by: Cody K [ ]
Following their successful 1:35 rendition of the M4A3E8 ETO Sherman, Tamiya offers a downscaled 1:48 version in 2018. Nick named "Easy Eight", the HVSS suspension offered a smoother ride than the earlier VVSS. Appearing in the later stage of the war, the Easy Eight also saw service in the Korean War which Tamiya also offered a 1:35 variant for.
The kit differs from the 1:35 in a number of ways, the most significant of which are the link-and-length tracks and the multi-part upper hull and turret. It also combined sprues together so you get 2 A P sprues of bogies and tracks, one B for the body, one C R sprue of turret, driver and various hull pieces, and finally a T sprue of tools and 50 cal. It comes with 4 metal weights, one piece of nylon for tow cable, 4 poly caps and one decal sheet of only US black and white stars.
For construction I used mostly Tamiya's quick setting glue which makes the assembly much faster, especially the multi-part hulls.
Step 1 has you glue the weights to the bottom of the chassis. It calls for "synthetic rubber cement" but any multimedia glue would work, I used CA. With capillary action and quick setting glue you get a complete lower hull in under 5 minutes.
Step 2 installs the differential cover, with some under gates to remove.
Step 3 installs the rear hull. I usually glue the bigger surfaces together first before installing the details on top, since I tend to break some details otherwise. Here it makes more sense to do it this way because the A5 pieces are easier to anchor if you have the rear plate in place.
Step 4 is the deflector, a bit tricky in geometry but there is only one right way to fit so you are unlikely to make mistakes.
Step 5 is the lower hull, and you install the poly caps into the drive sprockets so that you can construct the tracks on the hull and remove them for painting later on.
Step 6 is the second part of the wheels. Take note of return roller A9 because it is the single piece that anchors the whole track assembly later on.
Step 7 builds the 6 sets of bogie. As usual it's a lot of sanding of wheel seams. Compared with the 1:35 offering, the wheel axle shafts tend to be pretty shallow so the wheels could wriggle a bit after you put them on, whereas in 1:35 you can put them on with just a little bit of glue and take them apart later for painting. I eventually decided to glue them all together and brush paint the rubber later.
Step 8 installs the bogies onto the lower hull.
Step 9 builds the tracks. Tamiya suggests a sequence for building them and put the sequence number in little circles. First you put the top length track P6 aligned with the previously mentioned A9 return roller nub to anchor the track. I dabbed a bit of quick setting glue to hold the piece in place. Then they suggest building out the rest from front to back and wrap around the wheels back to P6. This isn't difficult if you use quick setting glue to stick the piece together quickly one by one. The only adjustment I needed to make is to make sure the two P1s around the bottom track P2 are shaped naturally since they have a tendency to form an unnatural edge.
Step 10 builds the upper hull. It is pretty similar to the lower hull, but I wasn't sure why they didn't do a one piece.
Step 11 builds the side fenders. This is where I think you could change the sequence to make the assembly easier. If you attach the fenders to the upper hull first, your upper hull may not fit perfectly with the lower hull when you try to put them together later. So you could attach the fenders B12 and B13 to the lower hull first, and then glue the upper hull to the fenders later. As usual I don't want to mess with a fully detailed hull when I join the upper and lower so I did it here.
Step 12-14 installs the tools and lights onto the upper hull. A4 fender support brackets are really tiny and they gave you 12 on each side, so you have one spare for the carpet monster. They are hard to sand, you can glue them onto a double sided tape first with the gate on top for sanding. The light guards A13 and C29 looked terrible in 1:35 and here they really stood out in smaller 1:48. If this weren't a review I'd replace them with PE. Also I wish they didn't have holes for installing the spare tracks P5 on the hull as the symmetry was a bit odd, you'd need to fill them or cover them with some other stowage.
Step 15 joins the upper and lower hull which I did earlier in Step 11.
Step 16-19 deals with the turret. Once again Tamiya has the turret shell in a multipart assembly rather than one piece. It is a bit annoying to have to deal with the additional seams thus created, but the very good fit alleviated some of that pain. In particular part C3 hull roof could potentially create a lot of troubles but it was a seamless fit for mine. Tamiya also used undergates in a number of parts here, but C21 was particularly nasty to remove due to the small and complicated join surface.
Step 20 is the crew figure which is a shrunk down 1:35, but looks ok. Although the arms had alignment pins, the degree of movement is rather large so you want to make sure the figure pose naturally with the cupola while the glue has not completely set. The tow cable is unusable due to its thick size, it won't fit in the tow hook groove and I just fudged it here.
Painting and decals
The decal sheet is rather lean with a few white and black stars and no stencils. The separate painting guide provides markings and painting schemes for 5th Armored Division April 1945 and 4th Armored Division at Bastogne, January 1945.
This is a good Sherman Easy Eight in 1:48. It has the usual Tamiya quality with great fit and ease of build. The link and length tracks are a definite highlight for this kit as I wish they had done it for the 1:35. On the downside, the multipart turret shell and upper hull assembly seemed unnecessary, the light guards were way too thick especially in 1:48, nylon tow cable were too big for the tow hooks, and finally decal options were very limited. It builds into a very nice looking 1:48 Sherman and I'll use it to test some of the OD paining techniques.