Wee Friends


- M4A1 Sherman II, Direct Vision Upper Hull
- Canadian Ram Mk II Kangaroo "Early" APC
- M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo conversion set
- M4A1 Sherman II, Early Riveted Lower Hull

Kit #s: WVC72017, WVC72019, WVC72050, WVC72088 Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Al Magnus

Kit Preview (WVC72017)

M4A1 Sherman II, Direct Vision Upper Hull, Conversion no. WVC7217A/WVC72017

*Above is the old part or conversion set number followed by newer part number used by Friendship Models.

This conversion kit covers the initial version of the cast hull M4A1, known by the British as the Sherman II. This version has the direct vision (DV) small hatch driver's hood began construction in 1942 and actually came off the assembly line before the welded hull M4. We can see this version with US Army, UK and Polish forces in North Africa and Italy in 1942 and 1943. Many early ones would have the M3 type VVSS bogies with the return roller mounted directly over center of the bogies, and would have the 3-piece bolted final drive assemblies.

Kit Parts

The conversion set is comprised of three cast resin parts: the upper hull and front mudguards in resin and a set of cast white metal driver's hatches. I believe the hull is based on the Dragon M4A1 kit . The detail looks accurate to me and the cast texture of the hull is very, very, nice. There is no welded-on appliqué armor plates, though these could be added on by 1944.

A lot of parts will still be needed from a plastic kit, such as headlights, lifting rings and headlight guards, an axe, shovel and air intake cover, etc (in addition to the turret, lower hull suspension). The Wee Vehicles resin Early Riveted Hull, (Conversion no. 76086) will mate with this upper hull. The driver's hatches are molded open and need the thin film of resin cut out.

The factory issued turret for this hull (not included) would be a low bustle type, with no welded-on appliqué armor plate on the right cheek, the M34 rotor shield with or without the side wings, and a split hatch cupola but no loader's hatch. Appliqué armor and the wide M34A1 gun shield could have been added later during rebuilding and updates.

(At right in cast gray is a set of gear (a.k.a. stowage or kit) from Wee Vehicles that actually does not come with this resin M4A1 conversion but supplies a lot of the Sherman missing tools, plus fuel cans, water drum and British Army helmets. This looks like kit I have seen on African and Italian theatre Shermans. I understand that this set of gear will be released separately by Wee Vehicles in the future.)

Kit Preview (WVC72019)

Canadian Ram Mk II Kangaroo "Early" APC (Including interior)

Wee Vehicles Resin Conversion 72019

This review covers the Friendship Model's Kangaroo armored personnel carrier (APC) based on the Canadian Ram Mark II tank. I find it interesting that the US designation for the Ram tank is the M4A5. Kangaroos were based on several vehicles. This version was the Ram tank with the turret removed. My research tells me that there was no purpose built seating for the infantry it would carry. See your references for details and history of the Ram and Kangaroo.

This conversion kit consists about 19 pale gray, cast resin parts, and six cast white metal parts. Casting quality appears good though I do see a few round air bubble balls on the interior (though these could be painted to look like footballs [Soccer balls]?) This conversion hull does not include the VVSS suspension bogies, sprocket and idler wheels or track. Based on historical photos this vehicle typically used the VVSS bogies and track like that used on the M3 and M4 Medium tanks. (I have seen post-war Rams on display that are fitted with the Canadian dry-pin (CDP) track and sprockets.)

In the above photo we have the lower hull at far left with the driver's area on the right side (opposite that of the Sherman and Grant tanks), drive shaft, transmission and other interior features. In the Kangaroo the ammunition racks for the 6-Pounder or 2-Pounder guns have been removed.

In the center is the upper hull featuring the armored fuel caps similar to those on the M3 and M4 Mediums, some molded-on tools, and bolt holes for the removed turret race. Behind the turret ring is a rectangular air intake similar to the M3 Medium, but no armored cover like that on the M4. On the forward left side of the hull is the ring for the machine gun cupola, like that fitted atop the M3 Lee Medium tank. The driver's visor is molded closed and appears similar to that used on the M3 Medium.

At far right, starting at top is the driver's steering levers, a separate and additional drivers visor in case you wish to open up the driver's visor, and two interior fire extinguishers made in white metal. Below these parts and cast in white metal are two 30-cal. machine guns that mount on the turret ring and the machine gun body for the cupola.

Next down are two extra cupola turret hatches, one in resin and one in white metal, and another cupola hatch portrayed folded open. (Be aware, and I am not sure, but these extra hatches may not always be included in this kit.) Below the hatches art two bulb-shaped, cast-resin exterior fire extinguishers that mount on the hull behind the turret; these are common on British Shermans and Fireflies and Canadian M4A1 Grizzly tanks.

Next down are the two engine exhaust stacks like those used by the M3 and very early M4 and M4A1 Medium tanks. Between the exhausts is an extra, optional light. An interesting thing I have read about these large exhaust stacks is that they caused the rear engine decks to get so hot that the leather straps holding down tools could catch fire. For this reason the exhaust system was changed on the M4A1 and M4.

On the next resin pour plug down are additional and optional lights and the headlight guards that have to be carefully cut free. The pour plug below this features a round gunner's seat for under the MG cupola that needs a pin or wire to be installed on, and an air filter that goes in the U shaped recess on the hulls left side with the angle to the bulkhead.

The lower and last pour plug holds the MG cupola and a cupola hatch. I appear to have lost the machine gun barrel for the cupola MG but this can be replicated from some plastic rod.


[1] Ram Tank Registry of Canada's Tank ramtank.ca
[2] wikipedia
[3] Service Publications

Kit Preview (WVC72050)

M4A3E2 Sherman "Jumbo" in 1/72 scale

Friendship Models Wee Vehicles Resin Conversions from Wee Friends

Sold as the M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo conversion set WVC72050 or as individual conversion parts:
*Below I list the old part numbers followed by newer part numbers used by Friendship Models.
M4A3E2 Jumbo Upper Hull Conversion: WVC76079/WVC72081
M4A3E2 Jumbo Turret Conversion Set WVC76080/WVC72082
M3A3E2 Armored Transmission Housing (Final Drive Assembly) Conversion Set WVC76081/WVC72083

This preview examines the Wee Vehicles conversion kit of the M4A3E2 variant of the American Sherman tank of WW2. The M4A3E2 is commonly known as the Jumbo and was designed to be an assault tank with additional armor welded to the glacis and the hull sides, and an extra thick cast final drive assembly. The turret was based on the T23 turret but significantly thicker armored sides and gun mantlet. The M4A3E2 Jumbo was only built with the big-hatch hull and was initially armed with the 75-mm M3 gun but many were up-gunned in Europe with spare 76-mm higher velocity guns. See the Sherman Minutia website for great coverage of the M4A3E2.


In this historical photo we can see the edges of the additional armor plate welded to the hull sides and front. The final driver housing is much thicker than normal and almost extends forward almost to the face of the tracks. The gun mantlet has thicker slabs welded to it and is beveled at the lower edges, to clear the driver's hatches I believe. This Jumbo has the longer gun barrel of the 76-mm M1A1 gun. The coaxial machine gun protrudes from the glacis plate indicating that the coaxial 30-calibre machine gun has been replaced by a 50-calibre gun.

There are lifting rings and a gun cradle, travel lock, on the glacis, but no headlights. At the edge of the glacis we see the significant and wide weld bead attaching the supplemental armor plate onto the front and sides.

Notice how the volute suspension arms are depressed from the extra weight of the additional armor. From this view I cannot tell the type of roadwheels are on this Jumbo but a typical type used on the Jumbo are the D52876 "closed spoke" style, with five spokes. The rubber block (T48?) track has Duckbill End Connectors which is common for Sherman Jumbos because of their extra weight and ground pressure.

The Parts

The kit I understand can be acquired as a full conversion kit number WVC72050, or as individual conversion sets for the Upper Hull WVC76079, the Final Drive Assembly WVC76081, and the Turret Conversion set WVC76080. I understand that Friendship Models will be releasing a set of roadwheels with depressed, weighted suspension arms,

In the above photograph, at left is the Final Drive Assembly Conversion Set WVC72083 consisting of just one cast resin part with towing rings and molded in step. The part is well cast and appears accurate.

In the center is the upper Hull Assembly Conversion Set WVC72081 consisting of a cast resin hull, two white metal driver's hatches, and two white metal front mudguards. The Wee Vehicles hull appears to be based on the Dragon Models M4A3 hull, which is a good choice. To complete the conversion we will need the lower hull, handtools and lifting rings, and gun cradle (travel lock).

At right is the set of M4A3E2 Depressed VVSS Suspension Set WVC76121, consisting of six lower VVSS assemblies to replace parts from the Dragon, ESCI or Heller kits (I understand that at this time, April 2015, this set is not yet available). Splicing in these new parts will require careful surgery with a sharp blade, unless you are using a VVSS suspension from an Eduard or Extra Tech M4. The additional weight of the added armor put quite a strain on the volute springs and the suspension arms lie almost horizontal. These replacement depressed VVSS suspension parts would also be perfect for a Sherman laden with sandbag armor.

The Jumbo Turret Conversion Set WVC72082 is comprised of 13 parts: two resin parts, and 11 white cast metal parts. The label states it is for the Italeri wargame Jumbo kit 7520, but it should be fine for a scratchbuilt M4A3E2 conversion or with the older Eduard Jumbo kit.

From left to right we have a pale-gray color cast resin turret and resin gun mantlet. Above the mantlet in cast white metal is the commander's all-round vision cupola, the oval loader's hatch and the round commander's hatch. To the right is a split hatch cupola with the two hatch pieces. Below this cupola are three small pieces: several fire extinguishers and a machine gun pintle.

At far right are a choice of metal gun barrels for a choice of the 75-mm M3 and the longer 76-mm M1A1. The gun barrel muzzles should be drilled out like with most plastic gun barrels. Being white metal they should not be too difficult to drill.

My references show that the all-round vision cupola was the only commander's cupola used on the M4A3E2 turret. The loader used the oval hatch and I've seen no Jumbo turrets fitted with the split-hatch cupola. The prominent weld bead around the turret roof is very well done giving us an idea how thick the sidewalls of this heavy duty turret was. Both hatches are cast open. The turret looks pretty accurate in shape and detail. Important items to add are the machine gun storage brackets on the rear of the turret.


[1] sherman minutia
[2] The Sherman Design & Development, Son of Sherman, Volume 1, The Ampersand Group Inc. (2013)

Kit Preview (WVC72088)

M4A1 Sherman II, Early Riveted Lower Hull, Conversion no. WVC76086/WVC72088

*Above is the old part or conversion set number followed by newer part number used by Friendship Models.

The early M4, M4A1 and M4A2 Sherman hull were built with the riveted lower hull as we would find on the M3 Medium tank that came before it. Though listed as for the Sherman M4 and M4A1, with a little modification this lower hull would mate with the early production M4A2 with DV driver's hoods. If used with an M4A2 upper hull you may wish to change and correct the rear engine plate and the bottom access hatches and fittings particular to the diesel engine M4A2. Despite having the 3-piece cast final drive assembly, this lower hull is too short in length to convert to use with an M4A4 model kit.

This conversion set is comprised of three gray colored cast resin parts. At the top we have the driver and co-driver (radio operator) seats. Below is the lower hull showing the rudimentary interior of a drive shaft, the transmission and final drive. The interior gives something to see when we model the hatches open. You may wish to add the driver's controls, ammunition in the sponsons, radio etc. I advise not to use the ESCI (Italeri) M4A1 interior parts as these are for a late wet ammunition storage M4A1, this Wee Vehicles hull is an early M4A1 with the dry ammunition storage in the sponsons.

On the rear is an accurate M4 and M4A1 rear plate with the engine access doors. No white metal or etched brass parts are included.

Casting quality appears very good. The rivet detail is good and the accurate. I will plan to use this with the Wee Vehicles M4A1 DV hull, a Leva Productions low bustle turret or a turret left over from a Trumpeter M4 kit, and 1-piece early VVSS suspension from Wee Vehicles or from M.G.M.

Preview samples of the not yet released depressed bogie suspension & stowage set supplied by Ian Hanratty of Wee Friends. The other preview samples purchased by the author.

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Article Last Updated: 17 April 2015