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M4A3(105mm) VVSS Sherman

DML 1/72 M4A3(105mm) VVSS Sherman Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2007 Manufacturer DML
Subject M4A3(105mm) VVSS Sherman Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7274 Primary Media 147 parts (117 parts in grey styrene, 27 etched brass, 2 tan DS plastic track runs, 1 length of twisted steel wire)
Pros Amazing amount of detail in a 1/72 scale kit; very nicely done with new parts breakdown; DML discovers weld beads! Cons Either pantographed or victim of same research error (see text)
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $13.98

First Look

DML continues its effort to "run the table" with nice new small-scale kits of the Sherman family, and this version of the howitzer tank follows on its larger scale cousin.

The model is an early production howitzer Sherman – VVSS suspension, 47 degree ("big hatch") hull, high-bustle turret with loader's hatch, early style exhaust deflector, and a "slide molded 105mm barrel.

The hull has two odd holes in the bottom which appear to have something to do with the preassembled variants (perhaps the base mounts for the pre-assembled ones; they are too small for screws). Barring that, the upper hull is again "slide molded" in one section and has the mounts for the side shields on it with bolt holes clearly visible. The smaller tools (e.g. mattock, tanker's bar, and axe) are molded in place, but the remaining ones are separate.

The suspension is unique, as it does not copy that of the larger Sherman kits and differs slightly from the earlier Sherman releases. The bogie assemblies consist of a VVSS spring set, a bogie outer section with an "flat" return roller molded in place, a rear section, and a twin road wheel set with the rear section of the articulating arms molded in place. Net result is that with only four parts you get a nice, neat finished bogie assembly. The wheels are the "cast" type with covers in place; likewise it comes with solid (e.g. matching) idlers and "solid" ring drivers. The tracks are T48 type with rubber chevrons.

The turret consists of a top and bottom with the pistol port molded in place, but the cover left separate. This is again a "slide molded" part to get the detail resolution. (Note that everything with a casting number except the mantelet has one, even though you will need a jeweler's loupe on some of them!) The turret is quite complete, with a very nicely done machine gun with parallel heat jacket at the rear of the barrel and separate spade grips. However, even though it is the VVSS version only the later commander's "vision" cupola is included and not the early production "split hatch" one.

The etched brass parts replace some of the detail parts provided in styrene, such as the front fender tips, the rear luggage rack, and some of the tool racks. The parts are called out on the directions with blue for parts to be trimmed or removed and a mustard color for the brass parts to be installed; this is quite helpful as the directions are thankfully in black and white and parts are thus much easier to see.

But unlike previous DML efforts, this is the first one to include the same error noted in the larger kit. While apparently not pantographed, it manages to retain the too narrow mantelet discovered on the M4A3 (105) 1/35 scale kit (no. 6354.)

Terry Ashley at the Perth Military Modeling Society site noted that the original 105mm howitzer mantelet was 40 5/8" wide, or what works out as 1033 mm. In 1/35 scale, that comes out as 29.5 mm. DML's new kit has a mantelet only 27mm wide, which is slightly noticeable. In 1/72 scale this should make the mantelet 14.3 mm wide; but on the kit it is exactly 13mm. Ergo, both kits are approximately 9% undersized, and in this scale it will show.

Finishing instructions cover three tanks in winter whitewash camouflage: two vehicles from the 6th Armored Division, Luxembourg 1945 and one from the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Divisiom, in France 1944. A "targeted" set of Cartograf decals is provided.

Overall this is a really nice kit of the howitzer Sherman, and a shame that it too has a too-narrow mantelet to detract from its accuracy.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.

Sprue Layout

  • A 11 M4A3 details a 32 High Bustle turret with 105mm howitzer fittings
  • B 40 Sherman hull details
  • C 32 Sherman mid-production VVSS suspension
  • D 2 M4A3 Wet Stowage hull
  • X 2 DS tracks - T48
  • Y 1 twisted steel wire
  • MA 27 etched brass