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M1 Kit

Tamiya 1/35 M1 Super Sherman Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2011 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject M1 Super Sherman Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35322 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Interesting new variant Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $55.00

First Look

M1 Kit
M1 Kit
M1 Kit
M1 Kit
M1 Kit

You hear a great deal of criticism leveled at the Israelis over a variety of subjects, but one area that should be heralded is their record for recycling long before recylcing was a global trend. Take for example tanks and armored vehicles, the Israelis recycle and reuse these items far more than any other country in the world. One example in particular is the M4 Sherman.

After World War II and after the United Nations established the state of Israel, the fledgling Israeli army began the task of acquiring whatever armament they could find and they managed to obtain a variety of Shermans. Had they simply used their Shermans in the 1950s and then upgraded to a newer main battle tank, they would have followed the same track that every other army was following. Instead, the Israelis cycled the Shermans through their depots where they were gradually upgraded and standardized to ease maintenance and logistics as well as increase combat effectiveness.. There were a number of steps over time that transformed selected Shermans into the ultimate Super Shermans.

By the time the 1970s rolled around, the Sherman tank was long gone except for museum pieces and training aids - except for Israel. While newer tanks were in service with the Israeli Army, their reserve force still operated the Super Shermans. In the early hours of October 6, 1973, the reservists and their Shermans stood guard on the Golan Heights as their active duty colleagues were home for Yom Kippur. While the Egyptians were conducting a brilliant river crossing across the Suez canal, the Syrians were pushing a huge armored force down toward the Golan Heights.

In those early hours of the war, it was a handful of Shermans that held off hundreds of Soviet-made T-54, T-55, and T-62 tanks. The Shermans didn't have night-fighting equiment like the Syrians, but they did have the advantage of cover and a powerful main gun that could fire at depressed angles (the Soviet-made tanks couldn't elevate their guns high enough to effectively engage the Shermans). The Sherman crews simply fired at the muzzle flashes and tell-tale signs of movement until they hit something, and then engage targets illuminated by the fires. The Shermans had blunted the Syrian attack and by the time the Syrians could adjust their assault, the newer tanks and their crews had arrived to relieve their Sherman colleagues.

Tamiya has released this early Super Sherman as perserved in an Israeli armor museum that represents the Sherman circa 1956. This Sherman is an M4A1 hull with VVSS suspension, a T23 turret, and the M1 76mm main gun. The kit is molded in olive green styrene and presented on five parts trees plus an upper and lower hull and a set of black vinyl track.

While the kit contains several new-tool parts trees, the rest of the kit is based upon existing parts trees from their venerable M4 Sherman releases. The upper hull as the sloped sides that Tamiya has nicely captured which represents the shape and texture of the cast armored hull. Despite this newly-tooled gem, the detailing is still reminiscent of their old Sherman kits which is unusual given their recent engineering gems like the 1/32 P-51D Mustang.

The new-tool upper hull doesn't exactly match-up with the old-tool transmission cover. You can see in the instructions as well as while dry-fitting the parts that even with the axle access covers in-place, there are visible gaps on the sides between the transmission cover and lower hull sides that will need to be plugged with some plastic strips contoured to shape.

One of the problems in some of Tamiya's earlier armor releases is the visible gap between upper and lower hull that can be seen looking through the track wells or under the fenders of their tanks. This was usually fixed by adding plastic card stock to the inside of the upper hull to box in the lower edge of the upper hull to the upper edge of the lower hull. In this case, Tamiya has provided that feature so you won't see through the tank in the wrong places.

As mentioned in the introduction, the Shermans in early Israeli service consisted of a wide variety of variants and sub-variants which is why these were standardized over time. In this kit, Tamiya provides two different engine cover hatches to represent one of those variations depending on which of the three subjects you're modeling.

While the exterior details on this kit are basic, there are no interior details provided. Though the driver, co-driver, loader, and commander's hatches are all positionable, there's nothing to see inside the tank. Tamiya does provide mounting platforms for inside the turret for the optional loader and commander figures.

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • M1, 7th Armored Bde, Sinai Peninsula, Nov 1956
  • M1, 7th Armored Bde, Sinai Peninsula, Nov 1956
  • M1, Armored Corps Museum, Latrun, Israel

As with most of Tamiya's armor kits, the assembly of this kit is easy and staightforward which will appeal to modelers with less experience. While AMS modelers will have a field day with this kit and the wide variety of aftermarket products available for the Sherman, this kit will also look great straight out of the box for a nice weekend build. I hope we see the M51 Isherman at some point in the future as well!

My sincere thanks to Hobbylink Japan for this review sample!