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M4A3 Kit

Academy 1/35 M4A3 Sherman w/T34 'Calliope' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2015 Manufacturer Academy
Subject M4A3 Sherman w/T34 'Calliope' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13294 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Interesting Sherman variant, straightforward assembly Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $59.00

First Look

M4A3
M4A3
M4A3
M4A3

Academy has reissued their M4A3 Sherman kit, originally released with the M1 Dozer Blade (look here). This time they've replaced the dozer blade with the T34 Calliope rocket system. With the success of the Katyusha rocket artillery systems in the Soviet Army and Germany's response with the Nebelwerfer, US forces adopted the T34 multiple rocket launcher system which was designed for mounting atop modified M4 Sherman tanks. Each system carried around 60 4.5 inch rockets which could be fired in groups or in one volley. Elevation of the rocket tubes was controled by the elevation of the main gun.

The kit is moled in light gray styrene and presented on eleven parts trees plus two runs of black rubberband (vinyl) track and one small fret of photo-etched parts. As has been written previously about this kit, it goes together with little fuss and is not over-engineered with details that won't be seen or lots of tiny parts. The AMS modelers out there that might have an issue with some aspect of this kit or another have a vast array of aftermarket parts available to detail out the kit they way they'd like.

Among the features and options:

  • Nicely detailed HVSS suspension
  • Choice of drive sprockets
  • Positionable crew hatches
  • Photoetched light guards
  • Separately molded pioneering tools, filler caps and other on-hull details
  • Detailed T34 rocket system
  • Choice of mounting T34 elevation collar on the gun barrel or on a bracket mounted to the mantlet
  • Detailed M2 machine gun for commander's pintle

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • 12th AD, Fletrange, France, Mar 1945
  • 14th AD, Germany, early 1945
  • 95th ID, Germany, Jan 1945, 'Ask Mae'

Clearly the main feature of this model is going to be the T34 Calliope. The rocket tubes are molded with the front ends open. This means that with a little work, you can get the upper and lower halves of each tube rack assembled and aligned, then carefully ream out the openings to eliminate any flaws that would distract the viewer from other work on your model. Since the M8 rockets fired from this system were not very long and loaded from the back of the system, you wouldn't see whether this system was loaded or unloaded from the front.

One detail missing is the wiring. The box art and the associated period photos show the ignition wires running from each tube down to an interface block or pass-through near the commander's hatch. This isn't represented in the kit and you'll want to have that wiring represented as it is a prominant feature. If you want more information on the T34 Calliope, the M8 rocket or other US Army rocket systems, we have the 1945 manual on the subject in our M4 Sherman Modeler's Online Reference for your modeling reference.

This is another interesting subject from Academy that will look great straight out of the box, while the more experienced modeler will want to add the wiring for the T34 system as well. AMS modelers have a wide range of superdetailing options available should they want to detail other aspects of the kit. In any case, this model will look great on your display shelf.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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