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Aber # 35032 Sherman M4, M4A1, M4A3

John Prigent

This is a generic set to fit the Italeri, Tamiya or Dragon Shermans - a separate one covers the Dragon M4A4. The instructions are on three A4 sides but you do need to go through them carefully to see which bits to use for  each tank as they aren't noted, just illustrated. The specific Sherman etch is a single fret 3.75 by 4.75 inches, and Aber's detail set for the M2 .50 MG is also included as a 2 by 2 inch fret.

Contents are as good as I've seen, giving for a start the front and rear curved trackguards with all support brackets. The side strips for sandshield attachment come with either single or double rows of bolt holes, just turn  them over to suit whichever is shown on the photo you're using for reference (the extra holes on the "double" side are only half-etched, so give a good  appearance without going right through).

Front-end detail includes all hatch fittings, complete periscopes and mounts for both small and large hull hatches, light and horn guards of course, and details for the gun travel crutch. There's a complete horn wraparound to give the slots on its sides, with two alternative faces for the front, and a wraparound perforated jacket for the hull MG. A hypodermic needle is recommended for the actual MG barrel, but I suspect that filing down the kit barrel and drilling out its end will work just as well.

The rear hull gets light guards and all possible tool stowage brackets,tiedowns etc, (including straps, with separate buckles so you can use paper if you don't fancy trying to fit the brass straps), fire extinguisher pull-handle details, and sandshield attachment strips if you don't want to fit the rear trackguards. A complete rear stowage rack is given, with tiedowns and including the brackets for the gun cleaning rods. Air cleaner details are given, with illustrations showing both kit moulding styles, and the spare track racks are included too. On the engine deck you get securing pins with chains for the fuel filler caps, mesh for the grouser bin vents, and the tow-cable securing clamp. The suspension comes off second best, with only track skids and their bolts for the tops of VVSS bogies, and I think the brass is a bit too thin for these - though a coat of paint will thicken it up so maybe the results will be an improvement of the thick plastic skids with mould seams to remove. Hobson's choice!

There's quite a lot for the turret too. Details for both gun-ring and vision cupola commander's hatches and for the loader's hatch if there's one on your model, MG stowage brackets for both 75 and 76 mm turrets, two complete periscopes with mounts, two styles of commander's direct sighting vane, a perforated sleeve for the co-ax MG, and a wraparound detail sleeve for the spotlight.

The M2 MG detail set is also sold separately. It includes a perforated sleeve for the rear end of the barrel, barrel carrying handle, front and rear sights, a nice flat plate for the top of the breech so you can get rid of that wretched mould-seam line properly, the rear handle and trigger assembly,and the arm for the cocking handle. The actual handles are added from rod, of course. The gun goes onto a neat cradle built from fourteen parts including the locking pins complete with chains, and another six parts make the complete ammo box with an ammo belt to fold into it.

Thoughts on the set: it's a shame that there's no replacement grill for the M4A3 rear deck, and you'll have noted that there's no exhaust deflector for the M4A3 either. Perhaps Aber will produce a small M4A3 set with the deck grill and both WW2 and post-War types of exhaust deflector - I certainly hope so! Otherwise everything one could possible wish for seems to be included. Some parts are decidedly small and will need tweezers, good eyesight and patience to use, but that shouldn't put anyone off buying the set as just using the more easily handled parts will make a great improvement to any model of one of the Shermans covered by the set.

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