by modelers as the Jumbo, the "assault" Sherman fielded by the US Army
in late 1944 was a expedient, stopgap assault tank. It was officially designated
M4A3E2 and there were only 254 of these made. They proved extremely useful in
the fighting along the German borders in the fall of 1944.
the US Army had been tinkering with numerous designs for a heavy tank. The T14
assault tank was the latest of the these designs, but it was never really needed
by the Armored Force. When the fighting became difficult due to resistance and
worsening weather conditions, the U.S. troops were in need of tanks that could
withstand additional punishment. The T26 series was a solution but it would take
some time for them to be completed. So the M4A3 was selected as the basis for
an uparmored version of the venerable Sherman.
Sherman was fitted with a new turret, resembling the T23 turret as fitted to the
76mm gunned tanks. The sides of the hull and front glacis had additional armor
plates fitted and the transmission cover was also strengthened. All this amounted
to a Sherman capable of withstanding a lot of abuse. There are two photos in Concord's
U.S. Tank Battles in Germany, showing an M4A3E2 of the 743rd Tank Battalion at
Fronhoven. This tank was hit by eight 88mm rounds after becoming immobilized by
a mine. But aside from one round penetrating just above the sponson line, the
other rounds did not penetrate.
of the "air" the Jumbo has, it's been a popular modeling subject. Despite
that, it's not been a popular manufacturers choice, with the only mainstream plastic
kit being the old Tamiya kit from the 1980s. As can be expected, Tamiya used their
good M4A3 as a basis, providing extra armour for the hull sides and a new turret.
But let's take a closer look at what's in the kit.
the basic downsides of Tamiya Shermans are present, so this means the tweaks list
is required: no sponsons, no raised hull welds, basic bogie details, heavy exhaust
deflector, no straps on the OVM tools, molded on grab handles, etc. Unfortunately,
the distinctive changes for the Jumbo do not come off well, so there's more work
turret is way too small, and what's worse, the dimensional errors are not evenly
spread. This means the turret just looks odd, and not bulky enough. There are
aftermarket options available from Verlinden Productions (out of production but
perhaps available) and Tank WorkShop, which corrects the Tamiya turret to some
degree, but it's also not entirely correct. The best option would be to use the
Blast Models conversion, and hopefully they will release it as a separate set.
Otherwise, you'll need to scratch build a turret. More on this later.
transmission is not up-armored. You can use an aftermarket item or add your own
armor. Wrap some .30 thou plastic sheet around the middle and the final drive
cover. Then use putty to blend everything in. Or add a small strip of plastic
on the top, where the cover meets the glacis plate. Then mount the transmission
cover a bit further forward.
hull sides are simply glued in place. Of course, in WW2 there was no super glue,
so you'll need to add the weld beads. Using some reference material and the method
of choice, this shouldn't be too hard.
suspension is basic. You might want to swap it for aftermarket items or some bits
from the spares box. The recent DML Shermans come with choices of suspension,
a cheap alternative. The wheels are the stamped D85163 wheels, where most Jumbos
were fitted with the D38501 steel spoke wheels. Again, spare parts from Academy
or Dragon can be used. Or get yourself Tasca's late suspension. As an alternative,
Formations offers a set of Jumbo wheels, and a whole host of resin bits to update
the suspension. The bogies in the kit are the correct D47527 with the upswept
C100823 return roller brackets.
these are the main quirks of this oldie. A lot of work can be done, and has to
be done if you want an accurate Jumbo. Personally, I don't think it's worth the
money. There are other and better options available.
mentioned the Blast Models conversion set, and this is the best one around. It
features a complete upper hull, accurate turret, and very good details. It does
need the Tamiya M4 kit, because this has the correct D38501 wheels. More details
can be seen at Perth
Military Modelling Site.
released a very good M4A3(76)W kit in 2005. This includes a lot of parts needed
for the Jumbo, including correct wheels, suspension and a set of tracks with duckbills
included. You'll have to provide your own turret still, plus the side armor and
transmission cover. But the basic kit is good. Perhaps or Blast might release
a conversion for this kit one day? Or maybe DML will do the complete kit?
course, most sets for the Sherman series are applicable to the Jumbo: think resin
tools (Formations, CMD), new machine guns (Adlers Nest, Academy), new hull hatches
(TMD), new turret cupola (Formations, TMD), etc.
place where aftermarket is more wanting is decals. There are several sets of aftermarket
decals covering U.S. armor. Two of these have specific markings for the M4A3E2.
This includes the Bison Decals set BD-35031. Called "Sherman Mix," it
has markings for Cobra King. This was the first Sherman of 37th Tank Battalion
into Bastogne. The set has been revised, including decals for updating DML's M4A3E8
kit. The Bison Decals set "Hanks Tank" includes markings for Aquino,
a 76mm-armed M4A3E2 from 15th/6th Armored Division.
Decal website, www.angelfire.com/pro/bison/.
Modelling Magazine, "Silver Star Jumbo," Steven Zaloga, Vol 32 No
the U.S. Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank, Steven Zaloga, Osprey Publishing,
Military Modelling Site, www.perthmilitarymodelling.com.
A History of the American Medium Tank, Hunnicutt, R.P., Presidio Press,
1978, 1994; reprinted by Historical Archive Press, 2007.
Tank Battles in Germany, Steven Zaloga, Concord Publications 2005.
Sherman, Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications, 2000.