M4A3 Sherman
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


This classic kit represents an M4A3(75)W VVSS — or an M4A3 Sherman with a 75mm gun and "wet" ammunition stowage, with vertical volute spring suspension. Unfortunately, Tamiya misidentified a late M4A2 with appliqué armor as an M4A3. The appliqué armor was welded to the hull sides of the M4A2 to provide added protection to the ammo stored within. But the hull in this kit is the intermediate style with wet stowage (i.e., the ammo was stowed in a bath ethylene glycol, or antifreeze). So don't use the appliqué pieces as the kit instructs.

Beyond that, there are only a few other significant things to be mindful of when building this kit, which also serves as the platform for Tamiya's M4, the M4A3 "Winter Breakthrough" Sherman, and the 105mm Sherman howitzer. Of course, there are many other smaller details that you can add, depending on your level of interest, skill, patience, and bank account.

The old figures can be given some life with careful painting, and new heads from Warriors or Hornet would help a lot. But there are many other tankers out there who would look good crewing this kit.

I built a couple of these Shermies when I got back into the hobby, but that was before I had the benefit of these tips and tweaks, collected from various modelers on the Internet.

Deficiencies Solutions
As with all Tamiya Shermans, the sponsons over the top run of track are missing, enabling one to see through the tank if a hatch is left open. Get some plastic card stock and check out this diagram at Archer Fine Transfers to build your own sponsons.
Wheels and idlers are hollow on the back sides. The best alternative is the "VVSS Update Set" from Fort Duquesne Military Miniatures; The Tank Workshop also makes a set. Otherwise, you can make a casting of the one spoked side, then fill the backside with putty and press the casting on top of it to create the proper relief effect. A third alternative is to get another kit, saw the wheels in half, and mate the two detailed sides. Another alternative is to buy Academy's M12 or M10 kits for the extra wheels.
Bogie units need additional bolts and bolt holes.

The bogie units were universal; the return roller arm and skids could be placed on either side of the bogie housing. Drill four holes on the open side of the housing. Add Grandt Line bolts to the top of the skids where they attach to the housing. If you're really anal, you could add four bolts to the inside of each of the return arms.

Painting note: the return rollers were metal, not rubber.

The welds on the top of the hull are recessed, but should be at least flush with the hull top. Use stretched sprue or a very thin band of putty to fill the recess, and texture with a hobby knife or toothpick. Also, add weld bead texture to front and back corners of hull sides
Headlight and tail light guards are thick.

Thin down kit parts, or replace with photoetch. Add chained stoppers and receptacle to headlight guard (used to plug socket when headlights were removed). Add electrical cable to back of rear lights and run straight down into hull.

Painting note: Upper portion of tail light is red, lower slot is bluish-silver.

Engine access door rests are missing. This was a feature on all wet stowage M4A3 hulls: a piece of steel welded to the sloping faces of the top hull on either side of the engine access grills, designed to relieve pressure on the access door hinges (photo). Cut two pieces of plastic card approximately 3mm wide by 4mm tall and 1mm thick. Glue them centered with the grill doors, and centered onto the sloping face or in line with the rear lifting ring.
Appliqué armor was not used on this tank. This was a wet stowage, so don't use it.
Grab handles on engine deck are molded solid. Carefully carve them away and use thin wire to replace them. Or cover them with stowed gear or riding soldiers, but don't completely block the deck grates — the engine's gotta breathe!
Splash rings around fuel caps lack drainage holes. With the tip of a new X-acto blade, drill a small hole at the bottom center of the three guards. It might be easier to drill the center guard after removing the solid engine grate handles. The L-shaped pins that secured the fuel caps in place usually had small chains attached to the outer end of the pin and then to the hull.
The slats on the exhaust deflector (part B42) are too thick. Thin them down with hobby knife; add detail as suggested in this article.
Casting numbers from transmission and turret are missing. Carefully carve off part numbers from sprue and glue to surface.
Hull missing sand shield attachment strips. These pieces, three to a side, usually come with photoetch sets. But you can drill small holes into thin plastic strip and attach them to the lower edge of the hull. Position the strips so the holes are below the hull edge. Add 1/8" long slivers of plastic in intervals to the upper edge of the strips to denote welds.
Turret, upper hull section around driver hatches, and transmission cover lack texture. Use Gunze Sangyo "Mr. Surfacer 500," or Bondo thinned with Testors liquid cement, to add texture; be care not to overdo it, because Sherman texture is more flat and with shallow pits rather than raised and bumpy. Do not apply to rolled steel hull and lower hull.
As with all Tamiya turrets, the slight bulge on the right cheek is missing. Build this area out with some epoxy putty according to this diagram.
Commander's early split hatch missing leather pad. Create pad from piece of plastic and attach to hatch without periscope. Add handle and other fittings.
Hatches missing periscope guards. Easiest remedy is found in the larger photoetch sets.
Turret missing commander sighting vane, rear machine gun holder. These items are found in the larger photoetch sets.
Machine gun pintle mount missing locking handle.

To really do this up right, you need to wrap a small rectangular block of plastic perpendicularly around the back of the pintle on part B21 or C11, and then attach a small bit of stretched sprue to the right edge of the rectangle, facing forward.

The storage mount for the MG (part C1) also needs a small handle on the left side, fashioned as above.

The .50 MG can also use some chains and and a locking lever on the cradle.

"Classy Peg" wolf head should face forward on both sides of hull. Decals face same direction. Hard to fix this error aside from not using the decals.
The kit's purported rations boxes aren't legit. Use them for generic storage boxes and get some good rations boxes from Hudson & Allen.
For Variety...
To open the loader's hatch... Carefully carve the sealed hatch with a hobby knife, then use the insert and hatch provided in Verlinden's "Sherman Update Set." Or, swap the turret with one in the "Winter Breakthrough" set.
The steel chevron track includes the duckbill end connectors, which gave the tank greater "floatation" over snow and soft terrain, but... These things broke off the track fairly easily, so you can clip off a few of them for a more "used" look. You could also swap the rubber chevron tracks from Tamiya's M4, particularly for a post-Normandy setting.
To build an M4A3 wet stowage with a T-23 turret and 76mm gun...

Swap turrets with Italeri's M4A1 Sherman, fix or replace the Italeri barrel. Use kit tracks or plain block, rubber chevron, or steel cleat.

Then you can use the Tamiya turret on the Italeri hull, creating a large-hatched M4A1 with a 75mm gun (this combination was standard for duplex-drive tanks that took part in D-Day, but photos exist of non-DD tanks in this configuration).

Or, use T-23 turrets from The Tank Workshop of Chesapeake Model Design.

Here are some update sets that you could use with this kit if you really want to dress it up:


  • Sherman M4, M4A1, M4A3 (35032) - Extensive photoetch set for those who want to go whole hog.

Chesapeake Model Designs

  • 75mm Sherman Gun Barrel (CMD 16A) - Metal gun tube.

Custom Dioramics

  • Sherman Detail Set (CD2001) - Photoetch details.
  • Sherman Periscopes (CD2002) - Resin and photoetch periscopes and guards.


  • M4A3 Sherman (35369) - Updated photoetch set, replaces #35061.

Fine Molds

  • WWII U.S. AFV Periscope Set 1 (MG24) - Set of clear plastic periscopes; you carefully paint the metal areas, leaving the periscope lens clear.

Fort Duquesne Military Miniatures

  • VVSS Update Set (FDA101) - Exquisite resin set of fully detailed solid spoke road and idler wheels. Both wheel types have grease plugs, and the road wheels even have the rivets on the inside lip of the wheel rim. Also included are a pair of transmission covers and single piece drive sprockets fully detailed on the inner side, which provides additional detailing if your Sherman is have its track replaced. I've got two sets of these and will undoubtedly need more!

Jordi Rubio

  • U.S. 75mm M3 (TG-17) - Metal barrel.

Ordnance Models

  • M4 Sherman (TTWD 105B) - Small, inexpensive fret of photoetch with such essentials as the periscope and headlight guards.

RHPS Models

  • T54E1 U.S. Metal Chevron Individual Link Track Set (RH04) - Link-to-link late war track with metal chevron. Similar to kit's rubber band track, but without duckbills.

Royal Models

  • Sherman M4A3 (052) - Another extensive photoetch set.

The Show Modelling

  • M4 Sherman Detail Set (SH-078) - Photoetch set, includes numbers for casting marks.

Verlinden Productions

  • Sherman Update Kit (0204) - Offers periscopes, two antenna mount styles, dished road wheels, oval loader's hatch, and more.
  • Sherman Super Detail Set (0263) - Photoetch periscope and headlight guards, machine gun cradle, tool straps, and more.
  • U.S. Tank Periscopes WWII/Early '50s (0341) - Various periscopes for detailing hatches.

Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter