ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale U.S. M4A1 DV

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Kit Number 6404;
U. S. M4A1 DV - - Smart Kit; 379 parts (310 in grey styrene, 44 etched
brass, 22 clear styrene, 2 DS plastic, 1 length of twisted steel
wire); estimated price US$57
Advantages: virtually new kit with all but four sprues replaced;
nicely done components augur more variants to come, including M3
series vehicles
Disadvantages: some minor quirks here and there
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all American Sherman fans
Having just released the Commonwealth version of this kit as the
=93Sherman El Alamein=94 (DML Kit No. 6447) DML has now released a
dedicated US version of the Early Production or =93Direct Vision=94 tank.
The American versions first saw combat in North Africa in early 1943
as part of the 1st Armored Division. While their baptism of fire was
inauspicious, the tanks proved themselves useful and reliable, and
were the first of the many thousands which followed.
This kit is a virtual twin of the earlier Sherman II kit with the
exception that it drops the E sprue British stowage bin and adds two
new ones, one for the cast/machined driver rings which are provided in
four parts and one for the rear handrails/brackets on the engine deck.
The etched brass loses 20 parts, mostly the side skirts and brackets.
The rest is the same to include the the basic detail sprue, the early
model low bustle turret, and the clear styrene.
As with the Sherman II kit the turret is familiar to most
Shermaholics but for the record consists of the basic turret 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. Specific details
are provided to give two options to the grouser bin vents at the rear
of the hull and either an open or closed set of engine access doors at
the rear of the hull with two styles of =93locking door=94 (but no
interior components). The kit comes with the early =93square=94 air
cleaners as well.
While is advertising two versions of the M3/Early M4
style suspension, this kit comes with the identical variant used in
Kit 6447. After checking my photo collection of these bogies, they are
an exact match for some found on the preserved M3 Medium Tank with the
Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles, so while they may or may not be
the most widely used variants they are correct and nicely done. The
model also comes with the same DS plastic set of the 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.
Finishing directions and markings are included for only two tanks:
=93Hannibal=94 from H Company, 66th Armored Regiment, 2AD, Operation
=93Husky=94, Sicily 1943 (two-tone sand and olive drab with white stars
and rings); and =93Honky Tonk=94, H Company, 1st Armored Regiment, 1st
Armored Division, Sidi Bou Zid, Tunisia 1943 (olive drab with yellow
starts , 48-star flags and markings). A nice but targeted sheet of
Cartograf decals covers these vehicles.
Technical assistance is credited to Pawel Krupowicz.
Overall, this is the =93other shoe=94 of the direct vision M4A1 kits and
will appeal to American modelers as well as the die-hard
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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