|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 24 February 2008.
Dragon's newest Sherman to be released is also their nicest to date. It has a couple of accuracy issues concerning the vehicles represented in the markings, but overall this is probably their best kit.
This is the first time the late, big-hatch version of the M4A2 hull has been released in plastic in this scale. Prior to this kit, the only option to build this Sherman was with the very nice, though expensive, MR Models resin conversion kit. There has been a high demand amongst small scale builders for this version, primarily so we can build Lend-Lease Shermans operated by the Soviets, so this release has made a lot of modelers very happy.
As mentioned, the hull is completely new. Accuracy is pretty good, being a hair too wide and short. The same comments from all of their previous Sherman kits apply here: open crew hatches, very finely molded details, tools molded onto the hull, and overall extremely fine molding. The grills on the engine access hatches have been refined since their early M4A2 releases, looking a bit more realistic.
The turret is a new design for Dragon, being the late version T23 turret with the oval loader's hatch (prior Dragon T23 turrets were the early version with split loader's hatch). Although Dragon's previous turrets were highly detailed, for some reason, the detail on this turret seems to be even better than before. I think they redesigned the commander's cupola, and many smaller details are included, such as a casting mark (indicating that the turret was made at American Steel in East Chicago, Indiana), brackets for securing the .50cal AA machinegun, and mounting lugs for the canvas mantlet cover. All three gun barrels are included (M1A1, and M1A1C or M1A2 with and without the muzzle brake). Three different machinegun mounts are included, which is nice for those other Sherman kits that came with the MG, but not the mounts, although only one set of spade grips is still included. Crew hatches are open and the loader's periscope is positionable.
The other sprues in the kit have been seen in previous releases of Dragon Shermans.
The above sprue is common to the M4A2 variants, and includes the exhaust parts for this kit, as well as a great many spare parts.
The miscellaneous details sprue is included with every Sherman kit, and includes all of the small hull details (some replaced with etched parts) and the .50cal AA machinegun.
And then we have the wheel sprue. Again. The same one as is included with ALL of Dragon's Shermans. This is really getting old. Wake up Dragon! You have shown a willingness to correct errors and improve deficiencies in your kits, so it's long past time you revise this stupid wheel sprue. Aside from the fact that all the wheels are molded onto the bogie arms and look ridiculous, they are also an incorrect style of wheel for both of the Soviet vehicles included on the decal sheet. One should have the solid dish wheels and the other should have the cast, open spoke wheels, not the pressed, 5-spoke variety given here. Note that the instructions correctly tell you to use the late version sprocket wheel (part C8) as opposed to the earlier type also included on this sprue (part C10). All photos I have seen of Soviet M4A2 (76)s show them with the late sprocket.
The tracks pose another problem with this kit. I have certainly seen photos of Soviet Shermans with the T-49 tracks included with this kit. However, this is not the correct track for the two Shermans included on the sheet of decals. The vehicle from the 2nd Tank Army should have the T-54E1 steel chevron track. As for the vehicle from the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps, the only photo I have seen of this tank shows it with its tracks burned away, which is only likely if they were a rubber version, probably T-48 rubber chevron tracks.
Etched brass parts are included, as with most Dragon kits, including some new parts representing the covers for the air intake holes on the rear corners of the hull. A short length of braided wire is also included for the tow cable.
Markings are included for two vehicles, as identified in the instructions:
My references show the first vehicle as actually being with the 1st Mechanized Corps, which was part of the 2nd Guards Tank Army. As mentioned above, this tank should actually have the cast open-spoke wheels, and T-54E1 steel chevron tracks (this tank should also have the gun barrel with the muzzle brake). The second tank is from the 64th Guards Tank Regiment, which perhaps was part of the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps, I'm not sure. It should have the solid dish wheels and probably T-48 rubber chevron tracks (and the gun barrel with the thread protector).
In conclusion, this is an overall excellent kit with only minor dimensional errors. The inaccuracies of the wheels and tracks can be easily fixed by swapping parts with other Sherman kits, though right now, the only source for decent solid dish wheels is the Trumpeter M4A3 (76)W kit.
Either Dragon needs to get its act together and revise their wheels sprue, or else some aftermarket companies have a great opportunity here to provide us modelers with replacement wheels.
|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale