Tamiya 1/35 M4A3E8 Sherman
The M4 Sherman was the main combat tank of the US Army in WW2. The Sherman also has the distinction of being the most-produced tank of WW2. More Shermans were built than all types of German armor combined! (I'm sure the T-34 fans will argue this...Ed)
The Sherman embodied the US Army’s approach to armored warfare—it was easy to mass-produce, rugged, reliable, and easy to maintain. US Army doctrine held that the tank was to provide mobile fire support for offensive operations against enemy strong points. For this, the Army needed a lot of reliable medium tanks, as opposed to a fewer number of a variety of different models. (Engaging enemy armor was the job of the Tank Destroyer units.)
As more experience was gained, numerous changes were made to the Sherman. Encounters with enemy armor were inevitable, so a number of improvements appeared in subsequent models. There were changes to tracks, armor, ammo storage, hatches, etc. The basic design did not change, however, in order to avoid the inefficiencies of stopping production to tool for a new tank.
The various design changes culminated in the M4A3E8 model. This tank had the higher velocity 76mm gun to deal with German armor. It also had the new HVSS suspension, wet stowage for the ammunition, and an improved cupola for the commander’s hatch.
This kit dates from the early 1970s, from the era when most of the Tamiya armor kits were motorized. My model is the free running, single motor model, but most of the Tamiya kits were also released as twin motor models with a wired remote control.
This version of the kit includes the standard Tamiya metal gearbox, powered with a Mabuchi RE-260 size motor. The model carries two “C” cells in the hull. The kit has a simple switch on the bottom of the hull to turn the motor on and off.
I built this model as a teen in the early 1970s—I clearly remember it. I went all out with this one—I spent some of my limited funds on a can of spray paint. Most of my US armor models before that were left unpainted – hey, they were already molded in olive drab, after all! I sprayed the model, and it came looking out looking so nice that I took pictures of the model out doors, in an attempt to create a realistic scene.
Of course, now I know that the old kits were not very accurate in shape. To accommodate the standard gearbox, the hull of this model is a little wider than it should be. Place this kit next to the newest Tamiya Shermans, and you’ll see the hull is a bit off in shape.
The model is molded in dark olive drab plastic, with silver-gray vinyl tracks. There are vinyl caps to secure the wheels and drive sprockets. There is minimal flash or mold lines on the parts. The headlights and taillights weren’t fully molded, with sink marks in the face.
The upper hull has the driver’s hatches molded shut. The tools are molded as part of the hull, but are crisply done. There is minimal weld detail on the upper hull. The plastic surface of the model is smooth, with no casting or steel marks. The angled brackets along the lower edge of the hull are molded as solid triangles.
The running gear includes the correct solid wheel, with bolt and hub detail. Only the outer wheels have any bolt or hub detail. The inner wheels are just plain disks with the rubber tire molded in.
The turret has the correct cupola for the commander, and the larger split loader’s hatch found on the –E8. A decent M2 .50 cal machine gun with ammo box is included. A commander figure is included with the model.
The decals include markings for one US Army tank and one from the Japan Self Defense Force. No dates are given for either set of markings. This kit doesn’t have them, but I know a later release of the kit included the big shark mouth decals for the forward hull. (Oddly enough, one of the photos of completed models in the instructions show a model with these markings.)
The instructions are very complete. There is a lengthy vehicle history, which includes information about the US Army, JSDF, and other allied use of the M4A3E8. There is painting and marking information on both vehicles the kit decals cover.
Recommended only for nostalgic value. Serious Sherman modelers will buy one of the many nice kits from Tamiya, DML, or Italeri. I bought this kit for use in a future RC Landing Craft project. The inexpensive can motor supplied with these kits will need to be replaced or upgraded with some noise suppression capacitors, as the stock motor will generate too much rf interference. I will also probably replace the metal gears in the gearbox with brass or nylon gears. (The metal-on-metal contact will generate rf interference as well.)
Review kit courtesy of my wallet.
Sherman in Action, by Bruce Culver, illustrated by Don Greer, Squadron/Signal Publications Armor No. 16.
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If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has over 200,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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Back to the Previews Index Page