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M4A3 Sherman with 105mm Howitzer



S u m m a r y

Stock No. Tamiya 1/35 Scale Military Miniature Series No. 35251
Contents and Media: 385 parts (379 in olive drab styrene, 4 black vinyl caps, 2 steel colored glueable vinyl tracks)
Price: USD$26-$40
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Nice upgrades for an older kit; loads of extra parts
Disadvantages: Still has some drawbacks from original kit
Recommendation: Recommended for all Sherman fans


Tamiya's 1/35 scale M4A3 with 105mm is available online from Squadron.com

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


F i r s t   L o o k


Better late than never, I picked this kit up at AMPS 2002. Compared to the other warmed-over versions of the Sherman, I have to say that this time Tamiya has made a concerted effort to give the modeler his money's worth on the upgrade.

The original Tamiya Sherman kit came out in 1981, and while a great model for its time, had a number of disappointments. First, off, it came with a "hollow" hull and no sponsons, something its running mate, the five-year-old Italeri M4A1 kit, had done from the beginning. Second, it used the "cast" (a misnomer actually welded pressed steel) solid road wheels and idlers, but lacking detail on the back. Its T54 with extender tracks were one link too long, presumably to make them easier to install. Finally, some people had questions of its turret, being a late model "high-bustle" turret without the loader's hatch. It came with one full and one half figure, but alas, they were the 5'2" "dwarves" of the period.

In 1988, Tamiya re-released the kit, albeit this time with a new turret and add-on bits to turn it into an M4A3E2 "Jumbo." The price went up nearly 250% (from around $16 from MRC Tamiya at the time) to $40 but none of the original flaws in the kit were fixed, and this kit added new ones, such as a poorly shaped turret.

In the mid 1990s, they did finally release a major revision to the kit an early model M4 with a new hull, new turret and new crew figures. But it still had the same suspension the very late model one with "upswept" roller mounts no sponsons and some hull details which were not quite accurate. This kit added T48 rubber chevron tracks, but they were still about one link too long.

In 2001, Tamiya finally released this kit and its stable mate, an M4A3 75mm with a late model turret that was correct. Taking cues from Academy and DML, both of which had been running rings around Tamiya with variants of standard kits (DML having no less than 10 Sherman variants on the market, and Academy having begun a new series of M3 and M4 based vehicles) Tamiya proved it could do at least as well.

When I was a kid, one of the Mattel commercials on TV had a jingle which ran, "Mix and match/It's fun to do/What Ken and Barbie wear/Is up to you!" DML and Academy have used that with "pick a sprue" kit provisioning for some time, and now Tamiya has picked up on that as well.

This kit includes the upper and lower hull, A and B sprues from the old M4A3 kit of 1981, but adds to it two D sprues from the M4 Early kit, a new G sprue with the turret assembly, and W, two X, Y, and Z sprues loaded with figures and accessories. This kit does not hurt for figures counting the original figures (which are included) the kit comes with six full and three half figures, five full standing figures being brand new and state of the art. It also comes with a good deal of "kit" to stow on the engine deck and luggage rack, including .30 caliber ammo cans, boxes, jerry cans, and spare tank parts.

The new turret is very well done, includes both hatches as separate parts, and is of the correct design and shape. The five new figures are much taller than the older efforts, and copy the DML style layout of separate heads with necks, bodies in sections, and separate lower arms.

Unfortunately, Tamiya still provides the same hull without sponsons and the same pressed steel road wheels without backs. Even Italeri provides those in their M4A2 USMC kit, so it is surprising that with all of the other nice touches to this kit that Tamiya did not see fit to fix those problems. Their tools are still better than Italeri's, at least.

A nice new sheet of markings is included for three vehicles, but only two are full and complete (one appears to have been a machine being delivered, as it has no bumper codes).

Overall this is a nice kit, and as it is now past its first run and showing up at cheaper prices, a bargain if you can find one for under $30.

Cookie Sewell AMPS

Review Copyright 2002 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 27 April, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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