Sherman M4A4 Restoration Part 7: The Hull

c2f6e62a2c18069d5ccdd5170dcb9a7cAs I mentioned, I spent several years getting bits together, the single most expensive was new track and roadwheels. However, the wheels turned out to be less good than I had been led to believe but more on that later.

I also spent some time getting the vehicles identity. M4A4s have the vehicle serial number stamped on each towing lug, this gave me 5271, identifying when it was built. There is a correlation between the serial number and the USA reg. number. Mine worked out as 3057081 and some carefull paint removal revealed this.

The British number was allocated in blocks with no record or way of working it out so I was pleased to find this.

The first job was removal of the turret to allow the stripping of the interior. The turret is held to the ring with 40 1/2″ bolts so easy to remove though a bit of a lump at 4 1/2 tons.

The gun looks short as the breech ring was missing and the tube had slid back. As can be seen, it is the early M34 mount with the narrow mantlet and no tube protector ears.
Removing the turret allows a good view into the fighting compartment, not a pretty site!

Next to come out is the turret basket. That was even worse!

It was all there, just in very poor condition.

Further parts removal left the inside empty. In this overhead view, you can see the two areas of damage. Top left is a penetration through the sponson floor and bottom right is the crack due to the distortion in the lower side.

A closer view of the damage.

The hole just required a new section of sponson floor and a repair to the bulkhead.

The other damage was much more extensive. A 3 feet section of lower side had to be removed, together with half of the engine bulkhead and 9 feet of sponson floor. I left the transmission assembly in for all of this to retain some hull integrity at the front.

This is after the repair. I had to buy in a piece of 1 1/2″ plate for the lower side and machine the top edge to match the existing plate. I was very pleased with the result, it is not possible to see the join in the side now.

With the repairs completed, I removed the transmission assembly, another 4 1/2 ton lump and carried out all the small repairs to bracketry, stowage and fittings. I tried to reuse as much original material as possible.

It was now September 2001 and ready for sandblasting.

Part 8 – blasting the hull