|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 31 October 2007.
This is the first new plastic Sherman kit since the Revell M4A1 that was released almost 10 years ago (not counting the wargaming kits from HäT). Extratech designed this kit in a modular form, which I assumed would simplify the production of a large number of Sherman variants, which unfortunately have never materialized.
The wheels and wheel suspension units are the same as those included in Extratech's earlier tank destroyer series. Some people like them, some people don't. They 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 be either hollowed out, or replaced completely.
The 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, unfortunately, they 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 are recommended.
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 you took the time to add the million missing bolts, or if some mud is smeared on each link, hiding the lack of bolts. The T-54E1 was another track style similar to the T-54E2 in this kit, 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 future 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 one of the best .50cals 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 early 56° 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 fuel filler caps, ventilator covers, and antenna mount on the forward hull (although there is a horrible sink mark within this mount, which will be difficult to fill). The welds on the hull front are very nicely done, though 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, connecting all the major armor plates, are recessed, which I hadn't realized was incorrect until I saw a gorgeous build-up of this 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.
The engine access hatches are unfortunately closed, and for some reason are demarcated with raised panel lines. Applique armor plates are included for the hull sides, because this kit represents a dry-stowage hull. Additional armor plates are also included for the hull front in front of the crew hatches (this is not a direct-vision port version of the hull). Compared to my reference material, the hull is a little bit short, by about 1 millimeter. Also, the rear hull plate has just a little bit too much slope to it, so that the upper portion of the hull (the engine deck) is about 1.5mm short. The air intakes on the rear corners of the hull are located too far forward, and need to be moved, or replaced entirely.
The turret sprue includes parts for an early 75mm turret, with the split commander's hatch, and no loader's hatch. It has the M34 gun mount, without the side guards, and the pistol port on the turret side is optional, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the coaxial .30cal machinegun is missing. The roof ventilator is very nicely done, as are the periscopes, though covers should be added to them. The turret is of the low-bustle variety, which is correct for this version of the Sherman.
A small fret of photoetched parts is included, with brush guards for the tail and headlights, and some details for the .50cal MG. Unfortunately, no brush guards for the periscopes are included.
Decals are included for four vehicles:
These are fairly typical of Extratech's decals, being very flat, thin and bright, though the red is printed out of register on my sample, thereby ruining two of the four marking schemes. Luckily I have replacement markings from Archer Fine Transfers to use if I choose one of those schemes.
Although this kit isn't perfect, and the running gear and hull rear could use a little extra attention in particular, at one time it was the best plastic Sherman on the market, and is still the only early M4 kit we have available to us.
|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale