by: Robert Card [ ]
Originally published on:
historyThe Seabees were very instrumental in developing numerous conversions and adaption’s learning from every D-Day landing throughout the Pacific. One of those is the 55 gallon barrel wading stacks (See Photo 1). In particular is the 25th Construction Battalion which first developed the waders for the M4A2 Sherman tanks of the 3rd Tank Battalion to be used at the battle of Guam. And used also by the 3rd Tank Battalion during the battle of Iwo Jima.
the kit Tank Workshop released a conversion add on set of these 55 gallon waders, consisting of 6 separate resin pieces. (See Photo 2) 1 piece representing the forward intake root piece with its 55 gallon drum and 3 separate exhaust pieces with its corresponding 55 gallon drum. Each piece is excellently molded with little no bubbles or cracks appearing in the resin, fitting together snugly. Each drum has a bit of flash to be removed and I also recommend that the lip on the outside of the drum be removed from this side. This will allow the drum to slide into its location easily. The remaining resin casting blocks are located for easy removal. The inside of the intake root piece also has the area where the drum fits into it molded to represent the engine access doors under it, which allows construction of the piece, without the drum, as sometimes can be seen in period photos. You can also elect not to install the rear barrel but the exhaust part number 4 is a solid piece. However, as can be seen in photo 3 there is a screen mounted over the hole and will help cover this area but must be provided by the modeler. The Instructions are clear and precise, (Photos 2a and 2b) and the construction requires the removal and replacement of some of the kit parts.
While researching the use of these waders I noticed a problem between the way the stacks are to be mounted as constructed by TWS. On every photo reference I could find concerning these stacks as used on Guam and Iwo Jima, each rear stack was mounted directly onto the rear plate of the tank and not slightly away as developed by the TWS. On photo 1 which is a photo of the field trials of the stacks, you will notice that the rear barrel is almost touching the rear plate. In this photo (Photo 3) there is no discernable gap between the stack and rear plate and in this photo (Photo 4) for Iwo Jima it can clearly be seen that no gap exists at all and the stack was welded to the plate. I presented my question to the TWS and they were kind enough to respond:
The master maker for this kit based his references from the tech manual TM 9-2853 Preparation of Ordnance Material for Deep Water Fording. I have included a few of the pages from that manual that show the wading kit for the M4A2 and one of the M4A1 top view. With 0034A being a field mod one can only assume how the mechanics fabricated the upper exhaust stack but if it was made to mate with the lower pan adapter it would protrude out at an angle and not contact the hull. With the standard issue wading kit of all Shermans the upper exhaust stack stood off the rear hull so this is why 0034A was designed as it would more than likely have stood off the hull a few inches. Take care
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(See photos 5, 6,7and 8)
I understand how they arrived at their decision to develop their product as they did. Not every photo I found showed exactly how the rear stack was mounted, and some showed a quantity of stowage hiding this area. But in every photo where this location can be clearly seen the stack is attached to the rear plate. I could not find a single photo showing the gap as suggested by the TWS.
Conclusion The bottom line is that the Tank Workshop conversion kit for these type wading stacks does not conform to the period photos and a decision is needed by the modeler to determine which way the kit should be finished. The kit itself is an excellent addition the growing selections available for constructing a USMC WWII M4A2. I am in the process of installing this kit modified and will update this review when I can determine the proper way of adapting this kit to be mounted on the rear plate.