low bustle, with cast in side armour reinforcement, and without the pistol/ejection port on the left-hand rear side.
With time, these modifications were retrofitted on early versions on depots all-around England, with versions with the M34 gun assemblies being replaced by M34A1 one, and all receiving the appliqué armour. This means that in most, if not all, pictures, the US M4 in NW Europe, independent of the version of tranny, hood, or turret, will show a version with appliqué armour and M34A1 mantlet. I only know a picture of no-appliqué armour M4, attributed to the 7th US A.D. on the Bulge, but even so the picture is of bad quality, leaving some doubts about a no-appliqué one.
The very late middle M4 version (the one before the composite/hybrid version) could use a new type of turret, the high bustle one, with reinforced cheek, oval loaders hatch, and pistol port. But until now, only some Fireflies were ID with this combination. Another possible variation, rumoured to be made, in some rebuild workshops, was the fitting of the oval loaders hatch in some late low bustle turrets. Again only pictures of Fireflies were known.
To replicate the appliqué armour I just used 0,33mm or 0,5mm thick plasticard, cut to size, using the plans from the In Action. To simulate the weld seams, a little of liquid glue, will soften the edges, so this could be modelled with the tip of a modelling knife. In case of the welded seam presented on the frontal co-driver appliqué armour, due to the bow MG, a little of stretched sprue (made be approaching a piece of grapple sprue on a flame source and stretched to made a thin plastic rod) softened with liquid glue will due the trick. An advantage of these NW versions is that, with it you don't need to model the direct visions any more as the extra armour will hide these.
By now, you could almost double the M4 variants, simply by making the original ones and also them as remanufactured. And do not forget, that even in smaller numbers, remanufactured versions were also used in the Italian front, sometimes side-by-side with early ones.
To finish the model just (propositions):
# Drop a lot of stowage, using the spares box or using the ones from SHQ or MMS;
# Chicken wire, made it with some stretched sprue glued on the hull and Turret, and after that I glued tulle, the one with hexagonal pattern, over the sprue;
# A Culling Hedgerow/Douglas Device, better known as Rhino, made using evergreen H-beam, T-beam or some ESCI tank obstacles;
# Extra tracks for extra protection - not a typical US feature, more a British & Commonwealth one;
# Boxes, mostly from 0,50" MG ammo, welded on the rear of the turret and/or hull for extra stowage, even on late 44/early 45, one on the rear hull for a field telephone, on the rear of the M4, for fast communication with the infantry;
# Sandbags, mostly on the front, but also sometimes on the sides of the Hull and/or turret, some with complex external structures;
# Logs and/or wood planks, to be used as soft standing armour against the dreaded Panzerfaust, on the front and sides
# Paint it with OD (for the NW ETO), and perhaps also using Black as secondary camouflage colour.
WHO'S WHO ON M4
The major users of the M4 were the US Army, particularly on the Armored Divisions, and independent Tank Battalions, mostly attached to the Inf. Div., either in Tunisia, Italy and NW ETO.
The British and Commonwealth (and the Poles) do not use M4 during the Mediterranean Campaign, relying mostly on the M4A2, M4A4, with some numbers of M4A1. The only rolled armour/welded M4 in Italy were Fireflies late on the campaign.
In the beginning of the NW Campaign, all US Armoured units used M4 and M4A1, due to their identical engine, this include the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th Arm. Div. and a lot of independent Tank Battalions. In this case most, if not all, of the M4 have appliqué armour. After September 1944, some of these units, started receiving as replacements M4A3, mostly M4A3(75)W and M4A3(76)W, but the 2nd and 3rd used mostly M4 and M4A1, later with some M4A3, until the end of the hostilities.
The British and Commonwealth, use some numbers of rolled armour/welded hulls M4s, almost exclusively on the British 33rd Armoured Brigade. When the rolled armour/welded M4 Fireflies started to appear, they were release to all units, side by side with 75mm M4A4 and M4A2, and similar armed M4A4, while independent Brig./Bat., as the Poles and Czech use mostly the M4A2 with M4A4.In Free French units (particularly interesting due to their colourful markings) a miscellany of versions were used, mostly M4A2, M4A4, M4A3 and even some very few M4A1 (including at least a very early with direct visions and M3 bogies in 1945!) but no M4 (indeed only a M4 Composite.
NOW HOW TO MODEL A BRITISH/COMMONWEALTH M4?
The British units only used M4 with appliqué armour, using any combination, as on the case of US units. The only variation has to do with stowage. Almost all M4, if not all Shermans, in British/Commonwealth service receive:
# On versions without the 2" smoke mortar, two British standard smoke discharges were welded, on the turret right hand side, as is visible on the M4c sketch posted on the files section;
# An extra box, on the rear of the turret, welded or fixed on the rear bustle. In the Mediterranean (only M4A2 & M4A4), most of these "boxes" seems to be old Crusader stowage boxes, with their distinct oval section shape, reused by the crews. So just get a Airfix Crusader, and copy the stwage box, or look at some pictures - this is the part were the Militaria Hors-Serie is useful. On NW Europe, these are of a different pattern, almost similar to the radio box on the back of the Firefly. To replicate this one I made a box, rectangular in section, with the same width and some 1mm higher as the rear bustle, from plasticard, using real ones as inspiration and guide. In some cases I have made, with plastic strip, the supports while in others I simply glue it to the bustle, simulating a welded one.
#In the case of a Canadian unit, another variation was present in some Shermans (but not the M4.) were this box is a little less higher on the rear, creating a small inclination on the horizontal top deck, but while I remember it well, I did get any picture to show it.
AND WHAT ABOUT A M4C OR FIREFLY?
For this I only made a few extra modifications, beyond those already stated for a Commonwealth M4:
# I just use a gun and mantlet from a Matchbox Firefly, if this is not available you must scratch-build it;
# I replace the original gun rotor - the one were the gun with short shield will be inserted on the kit - by a new one, in my case, as on the picture posted some time ago on this group, using a Airfix T34 external fuel tank, cut in half and adapted;
# Made the adaptations to a early low bustle turret, with appliqué armour, or a late low bustle, without pistol/ejection port and cast in reinforced cheek;
# In case of an early version, I replicate in Araldite (but any epoxy resin/glue will do) the loaders hatch from the Matchbox one, and glue it on this kit. On a late version, one could convert this low bustle into a high bustle..???? Or just simply convert it into a rebuild version with an oval loaders hatch, taken from the Fujimi's M4 105:
# The last, but most important item, the rear radio box, was replicated, in plasticard using the Matchbox as pattern, but with the size/width adapted to the Airfix (the problems of that undersize turret.), and doing all the top detail.
# The M4c Firefly, also use a new box on the right rear, as presented in the sketch posted in the files section.
Now, as usual, only some extra detail and your on.
One of the characteristics of British & Commonwealth M4, and Shermans on general, was the large amount of stowage on the tanks, making them a lot more "sexy" than US ones. So: extra ammo boxes, for the MG, fixed or welded on the turret rear and/or hull; bedrolls, blankets & backpacks; Extra tracks (in some cases, a lot of tracks.), extra wheels, on the front to work a extra armour; Hessian camouflage (I use used dry tea leaves, from some tea bags to do the trick), and so on.
I hope this could help you into modelling some extra M4, perhaps now someone could drop a line about painting, colours, and some extra shading techniques on these lovely AFV.
Have fun modelling. and my next "reincarnation" will be converting the Airfix M4 into a 57º M4A2 (lot of users, variations.and headaches) and into a M4A3 (OK, I know that the Matchbox M4A4 is the perfect beginning, but, with the lack of this.)
© José Ventura, Portugal