Battlefront  1/100 scale Sherman Mk V Dozer

KIT #: BR 120/US 49
PRICE: £5.50 for one tank
DECALS: None supplied
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: Aftermarket decals by I-94 and Command Decision


The Tank: The “Dozer” adaptation of the Sherman tank is reasonably well known. The M4A4 (Sherman Mk V) supplied to the British Army (and hence New Zealand Army) was sometimes fitted with a dozer blade.

 The Army: the New Zealand army was one of the smaller of the Allied forces in WW2. The Assault Squadron supported the NZ Armoured Division in Italy and had a motley establishment of engineer type vehicles, such as the dozer tanks. It is rumoured that some vehicles were acquired “outside normal channels” and there could be as many as three vehicles all with the same serial number. I like to model the NZ Army due to this wide variety.


The individual kits come in a blister pack. The Sherman is typical: a resin hull and separate turret, separate white metal track units, gun barrel, hatches and (sometimes) a crew figure and machine gun. The parts are protected in transit by a chunk of foam plastic. A tiny paper exploded plan shows how the parts fit together. Generic painting information can be obtained from the website

The hull is finely cast with hardly any flaws, pin-holes or bubbles, details and equipment like tools and stores are moulded into the hull.

These are quite simple models, but more detailed than many “wargame types”. The idea of the combined track units saves a lot of fiddly building of suspension and wheels, but the downside is that painting is difficult: almost inevitably track and wheel colours are going to get on the “wrong” bits.

In this case I combined two kits: the M4A3 dozer (US49) and an M4A4 Sherman Mk V (BR120), basically taking the dozer blade from one kit and adapting it to the other one. I have no doubt I will be able to find use for a M4A3 hull, machine gun and tank commander figure somewhere, although it seems this was one of the few variants of the Sherman that The NZ army did not manage to “acquire”.

I measured the hull at 59mm long, which gives a scale of about 1:100 for the slightly longer M4A4 hull. I did not measure other dimensions but the kit looks reasonably well proportioned to me. I might add that the Battlefront Shermans are actually different, they do have the appropriate grilles and rear hull shape for the various engine configurations.


I washed all the parts in dishwashing liquid and left them to dry.

Battlefront seem to imply that everything can just be glued together with superglue. No doubt this is fine for wargaming, but I prefer to trim and fit the parts so that they are correctly aligned. In the case of the Sherman the lower hull needs the width increased a few millimetres with filler so that the track units are parallel and vertical to the ground. I also checked the parts for flaws, and filled in any small defects found. I use Milliput fine (white tube) filler.

I painted the track units, working a very dark grey into the recessed detail with a brush. Then I painted the suspension units and wheels green and the tracks themselves a mixture of dirty brown and rusty brown colours.

I couldn’t (easily) find any detail photos of the dozer mechanism on a real M4 tank so, using the US dozer kit as a template, I made up the hydraulic “boxes” on the front plate of the tank with square section plastic rod. I also made a plate to support the hydraulic ram at the bottom of the nose of the tank and used a round plastic rod to represent the ram, an odd omission from the kit.

Test fitting the dozer blade revealed that the blade is presumably designed by Battlefront to be glued onto the front tracks, unrealistic, but sturdy.

I cut the dozer arms and extended the piece at the suspension end with a piece of plastic. Then drilled a .5mm hole through the arms and the suspension mounting bracket. In this way the dozer blade could be mounted a millimetre or so in front of the front of the track. This way of making the extension avoids a weak butt-join in the arms, by making the join over the suspension bracket. The hydraulic ram was trimmed and angled by eye to support the blade just off the ground. The dozer looked much more realistic and was reasonably robust, even with only loosely fitted .5mm plastic rod pins securing the arms to the suspension brackets.

The rest of the parts: gun barrel with mantlet and  two hatches were trimmed, lightly sanded, test-fitted and then glued on.

Photos do not show the cupola machine gun fitted in NZ service and so I left it off.


By the late war period, in Italy, the New Zealand Army colours were overall green. I assume it would have been similar to British Army green. I mixed up what looked to me to be a reasonable sort of green, using Testors Matt Medium Green acrylic as a starting point, with a dash or two of brown. This was thinned and brush applied to the hull and turret.

I painted on small patches of gloss varnish front and rear and on the hull sides. After that had dried I applied decals: square divisional markings and a square tactical marking on the hull sides. The decals were obtained from “I-94” who market a range of “15mm” and other wargame scale decals. They were not particularly good: they broke up easily, on the other hand they are probably better than hand painting.

I applied a white star decal from “Command Decision” to the top of the turret, this was very thick and needed to be cut to conform to the detail round the hatches.

I overpainted the decals with matt varnish and touched up the green paint.

Most of the photos I have show the Italian campaign to have either been muddy or dusty. I thought this would be a good excuse to dirty this model up. I put a dash of brown in a bottle of matt “Gunze Base Coat” varnish, thinned it right down, and then thinned it some more and daubed this over the tank with a big brush. I worked the colour into the crevices, around the tools and fittings on the tank, but used the brush to stop it puddling on the flat areas of the tank. I daubed it in the lower hull sides and suspension.

This is my second attempt at an “acrylic wash”, the first try ruined a different Sherman model, which ended up looking like it had simply been painted brown.

However, with that bad example to mind I tried to tone down the effect on the dozer and I think it came out reasonably well.


 It was quite easy to adapt the Battlefront dozer to a different hull, making an interesting, but still quite easy modelling challenge.


 Plowman J and M Thomas, Kiwi Armour 1: 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade in Italy, 2000, published by J Plowman, ISBN 0-473-06534-7

Jeff Simpson

June 2009

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