ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale M4A2 Late - PTO 2-in-1 kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Kit No. 6462; 499
parts (437 parts in grey styrene, 35 etched brass, 22 clear styrene, 4
DS plastic track runs, 1 twisted steel wire); estimated retail price US
$50.50
Advantages: nice new parts provide lots of options, as well as more
=93mix and match=94 bits for the true =93Shermaholic=94
Disadvantages: limited number of options for USMC tanks
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Sherman and USMC armor fans
Thanks to two recently published books on the Marine Corps armored
operations in the Pacific we now have a much better view of how and
why USMC tank units functioned the way they did. The books, =93Tank
Warfare on Iwo Jima=94 by David E. Harper and US Marine Corps Tank
Crewman 1941-1945 Pacific=94 by Kenneth W. Estes, as well as some of the
many items from Ed Gilbert, show that due to a lack of priorities the
USMC was only originally offered the M4A2 or M4A4 variant of the M4
medium tank. When the British opted for all of the M4A4 series, the
Marines received 168 M4A2 series tanks =96 112 for the 1st and 2nd Corps
Tank Battalions, and 56 for training.
The Marines later added a third M4A2 battalion =96 3rd Tanks - but soon
afterwards began to replace them and field new units with the incoming
Army standard vehicle, the M4A3. Photographic evidence shows that only
the 1st and 2nd Tanks were provided with replacement vehicles from the
late production runs of the M4A2, as the 3rd Tanks only had mid
production (56 degree hull cast hood type) M4A2 tanks as late as Iwo
Jima.
There were therefore only a handful of these tanks provided to the
Marines =96 the bulk going to the Chinese Nationalist forces in Asia or
the USSR. The good news is that the photographic evidence supports the
four finishing options here, so full marks for DML after some of the
problems with the British Sherman III kits and their markings (note
that is good kit, bad markings info, on those kits.)
This kit is a great one from the point of view of the =93mix and match
Shermaholic=94 modeler, for it provides two nice options many will want.
First off is a new from the ground up late production M4 75mm =93high
bustle=94 turret with loader=92s hatch and a choice of either split hatch
or vision cupolas. It has the cast-in reinforced right =93cheek=94 and
newly tooled details.
It does not come with a .50 caliber M2HB, but then again photo
evidence again shows most of the Marine tanks did not use them and the
commanders tended to stay buttoned up. However the late model mounts
are provided as well as locking and stowage clips, which bring this
turret up to nearly the same level as the ones found in DML=92s =93Smart
Kits.=94
The other is a choice between either T54E1 steel chevron tracks or
T54E1 steel chevron tracks with extended end connectors. Both are the
DS plastic single piece runs, so they are beautifully detailed and
considering both VVSS and HVSS suspensions on Shermans were =93live=94
suspensions it would be hard pressed to get more detail from any
single link set.
There are other options as well, such as either the mid-production
straight return roller mounts or the later =93upswept=94 mounts for the
bogies. Also the modeler has a choice between pressed steel wheels and
the welded =93spoke=94 type wheels, and either plain or machine driver
disks.
A single sprue provides a set of Marine applique armor made of wood
as well as the factory style applique panels and a folded luggage rack
for the rear of the hull.
This kit uses a lot of the components created for the recent early
model M4A2 (Sherman III) kits, so there are some trimming and fit
issues which DML itself addresses in the directions to get the details
for the lower hull to fit, such as the rear sections of the sponsons
and radiator grilles (parts A47 and part A53). You also have to drill
holes for the tools from the inside of the upper hull.
In Step 12 the sidebar sketches cover the installation of the etched
brass clamps on the tow cable, but they are somewhat fuzzy as to what
they are describing or where the lower clamp parts are on the hull.
Note that on this kit etched brass is pretty much not an option.
Four finishing schemes and sets of markings are provided:
Unidentified tank, Pacific theater, 1944-1945 (with timber applique);
C Company 1st Tanks, Peleliu 1944 (C8); C Company 2nd Tanks, Tinian
1943 (CAESAR - C40); and C Company, 2nd Tanks, Tinian 1943 (C30).
Overall this a nicely done kit and with the various new bits will be
popular with Sherman fans for the =93mix and match=94 with other kits.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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