Kit Review: Dragon Model Limited 1/72 Scale Armor Pro Kit No. 7305; M4A2 Tarawa;164 parts (148 in grey styrene, 14 etched brass, 2 DS track runs); price about US$13.98
Advantages: new kit of this version in this scale
Disadvantages: Some engine deck details may be off
Rating: Highly Recommended
Once DML released a Sherman III kit (No. 7288) the choice of a Marine version of the tank (the M4A2) was inevitable, and now this kit has followed on the heels of the 1/35 scale Sherman III and M4A2 Tarawa kit. Some modelers will be disappointed to know that there are no wading trunks included with this kit, and it also is offered only for the 1st Tanks at Tawara with a new decal sheet covering the same six C Company vehicles provided in 1/35 and the one from D Company (which apparently was not at Tarawa with the markings provided.)
The main difference between this kit and the Sherman III variant is a small E sprue with the early "soft cast" transmission cover, some small details, and the "small" hull hatches now with separate viewer inserts.
But unlike the Sherman III, a quick check of photos of the actual vehicles shows these M4A2 tanks were fitted with the pressed/welded road wheels and thus are correct for the USMC versions of the tank. T54 type steel cleat tracks are also included.
The entire hull is new with a 56 degree "small hatch" upper hull, M4A2 deck gratings, and a lower hull with the mounts for the twin exhausts. But the upper hull is missing the radiator filler cap on the "flat" part of the engine decking which was common on the early model M4A2 tanks.
The turret is the "early model" or low-bustle turret with only a commander's split hatch and a choice of mantelets, either the early M34 or modified M34 or an M34A1 wide model. The latter can go in the parts bin but it will take a photo match to see what the specific vehicle you selected has - the narrow early M34 or the "eared" one with protective cover for the coaxial machine gun. Note that there are no slots for either the gunner's sight or the machine in the face of the inner mantelet (part A42.)
The kit offers one basic finishing option (olive green) with any of seven different 1st Tanks vehicles: CONDOR, COBRA, CUDDLES, CHARLIE, CANNONBALL, COLORADO or DESTROYER, of which the latter was a later vehicle. A very nice set of Cartograf decals accompanies the kit.
Overall this kit is a nicer effort than the Sherman III as it includes the correct bits to build it from the start, and does not involve cross-kitting to get the right wheels.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.