Kit : # 79892

Review by Danilo Carli - 172normandyafv(at)gmail(dot)com
Edited by Marc Mercier

Never say never with a Sherman tank. I already have enough tanks in my US platoon, but when I saw this kit, I immediately had to buy it!
The kit is composed of four light grey plastic moulds, a black vinyl mould with the tracks and a nice decal set. The plastic is a bit too soft for my taste. A two large page colour instruction is provided. At first glance it looks very fine. The tools are separate parts and there are also some personal items. The kit is made with the modular concept in mind, which allows using some moulding for other Sherman versions.
Out of the box, the kit depicts a mid production ALCO or Pullman Standard. With a little work anyway, is it possible to have a Baldwin or a Pressed Steel Car (PSC) tank, thanks also to some spare parts related to the sister M4A2 kit. The turret has the appliqué armour and the pistol port and option for a M34 gun mount is provided. The hull has the option between a cast (both rounded and pointed!) or bolted transmission cover. This means that one can depict also an early batch tank. With a little work, it is also easily possible to make a late batch, adding the turret cast-in armour chick from scratch (the pistol port is a single piece and not moulded on the turret).
A welcome option is a deep wading kit, quite well done.

Dimensionally correct and well detailed, it is a good kit. Some details aren’t well made (gun barrel, gun mantlet, turret appliqué armour…) however by the way it is engineered it is the easiest kit to convert into a PSC or Baldwin production tank.
• To make a Baldwin tank: file the rear sloped edge to 90° to have a vertical rear plate. Use the DV hoods. Use the “D” shaped antenna bracket leaving a slot on the straight side of the “D” and rounding the bolted cover. The transition plate between the belly and the rear plate needs to be filled with a half sprue segment, filed to get a curved plate. The tool B28 was mounted in the inversed sense, with the head in the centre of the plate and the end pointing the side edge. Fill the external interlock hole on the plate and keep the central one for reference.
• To make a PSC tank: file the rear sloped edge to 90° to have a vertical rear plate. Early batch tanks had the DV hoods and the riveted hull. I’m not still sure about the correct B28 tool position (sorry).
Useful sources are my usual references: the Hunnicut book and the Sherman Minutia website.
Being quite well done, few minor workings were required to make an ALCO mid production M4:


• Heller nicely gives us three transmission covers. I choose a casted one for mine. The bolted one is really good (the flanges could be a little more narrow) while the rounded one is perhaps a little too rounded. Whatever casted type you’ll use, this assembly will leave a hole on the lower edge, partially covered by the lateral bolted plates, that needs to be closed. I used two little plastic pieces.
• The kit gives us the option between a cast or direct vision hood. I used the cast one for mine, accordingly to a Pullman/ALCO tank (and correct also for a 1943 production PSC tank). I removed the central line between the hoods, this being only correct for the M4A3/M4A4 and not for a M4 (or a M4A2). The horizontal one was sanded down, being this welding seam not so raised and crisp. The joints between the hoods and the horse shoe bullet splash needed to be filled with cyanoacrylate glue. The direct vision hoods are good for a Baldwin tank or a 1942 production PSC tank.
• I replaced the crew hatches with Dragon spare parts, more detailed (to tell the truth just because they were lying around in my spare parts box). The Heller ones are quite good and have interior details. The periscope guards are missing, I choose to ignore them. Anyway there are PE aftermarkets set for this. Since the periscopes are closed, I made them with triangular plastic segments.
• I thinned the fenders. The structure on the inner side of the fenders was made with 1.00 x 0.25 mm plastic stripes.
• The antenna bracket C9 is correct for an ALCO or a PSC tank, the C8 goes on a Baldwin M4. To make a Pullman tank add a larger base to the C9 type with thin plastic and a raised lip on the back. See here. I left a ring of cyanoacrylate glue around the base to simulate the welding seam.

• The 1 ½ inch glacis appliqué armours need their welding seams (very huge on the tank); I did them with cyanoacrylate glue and stretched sprue. See here.
• The siren provided is the type used by April 1943 (finally!). Well done, it needs only the guard strips to be thinned. The former type was placed on the left fender without the brush guard, my M4 had this type, so I’d scratchbuilt it.
• The lifting points are well done. However they are a bit too thin, I used them but added a layer of cyanoacrylate glue on the sides to make them look fat.
• Strangely enough, the brush guards are very thick. I thinned them from the inside; to avoid damaging them I did it when they were still on the sprue. The glacis ones are also not well aligned: the rear arms should be horizontal when in place. I carefully sanded the forward ends to reach the correct position.
• The hull deck has smooth and straight reliefs near the edges that simulate the welding seams. I made them rougher and shallow with a razor blade.
• The engine deck is well made; on D8 I’d preferred the air intake cover as a separate part. Anyway it is quite correct as it is and I used them with no second thought.
• Like in a larger scale kit, the tools are done as separate parts (well done!). I cleaned the piece B34 after having it glued in place, being too fragile. In some cases I did not completely file away the sprue attachments points to simulate the buckle as if the tools were fastened. The tool B28 position was horizontal, when carried sloped it was inversed, with the end fastened to the tool B11. I filled the unused interlock hole on the plate.

• The optional deck D9 has the upper part and the whole rear side vertical where they should be sloped backward. If corrected it can be used also without the trunk D12/D13 (sometimes it was kept in this way for a period after the Normandy landing by some tanks) but the horizontal interlock needs to be erased and the hole closed with a PE mesh after having thinned the walls.
• The 1 inch hull appliqué armours (only a bit too short each) don’t have location references on the side, pay attention to get the correct position. The right forward one can be used as it is or with the upper right corner cut off (check on the photo of the tank you are depicting, if visible). See above for reference.
• The sand skirt supports are too narrow. I doubled their height with a thin segment of stretched sprue (and fully added it on the rear plate sides, where it is absent). On the rear plate I used 1.00 x 0.25 mm thin plastic strip segments.
• The rear plate is correct and the air filters are very well done. After the Normandy landing, some tanks kept the lower part of the rear trunk. As for the engine deck, after having cut off the upper part, the hole needs to be closed with a PE mesh.
• The exhaust received two larger pipes in place of the short and narrow one moulded on, being visible if not covered with a mesh.
• The belly plates are missing. I made them with thin plastic.
• Four “U” hooks were made with metallic wire for the four towing points.


• The tank commander’s cupola is a separate piece. This is correct and gives us the possibility to change the position of the hatches, like in the real tank. Anyway in the photos I’ve seen, it is quite rare to see it with the hatches opening forward and backward instead of sideways. The hatch interior has three ejector markings and I had to fill them with cyanoacrylate glue sanded when dry.
• Heller gives us the turret with the pistol port as a separate part. This is helpful should your tank lack it, but then the kit doesn’t give us the cast-in armour for the right side. In such a case this needs to be made with a plastic layer carefully blended in with the turret surface. If used, the pistol port edges, being a relief in the casting, also need to be smooth with the turret wall.
• The hole for the smoke grenade was used by November 1943. For my earlier tank I closed this hole with a thin segment of stretched sprue, my tank having the former pistol port/appliqué armour turret.
• The appliqué armour is a little undersized: it should be 7.60 mm max high (4.25 mm min height) x 10.5 mm long (see references above). The dimensions are without the welding seams. This meant I had to add 1 mm on the upper side and on the rear side. Not a lot, I know, but it is enhanced by the presence of the aiming blade and the M34A1 bolted flange.
• The aiming blade is missing. I added it with shaped thin plastic.

• The gun mount is correct for the first type. It only misses the two lifting points almost hidden by the mantlet. I added them using the M34 mount lifting points. To have a later type mount, the right side should be shimmed to cover the lateral bolted flange, not my case. Get a look here.
• The M34 mantlet is a millimetre too wide. I used the later type; anyway this too has dimensions problems. The M34A1 gun mount is a mix of the first and the second type. The mantlet, which is a millimetre too high, is correct for the second type, being 15 mm wide. See here. To be used as a first type mount I had to file it on the gunsight side to reach 14 mm width. The lateral edges were rounded with sand paper as in the original. The mantlet raised central portion (which corresponds to the M34 mantlet) is also too much wide (see photo). I had to glue two stretched sprue segments internally before carve it slim to reach the correct proportions to the full mantlet. The screw holes were drilled. The erased lip under the MG was made new and the MG replaced with a stretched sprue segment.
• The gun barrel is too short and slim. It looks very bad. I replaced it with a spare 76mm barrel from a Dragon M4A1 kit (it has three of them!), worked to the correct dimensions.
• The turret lifting points are a bit thin. Having to reinforce the welding seams at the base, I applied a layer of cyanoacrylate glue to make them “fat”.
• The periscopes are closed; I replaced them with triangular plastic segments.
• The periscope guards are missing, I choose to ignore them. Anyway there are PE aftermarkets set for this.
• The .50 HMG is very well done and needs only the separation of the handles and the filling of the lower ammo case side.

Wheels and tracks

The kit provides us two full sets. One of the pressed type and one with open spokes type. The pressed type is well done while the open spokes (correctly five) has the holes that looks a little too small to me (look here). The bogeys have too much space for the wheels. To correctly align them, after having glued the assembled bogeys to the hull, I glued the wheels (still free) in the fixed position, gluing the first and the last, and then I glued the intermediate ones aligning with these.
The tracks provided are the usual T48 rubber chevron type. They are sufficiently soft to be wrapped around the bogies/wheels set, but are also not enough stiff to avoid their warping into the sprockets, between the toothed wheels. I added a plastic shim to avoid this problem.


Three well known tanks are depicted:
• 2nd AD 67th AR I-35 “INTRUDER II”; the only two photos I’ve seen of it doesn’t show the transmission cover and the serial. For sure the drain holes tell us it wasn’t a PSC tank. The suggested serial number 3065897 is for a February-March 1943 ALCO batching tank. If correct, the bolted transmission cover is right, the antenna bracket is rounded (not “D” shaped as suggested) and it should have the fender siren horn. The hull forward right appliqué armour plate was clipped. Anyway the 2nd AD speed numbers were carried also on the bustle, so the third one is missing. Furthermore the 67th AR “I” company tanks had a different speed numbers font with a dash between the letter and the numbers (see I-22). The font of I-35 is the same as the quite known I-3x “INEZ”, leaving us the 66th AR as a more correct unit for this tank.
• 2nd AD 66th AR H-2 “HURRICANE”; quite famous, it was an ALCO tank (third batch June-October 1943); it had the cast pointed transmission cover, the cast-in turret armour and no pistol port. The third speed number (on the bustle) is missing. “HURRICANE” was photographed later in July with no speed numbers and black/OD camouflage.
• 4th AD 8th TB B-16; Heller suggested the use of the DV hoods. Anyway the serial 3039164, is for a Pullman (which had the cast ones) second batch tank (circa June/July 1943 if my counting is correct). Photographic evidence can hardly confirm the turret appliqué armour due the foliage camouflage and the sun light/shadowing, the positive/negative inversion of the photo suggest its presence and anyway the production period supports this theory.


This is actually the most complete 1/72 M4 tank on the market and if you buy two of them the decal problems are easily solved in a moment. It compares only with the Dragon one (which plastic type I prefer and which has the gun/mantlet corrects, but a problematic engine deck). Where the Heller kit beats the Dragon one, is in the options supplied (DV hoods, antenna bracket, standard engine deck), having two different wheel sets, the more correct deep wading in/exhaust and the always welcome presence of additional items such as jerry cans, helmets and backpacks). The instruction leaflet uses some poetic license concerning the three tanks proposed, but to check these whenever possible is a must for me to avoid strange fantasy hybrids (a hard lesson learned years ago…).

It could be easily improved with an aftermarket PE set (if you like these). It can easily be converted to a PSC (as seen) or a Baldwin tank. The kit can be finished as an early or mid-batch, but a later batch is easy to make too, simply adding the turret cast-in armour and leaving the appliqué armour and the pistol port in the spare part box. What looks strange to me is that after the effort they went to mould every tool as a separate part, the air intake cover is moulded solid.

Anyway, with all this variants possible, the reediting of the old Bison #72009
decal set (US Shermans in Normandie 1944, see the review) would be very welcome to get even more finishing options.

Review sample purchased by the author.

This model can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated: 25 December 2014