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Tamiya 1/48 scale M4 Sherman (early production)

Kit: No. 32505
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Tamiya, from Tamiya America, 800-826-4922,
Price: $24
Comments: Injection-molded, 140 parts (1 cast metal lower hull, 2 vinyl), decals
Pros: Good detail, fine fit, clever track/suspension alignment device
Cons: No sponson floors, no internal detail
Tamiya's entry into 1/48 scale armor kits rolls on with the M4 Sherman tank. The kit represents an intermediate production version of the welded-hull, radial engine- powered M4; Tamiya will be issuing the cast-hull M4A1 soon.

I theorized it would be just a scaled down copy of Tamiya's 1/35 scale kit, but this is not the case. It's molded in Tamiya's usual fine style, but there aren't many extra features provided: no crew figures or internal details. Separate parts are given for the external appliqué armor. All of the crew hatches and the lower engine access doors are molded separately. The tracks are presented in the link-and-length format - long pieces for the flat straight runs, and single links for the corners.

I started by building up the six-piece transmission cover. As with Tamiya's earlier Tiger I kit, the lower hull is a one-piece die-cast metal part. As with all of Tamiya's non-German armor kits, no sponson floors are provided, producing an incomplete, hollow appearance.

Each five-part suspension unit is beautifully represented and features the intermediate- style of horizontal return rollers and open-spoke wheels.
The plastic link-and-length tracks feature a clever alignment device. The leading return roller on each side has a small peg that fits into a hole in the top run of tracks, providing a positive base for the rest of the parts. Each set of tracks consists of four "length" sections and nine separate links for the corners. They went together perfectly.

Both the top hull and turret goes together quickly and without trouble. All but two of the vehicle tools are molded onto the hull, though with careful painting the molded-on tools look good. The hull is completed by securing the top onto the die-cast lower hull with two screws.

I painted my Sherman with Tamiya acrylic colors. Decals are provided for three U.S. Army vehicles, and they went on fine over a gloss undercoat. I used Squadron/Signal's M4 Sherman Walk Around as my primary reference. The finished model matches the photos and drawings.

I finished my Sherman in just 12 hours, a tribute to the quality of the kit. It was a pleasure to build, and armor builders of all skill levels should enjoy it. Now, let's see some of those aircraft and armor dioramas!

- Jim Zeske


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