Italeri’s Description of the Sherman
“The M4 Sherman medium tank was the primary tank used by the United States during World War II. It has been produced in a significant number of units and it formed the backbone of United States Armed Forces during that time. It has been produced in several variants and versions. The first version to be produced on wide scale was the Sherman M4A1, characterized by the rounded edges of the fully cast upper hull. Even the turret had a rounded appearance. The Sherman would enter combat in armored corps of the United States Army in 1942 during the first months of the war. It was armed with the 75mm gun that was replaced in the A1 version with the high-speed 76mm gun. The Sherman was reliable, cheap, and easy to produce in great numbers.”
Italeri M4A1 Sherman with U.S. Infantry
This is the 2019 release of Italeri’s classic M4A1 76mm Sherman, first released in 1977 and updated and re-released many times since. This version includes almost an entire platoon of nine infantry figures molded by Master Box that are in addition to Italeri’s original crew figure. The infantry figures were released separately by Master Box as kit number 35164 in 2016. The M4A1 kit also includes “new T54E1 gluable tracks.”
Italeri’s kit represents a mid- production M4A1 Sherman with T23 Turret and 76mm gun, T62 Gun Mounting, VVSS suspension, and T54 tracks. The kit comes on three sprues molded in a greenish olive drab. The parts have fair detail and there is flash apparent on many parts. Rubber-band type tracks are provided with the kit, which Italeri describes as “new gluable T 54E1 tracks. The tracks have good detail but have visible ejection pins on the inside that would be difficult to remove.
The kit also includes a decal sheet with three different marking options:
- Version A: M4A1 Sherman (76mm) - U.S. Army, 752nd Tank Battalion, Vth, “B” Company, Bologna, Italy, April 1945.
- Version B: “In The Mood II” - M4A1 Sherman (76mm) - U.S. Army, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, “I” Company, Normandy, France, August 1944. This was the second Sherman commanded by Lafayette G. “Wardaddy’ Pool, one of the inspirations for the ‘Fury’ movie.
- Version C: “Duke” - M4A1 Sherman (76mm) - U.S. Army, 66th Armored regiment, 2nd Armored Division, 1st Platoon, “D” Company, Normandy, France, July 1944, Operation Cobra.
First step in the tank assembly constructs all six bogies, which are early M4A1 middle production Vertical Volute Suspension System (VVSS) with early spoke road wheels and late offset track skid shape. The return roller arm is angled upward to raise the height of the return roller. The molding does not include the bolts for the roller arm or track skid, and it does not include the raised part numbers, casting texture, or weld seams. Otherwise the bogey assembly appears to be accurate. There is some minor flash on the parts, but with careful cleanup and gluing the bogies will move and the wheels rotate.
The drive sprockets and return rollers are assembled and installed in step #2. There are two options for the drive sprocket, the first version with round open cut outs, or the later flat sprocket plate without dimples or cut out. I used the flat sprocket plate on the review kit.
Step #3 begins work on the upper hull, which is a M4A1 Late 47-degree Glacis with large hatches for the drivers and pop-up periscopes. There is no casting texture molded into the hull so I stippled it with liquid cement to add some texture. There is an option to install the fender skirts, which I chose not to do on the review sample.
The one-piece cast nose/final drive housing is installed in step #4. Like the upper hull it has no molded casting texture. The nose piece snapped into place on the lower hull with a nice tight fit. The large gap between the nose piece is filled by part 42B with the bolts that attach the nose to the upper hull. The joint between part 42B and the nose piece should be filled as it was all cast as one piece on the original tank. The rubber band tracks are also shown to be installed in this step, but I held off until later for painting.
Many of the detail parts on the top of the hull are installed in steps 5 and 6. The fuel tank filler ports on the rear deck are molded onto the hull, but the rest of the parts are separately attached. The transport lock for the barrel gets glued into place and will not be movable so it will be necessary to determine if the lock is folded down or locking the barrel in place. The guards for the various lights are all finely cast but have flash that needs to be cleaned up. The tow cable is molded plastic that seems to be quite loose in its winding but is nicely molded. Spare track block holders are shown attaching to each side of the rear hull. The pads provided are rubber pads from a T51 track rather than the T54 track supplied with the kit, so installation should be optional. A storage rack is provided for the rear bulkhead but was not installed on all tanks.
The 76mm gun and T62 mantlet are assembled in step #7. The gun is in two halves, top & bottom, that will require repairing of the longitudinal seams on each side. The mantlet, part 74C, does not have the cast texture molded in.
Steps #8 and #9 assemble and mount the T23 turret. A shell ejection port on the left side of the turret can be posed either open or closed. The loader’s hatch is the split unit type which can be rotated but needs to be glued to lock it into place. The turret and components also do not have the weld lines and casting texture molded in. The seam between the top and bottom sections of the turret is in the same location as the original welded seam. I added some stretched sprue to the seam to build it up similar to the original weld. The shell ejection port should also project more than molded on the kit so I added stretched sprue there also.
The original Italeri kit includes a tank crew figure, and with this new release adds nine additional figures produced by Master Box. The Master Box figures include another tank crewmember, six tank riders, a civilian woman with a shaved head carrying a baby, and one standing figure offering something like a K-ration to the woman. Italeri describes the figures as infantry, but with a Screaming Eagle patch and pants tucked into their boots, they appear to be paratroopers.
The figures are molded in a soft light gray plastic and have good detail. The figures have realistic casual poses and sit realistically on the tank. There are mold seems that need to be cleaned up and a few areas where the molds were misaligned or created rough spots. The figures typically fit together with two separate legs, torso, arms, and head. Filling and smoothing will be required for the joints between the legs, waist, and the shoulder/arm joints. There is a considerable amount of sculpting and patching folds and other pieces of equipment across the seam lines. The figure’s faces have good detail, and each have different expressions. Weapons, ammo packs, and helmets are provided for each of the figures, but no straps are provided for the rifles. The weapons sprue provides a lot more options for weapons and equipment, all nicely molded with good detail.
This is still a very good kit of the M4A1 Sherman, and while old, it’s a fairly simple build with nice detail. The kit accurately represents the M4A1 without all the complications and numerous parts of newer kits. The figures are well done but have some rough edges that need cleanup. The figures are nicely posed, and the kit provides an arsenal of weapons and other accessories. The kit would be fun for beginners willing to put up with all the cleanup of parts, but can still be a nice build for more experienced modelers too.
Thanks to Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC) for providing the review sample, and to Italeri for providing new releases of this good kit!
- Walk Around M4 Sherman, Don Greer, Squadron/Signal Publications
- Sherman Tank, Vol. 1 - America’s M4A1 Medium Tank in World War II, David Doyle, Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
- The Sherman M4A1 76W: The First 76 Sherman into Combat in US Hands, The Sherman Tank Site
- Sherman - The American Miracle, Claudio Fernandez, Enrique Calderon, AMMO of Mig Jimenez
- Modelling the US Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank, Steven J. Zaloga, Osprey Publishing