USA > Academy M4A3 Sherman
105mm Howitzer and M1 Dozer Blade (13207)
M4A3 Sherman 105mm Howitzer and M1 Dozer Blade
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
Stock Number and Description
Academy 1/35 Scale Static Model Kit No.
13207; M4A3 Sherman 105mm Howitzer and M1 Dozer Blade
Media and Contents:
448 parts (446 parts in green styrene, 2
silver vinyl track runs)
retail price US $42.00
First kit to include the dozer blade; all
styrene kit with one-piece tracks should make building a snap
Academy still about one generation behind
DML on details; shortcuts on some parts understandable but still
Recommended for all Sherman and Marine fans
as well as modelers who don't like multimedia kits
The new Academy M4A3 105mm Sherman with M1 Dozer Blade kit arrived
hot on the heels of the new DML M4A3 105mm HVSS kit, so I can
compare both of them as to their subject.
First off, Academy fudged on one fact – the dozer blade provided for
this tank should have been the M1A1 dozer blade, which was designed
to fit on the wider M4 series tanks with HVSS suspension, not the M1
series blade. The difference was the earlier blade had a width of
124 inches and the new one was 138 inches. That works out to just
about 100mm even in 1/35 scale, but the one in the kit is only 96mm
assembled. Reversed, that comes out to 132 inches, so Academy split
the difference. The later T7 installation used variable blades, but
as it had no arms on the sides, this could only have been meant to
be the M1A1.
Moving on to the kit proper, the details are not bad but some could
have been better done. One case in point is the fact that the upper
hull still has the "trench" type of weld beads used, and hopefully
Academy can fix this bugaboo of Sherman modelers with subsequent
kits. Otherwise, the hull is nicely done with a separate engine deck
and access panels, fenders and braces, hatches with separate
viewers, viewer mounts, guards and cover flaps, gas filler caps, two
styles of travel lock, and a cast nose with separate tow shackles.
The mounts are molded in place, which could be awkward if the
modeler chose to use them, but with the dozer blade in place they
are nearly impossible to see so it is probably a moot point.
Also, the kit does not come with the correct bore cleaning rods for
the 105mm howitzer, giving the 75/76mm set instead, as well as not
including the rather prominent first aid kit for use outside the
The HVSS bogies comprise ten parts each, but all are fully detailed
and the wheels have details on both sides. The idlers do not, but
they are detailed on the outsides and the inner parts are hard to
see so again not a major problem. The drivers consist of six parts
each (disks, track guides, and two drums) with a choice of the
"cast" or "plain" toothed disks. Note that you need to pay attention
to details, as if you use the dozer blade you have to not install
the front two bogie bearings (E-3) on each side of the tank as the
dozer frame mounts (C25 and C26) fit in there.
The tracks are one place where Academy took a shortcut. T80 and T84
series tracks cause problems for manufacturers producing Sherman
models, as the center guides are basically hollow cubes with a hole
for attaching them by bolt and nut to the center track connector.
DML's solution with its new series kit was to make the track from
its styrene cement compatible DS plastic, and provide 176 separate
slide molded guides for it. Academy basically cheated, combining the
features of the T80 tracks from the M4 series and the T80E1 series
tracks from the M26/M46 series tanks by having a square guide open
at the top with separate "teeth" on the longitudinal ends. Most
modelers who hate track will be happy, however, as you only have to
heat seal the ends and mount them.
The turret is completely new and makes use of slide molding in the
same fashion as DML, namely to capture the pistol port detail
accurately and also to hollow mold the gun barrel for the howitzer.
However, this turret does not come with the "Cheek" casting of the
DML one nor does the kit provide the attachment fittings and
"gutter" for the mantelet cover used on many M4A3 howitzer tanks.
Both of the subject tanks of this kit had mantelet cover
attachments, so you will have to come up with these on your own.
On the other hand, the turret has nicely done parts for the rest of
the bits, and it does come with both a .50 caliber and a .30 caliber
machine gun for use on the turret. The turret also has separate
ventilators, so those into "mix and match" can easily convert it to
a good late-model "high bustle" turret with a 75mm gun or even a MAP
76mm. (Think "Kelly's Heroes" and the Yugoslavian Army tanks they
used.) The turret sprue also comes with the late model twin exhaust
deflector grille for the rear of the hull.
The kit comes with two finishing options, both Marine Corps and both
from Korea. They are B43 and D43 of 1st Tanks at Hagaru-ri, November
1950. Since there is a good shot of both tanks on page 500 of
Hunnicutt's "Sherman" book (among others, as this shot gets around)
that shows both tanks less their dozer blades, you can see exactly
how to finish them. B43 has the fenders removed and the spare tracks
mounted directly on the hull sides, the dozer blade piston
attachment missing, and its commander's machine gun either stored or
removed. D43 is more complete, with fenders and the piston, as well
as mounting an M2HB and with the first aid kit on the left side of
the hull. Both tanks have twin whip antennas at the rear of the
The directions show them in olive drab with white markings and
stars, and it is hard to tell from most photos as to the accuracy of
the colors or not (e.g. Marine Corps green, which has a bluish
tinge, or real OD that has burnished out.) The large numbers (B43
and D43) appear to be yellow, as do the serial numbers.
Overall, this is not a bad kit but once again Academy cut a few
corners that could easily have been kept. It is an easier kit to
assemble than the DML one, and modelers who want a reasonably good
kit that will not take a long time to assemble should keep it in
A 89 M4A3 47 series degree hull
B 99 M4A3 75/105mm high bustle turret and detail parts
C 36 M1 dozer blade
E 59x2 HVSS bogies
F 103 M4 series details
1 M4A3 lower hull
2 T80 vinyl tracks