M4A2 Tarawa
Dragon Kit No. 6062
1:35th Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

Dragon continue to release Sherman kits at a regular rate with each being updated in some area from the last with this kit representing the much called for M4A2 with 56° hull and welded driver’s hoods (the Sherman III with cast driver’s hoods to follow shortly) and again contains many parts from their earlier Sherman kits plus some new parts for the M4A2.

The new kit has 282 parts in light grey plastic with 20 in clear plastic, 42 in etched metal and metal tow cable plus the decal and instruction sheet along with a set of continuous T54E1 tracks in Dragon’s DS vinyl.


The standard of moulding is typical Dragon with good crisp details and a minimum of flash, pin marks or other blemishes with only the usual minor moulding seams to be cleaned off the parts as with any kit plus the array of small plastic nodes that help keep pin marks at bay to the little extra cleanup is worth it.

The sprues included in this kit have Sprue A from the recent M4A3E8 (kit #6183) with the suspension sprues V from kit #6188, #6255 and others with this having a lineage right back to the Italeri Sherman kits plus a new sprue B for the early 75mm turret.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull tub also dates back to the Italeri kits and includes sponson fillers and the lower engine compartment detail applicable to the M4A2 with inserts at the sides to take the suspension bogies.

At the front are separate extensions for the final drive covers which are still too small in diameter leaving a small gap between the FD and transmission cover, this is partly covered when the tracks are fitted but is still noticeable and hopefully the FD covers will be updated in future kits.

Dragon final drive covers with Academy and Tamiya covers for comparison

There are two cast transmission covers provided, the original sharp nosed type and a new earlier rounded nose cover that includes subtle cast texturing and foundry casting numbers with separate lower towing shackles for a nice looking cover applicable to the Tarawa M4A2s.

The separate rear plate has the M4A2 exhaust arrangement with separate top exhaust deflector but this was not fitted to the early M4A2s used on Tarawa with the radiators under the hull overhang visible as well as the idler mountings.

Provided in the kit is straight arm suspension bogies with spaced return roller support and separate track guides that could do with some thinning as they are quite thick and the four securing bolts should be added. These are actually included separately on sprue V but the instructions don’t mention them but they are there if you wish to use them? The bogies and arms are nicely detailed with the three bottom bolts and fine casting numbers on the bogies and arms although these were often in different places depending on the manufacturer but add a nice detail touch.

There is only one set of road wheels, the pressed solid spoked type which have basic grease nipple detail and back inserts, the mould seam is actually along the front edge making it easier to remove than if down the middle of the wheel and the idler has been updated with a rear insert to fill in obvious hollow look which is good to see.

There are now two types of drive sprocket is supplied, the ‘Fancy Smooth’ sprocket and the solid ‘Simple Plate’ sprocket which is the one to use for Tarawa M4A2s, these have the sprockets separate added to the inner hub drum which allows quite good hub bolt detail.

As mentioned the kit has new full length T54E1 steel chevron tracks in light beige coloured DS vinyl which have excellent detail incorporated on the end connectors and links and these can be glued together using normal plastic cement.

There is one issue with the track due to being packaged around the card in the box in that the guide teeth at the bends are badly distorted and there are distinct bends in the track where they wrap around the card, these can be easily remedied by dipping in warm water but the distorted guide teeth are another matter.

A message was posted on the Dragon site recommending the hot water treatment but a couple of the horns were way past this and no amount of hot water would have an effect. Dragon do offer replacements through their Dragon Care line which I have requested so we’ll see how things go.

Update November 8: I have received the replacement tracks from Dragoncare and they are perfect, thanks to Dragoncare for replacing those without any hassles.

Nicely detailed DS vinyl track but marred by the poor packaging

Upper Hull:
The new early 56° hull with welded driver’s hoods has all the angles correct and also features raised weld beads around the hull which again is good to see but they are not depicted correctly as with the recent M4A3E8 hull.
The weld seams on Sherman hulls have a flowing texture not the pitted style on the kit welds but you may be able to smooth these out a little to better represent the actual weld seams.

Dragon kit weld seams and real Sherman seams
Image of actual M4A2 weld seams from the Armor Photogallery M4A2 book.
As can be seen the weld seam are smooth flowing and not pitted as depicted on the kit welds.

The weld beads at the front of the welded driver’s hood are the correct flowing texture so it shouldn’t be that hard to represent this style on the rest of the hull as Dragon now how they go, maybe on the next Sherman kit?

The hull features separate parts for the fuel filler caps, lifting eyes, head and tail lights with etched bush guards for the front lights only and plastic guards for the rear lights as well as all the pioneer tools which have moulded on tool brackets. Also included is the bracket fitted behind the fire extinguisher handles on the rear deck and the separate ventilator cover.

There are a couple of minor detail issues in that the ventilator dome covers are slightly too small inside their guards and the rear grouser compartment covers are too wide and deep by about 1mm meaning the inner edge is too close to the engine deck by that distance.

The engine deck is also separate with separate engine access doors with louver detail on both sides with the fit of the doors to the deck and the deck to the hull being very snug not requiring ay trimming.

The crew hatches at the front have detail on both sides but there is quite a large pin mark on the inside with the hatches having separate periscope mountings with clear periscopes plus separate periscope covers, grab handle and hatch retaining springs which are a little on the thick side but probably the best you could do in plastic.

As mentioned the weld beads around the welded driver’s hood are nicely done but the hoods are about 1mm too short which means the periscopes are located too close to the front of the hoods. To fix this you will need to add a piece of 1mm plastic card to the front of the hoods which unfortunately will cover the nice weld beads which you will have to add back.

The aerial pot also needs additional weld beads added for a better look while the welds around the upper ventilator guards are the correct flowing type but those around the turret guard and rear fuel filler guards the incorrect pitted style, easy enough to fix.

If it’s not getting too picky you could also drill out the drain holes in the ventilator and fuel cap guards to add to the details.

On the rear hull are ten small bolt heads which have the locations marked with painted dots on the plastic and you are provided with the bolt heads on the etched fret or as moulded plastic bolts on the sprue V runners that you can carefully cut off and use if you prefer. The bolts on the centreline should be offset slightly to the left and this can easily be done by gluing the bolts off centre.

Rear hull with painted dots for loacting the separate bolt heads

Etched parts are included for the front fenders and the fender attachment strip along the lower sides of the hull sponsons.

The metal tow cable supplied would need to be annealed by running through a candle flame to get a natural sit on the vehicle as it is very springy as it comes but again is a nice inclusion for additional detail definition.

The early low bustle 75mm turret is all new and has the upper shell and lower ring as separate parts with all fittings also separate parts, this includes the periscope mountings and clear plastic periscopes as well as the separate pistol port door with inner support bracket.

Included on the turret shell is a nice subtle cast texturing but to achieve the pistol port details, slide moulds were used which have left a raised mould seam around the port which you will have to remove and then reinstate the cast texture with “Mr. Surfacer” of similar, this will also be needed at the rear upper and lower part join. But it should be noted that there is actually a raised weld seam where the join line is (not the exact same location) and this should also be added.

On the inside of the gun opening is added a separate bolted ring for the gun shield which of course can’t be seen after assembly but it is nice attention to detail to add this as a separate part.

Based on additional information I have amended the comments here on the kit gun mounting as the initial posting was not entirely correct, sorry if this was misleading.

The turret is fitted with the M34A1 gun mounting and there are two gun shields provided, the initial type with the bolted strip on three sides (part B17) and the later type with wider shield and the bolted trip along the top and bottom only (part B14). The late rotor shield (part B13) has fairly heavy cast texture that could do with light sanding to reduce a little and this includes small indentations at the top which are as a consequence of the contours along the top of the shield for the central bulge.

The contours on the shield appear straight when viewed from above and the indentations appear more substantial when viewed from different angles and while a little exaggerated on the kit shield should be there and the rotor shield in the kit is the type used on Tarawa Shermans.

The 75mm gun is moulded in one piece with hollowed out muzzle and just the small moulding seam the be eliminated and the co-ax .30 machine gun has very nice perforated jacket detail and the muzzle is also hollowed out slightly but you may want to drill this out further for a better look.

The forward vane sight is in two etched halves to give the stepped looks and there is also a finely moulded .50cal MG clip on the hatch ring but no .50cal MG is included in the kit.

Other details are a nicely detailed search light, alternate aerial mounts at the back and three different foundry cast logos in etched brass to add to the rear of the bustle to give a bit of choice here. Also added to the rear bustle are etched tie downs and stowage straps that were often fitted here

The split Commander’s hatch has no cast texturing and also has a large moulding seam around the outside that will be easy enough to remove and the split hatches have no pin marks to worry about and separate periscopes, grab handles and inner fittings.

Overall this is very good early 75mm turret and probably the best you will find in plastic this side of a resin casting but there are a few things to watch for and as mentioned the early rotor shield will have to be updated for any later turrets.

The large decal sheet is well printed with good colour register and closely cropped carrier film and has turret and hull markings for 7 Shermans, 6 from C Company 1st Marine Amphibious Corps Tank Battalion, Tarawa 1943 and 1 from D Company.

The markings include the vehicle names in yellow, the vehicle registrations in blue as well as the elephant motif and white markings for the D Company Sherman. You should also note that the elephant motifs should be yellow and not grey as on the sheet.

Vehicle names included are:
C Company:
D Company:


This is another good rendition of the Sherman with ongoing updates added for a good representation of an early M4A2 with some well defined details such as the new turret, the raised hull welds even if not quite right and the DS vinyl tracks. The only issue really are the now aging suspension bogies although the updated idler is good to see and the short driver’s hoods plus the packaging issue with the tracks.

The kit will build into a very nice early M4A2 with only minor issues in the overall scheme of things and will satisfy most who have wanted a good M4A2 for ages.

Highly recommended

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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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

Aslo see Saul Garcia's review on Track Link for another view of the kit
Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service fromRainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created October 19, 2006
Updated October 20, 2006 (Blue text)

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