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.
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