M4A2 Upgrade Set
Kit #: 72C22 Preview by Doug Chaltry

<<Scan by Al Magnus>>
This is an unusual set. It is distinguished from Leva's other M4A2 Upgrade Set by the addition of a piece of ad-hoc armor for the front hull, plus reshaped wooden side armor pieces. The turret, gun barrel and machinegun appear to be the same between the two sets.

It's rather ironic that this set was labeled "M4A2 Upgrade set" when there weren't any M4A2 kits available at the time it was designed. Perhaps the intent was to "convert" an M4A3 into an M4A2 by simply adding wooden side armor? The irony is that in fact, it was the US Marine Corps M4A3s that typically wore this wooden side armor, particularly on Iwo Jima, rather than M4A2s. So what initially appears to be an incomplete set (because it does not, in fact, convert any Sherman models into an M4A2 just by adding the side armor), is actually a useful set for uparmoring any of the available M4A3 kits on the market today.

At the time that these two upgrade sets were designed, the only Sherman kits available in 1/72nd scale were from Hasegawa and ESCI. There were also several available in 1/76th scale, I believe. In the previous upgrade set, the side armor pieces were much too long to fit the ESCI kits, so I believe they were designed for the Hasegawa M4A3 kit. The pieces in this here set are much shorter, and better suited for a true 1/72nd scale Sherman. I have test fit the parts onto a Dragon M4A3, and they are just a hair shorter than the plastic hull, but that would be a very easy fix to lengthen them a millimeter or two.

The turret is nicely done, representing an early turret with pistol port and no loader's hatch. I'm not sure which plastic Sherman turret was used as a basis for this resin conversion piece, as it is much better detailed than the ESCI turret. Perhaps one of the Fujimi turrets was used? The cast iron texture is very well represented, and not overdone at all. The casting numbers are similarly well done. Unfortunately the commander's hatch is molded closed. The gun shield is the later M34A1 design.

But this is another confusing aspect of this set. This early turret indeed may be appropriate for an early M4A2 Sherman, but it is not correct for the M4A3s used by the Marines in Iwo Jima, which instead mounted later turrets with the oval loader's hatch.

The really strange part in this set is that front armor piece. It looks to be a conglomeration of wooden beams, sandbags and concrete. The strange thing is, it is shaped to fit the front hull of a late M4A1 Sherman, not an M4A2 or any other welded-hull tank. I test fit it on a Dragon M4A1, but it is just a little bit too wide to fit between the front fenders. I think that it was likely designed for the ESCI M4A1 kit. I have looked through my references and can find no photographs of any Sherman with this type of add-on armor on its front hull, M4A1, M4A2, or otherwise. That's not to say that it is fictitious, as there were many expedient measures taken to up-armor Sherman tanks, both in the Pacific and in Europe, and I am sure that LEVA was going off a photograph when designing this part. But again, keep in mind that it fits an M4A1, not M4A2.

So this upgrade set is actually a conglomeration of useful detail parts for several variants of the Sherman. It provides a nice pair of wooden side armor pieces for use on a Marine M4A3; an early turret without a loader's hatch for any early Sherman variant; plus an extra add-on armor bit for the front hull of a late M4A1.

Thanks to Alain Levesque of Leva Productions for this review sample.

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Article Last Updated: 29 January 2010