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Built Review
135
M4A1 with Applique Armor

by: Jim Lewis [ GUNTRUCK ]

A popular M4 Medium Tank variant, Formations Models F015 is a comprehensive set of components to allow modelers to upgrade the venerable Italeri M4A1 model kit (Number 225) into a real showpiece.
In the Set

The Formations Models set includes so many parts it is better labeled a model kit of its own right - to which you add a handful of Italeri pieces to complete. Cast in cream colored resin, there are high-detail parts with wonderful texture and details to dress up the your Sherman project. Warpage is kept to a minimum, not too many air bubbles to deal with, I experienced no short-castings, and the pour gate removal did not prove too difficult to manage.


The set is centered around a complete upper hull casting that eliminates the major shortcoming of the Italeri part - lack of sand cast texture. The Formations Models conversion represents the later production example of the M4A1 with full applique armor plate examples on both Upper Hull and Turret. The Engine Doors are cast separately for those intrepid enough to drop an Engine inside their model miniature. The single-piece Transmission Cover is also textured. Perhaps unique to my example, I was left with a gap to fill between the Transmission Cover and the Upper Hull. I filled this with Apoxie Sculpt and blended the filler with a stiff, short -bristled paintbrush. I also used Apoxie Sculpt to fill around the Sponson Floors. The Formations Models Upper Hull fits tightly to the Italeri Lower Hull - but I addressed the resulting seams. This is also a great opportunity to use your favorite dirt/mud accumulation technique too - of which mine is the utilization of light viscosity acrylic modeling paste. Though virtually complete - there are details items left for the modeler to add if you wish - like the brass mesh underneath the overhang at the rear of the Hull. This detail still seems to be missing from basic Sherman model kits for some reason.


The Bogie Trucks represent a variant with weld seam running horizontally down the near-center of the face of the Bogie. Just looking at it caused me to consult photo references - and I learned there were a couple of variations on just the location of this weld seam alone. See - a good product can also teach you something too! I noticed a lot of the photos in Squadron references (Sherman in Action - Number 16) seem to show M4A1 Shermans with the full applique armor equipped with Bogie Trucks that exhibit a weld seam running high, near the top of the Bogie Truck. I couldn't tell you with authority that one is more correct than the other - I have learned never to say never when it comes to Shermans.


The Bogie Trucks mate with parts from the Italeri kit - and are capable of accepting parts from AFV Club, Academy, and DML Sherman model kits. Mine were cast okay, but a little warped, calling for some care in placement to get the best out of them in the end. Warped and wiggly track runs absolutely ruin an otherwise fine miniature in the end. I was determined to use the Formations Models parts in my project to review - but I was tempted to replace them with other plastic items.


The Turret has a textured M34 Mantlet with a resin M3 75mm Gun Barrel and all basic fittings. In my example, the Gun Barrel was slighty warped. A simple dip into warm water and rolling on my workbench took care of this minor issue. I did encounter a couple of air bubbles on the lower edge of the Mantlet - which I successfully addressed with super glue and accelerator. My Turret Ring called for some reshaping and sanding to mate properly to the upper half.


Upper Hull fixtures are simple and complete to round out the model. The Headlight Units are pre-drilled and the Formations Models set includes MV Products lenses for that added visual kick on your completed model miniature. There is not much left to be found wanting. The basic Formations Models conversion give you a great platform to model your own Sherman creation. I did not spend much time measuring out all the components because the Formations Models conversion was created to fit the Italeri kit. There are always going to be comprimises in scale and dimension in an endeavor like this. Most importantly, in the end, the Formations Models conversion looks and captures the feel of the real subject.


Painting and finishing brings out the best feature of the Formations Models conversion. Though I do not practice the long time vogue wash/drybrush technique to render my finishes, the Formations Models subject is ideal for this aspect of modeling.

Final Verdict

I initially thought the price tag a bit high for this conversion - until I was able to see one in person and examine the contents of the kit. It is comprehensive and provides a lot of bang for your modeling buck. However, it is not a shake and bake project and calls for some advanced modeling skills and patience to get the most out of it. This is true of all model kits - and the best calls for you to exercise what you bring to the workbench.


I recommend it to all levels of modelers - even those new or relatively new to working with resin subjects - because of the way the conversion is engineered. There are plenty of opportunities to practice and hone all the skills called for in assembling model miniatures, and makes a great subject to learn how to do so. For the experienced, this conversion offers endless opportunities to create an unique Sherman miniature and the quality of the parts and assembly experience will encourage you to take one step further in adding your own details and modifications. That is quite a bit of value in a $55 dollar model kit.


This Formations Models Conversion Set was purchased by GunTruck Studios for review here at Armorama.

Click here for additional images for this review.

SUMMARY
  PRICE VERSUS VALUE:90%
  INSTRUCTIONS:80%
  LEVEL OF DETAIL:90%
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: F015
  Suggested Retail: 55.00
  Related Link: Formations Models Page
  PUBLISHED: Dec 27, 2004
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 89.45%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.50%

About Jim Lewis (GunTruck)
FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

I love American AFV's from all eras and researching Vietnam-era Gun Trucks and US Army Pentomic and Atomic Battlefield Ordnance from the 1950's through the 1960's. Avid Sci-Fi fan and modeler as well - Star Wars, Space:1999, and Star Trek are favorites. Owner/Master Miniaturist - GunTruck Studios....

Copyright 2017 text by Jim Lewis [ GUNTRUCK ]. All rights reserved.


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