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Backdated Nichimo M4A1


This kit started out as a build from the box, but I was bitten by the conversion bug and decided to backdate this kit to an early production M4A1with direct vision slots. I havenít built an armor kit in about 10 years, so I really jumped in, so it seems, over my head and didn't listen to Rob Gronovius who cautioned me about the kit!

The Lower Hull

I replaced the kit's single piece transmission cover with a Tank Workshops (TW) 3 piece resin one. However the TW resin was narrower than the kit hull and barring scratching a new hull, I opted to modify the resin by sanding off the drive sprocket differential covers and rivet detail and installing a .030 shim. I replaced the differential covers with one from an Italeri M4A1 that I built in conjunction. The Italeri ended up supplying a number of parts as will be explained later. I then added a .030 strip with bolt detail to cover the separation seams between the transmission cover top front and hull on the sides. I next turned to the suspension bogeys. I wanted the earlier M3 suspension so I purchased a set of TW M3 running gear. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY! They came with more sinkholes than detail and were molded with the wheel mounting arms and the trucks as one piece. I did use the return rollers from the set so it wasn't a total loss of money.

The kits bogies looked ok, but were still not to my liking. So I turned to the Italeri M4A1 again. Since I was replacing this kits running gear with an AFV set, I put each bogie in a miter box and cut the sides down, replaced the removed area with .015 sheet and fabricated the spring "bulges" with 1/4" tube cut in half and covered with .010 sheet. I removed the mounting pins from the back and used angle strips for mounting guides on the bottom of each bogey for hull attachment plates. I used the wheels from the Italeri kit as well, but the drive sprockets came from the Nichimo because I destroyed the Italeriís with spilled glue. I detailed the rear hull plate with bits of wire and styrene strips on the air cleaners and added detail to the rear idler arm mounts and access door handles from office staples and cable attachment eyes from brass wire, washers punched from sheet and nuts from heated sprue pushed into an Allen-head set screw. I covered the motorization holes etc. with sheet and putty and that concluded the lower hull, so I thought, youíll see what I mean in the next section.

Copyright ©2002 - Text and Photos by Lauren Blakley (chief). All Rights Reserved.

Project Photos

About the Author

About Lauren A. Blakley, ATC, U (Chief)

I started modelling when I was 6 and with a few short breaks here and there due to the Navy, I pretty much havn't stopped. Started with cars, ships, aircraft and then armor. Can't say which is my favorite. Spend most of my time in the navy in the Reconnaissance "Shadow War" business and am looking f...


Chief, despite all the 'fun' you had putting this kit together it looks great. The weathering job you did is top shelf.
AUG 06, 2002 - 09:08 PM
Good job Chief! Although it should be sub-titled "Why I should have listened to Sabot". Not much left of the Nichimo kit once you got started? I built one OOB when I first started doing Shermans. Back then, the only ones around were the original motorized Tamiya M4A3E8 and their first M4A3, the Italeri M4A1, the Monogram M4 and M4A1. Also kicking around on the shelves was the Revell M4A1E8 (1/40). I built the Italeri kit next and then the Tamiya M4A3, what a difference. Go treat yourself to the Tamiya M4 Early, you deserve it.
AUG 06, 2002 - 09:49 PM
Nice article and model Chief - I love reading experiences with good 'ol fashioned model building! Gunnie
AUG 06, 2002 - 10:27 PM
Really nice work Chief! As Sabot said: where is the Nichimo kit anyway????? Congratulations and keep doing this nice pieces
AUG 07, 2002 - 09:18 AM
Hi Chief Great job! That camo is great. I tried the texturing of the hull on my Italeri Sherman. I ended up sanding it back almost smooth. I'm pretty sure that the texture on a Sherman in 1/35 scale would be almost invisible. Of course we like to see some texture, so it's a tough battle between reality and what 'looks right'. Nice article too. Talk to you soon Andy
AUG 07, 2002 - 10:40 AM
Thanks for the kind words. Six months is a little long for a tank kit to go from start to finish. It'll be a while before I take on another kit-bash of that magnitude.
AUG 09, 2002 - 12:32 AM
Great Looking model Chief ! I just got a set of the RHPS rubber block tracks for my M12 GMC and I agree they fit great. I noticed that the rubber blocks seem to be much thicker than any I've seen in pictures. I've surfed around and looked through my references and in every shot, the blocks seem much thinner. Is that because they wear down quickly? Does anyone know how thick the rubber block (T-51) tracks were from the factory? Thanks, Cob P.S. Are you still in transit?
SEP 26, 2002 - 01:39 AM