Update: (February 13, 2006)
I have purchased a second kit from outside Japan and it indeed has a revised upper hull and turret from the initial kit received. The rear hull angle has been angled at 10° and includes cast surface texture with the sides the same as before with the cast texture reduced towards the lower edge of the hull.
The turret has had the contours around the pistol port revised and also includes cast texture around the pistol port.
Without receiving any advice to the contrary it appears modellers who bought the kit in Japan have to; 1. notice the parts are inferior to those sold in kits elsewhere in World and 2. make their own running in getting replacement parts?
Update: (March 10, 2006)
After contacting Dragon Care they were happy to provide the replacement Hull and Turret parts from my kit purchased in Japan, thanks to Dragon Care for that. If you wish to get the corrected parts just lodge a ticket with Dragon Care and they are sure to help out.
This latest Sherman release from Dragon follows the other recent VVSS kits of the M4A2 (kit #6188) and M4A3(76)W (kit #6255) to give us the big hatch M4A1(76)W which up until now had only been available with the aging Italeri kit (#225).
The kit shares many parts from previous Dragon Sherman kits and isn’t a new generation Sherman as some had thought (and hoped) from the pre-release hype but that is not to say things are poor, far from it as we will see below.
All the suspension parts with some having a lineage right back to the Italeri Sherman kits, the track (T48 rubber chevron and T62 British steel chevron links), lower hull tub, turret (re-worked), gun (metal and plastic), clear parts and many smaller items are from the previous kits #6188, #6255 and even sprues from older kits #3529 (for transmission cover), #6031 (a couple of intake covers) and #6048/9037 (some suspension parts) with the only really new parts being the cast upper hull, hull hatches and smaller details plus the rear hull plate and details such as the air cleaners and exhausts.
What you also get with all these different sprues is heaps of unused parts to further fill the spares box in keeping with some previous Dragon Sherman kits.
The kit has 425 parts in light grey plastic plus another 912 parts for the individual track links with 18 in clear plastic, 31 in etched metal, a metal 76mm barrel and 2 turned brass 76mm rounds and a metal tow cable plus the decal and instruction sheet.
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. There are many small ‘nodes’ on the parts to be removed but these are a small price to pay for the cleaner parts overall.
As mentioned the lower hull tub and suspension are from previous kits with the lower hull including the sponson fillers with the underside panel detail being correct for the M4A1.
The suspension gives you a choice of straight roller arm with raised return roller support or the later raised roller arm type. The track guides on the raised roller bogies are separate parts but could do with some thinning as they are quite thick and lack the four securing bolts while the bogies and arms are nicely detailed with the three bottom bolts and fine casting numbers on the bogies and arms.
The earlier (kit wise) raised roller arm bogies have the track skids included with the bogie but also don't have the three bolts at the bottom or skid attachment bolts with the instructions showing to consign these to the spares box and use the better detailed raised roller bogies.
Also included are two sets of pressed solid spoked road wheels which have basic grease nipple detail and back inserts for one set while the other (older) set has open backs but the idler is left with open backs and as this is the most easily seen of all the wheels it is quite strange. Also the idler is showing its age with a fairly substantial mould seam to be removed around the wheel but the hub cap is moulded in place, there is also an older idler included with separate hub cap but this again is best consigned to the spares box.
Two types of drive sprocket is supplied, the ‘Fancy Smooth’ sprocket and the 'Solid Simple Plate' sprocket and you should check references to see which is applicable for the particular model you are building with both types can be seen in photos of the M4A1/Sherman IIA.
The tracks Sprues F an G also first appeared back with the Firefly and subsequent kits with track links for the T62 British style steel chevron and T48 rubber chevron track plus additional duckbill extensions although there are only enough end connectors to assembly one set of tracks and again you have to make a choice as to the type used with the remaining pads being consigned to the spares box.
The rear hull panel is a very good fit to the hull but you have to open up
a few locating holes for the tow shackles before attaching to the hull and
you get the sponson filler and hull side extensions as separate parts.
The square air cleaners are in three parts with separate securing wing nut fittings as well as the separate idler mountings and side support brackets.
The assembled bogie units have mounting plates which include the retaining bolts and fit neatly to the hull sides without problems and while they aren’t new they still build into respectable units with probably just the Tasca units offering better detail in plastic.
At the front is the one piece transmission cover from the M51 kit (#3529) which has quite heavy cast effect which can be toned down a little with light sanding and attached are additional new tow shackle fittings to add a bit more detail here including etched pin chains.
The new big hatch cast upper hull is a single moulding with the front hatches and engine deck panels as separate parts. The hull has a cast effect included which at first glance looks is a little heavy but isn’t really and will be toned down further with a coat or two of paint. The only issue with the cast effect is it smoothes out a little at the lower edges of the hull sides due to moulding constraints and you may want to beef this up a little with Mr. Surfacer?
The hull contours and side panel angles all appear correct when comparing to available data apart from the small rear hull section which is almost vertical and should be angled at about 10° plus all the fuel filler caps are also separate with inner filler receptacles moulded to allow these to be shown open if required.
The front hatches have separate clear periscopes, grab handles and bush guards
in plastic or etched metal but the plastic items are a little thick again due
to moulding constraints and the etched guards have the flat one dimensional
look which is common with this type of etched part and not just with this kit.
At the back are separate engine deck panels with the forward air intake panel having a separate top cover which has cast effect included but you should note that the two fuel filler caps included should not be there for the later M4A1s and you will have to remove these.
There is a choice or rear panel with and without the additional fuel filler receptacle which again has a separate armoured cover and the fit of both panels to the hull is very good not requiring any trimming.
Separate grouser cover intakes with etched screens are provided as is the late rear hull folding storage shelf and spare track racks with other details such as the lights with a choice of plastic or etched bush guards front and rear plus the barrel travel lock, lifting eyes and siren. The front fender extensions are a little on the thick side and could do with thinning at the edges for a better appearance if not replaced with etched items from the inevitable etched sets for this kit.
All the pioneer tools are also separate items with moulded on tool brackets but some are a little chunky and these could well benefit from etched brackets for better detail definition or of course you could use the excellent tool sets from CMD or Formations.
Partly hidden under the rear hull overhang is a new exhaust deflector that has superbly screen details on both sides which are not marred by any pin marks or other blemishes and adds some nice detail to the back end.
The fit of the upper and lower hulls is very good with solid locating grooves on the underside of the upper hull and after fitting together you can fit the steel tow cable supplied which has moulded clips along the upper hull and a separate transmission cover bracket with etched clip and wing nut for good definition.
The T23 turret and mantlet have been re-worked from the parts in kit #6255 with altered contours at front left and right rear as well as enlarged pistol port faring and the addition of the raised guard around the Loader’s split hatch. This gives the turret a new look and also includes surface cast texture on the upper and lower turret parts.
The prominent join seam should be partly smoothed out to simulate the casting scar on the real turret and this varies from turret to turret so you don’t have to be too precise here. There are two large moulding seam lines under the rear MG mounting racks that will need to be removed and there is no cast effect between these marks meaning you will have to add back the cast effect once the seams have been removed but other than that the turret parts fit well.
The large gun mantlet from kit #6255 has also been re-worked with the addition of small casting numbers on the front and more importantly the side trunnion contours and lifting eye have been raised to better represent the correct position and the look is much improved over previous mantlets in this area. Also the inner gun trunnion (part B5) has been enhanced with raised detail on the sides in conjunction with the revised mantlet contours.
The Commander’s cupola has separate clear periscopes for the cupola and hatch as does the Loader’s hatch periscope which also has the periscope mounting plate separate so you can show this rotated for a bit of animation.
The main sight periscope and the ventilator covers, pistol port, aerial mount, lifting eyes and rear MG brackets are all separate parts for good definition.
A choice of two 76mm guns are provided, a turned aluminium M1 barrel without
the thread protector or a plastic M1A2 barrel with single piece muzzle brake.
The metal barrel is the correct length but doesn’t have rifling included
while the plastic muzzle brake is undersized and even with slide moulds is
basic in details.
If you wanted to update or use alternate metal 76mm barrels the M1A1 barrel with thread protector from LionMarc (set #LM20003) or the M1A2 barrel with muzzle brake from Armorscale (set #B35-028) would be just the thing.
As a bonus you get two turned brass 76mm rounds to use as required and the nicely detailed .50 MG is included from the previous kits that has the muzzle hollowed out with slide moulds.
The decal sheet is nicely printed with good colour register and carrier film cropped close to the printed image and has a selection of vehicle numbers, names and unit markings plus a couple of allied stars for the engine deck and turret roof.
Markings are provided for five M4A1 Shermans:
The instruction sheet has greyscale four and five view drawings of the vehicles showing the location of the markings.
While not entirely new as some had hoped this new Sherman will build into a very good model of the late big hatch M4A1 Sherman with the cast effect on the hull and the re-worked turret and mantlet adding additional details.
As with any kit there is scope for additional detailing and about the only area that needs fixing is the removal of the two fuel filler caps next to the air intakes on the rear deck which shouldn’t be too much trouble.
As mentioned the suspension while not new will still build into acceptable units and the kit is bound to be welcomed by Allied fans as well as dedicated Shermahollics.
As a footnote a quick comparison with the aging Italeri late M4A1 sees major improvements with this kit in most areas such as the hull texture, turret and of course no step in the gun barrel and while the Italeri kit was good for its day, time and advanced technology has overtaken it.
See the Subjects listing for all Sherman based reviews on site.
For an alternate view on the kit, see Jim Rae's first look review on Armorama.The Sprues:
Click on thumbnails for larger view
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|SHERMAN A History
American Medium Tank
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
to the Sherman
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
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Page created January 26, 2006