Tasca 1/35 M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo Kit First Look
|Date of Review||May 2012||Manufacturer||Tasca|
|Subject||M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||35021||Primary Media||570 parts (523 in olive drab styrene, 24 clear vinyl, 14 etched brass, 8 clear styrene, 1 rubber sheet)|
|Pros||Nice new state-of-the-art kit of this popular Sherman variant; numerous options and provisions for super detailers||Cons||Tracks seem somewhat “old fashioned"|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$61.95|
As everybody’s favorite American tanker (Oddball) once said, “The only way I can distract a Tiger is to sit around and let him shoot holes in me.” While a bit brusque, it was soon apparent that both early and late model M4 medium tanks were very vulnerable to high-powered German 75mm and 88mm guns. The only solution tried by the Army during the war was to massively uparmor 250 M4A3 tanks with a new heavy turret, glacis and side applique, and add track extenders to try and retain mobility. The result added 11 short tons to the weight of the tank (31 to 42 tons) and reduced its mobility, but did provide more survivability. While the Army gave it the supplemental designation E2, the troops dubbed it “Jumbo”.
Arguably the most famous “Jumbo” was C-9, “Cobra King”, of the 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division. Commanded by 1st Lieutenant Charles Boggess, it was the first tank to break into Bastogne during the relief of the city in December 1944. Boggess reported back to Colonel Creighton Abrams that he had achieved the breakthrough and Abrams asked on how wide a front. He turned to his gunner and asked, “Quick! How wide is an M4?”
In 1987 Tamiya released an M4A3E2 kit, and I remember eagerly picking it up at a German model shop in Garmisch. When I got it back to the hotel and opened it up, all they had done was add one new sprue of bits to their old M4A3 kit. The new turret was not correct and most of the “stick-on” bits did not look quite right either. I had to go through a lot of work to redo the model and in the end the only easy part was painting in “Cobra King’s” post-relief “FIRST IN BASTOGNE” propaganda finish.
While DML has advertised a new M4A3E2 kit now for over two years, Tasca – quickly taking over the lead in M4 tank modeling - has released their own version. Like the Tamiya one before it, it adds sprues to a basic kit of the M4A3. But unlike Tamiya, all of theirs check out and look the part out of the box.
This is the first full Tasca kit that I have picked up, so it is an interesting comparison with Tamiya, Italeri and DML offerings. The lower hull comes in four parts, but it does have a firewall to act as a stiffener and former which makes for a simple and sturdy assembly. It comes with the early M4A3 exhaust deflector, but whereas one from Tamiya was a single piece this comes in six as well as directions for open or closed installation.
The suspensions have been around for some time and I have all three VVSS ones, of which this is the last version. It offers two different bogie carriers (“flat top” or “upswept”) and two different wheel styles (welded spoke or welded solid). The latter come with rim rivets on the sprue runners but are very tiny, so be warned. The suspension may be made to work but as I have previously noted this is not a good idea with vinyl tracks as it tends to “rocking horse” at both ends.
One thing where Tasca is far from like DML is in their directions, which are very clear and precise. Changes, modifications and even suggested upgrades (0.3mm wire for the plastic hand grabs provided in the kit) are all clearly enunciated. The kit is also well designed for after-market additions like interiors and engine pack.
Three different gun barrel options are offered, but all are styrene. It comes with a 75mm M3, a 76mm M1, and a 76mm M1A1 with muzzle keeper. Each is keyed to a specific vehicle in the finishing directions.
One nice touch is the kit comes with a duplicate set of parts for the viewers and vision cupola – either clear or olive drab styrene. This caters to both those who like or dislike clear parts.
Details do abound. The loader’s hatch comes with separate springs, dog, and even pad, plus the lock hasp. The M2HB machine gun consists of six basic parts – two different barrels, clean or with changing handle – and the options to mount it on the commander’s pedestal or in travel mode on the racks on the back of the turret. Also a spare barrel is included.
Credit is given in the directions to Chris “Toadman” Hughes for assistance.
Finishing directions are provided for four tanks: 33rd Tank Battalion, 3AD, Houfallize, Belgium January 1945 (OD with painted out stars, partial bumper codes); 32nd Tank Battalion, 3AD, Belgium January 1945 (OD with painted out stars, Reg USA 3082929); 32nd Tank Battalion, 3AD, Cologne March 1945 (OD, bumper code C-4 3-32 Reg 3083123, 76mm M1A1 gun); 37th Tank Battalion, 4AD, Alzey, Germany March 1945 (OD with painted out stars, 76mm M1 gun). A targeted sheet of decals is included.
Overall this is an excellent kit and from its breakdown and options will allow both the causal builder (if prepared for the number of parts!) and the detailer to have a good time with it.
- A 12x2 Generic Medium Tank drivers, idlers
- B 55x3 Late Medium Tank Suspension with options (plus 48x3 rivets for wheel rims)
- C 86 Generic Medium Tank details
- D 16x2 Generic Medium Tank headlights, viewer covers, guards
- E 13 Lower hull, firewalls
- F 35 M4A3E2 applique sides, mantlet, skirt attachment strips, details
- G 8 Cupola, lights, viewers (clear)
- G 23x2 Lights, viewers, supplemental details
- G 8 Cupola, lights, viewers (olive drab)
- H 3 M4A3 Late upper hull, sponson floors
- H 5 M4A3E2 turret, trunnions
- J 34 76mm tank mantlet, gun barrels, detail fittings
- 0 26 M4A3 engine deck, hull rear, exhausts
- P 24 Vinyl keepers
- Z 30 M2HB machine gun
- ‒ 16 Four jerry cans
- ‒ 4 Vinyl T48 tracks with “duckbill” extensions
- ‒ 1 Rubber sheet
- ‒ 14 Etched brass