ARM: Review - DML 1/72 Scale M4A3 (105mm) VVSS Sherman

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Armor Pro Kit No. 7274;
M4A3(105mm) VVSS Sherman; 147 parts (117 parts in grey styrene, 27
etched brass, 2 tan DS plastic track runs, 1 length of twisted steel
wire); retail price US $13.95
Advantages: amazing amount of detail in a 1/72 scale kit; very nicely
done with new parts breakdown; DML discovers weld beads!
Disadvantages: either pantographed or victim of same research error
(see text)
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for all Shermaholics and 1/72 scale modelers
DML continues its effort to "run the table" with nice new small-scale
kits of the Sherman family, and this version of the howitzer tank
follows on its larger scale cousin.
The model is an early production howitzer Sherman - VVSS suspension,
47 degree ("big hatch") hull, high-bustle turret with loader's hatch,
early style exhaust deflector, and a "slide molded 105mm barrel.
The hull has two odd holes in the bottom which appear to have
something to do with the preassembled variants (perhaps the base
mounts for the pre-assembled ones; they are too small for screws).
Barring that, the upper hull is again "slide molded" in one section
and has the mounts for the side shields on it with bolt holes clearly
visible. The smaller tools (e.g. mattock, tanker's bar, and axe) are
molded in place, but the remaining ones are separate.
The suspension is unique, as it does not copy that of the larger
Sherman kits and differs slightly from the earlier Sherman releases.
The bogie assemblies consist of a VVSS spring set, a bogie outer
section with an "flat" return roller molded in place, , a rear
section, and a twin road wheel set with the rear section of the
articulating arms molded in place. Net result is that with only four
parts you get a nice, neat finished bogie assembly. The wheels are the
"cast" type with covers in place; likewise it comes with solid (e.g.
matching) idlers and "solid" ring drivers. The tracks are T48 type
with rubber chevrons.
The turret consists of a top and bottom with the pistol port molded
in place, but the cover left separate. This is again a "slide molded"
part to get the detail resolution. (Note that everything with a
casting number except the mantelet has one, even though you will need
a jeweler's loupe on some of them!) The turret is quite complete, with
a very nicely done machine gun with parallel heat jacket at the rear
of the barrel and separate spade grips. However, even though it is the
VVSS version only the later commander's "vision" cupola is included
and not the early production "split hatch" one.
The etched brass parts replace some of the detail parts provided in
styrene, such as the front fender tips, the rear luggage rack, and
some of the tool racks. The parts are called out on the directions
with blue for parts to be trimmed or removed and a mustard color for
the brass parts to be installed; this is quite helpful as the
directions are thankfully in black and white and parts are thus much
easier to see.
But unlike previous DML efforts, this is the first one to include the
same error noted in the larger kit. While apparently not pantographed,
it manages to retain the too narrow mantelet discovered on the M4A3
(105) 1/35 scale kit (no. 6354.)
Terry Ashley at the Perth Military Modeling Society site noted that
the original 105mm howitzer mantelet was 40 5/8" wide, or what works
out as 1033 mm. In 1/35 scale, that comes out as 29.5 mm. DML's new
kit has a mantelet only 27mm wide, which is slightly noticeable. In
1/72 scale this should make the mantelet 14.3 mm wide; but on the kit
it is exactly 13mm. Ergo, both kits are approximately 9% undersized,
and in this scale it will show.
Finishing instructions cover three tanks in winter whitewash
camouflage: two vehicles from the 6th Armored Division, Luxembourg
1945 and one from the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Divisiom, in
France 1944. A "targeted" set of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall this is a really nice kit of the howitzer Sherman, and a
shame that it too has a too-narrow mantelet to detract from its
accuracy.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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