Academy 1/35 M4A3E8 Sherman Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2009||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Kit Number||13221||Primary Media||Styrene, minimal Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Nicely detailed, easy build||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$49.00|
The M4 Sherman was the first of series of US medium tanks that incorporated a larger turret ring to facilitate a larger main gun in the turret. Its predecessor also had a large main gun, but this was located in the bow while a smaller caliber gun was placed in its turret.
The Sherman was also a result of a US combat strategy where tanks were not intended to fight other tanks, rather they were designed to create and exploit weaknesses in enemy lines attacking softer targets and reinforced positions. The job of killing German armor was left to the infantry, who quickly adapted a number of tank chasses to carry high-velocity armor piercing guns.
In reality, the Sherman faced off against German armor and held its own through a series of improvements and field modifications designed to counter improvements in enemy armor.
Over the last several years, Academy has been producing and improving their series of M4 Sherman tanks. This latest installment is a special edition which not only includes the 'Easy Eight' Sherman, but also a set of Masterbox infantry figures as well.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus a separately provided lower hull, one sprue tree in brown containing the special edition figures, and one small fret of photo-etched parts. A set of vinyl 'rubber band' tracks round out this release.
Construction starts with the HVSS suspension system as well as the six-piece drive sprockets. You have two types of drive sprockets to choose from in this release. With the suspension, drive sprockets and return rollers mounted to the lower hull, the transmission cover and rear hull plate are assembled and added to the lower hull.
The kit features separately molded periscopes that are mounted into the hatches. The periscope guards are finely molded and will require care during removal from the sprue trees. The lift rings and light guards will also be delicate to remove from the sprue trees. Some of these parts are optionally provided as photo-etched parts, but you can build this model without photo-etch, so the skill level needed to build this model is much lower than the DML release of the M4A3E8. The pioneering tools are all separately molded and are mounted to the upper hull along with the various hatches and guards.
This kit shares some of the same sprue trees from previous releases of the Sherman including one with the .50 caliber machine gun. Academy also includes their superb .50 caliber machine gun set that was developed as a separate kit, so you'll have a super-detailed machine gun to mount on the turret pintle.
The 76mm main gun is styrene and mounts to the three-piece gun mantle. Some builders might prefer a seamless turned aluminum gun available from several aftermarket companies, but the kit's main gun parts will suit most modelers.
Assembly of the turret is straightforward as with the rest of this kit and still incorporates nice detailing including separately molded periscopes and the commander's direct vision cupola. All of the hatches on the vehicle are positionable should you want to crew up your Sherman.
As mentioned above, this kit is rounded out with vinyl track that gets the hot screwdriver treatment to create a 'rubber band' that slips onto the wheels and sprocket. Some modelers may prefer individual track links, but the rubber band track is easier and can still be effectively painted and weathered. Besides, you can always change the track sometime in the future should you find a decent set of track links to upgrade your tank.
The Masterbox figure set includes four figures in nice action poses. One figure is posed on his back as if he'd just been wounded and a second figure is posed as if he's pulling the first figure to safety by his equipment harness. The third figure is posed aiming his rifle to provide covering fire whilst the fourth figure is posed in the obligatory grenade-throwing stance. The figures are nicely detailed in themselves and will really stand out with a good paint job.
This kit provides markings for three examples: two Shermans circa 1944 with different styles of US markings on the hull and turret; and one Sherman with the red eyes and sharkmouth from the Korean war circa 1951.
Academy has turned out another nice variant of the Sherman family, and the Easy Eight is one of the more popular variants of this series. This kit will definitely be popular with modelers that shy away from the super-detailed (read this as hundreds of tiny styrene and photo-etched parts) kits when they want to build the Sherman. The aftermarket detail sets will appeal to those that might want more features like an aluminum barrel or track links, but still have a kit that won't take lots of time and cyano to assemble. As I said above, this kit is great for the average modeler and the experienced modeler looking for a nice and easy build.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample.