The M4A1 was
the first Sherman production model to reach production and was supplied
to the British to use in the battle of El Alamein. The first M4A1
produced had a side entry hatch, a riveted lower hull, direct vision
ports in front of the driver and co-driver hatches, and bogies all
from the M3 Lee production lineage. Two fixed forward firing 30
Cal machineguns in the glacis were quickly deleted from production
as was the side entry hatch. "Michael" is a surviving
M4A1 found in Bovington.
By the time
the British received their lot, the tank turret also lost the rotor
sight. The British modified their Shermans to suit their needs based
on their experience in Desert warfare. The US Army, Free French
Forces, and USMC all used the M4A1 Mid Production variant. These
tanks had received the heavy duty vertical volute suspension system
(VVSS). The M4A1 production at Pressed Steel began with a riveted
lower hull tub but this gave way to a welded tub. Both variants
had an angled transition from the lower rear plate to the hull tub.
Pacific Car and Lima had a rounded off transition.
production included the addition of springs to the drivers
and bow gunners hatches, a pillow block to the VVSS return
roller bracket, M34A1 mantlet and rotor shield, and additional appliqué
armor to the upper hull sides and turret cheek. These last two are
the most obvious. Other less notable changes during production include
searchlight with mount, siren bracket, gun travel lock, simplified
front mudguards and mounts (straight across as opposed to angled).
armor had some changes as well. It began with multi-piece flat sections,
later on they were single sheets curved to the surface it would
attach to, and last were the modified sand molds whereby the additional
thickness offered by the appliqué was cast in. This version
also made it into the large hatch hulls which changed the location
of the ventilator and the rear angle of the upper hull plate.
This is Tasca's
fourth Sherman kit overall and second M4A1, it follows the release
of their M4A1 "Mid" from a few months ago. There is not
a lot that is different from the previous M4A1, this is a later
version. Only one new sprue, sprue "L", a new set of T-48
rubber chevron tracks, and new marking schemes are included. Refer
to Paul A. Owen's review of Tasca's U.S.
Medium Tank M4A1 Sherman (Mid Production) for more on the previous
Inside the box,
each of the 22 olive green styrene plastic sprues is separately
bagged. Two sprues are in clear plastic, vinyl grommets, and rubber
strips for the suspension, a small decal sheet, and a small PE brass
fret are also included and separately bagged while the instructions
are loose within the box.
For this review
sample, the box is of the original M4A1 Mid Production kit but Tasca
has sent a photo of the correct box art. The instructions also are
unusual in that extra sheets covering the changes and options for
this variant are printed but one must refer to the complete instruction
set from their previous M4A1 for the rest.
Top of page:
2. Sprue "A" (×2), front and back. Running gear.
3. Sprue "B" (×3), front and back. Running gear.
4. Sprue "C". Three-piece transmission and details parts.
5. Sprue "G", front and back. Detail parts.
6. Sprue "E". Lower hull panels.
7. Sprue "F". Engine deck parts. Commander figure.
8. Sprue "H". Upper hull and turret.
9. Sprue "J". Hull and turret parts.
10. Sprue "L". New sprue from "Late" version.
11. MG and Jerry cans.
12. Tracks. (replace with correct T-48 Rubber Chevron track Photo
13. Photo-etched parts.
15. Clear parts.
trees from Tascas M4 Sherman VVSS Suspension Set A (Early)
are included and these have been reviewed by Tim Streeter on this
site (see appendix below). They are the best styrene plastic suspension
and rival the resin aftermarket items produced.
pieces, the bogies are assembled and they remain semi-workable thanks
to rubber strips used to replicate the volute spring action. Being
a kit, the model may ride too high or low depending what items are
used. For example, if I were to replace the gun barrel, a slight
forward cant may appear. This would definitely be desirable if the
variant were the Jumbo but not for the kit as is presented. Therefore,
I will replace the rubber pads with Formations Models resin set
that guarantees the correct suspension compression.
where I plan to use replacements is the road wheels and idlers.
Even though they are beautifully detailed and come complete with
inboard details, adding the dozen pop rivets to each road wheel
is far too tedious. The idlers lack the proper cross sectional appearance
and should look like ABMs M3 Lee/Grant idler once assembled.
The upper hull
is identical to the one included in the Mid Production kit, 35010.
This means it is quite accurate in shape based on Ordnance drawings.
As before, all fuel and oil ports are depicted with separate armored
covers. For this kit, slight modifications are in order such as
removing little stubs on the outer lower edges to allow sand shield
mounts to be added. A scale side view assists in the placement as
well as adding the appliqué armor. Drilling out the 1mm mounting
holes for the siren bracket is also required.
A coat of Mr.
Surfacer 1000 which is swished around to create an uneven coating
should help improve the cast texture while not overdoing it. The
other late production details present in this kit include the later
front mudguards and their mounts, the gun travel lock, and optional
rear light brush guard styles. A nice touch by Tasca is the jig,
part L23, used to help place the gun lock bracket mounts onto the
glacis. Photo-etched screens are included for the armored air vent
cowl and the growser storage covers.
The lower hull
is identical to the previous release and the instruction insert
claims that removing the rivets is optional. A plan view of one
side and the belly are included with shaded areas indicating which
rivets to remove. I am not convinced that the transversal stiffeners
should remain as I have seen stiffeners with more of a triangular
cross section being used.
it is assembled from many flat pieces, which include sponson bottoms,
the lower hull fit is exceptional. If building an M4A1 which is
not from Pressed Steel, a curved section of styrene will be needed
to modify the transition of the belly to the lower rear hull. The
lower rear hull hatches are separately molded so the engine bay
can be filled with an aftermarket Continental radial. The air cleaners
get photo-etched hold down bolts but these appear too flat and I
plan on replacing them with bent wire and a butterfly nut from ModelKasten.
The slide molded
turret remains unmodified from the Mid Production kit but one does
drill out the 2 inch mortar tube port using a 1.5mm drill bit, and
gun sight vane. All other new additions are merely glued on. As
before, the turret is highly accurate in contours and will benefit
from drilling out the drain holes from the ventilator surround and
antenna pot armor.
The same hatches
from the Mid Production kit are present and these are beautifully
detailed especially the commanders with the included heavy
machine gun. The spent shell port hatch can be positioned as one
wishes to portray it. I would personally replace the SCR610 radio
antenna mount with one from Armorscale.
The same gun
tube from the previous kit is included and I plan to replace mine
with one from LionMarc Model Designs as both early and non tapered
gun barrels have been seen on this variant. Optional rotor shields
are included, one of which has the row of beautifully rendered screws
while the second, later, type eliminates their exposure. Tie downs
are provided in photo-etched brass but these are not very convincing
given the quality of the rest of the kit. Wire, with suitably flattened
ends, will be bent and added in the place of the brass parts.
These are the
Rubber Chevron T-48 tracks in a polystyrene and vinyl blend. This
means that they can be assembled with any modeling cement. They
consist of two runs for each side, reminiscent of Zvezdas
T-34 treatment. One is instructed to remove casting nubs but no
indication of how to eliminate the small molds seams. Most of these
could be carefully shaved away and a light brushing with modeling
cement would eliminate the last traces of them.
I used a scalpel
and it still left a dimple. However, when I flexed the tracks in
order to reach with the sanding stick, you can see where the end
connector moldings are starting to tear. Using a hot glue, like
Tenax 7, only made matters worse! Luckily, the same glue used on
the joints while holding the tracks rigidly in place will repair
them. Fortunately, the cement repaired the tears but I think it
is a good idea to warn those that may panic if the track comes apart
that is still can be fixed.
has offered this solution: "I've had some success by placing
the tracks on a flat, hard surface and pressing firmly before making
the snip. I ended up with a cut that was very close to flat and
thus I could avoid attempting to them up further. After painting
and weathering they all but dissappeared. The couple that I could
still see I placed under road wheels to hide."
The medium used
for these tracks is a proper one since Sherman tracks are live
in that they tend to curl inwards and do no exhibit the sag of dead
tracks. With the idler mounts loose, the proper tension can be added
without causing the tracks to bow between the sprocket rings of
the drive wheel. Of course, one can replace them with aftermarket
individual links but I would not recommend Friulmodel as the metal
medium is not really suited for this type of track. ModelKastens
ultra complicated treatment does end up with live tracks which tend
to curl but I am going with the ex-RHPS tracks recently released
by Panda Plastics.
the left over parts, there are many detail items that can find their
way to other projects. Also, depending on the subject one is modeling,
these parts may be useful. They include appliqué armor for
the hoods (a photo exists of this field conversion), several types
of bow gun cover mounting strips, the previously mentioned choices
of roadwheels, idlers, track return skid plates, and drive sprockets
wheels. From the machine gun sprue many items are left over which
can be used for stowage on this kit.
one sprue from Tasca's WW2 U.S. Jerry can Set, two each of fuel
and water cans. The Browning M2 Machine Gun Set B with Cradle is
included too. There is a commander figure, in the box, wearing herringbone
twill coveralls with a holster and ammunition clip pouch for the
belt. The tankers helmet is represented and the pose is intended
to be used in the turret hatch. I do wish the goggles were included
as clear parts.
marking information are provided for four U.S. Army tanks:
1. Tank No.32,
D Company, 66 or 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, Normandy,
2. 70th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, Normandy, June 1944.
3. 31st Tank Battalion, 7th Armored Division, France, August, 1944.
The decals are
printed by Cartograf and are very thin and opaque. Additional schemes
and markings can be found by consulting the reference list provided.
Ride Height Spacers for Tasca Sherman Suspension (no.F086). These
replace the rubber pads in the Tasca kit.
2. LionMarc: 1/35 Sherman 75mm Barrel (Early & Late).
3. Panda Plastics: tracks.
This is definitely
one of the best and most accurate kits made if built directly out
of the box. It should be noted that the disjointed instructions
are a bit confusing and care is needed to ensure the right details
are used for the marking scheme chosen. There are plenty of small
opportunities for enhancement and I am certain that new aftermarket
products will come to provide alternatives for the roadwheels, idlers,
mudguards, and markings.
1. Paul A.
Owen's review of the Tasca U.S.
Medium Tank M4A1 Sherman (Mid Production).
2. Tim Streeter's review of the Tasca M4
Sherman VVSS Suspension Set A (Early).
3. Tim Streeter's review of the Tasca Browning
M2 Machine Gun Set B with Cradle.
4. Paul A. Owen's review of the Tasca WW2
U.S. Jerrycan Set.
and American Tanks In WWII, by Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis
2. "British Eighth Army M4A1," FineScale Modeler --
International Color & Camouflage
3. "Color n Camouflage: British M4A1 in Normandy,"
AFV G2: Vol.4, No.3
4. The M4 Sherman at War, by Steven J. Zaloga
5. Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank, by Richard
6. Sherman in Action, by Bruce Culver
7. M4 Sherman Walkaround, by Jim Mesko
8. M3 Grant & M4 Sherman, by Wojciech J. Gawrych
9. Canadian Armour in Detail, by Wojciech J. Gawrych
10. Modelers Guide to the Sherman, by Pete Harlem
11. Sherman Early and Late, Allied-Axis Issue 13, by Jim
12. M4A1 (75mm) Sherman - Exterior: Military Vehicle Workshop
Series (Allied Command Publication)
13. TM 9-731A, Easy 1 Productions CD
14. Sherman Firefly, by Mark Hayward
- Saul Garcia