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Ryefield M4A3E8 Sherman

Review of the 1/35 scale armor kit with an injection-molded canvas mantlet cover
RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR
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Ryefield rumbles into the crowded Sherman market with a brand-new M4A3E8 “Easy Eight.”

Molded in tan plastic the kit features excellent detail, including fine cast texture and casting numbers where appropriate as well as delicate weld seams. All of the hatches, including the engine bay, can be posed open or closed. The tracks are individual working links consisting of more than 1,000 parts although you don’t quite use all of them. Decals provide markings for two tanks in Germany in 1945, one overall olive drab, the other with black camouflage over olive drab. Unfortunately, the painting guide only provided 3-view drawings of both vehicles making for some guesswork on the camouflage pattern.

I deviated from the instruction from the get-go, skipping ahead to the hull rather than the turret. Like many armor kits these days, it has you add all of the small details to the major hull parts then assemble the hull. I prefer to assemble most of the major parts first, then add details. While the upper hull is mainly one piece, the lower hull comprises several panels. Fortunately, the fit is spot on and I used no filler.

Early M4A3E8s used a one-piece exhaust diverter, but this kit includes only the later split type. While those were available in 1945 it is unknown if any vehicles with split diverters made it to Europe.

I built all of the running gear but left it off for painting. The kit provides three different drive sprockets, but no information on which one is appropriate for the markings provided. (I used parts A1 and A2.) While the suspension is listed as “working”, neither the springs nor shocks move. Instead, the suspension arms simply pivot on their mounts.

If you are going to add the tracks after the hull is together, I suggest leaving off the large, outer return rollers until afterward.

I didn’t have too much trouble bending and installing the photo-etched metal (PE) brush guards for the headlights, but the guard for the horn broke when I tried to bend it to shape because of the etched locators for the crossguard. So, I replaced it with a thinned injection-molded guard from my spares box.

Building the tracks was a project by itself. Each track sprue includes a jig to assemble six links at a time. Once I had all of the short sections together, I removed the alignment devices from one of the jigs so I could use it to assemble the short sections into the final runs. Since the T80 tracks are both handed and directional, keep an eye on your assemblies to make sure you have everything going in the right direction. Despite care, each time I built a section of track, I wound up with a few links pointing in the wrong direction on both runs; I hid wayward links where they wouldn’t be noticed. I followed the instructions and used 76 links per side, the tension can be adjusted by moving the idler mount.

The turret went together quickly and, for the most part, easily. I had to fill the seam between the upper and lower halves at the back. Once filled and sanded, I restored the cast texture with a motor tool.

If you use the optional mantlet cover, don’t install the front center or mantlet side lift rings they will be covered by the cover.

The clear parts for the commander’s cupola slide into place, no glue needed.

I painted my Sherman with Tamiya’s acrylics. The decals laid down over Vallejo clear gloss polyurethane and responded well to Microscale decal solutions.
 
I spent 40 hours building this “Easy Eight,” and the finished model matches published dimensions. While not a kit for beginners, experienced modeler won’t have problems. The quality of the moldings and the detail impressed me, and I hope it is the first of many Shermans from Ryefield.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2019 issue.

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