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In-Box Review
135
Sherman Mark III

by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction
The early/mid-war period has always been fertile terrain for modellers. This is particularly true when one looks at some of the camouflage schemes which were introduced during this period along with some colorful (if a touch 'garish') markings carried by many AFVs. The other aspect which greatly attracts modellers is, undoubtedly the vehicle types themselves. From the large and impressive such as the Lee and Grant to their sleeker, more 'recognizable' contemporaries such as the first deployed Sherman variants....


Dragon's New Kit
DRA6313 - Sherman Mark III is a 1/35th scale model of the 'Commowealthized' U.S. M4A2. The kit, as is now standard from DML, is moulded in light-grey styrene. On opening the box, there are ELEVEN plastic sprues, one clear, a sheet of photo etch, a length of (metal) tow cable, the one piece tracks (moulded in 'Dragon Styrene'), a fold-out sheet of instructions and a small decal sheet.


About this review
With its many variants, one of the difficulties in any review of the M4 series is to correctly identify whether or not the manufacturer has done their 'homework' as to putting correct components according to the version being portrayed. Therefore, to simplify matters, the principal areas of the kit will be looked at in detail to establish that the designers of the kit didn't fall in the many traps which the original Ordinance boards seemed to have created 60 years ago.


In detail

1 - Turret: The turret portrayed in this kit is the British modified version of the low-bustle turret. This is distinguished from the M4A2 turret with the narrower, more-simplified mantlet. Several different mantlets (four in total) are provided with only one used in this version - the 'narrow' M34. Regarding the 'big picture' several points are worth noting: firstly, the shape of the turret, as far as I can establish, is absolutely correct. The correct bustle is present along with some beautifully-rendered texturing. The vision blocks, for the turret periscopes are provided separately in clear plastic. All relevant details such as the pistol port are well done with both good design and execution. The rear of the turret is provided with the British storage box which was hinged at an angle again, this is correctly and convincingly done. An option is given to model the box open or closed, The 75mm barrel itself is plastic and with the use of slide-moulding looks very good indeed - gone (one hopes) are the days of solid plastic barrels... The PE set comes into play on the turret, firstly. rather than casting numbers being moulded onto the surface, these are provided in the PE set - not something which TOTALLY convinces me as they are a little too flat to be practical - better to use some of the '3D' lettering available in various sizes. What does work, are the straps provided for the rear of the turret (should the British box not be used). Slide moulding is used to good effect with the 'bomb-thrower' on the rear bustle. The two (possible) aerial mounts are also present - British or American. Also well done is the forward facing searchlight as well as full INTERNAL detail for the hatches.Regarding the pintle-mount MG, it was certainly present in many Sherman III's but is NOT included in the kit. It isn't a major oversight and is very easy to add should one wish...

Hull On previous M4's by Dragon, one of the major criticisms was the lack of weld-marks on the hull. Previously, these had to be added with putty or thin, stretched sprue. In this kit, the weld-marks are present and done with a finesse of detail which is frankly superlative. The double-door engine hatch is provided as separate parts. The fuel-filler ports are separate mouldings and can be portrayed open or closed due to the detail moulded below them. The tools are good but unfortunately don't have their mounting brackets provided separately - once again the AM companies provide a wealth of possibilities. Moving onto the front glacis, more options present themselves to use the plastic light - guards or to use the PE alternatives which give a more convincing 'thickness', Inevitably, the bulk of the PE comes in the sand shields which were such an obvious aspect of the 'desert' version. These are moulded in PE and closely follow the original in their attachment. As these were subject to considerable wear and tear, a more 'used' appearance will be more desirable in the finished model.

Lower Hull/Running Gear: Two types of suspension are available to choose from - the 'horizontal' roller or slightly 'upswept' type. The wheels themselves are the five-spoked open type these are very nicely moulded indeed with only a slight amount of cleaning on the outside.The rear idlers are again 'open' spokes with a separately moulded hub. The drive sprockets are also well-moulded with the correct number of bolts and fittings.One of the more innovative aspects of this kit, is without a doubt the 'three-piece' transmission cover which is a superb piece of moulding. On the rear, all details are 'present' and as far as I can tell, 'correct'.

The tracks: A pair of T54E1 tracks are provided - which are moulded in 'Dragon Styrene' - a material which has received a lot of ill-informed criticism since it was first introduced. The tracks are SUPERB. Not good, not adequate, but absolutely impressive. Detail is sharp and crisp and there is no indication (at least in my copy) of any signs of warping or defects in the moulding process. I'll keep saying it - in the case of (the majority) M4 tracks, separate links are unnecessary. With 'DS', the manufacturer seems to have found the ideal medium....

The Decals The nicely printed sheet comes with markings for three vehicles - all of which are for the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry in 1943, nice enough individually, but totally lacking in imagination - one perhaps, but three? These are definitely worth considering their replacement.

The Instructions: It may be that I'm getting more accustomed to the style, but these seem to be a little easier to understand than others from DML - there again, it may just be wishful thinking!


Conclusions
This is, in my opinion, Dragon Models' best M4 to date. There have been notable attentions to detail and corrections which simply weren't as obvious on other Sherman kits from the company. One question which many will be asking however, is regarding its suitability for a relatively inexperienced modeller. It's complex, but not in an exaggerated way. I wouldn't unhesitatingly recommend it for an absolute novice, but someone with a few moderately complex projects under their belt could tackle it and produce a good model. As this is obviously part of a continuing program of M4 releases, we can expect them to get better and better. This release bodes VERY well for future Shermans...


Reference material and acknowledgments
- First of all, my thanks to Vinnie for the pics which come as close to capturing the reality of the kit as one could imagine. Secondly, in the preparation of this review, I used a number of references, in particular, two books:M4a2 Sherman (Part 1) AND:
Images of War: Sherman Tank
SUMMARY
This soon to be released kit covers a much desired variant of the M4 - the British Sherman III. An extraordinary model which should be welcomed by the both the 'faithful' and the recently 'converted' to the fascinating world of the Sherman.
  SUBJECT:95%
  QUALITY OF MOULDING:95%
  DESIGN:95%
Percentage Rating
96%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6313
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Nov 07, 2006
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.06%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.23%

Our Thanks to Dragon Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)
FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2017 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks Pat I have just done that from your link. Let's see how much it all is !! Cheers Tony
NOV 08, 2006 - 06:41 AM
One question, if this is a Brit Sherman three where are the Smoke dischargers for the turret flank? Are they in the kit or do I need to raid the AFV club and Academy M3 kits for some? This and the Welded hull are also perfect for Polish and New Zealand Shermans in Italy. I am dissapopinted in the choice of markings but still VERY, VERY, VERY happy with this kit. In fact I think this would rate as MY most wanted kit for years and Bronco delivered the other and have the third on the way! I hope DML offer a few variations of this and the Tarawa kit (maybe a 2-1 with both HUll types and a mega decal sheet plus 50 cals AA and smoke launchers. CHeers AL Slobbering Sherman Freak
NOV 08, 2006 - 01:43 PM
Fantastic! This will save spending a small fortune on aftermarket stuff to do a British Sherman! This is definitely on my list!
NOV 08, 2006 - 01:55 PM
Does anyone seemed bothered by the fact that the kit does not include the early sherman suspension or that the tracks are not the solid rubber block type i assume is typical of MK III early version at El Alemain
NOV 08, 2006 - 03:52 PM
Good points. The pictures I have of the M4A2 desert show tanks with the early rounded cast transmissions even with the dirrect vision. Most have the flat ruber block track. Of the dozen or so pictured, none have smoke launchers added. There is a picture of a tank dated 3 of 1943 that shows a tank that is very close to the DML kit. The only visible difference is that it has the cast nose, not the 3 pcs nose. No complaints though. If we all think DV, it might just happen.
NOV 08, 2006 - 04:20 PM
The early M3 Suspension only occured on the Direct Vision Hulls which this version is not. This is pretty typical for a Brit M4A2 of the post alamein period as are the tracks. I'm sure someone (DML or Academy) will eventually do this version. Cheers Al
NOV 08, 2006 - 05:38 PM
Some pics of the Wiltshires parade vehicles A&C Sqn. Note the transmission covers all appear to be rounded however the third pic shows a 3 piece on a 46rtr vehicle in Sicily so this variant definately existed and if you want a rounded I believe one is in the kit: [ For discussion purposes only. CHeers AL
NOV 08, 2006 - 05:53 PM
Yes, there are two transmission covers included - the one from the M4a2 and the bolted one. Regarding the smoke dischargers, of all the images I have of the Sherman III, I haven't found that many showing them fitted - once again, they existed, but until I find more images, I won't lose much sleep over it. The other area I mentioned in the review, and I think was mentioned here, is the lack of the roof mounted .50 calibre MG. Once agaim, they were certainly widely used, but it's NOT exactly going to require major surgery to correct it. I almost gave myself a migraine trying to find a major problem with this kit. The truth is I didn't. I'm still not happy about the decal choice, but, as we've finally got a Sherman III which is correct I really think we can count ourselves very fortunate indeed, now if DML were to rework the M4a1 and do a Direct Vision hull, life would be even better I've actually been drooling over this one for months as I was in the fortunate position to see some of the advance CAD drawings of various parts - even then, I knew it was going to be something very special. Personally, I doubt if any of us could have imagined (even a year ago) that the quality and accuracy was going to take such a quantum leap - all good things come to those who wait?
NOV 08, 2006 - 07:54 PM
Jim Rae, See if DML can make up a kit with just those little tie down loops (part B-31 on the M4A2). There were many more used on the M4's, to hold the tool securing straps etc. They may be tiny, but I could use a couple hundred with all the M4's I have going on. LHS says that the Sherman III will hit the stores any time.
NOV 09, 2006 - 01:24 AM
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