The Sherman tank -- what can you say about it that hasn’t already been said? Perhaps one of the most recognized types of AFV’s of World War II, it symbolized U.S. armor forces of the war.
This latest 1/72 offering from Italeri is billed as a “fast assembly kit” which they also say is “especially developed for war game use.” You actually get two identical kits in the box, both molded in light grey plastic. But I feel like Italeri missrd the boat a bit when they tout this kit; as far as I can tell, this would make an excellent model for young or beginner modelers in that it is simple to build, yet accurate in overall shape and many details. Also, mine went together just like one of those snap-fit kits, without using glue (although I did glue mine), and it went together easily and with no drama, with good fit of the parts.
That being said, the kit is simplified and many details have been compromised for the sake of ease-of-build, and so the kit is not an exacting, detailed replica of an M4A3. For that, you’ll need to look at Dragon’s 1:72 offering. On this kit, things like the headlamps, tail lamps (along with their guards), lifting eyes and such, are all cast in-situ on the hull. Take the running gear: tracks, bogie units, road wheels, drive sprocket, and return rollers are all cast as one unit for each side, which attaches to the lower hull. The tracks feature no guide teeth and are quite simplified in appearance – but the bogies and the rest are all pretty well detailed (even the inside back surfaces of the road wheels are complete). Although simplified, the details that you do get are crisp and sharp. Again, Italeri got the overall shape and basic stuff right; it’s just simplified for its intended purpose. In a nutshell, each of these kits has 12 parts. That says it all.
The model comes in one of those nasty end-opening 6 1/2” x 10” boxes, with the instructions (an exploded view affair) printed on the back. The box front has a photo of the built-up box contents shown in a winter snow scene. Along with the plastic, you get a small decal sheet that features markings for three different Shermans.
- 42nd Tank Battalion 11th Armored Division – Belgium, January 1945
- 752nd Tank Battalion – Italy, February 1945
- 1st Armored Division 13th Tank Battalion – Italy, April 1945
I chose option 3 for my build. By the way, the decals are nice and thin and went on flawlessly with no silvering using Micro Set/Sol. A black and white 6 1/2” x 9 1/2” sheet is included in the box that gives marking locations and options as well as color call-outs in F.S. and Italeri paint numbers.
I wasn’t really sure where to go with this kit. As a review project, I had to build it OOB and so had to live with the many detail compromises. Of course, I ultimately built it as an OOB project, but I decided to try to simulate or enhance some of the details of the kit during the post-assembly painting and finishing process.
The biggest time killer on this kit was parts clean-up. Construction began with the turret, which required some major cleaning of the mold lines that ran through the shell ejection door on the port side, as well as the rest of the turret. The gun is cast as a one-piece affair and is straight and true with an open end. The .50 that mounts on the turret is another simplified affair with the ammo box, mount, and gun all done in one piece. The end of the barrel was drilled out. Total turret part count: 4.
The hull breaks down into a top, bottom, and two end pieces, to which you add the bow machine gun and one-piece side running gear units. The tracks are marred by a nasty mold seam that runs along both the outside and inside surfaces. It was cleaned as much as possible, but in the end, pretty much left as-is.
The hull and turret are then joined by a post-like part that snaps into the hull and then slides into the turret. If left as-is, it allows the turret to rotate, but I glued mine. And there you have the 12 part rundown!
The model was airbrushed using Model Master colors. First, it received an overall dark brown color (think Hershey chocolate bar) which is a mix of Italian camouflage brown and black. The base color used was #1787, green drab. This was first placed into all of the various planes and panel centers, then misted over the entire model, allowing just a little bit of the base dark brown to show, adding depth. Olive drab #1711 was then airbrushed into the centers of the panels and then lightly misted over the whole model, again giving the model some depth to its color.
Once the paint was dry, Future was applied by brush to the areas that would receive decals. About two or three coats, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly in between, did the trick. Decals were applied with no drama, according to the provided instruction sheet and using first Micro-Set as a base and then Micro-Sol as a cover. Again, no issues with placement or silvering. The decals were also nice and opaque. When dry, some Future was brushed over the set decals. And then, once the Future was dry, a liberal coat of Testors Dullcote was applied to the model to prepare for weathering.
Weathering began with a few sessions of pin washes using thinned raw umber artist oils. An overall drybrushing of Humbrol matt #29 dark earth began the blending process. Details were picked out with a lightened version of the highlight coat applied by brush. I exaggerated these parts of the process to try and bring out what details were provided in the kit. A light drybrushing of matt 29 provided the final blending of the overall finish. Once all of that dried, a coat of Dullcote sealed the finish and gave it that unified look.
Actually, as long as you don’t look too closely, the model does look quite nice when completed with a careful paint job. It sure looks like an M4A3 and will sit well next to my collection of 1:72 armor. I have to repeat my assertion that I feel that this kit would be a perfect model for the beginner due to its ease of construction and scale fidelity. You also get two of them in the box, so if you goof one up, you get another shot at it. If you’re looking for a precision scale kit, then you’re better off with something by one of the other manufacturers. I don’t know squat about wargaming, but I’m sure that it would satisfy those folks, too.
Many thanks to IPMS for allowing me the opportunity to review this kit and to MRC for providing the review sample.
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