Kit Review: Tasca 1/35 Scale Accessory Set No. 35-008; 1/35 M4 Sherman "VVSS" Suspension Set B (Late); 184 parts (159 in olive drab styrene,24 in clear vinyl, 1 section of thin rubber sheet); retail price US $29.95
Advantages: clean, well-done set of late M4 series suspension bogies; choice of drive wheels and road wheels; unique assembly method
Disadvantages: "working" suspension a relative waste of time; very expensive kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all die-hard Shermanoholics
There are now a number of M4 series medium tank suspension kits on the market, and I have to admit that I have not picked up one of the Tasca sets for some time due to cost and also availability. Mark from Michigan Discount Models had both of their M4 series suspension sets at the IPMS Region IV show in Pittsburgh this year, so I decided to try one for the experience.
Tasca makes two types of early vertical volute spring suspension bogies (no quotes are really required but they added them anyway): Set A is the early version with the flat or "straight" return roller mount and a choice of either the welded five-spoke road wheels or the later pressed steel welded type; Set B is the later "upswept" return roller mount and a choice of either the pressed steel welded type or the late production "dish" type welded wheels. Note that they do indicate that the modeler must provide and attach his own inside the rim rivets on the pressed steel welded wheels, but no material is provided to make them.
Both sets come with a choice of three different types of drive wheels
- "fancy" or cast rings, "cut" or notched rings, and "smooth" or "disk" rings, as modelers have different terms for each one - and a choice between the spoked idler and the pressed steel idler. This provides the modeler a pretty good selection of options for any of the late VVSS equipped M4 based vehicles - the M4, M4A1, M4A3, M32 series vehicles, late model M7 Priests, or the M36 series 90mm GMC. (The M10 series usually had the earlier model bogies with the five-spoke wheels as found in their "A" kit.)
Tasca uses a different system of assembly for its bogies. Each wheel consists of a front and rear section, so detail is captured on both sides. They are then individually mounted in a swing arm that is "trapped" between the sides of the bogie during assembly. Each bogie has two equalizer arms which are separate parts, a VVSS unit which traps between them, and an odd addition of three sections of rubber padding cut from the sheet provided to give them limited working capability. This latter feature, which started with the original Italeri M4A1 suspension back in 1975, is not really a popular one with most modelers, as it makes the tracks harder to get into position and either forces the modeler to figure out a way to lock the suspension down or use single-link tracks to avoid the "rocking horse" look for which Italeri kits were notorious.
The roller traps between the bogie sides as well during assembly, and the bogie is finished off by a hull mounting bracket, the track return guide, and a base attachment fitting. It would appear from the directions and kits illustrated that Step T is the fitting of the parts to a Tamiya M4 series hull, Step I is the fitting to an Italeri hull and Step D is for a Dragon (DML) hull. (They don't give you that information in English.)
Overall this is a very nice but expensive set, costing nearly twice as much as similar sets from AFV Club (which also needs the rubber bits replaced to lock the suspension down) and a number of resin manufacturers. It is quite accurate, but then again, it is sort of like purchasing a "graded" hunting rifle over a regular one. Sure, it's prettier, but it really isn't any more accurate at the end of the day.