|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 31 October 2007.
Eduard manufactures the plastic parts for the Extratech Sherman kits, and they have decided to market a couple versions of Shermans under their own label as well. This first one is the M4A3 (76)W, a very common version of the tank used late in the war by the US as well as several of its allies.
The kit comes in two packaging options: the standard base kit, and a "ProfiPack" version. The ProfiPack version is a special edition of the kit, and includes the original M4A3 (76)W model, plus a new sheet of decals and a more extensive fret of photoetched detail parts that add considerably to the detail and appeal of an already very nice model. This review covers both kits. First I describe the base model, and towards the bottom of the review, I add some more information on the ProfiPack version.
Those of you who have the Extratech Shermans will recognize many of the parts in this kit. First of all, the wheel sprue is the same sprue that was included in the original Extratech tank destroyer series. The wheel suspension units are not perfectly shaped, and tend to look a little bulky, but I appreciate them for their ability to partially articulate the wheels. The track return skids above the suspension bogies are molded solid, and should probably be replaced. The overhanging hull sides of the M10 partially obscured these parts, but that's not the case in this kit.
This kit includes two styles of road wheel: the pressed six-spoke variety originally included in the M10 kits, and a new open-spoke variety. While it is good that they included new wheels for this kit, they unfortunately need some improvement in the way of narrowing the tires a little bit. There is no wheel rim depicted, and the tires are a bit wide. Resin replacement wheels have already been marketed by one aftermarket company, and I assume more will follow.
The tracks are also the same tracks that came in the tank destroyer kits. This is both good and bad. It's good because these are some mighty fine tracks. They are highly detailed, extremely well molded, and go together quite easily. They are some of the best link-and-length tracks I have seen. However, I have a problem with the style of the track they represent. They are the T-54E2 style, which as far as I know, was a very, very rare style. They resemble the T-62 style, which had three bolts on each link, and was commonly used on British Shermans, in particular, Sherman Vs. The kit tracks can be made to represent the T-62, if some mud is smeared on each link, hiding the lack of bolts. The T-54E1 was also similar to the T-54E2, but the chevrons were squared off at the bottom, not rounded as these here. Basically, I think this was a very poor choice of track.
The sprue that contains the lower hull and other vehicle details is a common sprue for all of Extratech's (Eduard's) Sherman kits, and therefore holds a number of very useful spare parts. Hull hatches are included for both the 56° and 47° hulls. Applique armor plates, extra lift rings, two styles of nose piece, and turret hatches are just some of the many extras. A gorgeous .50cal machinegun is included. While it is not as nice as Extratech's resin gun, it's probably the best .50cal I've seen in plastic. However, the bow machinegun (.30cal) is very poor, and needs to be replaced. I don't know why they chose to mold it integral with its ball mount, but it was a bad choice.
The sprue carrying the upper hull parts is unique to this kit, and represents the first really good example we have of an late 47° hull. The two crew hatches are molded open, and there are no pioneer tools molded onto the hull, which is a really nice feature. Surface detail is very good, with excellent representations of fluid filler caps, ventilator covers, and the cast metal portion of the hull top around the crew hatches. I think the surface of the plastic is a little too polished, so going over it with extremely fine grit sandpaper will give it a bit of needed texture. The welds along the hull sides, connectng all the major armor plates, are recessed, which I hadn't realized was incorrect, until I saw a gorgeous build-up of the Extratech M4 kit on Missing Lynx from Steve Zaloga. These welds should be filled in, and made flush with the armor plates, or even a little bit taller.
Like the ESCI M4A3 kit, the engine access hatches are unfortunately closed, but are very nicely detailed. Compared to my reference material, the hull is just a little bit short, by about 1 millimeter.
The turret is a fantastic piece. It represents the early version with the split loader's hatch, and both the loader's and commander's hatches are open. The size and shape of the turret look very good to me, and this piece is probably the best T-23 turret in this scale. My only criticism is its highly polished surface, and it could use a little bit of texture added to it.
The etched fret for this kit includes details for the siren, and tail and headlight brush guards. There are two sets of all these details included, which is very good. It is easy to ruin etched parts this small, so the back-up pieces may come in handy. If none of the parts are destroyed during construction, then the spares will be excellent for use on other Sherman kits that need them. Thank you Eduard. Too bad brush guards were not included for the crew periscopes, which they really should have been.
Markings are included for only two versions, both US:
Being single color, registration is luckily not a problem. Otherwise, they are very finely printed with sharp edges, and opaque ink.
(76)W Sherman ProfiPack
A ProfiPack version of this model was released after the initial version, and although it originally had a much higher price tag, at some on-line shops you can now find it for under US $10, which I think is quite a bargain. The kit includes a different sheet of decals and a more extensive fret of etched metal parts.
The new etched metal (steel?) fret is shown below, and you can see the plethora of new parts included with this kit. What I find to be the most important of the pieces are the track return skids on the right side of the fret. In general these skids are very hard to reproduce in plastic, and for this kit in particular, they are most necessary. Periscope brush guards, which were missing in the original kit, are now provided. Other extremely important parts lacking from all of Eduard's and Extratech's plastic Sherman kits are the brackets for mounting tools onto the tank hull, which have finally been given to us with this kit. Too bad there aren't extra sets of them for use on all of the other kits. All in all, these etched parts are going to really help the final appearance of this model.
The new decals again include only two marking schemes, but different ones from the original release:
The French vehicle markings are very colorful, but the second, American tank is quite plain, and it's disappointing that more marking choices were not provided in this "advanced" kit. The registration of the decals is OK, but not perfect, as can be seen on the blue French national symbols. And thank you to Stephen Brezinski for pointing out to me that they mispelled "Montereau".
|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale