As part of my Totalise Project there are things I come across that are historically accurate but missing from model ranges (or decal ranges). One of those things were Canadian Ram II tanks.
These were created by the Canadians and shipped over to the UK in large numbers. However, it was viewed as obsolete by 1944 so was used mainly for training. From Wiki:
"A prototype Ram was completed in June 1941, and general production of the Ram I began in November of the same year. The Ram I and early Ram IIs were fitted with side doors in the hull and an auxiliary machine gun turret in the front. The former weakened the hull and complicated production, and the doors and the machine gun turret were discarded in later modifications. By February 1942, production had switched to the Ram II model with a 6-pounder gun and continued until July 1943. In March 1942 a decision had been made to change production over to the automotively-similar M4A1 Sherman tank for all British and Canadian units. Ram production continued due to delay in starting the new M4 production lines and a reluctance to let the plant lie idle. By July 1943 1,948 vehicles, plus 84 artillery observation post (OP) vehicles, had been completed.
The official Canadian history of the war compares the Ram to the Ross rifle as examples of unsuccessful Canadian weapon designs. It states that given the Sherman's superiority, in retrospect it would probably have been better for the United States to produce more tanks, and for Canada to have focused on manufacturing more transport vehicles such as the successful Canadian Military Pattern truck designs. The Sexton self-propelled gun based on the Ram chassis, however, was very successful.
As built, the Ram was never used in combat as a tank, but was used for crew training in Great Britain up to mid 1944. The observation post vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carrier, gun tractor, and munitions carrier versions of the Ram saw considerable active service in North West Europe. These tanks were mainly rebuilt by Canadian Army workshops in the United Kingdom. Conversions of Ram tanks with the Wasp II flamethrower gear were used by the 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade in the Netherlands in 1945."
It is the artillery OP and Artillery Tow version which interested me. I've had an interest in getting some of these for my planned Canadian forces for a while. Last year, prior to embarking on this 'all nations' Totalise Project, I had bought 3 packs of Ram Kangeroos, in order to do a later war version of my Highlanders. However, the planned use of these vehicles had changed with the change in focus onto Totalise, with 4 of them being used as 17 Pounder Tows for my Canadians, and 2 of them getting turrets to act as OP tanks.
|Ram OP tank in Normandy - the full version of this picture shows 2 Canadian 4th Armoured Division Shermans behind,|
But as I had the hulls, where could I get the turrets?
I searched about, and found someone who had scratch built turrets. They looked great, but I didn't think I could replicate what they had done - and didn't want to spend a lot of time working on something I would end up unhappy with. I checked Shapeways, where the full tank is available to buy at 1/100ths scale, but for £25 each. A lot of month to spend on 2 tanks! No one, it seems, made turrets for this tank.
Eventually, months later, I approached Butlers Printed Models with a query about them designing and building a turret for me. Peter was very very helpful, and for a small fee - well, smaller than the cost of two tanks off Shapeways - Peter agreed to do the design work, send me a prototype and get some turrets done!
Less than two weeks later:
|Ram II Turret in 15mm, for use in Flames of War|
|The Butlers Printed Models turret on the Battlefront Kangeroo hull.|
Now it is 3D printed, so there is a little roughness to the turret, but not a huge amount compared to other 3D printed then cast models I have worked with in the past. Very little clean up was required. The turret fits perfectly on the Battlefront Kangeroo hull, although some of the turret ring details have to be removed (mainly the mounting for the .50cal). I think with a coat of paint on these guys they will be a fantastic addition to my army. Peter also modelled the Early, Late and Close Support versions of the turret - mines is the Late version.
The best bit is that the model I 'commissioned' is available for purchase on the Butlers Printed Model webstore - here!
Hopefully, I've have these painted 'soon'!