Home > Reviews > USA WWII > Extratech Sherman M4A3E2 Jumbo (U.S. assault tank), 1/72-scale, EXM 7036


Extratech Sherman M4A3E2 Jumbo (U.S. assault tank), 1/72-scale, EXM 7036

by Frank De Sisto

Contains 257 injection-molded styrene plastic parts, four photo-etched brass parts, four sets of markings, and eight pages of instructions with eight steps. Price: $22.95 USD.

Extratech caused quite a fuss amongst small-scale modelers when they announced, and then produced, kits based on the US M4 Sherman medium tank chassis. First they released variations of the M10 3-inch GMC, followed by a “plain vanilla” mid-production M4 Sherman medium tank. The reader ought to refer back to my recent M4 review, on this site, for more particulars related to the common parts in these kits. The latest release is the M4A3-based “Jumbo” assault tank. It uses many parts from the previous kits such as the suspension and track, as well as the lower hull. New parts are limited to the turret, main gun and mantlet, upper hull, front and side appliqué armor panels, and finally, the thicker cast transmission/differential housing.

Many other parts for this version are included on the basic sprues from the original Sherman kit. These include the commander’s all-around-vision cupola and separate hatch, driver’s and bow gunner’s hatches, tools, storage racks, turret and hull details, lower hull, suspension and tracks. Frankly, this kit is quite a mixed bag of nice features, omissions, inaccuracies and simplifications. In short, it is precisely what Braille Scale modelers have been used to working with over the years!

We’ll start at the bottom. The tracks are identical to those in the initial release, which means that they lack “Duckbill” extended end connectors. Since these were a regular feature of this particular version of the Sherman, their omission is somewhat disappointing. However, the “Duckbills” should be easy to make from “U”-channel styrene stock, and a Chopper tool. Or, as modelers Andy Tedtson and Mike Salzano have pointed out to me, a company called Fine Scale Factory makes replacement T54 rubber chevron tracks with the extended end connectors in white metal. Those considering this kit may wish to get a set of these after-market tracks. The kit’s suspension features straight-arm return roller mounts, but the Jumbo used the later up-swept return roller mounts. So, the modeler is forced to modify the kit parts should he wish to make a more accurate model. Since the arms are separate, this should not be too much of a problem. The lower hull is configured with access plates on the belly for a diesel engine. But again, this is no problem unless you turn the model over. The mounts for the rear idler wheels do not resemble those that are seen on any Sherman tank. The new, thicker transmission/differential housing needs to have texture added.

The upper hull looks good, with especially well-done engine access doors. The front and side appliqué plates are separate, and when attached, should have some weld details added by the modeler. Modelers should also note that the side plates were actually in two parts, with a vertical weld seam. Reference photos will show the location and configuration of the weld, but it is not easily seen. It’s actually one thing that Verlinden got right in his 1/35-scale Jumbo conversion from days gone by. Applying the front plate requires that detail be removed from the main hull, which is called out in the instructions. There are many detail parts to add such as tools, spare track racks, tail lamps and lifting hooks. The bow machine gun is very poorly done and needs to be replaced. There are photo-etch brush guards for the tail lamps, a nice touch.

The turret shape looks to be off, especially as seen from above, according to published photos. There are also detail issues. For instance, the loader’s hatch is molded as part of the turret and has simplified hinge and spring detail. There is no antenna mount or opening for the 2-inch smoke mortar. There is a nice weld seam around the roof, but the remainder of the turret needs the heavy cast texture added, which is simple enough. The mantlet lacks some finer detail, is missing some of the subtle angles seen on the edges and has a simplified collar where the main gun tube sits. It also appears to me that the socket for the main gun is slightly off-center. There are etched brass parts for the grips and carrying handle for the .50-cal. M2 heavy machine gun. The stowage arrangement at the turret rear, for a dismantled M2 is incorrect as shown in the instructions. Another odd thing is that the kit’s M2 is longer than the main gun (part 9) on the new sprue for the Jumbo version. Published information states that the M2 is 1,653mm long overall. This scales out to 22.958mm in 1/72 scale. The kit’s M2 is 26mm long overall. I know that the turret and mantlet are thicker than the normal Sherman, and because of that the 75mm gun will not need to be as long, since less of it protrudes. But, should the M2 still be longer? Any comments on this point will be welcome. On the other hand, the original 75mm gun tube is included in the main sprue. It is longer than the one provided specifically for the Jumbo, so could possibly be used to depict an up-gunned 76mm-armed Jumbo.

The instructions are fairly clear, but beware. The new parts for the Jumbo are single-digit numbers on the sprues, but double-digit numbers on the instruction sheet.

The decals are very well printed and consist of four basically accurate schemes. All appear to be derived from the published works of Steve Zaloga, notably his article in Vol. 32, #4 of Military Modelling magazine. Readers should note that I referred to that article for this entire review. Featured is “Cobra king” of the 4th Armored Division’s 37th Tank Battalion, two colorfully marked Jumbos of the 6th AD (one each from the 15th “Grey Wolf” and 69th “Black Panther” Tank Battalions), and the sole known French-manned Jumbo. But, the kit’s designers managed to (ever-so-slightly) mess this up as well.

For example:
1. All of the bumper codes for the US tanks have their sequence incorrectly depicted. They all begin with the armored triangle, which is wrong. The fix is simple; just cut the first triangle away from the beginning of your chosen sequence and add it to the end, after the battalion number.
2. The French Jumbo lacks the Quartermaster shipping bar code, while the “LT” segment of the name is misspelled.
3. Also, if building “Cobra King”, the modeler should refer to photos for the configuration of the widened fender/sand shield mounting strips, which are similar to those seen on HVSS-equipped Sherman tanks.

Overall, this kit has potential and with a fair amount of extra work can be made to look quite nice. Out of the box, it will certainly provide a decent visual approximation of this distinctive tank. However, this is the year 2004; the information for a proper kit is available and the technology is there to bring a better product to the modeler. It’s unfortunate that this kit does not show it.

Recommended with reservations.

Eduard and Extratech products are available at retail and mail order shops and directly from the manufacturer at: www.eduard.cz