Sherman M4 75mm Dry Composite Hull

Manufacturer: Fine Scale Factory (Kit TL019)

by Faustnik.

What you Get:


Fine Scale Factory really deserves the reputation for excellent models, in terms of castings and choice of subjects, and this M4 Composite hull is one of them, only spoiled by some lack of research, on the turret.

As with most 1/72 Sherman models, this is based on the well known, and excellent, old ESCI (now Italeri) M4A1 Sherman. I will hint, that the master was built by mating an M4A1 front hull with a rear ESCI M4A3 hull, with the original M4A1 rear deck.

Let's start with the casting: it is excellent to say at least, with some exquisite detail, like for example, the very thin track skids, cast separate, to correct the well-known wrong size of the original ESCI M4A1 Sherman track skids, on which this model was based. The ESCI, and Italeri for that matter, scale up at 1/68, some 0,6mm above the correct size.

Such an option could be a problem for some modellers, who with such delicate pieces, will simply resort to the original ESCI/Italeri parts. Another problem has to do with some noticeable warping in the pieces on my specimen. Ok, you could always use a heat source to correct this, but sometimes it's tricky, so I'll use some spare ESCI kit parts, and make a sort of combi-kit out of it.

After cleaning the resin parts and removing some casting blocks, you only have to assemble it, and this is mostly a straightforward business, even if the assembly instructions are a little sparse, but I always have the original ones from ESCI or Italeri on hand.

The tracks are a very good representation of the T49 steel tracks, somewhat uncommon on US Shermans, but widely used by UK and Commonwealth M4's (the Firefly connection?).

Naturally, being based on the ESCI kit, it also means that it's a little on the short size in terms of length - around 2mm - but this wasn't noticeable on the original one, and also will not be on these.

The only problem I encountered has to do with the turret. Almost all M4 Composite hulls used the high-bustle turret, with oval loaders hatch, as represented in the ESCI/Italeri version. The very late ones have the commander double-hatch, replaced by the all-around cupola (a tip: use the one from Hasegawa which is OK). A very few from the initial production ranges were built with a low-bustle, without loader's hatch, no pistol/ejection port on the left side, and with reinforced cheek on the lower right front.

For some reason, FSF offers us a somewhat low-bustle (sand down top of bustle to make it pass for an early version) converted from ESCI's high-bustle, still showing the "scars" were the oval hatch was. It also has the pistol port (it shouldn't be there) and appliqué on the lower right cheek.

This is a mistake, at least as an M4 Composite is concerned. While it could be passable for an early M4 or M4A1, it's not the one to go with this model. So for my part, I will use the original Italeri turret, as I have a lot from previous conversions, perhaps using the FSF turret to go with an early M4A1, converted out of the Italeri kit.

But this should not deter you from buying this kit, as in the end, it'll build in an excellent model, and FSF also have a Firefly on the line - another tasty model - and I hope they corrected that turret.

So I can only Highly Recommend this model, but have some spare parts, from ESCI or Italeri, on hand, just in case.

José "Mad Dog" Ventura

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