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Operation Tractable

In Step 15, I opted to use the hull MG plug F26 as it matched the majority of my reference photos. I added the heavy weld beads around this part with two-part epoxy putty. I used the Tasca PE headlight guards since the Voyager parts were overly complicated. Tasca should be congratulated for including the bending jig for the light guards. It worked perfectly after the PE parts were annealed.

I attached these guards (as I do with all the PE parts) using two-part, 5-minute epoxy glue. This type of glue comes in a "twin-barreled" syringe and is marketed by several firms. I use the ordinary stuff purchased at the local home improvement store. An economical method for using this glue is: On either side of a disposable nonporous surface, squeeze a dollop of part A and part B. Use a toothpick to dip a drop from each puddle and mix this on of a second disposable surface. (I use the bottoms of disposable single-serving fruit cups.) Carefully wipe the toothpick off after dipping the first part of the glue so as to not to contaminate the other puddle. By dipping small drops (smaller than can be squeezed out of the syringe) and mixing these on a second surface, the original puddles will remain ready for use. This goes quite quickly in practice, and the original puddles, if not allowed to flow together, will remain usable for hours. The epoxy glue is much stronger than CA and has a degree of flexibility that resists shocks. It also has a much longer working time than CA which allows for the detailed positioning of the PE parts.

Once the epoxy glue had set, I formed small weld beads on the hull attachment points using the two-part epoxy putty. The front fenders (parts C48 and C49) were thinned out on their bottom / inside surfaces and got small vertical reinforcements from styrene strip per my reference photos.

In Step 16, I added the air breather tubes running from the firewall and visible under the ends of the air inlet grate. These were made form styrene tube and painted white. The engine deck was then glued on. The tail light PE guards received the same treatment as described above for the headlight guards. Pay special attention to the tail lights: they are in fact different from one side to the other. This is correctly shown by a scrap diagram in Step 17. The instructions are accurate when they show only the left side light has a red upper lens. (This is a detail that many Sherman builders get wrong. It's also a common detail on many other US manufactured vehicles.)

Steps 16 and 17 were where I fabricated the mounting brackets and footman loops for all the tools. All the tools had their molded on mounts removed. The Voyager PE mounts were then folded as per Voyager's instructions. Once the PE mounts were ready, the tools themselves were used to ensure that the locations and spacing for the mounts were correct. Each set of tool mounts was then carefully glued on with epoxy with the tool serving as a "template" for positioning.

Once the glue for the tool mounts was set, I added the footman loops for the tie-down straps. Their locations were marked off using reference photos. Note that none of the tools on this tank had more than one footman loop. The loops are arranged so that tie down strap pulls the tool into the mount and holds it there. This is another detail that many model builders get wrong. Although there are exceptions, and it might seem counter-intuitive, most US vehicles have this type of arrangement only one footman loop per tool. (Look at the breaker bar and mattock handle on this model these two tools only have a single footman loop between them!) The loops were made using disks punched from .010 plastic card and sections of sprue stretched to about .010 diameter. The diagrams show how these were constructed. The tie-down straps were fashioned from heavy aluminum foil with PE buckles. The foil was cut a single long piece. This was then painted front and back. After drying, it was cut into shorter manageable lengths, each length was folded into a "V" shape, and the pre-painted PE buckles were threaded on over both ends. The straps were then spread out flat, ready for adding to the model during finishing.

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