M32 Tank Recovery Vehicle
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII
As successors to the M31 tank recovery vehicle (TRV) built on the M3 Lee chassis, the M32 series was based on the M4 Sherman hull. The M32B1 used the early M4A1 with the smaller, oval-shaped drivers' hatches. The M32B2 was built on the M4A2, and the final conversion using the M4A3 Sherman was named the M32B3. According to Steve Zaloga's informative U.S. Armored Funnies, U.S. Specialized Armored Vehicles in the ETO in World War II, all M32 varieties were built on existing tanks, except for 111 brand spanking new M32B1 vehicles. Production of the versions most significant to modelers breaks down as:
  • M32 = 163
  • M32B1 = 1,055
  • M32B2 = 26
  • M32B3 = 318

The vehicles were introduced into France following D-Day, and some appeared later in Italy.

The late M4A1 upper hull used in the Italeri M32 kit is erroneous. It should be replaced with an early M4A1 hull as found in the DML early M4A1 kit, or with an M4 or M4A3 hull from Tamiya (or check out the resin hulls from Formations). The Italeri kit also lacks a well-detailed interior, so some additional aftermarket sets and scratchbuildling is required for a properly appointed M32 of any type.

Below is the M32 version based on the M4A1 early small hatch hull. As evident by the various gouges and holes in the armor, this specimen located on the Fort Snelling military reserves grounds was a range target. The walk-around essentially moves from the suspension to the backside and peers into the empty engine bay, then around to various hull features before rising to the turret and looking down into the main compartment and the driver's area. A few things to note:
  • Bolts installed on the open side of one bogie, and broken off another bogie. Kurt Laughlin points out the small bar in photo 1035 (row 2, photo 2) is a shear block added to allow the use of a suspension lockout wedge on the M32. These were bolted onto the front of the bogies to prevent the suspension from compressing when lifting with the boom. Clearly, with the suspension locked out the vehicle's travel was restricted. The sheared-off screws in one bogie may have resulted from using the wedge on a bogie without the shear block—the bolts alone could not carry the load.
  • The roller arm is secured to the top of the bogie with a separate pair of bolts, in addition to the skid bolts; note how the bolt heads are have wires running through them so the bolts don't get lost if they loosen
  • "Handed" idler brackets
  • Shiny weld beads made of non-rusting stainless steel filler metal amid the rusted steel surfaces

This well preserved Sherman TRV below can be found at the Patton Museum. It features the HVSS suspension on an M4A1 hull.

M32 ARV front M32 ARV rear   

Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter