Dragon M4 Sherman Series

Kits #7271, 7273, 7274, 7275, 7288, 7300, 7302, 7303, 7304, 7305, 7311, 7312, 7313, 7322, 7330, 7360, 7367, 7373

Preview by Rob Haelterman
and Doug Chaltry







Pictures from Henk of Holland website and Doug Chaltry, used with permission

Dragon's Sherman series is one of the most remarkable revelations of the last few years in Braille Scale (at least in my humble opinion). While some lament the energy put into yet another declination of the same set of sprues, others just add another shelf to the wall and load it with styrene. I am afraid that I fall in the latter category.
As of late 2012 the series comprises the following kits. (In bold those that I have and will preview here, with additions by Doug Chaltry about the kits in grey bold.)

        • 7271 Sherman M4A3(76)W
          Preview
        • 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version"
          Preview
        • 7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS
          Preview
        • 7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army"
          Preview
        • 7288 Sherman MkIII
          Preview
        • 7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay"
          Preview
        • 7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS
          Preview
        • 7303 Sherman Firefly Vc
          Preview
          Review
        • 7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS
          Preview
        • 7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa"
          Preview
        • 7311 Sherman M4A4
          Preview
          Review
        • 7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip
          Preview
        • 7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS
          Preview
        • 7322 Sherman IC Firefly
          Preview
        • 7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit
        • 7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit.
        • 7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy"
          Preview
        • 7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75
          Preview 1
          Preview 2

Some of these kits were already the subject of a specific (p)review (see above). Here, we will only outline the differences between the kits.
There have been in-production changes made to the parts as Dragon sometimes does with other kits. I am not sure if I know them all, but Doug states at least the following:

    • the height and appearance of the bogies has been corrected. My M4A3(76)W (kit 7271) still has the wrong bogies, which appear to have been corrected later. (The only other kit known to have (had) this issue is 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version" )
    • Note that 7271 was originally released with a white crew on the boxtop, which is incorrect for the unit shown:

1. Overview of contents

Please note that sprue A has given us a real headache, as all sprues A are equal, but some are more equal than others, some are just part of another sprue A, and some have no communality whatsoever. We've done our best, and suffered for it, that's all we can say.

Timothy Lau points out that newer releases of these kits sometimes lack the PE fret. A look at the side of the box should allow you to verify this.

Kit Nr Decals and marking options PE and metal

Sprue a/A

Note that sprues labeled "A", "a", or whatever, are not necessarily the same between kits.

Sprue B (small parts)

Wheels

Hull Additional sprues Tracks Manual
(from Henk of Holland)

7322 Sherman IC Firefly

  1. Rycerz I, 2nd "Warsaw" AD, Italy, 1945
  2. Bekas, 2nd "Warsaw" AD, 1945
  3. Trzyniec, 2nd "Warsaw" AD, 1945

 

Same sprue for all kits, except for the exhaust louvres (B31), which are only used in
7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS
(at least as far as I can tell from the kits we have in our possession or have information about), but are inlcluded in all of them, even though they are "blued out", except for 7305, 7288, 7271, 7274, 7311, 7312, 7303, 7273, which don't have them.

(I don't know about 7330.)

Sprue C (see below) Sprue D (see below) Sprue E See below                  

(from Henk of Holland)

7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy" (Info from Doug Chaltry.)

  1. "Cannon Ball", Company C, 70th Tank Bn, Utah Beach, D-Day 1944. (Only one with wading equimpent.)
  2. "White 14" Company C, 756th Tank Bn, Monte Cassino, Italy 1944.
  3. "Tonto" 37th Tank Battalion, 4th AD, Brittany, France, 1944.


Picture by Elliott Winthrop.
Timothy Lau points out that decal 24 is wrong and that decal 26 is to be used on both sides of Cannon Ball 2.

 
  • Sprue A is same as sprue A in 7273.
  • "Blue" Sprue A is half of Sprue A of 7322.
Sprue C (see below) 

Same lower hull as Firefly IC (7322), upper hull modified for waders

 

Sprue E, but with upper turret piece deleted

(The instructions apparently show a slightly different sprue.)

7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version" (Info from Doug Chaltry.)

  1. "Derby", 2nd AD, Normandy,1944
  2. "Aide de Camp", 'A' Company, 741st Tank Bn, Omaha Beach, 1944
  3. "Battlin Bitch", 7th AD, France, 1944 (Watch out installing type of cutting tool.)
  4. Unidentified Unit, Southern France, 1944.
 
  • Sprue A (we will use this as a reference) - the manual shows some parts deleted but they are still on the sprues.
    It also appear that in earlier kits the turret parts are (slightly ?) different from those in later kits.)
Sprue C (see below - earlier versions with incorrect bogies) Lower hull same as 7304.
Upper hull different
 

(from Henk of Holland)

7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS

  1. "Elowee", 2nd AD, France, 1944
  2. Polish 1st AD, Holland, 1944
  3. 3rd AD, Belgium, 1944
  4. 3rd AD, France, 1944
  5. 2nd AD, France 1944

  • Sprue A (we'll use this one as a reference -- it's not the same as 7322).
  • Same Sprue a as 7322, i.e. lower part of sprue A in 7273.
Sprue C (see below - earlier versions with incorrect bogies) Sprue E (see below); contains other parts than only the hull.  

7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit (Info from Doug Chaltry - we only discuss the Sherman parts.)

Oddly, there are no markings for the Sherman, only for the LCM.    
  • Sprue A is the same as upper part of sprue A in 7273.
Sprue C (see below) Upper hull similar to 7304 but with half the engine access hatch open with replacement part for mounting deep wading gear.  

7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa"

  1. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943
  2. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943
  3. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943
  4. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943
  5. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943
  6. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943
  7. 1st Marine Amph. Corps Tank Bn., Tarawa 1943

 
  • Sprue A is the same as upper part of sprue A in 7273.
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue L (see below)

Sprue D

Sprue E

(from Henk of Holland)

7288 Sherman MkIII

  1. Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, Syria, 1943
  2. Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, Syria, 1943
  3. Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, Syria, 1943

More information about these markings can be found here.

 
  • Sprue A is the same as upper part of sprue A in 7273.
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue G (see below) Sprue D (same as 7305)

7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army"

  1. "154", 2nd Tank Army, Berlin, 1945.
    Doug Chaltry points out that it should have the T-54E1 steel chevron track.
    Timothy Lau points out that the triangle marking needs to be closed more.
  2. 8th Guards Mech. Corps, 1944/45
    Doug Chaltry points out the following: "As for the vehicle from the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps, the only photo I have seen of this tank shows it with its tracks burned away, which is only likely if they were a rubber version, probably T-48 rubber chevron tracks."

 


Note: it might be that the small fret with grouser covers is not present in very early releases. This is clearly a correction; cf. the extra instruction sheet.

  • Sprue A is very similar to Sprue A in 7304, but with a turret body that has an oval hatch.
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue E (see below) Sprue D (same as 7305)

(from Henk of Holland)

7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75

  1. 14.Pz.Div., Eastern Front, 1944
    The only marking option in this kit actually had a low bustle turret in real life, which the sprues don't provide.

 
  • Sprue A is the same as Sprue A 7304, but with upper turret body deleted, and MG mount added. (Strange, as other parts like lower turret body and guns are still included and the MG is not even needed in this kit -- nor is it shown in the parts diagram for that matter.)
  • "Blue" Sprue A (we'll use this as a reference)
  • Sprue a is the same as upper part of sprue A in 7273, but with turret body deleted.
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue E (see below) Sprue D (same as 7305)

(from Henk of Holland)

7271 Sherman M4A3(76W)

Note that the above box art is the early one. Later releases (correctly) show African American crew.

  1. 761st Tank Bn. "Black Panthers", task Force Rhine, Germany, 1945
    Timothy Lau points out thatthe decal options for Cool Studs Inc. is not correct as the names on the vehicle were not identical on the left and the right side. The vehicle should have open spoke wheels and T49 ve steel cleat tracks with extended end connectors.
  2. Beutepanzer, Aschafenburg, Germany, 1945
  3. 760th Tank Bn., US 5th Army, Italy, 1945
  4. 19th Tank Bn, 9th AD, Belgium, 1944

 

  • Same Sprue A as 7304, bit with one of the spare guns deleted.
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue D (see below)  

(from Henk of Holland)

Note that the marking instuctions show grouser covers on the engine deck. These should not be present on a late hull M4A3.

7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS

  1. 6th AD, Luxembourg, 1945
  2. 6th AD, Luxembourg, 1945
  3. 4th AD, France, 1944
    Timothy Lau points out that, if Dragon had this vehicle in mind, then it was an M4, not an M4A3. (Other picture here.). The patches are also slightly different.

 


Slightly different from 7271

  • Sprue A is part of Sprue A of 7304.
  • Sprue a is same as "Blue" Sprue A of 7373, but without extra aiming stakes (which 7373 actually doesn't need either.)
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue D (see below)  

(from Henk of Holland)

7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS

  1. "Thunderbolt VII", 4th AD, Germany, 1945
  2. 4th AD, Germany, 1945
  3. 4th AD, Bastogne, 1945
  4. "Flat Foot Floogie" 11th AD, Germany, 1945


Corrective sheet to the left.
Timothy Lau points out that
-
the "corrected" decals for Thunderbolt VII are not correct, while the originals are
- the "corrected" version of Flat Foot Floogie is correct. Read more here.

Sprue D (see below)  Sprue G (see below Sprue E

(from Henk of Holland)

7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS

  1. 713th Tank Bn., Okinawa, 1945
    Timothy Lau points out that this was actually an M4 instead of an M4A3 and had T-66 tracks.
  2. 13th AD, Austria, 1945
  3. 752n Tank Bn, Italy, 1945
  4. 10th AD, Germany, 1945


Same as 7302
Sprue D (see below)  Sprue G (see below) Sprue E (same as 7313)

(from Henk of Holland)

7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit

 
  1. 7th AD, ETO, 1944
  2. 3rd AD, ETO, 1944
         

(from Henk of Holland)

7311 Sherman M4A4

  1. "Balaclava", RHQ, 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Normandy, 1944.
    The vehicle is reported to be a Sherman Mk.III M4A2 with cast hoods and a one piece tranny cover, not a Mk.V.
    Timothy Lau further points out that Balaclava needs the British spare box from kit 7312 and a wading trunk.
  2. 1st Chinese Provisional Tank Group, Burma, 1945. Two options. Timothy Lau points out that the modeler must do extensive research on the Chinese tanks to see which bits to add. They all have hull applique armor, for example, which are not called out in the instructions. One of them (but not the other) has a travel lock. The two tanks have very unique characteristics.
  3. Polish 1st AD, Falaise Gap, 1944.
    According to 172shermans, the name of the tank should be "ROKITNO" not "ROKITNA"
  4. "ST-QUENTIN", Free French Army, Marseille, 1944. According to Cartula, the decals are incomplete (cf. picture 1, 2 and 3.) In addition, Timothy Lau notes that the Free French marking is not square but rectangular. It also needs T-49 tracks.

 
  • "Black" Sprue A is half of Sprue A of 7322.
  • "Orange" Sprue A is the same as upper part of sprue A in 7273.
Sprue C (see below) Sprue D (see below)  

(from Henk of Holland)

7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip

  1. 1st Armoured Battalion Coldstream Guards, Germany, 1945
  2. 1st Armoured Battalion Coldstream Guards, Germany, 1945
  3. 1st Armoured Battalion Coldstream Guards, Germany, 1945

Timothy Lau points out that any combination of 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 2C, 3A, 3B, and 3C of the Coldstrem Guards can be made, as well as 9B.
Care should be taken to check the details of the vehicles. "2C" is a Firefly. "2B" may need different tracks.


Same as 7311
  • Sprue A is half of Sprue A of 7322 plus a part of the "new" sprue A of kit 7303.
  • Sprue a is the same as upper part of sprue A in 7273. The instructions tell you that two small parts are deleted, but they are present in my kit.
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue D (see below) Sprue d

(from Henk of Holland)

7303 Sherman Firefly Vc

  1. 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, France, 1944
  2. Beutepanzer, Germany, 1944
  3. Another Beutepanzer, Germany, 1944
    Timothy Lau points out that if you leave off the G and the W's, you have one of the vehicles that fought Wittmann at Villers-Bocage.
  4. "Velikye Luki", Northamptonshire Yeomanry, France, 1944. (This is the vehicle with which Wittmann was killed.)


Same as 7311
Sprue C (see below)  Sprue D (see below)  

7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay" (Info from Doug Chaltry.)

  1. "Carole", 13/18 Royal Hussars, 27th Armoured Brigade, Normandy 44. (Thanks to Billy Roe)
    Timothy Lau points out that "Carole" should be fine as is. The kit was designed with the help of the man. It should be noted that, at some point, the tank was equipped with a wading kit.

  Same as above except for turret piece, which no longer has a pistol hatch. Sprue C (see below) Sprue D (see below)    

 

 

2. The hulls

A. Main hull


Above: The hulls of the kits I have.
For a larger image click on the figure (as usual), for an even larger picture, click here.


Detail of the side of the HVSS hull (bottom) and VVSS hull (top).

 

As you can see, every variant has a specific hull top and bottom.

 

M4

  • 7322 Sherman IC Firefly
  • 7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy"

    Both kits share the same small hatch, non-DV hull.
    Oddly, the "Normandy" Sherman can only be built with the wading equipment installed. Swapping hulls with the Firefly kit might thus be an option.

     

M4A1

  • 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version": small hatch non-DV hull. An armored fuel cap is missing on the left hull side near the rear of the turret.
  • 7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS: big hatch. It seems to be missing a fuel filler cap.
  • 7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit: big hatch; it does not have the same issue with the wading stacks as the M4 above, because the panels on the engine deck are separate parts.

    The lower hull parts for 7273 and 7304 are almost the same as the M4 above (apart from the edge of the bottom of the sponsons), which is logical as the lower hulls of the M4 and M4A1 were the same.

    Doug Chaltry adds:
    Kit 7360 has the same lower hull same as 7322 with instructions to remove the corners of the sponsons, which is very strange as Dragon could just have taken the lower hull of kit 7304.

M4A2

  • 7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa": small hatch, non-DV hull. It has the somewhat rarer squared welded hoods (mainly used by the USMC), a different antenna mount and a separate rear hull plate. I am not sure why the latter feature was changed from the other kits.
  • 7288 Sherman MkIII: small hatch, non-DV hull, rounded hoods.
    Word has it that some of the vehicles in the marking options for the Sherman Mk III had direct vision hulls, which are not provided in the kit.
    While some reviewers have commented about the lack of a radiator filler cap on the engine deck of the Sherman Mk III, it seems that this would only have been fitted to very late "small hatch" Mk III (and the large hatch ones).
    The engine grill has only 7 longitudinal bars, instead of 24.
  • 7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army": big hatch
  • 7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75: big hatch, identical to 7275.

     

    All these kits share roughly the same lower hull (which is different from the M4 and M4A1 above), if we make abstraction of the fact that two have holes in their bottom, that are carried over from the pre-assembled models that Dragon also markets. The only real difference I found was in the final drive: that of the "Tarawa" has a larger diameter.


    Sherman III (top) vs "Tarawa" (bottom)

     

M4A3

  • 7271 Sherman M4A3(76W): big hatch
  • 7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS: big hatch
  • 7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS: big hatch
  • 7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS: big hatch
  • 7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit

    These four kits I have share the some lower hull (except for the presence of holes in some). The upper hulls are also identical and are big hatch versions. It seems the kit with the deep wading equipment also has the very same parts as the other kits, i.e. it is a big hatch and the wading equipment can be omitted.

     

M4A4

  • 7311 Sherman M4A4: small hatch, non-DV
  • 7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip: small hatch, non-DV
  • 7303 Sherman Firefly Vc: small hatch, non-DV
  • 7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay": small hatch, non-DV

    The parts are identical for the four kits.

 

B. Engine acces hatch, per type

Naturally, each kit must have the engine access sprue unique to the type. But because the transmission covers are molded onto the engine access sprue, that's why some other kits have parts from the engine access sprues of another Sherman type.

 

C. The differential cover

(Nomenclature from [1])

M4
[The M4 engine access sprue has no transmission cover and so the kit sources it from elsewhere]

  • 7322 Sherman IC Firefly: Type 2B, blunt cast nose; rough cast, no tow shackles (from M4A1 engine access sprue).
    Spare 3-piece transmission cover (from M4A4 engine access sprue).
  • 7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy": Type 2B, blunt cast nose; rough cast, no tow shackles (from M4A1 engine access sprue).
    Spare 3-piece transmission cover (from M4A4 engine access sprue).

M4A1

  • 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version": Type 2B, blunt rough cast nose (default of M4A1 engine access sprue).
  • 7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS: Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles (from M4A3 engine access sprue).
    Spare Type 2B, blunt rough cast nose (default of M4A1 engine access sprue).
  • 7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit: Type 2B, blunt rough cast nose (default of M4A1 engine access sprue).

M4A2

  • 7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa": Type 2A, round cast nose; smooth cast, no tow shackles (unique to this kit).
    Spare 3-piece transmission cover (default of M4A2 engine access sprue).
  • 7288 Sherman MkIII: three piece transmission cover (default of M4A2 engine access sprue).
    Some of the vehicles in the marking options had different transmission covers.
  • 7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army": Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles (from M4A3 engine access sprue).
    Spare three piece transmission cover (default of M4A2 engine access sprue).
  • 7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75: Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles.

M4A3

  • 7271 Sherman M4A3(76W): Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles (default of M4A3 engine access sprue).
  • 7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS: Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles (default of M4A3 engine access sprue).
  • 7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS: Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles; extra armor (default of M4A3 engine access sprue).
  • 7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS: Type 2B, blunt cast nose; smooth cast, tow shackles (default of M4A3 engine access sprue).
  • 7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit.

M4A4

  • 7311 Sherman M4A4: three piece transmission cover (default of M4A4 engine access sprue).
  • 7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip: three piece transmission cover (default of M4A4 engine access sprue).
  • 7303 Sherman Firefly Vc: three piece transmission cover (default of M4A4 engine access sprue).
  • 7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay": three piece transmission cove (default of M4A4 engine access sprue)r.


3. The Suspension

All VVSS kits I have share the same sprue, with two exceptions:

- The Beutepanzer also has solid wheels (see picture below).
- The M4A3(76W) does not have the optional sprockets.

None of the VVSS kits have open spoked roadwheels, and while the 6-spoke pressed wheels that were chosen are common to the M4, it is likely that they will not be accurate for every variant and every marking options. Some examples:

  • Some of the M4A1 marking options depict vehicles having other wheels.
  • Sherman III's commonly used five spoke open wheels, probably also the ones in the marking options.
  • The vehicle "Cool Studs Inc #4" in M4A3 kit 7271 should have open spoke wheels.

Both HVSS kits also share the same sprue.


VVSS sprue on the left, HVSS sprue on the right.

While the way the wheels are attached to the arms makes building the kit easier, it does present us with an unwanted feature: all spokes will have the same alignment. Statisticaly speaking this is highly unlikely. Also note that the wheels are hollow on the backside.
As mentioned above, Dragon modified (corrected) the sprue with the bogies. The "new" VVSS sprues have (shallow) ejector marks on the bogies that will not be very easy to correct.


Corrected bogies left; original bogies right.

As you can see, there is quite some variation in the tracks that you get with any given kit.


Tracks in the kits I have (see black bold in table above, or list below, in order of appearance).

M4

  • 7322 Sherman IC Firefly: T-54E1
  • 7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy": T48

M4A1

  • 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version": T-48 and T-49
  • 7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS: T-48
  • 7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit: T48 tracks.

M4A2

  • 7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa": T-54E1
  • 7288 Sherman MkIII: T-54E1
  • 7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army": T-49
    Doug Chaltry claims that this is not correct for the tanks that are given in the marking options: "The vehicle from the 2nd Tank Army should have the T-54E1 steel chevron track. As for the vehicle from the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps, the only photo I have seen of this tank shows it with its tracks burned away, which is only likely if they were a rubber version, probably T-48 rubber chevron tracks."
  • 7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75: T-49

M4A3

  • 7271 Sherman M4A3(76W): T-48. The vehicle "Cool Studs Inc #4" should have steel cleat tracks with extended end connectors. (Timothy Lau points out that these should be T49 type.)
  • 7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS: T-48. Timothy Lau points out that the Okinawa vehicle has T-66 tracks. It should be noted that the markings are already wrong for the Okinawa vehicle, which is not even a M4A3, so maybe the builder would not mind having wrong tracks as well.
  • 7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS: T-66
  • 7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS: T-80
  • 7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit: apparently T-54E1

M4A4

  • 7311 Sherman M4A4: T-54E1. Timothy Lau points out that the Free French vehicle needs T-49 tracks.
  • 7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip: T-54E1. Timothy Lau points out that this one probably needs T48 tracks.
  • 7303 Sherman Firefly Vc: T-54E1
  • 7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay": as kit 7303

A point worthy of interest is the way Dragon designed the idler mount in the M4/M4A1 kits. It seems that in some kits the parts/instructions are wrong: they ask to install the idler arms with the bolts on top, while they should be on the bottom. Either this issue has been addressed and has been corrected in later releases, or it is just something that is wrong in some kits but not in others. Swapping both arms around might be an idea, but it is not sure that the parts will fit in this way. Note that kit 7222, for instance, has two sets of idler arms, one of which is not for use, which might point towards the hypothesis of a correction.

Some modelers report that the tracks fit very badly around the drive sprocket because the latter is too small.

 

4. The turret

4.A. (arranged per tank model)

M4

  • 7322 Sherman IC Firefly: Sprue A and Sprue E. Low bustle, rectangular loader's hatch, no ejection hatch.
  • 7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy": Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch.

M4A1

  • 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version": Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch.
  • 7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS: T23 turret. Commander's cupola with episcopes, loader's hatch round and without episcopes. Some releases of this kit seem to have one of the turret periscopes missing.
  • 7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit: Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch. It is unclear if the combination of large hatch and low bustle early turret actually existed for the M4A1, even though it is documented for the M4 composite and M4A2.

M4A2

  • 7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa": Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch.
  • 7288 Sherman MkIII: Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch. While some reviewers have commented about the lack of a slot for the gunner's sight, it seems this was not present in the early M34 mantlet and might be correct for the vehicles in the marking options.
  • 7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army": T23 turret. Commander's cupola with episcopes, loader's hatch oval.
  • 7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75: High bustle, ejection hatch, oval loader's hatch.
    Clearly, a hodge-podge of sprues was used to create this kit and as a consequence it has a very large number of parts (about half) not for use; even more on these three sprues. You get two spare turret rings, although only one is "blued out", which would make you believe this turret had two rings. While Dragon kept the lower turret halves that the instructions don't call for, the corresponding upper parts have been removed from the sprues, which makes those spare lower turret halves basically useless.
    To add insult to injury, the only marking option in this kit actually had a low bustle turret in real life, which the side of the box mentions and the color scheme shows, but which the instructions don't call for and which the sprues don't provide. (Well, the sprues provide half of the low bustle turret as mentioned earlier.) If you are still following up to this point you will have understood that, if Dragon hadn't taken the trouble to remove parts of sprues that they were providing anyway, then any informed modeler would have been able to correct the mistake.

M4A3

  • 7271 Sherman M4A3(76)W: T23 turret. Commander's cupola with episcopes, loader's hatch round and without episcopes.
  • 7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS: High bustle, ejection hatch, oval loader's hatch.
  • 7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS: T23 turret. Commander's cupola with episcopes, loader's hatch round and without episcopes.
  • 7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS: High bustle, ejection hatch, oval loader's hatch.
  • 7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit

M4A4

  • 7311 Sherman M4A4: Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch.
  • 7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip: Low bustle, ejection hatch, no loader's hatch. Care should be taken with the instructions as there seems to be a mix-up between the M34 and M34A1 gun mount. No locating pins are present for the rockets, which makes alignment tricky.
  • 7303 Sherman Firefly Vc: Low bustle, rectangular loader's hatch, ejection/pistol port.
  • 7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay": The turret is slightly different from the one in kit 7303 as it has no pistol port.

 

4.B. (arranged per turret type, by Timothy Lay)

  • "Low-bustle" 75 mm turret.
    Makes D50878 Versions 2-3. Can be made into D50898 Version 4 with scratchbuilding.
    Full sprue included in Tulip and M4A4 and various other kits. It seems that only 7373 has a missing part.
    [This turret is in direct competition with Heller's counterpart.]
  • "High-bustle" 105 mm turret.
    Makes D78461. 7313 has the complete sprue.
    I don't think there exists any "low-bustle" 105 mm turret. It is certainly permissible to raid the "high-bustle" turret sprue to make a 75 mm tank, that would kill a kit. Of course, there are low value reissues (with no PE parts) where this raiding is useful. (That's what 7373 aims to do.)
  • Standard Firefly turret.
    Firefly V has the complete sprue. Every other kit has a partial sprue. Firefly I is missing the bin. (Firefly I cannot be made into a British tank!) Tulip has the bin but not the other parts. (I have no idea what the MG on the Firefly sprue is for.)
    N.B. There are two Firefly turrets without pistol ports. This part is only available for Firefly I and the Douglas Kay version. On the Douglas Kay kit, the part is on a modified standard Firefly turret sprue while Firefly I has a turret top molded on a different sprue. (Am I right to say that the Douglas Kay part and the Firefly I part are indistinguishable?)
  • Standard T26 turret.
    7304 and 7302 have the complete sprue.
    N.B. There is a variant with an oval hatch seen in kit 7275. Dragon probably was also hoping to release a late/Korean War E8 at some point but it never got to it before it went "broke." This oval hatch sprue is extremely valuable.
  • Apart from the existence of these 4 sprues, there is a serious engineering flaw. As you can see here, parts 21, 29, and 14 are crucial parts of mounting the MG. Those 3 parts are only provided on the T26 turret sprue.
    That's a big defect because it prevents the MG from being mounted on any other kit, even though every kit has a MG. In particular, the Firefly turret sprue actually includes a very nice MG that is unique. That part is actually better than Heller's. However, because kits with the Firefly turret sprue are missing the aforementioned parts on the T26 turret sprue, that MG cannot be mounted either and is therefore blued out.
    On that note, you may notice that the T26 turret sprue has part 33. Is the user supposed to cut this part out to "benefit" all the kits missing the mount?
    Speaking of MG mount, you should note that the oval hatch T26 turret sprue has part 35 not on the standard T26 turret sprue.
    Dragon's sprue design can be quite amazing.


 

 

5. Useful spare parts

Note: from experience I know that not all part that are "not for use" are necessarily blued-out on the first page of the instructions. Occasionally it happens that parts are inlcuded that are not shown on the parts diagram. I haven't actually checked each individual part and I beg our reader's forgiveness for my sloth.

M4

  • 7322 Sherman IC Firefly: Most of the parts of sprue a, A and B are blued-out, amongst which are:
    • 3-piece transmission cover
    • .50 MG
    • alternative sprocket
    • two rear hull plates
    • appliqué armor
  • 7367 Sherman M4 with Deep Wading Kit "Normandy": Most of the parts of sprue A, blue A, B and E are blued-out, amongst which are:
    • 3-piece transmission cover
    • .50 MG
    • alternative sprocket
    • rear hull plate
    • appliqué armor

M4A1

  • 7273 Sherman M4A1 "Normandy Version: IMHO, only the .50; there aren't even any spare sprockets
  • 7304 Sherman M4A1(76)W VVSS:
    • one-piece transmission cover
    • alternative sprocket
    • rear hull plate
    • appliqué armor
  • 7360 LCM3 & Sherman M4A1 with Deep Wading Kit: .50, appliqé armor, spare sprockets

M4A2

  • 7305 Sherman M4A2 75mm "Tarawa": Most of the parts of sprue B and D are blued-out, amongst which are:
    • 3-piece transmission cover
    • .50 MG
    • alternative sprocket
    • turret appliqué armor
    • sand shields
  • 7288 Sherman MkIII: Most of the parts of sprue B are blued-out, amongst which are:
    • .50 MG
    • alternative sprocket
  • 7275 Sherman M4A2 (76)W "Red Army": Most of the parts of sprue D, and a lot of sprues A and B are blued-out, amongst which are:
    • 3-piece transmission cover
    • sand shields
    • alternative sprocket
    • rear hull plate
    • turret cupola
  • 7373 Beutepanzer M4A2 75: Most of the parts of sprue A, a, D and a lot of sprues "blue" A, B and C are blued-out, amongst which are:
    • turret base
    • 3-piece transmission cover
    • sand shields
    • .50 MG
    • alternative sprocket, alternative idler, alternative bogies
    • rear hull plate
    • turret appliqué armor
    • 105mm gun barrel
    • turret cupola

M4A3

  • 7271 Sherman M4A3(76W): This is an exception to the rule as there is only one (!) part not for use: a hatch.
  • 7274 Sherman M4A3 105mm VVSS: Only four parts for the spare's box: two alternative sprockets, a hatch and an MG.
  • 7302 Sherman M4A3E8(76)W HVSS: Not that many either. Notable are a real hull plate and a 76mm gun barrel.
  • 7313 Sherman M4A3 105mm HVSS: Useful bits here would be the .50 and the turret and glacis appliqué armor that was carried over from the M4A3E8(76)W HVSS.
  • 7330 Sherman M4A3 105mm with Deep Wading Kit:

M4A4

  • 7311 Sherman M4A4: Alternative sprockets, .50, appliqué armor.
  • 7312 Sherman Mk.V Tulip: Alternative sprockets, two .50s, appliqué armor, rotor shield.
  • 7303 Sherman Firefly Vc: Alternative sprockets, two .50s, appliqué armor.
  • 7300 Firefly Vc "Douglas Kay": Alternative sprockets, .50, appliqué armor.

 

 


References

[1] The Sherman Tank, a Fragmented Look, Military Model in Review (MMiR)
[2] http://the.shadock.free.fr/sherman_minutia/differential/differential_covers.html

Back to Dragon Kit List Back to Home Page

Article Last Updated:
01 May 2012
12 November 2016