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743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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Crock8
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 8:03 pm
Post subject: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

I recently re-read a book titled Hell has no heroes.
This is a thinly fictionalised account of one of the 743rd tanks (#7) (2nd Platoon, B Company) named Barbara
This time I got the bright idea of doing a model of the tank, which now appears to be not so bright.

I actually had the idea several years ago when I read the book the first time, so this time I was noting any mentions about the tank itself to help identify which version of the M4 it was.

This time around I also tried to do research to possibly find out what tanks were issued to the 743rd before D-Day. While I wasn't able to confirm this, it seems the tanks were M4s "mid-production" (converted to DDs).

The next question was on what kit to choose.
I am not a dedicated modeller, though I had built a few in my younger years, and now do about one 1/35 kit every three years, the current being a T-34.
I wouldn't have minded either 1/72 or 1/35, though 1/35 is of course less forgiving.

After reading online, I came to realisation that to build a 1/72 model I would need to purchase two kits, one of the Dragon 1/72 M4 75mm w/Deep Wading Kit - Normandy #7367 version that would be 'fixed' with an engine deck from a not-so-good Trumpeter (07223) M4.

The 1/35 kit is available only from Dragon 1/35 6511 M4 Sherman 75mm "Normandy". To me the kit is intimidating with over 600 parts! And this without the crew, though there is no shortage of third party sets.

I was wondering if anyone could suggest other alternatives in the 1/72 scale, and also a good set of crew figures, as I would like to do a small diorama, with four crewmen and Andre, a character from the book that was the stand in French Resistance bow gunner.
There seems to be a shortage of third party crew sets on the market though.
It seems I will also need to change the wheels on the Dragon 1/72 kit to cast?

So it seems that the 1/35 kit would be a straight build but with a lot of parts, a more demanding overall project, while the 1/72 would be less demanding as a whole, but with more conversion and fixing of the basic kit involved.

Lastly, and this is beyond my scratch building skills, but the very prominent feature of the tank in the book were the propellers left over from its DD conversion that it retained until Germany, and which were used to hang a field phone off to talk with infantry. Are there 1/72 and/or 1/35 conversion kits sold that provide these propellers? What would the field phone look like?

Thank you in advance for the relies.

Greg
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binder001
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 7:27 am
Post subject: Re: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

"Hell Has No Heroes" (originally published as "Barbara") was written by a veteran of the 743rd Tank Bn. A really good read on what it might have been like to actually be a US tanker in the ETO.

One problem with modelling "Barbara" from the book - the tank is described as an M4 but the US Army's DD conversions were all built on M4A1s, with a few hull variations. The book describes the M4A1s as coming later, but the author reversed history in that case. I am also curious about the author having "Barbara" carry its propellors until VE Day. Many photos of ex-DD tanks in action show that the props were removed along with the screens. Even though the props could be declutched and raised out of the way they would still interfere with engine maintenance and some cross-country movement.
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Kurt_Laughlin
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 9:33 am
Post subject: Re: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

I have found that most wartime accounts - even some technical ones - use M4 and M4A1 interchangeably. Alternatively they use M4A1 to describe the 76mm or HVSS models.

There were several DDs that kept their screens (props??) until spring '45 as there are photos in several of Steve Z's books from March and April. So . . . possible, but not common.

KL
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Smashy
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 12:50 pm
Post subject: Re: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

- Kurt_Laughlin
There were several DDs that kept their screens (props??) until spring '45 as there are photos in several of Steve Z's books from March and April. So . . . possible, but not common.

KL


You have to remember that Company C, 736th Tank Battalion, was re-equipped with 17 DD tanks and was attached to the 743d Tank Battalion for the support of the 30th Infantry Division of the Ninth Army in their Rhine crossing operations on 24 March 1945 and any actually with DD equipment are likely to be from this unit and not the 743rd.

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Crock8
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 6:23 am
Post subject: Re: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

- binder001
"Hell Has No Heroes" (originally published as "Barbara") was written by a veteran of the 743rd Tank Bn. A really good read on what it might have been like to actually be a US tanker in the ETO.

One problem with modelling "Barbara" from the book - the tank is described as an M4 but the US Army's DD conversions were all built on M4A1s, with a few hull variations. The book describes the M4A1s as coming later, but the author reversed history in that case. I am also curious about the author having "Barbara" carry its propellors until VE Day. Many photos of ex-DD tanks in action show that the props were removed along with the screens. Even though the props could be declutched and raised out of the way they would still interfere with engine maintenance and some cross-country movement.


Yes, the one set of decals for the unit says its for an M4A1
I think the suggestion is that the propellers were kept for their memory's sake of the beach landings. A sort of status symbol in the battalion of "the originals"

Greg
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Crock8
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 6:26 am
Post subject: Re: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

- Kurt_Laughlin
I have found that most wartime accounts - even some technical ones - use M4 and M4A1 interchangeably. Alternatively they use M4A1 to describe the 76mm or HVSS models.

There were several DDs that kept their screens (props??) until spring '45 as there are photos in several of Steve Z's books from March and April. So . . . possible, but not common.

KL


The author is adamant his tank had a 75mm
I don't think it would have been possible to keep the screens from Normandy to Germany, unless you refer to the frame attached to the hull?
Weren't other units issued with more DD tanks for the river crossings at a later stage? I read somewhere there were many more tanks converted to DD role because it was thought that Normandy may fail and the would try elsewhere.
Greg
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binder001
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 6:52 am
Post subject: Re: 743rd Independent tank battalion (US Army)

According to information that I received from back in the 1970's, Firestone Tire and Rubber was contracted to build 350 Duplex Drive conversion kits for the US Army. These were fitted to M4A1 tanks at Lima Tank Depot. The tanks were used by the 70th, 741st and 743rd Tank Battalions (two companies from each) for Operation Neptune. There were three battalions in Italy provided with DD tanks for Operation Dragoon. Some US DDs were used by British and Canadian units for Neptune. A few DDs were found or refurbished for the Rhine crossings in 1945, but there weren't as many US M4A1 DDs as desired so some British Sherman III DDs (M4A2s) were also acquired for US use.

As far as keeping the screws (props) for "memories sake - remember that they offer a significant impediment to accessing the rear of the tank. Those doors in the rear were used frequently to service the radial engine. If I was a young tanker in WW2, after the second time that I hit my head on those props they would be lying in a French ditch somewhere :-).
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