Home > Reviews > USA WWII > DML no. 6048, M4A1 75mm Early Version (1/35th)


DML No. 6048, M4A1 75mm Early Version (1/35th)

by Frank De Sisto

This offering contains 1,009 styrene parts and three photo-etched brass parts, three sets of water-slide decals and eight pages of instructions in 18 steps.

Price: Unavailable.

After years of this kit being unavailable, DML has finally reacted to the clamor amongst modelers and re-released it. If E-Bay prices for this item and the success of resin manufacturers’ versions of the M4A1 are any indication, this is one very popular Sherman variation. Also, if DML’s history teaches us anything, this kit will not be available for a long period of time. So modelers, “get ‘em while they’re hot”!

As is DML’s way, this kit has many options, which will allow maximum flexibility for the modeler and also fill up that ever-hungry spares box. So, from the bottom up, here goes! There are two different styles of road wheels: the welded type with five open spokes (two sets, actually) and the pressed type with six spokes (but no inserts for the rear faces), two styles of idler (pressed and welded, both with six spokes, but again, no inserts for the rear faces), two styles of drive sprockets (solid and skeleton), early “round nose” cast differential and early three-piece differential (which should fit after modification). There are two sets of bogie units. One is the original Italeri set with up-swept return roller arm. The other is the straight-arm type, which, curiously, is NOT the same set that is in the revised M4A4 Firefly, or the new M4A2 76mm (see my reviews of both kits on this site). While the proper parts are provided for an accurate and detailed suspension, the separate bogie unit mounting plates lack the prominent and very visible bolts around the edge. These can easily be added with a punch and die set, or by slicing bolt heads with a Chopper tool from easily available hex-shaped styrene rod. The lower hull (from the original Italeri late M4A1) is properly detailed to represent a radial-engine vehicle.Two sets of individual link track are provided. One is the T48 rubber chevron type, while the other is the T62 composite riveted steel chevron type. There is also a set of “Duckbill” extended end connectors, along with standard end connectors for the tracks. There are no mold ejector pin marks on either set of tracks, which is a very nice touch and sure to ease the otherwise very labor-intensive process of cleaning these particular parts. The upper hull features separate crew and engine compartment hatches, as well as a nicely textured engine deck air intake cover. The hull itself has nicely done cast texture and features the prominent foundry symbol at the front. I compared the hull with photos of the prototype as well as the Formations kit. It appears to match both extremely well, if not precisely, at least to my old eyes. About the only noticeable difference is in the area just forward of, and below the crew hatches. This area seems to be a bit less concave than the Formations hull. There are appliqué armor panels which can be used, with some modification, to depict a re-manufactured hull. The tools are the same as seen in the original kit and could bear replacement; an excellent source is the set from Chesapeake Model Designs (CMD-34). Unlike some other DML kits, there are no etch parts for the head- and tail-lamp brush guards, although there are parts to depict the screening over the small cowl vents, at the rear hull corners. The rear plate is accurate for the hull type and features the square air filter canisters, and nicely done open-ended “fish-tail” exhaust pipes.The turret is based on the original DML M4A4 Firefly turret (NOT the one in the recently re-released kit) as is shown by a slight line where the loader’s hatch was removed. The odd contour just forward of the loader’s station is also there as are the slots to mount the Firefly’s turret radio box/counterweight; some filing and filling will fix all of that. The roof details are slightly different and the periscopes are not separate. There is no representation of the thickened cheek armor in front of the gunner’s station, which is, again, different from the turret included with the re-released Firefly kit (although there is a separate appliqué panel for this area). However, the upper turret shell in the M4A1 kit fits quite well to the turret ring part, a distinction the re-released turret can not claim. There is a choice of M34 and M34A1 gun mantle and rotor shields, while the 75mm gun is of the constant taper type, with no flare at the muzzle end. On the down side, there is no US-style antenna mount, no spot-lamp and no .50 cal. M2 machine-gun for the turret roof. The instructions appear to be clear, and ought not to present any problems. The three decal schemes (one each for the Pacific, North African and Italian Theaters of Operation) accurately match reference photos. Test fitting showed that all main components will go together very nicely after proper clean-up. The straight-arm bogie units will require a certain degree of care during clean-up, especially since each track skid comes in two parts and includes mounting bolt detail.

Overall, the kits detail is nicely done and includes foundry casting numbers on the two different final drive housings, as well as on the later (but useless, for this version) up-swept bogie units. Aside from every thing else, this kit will also be a boon to those who also build variations on the cast hull chassis. For instance, if a modeler combines this kit with the turret and fittings from the Italeri M32 ARV kit, a more accurate model will be the result. So, the re-issue of this kit will be great for Sherman modelers, weather they wish to build the kit out-of-the-box, embellish it with after-market items, or use it as a base for conversions.

Highly recommended.

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