ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale M4 DV - Smart Kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Kit Number 6579; M4 DV - Smart Kit;

573 parts (507 in grey styrene, 41 etched brass, 22 clear styrene, 2 DS plastic track runs, 1 length of twisted steel wire); retail price US $47.50 via Dragon USA online

Advantages: virtually new kit with many new sprues replaced; permits building the model =93as delivered=94 or with field modifications and upgrades

Disadvantages: some minor quirks here and there

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all American Sherman fans

One of the oddities of the Sherman tank was the fact that the M4, while being numerically the first of the family per US Army nomenclature, was not the first one into production. That honor went to its cast-hull near twin, the M4A1, in February 1942. The M4 did not enter production until September 1942 with the result that a number of =93lessons learned=94 had been incorporated into the tanks and it benefitted from several changes made to the M4A1 series tanks.

It used the initial production =93heavy duty=94 bogie assemblies with a new flat return roller mount behind the bogie body and a slightly improved skid plate on top of the bogie (the early ones were semi- circular, this one now had a lobe facing the front). They used the =93solid spoke=94 welded wheels with =93spoke=94 type idlers and machined (=93fancy=94) driver rings and the T41 reversible tracks. It did not have the bow machine guns which were part of the original design (and fielded on the early M4A1 tanks) and also had two more ventilators than the M4A1.

The tanks were fielded with the M3 75mm gun so never had the short- barreled M2 with counterweight as was fitted to some of the M4A1 tanks. As built the tanks used the M34 gun mount with a small mantlet over the pivot point and opening for the gun itself (=93rotor shield=94) and only slots for the coaxial machine gun and (later in production) a gunner=92s telescopic sight. Later the shield was fitted with protective =93ears=94 and a small mantlet was provided separately for the machine gun. Ultimately this was replaced by the full width mantlet of the M34A1 mount.

DML has now added a kit of the early production M4 with direct vision (DV) ports to its stable of kits, and they have made numerous changes in their molds with this kit. Many of the now familiar DML suspension parts now appear on new sprues and in new combinations, with some general cleanup and modification being apparent.

There are some sprues shared with the M4A1 DV and Sherman II kits which were released last year. The turret comes with several options, including a choice of M34 gun mount without =93ears=94, M34 mount with =93ears=94, add-on armor protection for the coaxial machine gun with the M34 mount, or the M34A1 mount. This variant, however, uses just the the straight M34 mount.

The hull is completely new top and bottom, and a =93slide molded=94 three- piece transmission cover is also new to the family. As the hull replicates the initial production tanks, it also has a 90 degree stern plate on the upper hull (the 8-10 degree ones did not come into production until later in the run). DV viewers consist of a separate slit plate and positionable armored cover. Specific details include either an open or closed set of engine access doors at the rear of the hull. The kit comes with the early =93square=94 air cleaners as well.

The kit comes with two completely different suspensions, the early =93flat-top=94 return rollers and also the later =93upswept=94 rollers. The main reason for that is to provide both complete sets of =93solid welded=94 or =93six spoke=94 wheels and the welded =93spoke=94 wheels and idlers. While the directions show the model with =93spoke=94 wheels photos show it with =93solid=94 wheels and =93spoke=94 idlers, so you have some choices here. The kit again provides a set of single-run DS plastic early T41 rubber pad tracks with non-reversible pads; while they appear to be a bit thin, this is apparently correct and one reason the reversible T51 links were adopted soon after the war began.

As noted the brass set for this kit is far smaller and only covers the fender tips, light guards, grouser vents and engine vent, and tool tie-downs and straps. The new design headlight guards (e.g. easier to fold and install) come complete with a folding jig as a separate part on the hull sprue. However, the styrene ones are respectably thin and could pass muster as is.

A set of brass straps and tie-downs for the OVM (tools) are provided but the modeler will have to clean off the molded ones to use them. Also, the kit provides an =93as issued=94 M2HB .50 caliber machine gun which is nicely done.

Finishing directions and markings are included for only two tanks: =933rd Armored Division=94, the Gustav Line, Italy 1944; or 753rd Tank Battalion, The Gustav Line, Italy 1944. The first is an error; 3rd Armored Division did not enter combat until July 1944, and it is likely the reference was to the 3rd Infantry (=93Rock of the Marne=94) Division which did fight in Italy.TWo small sheets of Cartograf decals (targeted and =93number jungle=94 bumper codes) are provided.

Technical assistance is credited to Pawel Krupowicz.

Overall, this is the counterpoise to the M4A1/Sherman II kits and fills in another niche for the die-hard =93Shermaholics.=94

Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell

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