the terms "tank battalion commander" and "4th Armored Division"
are used together, the one name most fans of U.S. military history immediately
come up with is Creighton Abrams. Abrams commanded the 37th Armor Battalion in
Europe from its landing in the summer of 1944 up until March 1945 when he was
bumped up to take over Combat Command B. But the other primary tank battalion
of the division, the 8th Armor Battalion, was no less accomplished (the last battalion,
the 35th, got less press coverage than the other two, but as with all elements
of the 4th, was heavily involved during the course of operations in the ETO.)
the 2005 "Dragon Expo" in Atlanta, DML released two special limited
release kits to commemorate the event, one German and one U.S.. The latter kit
was the command tank of Major Albin F. Irzyk, commander 8th Tank Battalion, 4th
Armored Division, in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. This compliments
their previous release of "Thunderbolt VI," Abrams' command tank at
the same time (DML kit 6255). While not as famous as
Abrams, Irzyk was another "straight-shooter" and was twice wounded in
action, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, and
four Bronze Stars.
model is a "shake and bake" kit, but with the recent quality of DML
moldings that is far from a bad thing. They have basically combined their recent
M4A2/A3 kit sprues with the suspension components from their E8 suspension kits
and released them as an early production M4A3E8. These tanks were beginning to
be issued to the 37th and 8th Tank Battalions just prior to the Battle of the
Bulge, and photos show them in service with those battalions.
kit includes the new hull and turret sprues from the M4A2/A3 kit with the extra
engine deck sprue for the A3, as well as the early production A3 exhaust deflector
sprue. It comes with the complete fender and skirt arrangement for the A3 with
HVSS, but as both the 37th and 8th appeared to have removed them prior to issue,
this is just fodder for the parts box. Also new are two turned brass 76mm APCBC
rounds, which were (from other sources) one of the great shocks to the Germans
at the Bulge, as they found out the hard way that at combat ranges they couldand
didpenetrate the glacis of a Panther tank.
only have one problem with the kit: I cannot find a firm answer to either support
or deny the use of the T80 double-pin steel faced chevron track on the model.
All of the extant photos show M4A3E8 tanks during the Bulge with T-66 single pin
tracks. These were issued with the first production runs of the tank, but due
to reliability problems as well as a preference for double-pin "live"
track they were short-lived in the field. Since DML is the only one that I know
of to make a styrene T66 track, I was quite surprised to find the model fitted
with the T80 tracks. While the former are one of the best sets made by DML and
are easy to assemble and fit, their T80 tracks are a pain, as the guide teeth
are separate (to provide the correct "hollow light bulb" shape) and
must be individually attached to the track links, which is a very tedious chore
for both cleanup and assembly. Add the fact that each track link has two big ejection
pin marks on it and this is about a 15-hour job for the tracks alone.
are provided for the tank as used at the Bulge. While issued with nice big shiny
white stars and registration numbers, they were painted out at the same time the
skirts were removed to avoid presenting the Germans with aiming points. The model
replicates that with the painted out stars and numbers, and provides correct bumper
codese.g., HQ-1for Irzyk's tank.
this is a nice, upgraded kit, but as noted it is a limited production one so any
Sherman fan may want to snap it up on sight.
to Freddie Leung for the review sample.