Medium Tank M4A4 Sherman

Kit #: 385 Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Al Magnus

Vehicle History

Here is another model of the M4A4 Sherman V tank to join the 1/72 scale kits of the M4A4 offered by Dragon, MR Modellbau, Modell Trans and ARMO. The M4A4 was issued only as lend lease to UK, Polish, French and Chinese Nationalist forces during WW2, it was not used in combat by the US Army (with one exception) or US Marines. The M4A4 was only produced by the Chrysler Corporation factory.

  • I love studying the box art. UM's very nice box art painting shows an M4A4 tank in action, in Italy or NW Europe based on the burning German Pz.Kfw. IV tank and the wrecked building in the background. The M4A4 tank is painted in a monotone olive drab color but with no visible markings. I presume this is a Polish, UK or French M4A4 since they were the only Sherman V users in Europe, but some type of national, unit markings and serial number were normal.
  • Up on the turret we see the large commander's cupola split-hatch with a 50-cal. AA machine gun. The main armament is the 75mm M3 gun with the initial M34 rotor shield (mantlet) without the little wings protecting the sides of the gun barrel. On the left side of the turret (our right) we see the bulge of the pistol port.
  • On the 57-degree glacis direct vision visors are evident for the driver and co-driver, indicating a "small-hatch" Sherman. A thing to remember is that all M4A4 (Sherman V) tanks were of the small-hatch variety, this M4 version ended production before the big-hatch was produced. Another feature common to all M4A4 Mediums is the 3-part, bolted, final drive assembly also shown here. The one-piece cast final drive assembly (a.k.a. differential cover) was not used on production M4A4s (but could be seen on rebuilt ones).
  • From this view it is actually difficult to tell the M4A4 from an M4 or M4A2 since we cannot see the engine deck and tank rear. The M4A4 was about 15 cm longer in the rear than the other welded hull Shermans. With UM’s box art the bogies are so close that it looks like the spacing of the M4, M4A3 and M4A2, not the M4A4. I don’t think the angle we are viewing it is the problem either. UM could have done better with the box's artwork. In any case, when the kit is built it looks correct though.
  • The suspension is the standard VVSS bogies with "fancy" style of sprocket and the steel T54 style track.
  • On the hull side and on the DV hoods I see no appliqué armor plates that were added at the factory or field installed during upgrading.

The Parts

The box states that there are 164 plastic (injection molded) parts. All are in a dark forest green color styrene plastic. There are 21 photo-etch brass parts on Fret-F. UM Shermans have more parts than a comparable Dragon or Trumpeter Sherman kit as their kits are designed to be modular: for example they could add or remove parts and change decals and easily box an M4 or an M4A2 kit.
  • Above is the sprue-D common to many of UM's Sherman kits. It features a low-bustle turret with single split-hatch cupola, M34 and M34A1 mantlets (parts 75 & 23), gun mount (part 74) and M3 gun barrel (part 24). The 75-mm M3 gun barrel muzzle will need to be drilled out. These parts are decently done but not as well rendered as Dragon's Sherman parts.
  • This sprue also contains a slew of additional parts to make a British Sherman Vc Firefly tank: the 17lb gun mantlet (part 92) and gun barrel (part 91), the turret armored radio box (parts 94 & 96), square loader's hatch (part 82) and hull storage box (parts 93 & 97).
  • Sprue-B supplies the upper hull (parts 20B and 27B) and the lower hull (parts 10B, 11B, 12B, 21B, and 44B) In this scan you notice that the UM upper hull is several mm shorter than the Dragon M4A4 hull. UM supplies an extra piece, part 27, to attach and lengthen the hull rear. (In the assembly instruction the rear hull plate, part 27B, is mistakenly labeled part 72B.) All the other UM Sherman hulls I have include an optional engine deck part so you can chose between an M4, M4A2 or M4A3 engine deck, this is the only one I have with the engine deck molded into the hull.
  • Certain parts such as the radiator bulge on top of the engine deck are not as well rendered as on the dragon M4A4 kit. UM is also missing the weld seams that are well done on the Dragon model.
  • On the UM M4A4 hull you might wonder "Hey, where is the driver hatch area and part of the glacis?". This is part of UM's modular Sherman system. Several of UM's welded hull Sherman kits offer two choices of small-hatch driver hoods: cast or welded (fabricated) hoods.
  • This sprue-E (above) is particular to the M4A4 Sherman V and Sherman Firefly Vc kits. It contains the front fenders (parts 99 & 100), and UM's rendition of the 3-piece final drive assembly (armor transmission and differential cover) molded in five parts. Remember all M4A4 Sherman V's were fitted with the 3-piece bolted final drive assembly. Dry fitting these parts showed a potential serious fit problem that will be covered in an upcoming construction article.
  • The rear engine plate at left on the sprue is for the M4 kit, so not used here.
  • Part 106 at the top is the modular driver hatch area with the small hatches and protruding hoods with direct vision (DV).
  • This sprue-A is a common sprue to the UM Sherman kits with VVSS suspension. It carries the T-54E1 steel track with chevrons, 9-part bogies with an etched brass track skid, a choice of "plain" or "fancy" sprocket wheels, and choice of open spoke or closed spoke road wheels.
  • It appears that all of UM's Sherman kits with VVSS have the steel T-54E1 track. It would be great if UM would offer one or two other types of Sherman track. By scraping off the chevron tread pattern off each link we could make them look like flat rubber block tracks though that would be a lot of work.
  • This must be an early production run of this sprue by UM as it has the incorrect six-spoke open road wheels. Later UM Sherman kits had the correct cast 5-spoke open road wheels. For a technically correct display model we'll have to acquire some correct road wheels from a Mirage M3 kit, a Dragon or Trumpeter M4 kit, or perhaps the aftermarket Calibre 72 road wheels set #72 003 (see below).

Assembly Instructions

  • This is typical assembly instructions UM gives us for their Sherman kits: black & white line drawing, exploded view style in 13 steps. (The instructions are in Steps 1 through 16, but Step 14 appears to be missing.)
  • I find the instructions to be complete and well drawn but "very busy", too much going on and difficult to find some information. The parts are numbered to match numbers on the parts sprues.
  • Steps 15 claims to show markings for the 1st (Chinese) Provisional Tank Group in Burma, 1945. We are directed to paint the AFV in Humbrol color H86, however there is no color H86 in the instruction's color guide! I found some information on the 1st Provisional Tank Group at China-Burma_India site.
  • Step 16 is listed as markings for the 4th Country of London Yeomanry, 7th Armoured Division, 1942, with instructions to paint the vehicle in Humbrol color H155, Matt Olive Drab.
  • At right is the etched brass fret particular to the UM M4A4 kit. In addition to the typical UM supplied brass parts for the brush guards and the track skids, UM supplies their hull and turret appliqué armor in etched brass rather than plastic like with the Trumpeter and Dragon Sherman kits. I am concerned over using this medium because the brass sheet may be to thin for the scale and be difficult to bend around the curve of the turret.
Conversion Possibilities

  1. There are parts in this kit to build a Sherman Firefly Vc, you will need aftermarket decal markings or take some from Dragon's Firefly Vc kit.
  2. The rare M4A6 Sherman tank had a lengthened hull like the M4A4 and the cast front like the M4 Composite (Hybrid) hull. Using the cast hull front from the UM M4A1 kit we could convert this model to an M4A6 with some additional modification of the engine deck and other details.

Based on my experience assembling several other UM Sherman kits my assessment for this kit is that you should expect a little challenge when assembling it. The quality of the detail is not up to Dragon and the ease of assembly and fit is not equal to the Trumpeter or Dragon Shermans. Still, it is a good kit and good opportunity to practice your detailing skills.


[1] Sherman Minutia website. This is the best on-line reference for the details of the Sherman tank variants but not as much of vehicle combat history though.
[2] Sherman Vc Firefly, Armour PhotoGallery #13, softcover reference book by Wojciech J. Gawrych
[3] British Sherman Tanks, Armor At War Series 7062, by Dennis Oliver, Concord Publications, (2006) ISBN 962-361-131-5
[4] Modeling the Sherman in 1/72 website
[5] Son of Sherman Volume 1, The Sherman Design and Development, by Pat Stansell, Published by Ampersand Group (2013). ISBN 978-0-9773781-1-1

Preview sample purchased by the author.

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Article Last Updated: 15 October 2013