Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale
Beutepanzer M4A2 75 Dragon
Kit #7373
Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 20 April 2009
You know, I really wish that one day I would be able to say "That's it. I am finished buying Dragon kits." But you just never know when these clowns will release another 'must have' kit that makes you forget your oath. So . . . I will refrain from making such a vow at this time.

And what, perchance, has my undies in a bundle now, you ask?

Two things, really. The lesser of the two is simply an annoyance. It may just be my colossal ego, or perhaps simple paranoia, but sometimes I wonder if Dragon knows who I am, and they are purposely trying to irritate me. Maybe their kit designers all sit around the table wondering what else they can do to annoy that "dumb blowhard with the 1/72nd Sherman website". I've long given up hope that they will ever remove the pioneer tools from the kit hulls. But my other main complaint has always been the use of only a single wheel style in all of their Sherman kits. Secondary complaints of mine were that some kits had only a minimal selection of markings, and for one of their earlier Sherman kits, half of the markings were for tanks captured by the Germans, as if we don't already have enough German tank models.

So now they finally get around to releasing a kit with new wheels, and what do they include for markings? A single example of a tank captured by the Germans. Brilliant.

As I said, it is an annoyance only, as I have a wide selection of aftermarket decals that I can use instead, but how many other modelers can say the same? How much effort would it have been to include markings for a Soviet Sherman or two, since this kit supposedly represents a tank captured from them? US Marine Corps markings would also have been very welcome.

My other complaint, which again, doesn't really take away anything from the enjoyment of this model, but rather says a lot about the corporate mentality of the Dragon decision-makers, has to do with the turret parts in this kit. This version of the Sherman has a style of turret not previously released by Dragon, that being a high-bustle turret with a loader's hatch and split commander's hatch. So instead of creating a new sprue that has all of the appropriate parts to build this turret, they include three turret sprues from previous kits, that together provide all of the appropriate parts to cobble together the correct turret for this version.

So this means that you now have two spare turrets that you can use for other Sherman projects, right? Oh, hell no. They actually spent the time to snip off of each sprue the upper half of each turret not needed for this kit. You get that? They increased their labor costs by paying people to remove parts from the sprues that would have increased the model builder's options for modifying this, or other, kits. And we wonder why the latest Dragon kits are costing so much? This may have something to do with it.

Or maybe not. What do I know about running a manufacturing business. But regardless, it's a pretty selfish thing for a company to do, when they should be trying to make their customer base happy. Or isn't that their goal? It seems to me that right now they are banking on the fact that they are the only company releasing decent kits of Sherman tanks in this scale. If some other company would ever enter the market with some competition, it's marketing practices such as these that may drive away customers. Imagine what people would be saying about this kit, had Dragon left those turret parts intact: "Hey, did you see the new Sherman kit from Dragon? It includes two whole extra turrets! How cool is that! I'm going to buy half a dozen of these!" Instead, we are left with a few spare gun barrels and hatches. I guess we should be thankful for the small stuff.

(In case you haven't figured it out by now, yes, I am typically a 'glass half-empty' kind of guy.)

OK, I guess that's enough venting for now. Time to talk about the specifics of this kit. It is essentially the same kit as the M4A2 (76)W Red Army kit, but with the upper half of the T23 turret missing, and two additional turret sprues providing the parts necessary for building a high-bustle 75mm turret, as mentioned above. It's ironic, however, that after going through the trouble to provide this specific turret, I have read from Luis Rodríguez Duarte on the Braille Scale forum, that this specific German tank, in fact, had a low-bustle turret, not high bustle.

The significant addition to this kit, and frankly, the only reason I bought it, is a set of new road wheels, specifically, the stamped, solid-dish style, which prior to now have only been available in the Trumpeter M4A3 kits, and MR Models' Jumbo Sherman kit (in cast metal). The wheels look nice and are well-proportioned, but as before, they are molded as one piece onto the rear support arms. This means that the grease plugs are all in the exact same alignment for each wheel, which as I stated many times before, looks rather silly and unnatural. Note that the original stamped, six-spoke wheels are still included with the kit.

T-49 steel cleat tracks are included, which could be perfectly appropriate for a Soviet vehicle, and hence one that has been captured, but I have no idea if they are correct for the specific German tank pictured on the box, as I have not seen photos of this tank.

Only a few etched brass parts are included this time, as I assume that this specific German tank lacked the brush guards for the crew periscopes. The markings I have previously mentioned.

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Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale