Israeli Tank M1 Super Sherman
Tamiya 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35322
Review by Terry Ashley

This latest release from Tamiya is labelled Israeli Tank M1 Super Sherman as it is based on the preserved example at the Armored Corps Memorial and Museum at Latrun in Israel and I presume the naming is acknowledgement of the assistance provided by the Museum in the kit research. The IDF acquired a variety of Sherman tanks in its early days among them a few stock standard US M4A1 76(W) VVSS Shermans which initially had only minor modifications before the IDF Sherman upgrade program got underway which culminated in the M51 Super Sherman.

The Kit:
The kit represents the IDF M1 Sherman as initially used in IDF service with the only additions from the standard M4A1 76(W) VVSS being a guard added over the original siren guard and canvas dust cover added to the mantlet as well as some minor fittings for Israeli equipment but essentially they remained true to the original M4A1 76(W) VVSS configuration.

As it comes in the box the kit can be built in the IDF markings provided or as a WWII US Army M4A1 76(W) VVSS as it doesn’t include the fittings for the mantlet dust cover presumably to allow easier finishing as a US vehicle?

And so to the kit, this is part new and part old as it includes the lower hull tub, running gear, pioneer tools and numerous smaller detail from the original Tamiya Shermans with sprue A dated 1987 and sprue B dated 1981 plus new parts for the upper hull and turret and the associated smaller parts and has 211 parts in olive drab plastic plus a few vinyl poly caps and a length of twine along with the decal and instruction sheets.

Poly caps and thread

The standard of moulding is quite good but there is some fine flash about the place mostly on the older parts as you would imaging but also a little here and there on the newer parts, there is also a few pin marks about the place such as on the inside of the hatches should you show these open but otherwise if blemish free apart from the usual mould seam lines.

The level of detail is very well done on the newer parts with subtle cast texturing on the upper hull and turret parts but not the older transmission cover which is all but smooth with just a hint of texturing while the detail on the older hull and suspension parts is basic at best. Dimensionally the kit measures out very well to data and plans in the references shown below with only very minor discrepancies well within accepted tolerances.

Lower Hull:
This is the original Tamiya Sherman hull tub and apart from two of the underside triangular bogie cross members and the side suspension bogie mounting plates and rear idler mounts is devoid of any other detail such as the side bolts for the front transmission cover or the underside access panels. The tub includes the front side extensions for the transmission cover but these are the original configuration for the three piece bolted transmission cover and after fitting the one piece cast cover and final drive housings in the kit there are two huge gaps on either side that will need plastic card plugs to fill as they are way too big for filler.

Transmission cover gaps to be filled

The cast transmission cover has nice contours and well defined bolted retaining strip but the tow shackle mountings don’t have any detail, not even the holes for the tow shackles which aren’t provided in the kit anyway or the steps as shown on the box top art and you will have to add the steps from thin plastic strip.

At the back is a new M4A1 style rear hull panel with separate engine access doors, idler mountings and lower tow hitch and mounting bracket, there are also two multi-part square style air cleaners with separate securing clips on the cleaners. The detail on the panel is fairly basic in parts with moulded on door handle and again tow shackle mountings without the shackle holes or the shackles themselves. Also added to the rear hull are upper hull extensions to fill in the gaps under the rear hull overhang in conjunction with the upper hull sponson fillers.

Suspension/Running gear:
As mentioned this is from the original Tamiya Sherman kits and really does show its age compared to contemporary Sherman kits today. The drive sprockets are the solid disk type but apart from the outer disk hub bolt details the inside of the outer disk and the inner disk are devoid of any other details, the two sprocket halves trap a poly cap for easy fitting the final drive axle in the usual Tamiya manner.

Moving to the road wheels, these are the pressed solid spoke type but lack the rivets around the outer rim or the two grease nipples on the dish face and still have the open backs which is very noticeable especially on the first bogie unit and one might consider the Formations set #F041 as replacements as these have the inner face detail as well as the rim rivets and grease nipples already included. The large pressed solid spoke idler wheels also have open backs and these are especially noticeable as they extend out past the rear hull plate and again the Formations set would be a quite remedy for this poor detail.

The suspension bogies have the upswept return roller arm and again are quite basic in detail although the outer bogie face has casting numbers included but lack the three large bolts under the bogie and the top track skid is quite thick as well as no bolts on the skid joins. Assembly of the bogies is very straightforward though making for quick assembly of the six bogie units which is always welcome.

Assembled bogie units showing the open backs on the roadwheels

The kit includes new full strand vinyl T54E1 tracks which have quite good link and end connector details that include the retaining bolt and are well done for the medium but there are some injector marks on the inside of the tracks that will need to be removed using a sharp blade.

The track ends will glue together using normal plastic glue and fit perfectly around the drive sprockets as you would imagine but the track is a quite loose when fitted to the running gear and you may wish to cut one link from the tracks to tighten them up for a better appearance.

Upper Hull:
This is entirely new and is one large moulding with cut-outs for the turret ring, hatches and rear engine deck just like the real thing. The kit also includes the underside sponson filler which is a good to see but they lack the drain plug that should be at the back of each filler strip, this can be added with a small plastic disc if you wish. The contours of the hull are nicely done including the bullet splash guard around the turret ring and rear fuel filler caps, the rear hull angle and the around the front hatches and ventilator, all giving a good appearance to the hull.

A noticeable feature of the hull casting is the asymmetrical driver’s hood bulge which is larger in front of the co-driver’s hood with the hull machine gun opening lower down. This appears from available data to be a casting anomaly from a particular foundry as the published ordnance drawings don’t indicate this is a design feature, but more info may become available on this.

The hull has a subtle cast texturing and also includes another feature of the cast M4A1 hulls, that being the sides are not vertical to 90° but are slightly angled in towards the top curve, this is to allow the hull casting to be extracted from the foundry mould and the Tamiya hull correctly includes the slightly angled side as they should be.

Included with the hull moulding are the driver’s periscopes in the closed position, the water proofing attachment ring around the hull machine gun recess although this is smooth and doesn’t have any of the clip detail it should. There are the fuel fuller caps but you will have to add the cap pins which are missing with all other details as separate parts, these include the two round ventilator caps and the central ventilator cover between the driver’s hatches  as well as separate rear grouser vents. Unfortunately the vents don’t have any front mesh and are completely open as well as the vent hole not being there so they will need the mesh added from spare etched mesh or existing M4A1 etched sets.

Open grouser vents

The fire extinguisher receptacle is just and open hole and will need to be blanked off inside and the handle added for better details while at the front is the basic cal.30 machine gun barrel and ball mounting that is designed to just be glued in place and you may wish to drill out the muzzle for a better appearance if not replacing with an available metal barrel? The separate head lights and siren have the original plastic bush guards which are way too thick and again will benefit from being replaced with etched items. An additional item is the cover that goes over the siren guard for the IDF version but this will of course be omitted if you are building the US Army version.

The front crew hatches have the handles as a solid moulding and the periscopes moulded in the closed position but the periscope guards are new finely moulded parts that add to the detail nicely, if showing the hatches open there is only basic inside detail with plain periscope holders as well as a few shallow pin marks to contend with. The barrel travel lock is also added to the mountings included on the hull moulding, this has nicely done head detail but take care as the old part from the M4A3 kits is still lurking on the sprues so make sure you use the newer item (part K31).

At the back is the three part engine deck with the deck itself in two halves and a separate intake cover with the fit to the hull being excellent but you again will have to add the fuel filler cap pin on the single moulded on filler cap. The rear lifting eyes are added along with the rear taillights and new bush guards; these are a little thinner than the originals but could benefit from being replaced with etched guards. All the pioneer tools are from the original kits and have the clips and brackets moulded with the tools and these again could be replaced with etched items to improve the appearance.

The foldable luggage rack is added to the rear hull but as the rack and the side brackets are fixed in the down position you would have the cut these if you wanted to show the rack folded up.

Joining the Upper and Lower Hull parts:
When it came to fitting the lower and upper hulls together there was a quite uncharacteristic fit issue where the front hull joins the transmission housing bolted strip. The strip is from the original Tamiya Sherman kits and has a diamond shaped profile on the back of the strip with the original M4A3 upper hulls having an indentation in the locating lip at the front of the hull to accommodate the strip profile.  

Unfortunately the front hull lip on the new cast hull is perfectly straight which means you will have to either cut away the diamond shaped profile on the back of the strip to form a perfectly flat surface or cut away part of the lip from the upper hull front, for this exercise I trimmed the bolted strip and once this was modified the upper hull fitted perfectly as intended. This was the only fit issue with the kit, the remainder test fitted perfectly although there was a little flash needed to be removed from some of the older hull part to get a perfect mating surface.

Once the hull sections are joined together you can then add the finely moulded exhaust deflector between the upper hull rear plate and the brackets on the rear hull doors to complete the hull assembly. That is actually easier said than done as it is rather tricky to get the deflector in place and a bit of perseverance will see you though.

Images showing the bolted strip rear contour before and after trimming (left)
and the hull front lip of the M4A3 and new M4A1 kits.


The T23 turret is again entirely new and represents the mid production type with the oval Loader’s hatch but without the dust cover added to the mantlet. It has the upper shell and the separate lower turret ring both with cast texturing included along with cut-outs for the crew hatches and mantlet opening. A nice touch is the very fine casting numbers included on the pistol port, the rear ventilator dome, the mantlet and on the roof.

The join line between the upper and lower sections follows the actual mould line on the real T23 turret so you don’t have to eliminate this join and maybe even enhance it a little to better represent the actual turret. There is an issue though as there is horrendous mould lines under the rear cal.50 machine gun rack posts that actually creates an indent in the turret wall and this will need to be filled and not just sand the mould lines, this will also compromise the surrounding cast texturing which will have to be redone with Mr.Surfacer or similar.

The mantlet again has subtle cast texturing and fine casting numbers included and is attached to the turret gun mounting by way of two poly caps with the mounting in turn attached to the front of the turret. The barrel tube is the correct length and is in two halves, the fit is very precise but there is still a small join seam to be eliminated. The muzzle brake is also in two halves and fits neatly to the barrel and this has two notches to ensure it fits correctly orientated into the mantlet without any problems.

Other items added to the turret are the Commander’s cupola and separate hatch, this has the handle moulded on and a couple of small pin marks on the inside should you wish to show it open, the Loader’s hatch also has similar inside pin marks along with the inner latch and padding detail with the two outer springs moulded in place. Note if you want to have the hatch open the hinge will need to be rounded on the underside to allow this to locate in the open position.

The cover for the Gunner’s sight is a separate part as are the three lifting eyes, the cal.50 barrel lock and bracket on the rear machine gun rack as well as the radio aerial and two part searchlight, there is also a fine bush guard included for the Loader’s periscope with the periscope itself moulded in the closed position.

Note, there are a couple of small square welds added to the turret roof which presumably were on the Latrun Sherman and you may wish to remove these if building a US Army vehicle, also included are two half figures wearing 1950s era IDF uniforms to add to the hatches if you wish with the internal figure stands the only interior included for the turret.

Cew figures included in the kit

Also included is a newer cal.50 M2 HBMG than the initial Sherman kits and while an improvement the detail is still quite basic and could do with additional detailing, the MG has the later D80030 cradle, pintle and ammo box assembly on the roof mounted post.

M2 cal.50 machine gun

The assembled turret fit to the hull with the usual Tamiya locating notches allowing full rotation with the turret staying firmly in place during handling.

The small decal sheet has marking for three IDF vehicles with the appropriate number plates and turret lettering included on the sheet.

Option 1: unidentified unit
Option 2: 7th Armoured Brigade, Sinai Peninsula, December 1956
Option 3: Vehicle displayed at the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun, Israel.

The kit as mentioned is a mixture of old and new with the older lower hull and suspension parts having a distinct lack of detail and are showing their age while the new upper hull and associated parts having better detail but there is still a noticeable lack of the finer details found in contemporary kits of today. The use of the old parts such as the wheels, light guards and tools with the newly tooled parts really does distract from the overall finish of the kit.

The end result is another workmanlike kit from Tamiya with good overall fit and ease of construction other than the uncharacteristic fit issue with the upper/lower hull join to produce an acceptable yet not overly detailed kit of the M4A1 76(W) or IDF M1 Sherman as it takes your fancy.

The best thing about the kit is it provides allied modellers with a version of the M4A1 not kitted before, i.e. with the mid production T23 turret with oval Loader’s hatch and also the asymmetrical Co-driver’s hood bulge for a different and unusual appearance while leaving plenty of scope for additional detailing to produce a more refined model should you wish to do so?

Rating 7.5/10

The Sprues:

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Sprue detail images
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Build Detail Images

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
Ampersand Publishing
M4/M4A1 Sherman
Tankograd Technical Manual
Series - No 6002
Technical Manual CD-ROM
TM9-731A M4 & M4A1

Easy 1 Productions #T002
Easy 1
M4 Sherman
Wydawnictwo Militaria 308
ISBN 9788372193087
Ground Power Magazine
#96 - 5/2002

GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.
Thanks to my credit card and Rainbow Tenfor the review Kit.

Page created July 23, 2011

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