M4A3E2 "Jumbo"
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


Known 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.

Initially, 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.

The 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.

The Kit

Because 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.

All 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 to do:

  • The 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.

  • The 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.
  • The 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.
  • The 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.


So 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.

I 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.

DML 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?

Aftermarket Accessories

Of 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.

One 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.


  • Bison Decal website, www.angelfire.com/pro/bison/.
  • Military Modelling Magazine, "Silver Star Jumbo," Steven Zaloga, Vol 32 No 4.
  • Modelling the U.S. Army M4 (75mm) Sherman Medium Tank, Steven Zaloga, Osprey Publishing, 2006.
  • Perth Military Modelling Site, www.perthmilitarymodelling.com.
  • Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank, Hunnicutt, R.P., Presidio Press, 1978, 1994; reprinted by Historical Archive Press, 2007.
  • U.S. Tank Battles in Germany, Steven Zaloga, Concord Publications 2005.
  • Walk Around: M4 Sherman, Jim Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications, 2000.

-Martin Dogger-


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