Hobby Boss 1/48 M4A4 Sherman (mid-production)
|NOTES:||Includes Photo Etch|
The M4 Sherman was a U.S. medium tank based on the U.S. M3 Lee/Grant line of tanks. It was mass produced on such a grand scale that it became the most numerous single type of tank made during WWII. To meet production goals, the Sherman was built by at least nine different manufacturers. It was made with both cast and welded hulls, myriad engine and armament installations, multiple transmission housing types, differing suspension types, etc. Consequently, there is a bewildering assortment of types and sub-types of the M4.
Hobby Boss released their line of 1/48th Shermans in the mid 2000’s. They were derided for their inaccuracies which included slightly off-angle frontal armor, elongated front hatches, a misshapen transmission housing, etc. To add insult to injury, Tamiya had just released their own 1/48th scale Sherman ine, setting the standard for M4s in quarter scale.
I first saw this kit at the local hobby shop where the owner had a built example on display. He had done a stunning job on what he said was a “weekend” build. I was awed by the fine detail and it certainly looked like a Sherman. The low price was impressive as well – about half that of the Tamiya, so I plunked the money down for my first armor purchase.
Upon opening the box, I was a bit overwhelmed by the high parts count of 263 pcs. (All you armor guys stop laughing, I’m an aircraft guy and not used to counting that high!). Looking further, I found that the parts were well molded with very petite detail. Included was a nice photo-etched fret as well as a slew of stowage, additional armor for one of the versions, and markings for a couple of Olive Drab Shermans. There was a mold seam and minor flash on most of the parts but it was not noticeable until I started the build. The instructions were well-printed and appeared perfectly clear at first glance (more on this later).
This was the first ever tank that I started, though not the first I completed. As such, I started by carefully reviewing the kit instructions. The first three steps were confusing. I later realized that step one covers the suspension for the tank I modeled while steps two and three cover the suspension for the tank with additional armor. At this point, I skipped steps one through three and then followed the kit instructions to the letter up thru step 10, assembling the lower hull followed by the upper hull. I skipped step 11 (attaching the upper hull to the lower hull) to more easily facilitate painting and weathering. The turret was then assembled per steps 12 and 13 in the instructions (I had to take care to get the correct options for the tank I was building). The fit of the parts was O.K. but not great. Mold seam cleanup on every part and indecision on whether to paint-then-assemble or assemble-then-paint the suspension finally exhausted my limited attention span. Back in the box it went. Round one went to the Hobby Boss Sherman!
After a couple of years and two completed Tamiya 1/48th scale armor kits, I decided to finish the Sherman. I decided to build the suspension first then paint it. After about two additional hours of building, I had the three main components (lower hull, upper hull and turret) ready for paint.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
It is difficult to find a color scheme for the Sherman that is anything other than Olive Drab. I went with the most colorful of the kit markings - option “B”, a Sherman with white stars and surrounds. First, everything was airbrushed PolyScale acrylic Olive Drab thinned with Future. Thinning with Future helped the paints spray better and the satin finish was better suited to washes/filters. Once the entire model had been sprayed, I added some PolyScale Israel Khaki to the Olive Drab and sprayed various panels on the upper surfaces of the upper hull and turret. I did this to give some tonal variation to the monotone paint scheme.
The tracks were brush-painted dark gray next. They were dry-brushed with Testors oil-based silver prior to weathering.
Next came the fun part – weathering! I have always enjoyed seeing dirty, muddy, stained and faded armor models. I started the weathering process by applying a thin, black, soapy water filter/wash. I went section by section, using a Q-tip to remove some of the wash and to streak it unevenly. I then dry-brushed some thinned, lightened Olive Drab to accent detail and further vary tone. The tracks and lower hull were strategically dry brushed with several layers of differing shades of brown and tan paint to approximate dusty, muddy European conditions in which these tanks operated. Good pictures of actual Shermans proved invaluable during the weathering process.
The upper hull was glued to the lower hull and the turret and tracks were added prior to decaling. When I added the tracks I had to be careful because they are directional. As a further note of caution, I had to remove the tracks and cut off two of the “knobs” on the hull side of the tracks where they wrapped around the return roller. Otherwise, the tracks interfered with the plate behind the return roller and would not sit properly. This may have been of my own doing at some point during construction.
I brush-painted several coats of Future in the areas where decals were to be applied. After letting the Future dry overnight, I applied the kit decals. They were thin and I experienced no trouble getting them into position once they were on the model. After the decals were in place they settled down with no silvering and responded well to an application of MicroSol.
I airbrushed Poly Scale Flat Clear mixed with a few drops of Hazel Tan over the entire tank. I used pastels to further dirty the M4A4. Finally, I added thickened brown paint scraped from the lids of my paint containers with a toothpick to depict mud on the tracks & fenders. Final detailing was then completed.
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