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DML M4A2 (76) Red Army in 1/35 scale (6188)

by Frank De Sisto

Contains 307 injection molded styrene plastic parts (including 18 clear parts), 20 photo-etched brass parts, one turned aluminum gun tube, one metal wire tow cable, two lengths of soft styrene tracks, one soft styrene mantle cover, two decal options and eight pages of instructions in 18 steps. Price: Unavailable.

Recently, competition has become quite heated in the hobby industry. An example of a company driving that trend is DML. They are stepping up the competition using several methods. These methods include: releasing long-awaited subjects, including multimedia parts in new releases and releasing new items which duplicate new items recently released by other manufacturers. Also, in the USA at least, the prices of DML kits are usually lower than their rivals.A prime example is this new kit of the ubiquitous Sherman medium tank, the late version of the diesel-powered M4A2 (76), of which 2,915 were built, according to Hunnicutt. With the introduction of this kit, DML is directly competing with Academy’s kit of this version, as well as the Italeri M4A2 (75) kit. But, what really makes this kit stand out is what DML includes in the box.

This offering is about as “multi-media” as a model can get and still basically be a plastic kit. To begin with, the kit includes a turned aluminum 76mm gun tube, as well as a standard plastic gun tube. There are photo-etched brass parts for head- and tail-lamp brush guards, tow cable clamps and periscope brush guards, as well as plastic counterparts for most of the brass parts. Clear parts are included for all periscopes, the gunner’s sight, commander’s cupola vision blocks and head- and tail-lamps. Braided metal wire is included for the tow cable and a flexible plastic material, which can be glued with standard styrene cement, is included to represent the gun mantle’s canvas dust cover. In a departure for DML, the kit’s one-piece track lengths are also in the same flexible plastic. Unusually, both the track sections and the mantle come from the manufacturer already primer painted (the tracks are black with a subtle brown tint, while the mantle is olive drab). A nice touch is that all of these parts (as well as the decal sheet) are supplied on a separate card backing, in separate clear plastic bags, to prevent loss or damage.

The remainder of the kit is molded in DML’s usual grey styrene plastic. Starting from the ground, up, the suspension features the earlier style of straight-arm VVSS bogie units, as well as the later upswept-arm units. Note that most photos where the suspension is visible, show the M4A2 (76) with the later upswept-arm units. There are two sets of road wheels and idlers: welded with five spokes and pressed with six spokes. All wheels have grease fittings, while the pressed road wheels have a separate rear insert. Curiously, the pressed idler wheel has no rear insert. There is only one type of drive sprocket, the so-called “open” design. The tracks represent the all-steel T49-type with the parallel steel bars on their faces. There have been comments on the web concerning the fit of these tracks to the finished chassis, saying that they are much too loose. I had no fit problem with the tracks whatsoever.

The hull belly plate properly represents a diesel-engine M4A2, while the new-tool, later one-piece pointed differential housing has very well-done casting texture, but no foundry numbers or symbols. The hull rear plate features the proper exhaust layout, but there are no radiators above the exhaust, under the overhang. However, this area is closed off with what appears to be a representation of one style of the exhaust deflector grill, in a folded-up position. But, I think the grill is in the wrong place, since it is inset on the same level as the sponson bottoms. This is much too far from the lower lip of the rear plate where photos show it connected by hinges. If this is so, a bit of carving and cutting is going to be required to correct this. Then, some hinge pin detail would need to be added where the grill contacts the lower lip of the superstructure rear plate, as well as where it latches on to the area around the mufflers. If all of this is done, then the missing pair of radiators and the plate between them will become obvious. There should (probably) also be a line of horizontal bolts along the top outside edge of the rear plate, as well as a vertical row down the center, which corresponds to the plate between the radiators.

The upper hull/superstructure properly represents the M4A2 hull with later 47-degree glacis and large oval hatches. As has been mentioned in other reviews, the weld beads are below the surface instead of being raised, which is really nothing to worry about. That’s why we have Evergreen! The driver and bow gunner’s hatch coaming inserts have the proper contour for the castings they represent, as well as foundry numbers. A light stipple with cement or a texturing medium will help them quite nicely.

The engine deck and doors are all separate, as well as all fuel and water filler caps. These last items have filler port detail on the hull, so they can be depicted in their open position, which will serve the diorama builder quite well. The periscopes for the hatches have separate rotating plates and can be shown opened or closed. The tools are nicely done and there is also a telephone (or first aid kit?) box for the rear plate.

The often-seen stowage tray is included for the rear plate, but curiously there are no parts to represent the pair of track storage racks usually seen at the rear hull corners.I suppose the “star” of this kit would be the later T-23 type 76mm turret. It features the small oval loader’s hatch and the commander’s all-around vision cupola. This last item comes with clear plastic inserts to represent the vision blocks, as well as a clear periscope for the hatch lid. These last two items certainly represent an idea whose time has come. Note, however, that the periscope in the commander’s hatch lid is rotated so it does not face forward.

The turret upper and lower shells are nicely textured, seem to have the proper contours, have a well done separate pistol port, and include foundry casting numbers and symbols in appropriate places. The separate, clear loader’s periscope and plate allow for variety in positioning. Another first is a clear part to represent the gunner’s periscope/sight, which is held within a two-part mount. The turret .50 cal. M2 features a pre-bored muzzle (as does the hull .30 cal. bow gun), two-part pintle, ammo box with cradle and also parts for stowage at the turret rear. The mantle is nicely detailed and also includes a pre-bored .30 cal. co-axial machine gun, but lacks foundry numbers. As mentioned above, there is a choice of turned aluminum or styrene gun tubes, with (again) a pre-bored muzzle break. However, only the outer face is open; the inner baffles need to be drilled through for maximum realism. Finally, there is a soft styrene “cloth” mantle cover for the finishing touch. There are only mounting studs along the upper turret front for the mantle cover, but none along the sides or on the gun mantle itself. I have found no photos of this tank in Soviet service with the cover or the studs. So, I recommend that the modeler remove the studs that are present and save the cover for another project. But, with all of these positive points to recommend it, I would have to agree that this is the best plastic T-23 turret on the market.

A small waterslide decal sheet provides markings for two Red Army M4A2s in 1945, associated with the final battles of WW2. They are accurate for this tank in that time frame, according to published references. However, there was (apparently, according to photos) shipping data stencils seen on the hull sides; it would have been nice to see these items included, but Archer probably markets what’s needed.

So, overall, in the fit, accuracy and detail departments, we have what could have laid claim to the title of “Best Plastic Sherman Kit”. However, there is some “sand in the Vaseline”.

There are six parts representing the mounting plates (parts V-5) for the VVSS bogie units included on the sprues. They are not called out in the instructions, nor are they marked as parts “not for use”. However, there are also six other smaller parts (parts A-22 and A-23) that the instructions call for being used to mount the bogies instead. They do not visually represent what should be there. Therefore, I would use the plates (V-5) over them, for proper visual accuracy. I have checked and they fit perfectly.

Be very careful where the final drive housing connects to the lower front hull. DO NOT glue the side plates to the final drive housing using the positioning strips on the inner face of the casting. Glue the side plates (parts A-13 and A-14) to the hull first, making sure that when the final drive casting (part A-10) is fitted, the side plates are flush and parallel with the housing’s outer edge. Also note that the two final drive parts (A29) that mount the drive sprockets to the hull need to be moved forward (carefully, so the orientation with the suspension bogies is not changed) so that they are flush with the rounded edge of the final drive cover.

There are some tiny items missing from the turret roof (commander’s blade sight and travel lock arm for the .50 cal. M2), which might have been good candidates for photo-etched parts. Also missing is a US-style antenna mount, although I doubt the Soviets would have a use for this item.

There are also the previously mentioned missing pair of track block storage racks, and, I still think DML’s designers could have done a better job around the engine exhaust area. Depending on what modelers want from a model, the negatives I mentioned may or may not be of concern. Certainly, if this variant is of interest to the modeler, then this kit is the best place to start.


DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.