Hobby Boss
U.S M4A3 (76)W Sherman
Hobby Boss 1:48 Scale - Kit No.84805
Review by Terry Ashley

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This is the final VVSS Sherman in the Hobby Boss series and brings you the later 47° hulled M4A3 (76)W with the larger T23 turret and 76mm M1 gun.

The kit is basically an amalgam of the previous U.S M4A1 (76)W Sherman (kit #84801) and U.S M4A3 Sherman (kit #84803) with a new later T23 turret included.

The kit uses sprue C from kit #84801 and sprues A, B, G and T54E1 track from kit 84803 plus the lower hull from the previous kits with new sprue K for the T23 turret with oval Loader’s hatch.

The kit consists of 212 parts in light grey plastic, a small etched fret with 14 parts and a set of vinyl tracks plus the decal and instruction sheets.

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As the parts are the same as in the previous kits, the comments below are from the reviews of kit #84801 and #84803 to save reinventing the wheel with additional comments for the later T23 turret and new markings.

Lower Hull:
This is a conventional plastic tub with detail included on the bottom and side panels with a separate rear panel, front transmission cover and sponson fillers. Also included on the hull sides are return roller locating tabs for HVSS Sherman versions to come and these are to be cut off as per instructions.

The transmission cover is the single piece sharp nose type with separate bolted top securing strip. The contours of the cover are very good and match photos nicely and included basic two shackle mountings on the underside with the fit to the hull being very good. There are actually two transmission covers included with slightly different contours, one from kit #84801 and the new one with this kit for a choice but the new one is a better fit and would be the first choice with the other added to the growing spares box.

Care is needed when removing the sprue attachment point from the top lip to ensure you don’t damage the lip and the bolted flange is best fitted after cutting off the locating tabs as these seem to just get in the way.

The hull side final drive housings sit at the wrong angle if you fit as indicated but it is a simple matter of cutting of the locating pin and fit at the correct angle so no big deal.

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The rear hull panel has the correct layout for the M4A3 with separate exhausts, idler mountings and tow pintle plus the large grill panel located under the upper hull overhang with the single engine door moulded in the closed position.

The kit includes three types on bogies, two from the previous kits with the straight arm return rollers and the other with raised rollers plus a new set of raised roller arm bogies with both the later types also including the three lower bolts on the bogie housings but strangely the earlier straight arm type does not and there is a bit of flash to be removed about the place.

The upper track skids include three different types with the early curved type, the intermediate type and the final type with extended skid but all have a fairly prominent mould seam down the middle which is easy to remove and you may want to thin the skids a little while you are at it.

Detail on the bogies housings is very good with delicate details including small casting numbers and well defined detail on the suspension arms but the separate return roller is a little too small in diameter and in depth with the roller being quite loose on it’s mounting.

Two types of road wheels are included; the solid spoke type and smooth dish wheels and both have separate rear inserts to eliminate the hollow look. While the road wheels are the correct diameter there are a few detail issues with the solid spoke wheels where the six raised ribs are far too small, the rear inserts have the ribs larger than the full wheel but still undersized with the wheels in the Tamiya M4 kits being far more accurate. The grease plugs on the smooth dish wheels are just indentations and added a small nipple will improve their look.

There are also open spoke and solid spoke idler wheels but the open spoke idlers have the centre hub too small and the wrong shape openings while the solid spoke idlers have the six hub bolts slightly too big but are probably the better represented of all the wheels.

Assembly of the bogies is straightforward with very good fit of the bogie parts although the inside springs don’t locate precisely and are a bit loose requiring care to get the sit right as the glue dries. The fit of the bogies to the hull is also good and actually hold in place without glue such is the good fit but of course you will glue them in place.

At the front are two styles of drive sprocket, the open ‘revised fancy smooth’ and solid ‘simple plate’ sprockets with the inner and outer sprockets separate and apart from rather large sprue attachments that needs care in removing have very nice details included and these locate neatly over the final drive axle mountings.

Upper Hull:
This is one large moulding with separate front crew hatches and separate engine deck with raised weld bead details on the hull joins and around the turret and fuel filler guards with all the smaller fittings also separate parts.

As mentioned the hull width, length and 47° glacis are correct but a number of smaller details on the hull have issues to different degrees. The main one is the engine deck which is 2mm too wide, this in turn means the two hull side fuel filler caps and guards are situated too far outboard but narrowing the deck may be a problem as the hinge and bolt detail is close to the edge so just cutting off 1mm each side is not an option.

The grillwork and other details on the engine deck are nicely done and if you are not overly concerned with the width issue the deck fits neatly into the hull opening.

Still at the back there is a separate ventilator cover inside the turret guard on the right side and separate lifting eyes and tail lights with etched guards.

All the pioneer tools are separate parts with well done details but the moulded on tool brackets will probable also be in the etched sets to come and the rear hull mounted storage rack and spare track racks are quite well done.

At the front the two crew hatches are separate parts but the hinge detail is in the wrong position as well as the upper hull contours around the hatches being too flat with the recesses for the hatch hinges in the wrong place but there is little that can be done here to correct this without major reworking.

Hobby Boss hull details with a comparison with the Tamiya 1:35 kit to best illustrate the issues as per the text.
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A few of the hull details are out of position, the right side circular cover is 1mm too far back and the weld seam behind the hatch panel is also 1mm to far back as well as the mid hull angled contour being 2mm too far back but these discrepancies will not be an issue for many and I mention them here for those who may wish to correct these?

Hobby Boss hull showing detail placement as per text, lines indicat the correct positions
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On the glacis the head lights and siren are again nicely moulded for the scale and have etched guards to give a good appearance and the two lifting hooks look good and the hull machine gun can be drilled out for a better look. 

The separate barrel lock is very nicely done with very fine detail typified by the delicate eye under the barrel hook and looks very good.

The tracks are continuous vinyl T54E1 steel chevron track and the end connectors are located correctly between track links and look quite good for the smaller scale.

The instructions claim the tracks will glue together with normal plastic cement but not the cement I have and you best resort to using the small heated screwdriver head to melt the join pins together as with most vinyl tracks.

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There are two full T23 turrets in the kit, the early with split Loader’s hatch and later with oval Loader’s hatch for a nice choice and giving you a spare turret left over.

T23 Turret Split Loader’s Hatch: (from kit #84801)
Many kits have had problems with the subtle contours of the T23 turret and while there are a few issues here it does a fairly good fist of it. The turret size as mentioned earlier is very good but the upper edges forward of the hatches is a little narrow but it features very fine casting numbers between the hatches and an open Commander’s periscope with most details as separate parts.

The turret is the early type with large Loader’s split hatch and has the conventional upper shell and lower turret ring but the join between the two leave a little to be desired especially at the side of the rear bustle and the method used to include the separate pistol port leaves a couple of small deformities to be smoothed out on the lower port fairings and distinct gaps at the top hinge after fitting in place. There is no cast texture on the turret which is fortunate as this would be removed when dealing with the lower join line and you can add some “Mr Surfacer” after to simulate the case texture.

The Commander’s cupola has nicely depicted periscopes for this scale but some minor trimming will be needed to sit the cupola snugly into the hull top opening. The separate cupola hatch has the contours too square and should be more rounded and the fit of the hatch to the cupola will need some trimming for a better fit.

The early split Loader’s hatch rim is also too square in profile and again should be more rounded and some work with the wet and dry should fix this issue and this hatch also required some trimming to fit into the turret opening. The split hatches again have rudimentary detail on both sides and were not the best fit inside the hatch ring but are too loose if anything.

The front gun trunnion is a separate part to which is fitted to the mantlet but this again has some profile problems being far too rounded at the front with the actual T23 mantlet having an almost flat face to it and is wider at the top than at the bottom and The mantlet is also 1.5mm too narrow and some reshaping of the mantlet would be in order.

The early M1A1 76mm barrel without the thread protector is in one piece with the muzzle hollowed out using slide moulds but there is next to no taper in the barrel as there should be but this would be quite subtle in this scale but should be there. There was also a large moulding blemish part way down the barrel and quite a prominent moulding seam to be removed which will take a bit of vigorous sanding to eliminate and this is a case of an AM metal barrel being called for.

There is a rudimentary gun breech inside the turret which is designed to mate to the back of the mantlet over the gun trunnion allowing the gun to elevate but the way the join is designed around the trunnion pin making the barrel movable is all but impossible and gluing in the desired position is the far better option.

T23 Turret Oval Loader’s Hatch:
As with the earlier T23 turret the dimensions and contours are basically good with the oval Loader’s hatch the correct size and location but there are no casting numbers and the pistol port has been enlarged from the earlier turret.

The turret has the usual upper shell and lower turret ring but there is no cast surface texturing and there is quite a large join between the two that should be easy enough to deal with.

The Commander’s cupola hatch has been revised but the outer contours are still too square and should be more rounded while the inside detail is better represented but there is a huge pin mark to contend with as there is with the oval Loader’s hatch insides. While the Loader’s hatch is the correct size there is no detail on the hatch springs as there is with the undersized hatch from kit #84803 and so while fixing the hatch size the detail has been removed.

The new mantlet has been enlarged from the previous kit but is now slightly too deep and the face contour still too rounded and to narrow by 1.5mm which makes this new one even less correct than the first effort, interesting?

The barrel with this turret has the thread protector added and has large moulding seams to be sanded and the muzzle is slightly hollowed out but again there is no discernable taper on the barrel.

As with the previous kits, the .50cal MG included is quite nice for this scale and includes an ammo box for mounting on the hatch pintle and these is also a .30cal machine gun included which is a little chunky and you can use this in place of the .50cal as required.

There are markings for three vehicles in olive drab but no information is given on the units and there is a colour sheet is included with illustrations of the two marking options showing the decal placement.

One is clearly for Thunderbolt IV and there has been some discussion recently on the correct markings for the different Abram’s tanks and this sheet has a white cloud with red lightning bolts.

Decal sheet
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The Sprues
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Detail images
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The instructions show the small sprue with rucksacks, jerry cans and wood boxes form the previous kits but this was not in my kit so I’m not sure if it should be or has been left out due to the two turrets and just the instructions not altered?

As with the previous M4A3 the kit has all the major dimensions correct although there are still some other issues to contend with and as mentioned most are relatively easy to deal with and some may choose to live with them.

The T23 turrets are basically sound with just some minor details to attend too, the mantlet being the most obvious and having the two makes for a nice bonus as does the inclusion of the raised roller arm bogies, smooth dish wheels and new T54 track and should build into a respectable M4A3 (76)W Sherman.

The two turrets and two transmission covers as well as multiple bogies and road wheels makes this an attractive kit for spare parts to make any number of different configuration Shermans.


SHERMAN A History of the
American Medium Tank

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
Lucky ModelThanks to my credit card and Lucky Model for the review kit.

Page created August 26, 2006

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