M4A3 (76)W
Dragon 1:35 Premium Kit #6325
Review by Terry Ashley


Dragon follow their recent kit of the Sherman M4A2 75mm Late Production PTO (kit #6462) with this new kit of the M4A3 (76)W which continues the mix and match of parts from previous kits with a few new parts added. This also marks the third Dragon Sherman kit featuring markings for Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton Abrams Jr's. vehicles with this kit having 'Thunderbolt VI', with kit #6183 M4A3E8 having 'Thunderbolt VII' and kit #6255 M4A3 76 Battle of the Bulge with 'Thunderbolt IV'.

The Kit:

The kit has 496 parts in light gray plastic, 19 parts in clear plastic, a small etched fret, a length of steel wire a set of DS vinyl T48 track plus the decal and instruction sheets with all sprues coming from previous Sherman kits, notably #6462 Sherman M4A2 75mm Late Production PTO as well as numerous other with sprues A and V having their lineage back to the original Italeri kits with small updates added along the way. There are some updated and additional parts on these sprues such as the new two part cupola hatch and three types of plastic 76mm barrels but there are no other metal parts other than the etched fret and steel wire which doesn't quite fit in with the "Premium Edition" philosophy espoused about the place?


The standard of moulding is typical Dragon with good crisp details and a minimum of flash, pin marks or other blemishes with only the usual minor moulding seams to be cleaned off the parts as with any kit plus the array of small plastic nodes that help keep pin marks at bay and the little extra cleanup is worth it.

Lower Hull:

The lower hull tub is from the previous VVSS kits with the underside bolted strip at the front and includes sponson covers and the lower engine compartment detail applicable to the M4A3 with inserts at the sides to take the suspension bogie plates as well as the upper rear section with engine exhaust deflector also in separate parts.

The original sharp nosed cast transmission housing from numerous previous Dragon Sherman kits is included and this is moulded in one piece with subtle cast surface texture but no casting foundry numbers or underside drain plugs are included. The upper bolted strip is a separate part that fits neatly to the top of the cover but there are a couple of issues with the parts.

Firstly the sides of the transmission housing are separate parts and when fitted to the housing are not flush with the edges as they should be but indented. The older bolted final drive housing are undersized and don’t reach the edge of the transmission housing as they should due to this indenting of the side plates. The new final drives included in the recent Sherman Mk.III Sicily (kit #6231) are depicted correctly and it’s a bit like Academy correcting parts in one kit then reverting back to the older incorrect parts in their next kit.

The transmission housing should be trimmed flush with the side plates from just above the final drive housings as per the corrected transmission cover in the Sherman Mk.III Mid Production Sicily kit or you can overlook the issues as they are mostly hidden by the drive sprockets and tracks when fitted? These modifications would also apply to any other Dragon Sherman kit that uses these original transmission parts.

The transmission housing with the sides trimmed flush with the side plates as they should be,
this exposes the undersized final drive housings even further unfortunately (left).
Image (right) with drive sprockets added to transmission housing which partially
hide the issues if you don't want to address these?


There should be 8 prominent bolt heads on the hull sides to attach the transmission housings but these are missing and I added these using a hex punch & die set to punch out the bolt heads from plastic card and glue in place on the hull side just in front of the first bogie mounting plate, again all very easy.

Hull bolts added

There are additional weld seams that can be added at the hull sponson join and at the back of the sponson covers as well as the drain plug on the undersides of the sponson covers if you want to add this additional detail as they can easily be seen as this kit does not have side sand shields to hind the omissions. 

The two towing shackles as well as the tow brackets are added to the transmission cover to finish off the assembly.

The separate rear plate has the M4A3 engine access door and exhaust arrangement with separate top exhaust deflector and there is a 2mm gap at the front of the sponson fillers but this will be covered when you fit the front fender extensions (etched parts MA1, MA5) so don't be too concerned about this.

Added to the rear hull plate are the idler mountings, lower tow hitch and the exhausts as mentioned for a fairly simple arrangement without any fit issues.


Two sets of suspension bogie housings are provided in the kit with the original straight arm suspension arm and spaced return roller support which are based on the original Italeri Sherman kits and the later angled return roller arm which would be more appropriate for this kit.

There are separate track guides that could do with some thinning as they are quite thick and the four securing bolts should be added. These are actually included separately on sprue V although the instructions don’t mention them but you can cut these from the sprue to add to the guides if you wish to use them? The bogies and arms are nicely detailed with the three bottom bolts and fine casting numbers on the bogies and arms although these were often in different places depending on the manufacturer but add a nice detail touch.

There are also two sets of road wheels and idlers wheels in the kit, the pressed solid spoked type which have basic grease nipple detail and back inserts and the open spoke wheels and while photos show the solid spoke wheels are the most commonly fitted to these later Shermans but open spoke wheels are seen so the choice is yours really.

There are the three types of drive sprocket supplied, the ‘Fancy Smooth’ sprocket, “Revised Fancy Smooth” and the solid ‘Simple Plate’ sprocket with photos showing the solid ‘Simple Plate’ being the most common on these M4A3s. These have the two sprocket discs separate from the inner hub/drum which allows quite good hub bolt detail to be included.

Note; while there are alternate bogie housings and road wheels in the kit you can only make one full set of suspension bogies as there is just the one set of lower bogie arms provided.


As mentioned the kit has full length T48 rubber chevron tracks with duckbills in light beige coloured DS vinyl which have excellent detail incorporated on the end connectors and links and these can be glued together using normal plastic cement.

Due to the Sherman tracks not haveing any track sag these will do perfectly fine in most situations but if you wanted to articulate the bogies for a diorama setting using individual link track such as those from Panda Plastics could be an option?

Nicely detailed DS vinyl track
T48 Rubber Chevron with Duckbill extensions


Upper Hull:

This is the later 47° hull with big hatches which is moulded in one piece with cut-outs for the turret ring, front crew hatches and rear engine deck and is basically the hull from kit #6183 M4A3E8 Sherman which includes a number of detail improvements over previous hulls.

The welds as mentioned previously have a fine pitted appearance and not the flowing style as seen on most M4A3 hulls but if this is an issue you can smooth these out a little with liquid cement?

The M4A2 grouser covers at the back are still included and you should remove these (the instructions tell you to do this, so Dragon know about this) and these is also a fairly large mould seam across the rear hull where the new rear plate section was added from the previous M4A2 hull and you will also have to carefully remove this making sure to leave the surrounding detail intact.

There is the A2 and A3 style engine deck in the kit so again make sure you use the right one (part G7) and this has separate access doors with grillwork on both sides if you were thinking of showing these open with the fit of the doors to the deck and the deck to the hull being very snug not requiring ay trimming.

The instructions indicate to open up 10 locating holes from the inside of the rear hull for the placement of the pioneer tools before gluing the upper and lower hull parts together.
Personally I would not open these out if you intended to replace the tool brackets with etched items to leave the hull intact for a better appearance. It may also be cleaner to leave the holes closed even if using the kit tools as the overhead view in the painting instructions show the location of the tools which are standard for any Sherman in any case.

The hull features separate parts for the fuel filler caps, lifting eyes, head and tail lights with a choice of plastic or etched bush guards, hull cal .30 MG and barrel travel lock on the glacis as well as all the pioneer tools which have moulded on tool brackets.

The crew hatches are cleanly moulded free of any pin marks and have separate clear periscopes that fit into separate periscope mountings with quite finely moulded periscope guards but you may want to replace the solid grab handle with thin wire for a better look.

There is also the later stowage rack added to the rear hull along with the spare track racks on either side of the rear hull plate with six separate T48 track links provided to add to the racks.

Etched parts are included for the front fenders and the fender attachment strip along the lower sides of the hull sides with the metal tow cable supplied but would need to be annealed by running through a candle flame to get a natural sit on the vehicle as it is very springy as it comes.

The Turret:

The kit gives you a choice of two T23 turrets, the early with large split Loader’s hatch and the later style with oval Loader’s hatch and both these have been refined from the turrets in the previous kits (#6188, #6255) with slightly different contours and cast texture around the pistol ports.

There is only one lower turret ring so you don’t get two complete turrets but it’s nice to have the choice of turrets to add variety to the kit (or an excuse to buy two), and the mantlet also includes subtle cast texture with the co-ax MG barrel detail and fine casting numbers included.

The kit includes a choice of three plastic one piece 76mm barrels, the original M1 without the end thread protector and the M1A1 with thread protector ring included with both having the muzzle hollowed out and basic rifling included.

The barrels are the correct length wtih the later M1A2 barrel having the muzzle brake moulded with the barrel with nicely hollowed out muzzle brake and this would be the best option being of the correct length.

All three barrels being moulded in one piece do have moulding seams to be removed and on one (M1A1) there is a little mould slip resulting in a distinctly oval barrel profile after the mould seams are removed and replacing with a aftermarket metal barrel would be a good option.

If choosing to use aftermarket metal barrels the M1A1 with thread protector from LionMarc would be a good option (set # LM20003) and the M1A2 barrel with brass muzzle brake from armorscale (set# B35-028) being the best option here with the barrel fitting easily to the Dragon kit mantlet after drilling out the barrel locating hole as the resin mantlet in the armorscale set is a little undersized.

The Commander’s cupola has separate clear plastic periscopes which allows for nice definition but these aren’t clear and you will need to paint them anyway and the separate cupola hatch now includes the separate central section allowing this to be repositioned with this also having a separate clear plastic periscope and again you will need to paint this to cover the clear appearance and a separate small grab handle is provided.

The large split hatch ring has nice contours including very fine casting numbers which are also on the two hatch halves with these clear of any pin marks on the inside. The periscope mounting and clear periscopes are separate parts but the moulded on grab handle could be replaced with thin wire for a better appearance.

The oval Loader’s hatch is also free of any pin marks with a separate small grab handle and inner latch detail while the main sight in front of the Commander’s cupola and the left side top periscope are also separate parts for good definition with clear periscopes included.

Other separate parts include the aerial mounts, lifting hooks, search light and the rear mounted cal.50 MG mount and brackets with the turrets building into nice representations of the T23 with the only minor issues being the mould seam lines at the back corners under the lifting eyes that mar the cast effect here but should be easy to remedy with a bit of Mr Surfacer and the turret ring join line will also need smoothing out.

The cal.50 machine gun has nice receiver detail but is a little chunky around the cooling jacket and using any of the available metal cal.50 barrels would improve the appearance and the cal.30 is also nicely done for a plastic item but again could be improved using aftermarket cal.30 metal barrels.


These are the usual exploded view drawings that are a little busy in places and can be confusing unless you study them very closely before any assembly but overall are there shouldn't be any real problems as the kit is not overly complicated.


The small decal sheet is well printed with markings for 4 vehicles all in white with a selection of vehicle numbers and names with the 4 vehicle markings being:

37th Tank Bn., 4th Armored Division, Bastogne 1944

4th Tank Bn., 1st Armored Division, St. Lucia, Italy 1944

760th Tank Bn., US Fifth Army, Italy 1945

Co. C, 761st Tank Bn., Task Force Rhine, Germany 1945

714th Tank Bn., 12th Armored Division, Germany 1945

  1. Dragon

This is overall a good rendition of the later 76mm M4A3 Sherman using a mix and match of available parts plus a few new parts as well as the bonus set of T48 track DS vinyl tracks.

The kit will build fairly easily into a nice model but there are some detail and assembly issues mainly due to the continual use of the original Sherman parts that date back to the initial Italeri Sherman kits. A completely new Sherman kit from the ground up is long overdue, especially the suspension and front transmission housing that would benefit greatly from today’s moulding technologies.

The details on the revised hull and later turret are well done with some extremely finely moulded details allowing for good detail definition on the finished model but as with any kit there is room for additional detailing to make a standout model.

This kit will make a nice inclusion to the Sherman ranks and will be welcomed by Shermanholics everywhere.

Highly recommended 8/10

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Detail images
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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
M4 Sherman
Walk Around

Squadron Signal #5701
ISBN: 0-89747-410-4
M4 Sherman Vol.II
Wydawnictwo Militaria 99
ISBN 83-7219-057-7
M4 Sherman
Wydawnictwo Militaria 13
ISBN 83-86209-09-7

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service from Sprue Brothers for the review kit.

Page created August 6, 2008