US Sherman M4 (75mm early), 1/72-scale, EXM 72035
by Frank De Sisto
Extratech US Sherman M4 (75mm early), in 1/72-scale
injection molded styrene plastic, EXM 72035. Contains 257 plastic parts,
six photo-etched brass parts, four marking options and eight pages of
instructions in eight steps. Price: $22.95 USD.
In the past few years, more mainstream companies, like DML and Revell
have tooled up all new kits in 1/72-scale. Mirage has just begun to release
variations of the US M3 medium tank. Extratech recently entered the arena
with variations on the US M10 3-inch GMC. Now they follow with a logical
extension of the series: the US M4 medium tank.
This kit is labeled as a “75mm early” version, but in reality
should be described as a middle production version, since it has the cast
driver’s hoods without direct vision ports. It features a low bustle
75mm turret with the M34 gun mount and rotor shield without the small
wings on either side of the gun tube, three-piece differential housing,
straight trailing arm VVSS suspension and five-spoke road wheels. The
tracks are of the steel chevron type. Options include a complete set of
hull and turret appliqué armor, M34A1 gun mount and rotor shield,
later sharp-nose differential housing and solid, six-spoke road wheels.
There are a number of mystery parts and there are also a number of parts
from other versions that are planned, including larger driver’s
escape hatches, all-around vision cupola and exhausts from an M4A3. There
is also a driver’s instrument panel from the M10/ M4A2 and a US
radio.The low bustle 75mm turret is nicely done and has all the proper
details, including a separate pistol port. This can be deleted if desired
since this was done for a time on the actual turret. Cast texture should
be added for a better look. There is a choice of two different gun shield/
rotor combinations, but the early version M34 does not include a rotor
shield for the .30-cal. machine gun. Nor, for that matter, is the actual
.30-cal. machine gun barrel included! The commander’s cupola has
a .50-cal. M2 machine gun that features photo-etch brass grips and carrying
handle, but it will need an ammo box and tray, as well as a cocking handle
to be complete.
The upper hull is a crisp molding but it has the kit’s major inaccuracy.
The rear plate is angled far too much, resembling an ‘A2 or ‘A3
rear plate in that regard. So, it will need to be fixed. The upper and
lower hull parts do not fit too well, and the fit will need more tweaking
once the angle problem is corrected. Likewise, the differential covers
will need tweaking in order to fit. The hull .30-cal. machine gun is poorly
represented, while the separate tools are just passable; they also need
strap and bracket details, but as a friend said, at least you don’t
have to carve them off the hull to start with. Smaller details such as
lifting hooks and lights are nicely done, as are the driver’s hatches
and the air intake cowl over the forward part of the engine deck. Weld
seams are represented by scribed lines, which should be re-worked to represent
raised lines. On the other hand, the main engine access doors are represented
by raised lines, when in reality they should be scribed.
The lower hull has sponson floors integrally molded, but the belly plate
is only accurate for an M10 or M4A2, according to the arrangement of engine
compartment access plates. The belly escape hatch is also well done and
in the correct place. The rear plate is nice and includes separate square
air cleaner boxes as well as exhaust pipes. Check your reference as to
how these mount, as the instructions are confusing in that regard. The
tow hook for the rear plate is best discarded as it bears only a passing
resemblance to the real thing.
The suspension features trailing return roller arms and solid drive sprocket
teeth as well as stamped, six-spoke idler wheel. As mentioned above, both
six-spoke stamped wheels (detailed on one side only) and five-spoke fabricated
wheels are included. The track skids are molded as part of the bogie assembly
and are solid. They should be cut off and replaced, or the modeler could
opt to carve the plastic away. Either way will be quite an improvement.
The tracks appear to be a variation of the steel chevron type and are
of the “link and length” type.
The instructions are fair and include a separate sheet detailing where
a mistake was made with them, which is quite considerate of the manufacturer.
There are four sets of water-slide decal markings given, which are very
cleanly printed on a thin carrier film. The US set is essentially generic
as it consists only of allied white stars. Two other schemes are for vehicles
used by the UK. They include one from the Royal Marines Armoured Support
Group at Normandy, and another for the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in Germany.
The final vehicle is Canadian from the “12th Canadian Tank Regiment”
in Italy. I can only verify the set of markings from the RMASG in Normandy
and the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in Germany. While I cannot find any mention
of such a Canadian unit, there was a 12th Manitoba Dragoons in Italy.
But, I believe that was a reconnaissance unit equipped with armored cars.
Furthermore, the Arm of Service mark, a white “174” on a red
over blue square, seems to indicate a British artillery unit. So, consult
your references! So, while not quite up to today’s standards, this
kit is certainly a far cry from what Braille Scale modelers have had to
put up with, if they wanted to create a decent model of an M4 Sherman.
And, that’s not too shabby.
Eduard and Extratech products are available at retail and mail order
shops and directly from the manufacturer at: www.eduard.cz