M4A7E8 "Paper Sherman" Conversion by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Kits used
UM M4A3E8 lower hull and suspension, Extratech upper hull with cast resin turrets.

For years I’ve been seeing models of Paper Panzers, and have even built one myself; so why not a Paper Sherman, one of the most common and important AFVs of the 2nd World War?

Years ago when I built the Eduard M10 tank Destroyer kit I noticed the extra upper hull included with the kit and first got my idea of a modernized what-if Sherman hull with sloped armor on all sides, along with an up-gunned turret. For the project I had to wait for decent HVSS bogies and track to be produced. A great thing about a theoretical AFV is that you get to detail and paint it however you wish and no one can tell you its wrong; you can produce a model that is more truly yours!

Starting with the welded and well sloped M10 hull I opted for the late Sherman HVSS suspension bogies and wide track. Then, I had to decide on a turret and armament, something more powerful than the 76-mm M1 gun.

The Hull

I started with the lower UM hull (above) from UniModel’s M4A3E8(105) kit. I already have the better Dragon (DML) version of this tank, so did not mind sacrificing the UM model up for parts. In hindsight I wish I’d used the DML or Trumpeter M4A3E8 suspension bogies as they have better fit and are easier to work with.

Above are the assembled HVSS bogies. The center horizontal spring assembly parts were difficult to fit and several are uneven. The small return rollers above and behind the bogies were a difficult fit. A horizontal white styrene strip is installed behind the differential cover to support the Eduard kit M10 upper hull.

Open areas of the side hull have been blocked off and a strip of differential housing bolts taken from a DML kit installed. The UM kit relies on an etched brass strip to represent the bolts holding the differential housing on, and the bolts on the Eduard M10 hull are not as realistic.
The track is installed and represents the all steel T-80 track for the HVSS suspension. When assembling the UM sprocket wheels halves I found the teeth did not align, so I had to cut the sprocket wheel apart and align the halves by eye. The track links were a little too short and did not fit well in the sprocket teeth.

This view of the underside shows the exhaust deflector at the rear; the deflector prevents us from viewing the diesel exhaust pipes. What’s most important in this photo is that it shows the small blocks of styrene on each side of the HVSS bodies to support and keep them straight. The attachment points for the UM kit bogies are so small and the bogies so wobbly I felt I had to do this. This is not an issue with the Trumpeter HVSS bogies I have also used.

At this stage we have the Eduard model's upper M10 hull test fitted. The engine deck is for the diesel-engine tank. The upper hull will not be affixed to the lower hull until after initial painting. Notice that the turret ring of the Eduard M10 hull has been reduced in diameter to accommodate the turrets I plan on using.

Changes and additions to the hull included bullet deflector strips around the hatches and fuel caps like on the Sherman hulls, driver hatches and gun travel lock from a DML M4A3 kit, and scratchbuilt lifting rings fore and aft. A fabricated bow machine gun mount was made using styrene tube. To replicate weld seams along the armor plates I scribed grooves and superglued in thin polyester thread pre-stiffened with white glue. The twisted thread resembles an in-scale weld bead.

A rear view shows the tools mounted on the rear of the hull. Most of the tools are extra from DML kits. Note also the armored antenna pot on the right side by the co-driver's hatch.

The Turrets
When it came to turrets I was torn between which one to use and the armament. I finally decided on two turrets from extras I had, mounting two different guns hypothetically used by my late war Sherman variant of the 1947-1948 period to combat those paper E50 and E75s: one armed with a British 17-Pounder for a tank killer Sherman, and one armed with a 90-mm gun all-round gun.

I had an old LEVA Productions T23 turret that has some nice features but suffers from being too squat, too low. Mating this to an extra T23 turret bottom from a DML kit would fix the problem of being too low and create an extra large turret, perfect for a turret armed with a 90-mm gun. The turret has the new-Sherman all-round vision commander’s cupola, but the old split-hatch loader’s hatch; a larger hatch was needed because of the larger breach and recoil of the 90-mm or 17-Pounder gun.

Here is a rough mating of the LEVA T23 turret to the DML part which has been sanded and cut down some to mate with the resin turret. Yes, I know the loader’s is the older style split hatch, but my excuse for using it is that the large breach of the 90-mm gun necessitated the larger hatch.

The turret parts are attached with super glue gel and filled with Squadron green putty. After sanding smooth, everything will be blended in together with Mr. Surfacer 500. At right I have mated a 90-mm gun barrel to a scratchbuilt gun mantlet based on my imagination. The gun barrel is from a Trumpeter M26A1 kit and has a bore evacuator near the muzzle break.

Both turrets to be used are assembled except for fine detail parts. The turret mounted on the tank is the LEVA-DML turret coated with Mr. Surfacer 500 primer which also replicates a cast texture. On the turret bustle is a storage bin and box.

At lower left is my second turret which is a resin copy I made of the venerable though imperfect Revell M4A1(76) kit turret many years ago. This turret will mount the 17-Pounder gun. The turret has the same type of hatches as the LEVA turret but different proportions. Large casting numbers have been added to its right side behind spare track links. Angle brackets have been added to the turret rear for storing items such as the 50-caliber machine guns.

At the lower left corner of the rear plate we see a small white box which represents a telephone box for outside infantry to talk to the crew inside. Tools and fitting locations are generally based on the M10 Tank Destroyer. On the turret we can see some casting numbers: sprue part numbers sliced off and attached with white glue. Yes, I know the number 2 is crooked and they are overlarge.

The resin-copy Revell T23 turret mounted on the hull with a 17-Pounder gun barrel taken from a UM kit. From this view and with this turret and gun I think this is a good looking and imposing tank.

The modified LEVA turret and 90-mm main gun test fit on the hull.

Here is a close-up of my M4A7E8 showing the etched brass headlight guards and the differential housing coated in Mr Surfacer 500 to replicate a cast texture. A tow cable made from fine string coated in white glue; the front end of the tow cable will be affixed to the nose after the top and bottom halves have been glued together.

A cold weather-cover around the mantlet has been replicated with tissue soaked in white glue. This canvas cover around the mantlet and attached to the turret was seen on late and post war Shermans and Pershing tanks.

The rear of the tank prior to painting shows the M4A3-like exhaust deflector, infantry telephone box, the handtools and the fuel cap guards made with white strip styrene.


Painting & Weathering

The M4A7E8 with the 17-Pounder main gun & Revell turret: The Model Master acrylic olive-drab basecoat has been applied with soft edge camouflage stripes of dark gray to represent the OD and black camouflage scheme common to Europe in 1945. Gloss acrylic has then been brushed on in preparation for decal markings. Highlighting is with Tamiya Weathering Master which is essentially woman's cake makeup and applied with a foam applicator.

After the decal markings, an acrylic dullcote is applied and the paint pigment applied both wet and dry. When the wet pigment is applied wet, it adheres better and then can be brushed out with a stiff paintbrush.

The completed M4A7E8 here mounting the Revell turret and 17-Pdr gun mounted on a base to represent a city street. A US Infantry figure is for scale.

The completed M4A7E8 here mounting the modified LEVA turret and 90-mm main gun. My personal preference is for the larger turret with the 90-mm gun.


  • I regret and admit that the heavy mud in the track covers lousy fit of the track links on the sprocket wheel. Individual track links have their place in some models but on a Sherman good band tracks, like Dragon produces, are my preference in this scale. The UniModel tracks here did not fit together well and are too thin for accurate T-80 track. Studying the photo, I also see that I have not yet painted in the headlight lenses.
  • I am glad I finally did this pet project, though it did not come out as fine as I hoped it would. A large part of my disappointment in the final model is my choice of using the UM kit lower hull and HVSS suspension and the LEVA and Revell turrets; I should have used the Trumpeter or Dragon M4A3E8 donor kit for parts but was too cheap. :-)
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Article Last Updated: 22 November 2012