M4A3 Sherman
105mm HVSS

Academy Kit #13207, Dragon Kit#6354, Tamiya Kit #35251
1:35th Scale
Comparison review by Terry Ashley
Part 3

All three 105mm turrets represent the later high bustle turrets as they should but the first thing noticed when comparing the three was the close resemblance of the Academy turret to that from the Tamiya kit in size, engineering and the carry over of errors from the Tamiya to the Academy turret. The most notable of these is the ridge under the thickened right cheek armour that is continued all the way around the Tamiya turret rim which is incorrect and this is replicated on the Academy turret. This ridge is correctly depicted only under the cheek armour on the Dragon turret but the profile is too rounded and should be sharper which can easily be fixed with a little filing plus it has subtle cast texturing not on the other turrets.

The engineering and incorrect size of the gun mounting is also similar on both the Academy and Tamiya turrets but markedly different on the Dragon turret with the size of the Dragon mounting being correct apart from the width which is too narrow, more on that below. Another similarity is that both the Academy and Tamiya turrets do not have the small notch in the front of the lower turret ring which is a notable feature of all 75/105mm Sherman turrets and the Dragon turret has this notch included.

Also the Academy turret has some strange contours on the right side under the Commander’s cupola which I have not seen on a Sherman turret and some vigorous sanding and filling would be needed to smooth out this area.

There was also a dimensional difference between the turrets with both the Academy and Tamiya turrets being short lengthwise by 1.5mm, the actual turret ring is the right size but the bustle over hang is short by the 1.5mm with the Dragon turret again correct in this regard.

Turret detail images
Click for larger view
M4A3 Sherman
Close new window to return to review

This was confirmed from scaling up the 1:48 plans in Hunnicutt and also checking the high bustle turrets from Formations. I know comparing one kit part to another is no way of doing things but knowing the research Rob puts into his sets it confirmed what the Hunnicutt data told me.

Overall the Dragon turret conforms to the Hunnicutt plans the best with any discrepancies being well within acceptable tolerances given the printing processes for the plans and subsequent conversion from 1:48 to 1:35 plus other factors.

There are some minor issues with the Dragon turret such as the ventilator domes being undersized but the turret itself it is the most accurate of the three, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the gun mounting and mantlet which have major dimensional errors.

The width of the real mantlet as indicated in the Hunnicutt Sherman book and against actual measurements (thanks to Chris “Toadman” Hughes) sees the mantlet 40.5/8inches wide (give or take a fraction) which in 1:35 scale equates to 29.5mm (again give or take a fraction). The Tamiya mantlet is 29.5mm wide with the Academy is 29.2mm but the Dragon mantlet is just 27mm wide being 2.5mm too narrow which is quite noticeable compared to the other kit mantlets and against the data. The contours on the Academy mantlet are also way out on the right side as is the Dragon part due to the narrow width with the Tamiya being the best proportioned of the three.

I have updated the images below to show the 105mm mantlet from the old Dragon kit #6807 "M4A3 HVSS POA-CWS-H5 Flamethrower" released back in 1995 in the "Korean War Series" as this has the correct sized mantlet both in width and gun collar size although slightly too tall which makes the undersized parts in the new kit even more puzzling.

Image of real mantlet courtesy Chris “Toadman” Hughes

All three mantlets are the same correct height which makes the narrow Dragon mantlet stand out more and the gun mounting fitted to the front of the turrets are also sized accordingly to match the mantlets.

Conversely the dimensions of the curved gun mounting are the correct height on the Dragon mounting and way too small on the Academy and Tamiya mountings. Basically this is due to the Academy and Tamiya mountings being made to fit inside the thick plastic mantlet while the Dragon mantlet in bevelled on the inside to fit over the correct sized mounting.

The four large retaining bolts on the Dragon mantlet are also undersized and the barrel collar is about 1mm too narrow while the two aperture holes for the sight and co-axial MG are the correct size on the Dragon mantlet and slightly oversized on the other two.

All three mantlets are fairly basic is detail with all not having the “eye patch” cap for the right side telescopic sight aperture which was fitted to later production 105mm howitzer turrets. As the Dragon and Tamiya kits represent WWII vehicles this omission is probably okay but it should be on the Academy Korean version and there are also large foundry casting numbers located under the telescopic sight aperture which are missing from all but the Tamiya mantlet.

One nice feature of the Dragon kit is the separate fine parts for the canvas cover retaining strips which also incorporate fine pins and these look excellent but are designed for the undersized mantlet unfortunately.

So all three mountings and mantlets are a mixed bag with some wrong and some right features in different areas but the correct height gun mounting on the Dragon kit is negated by the markedly too narrow mantlet.

All three 105mm barrels are the correct length and diameter but as mentioned the Dragon mantlet collar is 1mm too narrow in diameter meaning that the barrel fits very snugly into the Dragon mantlet but there should be a small gap between the barrel and collar as depicted on the other two kits. The plastic Dragon barrel is in one piece with hollowed out muzzle that includes over scale rifling while the metal barrel has no rifling which is noticeable with this larger calibre barrel.

The Academy barrel is also in one piece with hollowed out muzzle and no rifling but there are a couple of large pin marks along the length to be carefully removed along with the fine mould seam. On the Tamiya kit the barrel is split in two halves in the conventional manner of the day resulting in the join seam to be eliminated.

All three kits have the Commander’s vision cupola as a separate part with the top hatch being another separate part with the Tamiya kit having just the two parts for the simplest arrangement. Both the Academy and Dragon hatches give you separate periscopes, normal green plastic in the Academy and clear plastic in the Dragon kit with separate outer grab handle and periscope cover with the Dragon cupola also having separate clear vision scopes but these would be painted in any case.

The detail on the three cupola’s is fairly well done but the Dragon part lacks the large screw head slots and the hatch contours should be more rounded which you can easily do with light sanding with the Academy kit having the better cupola of the three.

Commander's cupolas

Moving to the Loader’s hatch, all three kits have this separate with the Dragon and Tamiya hatches having the two springs moulded in place with the Academy hatch having separate springs but these are a little oversized but have better defined detail.

The Academy and Dragon hatches have separate grab handles with the Dragon handle better profiled while the Tamiya hatch has the handle moulded in place lacking definition. The hatches are slightly different sizes with the Academy and Tamiya hatches being 16.2mm at the widest point length wise with the Dragon hatch being 15.6mm. According to the Ordnance drawings the width of the hatch is 21 1/2inches which in 1:35 equals 15.603mm making the Dragon hatch the correct size.
(updated Dec. 6, 2006)

Loader's hatches

Both the Academy and Dragon turrets have separate parts for the main Commander’s and the Loader’s periscopes but the Academy kit lacks the ‘box’ cover over the Commander’s periscope which should be there as the kit depicts the later configuration. Dragon gives the option of the early periscope the same as the Loader’s or the later type with cover and both Academy and Dragon give finely moulded plastic bush guards for the Loader’s periscope.

The 105mm turrets feature two top ventilators, front and rear with both being separate parts on the Academy kit, while the front in moulded in place with just the rear as a separate part on the Dragon kit with both moulded in place on the Tamiya kit with the end result being much the same although the inner ventilator dome is slightly too small on the Dragon ventilators.

On the left side the pistol port on the Academy and Dragon kits has the raised port housing included with the turret resulting in fine mould lines to be removed from around the port and with the door as a separate part. The Dragon kit provides the inner door arm if you want to show this open which is not with the Academy kit while the Tamiya kit has a single separate part for the port and housing. The port housing blends into the turret wall better on the Dragon turret than on the other two and gives the better appearance.

Another distinctive feature of the 105mm turrets is the redesigned machine gun pedestal base designed to fit over the rear ventilator and this is a separate part on all three turrets but the cut-outs are far too small in the Dragon part and just doesn’t match photos of the actual base.

MG mounting

Other details added separately to the Academy and Dragon turrets are the search light, Commander’s vane sight, forward MG support and rear .50cal barrel clips and all these parts are moulded much finer on the Dragon kit and will they require very careful handling while removing from the sprues and in fitting but the scale definition looks considerable better on the turret.

Academy provide a nicely detailed .50cam machine gun although there is a sizable sink mark on each side of the receiver but strangely Dragon don’t give you any additional weapons at all.

Review: Introduction

Part 1: Hull details

Part 2: Suspension details

Part 3: Turret detail (this Page)

Page created December 3, 2006

Click Browsers BACK button to return to list
Home / Reviews / Vehicle Reviews / M4A3 Sherman 105mm HVSS Kit Comparison