Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale

M4A1 (76)W Medium Tank
Kit #07222

Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 22 January 2008.

As I have mentioned in previous Trumpeter reviews, I think the modeling community would have been very excited about these Sherman kits from Trumpeter, were it not for the existence of the extensive line of Dragon Shermans. When compared to the only plastic M4A1 (76)W we had prior to this kit's release (the Revell kit) this Trumpeter effort is light years ahead. And as we will see shortly, it even has an edge over the Dragon kit in scale accuracy.

The hull sprue shown above has most of the kits detail parts, which is to say, not many. This certainly is not a very complex kit, and is over-simplified in several areas. Of course, some might argue that its main competitor, the Dragon kits, are overly-complicated, depending on your style of modeling. Fact is, this kit will be a much quicker build than the Dragon kits if that's important to you.

Generally speaking, this kit can be described as having crisply-molded detail, but not a whole lot of it. The upper hull is sharply molded, as can be seen in particular around the crew hatches, which are unfortunately molded closed. The fluid filler caps are nicely done as are the ventilator covers, the bullet splash guards, and even the tools are molded better than on many other kits. Of course, it's too bad they molded them on to the hull instead of giving them to us as separate parts. The air intake is shaped quite strangely, almost like an elongated pyramid instead of as the flat screen as it should be. Also, the air intake cover plate has a ridge molded into it a little bit sharper than I think it should be, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with a little sandpaper. The rear hull plate with the engine access doors is very well done. The air cleaner boxes are very nicely molded, however, they only superficially resemble the real items, unless there was another variety of them that I am not aware of. There are no tail pipes included, though their absence will be masked by the installation of the exhaust deflector grate. The headlights and siren are nice; no headlight brush guards are included, which I suppose is a good thing. If you can't make them look good in plastic, then you shouldn't even try. The hull .30cal mg is actually one of the nicer ones I've seen in this scale. And finally, there are a few boxes, fuel cans, and I think oil cans. The fuel cans are remarkably well done, needing only replacement handles to look very nice. Oh yeah, the outer sprocket wheel are also on this sprue. They are the late, solid plate style, with no cutouts behind the teeth.

Update: Unlike the Dragon M4A1 (76)W, the hull on this kit scales out almost perfectly to 1/72nd. There is, however, a shape issue with the hull sides, specifically, their slope. Danilo Carli brought this to my attention and sent to me the following scan. On the left is the hull from the old ESCI kit (now Italeri), and this Trumpter kit is pictured on the right. You can see the difference in the slope of the side armor plates, with the ESCI kit being almost vertical, whereas Trumpter has much more of a slope to it. Neither are correct, as the walls should not be vertical, though close to it, so the shape of the ESCI kit is actually more accurate in this instance. Thanks Danilo!

Like the hull, the turret has some good aspects, and some bad. Again, the overall molding is well done, though the details are not as sharp as on the Dragon kits. Size and shape are almost spot-on. The gunner's periscope has the armored cover molded in place. Both hatches are molded open, but here we have the main glaring error of this kit: the hatch openings are significantly larger than they should be. The gun barrel is molded nice and straight, about the correct length and with the end drilled open. It is an M1A1 gun without the threads for a muzzle brake. The .50cal MG is decent, though the hand grips need to be carved open, and the ammunition box is not long enough. The kit is sort of unique by including a turret mounted .30cal MG as well, which wasn't very commonly seen. While the MG is nicely molded, the ammo box is molded onto the gun, but turned on its side, instead of sticking straight out as it should.

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 seprate parts. The return roller arm is the early horizontal style, which I don't think is appropriate for a late-war Sherman. Another set of outer sprocket wheels are 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. The additional set of wheels included with this kit are the early, open-spoke variety, which again, is unusual for a late Sherman, though it's good to have a set for other projects.

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 half-way decent and while I wouldn't use them on competition kits, they may come in handy for emergencies.

The lower hull has the final drive housing molded in place, an unusual feature for Sherman kits, which saves a bit of headache from fitting problems, though test fitting of the upper and lower hulls shows that the join between the two pieces is not very smooth and may take some effort in cleaning up. Also, I measured the distance between the axles for the sprocket and idler wheels, and it appears to be a bit short. The upper hull length is correct, so the overall effect may not be bad, but it may look a little strange when placed next to a Sherman from a different manufacturer.

The tracks are the T-54E1 style, and are molded with very fine detail. Unfortunately, the plastic is very thin and extremely flexible, and I am very 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.

Decals are included for at least three vehicles, possibly more, though marking placement is provided in the instructions for only one unidentified vehicle, so references are needed. It is obvious from the cover photo, that most of these marking options are for Israeli M1 Super Shermans.

So basically, this is not a bad kit. It has a few flaws, the most difficult one to correct being the size of the turret hatches. Detail is scant but what is there, is actually molded pretty well. Replacement tracks may be needed too. Other than that, I actually like this kit.

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Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale