was an old saying I recall of "it never rains but it pours." Right now
that seems to be the case with Dragon, for after several year of exclusively German
(with a few Russian) subjects now they are churning out one great American armored
vehicle after another.
kit is no different; hot on the heels of three brand new Sherman kits (their M4A3E8
"Thunderbolt VII", the USMC M4A2 "Tarawa" tank, and the Commonwealth
Sherman III) comes another missing link, the M4A3 105mm self-propelled howitzer
with HVSS suspension.
primarily to replace the M7 Priest as the close support weapon of choice in tank
companies and armored infantry battalions (each one had two or three 105mm howitzers
for close support missions) the 105mm howitzer tanks proved relatively popular
with the forces as they were fully armored and thus able to face a pillbox or
strong point at point blank range and level it.
these tanks looked just like a normal Sherman with the exception of the different
mantlet and rotor assembly and, of course, the thick, stubby gun barrel. Internally
the tanks were rearranged, and while initial production models with the VVSS suspension
did not have power traverse it was quickly reintroduced after complaints from
the field. Also, early tanks had the old split-cover hatch for the commander with
the new oval loader's hatch. Due to priority for the so-called "vision"
cupola to go to the "gun" tanks, it was not until the summer of 1944
that the howitzer tanks began to receive them. Photographic evidence is hard to
evaluate, as it appears in some cases either an early tank was updated or a later
one swapped out the vision cupola for the split-hatch version as tanks with a
variety of features can be seen in photos.
production tanks had the new HVSS suspension, and the last group to be built also
added fittings for a canvas mantlet cover along with that cover. The Marine Corps
in the Pacific also had a modified version that added a flame-thrower, dubbed
the POA-CWS-H5. In Korea, the USMC used both that vehicle and a regular M4A3 (105mm)
but also fitted with an M1A1 dozer blade.
US Army took delivery of 1,641 M4 (105mm) (800 with VVSS and 841 with HVSS) tanks
and 3,039 M4A3 (105mm) tanks (500 with VVSS, 2,539 with HVSS). The UK received
593 M4 (105mm) tanks.
these vehicles have been covered as the Tamiya M4 105mm VVSS kit and an early
DML POA-CWS-H5 version with and without corrected hull, neither of which was very
good or very accurate. But DML's new kit combines bits of their latest kits with
several new or redone sprues and a totally new set of tracks. The model can be
built as an early production HVSS tank with split-hatch cupola (or upgraded one)
as a very nice one is provided in the kit, as well as the vision cupola with clear
styrene blocks. It also provides the attachment gutters for the canvas mantlet
cover as separate parts, so a WWII version without it or a late-war/postwar one
with it can be built from the kit.
upper hull is the recent one with raised (!) weld bead and an M4A2 engine deck,
with the A3 deck provided separately. An older T23 turret shell is provided, but
it only is included in the kit for the early model (WWII) rear exhaust deflector.
A new first-aid kit is now provided for the rear of the tank or side, based on
time and version modeled. All of the periscopes and their mounts are separate
parts as well.
fantastic "E8" HVSS suspension from "Thunderbolt VII" is included,
but this time DML has changed the tracks to the T80 type, and it may provide the
one plus or minus with the kit based on modelers' preferences. DML realized with
the VVSS tanks that Sherman tracks per se do not lend themselves to their concept
of "Magic Track" snap-together links (other than the correct T66 tracks
with "Thunderbolt VII") and thus have turned to their DS cementable
vinyl-like plastic for the T80 tracks. But here they have used slide molding to
accurately produce the center guide teetha hollow cube with a hole in the
top so that it can be connected to the center hinge in the tracks by a bolt, and
DML has nailed it. But as a result, the kit comes with 176 individual guide teeth
in grey styrene that must be individually glued to the DS track runs. While this
should work without any major problems (if you use styrene glues and not ACC or
non-compatible adhesives) the concept of having to glue a large number of itty
bitty guide teeth to the tracks may not be very popular. Given that advisory,
the tracks are excellent with even the outside detail on the end connectors.
turret is a "high bustle" type with oval loader's hatch and pistol port,
and as noted the sprue provides both the vision cupola and the split-hatch cupola.
The latter has been completely retooled with spring detail as well as the casting
mounts for the machine gun clip and lock. Many turret detail parts can be selected
from either styrene or metal, such as the barrel and vision device guards. Tiny
styrene tie-downs are included, which makes better sense from the standpoint of
good adhesion to the kit and not going "airborne" when you turn on an
airbrush. The styrene barrel even comes with rifling!
kit also now provides the correct bore brush/cleaning rods on the left rear of
the hull and the panels over the grouser bins are now gone. The only thing which
could have been added are the late-war/postwar split exhaust deflector grilles
and a commander's M2HB machine gun, which is AWOL in this release of the kit.
kit provides markings for four tanks: 713th Tank Battalion, Okinawa 1945; 67th
Armored Infantry Battalion, 13th Armored Division, Austria 1945; the 20th Armored
Infantry Battalion, 10th Armored Division, Germany 1945; and the 752nd Tank Battalion,
Italy 1945. All but the first one are solid OD vehicles with white markings; the
one from Okinawa is OD with what appears to be a grayish color mud daub over parts
of the tank. No postwar markings are included, but with new markings postwar Marine
tanks in Korea are easy to do.
this is another super kit for those of us who are Sherman fans, and DML has done
it up very nicely. I just wish they would have spaced them out!
96 M4A2/A3 Late upper hull with A2 engine deck
B 76 High bustle 75/105 turret
18 clear styrene
G 24 M4A3 engine deck and VVSS details
H 24 Early T23 style
J 24 Road wheel tires
K 4 Idler tires
Q 35x2 Drive wheels
48x3 HVSS road wheels and bogies
S 1 Twisted steel wire
T 44x4 Center Guide
Teeth - T80 track
X 1 Lower hull pan
Y 2 DS plastic track runs
Etched brass details and fenders
MB 12 steel springs
MB 6 brass tubes
1 turned aluminum barrel
to Freddie Leung for the review sample.