M4 Sherman


Kit #: 79892
Preview by Peter Van Kempen - P(dot)Kempen5(at)chello(dot)nl
Edited by Marc Mercier

A new M4 Sherman in 1/72 scale on the market, for a price equal to Revell, that would really be too good to be true. But, my modelling friends, it is! And a very well rendered model too, may I add already now.

First, the box art : It shows a Sherman M4 in three quarter view coming onto the beach, with open hatches, a 75 mm gun in a M34A1 mount in a M34 turret and a three part bolted cast nose, closed pressed disk wheels and add on armour plates, with a Landing Ship Tank in the background.

Opening with a folded lid is easy, you get printed safety instructions to the inside, four sprues with various parts in light grey well moulded polystyrene and a track sprue including a decal transfer sheet wrapped up with two A3 colour printed instruction sheets.

Already, you can notice that also Heller has made “multi version assembly” possible but as the sprue lay out shows you they did a much better detailed job than UM.


First, I got some similar kits from my stash to compare all the goodies in this Heller Kit with :

  • I took the Extratech Firefly 1 C because it's got a M4 hull for the Continental R957C1 Petrol 9 cylinder 4 cycle Radial engine as Heller has reproduced, and modified M34 turret
  • the UM M32 Tank recovery vehicle with Mine trawler as it's on a M4 Hull body for the same engine, and for good measure and detail comparison,
  • the Dragon Firefly 5C and Tulip MK V kit, although these have longer hulls due to their longer coupled Chrysler multibank engines, the front hull details and Tulip turret are well suitable to compare to the Heller M34 turret and M4 Hull fronts that can be built.

I started off with the hull comparison : picture shows (from left to right) Heller light grey, Extratech dark grey, UM in green and the most right the medium grey Dragon hull (which is longer). The specs for the hull width is 2.62 meter and this scales out to 36.2 millimetres. Hull width is a good indicator of scale as mistakes are less easily made if regarding only the hull size. Heller is 36.2, Extratech 36.1 and UM came to 36.5 with finally Dragon (considered standard) measures 36.1, so I can say Heller is spot on.

The length is more difficult to measure in sprue form, but you will notice all appear the same dimensionally, the steps and different top part sections are very much the same dimensions. The Extratech Hull and the Heller one have exactly the same length at 70.1 mm, while UM is at 69.5 mm a bit shorter.

Already, we can see that the detail of Heller is somewhere below Dragon (a bit softer), but very definitely better than UM and Extratech; both appear bare and show less small details and exaggerated heavily some other details.

You will notice that only Dragon shows moulded on tools, Heller really did what we wanted and left them off! Good news from unexpected quarters, the points for listening to us go to Heller here!


Now to the turrets, for which I compared the Dragon's Tulip and the same M34 turret offered in the Heller kit. This shows that the Heller kit turret can meet Dragons detail standards very well and dimensionally, it's dead on.
Heller includes parts for different types of gun mounts, so you can model all the types that carried a 75 mm gun in the M34 turret. I measured the width of the M34A1 mount as it seems to be difficult to get it right in past kits: Dragon has 6.3 mm, Heller 6.1 mm, Extratech 5.9 mm and UM 5.5 mm. The "exactness types" amongst you will know Heller is close to the correct real size and therefore very acceptable. More scores to our French supplier as their value for money delivered in this kit starts to became clear.


On to the running gear items sprue. I looked up the dimensions given for 1/72 idlers, sprockets and roadwheels in Doug Chaltry's very valuable Modelling 1/72 Sherman site : the suspension detail section.

Heller VVSS standard suspension with T48 track has a selection of nice and assorted types of sprockets in the box , all with the correct "13 teeth" wheels in various patterns, the diameter measures out to 9.4 millimetres versus Doug's standard 9,5 so more credit to the French! There are two very nice detailed types of idlers in the Heller offering, measuring exactly the standard of 7.8 millimetres, as is Extratech. Dragon is a bit larger at 7.9 and UM falling short with 7.75 mm. Talking detail, compared to pictures of the real two types, the overview made by Doug will definitely need updating and now Heller could be on top!

Then the road wheels: again, Heller offers us two types: the early 5 spoked open hole types and the later 6 spoked pressed metal closed types. Again, Heller meets the standard scale diameter of 7.05 mm by 7mm, as Dragon does (Dragon however has only the closed type in its kits). Extratech falls short by 6.8 mm and UM who is also offering two types of wheels measuring 7.1. I must be frank: again the Heller wheel details are the best, especially the hole pattern wheels : it looks very much the real thing!

What a wonderful kit this new Heller offering turns out to be and what many "cross kitting" opportunities in 1/72 Sherman types do we have now! The clear instruction sheets illustrate even more choices that we can make in the various types and variations the M4 was produced in. The box top version can be built, and, yes, all hatches are really open!

Also, a version ready for the amphibious stage, with the air intakes and exhaust ducts, is possible with this kit. Unfortunately, these parts, in plastic, are a bit heavy and need reduced thickness on the outsides to be realistic in 1/72.

The tracks included represent the T48 type with rubber chevron blocks as used on early VVSS suspensions, they measured from 42 till 48 centimetres during development in real life. That's 5.8 till 6.7mm in 1/72 scale and the supplied tracks are 6.1, which is acceptable to me.

All the tools, separately casted, need to be added one by one at the correct spot at your own convenience. But hey, boys and girls, do not forget, this is ALL provided in the same box for just a few pennies.

I just cannot be critical to the few issues that I could have on this M4 Sherman tank in true 1/72 scale by Heller. OK, one remark then: due to the many various attachments or hull parts for different options, we have a hull riddled with holes to show the less gifted modeller where the many alternatives go. Also, we will need to do some serious dry fitting, sanding and a bit of plastering or melting down on some parts to avoid gaps.
Hell, it looks again like we have to become modellers, as I vaguely remember starting off like back in the 1970’s or so.

I forgive Heller, but warn you that some modelling techniques will be needed when assembling the multiple parts into copies of the many M4 types (over 6000 pieces) that rolled out of Baldwin Locomotive Works, American Locomotive Company, Pressed Steel Car Company, Chrysler Detroit Arsenal and the Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company from early 1942 to 1944. So many types and numbers can also be painted in very different schemes and unit details, which even the extensive decal sheet provided cannot cover. Nevertheless, it contains many options and helps you a long way towards it .

From early open wheels, three nosed, sight slit M4 types to various casted noses, periscope sight solutions and add on armoured versions, this Heller kit provides our community with all detailed and true scale option parts in the box to do so. Enjoy!

Review sample purchased by the author.

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Review updated:15 March 2014