M4A3 sandbags accessories set
|Kit #: T72008||
Edited by Al Magnus
This was one of the small scale kits I picked up at AMPS 2010. As I mentioned in my review of that show John Vojtech of UMM-USA has a great selection of small scale resin sets from Black Dog, Goffy and others for sale at the show. I hope he is at AMPS 2011!
According to the box, this set is specifically made for the Dragon M4a3 (76) wet - kit #7271. I believe with a little bit of modification it could also be used for the HVSS Sherman M4a3 (#7302) or any of the Dragon 105mm Shermans as well.
The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box, with all the parts contained in a ziplock baggie. Extra space in the box is filled with Styrofoam shipping peanuts. As a result of this careful packaging, there was no problem with lost or broken parts.
The set has five parts: a one piece turret casting, two side panels with sandbags in a frame structure (matching those moulded on the turret), a hatch ring for the left hand turret hatch and a square piece that I think is meant for the shell ejection port on the side of the turret. Unfortunately there aren't any instructions so it is hard to tell where this small, blank square of resin is supposed to go. The hatch ring seems to be larger and flatter than the one that comes with the Dragon kit, and may correct a flaw in that kit.
The casting is pretty much immaculate - no bubbles or other imperfections, well thought-out sprue attachment points and only a little bit of flash where it doesn't really matter much. The pieces fit well and look great on the Dragon M4a3 76(w) kit.
So, Black Dog has hit a home run, right? Well, not quite. We know that U.S. tankers began to add sandbags to their Shermans in late 1944 and 1945 to reduce the risk of stand-off shaped-charge weapons like the Panzerfaust and Panzerschrek. How effective the sandbags were (especially compared to the effect of the additional weight on the tank itself) is open to debate - I know I would feel safer with a few inches of additional protection in that situation! However, the problem with the Black Dog set is that they do not provide sandbags for the front glacis of the tank. I have it on good authority that the style of these frame and sandbags corresponds to work done by ordnance units of the Seventh US Army as part of a standardized program. Glacis plate sandbags were part of the upgrade program, as seen in several photos. I noted this oddity when I purchased the set, but assumed that if I checked the photo evidence I would find examples of U.S. tanks that did not have the front covered. I have yet to find a photo that shows this - there are tanks with only the front covered, with the front covered but not the turret, etc., but no examples of this particular configuration.
Going by the photo evidence, then, you have to add your own sandbags to the front of the tank - and make them match the ones that Black Dog has provided. Given the detail of the Black Dog examples, I don't think that will be easy!