Unfortunately the 761st didn't get the photographic coverage many other units received, so any picture has to be poured over for as many details as one can glean out of it. It's clear that the unit had both mid and late production M5A1 Stuarts. The Battlefront US005 Stuart tank is an excellent representation of a mid-production M5A1, but lacks the characteristic turret machine gun shield seen in the late production models. So, as seems to be normal with my armies, "some conversion" would be required to accurately represent the unit.
Since at this point I'm only planning one platoon of M5A1s, I decided to go with two "mid" and three "late" versions. Photographs show a fair amount of stowage on several of the vehicles, so I'm adding some to many of the vehicles. The first Stuart (shown below) is pretty much "out of the box" with only some extra stowage added. The shovel was slightly mis-cast, but as I wanted at least one vehicle with some extra bags, this one became it.
As the 761st was the first African-American armored unit to see combat in the US Army, I want to have more hatches open than I'd typically have to show off the crew. The next Stuart is another "mid" variant, but this one will have a crewman in the open hatch. I've substantially thinned the hatch and added detail for the other side of the periscope and hinges to it.
The next Stuart is the first of the "late" variants with the gun shield added. The complex curvature of the shield was a pain in the butt to get right the first time, but the end effect is fairly solid. The conversion also required sanding off the details on the right side of the turret. I'm waiting until after priming to add the machine gun to ensure the front puttied area doesn't require additional fill or sanding (which would be complicated by the machine gun). I'll likely add some stowage to this vehicle, but that's on the "to do" list.
Next is another late variant - this one has one turret hatch open - I had trouble getting the hatch to thin properly, so I simply replaced it with styrene and added hinge detail.
Last, but not least, is my command vehicle. I've already started to add some stowage to this vehicle. As with the vehicle above, the commander's hatch is detailed with hinges and periscope detail.
So what started out as a quick set of conversions, quickly absorbed several hours. Overall I'm pleased with how well the construction went on the miniatures. For an older cast, the quality is good, though I did need to sand some of the rough texture off of some of the flat areas.
Next - Shermans!