ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale M4 (105) Howitzer Tank

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit Number
6548; M4 (105) Howitzer Tank; 582 parts (490 in grey styrene, 67
etched brass, 22 clear styrene, 2 DS plastic track runs, 1 twisted
steel wire); estimated price US$49.99 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: heavily reworked kit fixes many early 105mm turret
problems; many new parts; one-piece DS track runs
Disadvantages: Nothing major noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: For all US WWII and Korean War fans as well as
Originally the US Army allocated direct support howitzer weapons at
the rate of three per tank battalion in the form of either halftracks
or M7 =93Priest=94 HMC vehicles. But as the war progressed and units were
called on to carry out direct support at small arms ranges, the
decision was made to switch to mounting a small 105mm howitzer in the
M4 chassis.
Externally these tanks looked just like a normal Sherman with the
exception of the different mantelet and rotor assembly and of course
the thick, stubby gun barrel. Internally the tanks were rearranged,
and while initial production models with the VVSS suspension did not
have power traverse it was quickly reintroduced after complaints from
the field. Also, early tanks had the old split-cover hatch for the
commander with the new oval loader=92s hatch. Due to priority for the so-
called =93vision=94 cupola to go to the =93gun=94 tanks, it was not until t=
summer of 1944 that the howitzer tanks began to receive them.
Photographic evidence is hard to evaluate, as it appears in some cases
either an early tank was updated or a later one swapped out the vision
cupola for the split-hatch version as tanks with a variety of features
can be seen in photos.
Later production tanks had the new HVSS suspension, and the last
group to be built also added fittings for a canvas mantelet cover
along with that cover. The Marine Corps in the Pacific also had a
modified version that added a flamethrower, dubbed the POA-CWS-H5. In
Korea, the USMC used both that vehicle and a regular M4A3 (105mm) but
also fitted with an M1A1 dozer blade.
The US Army took delivery of 1,641 M4 (105mm) (800 with VVSS and 841
with HVSS) tanks and the UK received 593 M4 (105mm) tanks.
An earlier DML M4A3 (105) kit came with HVSS (No. 6354) but was noted
as having a mantlet which copied the 1/72 scale kits=92 too narrow
mantlet, which was a shame as it threw off the proportions of the
turret. This kit of the earlier variant now comes with a correctly
scaled mantlet, so the older option of either buying an after-market
item or borrowing one from the elderly DML POW-H5 flamethrower tank is
no longer needed.
This kit comes with a new mold upper hull and parts from the M4
Pacific Theater of Operations and M4 Direct Vision kits as
appropriate. New equipment rails and first-aid kit come with the
turret. The turret has the =93bulge=94 on the right front but there is a
small seam which will need to be addressed. All of the periscopes and
their mounts are separate parts as well.
Both the split hatch and vision hatch commander=92s cupolas are
provided as is the nicely done DML M2HB AA machine gun with =93Slide
Molded=94 muzzle. All viewers are clear styrene, as are all lights.
This kit now comes with a relatively complete selection of suspension
components, offering both the =93flat top/riser=94 and =93lifted=94 return
roller mountings, separate track skids with bolt details, and a choice
of either =93spoke=94 or =93cast=94 style welded wheels. It also offered bo=
=93machined=94 and =93smooth=94 types of driver tooth rings. Single-piece T=
track with extended end connectors are also provided as DS Plastic
Technical assistance was provided by Pawel Krupowicz.
The kit provides markings for three tanks: 8th Tank Battalion, 4th
Armored Division, Normandy 1944 (tactical markings with two-tone
camouflage); 31st Armored Regiment, 7th Armored Division, Normandy
1944 (OD with white stars, B-19); and HQ company, 32nd Armored
Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, Belgium 1945 (whitewash over OD). A
=93number jungle=94 and set of targeted decals from Cartograf are
Overall this is a nice kit, and in this case it is reassuring that
DML does listen to complaints and suggestions to improve their kits.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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