Frequently many modellers look slightly 'askance' at 1/72nd or 1/48th scale, seeing it as some kind of aberration. In a number of cases some of the kits which are on the market, particularly in 1/72nd scale, are undoubtedly showing their age, and while offering a reasonable representation of a vehicle, do lack the 'finesse' of some of the modern offerings - particularly some of the 'Latest' Generation. However, having bought and built a number of 1/72nd scale kits in the last year or two, the sophistication of some of the 1/72nd scale armor kits is frankly impressive. Those of us that build in the scale (or 'dabble' in my case) are getting many of the features that 1/35th scale builders are now taking for granted - this kit is a case in point.
The kit: Basics. DRA 7271 - Sherman, M4A3 (76)W VVSS
is one of Dragon Model's
latest 1/72nd scale kits. The kit comes moulded, in light-grey plastic on three sprues, with the hull tub and upper-hull separately bagged. Also included, are a set of 'rubber-band' type tracks, a sheet of PE (Photo-Etch), a decal sheet for four vehicles and a length of metal wire for the tow cables.
The kit: In Detail
As usual, I'll be doing an overview of the kit dealing with the component areas of the vehicle structure - Suspension, hull, turret etc. As I had originally envisaged being able to build the model completely but time was pressing, I have only completed the following areas: suspension, lower hull, rear plate and the mantlet so the review comes into the 'grey' area of half-built out of the box.
The initial inspection of the sprues showed little in the way of mould lines, sink holes or flash. In fact, the moulding is frankly impressive overall.
Each of the six suspension units is composed of four parts and detail is excellent. The only doubt is to whether the arms on the return rollers should be up swept or not.
Road wheel/Drive Sprocket
both of these areas are correctly detailed for an M4A3 suspension, with the road wheels having detail on both sides.
The correct decision was made (and should be copied on all the 1/35th kits) to provide 'Rubber-Band' type tracks. The M4 track (in this case T-48) was NOT
'saggy' in other words, they were tight.. No matter what some may present in their Sherman's, the correct 'look' is minimal sag. The tracks are moulded in Dragon 'Styrene'
and hold the detail very well indeed (apart from the yellow color) the only feeling I have is that the metal 'Chevrons' may be a touch over scale.
Rear Plate/Exhaust louvre's
This is correctly detailed and the louvre's are slide moulded (see photo) . The latter are impressive (remember, this is a one-piece moulding) and captures the look of the real thing VERY convincingly.
Superbly moulded with all the necessary detail correctly positioned. Perhaps the rear hull-angle is a degree or two too acute, but in a model in this scale, it is barely noticeable. Tools are moulded on to the hull which is understandable... The rear luggage rack comes in both plastic and PE (requiring some minimal banding). All the hatches have separate periscopes/vision blocks. The light protectors come in both plastic and PE. Both the front and rear fenders can be replaced by PE (requiring some cutting) which gives a better scale thickness.
The basic shape of the turret is correct and once again, slide-moulding is used to advantage. all the essential details are present, correct and to scale. The side pistol port is separately moulded. The mantlet is also well-done with a choice of two barrels being provided - with and without muzzle brake. Slide moulding has permitted the muzzle being open, rather than solid. One of the most impressive parts of the turret is the turret-mounted .50 Cal MG - breathtaking in its moulding...
Four decal options are provided, three U.S. army vehicles and one captured example. The options are:
1) 761st Tank Bn., U.S. Third Army Germany 1945 (see my comments in the summary at the end)
2) 760th Tank Bn., U.S. 5th Army Italy
3) 19th Tank Bn., 9th Armored Division, Belgium 1944
4) 'BeutePanzer' Germany 1945.
Register is good on the decals and while not the most imaginative of subjects, they are well done. Particularly welcome is Cool Studs # 4
: I found no problem areas (apart from the size of some of the parts!) and location areas and instructions are excellent.
I'll begin with my gripe. The box-art is excellently executed. HOWEVER
.... The subject of the box-art is 'Cool Studs' - one of the most interesting subjects possible. The vehicle was part (and well-documented) of one of the most decorated units in the U.S. Army, a unit which was overwhelmingly African-American. Why then, is the crew in the box-art white? The crew of 'Cool Studs' was African American - an undisputed, historical fact.
This 'gripe' apart, this is an extraordinary kit. Working with it, it feels as if you're working in 1/35th scale. The level of detail is impressive, the level of accuracy is notable and the ease of construction an object lesson to other manufacturers. It's been a long time coming, but finally, a quality 'mass-market' M4 is available in 1/72nd scale. The 'extras' make up an equally impressive list. We have all become rather 'blasé' about what we EXPECT in 1/35th, what is a real bonus, is getting these items in 1/72nd. The extras should by no means be seen as 'gimmicks' either. Particularly in the case of the front and rear fenders in PE, these will add a considerably amount to the finished model. The use of Dragon Styrene
can also be seen as a positive aspect, it really is an excellent material for tracks.
Overall, if you DON'T
already build 1/72nd, invest a little money and time on this, you really won't be disappointed!
My thanks to Dragon Models Limited
for supplying the review sample.