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RMASG Sherman V 'Fox' in Normandy?

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  • Member since
    November, 2011
RMASG Sherman V 'Fox' in Normandy?
Posted by Alte Hase on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:09 AM

Hi everyone,

As the title says, I'm reasearching a Sherman V of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group on D-Day, that carried the name 'Fox'. 

A photo of just the front of this vehicle is in the public domain (i tried unsuccessfully to attach a copy to this thread), but I'm trying to find out if anyone knows the 'T' number that this vehicle carried? 

I've seen a few models of it, and one of these had 'T-228378' but I'm not sure where the builder got that number from? 

Does anyone know if 'Fox' was indeed T-228378? 

Thanks so much!

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Thursday, December 21, 2017 10:13 AM

Is this the pic you mean.

Peddinghaus does a set of 1/16th decals for that but it does not include the T number. At a guess, the guy who added the T number to his model either just guessed it or found it in some records.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

On the bench: AFV Club 1/35th Sd.Kfz 251/4 AusfC

  • Member since
    November, 2011
Posted by Alte Hase on Thursday, December 21, 2017 12:51 PM

Thanks! Yeah, that's the photo. I have the Star Decals set for this machine in 1:35th scale and also no T number. An excellent set of decals though.

I was also thinking that the guy who built it came up with the number T-228378 randomly but was just wondering if there was anyone who can tell me if this number is likely to have been correct, possibly if it exists in records somewhere or is an educated guess?

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Thursday, December 21, 2017 2:56 PM

I guess if you did enough digging and had access to the right records you could find out. But that would be a lot of work. Unfortunatly you may have just one image of a vehicle, and thats if your lucky. I think a lot of the kit decals, especially for vehicles, are guess work. I have built kits of German subjects that include the registration plate, but none of the pics i can find show it.

The good thing is of course, if you can't find a pic to prove if that is the number, chances are no one else can find one to prove it isn't.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

On the bench: AFV Club 1/35th Sd.Kfz 251/4 AusfC

  • Member since
    November, 2011
Posted by Alte Hase on Thursday, December 21, 2017 3:41 PM

[quote The good thing is of course, if you can't find a pic to prove if that is the number, chances are no one else can find one to prove it isn't.[/quote]

Well said!

  • Member since
    August, 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:16 PM

If you can't verify, you could always do a whimsical number, using your birthdate.  Mil. style, day - month - year, two digits each.

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Friday, December 22, 2017 1:55 AM

goldhammer

If you can't verify, you could always do a whimsical number, using your birthdate.  Mil. style, day - month - year, two digits each.

 

Ye, thats a good idea, will make it unique to you.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

On the bench: AFV Club 1/35th Sd.Kfz 251/4 AusfC

  • Member since
    November, 2011
Posted by Alte Hase on Friday, December 22, 2017 2:17 AM

Nice idea but I'm a bit of an accuracy nut...

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Peter Smith on Friday, December 22, 2017 11:31 AM

Might I suggest enquiries to the RM Museum, D Day Museum and The Tank Museum?

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Friday, December 22, 2017 11:35 AM

MMP Books has a 'work in progress' pdf file of Commonwealth armoured vehicles, and though they do have FOX listed, there is no known associated WD number.  The number used on that build example also is not found on that PDF list, so they probably  made a safe guesstimate.

http://mmpbooks.biz/mmp/tables/Vehicle_Names_V4.pdf

--------------------

There is also one other known photo of FOX, but even blown up can't really make out the number:

 

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Friday, December 22, 2017 11:49 AM

Right I found this, so the number is actually from a decal set from Bison- now known as Star Decals.

 

http://www.star-decals.net/35-C1020.html

This second incarnation looks to be without the WD number, though they do provide one for another vehicle of no.5 battery?

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    November, 2011
Posted by Alte Hase on Friday, December 22, 2017 4:49 PM

Thanks so much for the very much appreciated info Jack!

Yeah, I have the Star Decals set and there is no WD number for 'Fox' but I was interested to learn that the number was present in the old Bison decal set.

 

That second photo is great-thank you for posting it! 

I think it would be safe to say that that number is unreadable and could be just about anything...I'll try to magnify/enlarge it and see if i can use a filter or something to make out some of those digits. 

 

Thanks once again for the greatly appreciated help!

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, December 22, 2017 4:55 PM

Hello!

I know it's a pain, but sometimes you just have to live with it... Research as good as you can, and then, after your deadline passes, just go with some random number or just good dusting...

Like you might start building the model and research in parallel - and when the the time comes to put the decals on, and you still don't have the right numbers - well just go with wrong ones!

Good luck with your builds and have a nice day

PaweĊ‚

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Peter Smith on Sunday, December 24, 2017 3:56 AM

Peddinghaus do a set including Fox in 1/35 (someone above said 1/16), which I have.  That has no T number for Fox either.

I found that the old Bison sets yellowed over time in the packet (and on the model??), which is a big problem for the turret markings.  Star don't seem to suffer that problem.

The production period for Fox, and possibly other RMASG Shermans, was narrow.  It's a non-DV hull but still has the narrow M34 mantlet.  Chrysler eliminated the DV slots in Nov 42 and transitioned to the M34A1 mount in Feb 43.  So Fox must have been built in that 2-4 month period, although building and shipping are not necessarily contiguous.  But that's still a possible run of about 2,600 vehicles, of which 274 were for Free France.

Assuming that shipping was not unduly delayed, the serials T147191-148162 were allocated to M4A4 received in 1942-43, straddling the likely production period.  The next group of M4A4 numbers in 1943 was T148269-148859, followed by T148901-150724.

So T228378 as in the Bison set was NOT an M4A4 number, which is perhaps why Johann eliminated it from the Star re-release.  22-series M4A4 numbers started at 228470.

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Sunday, December 24, 2017 12:38 PM

Hello Peter, excellent info there - is this only found in books, or would you have any web links regarding Sherman serials?

Going by what you have presented here, then the new serial provided by Star Decal T147535 is correct.  It actually is also found in the pdf file I linked above and has the nickname WARSPITE.  ww2talk also mentions this particular vehicle:

http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/royal-marines-armoured-support-regiment-2rmas-juno-d-day.50802/page-2

 

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Sunday, December 24, 2017 12:50 PM

Sound good info there indeed. I think the fact that Star put a T number on one tank but not on Fox is proof they could not find an image either.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

On the bench: AFV Club 1/35th Sd.Kfz 251/4 AusfC

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Peter Smith on Sunday, December 24, 2017 2:51 PM

Actually, all that info came off the Sherman Minutia site so I can't take any credit. http://the.shadock.free.fr/sherman_minutia/manufacturer/m4a4/m4a4_variants.html

The M4A4 is perhaps better documented on that site compared to some of the other variants, and being a single manufacturer only there are fewer variations and clearer transitions so the production window was easier to establish.  Fox is clearly not one of the 1600 or so re-manufactured ex-US training vehicles, and is clearly a new build.

I just thought I'd see if I could place the old Bison number in the right range: which of course it wasn't. 

I would imagine the RMASG M4 numbers would have been close to each other if they were issued as a group new.  The Warspite number implies that she was built in the same time frame as Fox, and was therefore probably the same build standard.

I read somewhere - can't remember where - that the RMASG M4s were "tired tanks", probably ex training unit, bearing in mind that originally they were not intended to be landed.  That might imply that they were an assorted collection, although all were A4s but may not have been all the same build standard.  They were certainly not line issue tanks as they didn't have any of the applique patches retro-fitted.

It's always intrigued me why the control tanks were M4s and not more Centaurs or even Cavaliers, both of which came in OP variants and were redundant as gun tanks.  M4s were useful, and replacement A4s were in short supply by mid-44 in NWE even with the remanufactured ones.

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Sunday, December 24, 2017 3:09 PM

Peter, the RMASG was not formed until 44, so given the dates you listed, it would make sense they were not issued straight to them. So they could have come from other units, maybe when they were upgraded to newer models, or as you say from training units.

I am guessing the group was just given what was laying around. They were dispanded 2 weeks after D-Day, so i guess they only wanted somthing to help get the Marines onto the beach, rather than something that was going to face the best of the German armour.

''I am a Norfolk man, and i glory in being so''

On the bench: AFV Club 1/35th Sd.Kfz 251/4 AusfC

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Sunday, December 24, 2017 11:31 PM

Thanks Peter, I'm familiar with that Sherman site, but did not know it had that kind of information, but now I do.

As to why the 20 odd Shermans were added to this marine group, probably because they were the most abundant vehicle available at that time.  As I understand it, these were regular tanks with an extra radio added, known as Sherman Command.

Anyhow, a photo of Warspite also exists:

 

regards,

Jack

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Peter Smith on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 3:50 PM

I have a Dragon M4A4 and a bunch of parts in the stash waiting to become an RMASG tank - at some point in the next century it will take me to work through the stash!

One question I haven't found the answer to is whether the M4s were fitted with any part of the wading trunking.  Some of the Centaurs were wadeproofed, but not all.  I can't see any other signs of wadeproofing on any of the few RMASG photos, so I'm assuming not.  I keep looking at the Resicast lower rear trunking set, but it's at least £15 with shipping and potentially an expensive waste.

Something that has always mystified me is the alignment of the traversing marks with 180 at the front.  It makes no sense to me.  By default, a ship's head is always 0 for relative bearings and 180 would be dead astern.  These tanks faced forwards and so in the naval gunfire direction manner firing directly over the bows would be 0, not 180, and the numbers would go from 0 to 180 on each side.  That's how I would expect fire to be directed at targets visible to a fire director on the ship: "target bearing Green 20, Red 15 etc".  I assume therefore that they were for compass bearings for indirect fire missions from ashore rather than bearings for direct fire relative to the ship, with the assumption that they would be facing roughly South when approaching the beaches.  But unless the ship was anchored or beached with the tanks aligned exactly on the 0-180 N-S axis, the bearings were inaccurate and usless anyway unless an alignment correcting mark was made on the hull.  At the max range of the 95mm (4.5 miles), 1 degree out is a miss by about 140 yards.  Were the control tanks issued with compasses with which the commander could take direct fire bearings for the Centaurs?  Or did he lay on himself and then pass that bearing to the Centaurs?

Note that Warspite has the M34A1 mantlet but doesn't appear to have the thickened turret cheek and certainly doesn't have the applique patch, so she was probably built in March or April 43 before the patch became a factory fit - somewhat later than Fox: could be a couple of weeks, could be the best part of 5 months.  I said that they may not all have been a uniform build standard.  So her T number will most probably have been higher than Fox and almost certainly not from the 42-43 batch.

Interesting that Warspite shows a certain slackness of track.  Notice the bumps where the top run passes over the return rollers and the slight drops in front of the idler and behind the sprocket.  Very unusual on an M4.  Either the track is well stretched and due to have a link or 2 removed or the bogie springs are well sagged.  Both imply a well-used tank in need of a bit of maintenance.

On the subject of tracks, those are either T54E2 or T62 steel chevron.

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 12:00 AM

Peter, those are a lot of good questions. 

For the wading trunks, I wouldn't spend exra money on that unless you want to display the whole thing.  Scratch building some remnant of it on the rear should be good enough.  I would have to assume the RMSG Shermans had them too, since they would be none too sure the landing craft would make it safely all the way to a dry beach.

When I was researching the Canadian Sherbrooke Fusiliers, they were a reserve tank regiment, landing only at noon on June 6th.  Photos do indicate they were equipped with wading trunks.  Note too, the shape at the sides is simpler, not angular like in many other photos.

regards,

Jack

 

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Peter Smith on Thursday, December 28, 2017 10:03 AM

Wadeproofed M4s normally showed other signs if the trunking can't be seen.  The Bostik sealant, for example - which would probably still be visible after the short time RMASG spent ashore.  Looks like vestiges of it around the mantlet in the top photo: Fireflies didn't have canvas covers either, IIRC.  Canvas mantlet covers wouldn't have been possible for RMASG anyway because of the aiming marks.  Not all Centaurs were done - presumably no time once the decision to land had been made and the tanks re-engined.  

I wish that outfits like Critical Past would wake up to the fact that they can't copyright photos they didn't take or for which they have not explicitly acquired the rights to the original prints or negatives from the rightful owner - the person who took it or his descendants, or the State if he was an official photographer.  Any photo from 1944 is still copyright to the owner's descendants, but will be copyright free in 2019.   Unless it's Crown Copyright when the Crown owns it until 2069.

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Thursday, December 28, 2017 1:44 PM

There is a photo of an RMSG Sherman on the beach at Bernières, and it clearly shows it has aiming marks and a canvas cover over the gun manlet.  I can't find the image on the free web, but is found here, and you will have to sign up if you want to see the larger image link:

http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/royal-marines-armoured-support-regiment-2rmas-juno-d-day.50802/page-2

There is also this photo of a Centaur, which also looks to have a cover around he mantlet:

One frustrating thing is pinning down dates, of which I cannot find any as to when Centaurs had their engines placed back in their hulls.  I've seen one comment where their unit history makes no mention about this, and best I could find is late spring when it was acknowledge that they should have capability to operate on the ground.   There is also a gaming site, stating the crews had several months to prepare thier vehicles for the invasion:

https://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=481

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Thursday, December 28, 2017 1:52 PM

Oh one more thing, was giving some thought as to why 180 degrees was at the front of the tank turrets.  Could be this was based on the general direction the assault was heading - south - so the numerical increments represent the compass?

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    September, 2016
Posted by Peter Smith on Friday, December 29, 2017 5:38 AM

So it seems that however long they had to prepare, the extent of preparation was variable between being fully prepared and almost entirely unprepared.  I wonder if that can be tied to sub-unit or beach?  Did any of the 3 UK - Canadian beaches shelve at such an angle that full wadeproofing would have been unnecessary?  With the COPP surveys this would have been known.  Sandbars and deeper water between were a worry at some beaches.

I hadn't seen the Sherman with the mantlet cover, but I don't pretend to have researched extensively yet as the model is a long way off being built.  I was planning a double build with a Centaur.  That would certainly have obstucted some aiming marks unless they were repainted on the canvas.  It mattered less on the Centaurs because the marks continued above the mantlet opening.  The canvas cover implies rear trunking too.

Regarding having 180 at the front, the only explanation that makes sense is the one assuming a South-facing approach to the beaches with fire directed by compass bearing Army-style rather than by bearing relative to the ship's head Navy-style.  But unless the ship and vehicles were lined up exactly on the North-South axis they would have been inaccurate.  The only solution here would have been to take a bearing correction sighting once static and make a corrected 180/0 mark near the turret ring to line up on.  That in turn required someone outside the tank - but then , thinking about it, someone had to be outside the tank anyway as the marks were entirely invisible to the gunner or to the commander in his cupola.  Or was that the co-driver's job through his open hatch?

Realising how little I know about this - and that it very clearly isn't as simple as building an M4A4, painting it OD and whacking on a decal set with a gallon of MicroSol - I've put in a request to go down to the RM Museum and do some focussed research.  I would hope, though, that others have trodden that path already.  The Museum is actually closed at the moment and is re-locating from Eastney Barracks to the main RN Museum in the Dockyard to re-open next year.  So it may be some time before access is possible.  Bovington is another possibility - I'm a Friend there - but I suspect anything RMASG-related is probably in with general M4 material and probably a lot harder to identify.

Re-fitting the Centaur engines would have been a major workshop job and would have taken some time to do, supporting the argument for reasonable preparation time.  Don't forget, they had engine bays configured for the Liberty with the rear radiators.  Those engines were gone and Meteors were re-fitted - with front radiators and the top deck vent.  While the A27 series was designed to take either engine, it wasn't a drop-in replacement: the engine bay had to be gutted and re-fitted.  An awful lot of spare parts were needed to make this happen and there were no conversion kits.  So technically they came out of the process as a sub-variant of the Cromwell VI, but as an essentially "field" conversion no new designation was given.

There has long been debate about Centaur colour, SCC2 or SCC15 or some of each, but the M4s would certainly have been in US OD.

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Friday, December 29, 2017 10:15 AM

Peter, hope you can make that trip to the RM Museum, and post your findings here.  In the meantime you could join the UK based WW2talk forum (unless you are already a  member?) as they are a pretty knowledgeable group, and includes war veterans.

I'm not sure just how much was known about beach conditions, but assuming they were striving for the perfect landing, (ie. dry beach sand) it would still have been a good precaution to have some wading capability just in case the landing craft was disabled before it could reach it's objective?  As I understand it, maximum depth with the trunks deployed was water level below the turret base.  The trunks weren't not intended to be a snorkel device, but only to prevent salt spray from entering the engines.

regards,

Jack

 

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Friday, December 29, 2017 2:03 PM

Peter Smith
I wish that outfits like Critical Past would wake up to the fact that they can't copyright photos they didn't take



Their contention will be that the digital "sharpening" of the images represents a change of greater than 26%, and therefore the resultant content is new, and deserving of a present copyright.

IP law is somewhat unique in that one's 'common sense" has to be tempered with the ways and means of modern technology.

Similarly, a person can take public domain 16mm motion picture photography and line double it to "HD" quality, and express a copyright upon the "new" content thus created.

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Friday, December 29, 2017 2:39 PM

Back in the days of using ranging marks for naval gunfire, certain assumptions were presumed.

Like clear visibility to the next unit in a given squadron.

Further, that the next unit in line would be no more than dead abeam (90º left or right of Leader).  That, most typically, additional units would be ecshelloned behind and to the sides of the Lead.

To that end, turret markings are reversed vice whatever agreed aiming index was chosen.  This allows direct reading of train angle.  So, if the Lead is trained 32º to left of center, the turret markings will show a corresponding 32º angle.

Now, given that a "range clock" is not included, how trailing units were meant to match gun tube elevation is an open question.

Which then suggests the markings were, in fact, spurious, a bit of bravado, well within the espirit de corps of the Marines.

Now, in battleship era (spark telegraphy and coal smoke), "reading" squadron firing orders was  atad simpler.  The aftermost turret was the one typically indexed.  That index was normal to the turret face.  Which was automatically reversed in the after turret.  The aft-facing "range clock" then giving gun elevation information.  All of which is also modified by Formatio nand Corpen flag hoists.

The flagship generates a firing solution for the present enemy.  Let's say that the decision is made is that each ship in the squadron will close to 22,000 yards, turn 35º starboard to better uncover the guns, and engage.  So, the clock is set to indicate the 22,000 yard range, the after turret trained to the firing bearing, and a flag hoist of "CORPEN, THREE, FIVE" is made up.

This is rather different from tank warfare, where a squad of tanks will need to nagigate bocage or hills and swales and standing structures.

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