Sherman M4A4 Restoration Part 12: The Turret

Next thing to do is the turret. As with most restorations, the first thing to do is dismantle it. As previously mentioned, the breech ring was missing so it was a simple matter to pull the tube out from the bottom.

Both the mantlet and the shield are held in with slot head countersunk screws, the mantlet using four 5/8″ NF and the shield lots of 3/4″ NF. These can be tricky to unscrew! I made a large bit from an impact extension to fit in my 1″ drive air spanner. Luckily every screw came out though I did have to re-make the tool a couple of times.

The turret did not require a great deal of work as there was almost no damage. I replaced the bracket for the smoke bomb throwers and rear box mounts but the rest of the work was limited to the insides. Some of the stowage fittings needed work but the main thing was the Thomson SMG magazine clips. These had all but rotted away so I removed the holder, made all new clips (after making tooling) and rivetted them back before refitting the holder.

With the turret ready for blasting, I cleaned off as much of the excess paint as possible and some writing became visible. With a bit of work the name Gainsborough became clear.

I’m still not sure but I believe this indicates post war service with 79th Armd. Div as they were using DD tanks with names such as Grimsby and Gosport painted in the same type in the same location. With the DD tanks named after ports, it seems reasonable to assume the non DD tanks might be named after inland towns……?

I blast cleaned the turret in two goes, inside first this was simply to make it more manageable.

Finish painted.

With the turret ready, I fitted it to the ring. The two are held together with 40 1/2″ bolts and located on two short dowels.

The other main parts of the turret are the cupola and of course, the gun assembly. The cupola doors had been cut out many years ago and allthough I managed to find the original doors, the ring itself needed the hinge bosses built up. I also fitted new bushes using plastic, the originals being similar to Metalastik bushes. This also applied to the pistol port in the side of the turret.

I stripped the cradle and shield down into the various parts, blast cleaned and painted, all very straightforward other than the weight of the pieces.

I reassembled the pieces ready to refit, including the tube and ring. I also fitted the recoil shield which needed a lot of work . The shield was to prevent a crew member being behind the gun on recoil.

A call to the crane again for refitting the gun assembly. Once in, there is not much room in the turret for fitting out, so I tried to do as much as possible inside beforehand.

That completed the main parts, all that was left was finishing.

Part 13 – Finishing Off