Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
 

ExtraTECH
Achilles IIC

Kit #EXM72028 and EXM72033 (Extrapack)

Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 31 October 2007.

This vehicle has been on the top of the most wanted list for many years, and we now have a plastic version of it available from a company that is best known for their high-grade resin kits. Produced in cooperation with Eduard, Extratech brings us the first of their new series of M10 Tank Destroyers, the British Achilles IIC.

The kit comes in two packaging options: the standard base kit, and an "Extrapack" version. The Extrapack version of the kit is a special edition of the Achilles, and includes the original Achilles model, plus several extra parts that add considerably to the detail, and hence the appeal, of an already beautiful model. The Extrapack idea is a marketing gimmick introduced by Eduard, the producers of Extratech's series of plastic kits, one that I feel was disingenuous, and completely unnecessary. How many people bought the original version of the kit, not aware that a better product was going to be released later, and then re-purchased the new version when released? When given a choice between a very good expensive kit, and a better slightly more expensive kit, most serious modelers (Extratech's target audience) will always choose the latter.

But I digress. 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 Extrapack version.

For those of you familiar with the high quality of Eduard's plastic aircraft kits, you will know what to expect with this tank model. The plastic is very high quality, with excellent detail, no flash, and very few sink marks. It is a fairly complex kit, with the turret being composed of multiple parts, including separate parts for each turret facet. The hull is also composed of many parts. This design allows for the molding of detail on all surfaces, including the sides.

This is a very nice kit. The only qualifier I am putting on it, is that I don't feel its molding quality is quite as good as Revell, Dragon or Hasegawa, because I think that Eduard's plastic molding technology is closer to limited-run.

Some specific highlights of the kit: there are a lot of very small parts, such as the lift rings, and hatch periscopes, which is fairly impressive to be molded in plastic. But it seems that the detail could be just a *little bit* sharper; the plastic is kind of shiny, and some of the corners and edges seem to be just a tad bit soft.

The wheel assemblies are very complex, though they should be easy to put together. Each wheel is separate; so is each "rocker arm" or whatever they are called, the VVS spring assembly above the wheels, and the front and back face of the bogie trucks (which are highly detailed). The top part of the bogie truck, which has the springs on it, also has the top track return skid (that curved loop of sheet metal) molded onto it, but it's molded SOLID. There is a recess under the lip of the skid, and if painted black, may look pretty good for a quick glance, but it needs to be replaced (the old Eduard brass set designed for the Revell M4A1 Sherman had replacement skids, which look really good when assembled, but I think that set is OOP). This is really the only bad thing about the kit.

The hull hatches are open, there is some pretty good, though basic interior detail for the driving and fighting compartments (but no engine compartment), and the turret interior also has some basic detail. Not enough to get by for super-detailers, but enough for now. Pioneer tools are separate, but there are no mounting brackets. None molded onto them (which is good) but also none provided in brass (which is not good). The AA machinegun is quite detailed for a plastic piece, but the barrel is molded bent. Being plastic, this should be fairly easy to correct.

The two hulls are almost identical, but one has faint circles molded onto the hull sides and front, indicating where the armor bosses should be glued for the early/mid versions of the M10. For this kit, we use the one that is clean (although some Achilles had the earlier hull - I'm not sure about the specific vehicles included with the markings). A mistake they made is that they tell us that the armor bosses on the front hull are optional along with the hull sides, but all versions of the Achilles kept the bosses on the hull front.

The turret is multi-part, with each wall being a separate piece. The gun breech is basic. One flaw that I've found:  the gun barrel is too wide at the base. I thought it was my imagination, but measurements bear me out. You know how the 17 pdr looks very long and thin? Not this one. It is similar to the cannon problem on the PST T-55: too much taper. The base of the barrel is a little too fat, and I also think that the muzzle brake might be too small, so it makes the barrel look slightly OFF.

The brass fret is very basic, giving only the headlight guards, the caps to the armor bosses, machinegun details, the floor of the driver's compartment, and some controls for him.

The tracks are gorgeous; steel chevron style, and extremely well molded. These could very well be the best tracks I've seen in plastic. Unfortunately, they represent the T-54E2 style, which as far as I know, was a 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 decals are the typical high quality of Extratech, with six different options:

  • Royal Canadian Artillery, 4th Anti-Tank Regiment, Netherlands, 1945
  • Egyptian Anti-Tank Regiment, Sinai Desert, Mid-East War, 1948
  • 75th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, 11th Armoured Division, Belgium, 1944-45
  • Polish 1st Armored Division, Netherlands, Autumn 1944
  • British 1st Army Corps, Normandy, 1944
  • 21st Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, Guards Armoured Division Tank Destoyer Battalion, Netherlands, 1944

On a final note:  the obligatory scale measurements show it to be PRECISELY 1/72nd scale.

I would very much like to thank Rafal Niedzielski for making this kit donation.


Achilles IIC Extrapack

The base kit is the same as the previously released Achilles IIC kit. As described above, this is a very nice kit. The added parts only make it better. So what do we get with this Extrapack?

First, an enlarged fret of photoetched brass details:

There are a great many parts here that I feel really should have been included in the first release of this model. Specifically, the grouser brackets for mounting on the hull sides; these parts are very flat in the plastic kit, and the replacement brass parts will look great. Most of the additional parts provide additional detail inside the turret, with just a couple of detail parts for the hull interior. Still missing, however, are tool mounting brackets. The pioneer tools look rather silly glued directly to the hull, with no visible means of mounting them. Time for scratchbuilding some brackets.

The other bag of goodies in this kit contains several resin parts, and a turned aluminum gun barrel:

Most of the resin pieces are gathered from their previously released accessory sets, such as the gas cans (two German and three US), some stowage bags, and cannon shells. The cannon shells are technically 76mm shells, but I think they are close enough in size to 17pdr shells for this scale. Please note, however, that only six shells are included for the turret ready racks. None are included for the hull sponson storage racks, and the instructions show us to place the plastic ammo storage tubes in these racks. The 76mm ammunition of the M10 came in these tubes, but the 17pdr shells of the Achilles were stored in the racks "naked". You'll need to buy several of the 76mm ammunition accessory sets to get enough shells for this, or make your own. Several other details for the turret interior are also included.

The .50cal machinegun is the same gorgeous piece included in their M8/M20 kits, with most of its detail parts provided in brass. The aluminum 17pdr gun barrel is a nice touch, eliminating the need for sanding off the mold seam. The muzzle brake is made from resin.

The decals are the same as in the original Achilles kit.

I think this Extrapack is a fantastic model, but I also feel that this is the version of the model that should have been released in the first place.

I would very much like to thank ExtraTech for providing the review kit.


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Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale