login   |    register
Tasca [ MORE REVIEWS ] [ WEBSITE ] [ NEW STORIES ]

In-Box Review
135
M32B1 Recovery Vehicle
Tank Recovery Vehicle M32B1
  • move

by: Rick Cooper [ CLOVIS899 ]

introduction
In a relatively short period of time Tasca Models out of Japan has carved a niche for themselves as the pre-eminent worldwide manufacturer of scale models of the Sherman tank. Now Tasca has begun to make a move on some of the variants of the ubiquitous Sherman that move beyond the standardized versions of the gun tank. The first down the pipe is the M32B1 armored tank recovery vehicle. Shermanaholics the world over are ripe with anticipation for both this kit and other Sherman variants sure to come in the future.

The M32 was developed as a replacement for the M31 recovery vehicle, which had been built on the same chassis as the M3 Lee. The Ordinance Committee noted a looming shortage of the discontinued Lee in April, 1943 precipitating the development of a Sherman-based recovery vehicle which came to fruition by early June. The problem clearly had been anticipated long before the official memo, as the development of the T5 (the pilot model designation of the M32) actually began in January of 1943. Eventually, something in the neighborhood of 1,500 M32s were delivered into service, with roughly two-thirds of those being the M32B1 version.

Contents
Tasca has packaged the kit in a standard style top opening box that is about half an inch thicker than the average box for a 1/35 scale vehicle. It’s a good thing it is a bit more beefy than normal because they have loaded this kit with just a few more parts than normal. I can’t find a definitive count of parts either in the instructions or on the Tasca website, at least not one in English, but a quick estimate gives me something in the neighborhood of 720 parts (my scientific method is 40 parts for a small tree, 60 for a medium, and 80 for a large, not counting the biggies like the hull, now the secret is out!). [Not a bad method – counting actual parts on sprues gives 730 in green styrene! Ed.] Now mind you that many of the more recent Dragon kits have a parts count very similar but that generally includes about 200 pieces for the track, Tasca has only 4 pieces that make up both track runs, so that should give you a general idea on what the parts count looks like with this kit. Beyond just a simple parts count however, what is really important is what they have done with the parts. All molded in a dark green plastic the standard of molding is superb, and is easily among the highest in the industry.

The parts are divided up into 21 different trees, a few repeats of course, 4 lengths of T-48 track, two small clear trees with the periscopes, lights, and whatnot, a small PE sheet, a set of the rubber baby buggy bumpers (okay, the poly caps), and a beautiful decal sheet in perfect register. The decals provide marking options for two different vehicles, one in Bastogne with the 609th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the other operating in Czechoslovakia with the 612th TD Battalion. Also, a small piece of the foam rubber type material for the suspension springs that Tasca adds to all the Sherman tank kits, and a length of braided string in the most god awful yellow green color you can imagine (If you’ve ever fished with Powerbait, it is kind of like that, but without the glitter...or the smell!), and finally a two part set of instructions.

The instructions are laid out in a very Tamiya like style with a lot of arrows that indicate ‘stick this piece here’ but any obscured location is always accompanied with another viewpoint to insure correct location. As with any set of instructions, always check your references, proceed with caution, dry fit, and don’t forget your side mirrors.

review
The suspension is first rate; the T-48 tracks are molded in glueable vinyl (the instructions recommend cyanoacrylate type glue) and have very nice detail on both sides, you will need to remove three pour nodes from the inside face of each section. You are given three different styles of drive sprocket, as well as the lifting drum assembly. The lifting drum is molded onto a new flat style sprocket, which is unfortunate because it appears that some of the vehicles had the fancy style sprockets fitted. I have seen mixed road wheels but never mixed sprockets, so the builder may be stuck with the one style until some aftermarket company makes a replacement. The road wheels come in two flavors, solid spoke pressed steel and open spoke style, both were used although it appears the pressed steel type were most common, once again, check your references. The wheels come with the grease nipple and the instructions caution the builder about making sure they are on the outer facing. The builder is given the rather tedious task of adding the 12 pop rivets to the inner rim of the solid spoke wheels; okay, that is 144 rivets. I can’t figure out why Tasca didn’t just mold them in place, it would have made everyone’s life a bit easier. Tasca does include them molded onto the trees with the wheels but you may have a method that works for you with this type of thing - salami sliced stretched sprue, fabric paint, or maybe even just following the instructions, slicing those little dudes off and dropping them into place (the Force is strong in you!) - let your personal fun index be your guide! Most of the bogies assemblies have been seen before in earlier Tasca kits, the very nice VVS style with the ability to add the foam rubber pads for a working look. The front and rear bogies do have new arms that include the hardware for the suspension chocks fitted to M32s. The removable chocks, which help to keep the springs from compressing during heavy lifting, are also included. It is not necessary to install the suspension chocks unless you will be displaying the model with the boom in the raised position; all in all a very nice foundation.

The lower hull is the now somewhat common flat pack style with four parts, plus the internal bulkhead for the firewall, and the sponsons for the underside of the upper hull. All of the parts for the lower hull have made previous appearances in earlier M4A1 kits from Tasca with the exception of the firewall. The construction shouldn’t be any problem for anyone that has constructed one of these before; just be sure to keep everything square. With the open turret top the interior needs a bit of detail and to meet that need Tasca has added a new firewall with a bit of general detail, I will get to the rest of the interior in just a moment. The front and rear of the lower hull are also nicely detailed in typical Tasca fashion; the back end provides your choice of the cylindrical or box type air cleaners, separate rear access doors and nicely rendered idler axles and mountings. Be careful not to apply glue to the idler axle parts as you want them loose for proper track tensioning. The back end is finished off with a beautiful five-piece tow hook assembly. The front transmission finishes off the lower hull nicely; finely molded cast texture and separate bolt strips for the top and the bottom are the highlights here.

The rest of the interior is all new to this kit; including the heavy-duty 30ton Gar Wood winch which mounts in the center of the hull floor. The floor sports some well-done tread plate as well as the cover to the winch drum and separate access panels in the same tread plate material. For the sponson sides you get a pair of finely detailed tool boxes. That is all that Tasca has included in the interior, I don’t know how much of an issue this will be as I have not yet started on the kit I have in front of me, but the turret carries the large open hatchway so now might be a great time to check the “Buy and Sell” sections of the website as well as eBay for an old Panzer Concepts Sherman interior, or whatever your favorite flavor of aftermarket may happen to be, particularly if you plan on having some of the front hatches open. Or as an alternative any kit that has a bit of the interior should work with a bit of dry fitting - bottom line is anything with a bit of detail and the transmission should work.

One of the highlights of the kit, like every other Tasca kit I have seen, is the upper hull. It is a real gem, I love the cast texture, and it is first rate. The kit provides a whole host of goodies to fit onto the hull: separate engine deck access panels, photo-etched intake screen, separate grouser box covers also with photo-etch screens, lifting filler caps, front and rear lights, as well as the light guards. All this, and more, is becoming fairly standard as far as more recent vintage Sherman kits go and this kit is no exception. Where the fun really begins is with the additional equipment used for recovery operations. A great-looking set of three large toolboxes for the rear hull along with the pioneer tools set it off, but there are no retaining straps included for the tools so you might want to source those from your spares box or just make life easy and get a set of Formations pioneer tools. That is not all: a superb set of chocks and snatch blocks also reside on the rear hull, as well as the draw bar and spare road wheels and return rollers. All of this will help to give the model that busy look common to all engineering-type vehicles.

The front and hull sides are also festooned with equipment and spares. The sides mount the spare drive sprockets while the front sports a six-piece tow hook mount, a ten-piece front roller fairlead assembly, the small draw bar, as well as the mounting brackets for the large boom and the small hatch for the cable that threads through the front of the hull. Tasca didn’t neglect the basics either: separate front hull hatches with separate head pads, springs, and periscopes in both clear and the kit color. There are a couple of small pin marks on the inside of the hatch but these should be covered by the separate head pads. One oddity is no outer grab handle! Tasca gives you a template to make your own, and they even molded in dimples for placement, but provided no grab handle. The thing that makes this odd is that they have included other pieces that appear to be just as small and delicate as grab handles would be. For a bit of protection, you also get the ball mounted hull machine gun with a hint of a hollowed out barrel. The front end is finished off with a nice six-piece 81mm mortar with hollowed-out tube which juts out menacingly for just the right look.

The turret gets the full Tasca treatment as well. The turret is constructed with six basic pieces; front, rear, top, bottom, and the two sides. The front and the two sides were actually rolled as one long continuous piece, so you will need to eliminate what could prove to be a rather prominent seam here. The interior, which can be seen easily through the large open hatchway, has a good bit of detail to be added: pulleys, smoke rounds for the mortar, various other small boxes for the side walls, crew seats, and fire extinguisher. More could be added I am sure, but before you do you will want to fill in a couple of ejector pin marks, they may end up behind the smoke rounds but to be safe and make life easier I plan to fill them before I even begin turret construction. The top of the turret is nicely detailed with separate lids for the commander’s hatch. It has a separate race for the ever so tasty Tasca M2 .50 caliber machine gun. The outside walls of the turret are festooned with even more spare road wheels and spare track holders as well.

That just leaves the real star of the show, the large boom. My advice here is to go slow and slower as this is not for the inexperienced builder. You have pulleys, cables, support arms, brackets, pins, tiny bolts, and it looks like they go in three different directions all at once. If that is not enough the large A-frame boom sports twenty or so very tiny and delicate footsteps, Tasca has provided several spares for when you inadvertently break some of them off. This looks a bit like rigging a sailing ship in places so again, go slow to avoid any unnecessary mistakes that may be difficult to rectify later on. The molding is to a very high quality but there is a slight seam on the boom that will need to be carefully eliminated. Just to give you an idea of how complicated this part of the assembly is, even Tasca made a mistake. They have provided the incorrect length for one of the support cables; check out the correction from Tasca’s website here http://www.tasca-modellismo.com/seihin/m32b1trv/35026-p5-11correction.jpg. (It should be 400mm when completed, not the 460mm incorrectly stated. Be sure to allow some extra for the loops!)

Conclusion
Wow, this kit looks like a show stopper. It is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced builder, but if you have a few kits under your belt and would like to have something truly unique then it would be hard to go wrong with this kit. There are a few issues - no driver’s compartment or interior transmission housing, a few ejector pin marks here and there to fill and a couple of seams to deal with - but even with that this is an outstanding looking kit. My advice to anyone with even a passing interest in recovery vehicles or Sherman tanks in general is grab two of these, one for now and one for later. As for me, this one has shot to the very top of the build pile and is marked ‘immediate’!
SUMMARY
Highs: Superb state of the art model of a subject sorely in need of a modern upgrade. Everything in this kit just screams quality and attention to detail.
Lows: No interior provided for driver's area. Some small pinholes to fill and a few small seams to deal with.
Verdict: A fabulous model, perhaps for more experienced builders. Highly recommended. Order today, you won't be disappointed!
Percentage Rating
93%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35-026
  Suggested Retail: ~$65.00
  PUBLISHED: Jun 03, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.74%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 92.94%

Our Thanks to Tasca!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Rick Cooper (clovis899)
FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

I have been modeling for about 30 years now. Once upon a time in another century I owned my own hobby shop; way more work than it was worth. I tip my opti-visor to those who make a real living at it. Mainly build armor these days but I keep working at figures, planes and the occasional ship.

Copyright ©2019 text by Rick Cooper [ CLOVIS899 ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Now that you've mentioned it, I can just make them out Ko. The Tasca vinyl tracks have always been top notch on detail I so can't wait to get mine, I sold both of my Italeri kits to get one of these beauties.
JUN 09, 2012 - 03:00 PM
sold both kits?!? yeah, this is my first Tasca kit and I'm impressed so-far
JUN 10, 2012 - 06:38 AM
Might make for an interesting diorama. When i was stationed at Illesheim, in the early 1980s, 1/13 Armor (M60A3 RISE-equipped) had a fully operational M32B1 which was actually taken on FTX's.
JUN 10, 2012 - 08:35 AM
Ko, Had to laugh at the photo comment! My wife says she didn't marry me for my photographic skills. It is always hard to get light everywhere you need it with these kinds of photographs. Has anyone tried a small LED flashlight? Just curious. Joseph, Do you have any pictures of the M32B1, that would be to cool! Thanks, Rick Cooper
JUN 11, 2012 - 10:06 AM
Ko: Have you seen them? You'd sell those things too te get one of these Rick: LED flashlights aren't always powerful. Often you have to place the flashlight really close to the area that you want to light up, especially when other light sources are present. I've had the best luck with Maglite LED flashlights, avoid the the cheap ones especially the ones on little keychains with multiple bulbs. They are horribly unreliable.
JUN 11, 2012 - 10:29 AM
I wish. I was assigned to 1/6 INF(Mech) and each unit had separate motor pools. We didn't do much visiting between the two. Everybody, from Bde Cdr. and down the food chain, was anal about cameras in the motor pools and on FTX's. From what I remember, there was an "Old Ironsides" patch and a 13th Armor unit crest painted on either the left or right sides of the vehicle along with "1st Bn 13th Armor" in Gothic script.
JUN 11, 2012 - 03:01 PM
Great review. Was this variant ever used by the soviet union? I know that the M3 grant/lee recovery tank was used, so is there a possibility this one was as well? Another question, how did the crew fire, load and aim the front mounted mortar?
JUN 12, 2012 - 03:08 AM
clovis899, Your pictures for the review are more than adequate. I just wanted to describe that particular detail of the tracks for anyone interested that didn't have the kit on their bench yet... I haven't tried using an LED flashlight yet but have taken many pictures outside under direct and indirect sunlight. vonHengest, I have 3 of those Italeri kits
JUN 12, 2012 - 12:21 PM
Given the layout, I assume a "volunteer" climbed out with a mortar round and stuffed it down the tube. It was a standard-issue 81mm mortar, so it was triggered by impact of the round on a firing pin in the base. I believe they were mainly for smoke rounds to add a little "fog of war" to the area to mask the recovery work from lurking snipers, so probably weren't used if there was active fighting going on too close. Tom
JUN 12, 2012 - 12:45 PM
   

What's Your Opinion?


Photos
Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move