This new M4A2 kit has 285 parts in light grey plastic plus another 18 in clear plastic, 18 in etched metal with a metal 76mm barrel and tow cable and a vinyl mantlet dust cover as well as a set of vinyl T49 Steel Block tracks.
One of the sprues (V) with suspension parts is from the recent Firefly Vc (Kit 6182) with the rest newly tooled for the M4A2.
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.
The main features of the kit are the new hull parts with correctly angled upper hull, yes the rear plate is the right angle for an M4A2 but strangely the hull weld seams are still indented and not raised, but this is easy to remedy using thin sprue or epoxy rolled into a thin strip and then textured.
There are a few choices for the suspension bogies with the ‘Type 2C-2 Intermediate raised roller’ or ‘Type 2D Late with raised roller arm’ supplied as well a choice of road wheels of the ‘open spoke’ or ‘solid spoke’ with separate rear inserts except for the idler which strangely doesn’t get a rear insert? The track guides on the bogies are separate parts but could do with some thinning as they are quite thick and don't have the four retaining bolts while 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.
The instructions only show to use the open spoke wheels but photos show both types used on Russian Lend Lease Shermans so you can take you choice.
It should also be noted that although there are alternate bogies and road wheels you can only build one set of six suspension units as there are only enough suspension arms for the six units, so the spare bogies and road wheels can be added to the bulging Sherman spares box.
Only one type of drive sprocket is supplied, the ‘Type 1B Fancy Smooth’ sprocket but nearly all photos I have seen of Lend Lease M4A2 76(W)s are fitted with the ‘Type 3 Simple Plate’ sprockets, these are also shown on the box top illustration so it is strange they are not included?
The rear hull plate has all separate parts for the exhausts and idler mounts as well as an overhead hull extension with louvers and side panels that nicely fill the underside of the upper hull overhang; the lower hull also has sponson bottom extensions included to fully fill any gaps as per the Tamiya Shermans.
At the front is the Type 2D (Late) single piece transmission cover which has nice subtle surface texturing but no casting numbers or underside drain plugs but these shouldn’t be difficult to add and the towing shackles have a separate outer fillet for better detail definition and a separate top bolt attachment strip and raised splash guard.
The upper hull features separate engine deck which in turn has separate compartment
doors with interior louver detail while at the front are separate crew hatches
with separate periscopes and rotating mountings with the periscopes themselves
in clear plastic.
A tip when painting these clear periscopes is to add a base coat of the periscope lens colour before the final colour because if you just paint them like solid plastic parts this is the colour the periscope faces will be and you’ll have to paint them the right colour defeating the purpose of being clear parts in the first place.
All details on the upper hull are separate parts as well as the fuel filler caps with filler detail included on the hull which offers the choice of showing these open or closed for a bit a variation although you will have to add the small wire pin yourself and at the front there are separate head lights and siren (in clear plastic) as well as lifting shackles, barrel travel lock and hull .30cal barrel all of which have well defined details. Added to this is a choice of plastic or etched head and tail light guards depending on your preference as well as separate front fenders.
The two crew hatches as mentioned above also have finely moulded periscope guards in plastic or etched parts which are very fine but have a flat profile and not rounded which may not be that noticeable due to the small size?
All the pioneer tools are also separate items with moulded on tool tie downs and these could well benefit from etched parts for better detail definition or of course you could use the excellent Formations M4 Tool Set.
The new T23 turret has nice subtle surface texture with the shape of the pistol
port housing being better than on previous plastic T23 turrets and the port
is a separate part to help with the definition.
The lower join line between the upper and lower turret parts will need eliminating and the surface texture reapplied by using liquid cement of applying Mr.Surfacer.
All the details are again separate such as the Commander’s cupola with separate clear periscopes and hatch as well as a separate Loader’s hatch plus the two front turret periscopes and their mountings with the periscopes again from clear plastic with the loader’s scope having a choice of plastic or etched guard.
The mantlet also has nice subtle texturing as well as well defined co-ax machine gun opening with a choice of plastic or metal 76mm gun tube with separate single piece muzzle brake. There is no thread protector if you wanted to build a vehicle without the muzzle brake but you could add this from plastic rod if desired?
Also included is vinyl mantlet dust cover which has nice details and fits snugly over the mantlet while it should be noted that was not usually seen during WW2 but was common on Sherman’s in Korea and is a nice option.
The .50cal machine gun supplied is quite passable and again is an improvement over earlier efforts with separate ammo feed box and late war pintle mount. The rear turret clips for storing the .50cal are quite finely moulded and again should look okay.
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 small sheet has turret and hull markings for two Russian Lend Lease vehicles but some of the features in the kit don’t match the vehicles on the sheet exactly.
Both vehicles on the sheet have clear photos in the Wydawnictwo “Militaria” book 135 “Lend Lease Vol.II” with the first decal option of 2nd Tank Army, Berlin 1945 shown on page 57 and features the ‘Type 3 Simple Plate’ drive sprocket with T54E1 Steel Block track both of which aren’t included in this kit but with the open spoke road wheels which are in the kit. This vehicle is also featured on the box top with the correct drive sprocket and track, so someone knew they should be there?
The second decal option from the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps, 1944/45 is shown on page 24 of the Wydawnictwo book again featuring the ‘Type 3 Simple Plate’ drive sprocket with 76mm gun without muzzle brake and smooth dish road wheels but with the T49 Steel Block track so a few modifications will be needed to portray these vehicles accurately.
A quick note on the quite comical illustration on the instruction sheet which shows the T49 track extending way out past the sides of the vehicle by about a third so have a quick laugh and disregard this illustration.
Overall this is a very nice rendition of the late M4A2 with some well defined details and improvements over previous efforts although there is still room for improvement but things are going in the right direction which should please Sherman fans.
A few more options such as the alternate drive sprockets and track to cater for the main variations on Lend Lease vehicles would have been nice while the alternate metal parts and options of periscopes and fuel filler caps as well as the upswept roller arm bogies add to the overall nice appeal.
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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
|Lend Lease vol.II
Wydawnictwo 'Militaria' 135
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Page created 2 October 2004