Academy 1/35 M4A2 Sherman US Marines Build Review
By Jack Bruno
|Date of Review||August 2005||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||M4A2 Sherman US Marines||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||13203||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||The rear hull is now accurately sloped||Cons||No interior|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$39.00|
The M4A2 Sherman was similar to the earlier M4, with the principal difference being power - the M4A2 was the only fielded version of the Sherman to be powered by diesel engines. The GM 6-71 marine engines were adapted to power the Sherman, necessitating a different rear engine deck. While over 8000 examples were produced, these were used primarily by the US Marines who had an ample source of diesel fuel available (the US Navy) as well as by lend-lease partners including the Soviet Union, Great Britain and Free French.
The M4A2 saw action primarily in the Pacific theater with the US Marines, and in the European theater with the Soviets, British and French. For USMC service, a set of sealed air ducts were mounted to the rear of the hull and over the engine deck to enable the Sherman's engine to 'breathe' while partially under water as the tanks came ashore.
When I received this kit for review I was completely overjoyed. At last!!!! I was going to build one of the "NEW" Sherman's from ACADEMY and a version that I wanted to do for a long time. Many different things can be done to a Marine Sherman......penny nails mounted on the hatches, camo schemes, thick wood armor, appliqué armor, sandbag armor or modifications such as the fording trunks. PLUS, the M4A2 had the distinction of being the ONLY Sherman with a diesel engine, with 8000 tanks being manufactured. Most of these were supplied to allies, especially the Soviet Union. This instituted rear/engine deck modifications unique to this type.
So much for the little background info....on to the build.
As usual, the suspension was the first thing to get knocked off the play list. Each of the six units had 9 parts. This in itself was a snap, however, most of my time went into researching which type of options I wanted. I opted for the solid road wheel, but using a spoked set for the front boggies. Clean up on all the parts is about average. No biggie here and once most of the boggie units were completed I jumped ahead and started construction of the lower hull which amounted to hull extensions, rear idle wheels and drive sprockets. Again, Academy gives you options on the wheels/drive sprockets.....you will have a TON of extra parts. All this leads to the rear plate and construction of the hull and fording trunks.
The upper hull and rear plate posed absolutely no problem for me as long as I followed the instructions. The only small, irritating little hitch that came my way was the finicky light guards that fit on the hatches over the periscopes. Very tricky and if you have finger folly like me, take your time!!! Next was the decision on mounting the side wooden armor or the appliqué armor or nothing at all. The picture that I used showed appliqué, so that's what I did and in less time to smile like a cheeseburger, the four armor plates were cleaned up and on the hull. These plates have some great looking weld seams already in them. Drybrushing would prove this to be a great attraction on the finished model. At this time I applied all of the fuel filler caps, lights, light guards, bow machine gun and hatches. Next up was the turret.
The turret was the easiest component to assemble and it's a real treasure when done. The gun needed a wee bit sanding and minor clean up of seams with the other parts as well. Standard fare for a tank builder. While it's on my mind and fingers, I do STRESS Fundamental Modeling. When you cover the basics, everything falls into place (cleanup/alignment /test fitting). Again, you have options for the commander's cupola......scopes or no scopes. Everything was put on according to instruction and take heed.......there are a lot of small parts to this puppy. Take your time. The machine gun was left off until the last act.
The fording trunks were constructed at this time and were very easy. I must tell you that this is were I deviated from the Instructions. After some discussion on the IPMS/Forum, one of the members sent me my reference picture of the tank I decided on. During combat operations and maneuvers, it was found that hot air was being sucked into the tank/engines due to the rear fording stack causing overheating. In the field, several units turned the rear stack backwards to avoid this problem. According to my picture, this is what I did. Absolutely no modifications to any of the kit parts was necessary. Just turn the stack around. I must say, it looks a bit Bad Ass too!!!!
Following my usual pattern of painting everything Flat Black, I opted to get into my stash of Aeromaster OD Faded 41 Olive Drab. Great color that was highlighted by several other shades of green to bring out the details. The turret was mounted on the hull slightly turned and the hull mounted to the lower hull/suspention. Next up was a coat of Future and application of a couple of turpintine/oil washes. Decals were left off because the picture reflected no markings of any kind. Not even a star.
After painting and drybrushing the Sherman I painted the "Duckbill" one piece tracks. I started out with Flat Black and using the Box Art and Side Panels of the ACADEMY Box as a guide, I drybrushed the rubber block Chevrons a brown to bring out the detail. The metal connectors and Duckbills were drybrushed rust, which I use Pollyscale Red Primer. I was surprised about the amount of detail that Academy put into the tracks. They look great and give the tank a little pizzazz!!!!! I will be giving it a Celluclay mud treatment as soon as I decide to do a beach or foliage base. Hard decisions, huh???
After all this was done and the tracks mounted, I popped the 50 cal on the turret and gave everything a nice Pollyscale Flat Coat to really flatten the color out and seal the oils.
After painting and washing some after-market supplies such as bedrolls, tarps and fuel cans....... I decided to leave well enough alone and exhibit the tank itself without hiding it's features.
Academy has done a great job on the Marine Sherman and I'm looking forward to some of the new things they have announced in the future! Any modeler with some builds behind them would be able to handle this kit. Smaller fingers might be a plus!!!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!