PMMS
Dragon
M4A3E8 Sherman
Dragon
Dragon Kit No. 6283
1:35th Scale
First Look Review by Terry Ashley

In conjunction with the 2005 Expo in Atlanta, Georgia Dragon released a few “specials” sold at the Expo and now available more widely, one of these was the M4A3E8 Sherman of Major Albin F Irzyk during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.

The kit is an amalgam of previous Sherman kits with parts from the older HVSS kits M4A3 HVSS POA-CWS-H5 Flamethrower #6807, M4A3(76)W HVSS Sherman WWII #9010 plus the M50, M51 IDF Shermans (#3528, #3529) and the more recent M4A2(76) Red Army #6188 and M4A3(76)W VVSS Sherman Battle of the Bulge #6255 with the only new item for this kit being the small decal sheet.

The kit has 340 parts in light grey plastic plus another 360 parts for the individual track links with 18 in clear plastic, 20 in etched metal, a metal 76mm barrel with two 76mm rounds and 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. Although the HVSS suspension parts do show their age a little compared to the newer parts and the fact you are marrying the HVSS bogies to the VVSS lower hull requires some modifications to the hull mountings which we will get to shortly.

The sprues included in this kit see Sprue A, G, H (Upper Hull parts) and the lower hull tub from kit #6255 M4A3(76)W with sprues B (Turret), C (Clear) and the metal and etched parts origination from kit #6188 M4A2 (76) Red Army while sprues C (Suspension) and E (T80 track) from kits #6807, #9010.

HVSS Suspension:
The HVSS bogies consist of twelve parts each with quite nice details on the wheel hubs, the static bogie mounts and volute springs considering their age but the hull mounting brackets are over scale and lack any sort of detail with no bolt heads on the mounting plates or under hull brackets. To fit the HVSS bogies to the VVSS lower hull tub requires you to glue the hull plugs (parts A23) in place and when dry cut off the under hull VVSS bracket detail. The upper locating pin on the inside of the HVSS mounting bracket must also be cut off to fit the bogies to the hull and overall this isn’t a lot of work to adapt the bogies to the hull. The other issue is that the HVSS idler mounting brackets are a slightly different design to the VVSS idler mount but may not be that noticeable once the wheels are attached. If you wanted to correct this, the new HVSS idler mounts from Formations (Set #057) would be just the thing.

While we are talking suspension and given you have to do some minor surgery to the lower hull in any case it may be worthwhile to use the HVSS suspension set from AFV Club (Kit #AF35030) which have more detailed bogies with mounting plate bolts and are also articulated with the only additional work needed is to fill the gap at the top of the hull plugs which extend past the AFV Club mounting plates as the Dragon items are too big.

Upper and Lower Hull:
The upper hull features the correct angle of the rear plate (there are small marks on the side of the hull where it has been altered from the M4A2 hull and you may want to smooth these out a little) and features nice raised details around the front crew hatches with casting numbers. There is a separate M4A3 engine deck which in turn has separate compartment doors with interior louver detail but with moulded on grab handles which you may want to replace with thin wire and you should remove the grouser covers from the rear corners as these were not on the E8 hull. The M4A2 engine deck parts are still included in the kit but obviously won’t be used here. At the front are separate crew hatches with separate periscopes and rotating mountings with the periscopes themselves in clear plastic and a choice of plastic or etched bush guards.
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 except for the ventilator between the crew hatches are separate parts including the fuel filler caps with filler detail included on the hull but 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 fit of the parts is excellent especially the rear decking and engine bay doors which fit precisely in place without the need for any trimming or filler which makes for easy fitting.

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 tool sets from CMD or Formations.

As mentioned in the previous Sherman reviews is the fact the main hull weld seams are still depicted as indented and not raised as they should be, but it appears we are stuck with this and are probably used to correcting this major oversight by now.

The rear hull plate has all separate parts applicable for the M4A3 and multi part upper exhaust deflector which looks quite nice as well as the later style deflector. There are the idler mounts as well as side panels that nicely fill the underside of the upper hull overhang and the lower hull also has sponson bottom extensions included to fully fill any gaps remaining.

At the front is the late type 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.

Turret:
The T23 76mm turret has nice subtle surface texture but 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 split hatch with separate doors that feature small casting numbers and separate periscope housings and clear periscopes. 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 and the co-ax machine gun opening although there is no barrel in the opening and the lifting eyes are not quite in right position and should be higher up at the corners. There is a choice of plastic barrel with separate single piece plastic muzzle brake hollowed out using slide moulds or metal 76mm gun but you will have to fully drill out the muzzle brake as only the end cap has a hole while the inner disc is solid.

The .50cal machine gun is from the M4A2 kit and is quite passable being 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.

Track:
The T80 Steel Chevron track supplied is all individual links with additional separate open guide teeth and is designed to be glued together and is not workable.
There are two prominent pin marks on the face of each track link that will have to be eliminated and unfortunately the way the links are attached to the sprues means there is no detail on the end connectors once removed. Each track link and guide tooth has a mould seam line that will have to be removed before assembly which is quite fiddley and it may be easier to clean off the guide tooth seam once the links are glued together making them easier to handle. There is also the issue with the end connectors being attached to each link so they don’t sit evenly around the drive sprockets. With all this you may want to consider aftermarket tracks such as those from AFV Club (Set #AF35032).
While the first HVSS Shermans deployed in the ETO were fitted with T66 Steel Cast track with the T80 Steel Chevron track being introduced later there is photographic evidence of the HVSS Shermans in the Battle of the Bulge being fitted with the T80 track but all photos I have seen include the hull side fender extensions and bracing brackets in place with the kit instruction saying to leave these off.

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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.

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Decals:
The small sheet has markings for the one vehicle, that of Major Albin F Irzyk’s Sherman with the allied stars and serial over painted in dark grey with just the unit designation in white.

Dragon

Conclusion:
Overall a nice kit bash to give you a later HVSS Sherman with just the suspension needing a bit of work but the kit should be welcomed as it gives the later type with the updated details from Dragon’s recent Shermans.

Recommended.

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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References:

SHERMAN A History of the
American Medium Tank

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
book
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
book

Thanks to my credit card and the prompt service from HobbyEasy.com for the review kit.


Page created October 16, 2005

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