Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
 

Sherman Tanks in the Korean War

Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 10 February 2008.

I consider myself to be an "idea man"; you know . . . one of those guys who has all these great ideas, but never actually accomplishes any of them. (Look how long it took me to get this website off the ground.) One of my wonderful ideas that dates back to around 2001-2002 was to set up a theme page at On The Way! devoted to modeling armored vehicles of the Korean War. I thought that it would be a great idea to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of that war by devoting some space on my website to modeling vehicles from that particular era, but that idea never came to fruition. But it's never too late to implement a smaller version of that idea, hence this article. It's a little brief at the moment, but I plan on expanding it in the future.

Although Korea is known for being primarily an infantry war, armor actually played a much larger role than is commonly assumed. Early in the war, North Korean armor was a significant contributor to their rapid and catastrophic advance down the penninsula, with there being several tank battles pitting US armor against the Korean T-34s. After most of the Korean tanks were destroyed (mostly through air strikes), US armor continued to play an important role in the campaign as support vehicles.

The M26 Pershing is often the US tank most closely associated with the Korean conflict, however, the Sherman tank actually played a more significant role in the war, having participated in the majority of the tank battles. This page is planned to convey as much information as possible to assist modelers in building Shermans from that period.

Sherman Versions

As you can probably assume, only very late versions of the Sherman saw action in Korea. By the late 1940s, most of the Shermans in the US inventory had been either scrapped or sold. Combat tanks were all later-model Shermans with the big-hatch hull, 76mm-armed T23 turrets, and most had the HVS suspension. As far as I can tell, only the M4A3 Shermans were still in service with the US Army and US Marine Corps at this time. Specifically, all gun tanks were the M4A3 (76)W HVSS (or M4A3E8). All of these tanks had been remanufactured at facilities in the US and in Japan, and they bear several distinguishing characteristics.

In the support role, there were 105mm-armed Shermans, primarily the M4A3 (105)W HVSS. There were also a couple of flame tanks: an M4A3 (105) HVSS with the flamethrower mounted in the turret alongside the main gun, and an M4A3 (76)W HVSS with the flame projector mounted in the hull machinegun position. The only Shermans that still retained the VVS suspension were a handful of M4A3 (76)W with bulldozer blades. One of the reasons it took me so long to build a Korean War Sherman was because of the lack of HVSS kits, but thankfully that is no longer a problem.

Here is a list showing all the versions of the Sherman tank that I believe saw service in Korea. This table is based on descriptions and photographs in various books I own on the Korean War. Note that not all of these vehicles are yet available to us in 1/72nd scale kit form.

Vehicle Type Comments Nationality
M4A3 (76)W HVSS This was the most common version to see action. US Army, Canada, ROK
M4A3 (76)W HVSS With flamethrower in hull. US Army
M4A3 (76)W HVSS With bulldozer blade. US Army
M4A3 (76)W With bulldozer blade. US Army, Canada
M4A3 (105)W HVSS With bulldozer blade. US Marines
M4A3 (105)W HVSS With flamethrower in turret. Called POA-CWS-H5 US Marines
M7B1 Priest Also M7B2 - raised gun platform. US Army
M40 155mm GMC   US Army
M43 105mm GMC   US Army
M32B1 TRV Also M32A1B3 TRV. US Marines
M10   ROK
Achilles IIC Never saw action. Canada
M36   ROK, Turkey?
M36B2   ROK

What's with those cool tiger markings?

Many of you have probably seen Sherman tanks with the tiger markings on the nose and front face of the hull and turret. This is a popular scheme for kit decals as well as the few aftermarket decal sets that were available. These markings were specific to a couple of tank units during Operations Ripper and Killer in 1951. The belief was that these markings would help to simultaneously inspire the troops and terrorize the Chinese who supposedly were very superstitious and held the tiger in awe. Some tanks in the 89th Tank Battalion were also painted to resemble devil's faces (Rice's Red Devils). Whether or not these exotic markings actually had any effect on the Chinese is debatable, but they certainly do look cool and add a bit of color to a normally drab Sherman tank.

Luckily, most of the tiger markings can be hand-painted on your models, because generally speaking, we are in really sad shape when it comes to decals for Korean War Shermans. The following tables show decals applicable to Korean War subjects. Unfortunately, the two aftermarket sets are now out of print. I've added to the table markings that come with specific kits to show all that are currently available. Perhaps a company with more reliable availability, such as ARMO, may release some more markings in the future for The Forgotton War.

Nationality Type Unit Location Source of Markings
Canada Achilles IIC 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade, A Squadron Pusan, Korea, March, 1952 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
Canada M4A3 (76)W Dozer Lord Strathcona's Horse, C Squadron Imjin, Korea, Autumn 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
Canada M4A3E8 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade, Lord Strathcona's Horse, B Squadron Korea, February 1953 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
ROK M36 53rd ROK Tank Company Korea, October, 1952 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
ROK M36   Central Korea, 1953 Extratech M36 Kit #72040
US Army M4A3E8 5th Infantry Division Tank Company Han River, Korea, February 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M4A3E8 5th Infantry Division Tank Company Han River, Korea, February 1951 Trumpeter M4A3E8 Korean War Kit #7229
US Army M4A3E8 64th Tank Battalion, "Skeeter Hawk" Han River, Korea, February 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M4A3E8 64th Tank Battalion, "Skeeter Hawk" Han River, Korea, February 1951 Trumpeter M4A3E8 Korean War Kit #7229
US Army M4A3E8 70th Tank Battalion Han River, Korea, February 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M4A3E8 72nd Tank Battalion 38th Parallel, 18 September 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M4A3E8 89th Tank Battalion, A Company, "Antique" Korea, August, 1950 Trumpeter M4A3E8 T-66 Track Kit #7225
US Army M4A3E8 89th Tank Battalion, C Company, "Rice's Red Devils" Han River, Korea, February 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M4A3E8 89th Tank Battalion, C Company, "Rice's Red Devils" Han River, Korea, February 1951 UM M4A3 (76)W HVSS kit #379
US Army M4A3E8 89th Tank Battalion, C Company Han River, Korea, February 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M4A3E8 89th Tank Battalion, "WE GO" Pusan perimeter, Korea,August, 1950 Trumpeter M4A3E8 T-66 Track Kit #7225
US Army M4A3 (76)W Dozer 3rd Engineer Combat Battalion, "Hyzer's Tiger II" Han River, Korea, 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M7B1 Priest 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion Korea, July, 1951 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Army M40 GMC 937th Field Artillery, Battery B Korea, 14 July 1953 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Marines M32A1B3 1st Tank Battalion, B Company Hamhung, Korea, November 1950 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea
US Marines M4A3 (105) HVSS Dozer 1st Tank Battalion, B Company Hamhung, Korea, November 1950 AFV Decals 7207 - M4 Sherman in Korea

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Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale