of March 2006, there were several options for modelers wanting an American M4A3
Sherman armed with the 76mm gun. These include the recent Dragon kit, older Dragon
kits (including the HVSS version), and the Italeri option, re-released in 2005.
It's considerably less expensive than the Dragon kit, so is this a good buy for
actually it's not a re-release, but more of an mix-and-match effort from Italeri.
The suspension, lower hull, and turret come from their M4A1 kit. The upper hull
is also in the M36B1, M4A3 Calliope, M4 Marines, and misnamed M4A2 'Jumbo' kits.
This means that, aside from the decal sheets, there are no new parts.
lower hull is quite good, and does include the sponson bottoms. Unfortunately,
the details on the bottom of the hull are for the M4/M4A1, but unless you show
the model upside down, no one will notice this.
suspension still holds up quite well, though the molds seem to be getting tired.
There are some sink marks, and detail is somewhat soft. The suspension is moveable,
but in a rocking motion, not capturing the way the real thing moved. But it still
offers some room for animation in the final model. The solid road wheels and idlers
have back detail, and there are two types of drive sprockets, the simple plate
and fancy smooth styles. The bogies do not include the bolts mounting the tracks
skids, and the skids themselves are fairly thick. You might want to pick up the
Lionmarc Designs brass pieces to fix this.
are vinyl and represent the T54E1 steel chevron type, without extended end connectors.
The tracks are stiff, and could do with replacing as it's difficult to get them
to sit properly. There are replacements available as single link tracks from AFV
Club, RHPS, Modelkasten and Friul; resin from Accurate Armour and Cromwell Models;
and vinyl from Academy and AFV Club. All track types were seen on the M4A3, so
you have a wide range of choices.
upper hull has good details, if only a bit soft. The hull welds are recessed so
this needs fixing first. The usual array of familiar detail bits for Shermans
go on the front, and again, age is showing here. The head lights had sink marks
in them, and there are some noticeable seams to remove. The front hull hatches
are fairly basic, with ejector pin marks to fill. Italeri provides a rather thick
periscope sleeve, and gives us periscope guards in plastic. Aftermarket companies
give more than enough options to detail the hatches with resin periscopes, photoetch
sleeves, or consider using a set of the Tiger Model Designs hatches. The kit's
tools are not very good, and could be replaced with Formations or CMD resin upgrades.
The rear hull plate is correct for the M4A3, and includes an exhaust deflector
under the overhang, which has better details than the Tamiya parts.
sprue with hull parts also gives you a spare M4/M4A1 rear plate, with early type
turret is from the M4A1 kit, and is quite decent. It has some shape problems around
the pistol port and below the commander's cupola, but overall it looks like the
real thing. The loader has the round cupola with split hatches, showing nice detail.
The commanders cupola is good. Both could use detailing if depicted open.
gun barrel still has the incorrect steps as originally produced for the late M4A1
kit. You might want to replace it or use some putty to conceal the steps. It does
give a thread protector, and basic interior breech detail, so it's a pity the
outer appearance is incorrect.
decal options included by Italeri are the following:
42nd Tank Battalion, 11th Armored Divison, Belgium, January 1945. This has a whitewash
over olive drab.
· 752nd Tank Battalion, Italy, February 1945. Plain
· 13th Tank Battalion, 1st Armored Divison, Italy, April
1945. Plain olive drab.
· 69th Tank Bn., 6th Armored Divison, Luxembourg,
Early 1945. Plain olive drab.
· Unknown Unit, France, Colmar Pocket,
January 1945. Whitewash over olive drab.
· 2e DB, Free French Forces,
France (Strasbourg), November 1944. Plain olive drab.
what's the verdict? If you want an inexpensive kit that offers a good build, with
fair details and some colourful decal options, you might want to pick up this
kit. It does need some work to bring it up to speed, and going the aftermarket
route might reduce the "bargain" value of the kit. But as shown by Charby
and Tim with some other kits on this site, even some small added bits can improve
the overall look of the vehicle. And the additional effort does add a personal
touch. It's not the best M4A3 76(W) kit on the market, but it gives a solid basis
for a modelling project if you want to improve on basic kit bashing skills.