M4A1 Sherman (Mid production)
Tasca 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35010

Review by Terry Ashley

Tasca have followed their excellent Sherman VC Firefly (kit #35009) with this new kit of the M4A1 Sherman (Mid Production) featuring the cast hull without the direct vision ports of the first M4A1. The kit consists of 379 parts in dark olive drab plastic, 7 in clear plastic with a further 26 finely etched parts plus a set of vinyl T51 rubber Block track, poly caps for the suspension and of course the decal and instruction sheets.


The Kit:

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.

There are a number of options provided including alternate road wheels and drive sprockets, three piece bolted and single piece transmission housings, round and square air cleaners but just the early M34 gun mounting.

Dimensionally the kit measures out perfectly in all areas against available plans including the scaled up 1:48 plans in Hunnicutt’s Sherman books with any discrepancies being well within acceptable limits. One thing to note is some of these plans are incorrect in some areas and checking the kit parts directly with photos shows they are correct and the plans not, most notably the position of the lifting eyes on the gun shield with all plans showing them too far inboard. Another is the hull length shown in the Ampersand Modeler's Guide to the Sherman is about 5mm too long which again shows you can’t rely on a single set of plans.

The kit shares a number of sprues (A, B, C, D and G) from the previous Firefly kit which results in a number of excess parts not used with this kit that can be added to the spares box along with new sprues E, F, H and J for the M4A1 parts (plus a few applicable to the M4). Also included in one of the superb .50cal machine guns from set #35-L9 and the US Jerry cans from set #35-L14.

Lower Hull:

This consists of individual panels for the floor, side and rear panels plus the sponson covers and an internal engine firewall bulkhead that has access panels included in case anyone wants to add and engine at any time.

As with any multi-part hull the fit here determines how the rest of the kit goes together and 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 extensively detailed with separate engine inspection hatches, very detailed idler mountings in two parts plus the idler axles and the choice of round or square air cleaners made up of three main parts each with the attachment clips as etched and fine plastic parts as well as the lower towing shackles.

The sponson covers are also included with 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 riveted configuration indicative to those produced by the Pressed Steel Car Company.

As mentioned you have a choice of three piece bolted or single piece cast transmission covers to use as required, the instructions indicate which cover should go with the markings options provided, so check which is applicable for the model you are building.

Three piece bolted transmission cover:

The early bolted transmission cover has the bolted flanges in two pairs of two part flanges with allows for excellent bolt head details to be included as well as the distinct join seam between the two flanges as seen on the real thing. Ensure you do not fill this seam with excess glue during assembly as it should be there and adds to the level of detail in the kit.

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 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.

Single piece cast transmission cover:

The cover provided is the first of the “sharpened beak” style covers with the upper raised lip protecting the bolted strip which was seen on early Shermans along with the earlier rounded profile transmission cover.

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.


The suspension which was previously released as set #35-007 and included in the Firefly kit has the early VVSS bogies with straight roller arm and raised roller supports and two sets of road wheels, open spoke and solid spoke pressed dish with rear inserts for complete wheels. There is also a choice of separate track skids with the early half skid (used for markings options 1 to 3) and final skid type (for marking option 4). Both are moulded quite thin and include the retaining bolts, well three of them as the inner front bolt is missing probably due to moulding constraints but is easily added.

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 actual solid spoke wheels feature twelve small rivets around the insides of the rims and these are provided moulded onto the sprues which you have to cut off and position around the wheel rims yourself. This is quite a delicate job that will need a very sharp blade to carefully slice off the rivets and then patience and care to position each with a small dab of liquid cement around the rims.

Only enough rivets are provided for the outside wheels of each bogie unit but it would be difficult to see them on the inside wheels anyway and given the amount of work to add them this will probably save you from going completely blind after doing the outside wheels.

Bogie Assembly:

The bogies fully articulate after assembly due to the separate lower suspension arms that trap the road wheels between them and are then in turn trapped between the inner and outer bogie halves. The upper suspension arm is in one piece as are the volute springs with three small sections of rubber sheet you cut from the larger sheet provided being added to the top of the volute springs that give the ‘spring’ when the suspension is depressed.

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. The design on the bogies and suspension arms allows both wheels to be depressed at the same time and not just rock back and forth as with most other suspension sets included the separate AFV Club set.

The fit of the bogies to the hull is as you would expect very precise without any movement of the bogies for easy assembly.

As mentioned you should use the early half skids (parts B17) for marking options 1 to 3 and later skid for marking option 4 (parts B15), the instructions do show this but it's easy to miss if not paying attention.


This is the T51 Rubber Block track which is one of the most widely seen on early Shermans and comes in 4 sections of a vinyl type material that has very good track pad details included with the end connectors in the correct place and even small gaps between the links. The track sections glue together with normal plastic cement and are quite flexible, easily conforming around the drive sprockets for perfectly adequate tracks for your Sherman with the only cleanup being three pour scars on the inside which are easy to cut off with a sharp blade.


Upper Hull:

The cast upper hull of the M4A1 is a single large moulding with openings for the crew hatches, turret ring which features attachment bolt detail around the ring, the full engine deck with separate grouser box covers plus separate fuel filler caps, ventilator and other smaller details, although the two periscopes in front of the crew hatches are moulded on in the closed position.

The contours of the cast hull are captured well from most angles and one thing to note on the cast M4A1 hull is the sides are not perfectly vertical (apart from the earliest models) but are angled in at slightly different degrees depending on the production foundry. Looking at the Tasca hull it appears to the eye they are vertical but in fact they are sloped inwards a couple of degrees to represent this feature nicely.

There is also extremely subtle cast texturing on the hull surfaces and looking at most photos of M4A1 hulls from a normal viewing distance shows it is difficult to see the cast texture and this is often overdone but for mine is represent well here for scale effect. Some may wish to use Mr.Surfacer (or similar) to add a more aesthetically appealing cast texture look but that is up to individual choice.

The engine deck is broken into two sections with the forward section having the covered intake and underside grills as etched screen to add should you wish to show this open. The fuel filler caps on this panel are also separate but there is no inner filler detail, just open holes so it’s best to glue the caps in place.

The other panel is quite plain with just the moulded on grab handles and fitting the panels to the hull is trouble free as the fit is again perfect without the need for any trimming.

The separate grouser covers are fully hollow with etched front mesh screens and looks very good when attached and the taillights feature the different configuration left and right so make sure you fit the lights on the correct side.

Also included are taillight bush guards only in plastic but are moulded commendable thin with a choice of two styles provided depending on the marking option chosen, so again check 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 green and clear plastic but there are a couple of pin marks to be removed plus separate periscope covers and there is also a very small hatch spring that requires care when fitting. 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 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 are separate side mountings depending on wether you are fitting the fenders to the bolted or one piece transmission cover so again check the instruction closely to use the right parts.

Added to the hull front are the head lights with 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. Also included is a small etched bracket sometimes fitted between the crew hatch castings if applicable?

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.

The Turret:

The turret is the early low bustle 75mm turret with single Commander’s hatch and has the upper shell and lower ring as separate parts with all other fittings also separate parts, this includes the periscope mountings and clear plastic periscopes as well as the separate pistol port door with inner support bracket.

Included on the turret shell is a very subtle cast texturing as with the hull 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.

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 as noted the lifting eyes are located in the correct positions. When fitting the eyes, take care as they are different each side and checking the instructions closely should ensure they are not transposed.

As well there is a choice of rotor covers, one with and one without the protective “ears” for the barrel, both are applicable to the kit depending on the decal options chosen as indicated in the instructions.

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 not used on all the vehicles featured on the decal sheet so check before gluing in place.

The 75mm gun tube is moulded in two pieces but the fit is very good resulting in just a very small moulding seam the be eliminated but 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 .50cal MG mount plus the separate hatches. These have a separate periscope again in green 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 forward vane sight is in plastic and there is also a finely moulded .50cal MG clip on the hatch ring with the excellent .50cal MG from Tacsa’s set #35-L9 included and this would have to be the best .50cal MG currently available in plastic (see full review here).

Other details include the aerial mounts and the three lifting eyes as well as the appliqué panel sometimes fitted, again check references on this and to show the excellent attention to detail on this kit is the inclusion of the two small drain holes on the roof ventilator housing. They don’t go all the way through but are small indentations which you can fully drill out if wished.

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, see full review here.


The decal sheet is nicely printed with carrier film close to the printed image to help reduce silvering with markings for 4 Shermans included on the sheet.

There is a selection of white markings for the unit insignia, allied stars and vehicle name sand the light blue vehicle registration numbers.


The vehicles included are:
  • HQ Company, 2nd Battalion, 13rd Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Tunisia, Spring 1943
  • 3rd Battalion HQ, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, Sicily, July 1943
  • HQ Company, 2nd Battalion, 13rd Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Tunisia, Spring 1943
  • Tank No.9, C Company, 751th Tank Battalion, 5th Army, Italy, April 1945

The instructions are the usual exploded view drawings which are easy to follow even though some of the text is in Japanese only the images mostly speak for themselves as this is not an overly complicated kit.


This kit would have to rate along with the Firefly as one of the best out of the box kits yet released with well research and executed details and a nice selection of options to allow different vehicles to be built.

As with any kit there is room for improvement and for adding details but from a starting point this kit is simply outstanding in its engineering, details including and the superb fit of the parts.

The kit concentrates on the exterior apart for the co-ax machine gun and periscopes but is set up for either a partial interior in subsequent releases or to add any aftermarket interior that may come.

Highly recommended 8.5/10

Comparison with Dragon kit #6048 M4A1 Sherman 75mm Early Version::

I was going to do a full comparison of these two kits but it quickly became apparent this was basically unfair.

The Dragon kit was first released 11 years ago and while I’m not saying it is bad as it will build into a nice kit in its own right and you do get other options such as the M34A1 gun mounting it is simply not in the same league as this new Tasca kit.

The advances in technology and moulding techniques in the intervening years are abundantly apparent and so will leave it there.

You can see a review of the Dragon kit #6048 here with images of the parts to make your own comparisons.

The Sprues:

Sprue Images
Click on thumbnail for larger view
Detail images
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See the Sherman Subject Page for additional reviews of Sherman related kits and accessories.

Also see the review by Jim Rae on Armorama for another opnion on the kit.

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special.
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 13
ISBN 83-86209-09-7
M4 Sherman at War
Concord Publications
Armor at War Series #7001

Thanks to Tasca Modellismo Co.,Ltd. and Lucky Models for the review kits.

Page created October 23, 2007