M4A1 75mm Early Version
Dragon Kit No. 6048
1/35th Scale
First Look Review by Terry Ashley

Dragon has re-released their excellent kit of the M4A1 75mm Early Version which was surely missed when prematurely dropped from production.
The kit while labelled Early Version is actually more a Mid Production M4A1 as it lacks the Direct Vision slots and M3 type suspension of the early production A1, you will need the superb Formations DV set and Tiger Model Designs M3 suspension for that.

One of the features of the original and thankfully this re-release is not so much the nicely detailed parts but the options included in the box, it is like you get two kits in one long before the appearance of the 3 in 1 Sd.Kfz.251 kits.
The reason there are so many options is that a number of the sprues are from the initial M4A4/Firefly kits and so quite a few parts are not used in this kit with only six parts from sprue A and five from sprue C used as it is cheaper to include the full sprues than to re-tool for this specific kit but they do offer some variation for this or other kits.

The options in the kit are: We will now have a brief look at the kit contents for those who missed the kit first time around and for anyone wanting a reminder to buy one, if needed?

Included in the box are 276 parts in light grey plastic and a further 912 individual parts for the track but only 195 parts are indicated to be used with this kit plus 552 individual track parts with the rest consigned to the spares box. Added to this are two etched parts for the rear hull intakes and a small decal sheet plus the instructions.

There is one small addition from the original kit in that a small section of sprue V from the Firefly kit (6188) is included for the drive sprockets and some other smaller parts with the original sprue D modified to eliminate the drive sprockets, the rest of the kit is as per the original kit.

The standard of moulding is very good with a minimum of pin marks or flash to be cleaned with parts such as the hull and cast transmission cover have cast texture included.

The instructions indicate to use the bogies with straight roller arm and open spoke road wheels with fancy drive sprocket which would be appropriate for the early A1s. The bogies have separate upper track skids and roller arms which eliminate some of the moulding seams seen on “normal” moulded bogie units but you still need to add the four retaining bolts on the track skids. The assembled bogie units are movable if you don’t glue the suspension arms during assembly but check your references as I have variations to this configuration.

The 1-piece transmission cover has casting texture included which looks okay but some light sanding may be needed to tone this down a little but it’s better than having to add texture on a smooth cover.

The upper hull is a single piece again with good contours and nice casting texture included which looks perfectly fine with the front periscopes moulded in the closed position while the engine deck and crew hatches are all separate parts as are the fuel filler caps, lifting shackles, head and tail lights with guards, front fenders, rear deck intakes (with etched screens) and all pioneer tools.

The crew hatches have quite nice details included such as retaining springs, grab handles but no periscopes are provided and if you want to dress these up a little the new hatches from Tiger Model Designs are just the thing.

Also the tools have very basic attachments with large locating holes in the hull and again could benefit from etched attachments or by using the excellent tools set from Formations.

The turret shell has very subtle cast texture with the periscopes moulded in the closed position but you can still see the square outline from the Firelfy loaders hatch and this will need to be sanded down to remove all traces and there are also the locating holes for the rear bustle counter weight also left over from the Firelfy that will need filling while the pistol port is a separate part as are the turret lifting shackles.

The Commander’s cupola with split hatch also has two MG pintle mounts left over from the Firefly but you can easily remove one of these while the hatches are fairly basic but you do get a periscope to use if the hatches are shown open position.

The small decal sheet has vehicle names for the three vehicles;

You should check you references as some of these have details different from the kit options such as “Weenie One” having the Simple Plate drive sprocket and not the Fancy type as indicated in the instructions.

All three vehicles carry a variation of the olive drab/brown cam scheme used at the time but again check your references on these.


Overall this is a nice rendition of the early/mid production M4A1 but the left overs from the M4A4/Firefly kits require a bit of extra work to eliminate while the hull has nice cast hull contours with the front corners the right angle, something often missed on earlier generation cast hull kits.

The options provided also cater for most variations seen on these vehicles to allow for re-builds during the service life as well as adding to the spares box and the kit also provides the perfect base kit for the just released DV conversion from Formations.

The Sprues:

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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

Tristar ShopThanks to C.K.Pat from Tristar Shop or the review kit.

Page created 5 October 2004

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