M4 Sherman
Early Production

1:48 Scale - Kit No.32505
Review by Terry Ashley

Tamiya have now released their first Allied tank in the 1:48 series in the form of the M4 Early Production and incorporates the following features; late type three piece transmission cover, ‘revised fancy smooth’ drive sprocket, pressed solid spoke idler wheel, open spoke road wheels, straight arm bogie unit with raised roller and T48 rubber chevron track while the low bustle turret has the M34A1 gun mount and early style split commander’s hatch.

The kit consist of 130 parts in olive drab plastic plus the lower hull in cast metal and some poly caps for the drive sprockets and gun elevation and of course the decal and instruction sheets.

The standard of the plastic parts is typical Tamiya with cleanly moulded parts with only a few shallow pin marks on the inside of the hatches and track links and all the parts scaled out precisely when compared to the 1:48 plans in the Hunnicutt Sherman bible.

The lower hull/Suspension:
The lower hull is in cast metal which appears to the standard for this series and while providing a robust base for the model is a little lacking in details, for example there are no bolts on the hull suspension or idler wheel mounting plates and the underside has a couple of large ‘pits’ for the screws that hold the hull top in place but there are two plastic squares that fit over the ‘pits’ to fill these in after assembly.

Added to this is the front transmission cover with has separate joining flanges with nice bolt head details and the top bolt retaining strip, there are a few shallow pin marks on one side of the bolt flanges but these are very small and should be easy to remedy, there is also locating pins on the flanges to ensure they are positioned correctly.

The transmission cover doesn’t have any cast texture but this would be very minor in this scale and you should drill holes in the towing shackles before proceeding. The final drive housings include the filler plugs on the inside faces but not the drain plugs on the underside but these will be easy to add with a small card disc while on the outside are the final drive covers and all these parts fit together precisely without any problems, this includes the fit to the metal hull as well as plastic to plastic.

At the rear is the plastic rear hull panel with separate engine bay doors for good definition as well as idler mountings, two nice air cleaners and the lower towing pintle and mount and again the fit is very good on all parts.

The suspension bogies with straight arm and raised roller support are fairly simple with just three parts plus the road wheels per bogie but build into quite nice assemblies in this smaller scale. There are of course additional details you can add such as the three bolts on the bottom of each bogie unit, the small retaining bolts for the track skids and grease plugs on the wheels if you really want to go that far.
You should note that the top section with the volute springs, track skid and return roller are mounded as one piece and you just reverse the direction for the left and right bogies and also the first bogie has a locating pin on the return roller for location of the track lengths and also has only one locating pin on the hull so you can’t really put it in the wrong place but take care when assembling these.

The two drive sprockets have poly caps trapped between the two halves and easily fit the front axles while the solid spoke idler wheel has an open back and is glued to the idler axles.

The Tracks:
The T48 rubber chevron track are in link and length plastic and have very good details for this scale and don’t appear out of scale which can be a problem in smaller scales. There is a long length for the upper and lower track runs with shorter sections for between the drive sprocket/idler wheels and the lower run with separate links for around the drive sprocket and idlers wheels.
Fitting the track was straightforward with the upper run attaching to the pin on the front return roller to ensure they line up correctly but you may want to leave this till after painting but note the links should be glued to the return rollers, idler wheels and a couple of road wheels to ensure they stay in place. The small pin marks on the inside of the tracks are hardly noticeable once the tracks are in place.

The Upper Hull:
The upper hull is in one piece with separate crew hatches and rear plate but perpetuates Tamiya’s infatuation with indented weld seams on their Shermans with all seams on the top hull and glacis represented in this fashion but it does give you a locating groove to add your own weld beads from thin sprue or however method you like to add these.

Another Tamiya trait is the open sponson undersides which again give this model the see through look at the sides and rear hull overhang but again should be fairly easy to fill in with strips of plastic card.

The details on the hull are quite okay with separate head and tail lights although the bush guards are way too thick and would be best replaced with etched items which I’m sure will come from one of the major etched set manufactures before long and front and back lifting eyes that are well within scale.

The tools see all but two moulded in place with just the shovel and rear crank handle as separate parts and one does wonder if these are separate why not all the tools for far better detail definition?

Additional parts include the add on armour for the driver’s hoods and appliqué armour for the hull sides if you want to add these depending on which vehicle you are modelling?

The crew hatches have basic detail on the insides and again you can add additional detail such as the hatch springs and periscopes if you wish.

The Turret:
This has the upper shell and lower ring separate in the usual manner with separate gun and rotor shield, pistol port, lifting eyes and Commander’s split hatch with separate hatches. There is again no cast texture on the turret but this would be very subtle in this scale

The M34A1 shield also has no cast texture and includes the .30cal co-ax MG as part of the shield and you should drill this out for better appearance with the internal gun mounting attached with two poly caps which allow gun elevation after assembly and also allows you to add the rotor shield and gun at any time.

The gun tube is in one piece with separate muzzle section and you will have to fill and sand the join between these parts and on comparing the barrel length to the excellent research feature by Kurt Laughlin on Track Link and the 1:48 plans in the Hunnicut Sherman book the length of the barrel outside of the turret is 67.625inches which equals 1717.672 millimetres or 35.785miilimeters in 1:48 scale. The kit barrel measures out about 0.05mm too long which is really nothing to get excited about and the diameter matches to within a fraction of a millimetre.

Appliqué armour is provided for the right cheek if required but again the weld seam is indented and the .50cal MG included is quite nice for this scale and includes an ammo box for mounting on the hatch pintle.

The decal sheet is typical Tamiya with well printed markings but thickish carrier film and has markings for two M4s; an unidentified unit in France 1944 with generic markings and one for “Hurricane” of H Co., 66th Armd Regt., 2nd Armd Div., Normandy, August 1944 shown as finished in a two tone olive drab/light brown cam scheme.
Available images of "Hurricane" show it has the one piece transmission cover and solid simple plate drive sprocket and Steve Zaloga has reported the cam scheme is actually olive drab and black.

Decal sheet

The Sprues
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Detail images
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There were no problems during assembly of the major parts with the typical Tamiya fit eliminating any hassles and kept filler of trimming to a bare minimum and the upper and lower hulls are screwed together with two self tapping screws with the fit between the front hull and the transmission cover being spot on but don’t over tighten the screws or you will easily strip the thread.

Overall a nice little model in this scale but the metal hull is lacking in detail and the open sponsons distract a little from the final appearance but can be fixed easily. The details are quite well done but offer plenty of scope for adding additional details and the base model can be put together quite quickly or you can spend the extra time whichever you prefer.

This model should be welcomed by Allied modellers into this scale or for those just wanting the dip their toe in the 1:48 pond and we can look forward to additional Allied subject in this range in the future.


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
Kit courtesy of my Credit Card and the excellent service from Rainbow Ten.

Page created 23 December 2004

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