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Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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vagabond
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:25 pm
Post subject: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Hi All,

I made a return trip to the Armed Forces Military Museum in Largo, FL to photograph the cupola on the M4A3 Sherman. I took a number of detail photos and added them to the existing museum gallery. The link below should take you to the page with the new photos.
I also spoke with the museum historian (as I noted in the PBS Motorweek post) regarding the cupola. Via phone I told him that the cupola was a rare, experimental model and wasn’t historically accurate. I offered to send him the info from JoeD’s post if he was interested and did so via email. We’ll see if anything changes, but at least I passed the information on to the museum. Worth a shot.

New photos page link:
www.vgbimages.com/AFV-...;k=F4x24jd

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Costas_TT
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:19 pm
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Another issue the museum should be aware of is the tank itself. Try as I might, I have yet to find a picture of a 60 degree M4A3 hull with a T23 turret. Although it's possible, given that the Sherman's 69" turret ring can take it, it doesn't appear to have been done even for trials.

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Neil_Baumgardner
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:56 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Was it a postwar development for use on Shermans (for foreign sales)? Or not intended for Shermans at all?
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vagabond
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:59 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Neil -

Quoting JoeD's post from the Motorweek on PBS thread:

- Joe_D
Would be nice if museums would at least acknowledge that items they have on display are accurate or just representations using similar but not historically correct. Nothing is perfect but seeing "Kit Bashes" like this M4 makes me cringe.

The cupola on this tank is quite rare, it is not from an M48A1, but rather one of the experimental AAI model 108 cupolas designed as a possible replacement for the troublesome M1 cupola which never was adopted. They installed these on the T54/T54E2 turrets the Army tested. The hatch pivots to the side instead of up and back. You can also see this cupola installed on the T95 experimental tank, since the T54E2 turrets were turned over to this program. Some pictures also show it on T95 specific turrets. The original prototype M60 had this same type cupola mounted until the M19 was fully developed. To my knowledge only maybe 5 or 6 of these were made at most, this being a generous estimate. Below are pictures courtesy of Jim's "Jed" site.

T54E2

T95

I have an image back home of the Pilot M60 mounting this cupola, but can't find a copy online to post. Really curious where they got this cupola from. I know T54E2/T95 turrets were scrapped, most likely used as hard targets. Wonder if they found it along with the Sherman Turret on the ranges at Eglin AFB. Lot of stuff was disposed there. Really needs to be recognized for what it is, and possibly some museum offer to trade an authentic Sherman cupola for this one, being quite rare.
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panamadan
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 3:58 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Its an odd looking A3-look closely at the hull hatches and bow MG-something is odd here.
Dan
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Costas_TT
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:32 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Hence my previous post. The way I see it, it's a mid-production dry stowage hull (as evidenced by the drivers' long cowls lacking direct vision slots and the lack of applique plates on the hull sides) - not a feature normally associated with the T23 type turret.

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panamadan
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:35 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

But look closely at the hull hatches hinges and the front appliqué armor-something looks wrong here.
Dan
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Costas_TT
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:30 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

You're absolutely right, Dan. I got a good hard look at the cowls and there is something definitely fishy, not just the non-standard applique plates, which were probably added during restoration and the hinges. The cowls are not mid-late production as I had originally surmised, since they lack the auxiliary drop-down periscopes on the front and their shape is quite unusual and not even consistent with that of direct vision cowls, not to mention they protrude too much above the hull roof. Even in Hunnicutt's book, I have not been able to find something like that, which leads me to believe they were made during restoration. Maybe the tank lacked them for some reason when it came to the museum or it already had been fitted with those by someone else.
I'm just as bummed as you are now.

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the_shadock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:30 pm
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

I tink that the drivers' hoods and the bow MG mount were rebuilt. Maybe the hull came from a range and was too badly damaged, that it necessitated to rebuild the front hull?

P-O

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vagabond
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:38 pm
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

Hey Guys,

I've uploaded a somewhat blurry photo in which you can see what looks like a weld seam coming from the turret ring and going down the glacis plate. It appears that the hatches and most of the glacis plate have been replaced - which would explain the oddities noted on this thread.

Take a look -


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the_shadock
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:29 am
Post subject: Re: Experimental AAI model 108 cupola - Largo, FL

what look original are the hatches, the travel lock, the hull antenna mount and the hull lifting rings.

The drivers' hoods are replicas, and the travel lock mount/supports, front appliqué plates, bow MG are replicas too.

As you said, it seems that a great part of the front armor was missing on this hull.

P-O

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