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Operation Tractable

Since I was using the Panda tracks, I skipped Step 1.

In Step 2, I opted to use parts A6 and A5 for the drive sprockets as these earlier and "fancier" parts matched more of my Sherman V references than the other two options. On the solid road wheels in Step 3, I substituted .018 diameter "rivets" punched from .010 Evergreen plastic card using a Waldron Sub-miniature punch and die set for the kit rivets. This was, I thought, faster and surer than using the kit supplied rivets. It also gave me enough rivets for both sides of each road wheel. While I was at it, I added the grease nipples missing from parts B8. These were added using .023 diameter disks punched from .005 plastic with the kit road wheel rivets for the nipples.

I assembled the bogies in Step 5 per the instructions, using the rubber sheet "springs" to preserve the articulation. In retrospect, since I posed the tank on a cobble stone roadway, I could have substituted plastic card for the rubber sheet and glued the road wheel arms in place. Still, Tasca's articulation worked as advertised and was interesting to build.

In Step 5, I thinned down the track skids (parts B15), replacing the bolts (two on each end); I added the four holes in the forward faces of the bogies (parts B18/19 and B21/22), and I also added the four missing bolts on the rear faces of the same parts (holding the return roller mounts).

Step 6 proceeded without changes. In Step 7, I removed the molded on details above and below the left hand engine access door (mounting points for parts E19, 20, 25, and 26 in Step 8). These details didn't appear except in a few of my reference photos. I also didn’t use the kit provided smoke discharges (since the Voyager PE set had nicely detailed substitutes). I left off the towing shackles (parts D8) until later to keep from breaking them off. And finally, I left the idler wheel axels (parts C25) off to allow later adjustment of the track tension.

I didn't use the leaf-spring mounted towing clevis (parts F46, 47, and 49) in Step 8, but I did make the retaining pins that were missing from its mounts (part F24 and 28). I used .025 diameter plastic rod with the PE handles from the Voyager set. I also added the wiring for the smoke dischargers and the crankcase breather tube. The upper part of this wiring was made from silver embroidery thread which has a spiral cover of silver foil over a core of thread. This thread can be gotten from the sewing notions section of any large fabric store. It has a nice texture that replicates certain types of flexible wiring conduit. The wiring from the connection boxes to the smoke grenades was made from .010 diameter lead wire.

Step 9 builds a beautiful model-within-a-model of the three-piece Sherman transmission which went together with no problems. I again left off the towing shackles (parts D8) until later. I did add the missing final drive oil drain plugs on the bottoms of the two drive bulges. Once this sub-assembly had dried over night, I added and enhanced the cast texture using Squadron Green Putty reduced with ordinary lacquer thinner and Testor's liquid cement (again using a ratio of about 4:1, lacquer thinner to cement). I used a mixture a bit heavier than milk, but lighter than cream, brushing it on in a couple of coats. This dries quite quickly and can be stippled with a nylon brush as it dries for added texture.

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