British Army Sherman III
Direct Vision Type w/early VVSS Suspension
Tasca 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35017
British Army Sherman III
Direct Vision Type w/initial VVSS Suspension
Tasca 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35-L28
Review by Terry Ashley
The latest in the Sherman series from Tasca follows on from the recent Sherman II (M4A1) Direct Vision (kit #35014) with two kits of the Sherman III (M4A2) Direct Vision. The first is kit #35017 Sherman III Direct Vision Type w/early VVSS Suspension and special limited edition kit #35-L28 Sherman III Direct Vision Type w/initial VVSS Suspension featuring the early M3 style suspension.
As the two kits are basically the same apart from the suspension, decals and the turret smoke grenades in kit #35017, I will look at both together and all comments apply to both apart from those for the differences mentioned.Kits #35017 and #35-L28 consists of 432 and 411 parts respectively in light beige plastic, 37 in olive drab plastic, 14 in clear plastic plus a set of vinyl T51 Rubber Block track, poly caps and rubber sheet for the suspension and of course the decal and instruction sheets.
The level of detail on the parts is outstanding with subtle cast texturing and casting numbers on some parts plus nicely engraved and raised detail but there are a few pin marks here and there as a consequence and some of the parts are very fine requiring care when removing from the sprue and in fitting.
Dimensionally the kit measures out perfectly in all areas against available plans including the scaled up 1:48 plans in Hunnicutt’s Sherman book and the 1:35 plans in the Armor PhotoGallery #11 M4A2 Sherman Part 1 and Wydawnictwo Militaria 13 books with any discrepancies being well within acceptable limits.
The fit of these parts is superb with the engine bulkhead ensuring everything lines up correctly. There were no gaps or panel movement anywhere and the assembled hull tub is perfectly square so forget any trimming or filling.
The real hull panel is solid with just the exhaust mountings and the detailed idler mountings in two parts plus the idler axles and lower towing shackles which is correct for the Sherman III. Added to the panel is a very well done exhaust pipes/muffler assembly in three parts, just make sure to fit the central exhaust pipes the correct way around when attaching to the rear panel.
There are also the two large upper radiators with fine mesh texturing mounted between three brackets that form the side and central panels and this assembly fits perfectly to the rear of the hull tub.
The sponson covers include the small circular access cover on the rear undersides which is common to all Sherman based vehicles and the hull side panels include the mounting plates for the suspension bogies while the hull undersides has an excellent representation of the Sherman III lower hull configuration.
The kits include both the three piece bolted and early single piece cast transmission covers in the kit with the three piece bolted transmission cover being the most common on the early DV Shermans but some of the initial British Sherman also had the cast covers as well as some being refitted with the cast covers with the instructions indicating this was fitted to two of the six decal options included in the two kits.
The transmission cover has subtle cast texturing as well as foundry casting numbers with the top and bottom bolted strips as separate parts for good definition. The casting numbers are the same as those from the transmission cover in kit #35014 and these reflect the earlier production housings.
The side final drive housings are separate parts with the front hull side extensions included and these are hollowed out with bolt holes around the opening and hull mounting strip for any one wanting to depict the final drive covers separate in a diorama but you will have the scratch the drive gears yourself.
The outer final drive covers feature the correctly detailed axle hubs with the fit being very good to the final drive housings. The fit of the housings to the transmission cover is also very good but there is a small join seam around the housing that may need attention depending what is visible after gluing and care will be needed not to damage the casting numbers and cast texture while doing this.
There is one small detail omission in that the three oil drain plugs are missing from the underside of the housing but these are easy to add from small plastic discs.
The fit of the assembled front transmission to the hull tub is again superb without any trimming or filler needed and don’t be concerned with what looks like a bit of a gap at the side join of the top bolted strip and the hull as this will be fully covered when the hull top is added later.
The transmission cover again has subtle cast texturing with the top and bottom bolted strips as separate parts for good definition.
The side final drive housings are also separate parts hollowed out with bolt holes around the opening and hull mounting strip for as with the bolted cover and there is again subtle surface cast texture included.
The outer final drive covers are the same as for the bolted cover that feature the correctly detailed axle hubs with the fit being very good to the final drive housings.
There is again one small detail omission in that the two oil drain plugs are missing from the underside of the housing but these are easy to add from small plastic discs.
The fit of the assembled front transmission to the hull tub is again superb without any trimming or filler needed with a second lower strip added to the hull tub that acts as a locating tab for the housing ensuring perfect alignment.
There are three types of drive sprockets included with two styles of Fancy Smooth sprockets and the later Simple Plate sprocket with two types of idlers wheels, the open spoke and solid spoke pressed which also have rear inserts.
Also included is the final drive housing plates and drive sprocket axles as mentioned above with the drive sprockets attached by the poly caps trapped between the sprockets halves.
The detail on the road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets is excellent with fine crisp details that include the grease plug and relief valve on all the road wheels and idlers with fine bolt head details on the inside of the drive sprockets. The bogie units don’t have any noticeable cast texture but there are fine casting numbers included which can vary in position depending on manufacturer and period and they also include the three bolts on the bottom of both bogie units.
The separate track skids allow you to fully eliminate the join seam between the two bogie halves, but this was much smaller that on a lot of other kit bogies and won’t take much to deal with but you will have the drill the four bolt holes on the front of the bogie units as with all other kit bogies.
There were no traps while assembling the bogies but it did help to lightly glue the rubber pads to the insides of the inner bogie unit to keep them in place (I used white glue) while fitting the lower suspension arm/road assemblies and outer bogie half. While the bogies are designed to articulate this causes a problem when fitting the tracks as the taught tack compresses the first and last bogies arms and it’s best to glue these in position to ensure the correct sit after the tracks are fitted.
The fit of the bogies to the hull is as you would expect very precise without any movement of the bogies for easy assembly.
Also included in the kit are the small U bolt lifting eyes sometimes fitted to early Sherman bogie units and these can be added as required to add to the nice detail included in the kit.
There is just the one set of open spoke road wheels provided as applicable to early DV type but you do get both the open spoke and solid pressed dish idlers but again you would use the open spoke idlers with this kit.
Added to the rear bogie section are the upper reinforcing fillets that also form the sides of the volute spring mountings and these fit together without any problems.
The upper suspension arms are attached to the one piece volute spring without glue if you want the bogies to articulate, you should also note the orientation of the suspension arms which have a small kink and these should kink outwards when viewed from above so take care to fit the arms the correct way around. There is an overhead illustration in the instructions showing the correct fitting which should alleviate any problems.
After cutting the small sections of rubber sheet using the template provided in the instructions these are added inside the volute spring mountings and the top return roller, volute springs and lower suspension arms/road wheels are all slipped into place on the rear bogie half again without any glue. This may be a little fiddly but the precise fit helps out here and finally the outer bogie half of your choice is fitted in place trapping the return roller and suspension arms in place.
The fit was such that the bogies held together without any glue as they are in the images but of course you would glue the outer bogie half to the rear half ensuring you don't get glue on any of the suspension arms or springs if you want the bogies to articulate after assembly.
There were no traps while assembling the bogies but it did help to lightly glue the rubber pads to the insides of the inner bogie unit to keep them in place (I used white glue) while fitting the lower suspension arm/road assemblies and outer bogie half. While the bogies are designed to articulate this causes a problem when fitting the tracks as the taught track compresses the first and last bogies arms and it’s best to glue these in position to ensure the correct sit after the tracks are fitted.
The fit of the bogies to the hull is as you would expect very precise without any movement of the bogies for easy assembly.
It has been commented there may be an issue with the tracks where the pads appear to be slightly thinner than the normal T51 rubber blocks appearing more like the thinner T41 rubber block track but the difference in 1:35 scale is about 0.5mm so really of little concern to most. The guide tooth profile of the Tasca track correctly depicts the T51 style not that of the earlier T41 track, see here for more on the tracks.
The hull also features the early style aerial pots contours correctly and has the small drain holes indented in the front ventilator guards but you may want to fully drill these out for a better effect.
Obviously the most prominent feature of the hull is the front direct vision ports and these have cut-outs in the hull with the separate visor sections with good vision port detail added from the inside of the hull. The outer visor flap covers are also separate and can be shown raised or lowered and the fit of these parts is very good making for trouble free assembly.
The engine deck is broken into two sections with the forward section having the openings for the four additional fuel filler caps on the M4A2 deck as well as two alternate forward bolted fillets. The two engine bay access doors are also separate with fine louver detail and two small grab handles to add, the doors can be shown open but there is not inside detail if you choose this option to add an engine.
The additional four fuel filler caps on this panel are newly tooled and have better hinge definition than the original separate filler caps that are still included in the kit for the other three filler caps on the outer deck. It’s best to use the new caps for the inner deck and the originals for the others to not mix the caps due to the slightly different detail.
The rear panel is quite plain with just a couple of bolt heads present and fitting the panels to the hull is trouble free as the fit is again perfect without the need for any trimming. The rear hull plate is also a perfect fit and has the central row of bolts heads correctly offset slightly to the left of centre along with the large wrench and sledge hammer with moulded on brackets.
The separate oval grouser covers are flat plates and these fit into the recesses on the rear hull, but references show these should sit above the deck and not recessed which is easy to fix if required? The tail lights feature the different configuration left and right so make sure you fit the lights on the correct side.
Also included are tail light bush guards only in plastic but are moulded commendable thin but some early Shermans didn't have these guards fitted so again check references and the instructions on which is applicable.
Moving to the front are the two nicely detailed small crew hatches that have separate parts for the periscopes which are in both normal beige and clear plastic but there are a couple of pin marks to be removed plus separate periscope covers. On the inside of the hatch is a separate head pad that neatly covers the large pin mark present and the fit of the hatches to the hull is again spot on and very snug.
The hull .30cal MG is provided with the full receiver and handgrip with ball mounting that attaches to the outer ball mounting allowing the MG to move after assembly. The barrel cooling jacket has nicely rendered cooling holes and the muzzle has a small indentation but you may want to drill this out further for a better look.
There is also the option of using one of the metal .30cal barrels available to add additional detail if you wish but the kit gun should be adequate for most
The front fender extensions are in finely moulded plastic with quite thin edges and the raised reinforcing strip is also indented on the underside for excellent detail. There is also provided the full suite of thin sand shields in plastic as fitted to the British Shermans in the desert as well as the full length rack strip used to secure cam nets and other personal gear which is quite distinctive on the desert Shermans. The instructions also show the modification of adding the rearmost fender section to the top edges of the rear hull to provide additional storage space and checking references will determine if this is applicable to the kit being built. The instructions indicate this configuration for two of the decal options provided.
Added to the hull front are the head lights with clear plastic lenses and bush guards again only in plastic but these also moulded quite thin and should look okay and added to the left fender is the siren that just needs the wiring added.
All the tools are finely moulded with the tool brackets included but there are no locating holes on the hull to show their location but fitting these in the correct position shouldn’t be a problem as most references show the locations and there is a plan view in the instructions showing the correct location on the rear hull.
The three water cans carried on the front right fender are provided separately with additional fine plastic storage bin for the cans as well as the distinctive British style turret bustle storage bin provided in two parts if you wanted to show the lid open.
Included on the turret shell is a very subtle cast texturing but there is a very small moulding seam under the pistol port opening that will need to be eliminated and also note there is actually a raised weld seam where the join line is and this can be used to simulate the weld or can enhance this further with thin sprue or similar.
Smaller details include the two small drain hole indentations on the roof ventilator housing and while they don’t go all the way through are quite easy to fully drill out if you wished.
The kit includes just the earlier M34 mounting and this has the contoured gun shield with cast surface texturing as well as very fine casting numbers included on the right side and has the lifting eyes located in the correct positions. When fitting the lifting eyes, take care as they are different parts each side and checking the instructions closely should ensure they are not transposed.
There are the two rotor covers types included in the kit, one with and one without the protective “ears” for the barrel and the cover without the 'ears' is the most appropriate here but again check references for the particular vehicle you re modelling.
On the left side is the raised lip around the co-axial machine gun opening and the co-axial .30cal MG with very nice perforated jacket detail and slightly hollowed out muzzle is also is supplied as the full gun in the mounting which is attached to the side of the inner gun mounting allowing it to elevate with the main gun after assembly. There is also the small .30cal MG shield used on the M34 mount but this is sometimes not fitted to the early British Shermans so again checking references is the best option.
There are two 75mm gun tubes provided with slightly different contours with both moulded in two halves but the fit is very good resulting in just a very small moulding seam the be eliminated and again there is no interior gun breech only the gun mounting held in place by small poly caps allowing elevation.
The Commander’s split hatch has a one piece ring with inner wall padding and the cal.50 MG mount plus the separate hatches. These have a separate periscope again in beige or clear plastic plus separate latch and grab handles and head padding on one side that covers the pin mark present but there are a couple of small pin marks on the other hatch that are easy to remove.
The pistol port on the left side is a separate part which also has the inner support strut should you wish to show this open for a bit of variety.
The forward vane sight is in thin plastic and there is also a finely moulded cal.50 MG clip on the hatch ring with the excellent cal.50 MG from Tacsa’s set #35-L9 included and this would have to be the best cal.50 MG currently available in plastic and doesn't really need the barrel replaced with a metal cal.50 barrel currently available as many plastic cal.50s do.
Also included in the kit are new parts for the early pedestal MG mounting and the early style cal.50 ammo feed box with stamped X reinforcing on the sides as well as a separate top lid allowing you to add the fine cal.50 ammo belt provided to finish off the MG assembly. The later style ammo feed boxes are also still included if you wished to use these or to just add them as a storage option.
Included in kit 35017 only are two smoke generators for the right turret side and these consist of a very basic mounting plate and later style breeches as well as the two separate tubes. These smoke units were not a common sight on early British Shermans being mostly seen on Fireflys which is lucky for as well as the parts being quite basic in detail the tubes are only about 2/3rds the length they should be so it’s best to leave these off. The instructions only indicate their use on one of the options provided in any case.
A standing Commander figure is also included wearing the early war overalls and the detail is quite well defined for a plastic figure and should come up okay with careful painting.
Also included are four if the excellent US Style Jerry Cans from the Tasca set #35-L14 to use as required.
Of course there is the usual proviso of studying the sequences before any cutting or gluing to ensure there are no problems but are easy to follow overall.
There are optional parts provided to make a number of variations such as the gun barrel tubes and rotor covers as well as engine deck fillets, fenders and suspension types to provide a good excuse for buying more than one kit.
As with any kit there is room for improvement and adding the finer details but from a starting point this kit along with the others in the series are simply outstanding in its engineering, details includied and the superb fit of the parts.
This kit will be a must have for any Sherman fan as well as anyone interested in the earlier war period and British armour in particular.
Very highly recommended
Also see Paul Owen's review on Track Link
Click on thumbnails for larger view
British Army Sherman III Direct Vision Type w/early VVSS Suspension(kit#35017)
British Army Sherman III Direct Vision Type w/initial VVSS Suspension (Kit No. 35-L28)
Same parts as above other than the suspension sprues
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R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
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Thanks to Tasca Modellismo Co.,Ltd. for the review kits.