Hobby Boss
U.S M4A3 Sherman
Medium Tank

Hobby Boss 1:48 Scale - Kit No.84803
Review by Terry Ashley

Hobby Boss
This is the third in the Hobby Boss Sherman series and brings you the later 47° hulled M4A3 75(W) which was the mainstay of US forces in NW Europe during WWII.

I have to admit I was a little nervous opening the box after reviewing the first two Shermans in the series but I’m happy to say this kit is much better in overall dimensions with the hull measuring out okay in width, length and more importantly the correct angle for the 47° glacis plate. The turret also measures up well in diameter and height and the new T54E1 tracks have the end connectors in the right place, so it looks better already.

There are however still a number of smaller dimensional discrepancies such as the engine deck size, loader’s hatch and mantlet size but as the overall dimensions are okay all the other issues are more than fixable if you wish but some may choose to pass and just build the kit as is. 

The kit uses sprues A, B and the lower hull from the previous kits with new sprues for all the M4A3 parts with the kit consisting of 158 parts in light grey plastic, a small etched fret with 14 parts and a set of vinyl tracks plus the decal and instruction sheets.

Hobby Boss

Overall the detail level is quite good with well defined detail such as raised weld beads on the hull and some very delicate parts like the barrel travel lock, lifting eyes, the tools and bogie detail but there is some flash evident of a number of parts plus a few pin marks to be dealt with.

Lower Hull:
This is a conventional plastic tub with detail included on the bottom and side panels with a separate rear panel, front transmission cover and sponson fillers. Also included on the hull sides are return roller locating tabs for HVSS Sherman versions to come and these are to be cut off as per instructions.

The transmission cover is the single piece sharp nose type with separate bolted top securing strip. The contours of the cover are very good and match photos nicely and included basic two shackle mountings on the underside with the fit to the hull being very good.

Care is needed when removing the sprue attachment point from the top lip to ensure you don’t damage the lip and the bolted flange is best fitted after cutting off the locating tabs as these seem to just get in the way.

The hull side final drive housings sit at the wrong angle if you fit as indicated but it is a simple matter of cutting of the locating pin and fit at the correct angle so no big deal.

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The rear hull panel has the correct layout for the M4A3 with separate exhausts, idler mountings and tow pintle plus the large grill panel located under the upper hull overhang with the single engine door moulded in the closed position.

The kit includes three types on bogies, two from the previous kits with the straight arm return rollers and the other with raised rollers plus a new set of raised roller arm bogies with both the later types also including the three lower bolts on the bogie housings but strangely the earlier straight arm type does not and there is a bit of flash to be removed about the place.

The upper track skids include three different types with the early curved type, the intermediate type and the final type with extended skid but all have a fairly prominent mould seam down the middle which is easy to remove and you may want to thin the skids a little while you are at it.

Detail on the bogies housings is very good with delicate details including small casting numbers and well defined detail on the suspension arms but the separate return roller is a little too small in diameter and in depth with the roller being quite loose on it’s mounting.

Two types of road wheels are included; the solid spoke type and new smooth dish wheels and both have separate rear inserts to eliminate the hollow look. While the road wheels are the correct diameter there are a few detail issues with the solid spoke wheels where the six raised ribs are far too small, the rear inserts have the ribs larger than the full wheel but still undersized with the wheels in the Tamiya M4 kits being far more accurate. The grease plugs on the smooth dish wheels are just indentations and added a small nipple will improve their look.

There are also open spoke and solid spoke idler wheels but the open spoke idlers have the centre hub too small and the wrong shape openings while the solid spoke idlers have the six hub bolts slightly too big but are probably the better represented of all the wheels.

Assembly of the bogies is straightforward with very good fit of the bogie parts although the inside springs don’t locate precisely and are a bit loose requiring care to get the sit right as the glue dries. The fit of the bogies to the hull is also good and actually hold in place without glue such is the good fit but of course you will glue them in place.

At the front are two styles of drive sprocket, the open ‘revised fancy smooth’ and solid ‘simple plate’ sprockets with the inner and outer sprockets separate and apart from rather large sprue attachments that needs care in removing have very nice details included and these locate neatly over the final drive axle mountings.

Upper Hull:
This is one large moulding with separate front crew hatches and separate engine deck with raised weld bead details on the hull joins and around the turret and fuel filler guards with all the smaller fittings also separate parts.

As mentioned the hull width, length and 47° glacis are correct but a number of smaller details on the hull have issues to different degrees. The main one is the engine deck which is 2mm too wide, this in turn means the two hull side fuel filler caps and guards are situated too far outboard but narrowing the deck may be a problem as the hinge and bolt detail is close to the edge so just cutting off 1mm each side is not an option.

The grillwork and other details on the engine deck are nicely done and if you are not overly concerned with the width issue the deck fits neatly into the hull opening.

Still at the back there is a separate ventilator cover inside the turret guard on the right side and separate lifting eyes and tail lights with etched guards.

All the pioneer tools are separate parts with well done details but the moulded on tool brackets will probable also be in the etched sets to come and the rear hull mounted storage rack and spare track racks are quite well done.

At the front the two crew hatches are separate parts but the hinge detail is in the wrong position as well as the upper hull contours around the hatches being too flat with the recesses for the hatch hinges in the wrong place but there is little that can be done here to correct this without major reworking.

Hobby Boss hull details with a comparison with the Tamiya 1:35 kit to best illustrate the issues as per the text.
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A few of the hull details are out of position, the right side circular cover is 1mm too far back and the weld seam behind the hatch panel is also 1mm to far back as well as the mid hull angled contour being 2mm too far back but these discrepancies will not be an issue for many and I mention them here for those who may wish to correct these?

Hobby Boss hull showing detail placement as per text, lines indicate the correct positions
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On the glacis the head lights and siren are again nicely moulded for the scale and have etched guards to give a good appearance and the two lifting hooks look good and the hull machine gun can be drilled out for a better look. 

The separate barrel lock is very nicely done with very fine detail typified by the delicate eye under the barrel hook and looks very good.

The tracks are continuous vinyl T54E1 steel chevron track although the instructions say they are T48 rubber chevron which they are not and the end connectors are located correctly between track links and look quite good for the smaller scale.

The instructions claim the tracks will glue together with normal plastic cement but not the cement I have and you best resort to using the small heated screwdriver head to melt the join pins together as with most vinyl tracks.

Hobby Boss

This has the high bustle type upper shell that includes the additional cheek armour on the right side with a separate lower ring plus separate gun and rotor shield, pistol port, lifting eyes and Commander’s split hatch with separate hatches as well as the oval Loader’s hatch.

There is again no cast texture on the turret but this would be very subtle in this scale and there are quite substantial mould marks around the pistol port fairings and on the opposite side which will need sanding off. The actual port hatch is a little undersized and the upper hinge quite large and there are quite large join seams between the upper and lower turret parts to deal with.

The turret measures out well dimensionally but there is a problem with the oval Loader’s hatch which is only two thirds the size it should be and the hatch cut-out is in the wrong position on the roof as well as being too small.

Enlarging the roof cut-out and making a new hatch would be relatively easy to fix this issue and all other turret roof details are in the correct position with the central ventilator being the correct size with nice weld beads and indentations for the two drain holes.

Image of turret with plan from Hunnicutt book overlay showing good placement of all details
except the Loader's hatch which is too small and in the wrong position.

Hobby Boss

The M34A1 shield also has no cast texture and is just over 1mm to tall as is the inner gun mounting and the detail on the shield is very basic with poorly defined bolt heads and the barrel measures out about 0.05mm too long when compared to the 1:48 plans in the Hunnicut Sherman book and actual data which shows the length of the barrel outside of the turret is 67.625inches which equals 1717.672 millimetres or 35.785millimeters in 1:48 scale.

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The Commander’s hatch ring has a fair bit of flash around the bottom while the split hatches have quite nice detail on the outside but the inside are plain with a couple of sizable pin marks to contend with. The inside diameter of the hatch to way too small and you should enlarge this by cutting about 1.5mm from the inside lip for a better look.

The .50cal MG included is quite nice for this scale and includes an ammo box for mounting on the hatch pintle and these is also a .30cal machine gun included which is a little chunky and you can use this in place of the .50cal as required.

There are markings for two US vehicles in olive drab but no information is given on the units and there is a colour sheet is included with illustrations of the two marking options showing the decal placement.

One of the markings is actually for “Classy Peg” of the 43rd Infantry Div., Luzon Philippines in 1945 with the instructions showing to use the smooth dish wheels but this is incorrect as “Classy Peg” had solid spoke wheels fitted so use those wheels instead. Also included is the word SOLO added to the barrel which is missing from the markings in the original Tamiya 1:35 M4A3 kit.

Decal sheet
Hobby Boss

The Sprues
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Detail images
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Thrown in for good measure is a small sprue with twenty rucksacks which have quite good detail and will come up well with careful painting as well as a selection of jerry cans with strange looking embossing on the cans but with separate handles and a few wood boxes and small metal drums to add as stowage.

This kit is an improvement from the previous two Sherman releases with all the major dimensions correct although there are still some other issues to contend with and as mentioned most are relatively easy to deal with and some may choose to live with them.

The inclusion of the raised roller arm bogies, smooth dish wheels and new T54 track is a nice bonus with the kit having some nice details included as should build into a respectable M4A3 Sherman.


SHERMAN A History of the
American Medium Tank

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
Lucky ModelThanks to my credit card and Lucky Model for the review kit.

Page created August 26, 2006

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