DML 1/35 M4A3E8 Sherman 'Major Albin F. Irzyk' Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|M4A3E8 Sherman 'Major Albin F. Irzyk'
|722 parts (680 in grey styrene, 20 etched brass, 18 clear styrene, 2 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum barrel. 1 length of twisted steel wire)
|DML has combined its reasonably good HVSS suspension with the new parts from its series of M4A2 and M4A3 late model kits
|T80 tracks may be incorrect as well as fiddly to assemble
When the terms "tank battalion commander" and "4th Armored Division" are used together, the one name most fans of US military history immediately come up with is Creighton Abrams. Abrams commanded the 37th Armor Battalion in Europe from its landing in the summer of 1944 up until March 1945 when he was bumped up to take over Combat Command B. But the other primary tank battalion of the division, the 8th Armor Battalion, was no less accomplished (the last battalion, the 35th, got less press coverage than the other two, but as with all elements of the 4th, was heavily involved during the course of operations in the ETO.)
For this year's "Dragon Expo" in Atlanta , DML released two special limited release kits to commemorate the even, one German and one US . The US one was the command tank of Major Albin F. Irzyk, commander 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division, in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. This compliments their previous release of "Thunderbolt VI", Abrams' command tank at the same time (DML Kit No. 6255.) While not as famous as Abrams. Irzyk was another "straight-shooter" and wound up wounded twice in action, and being awarded the DSC, two Silver Stars, and four Bronze Stars.
The model is a "shake and bake" kit, but with the recent quality of DML moldings that is far from a bad thing. They have basically combined their recent M4A2/A3 kit sprues with the suspension components from their E8 suspension kits and released them as an early production M4A3E8. These tanks were beginning to be issued to the 37th and 8th Tank Battalions just prior to the Battle of the Bulge, and photos show them in service with those battalions.
The kit includes the new hull and turret sprues from the M4A2/A3 kit with the extra engine deck sprue for the A3, as well as the early production A3 exhaust deflector sprue. It comes with the complete fender and skirt arrangement for the A3 with HVSS, but as both the 37th and 8th appeared to have removed them prior to issue, this is just fodder for the parts box. Also new are two turned brass 76mm APCBC rounds, which were (from other sources) one of the great shocks to the Germans at the Bulge, as they found out the hard way that at combat ranges they could – and did – penetrate the glacis of a Panther tank.
I only have one problem with the kit: I cannot find a firm answer to either support or deny the use of the T80 double-pin steel faced chevron track on the model. All of the extant photos show M4A3E8 tanks during the Bulge with T-66 single pin tracks. These were issued with the first production runs of the tank, but due to reliability problems as well as a preference for double-pin "live" track they were short-lived in the field. Since DML is the only one that I know of to make a styrene T66 track, I was quite surprised to find the model fitted with the T80 tracks. While the former are one of the best sets made by DML and are easy to assemble and fit, their T80 tracks are a pain, as the guide teeth are separate (to provide the correct "hollow light bulb" shape) and must be individually attached to the track links, which is a very tedious chore for both cleanup and assembly. Add the fact that each track link has two big ejection pin marks on it and this is about a 15 hour job for the tracks alone.
Decals are provided for the tank as used at the Bulge. While issued with nice big shiny white stars and registration numbers, they were painted out at the same time the skirts were removed to avoid presenting the Germans with aiming points. The model replicas that with the painted out stars and numbers, and provides correct bumper codes – e.g. HQ-1 – for Irzyk's tank.
Overall this is a nice, upgraded kit, but as noted it is a limited production one so any Sherman fan may want to snap it up on sight.
Thanks to DML for the review sample.