The M4 Sherman was the most widely used tank by the United States during the Second World War, as well as seeing service in large numbers by America’s allies, including the Soviet Union through the Lend Lease Act. Nearly 50,000 were produced during the course of WWII in almost 20 variants, and the chassis was also used for a number of other vehicles such as tank destroyers and self propelled guns. It first entered combat service with the United States Army in 1942 and the first widely produced version was the M4A1 variant with the rounded cast hull and turret. Originally armed with a low velocity 75mm gun, the A1 was upgraded with the higher velocity long 76mm gun. A Continental R975 gasoline engine provided good power and mobility but was more susceptible to fire if hit. Reliable, cheap, and easy to produce in large numbers, the Sherman would see service in almost every area of conflict during WWII, and would continue to serve for many years after for a variety of nations.
This kit is yet another reboxing of Italeri’s original 1977 kit, albeit with new glueable T54E1 tracks, 9 new figures from Masterbox (their previously released kit MB35164), and a new decal sheet. No PE is provided. The 195 tank parts are molded in olive green plastic on only 3 trees, plus soft vinyl “rubber band” for the tracks. The Masterbox figures are on separate trees molded in a light grey plastic.
The instructions come in a single fold out sheet showing the parts layouts on the trees, 10 simple construction steps for the tank and its original crewman figure, plus assembly and painting instructions for the Masterbox figures. There are three painting and decaling options for the tank itself, one in overall olive drab and two in olive drab/black camouflage to break up the overall green monotony:
- Version A: M4A1 Sherman (76mm) - U.S. Army, 752nd Tank Battalion, Vth, "B" Company, Bologna, Italy, April 1945.
- Version B: "In The Mood II" - M4A1 Sherman (76mm) - U.S. Army, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, "I" Company, Normandy, France, August 1944. This was the second Sherman commanded by Lafayette G. "Wardaddy' Pool, one of the inspirations for the 'Fury' movie.
- Version C: "Duke" - M4A1 Sherman (76mm) - U.S. Army, 66th Armored regiment, 2nd Armored Division, 1st Platoon, "D" Company, Normandy, France, July 1944, Operation Cobra.
Looking at the trees, detail is decent for a 1977 kit, if a bit clunky in some areas, and the molds appear to have held up fairly well over time. There is some flash and mold seam lines present and I found a few visible sink marks that will require some repair work. Ejector pin marks are mostly hidden. The hull and turret are very smooth, even shiny, lacking a proper cast texture, and the gun barrel, being from such an old kit, is of course in two pieces, and in my example at least, the two halves look significantly warped so some effort will be required to straighten it out.
The VVSS suspension comes with the return guides molded on, no bolt detail for the roller arm or track skid, no casting numbers or texture, and no weld details. It looks like the suspension pieces can be assembled to be movable so articulation for rough terrain should be possible with careful assembly. Two different drive sprocket styles are provided, and fender dust skirts are also provided as optional assembly pieces.
The upper hull comes in one piece with much of the detail molded on, including the gas filler caps which look a little soft. Hatches, tools and lifting lugs are all molded separately, and the guards for the various lights and periscopes look quite good but will require cleanup of a fair bit of flash. The tow cable is molded well, but the winding looks pretty loose. Spare track blocks are provided for the holders on the rear of the hull, but these look to be the T41 type, not the T54E1 type provided with the kit.
The hatches themselves only have very basic interior detail and will benefit from some extra detailing if they are going to be posed open. Other than a basic breech for the main 76mm gun there is no interior detail provided so if the hatches are going to be posed open it will be best to have crew figures occupying them.
The rubber band tracks have good detail, but there are injection pin marks on the inside of the tracks that will prove difficult if not impossible to remove, we’ll see how it goes during assembly. They are to be glued using CA glue, not liquid cement glue. They do have some kinks in them so hopefully those will straighten out when they are assembled around the running gear.
The additional figures provided by Masterbox are labelled by Italeri as infantry, but the original kit they came from was from the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” paratroop division. They are crisply molded with very good detail, almost no flash and minimal mold seam lines. They come with full equipment loadout and should prove to be a nice accent for the kit when complete.
While an old kit, with a little effort it looks like it will build up into a decent representation of one of the most iconic World War Two tanks. The additional figures provide a ready-made diorama setting and will only add to the visual appeal of the completed kit. There are a few warts which is to be expected given the age of this kit, but it is a much simpler build than many of the competing kits out there which gives it an appeal in its own right for beginners, and possibly for the more experienced as well, as long as expectations are kept at a reasonable level. Watch for my build blog of this kit to follow shortly.