|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 26 April 2008.
Finally a kit that directly replaces the old ESCI version of this tank. HäT makes a fairly decent wargame version, though it's not comparable to these display kits. The best resin version is from MR Models, though ARMO and Fine Scale Factory both have lower quality versions as well. Although this wasn't an extremely common variant of the Sherman, it's nice to have a pretty decent kit of it. What would have been really nice is if Trumpeter had included some wooden armor for the hull sides and markings for USMC tanks on Iwo Jima. Perhaps Dragon will do this some day? (Wishful thinking.)
This kit is almost identical to Trumpeter's M4A3 (76)W kit, the only difference being the turret sprue, so this preview will also be almost identical to that one.
Trumpeter's kits can be confusing at times. You never know what quality to expect until you actually open the box. While their Shermans aren't the worst kits that Trumpeter has released, they also don't match the quality of their FAMO or Elefant/Ferdinand kits. Generally speaking, this kit is a little bit simplified, with closed crew hatches on the hull, thin rubber band tracks, details molded onto the hull such as pioneer tools, lift rings and tail lights. But then they have to confound us by putting very nice detail elsewhere, such as open crew hatches on the turret, pre-drilled gun barrel (did Dragon think they invented slide-molding?), and highly detailed wheels. So basically we have a kit that isn't really up to competing with the Dragon Shermans, but can certainly be turned into a very nice replica if a little bit of effort is put into improving some of the kit details.
This first sprue shows the upper hull, some sprocket wheels, and the hull's rear armored plate with exhaust parts. The hull measures out to be almost dead-on for 1/72nd scale. All of the hull details are appropriately located, though as I mentioned above, much is molded onto the hull that I wish would have been provided as separate parts. Although the crew hatches are closed, they're molded in pretty decent relief, and will look great when painted. The sprocket wheels look very nice, and have the later solid sprocket plate. The exhaust parts are also very well done, though the storage rack for the rear hull plate is a little crude, as are the wooden boxes included for stowage. The gas cans, however, are really well done for a plastic kit, needing only replacement handles.
I like the turret a lot. It represents a later version turret with a high bustle, pistol port and oval loader's hatch. Detail is pretty sharp, better than Trumpeter's T23 turret. The hatch opening is molded open, though the hatch itself needs to be cut in half to pose open. Unfortunately, this turret does share with Trumpeter's T23 turrets the same problem of too-large hatch openings, but if you have any spare split hatch rings (such as from an Eduard M4A3 (105) or Dragon M4A2 (76)W), it's easily replaced. The .50cal machinegun is well done and will look really good when the hand grips are carved open. The .30cal looks nice, though is a little small, and the ammunition box, which is molded onto the side of the gun (opposite the scan) is turned sideways for some inexplicable reason.
The surface detail on the turret parts is actually pretty decent. Though not as fine as on the Dragon kits, it's probably better than the Eduard turret, and if you replace the lift rings and add a few etched details, this turret will look really good. The gun barrel measures perfectly for 1/72nd scale, and has an open tip due to slide-molding. I'm not too happy with the rotor shield, as I think it isn't shaped quite right. Hopefully I will soon have a comparison review article of the rotor shields to better show what I mean.
The main wheel sprue is standard in all of Trumpeter's VVSS kits. The bogie trucks are molded in halves, not allowing any articulation of the wheels, though at least the wheels are molded as separate parts. The return roller arm is the early horizontal style, which would probably be more appropriate for an early-war Sherman. Another set of outer sprocket wheels is included on this sprue: the middle style with cutouts and dimples in the sprocket plate. Two styles of idler wheels are included: solid stamped and open spoked. The main set of wheels are of the stamped 6-spoke variety, and look OK, if not great, but they have no detail molded on their reverse side. They measure perfect in size. The additional set of wheels included with this kit are the solid dish variety, which is currently the only source of this uncommon wheel style and I am really glad to have them. They look very nice, though again, lack detail on the back sides.
There is an additional sprue of wheel parts for quick-build projects. These parts have the entire bogie assemblies molded as complete units. Suprisingly enough, they actually look pretty decent and while I wouldn't use them on competition kits, they may come in handy for emergencies. The wheels on these sets are the pressed solid dish style. The detail on the quick-build suspension arms is actually better than that on the assembly-required parts.
I seem to have some confusion as to which tracks came in this kit. The box top and instructions show the T-48 rubber chevron style, but I found T-54E1 steel chevron tracks in the box. It's entirely possible that I mixed up the tracks from this kit with the tracks from Trumpeter's M4A3 (76)W kit, which I am reviewing at the same time. However, I have heard from others that it's almost random as to which tracks come in which kit. Regardless which ones came with the kit, they are molded with very fine detail. Unfortunately, the plastic is very thin and extremely flexible, and I am doubtful that they will look good once attached to the model. Being so thin, they simply won't bend in the right places in order to look real. If the model shown on the box top is any indication, I think they'll look quite poor.
This kit includes at least two marking schemes, only one of which is depicted in the instructions, though not identified. I have looked through my reference books to find these markings, and have been able to identify only the one depicted on the box top; I don't know what unit "Bad News" is from.
So in conclusion, I like the Trumpeter Shermans a lot. They are better than all other plastic Sherman kits out there, except for Dragon's, and using a little elbow grease will result in some very fine models. There are a few flaws, though nothing insurmountable; the biggest problems in my eyes being the too large turret hatches, and the relatively scarce aftermarket tracks to replace the poor vinyl ones included in the kits.
|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale