British Army Sherman II Direct Vision
El Alamein 1942

Tasca 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35014
Review by Terry Ashley


Tasca continue to release their excellent Sherman series kits with the latest of the Sherman II Direct Vision which has been asked for by Sherman modellers for years, we have seen it in other scales and resin conversions such as that from Formations and the new upper hull from Lionmarc but we now have everything in the one box that includes the early M3 style suspension and other early Sherman features.

The Kit:

This kit uses a number of sprues (7 in fact) from the previous M4A1 kits ( #35010 and #35012) as well as their U.S. Jerry Can set and cal.50 M2 MG set along with 3 new sprues for the early suspension and DV hull parts, the kit also uses the existing T51 rubber Block track from kit #35010. This results in quite a few parts left over for the spares box such as the solid drive sprockets, one piece cast transmission cover, appliqué armour panels, apare 75mm gun tube along with smaller bits and pieces.

The kit consists of 409 parts in light beige plastic, 29 in olive drab plastic, 14 in clear plastic with a further 31 finely etched parts plus a set of vinyl T51 Rubber Block track, poly caps and rubber sheet for the suspension and of course the decal and instruction sheets.

Etched, clear and other parts

The level of detail on the parts is outstanding with subtle cast texturing and casting numbers on some parts plus nicely engraved and raised detail but there are a few pin marks here and there as a consequence and some of the parts are very fine requiring care when removing from the sprue and in fitting.

As mentioned there are quite a few left over parts and some of the notable new features include the M3/early M4 style bogies with alternate bogie front panels, squared off grouser cover ports, the circular No.19 radio aerial mounting base which is extremely finely done and early cal.50 ammo feed boxes and of course the revised cast hull with direct vision ports.

Dimensionally the kit measures out perfectly in all areas against available plans including the scaled up 1:48 plans in Hunnicutt’s Sherman books with any discrepancies being well within acceptable limits.

The kit shares a number of sprues A, B, C, D, E, and F from the previous Sherman kits along with new sprues H, J and M for this version plus the jerry cans and cal.50 MG as noted above.

Lower Hull:

This consists of individual panels for the floor, side and rear panels plus the sponson covers and an internal engine firewall bulkhead that has access panels included in case anyone wants to add and engine at any time.

As with any multi-part hull the fit here determines how the rest of the kit goes together and the fit of these parts is superb with the engine bulkhead ensuring everything lines up correctly. There were no gaps or panel movement anywhere and the assembled hull tub is perfectly square so forget any trimming or filling.

The real hull panel is extensively detailed with separate engine inspection hatches, very detailed idler mountings in two parts plus the idler axles and the choice of round or square air cleaners made up of three main parts each with the attachment clips as etched and fine plastic parts as well as the lower towing shackles.

The sponson covers are also included with the small circular access cover on the rear undersides which is common to all Sherman based vehicles and the hull side panels include the mounting plates for the suspension bogies while the hull undersides has an excellent representation of the riveted lower hull configuration indicative to those produced by the Pressed Steel Car Company.

Most references indicate that the Sherman IIs used by the British and Commonwealth forces around the El Alamein period had the riveted lower hull as included in the kit with Mid and Later Production M4A1s predominantly using the welded lower hulls.

As mentioned there is both the three piece bolted and single piece cast transmission covers in the kit but you would of course use the three piece bolted transmission cover for this kit as indicated in the instructions.

Three piece bolted transmission cover:

The early bolted transmission cover has the bolted flanges in two pairs of two part flanges which allows for excellent bolt head details to be included as well as the distinct join seam between the two flanges as seen on the real thing. Ensure you do not fill this seam with excess glue during assembly as it should be there and adds to the level of detail in the kit.

The transmission cover has subtle cast texturing as well as foundry casting numbers with the top and bottom bolted strips as separate parts for good definition. The casting numbers have been altered from those on the transmission cover in kit #35010 to reflect the earlier production at different foundries which is a nice touch.

The side final drive housings are separate parts with the front hull side extensions included and these are hollowed out with bolt holes around the opening and hull mounting strip for any one wanting to depict the final drive covers separate in a diorama but you will have the scratch the drive gears yourself.

The outer final drive covers feature the correctly detailed axle hubs with the fit being very good to the final drive housings. The fit of the housings to the transmission cover is also very good but there is a small join seam around the housing that may need attention depending what is visible after gluing and care will be needed not to damage the casting numbers and cast texture while doing this.

There is one small detail omission in that the three oil drain plugs are missing from the underside of the housing but these are easy to add from small plastic discs.

The fit of the assembled front transmission to the hull tub is again superb without any trimming or filler needed and don’t be concerned with what looks like a bit of a gap at the side join of the top bolted strip and the hull as this will be fully covered when the hull top is added later.


The suspension is the all new featuring the M3/early M4 style bogie units with the design allowing these to articulate after assembly slightly and also provide two styles of front bogie parts, one with the two central vertical cast reinforcing strips and the other including two smaller horizontal reinforcing strips to offer a nice choice. But you should note that only one set of bogies can be built from the kit with just the alternate front bogie plates left over.

Also included in the kit are the small U bolt lifting eyes sometimes fitted to early Sherman bogie units and these can be added as required to add to the nice detail included in the kit.

There is just the one set of open spoke road wheels provided as applicable to early DV type but you do get both the open spoke and solid pressed dish idlers but again you would use the open spoke idlers with this kit.

There are three types of drive sprockets included with two styles of Open Spoke fancy sprockets and the later Solid Plate sprocket and again either of the Open Spoke sprockets are applicable to this kit and it's best to refer to references to determine the appropriate bogie detail and sprockets for the kit you are building.

The drive sprockets have small poly caps trapped inside to allow these to be added to the final drive axles at any time to make this easier and also allow the sprockets to rotate after assembly.

The detail on the road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets is excellent with fine crisp details that include the grease plug and relief valve on all the road wheels and idlers with fine bolt head details on the inside of the drive sprockets. The bogie units don’t have any noticeable cast texture.

Bogie Assembly:

The bogies fully articulate after assembly due to the separate lower suspension arms that trap the road wheels between them and are then in turn trapped between the inner and outer bogie halves. The upper suspension arms are in one piece as are the volute springs with two small sections of rubber sheet you cut from the larger sheet provided being added to the top of the volute springs that give the ‘spring’ when the suspension is depressed.

Added to the rear bogie section are the upper reinforcing fillets that also form the sides of the volute spring mountings and these fit together without any problems.

The upper suspension arms are attached to the one piece volute spring without glue if you want the bogies to articulate, you should also note the orientation of the suspension arms which have a small kink and these should kink outwards when viewed from above so take care to fit the arms the correct way around. There is an overhead illustration in the instructions showing the correct fitting which should alleviate any problems.

After cutting the small sections of rubber sheet using the template provided in the instructions these are added inside the volute spring mountings and the top return roller, volute springs and lower suspension arms/road wheels are all slipped into place on the rear bogie half again without any glue. This may be a little fiddly but the precise fit helps out here and finally the outer bogie half of your choice is fitted in place trapping the return roller and suspension arms in place.

The fit was such that the bogies held together without any glue as they are in the images but of course you would glue the outer bogie half to the rear half ensuring you don't get glue on any of the suspension arms or springs if you want the bogies to articulate after assembly.

There were no traps while assembling the bogies but it did help to lightly glue the rubber pads to the insides of the inner bogie unit to keep them in place (I used white glue) while fitting the lower suspension arm/road assemblies and outer bogie half. The design on the bogies and suspension arms allows both wheels to be depressed at the same time and not just rock back and forth as with most other suspension sets available for the Sherman.

The fit of the bogies to the hull is as you would expect very precise without any movement of the bogies for easy assembly.


This is the T51 Rubber Block track which is one of the most widely seen on early Shermans and comes in 4 sections of a vinyl type material that has very good track pad details included with the end connectors in the correct place and even small gaps between the links. The track sections glue together with normal plastic cement and are quite flexible, easily conforming around the drive sprockets for perfectly adequate tracks for your Sherman with the only cleanup being three pour scars on the inside which are easy to cut off with a sharp blade.


Upper Hull:

The cast upper hull of the M4A1 is a single large moulding with openings for the crew hatches, turret ring which features attachment bolt detail around the ring, the full engine deck with separate grouser box covers plus separate fuel filler caps, ventilator and other smaller details, the notable feature being the openings as the front for the separate direct vision port parts.

The contours of the cast hull are captured well from all angles and one thing to note on the cast M4A1 hull is the sides are not perfectly vertical (apart from the earliest models) but are angled in at slightly different degrees depending on the production foundry. Looking at the Tasca hull it appears to the eye they are vertical but in fact they are sloped inwards a couple of degrees to represent this feature nicely.

There is also extremely subtle cast texturing on the hull surfaces and looking at most photos of M4A1 hulls from a normal viewing distance shows it is difficult to see the cast texture and this is often overdone on some kits but is represented well here for scale effect. Some may wish to use Mr.Surfacer (or similar) to add a more aesthetically appealing cast texture look but that is up to individual choice.

Obviously the most prominent feature of the hull is the front direct vision ports and these have cutouts in the hull with the separate visor sections with good vision port detail added from the inside of the hull. The outer visor flap covers are also separate and can be shown raised or lowered and the fit of these parts is very good making for trouble free assembly.

The top of the vision ports recesses in the hull casting should be more rounded instead of the sharp edge present after fitting the inner vision ports and rounding the edges will give a better appearance to the hull contours.

The engine deck is broken into two sections with the forward section having the covered intake and underside grills as etched screen to add should you wish to show this open. The fuel filler caps on this panel are also separate but there is no inner filler detail, just open holes so it’s best to glue the caps in place.

The other panel is quite plain with just the moulded on grab handles and fitting the panels to the hull is trouble free as the fit is again perfect without the need for any trimming.

The separate grouser covers are the early square profile type with inner ribs and these fit into the recesses on the rear hull, the kit also has the later rounded cast covers with etched front mesh screens as well as the flat grouser cover plates that are not applicable to this kit and the taillights feature the different configuration left and right so make sure you fit the lights on the correct side.

Also included are taillight bush guards only in plastic but are moulded commendable thin but some early Shermans didn't have these guards fitted so again check references and the instructions on which is applicable.

Moving to the front are the two nicely detailed small crew hatches that have separate parts for the periscopes which are in both normal beige and clear plastic but there are a couple of pin marks to be removed plus separate periscope covers but note the small hatch spring is not fitted to these early hatches even though they are included on the instruction illustrations of the hatches. On the inside of the hatch is a separate head pad that neatly covers the large pin mark present and the fit of the hatches to the hull is again spot on and very snug.

The hull .30cal MG is provided with the full receiver and handgrip with ball mounting that attaches to the outer ball mounting allowing the MG to move after assembly. The barrel cooling jacket has nicely rendered cooling holes and the muzzle has a small indentation but you may want to drill this out further for a better look.
There is also the option of using one of the metal .30cal barrels to add additional detail if you wish but the kit gun should be adequate for most

The front fender extensions are in finely moulded plastic with quite thin edges and the raised reinforcing strip is also indented on the underside for excellent detail. There is also provided the full suite of thin sand shields in plastic as fitted to the British Shermans in the desert as well as the full length rack strip used to secure cam nets and other personal gear which is quite distinctive on the desert Shermans.

Added to the hull front are the head lights with clear plastic lenses and bush guards again only in plastic but these also moulded quite thin and should look okay and added to the left fender is the siren that just needs the wiring added.

All the tools are finely moulded with the tool brackets included and there are no locating holes on the hull to show their location which makes for a cleaner appearance but fitting these in the correct position shouldn’t be a problem as most references show the locations and there is a plan view in the instructions showing the correct location on the rear hull.

The Turret:

The turret is the early low bustle 75mm turret with single Commander’s hatch and has the upper shell and lower ring as separate parts with all other fittings also separate parts, this includes the periscope mountings and clear plastic periscopes as well as the separate pistol port door with inner support bracket.

Included on the turret shell is a very subtle cast texturing as with the hull but there is a very small moulding seam under the pistol port opening that will need to be eliminated and also note there is actually a raised weld seam where the join line between the turret shell and lower turret ring is and you can add this weld to hide the join seam.

Smaller details include the two small drain hole indentations on the roof ventilator housing and while they don’t go all the way through are quite easy to fully drill out if you wished.

The kit includes just the earlier M34 mounting and this has the contoured gun shield with cast surface texturing as well as very fine casting numbers included on the right side and has the lifting eyes located in the correct positions. When fitting the lifting eyes, take care as they are different parts each side and checking the instructions closely should ensure they are not transposed.

There are the two rotor covers types included in the kit, one with and one without the protective “ears” for the barrel and the cover without the 'ears' is the most appropriate here nut again check references for the particular vehicle you re modelling.

On the left side is the raised lip around the co-axial machine gun opening and the co-axial .30cal MG with very nice perforated jacket detail and slightly hollowed out muzzle is also is supplied as the full gun in the mounting which is attached to the side of the inner gun mounting allowing it to elevate with the main gun after assembly. There is also the small .30cal MG shield used on the M34 mount but this is sometimes not fitted to the early British Shermans so again checking references is the best option.

There are two 75mm gun tubes provided with slightly different contours with both moulded in two halves but the fit is very good resulting in just a very small moulding seam the be eliminated and again there is no interior gun breech only the gun mounting held in place by small poly caps allowing elevation.

The Commander’s split hatch has a one piece ring with inner wall padding and the cal.50 MG mount plus the separate hatches. These have a separate periscope again in beige or clear plastic plus separate latch and grab handles and head padding on one side that covers the pin mark present but there are a couple of small pin marks on the other hatch that are easy to remove.

The pistol port on the left side is a separate part which also has the inner support strut should you wish to show this open for a bit of variety.

The forward vane sight is in thin plastic and there is also a finely moulded cal.50 MG clip on the hatch ring with the excellent cal.50 MG from Tacsa’s set #35-L9 included and this would have to be the best cal.50 MG currently available in plastic and doesn't really need the barrel replaced with a metal cal.50 barrel currently available as many plastic cal.50s do.

Also included in the kit are new parts for the early pedestal MG mounting and the early style cal.50 ammo feed box with stamped X reinforcing on the sides as well as a separate top lid allowing you to add the fine cal.50 ammo belt provided to finish off the MG assembly. The later style ammo feed boxes are also still included if you wished to use these or to just add them as a storage option.

Other details include the intricately moulded circular No.19 radio aerial mount that is extremely well done but due to two sprue attachments being right on the thin top ring the aerial in my kit was broken in two places. So long as care is taken while removing the aerial from the sprues you should be able to repair any such damage and the aerial is certainly easier to fit and looks just as good as some multi-part etched metal aerials available today.

The three water cans carried on the front right fender are provided separately with additional fine plastic storage bin for the cans as well as the distinctive British style turret bustle storage bin provided in two parts if you wanted to show the lid open,

A standing Commander figure is also included wearing tanker overalls and the detail is quite well defined for a plastic figure and should come up okay with careful painting.

Also included are four if the excellent US Style Jerry Cans from the Tasca set #35-L14 to use as required.


The instructions are the usual exploded view drawings which are easy to follow even though some of the text is in Japanese only the images mostly speak for themselves as this is not an overly complicated kit and follows the same formulas as previous Tasca kits which many will be familiar with.

Of course there is the usual proviso of studying the sequences before any cutting or gluing to ensure there are no problems but are easy to follow overall.


There are two decal sheets with markings for 3 Sherman IIs as well as additional "Water" stencils for the water cans and the large RAF roundel often carried on the engine deck around this time period. The kit has the main sheet plus a smaller sheet with the NZ fern crest for the applicable markings below.

Two of the markings provided have been available elsewhere and providing alternate schemes may have been more useful but if you don't have the aftermarket decal sets then that's all academic.

Option 1:
T145063 - C Squadron, 9th Queens Lancers, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division El Alamein October 1942.
Note: photos show these vehicles had a Jerry Can mounted on the left rear of the hull as indicated in the instructions.
Also availably on the Archers Fine Transfers sheet #AR35174
and also included on a new Echelon Fine Details sheet #ATL352003
Option 2:
T144905 - C Squadron, 3rd Hussars, 9th Armoured Brigade, 2nd New Zealand Division, El Alamein September 1942
T149466 - 'CRICKLADE' C Squadron, Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, 9th Armoured Brigade, 2nd New Zealand Division, April 1943 Syria Aleppo
Also available on Echelon Fine Details sheet #ATL352002


Tasca have produced another excellent rendition of the early Sherman II Direct Vision that identifies and includes many of the unique features of the early Sherman other than the M3/early M4 style bogies.

As with any kit there is room for improvement and adding the finer details but from a starting point this kit along with the others in the series are simply outstanding in its engineering, details including and the superb fit of the parts.

This kit will be a must have for any Sherman fan as well as anyone interested in the earlier war period and British armour in particular, and the good news is Tasca will release the suspension parts as a separate set later in the year for those with the Academy Grant/Lee kits or to build the non DV M4A1s some of which retained the early suspension.

Highly recommended 8.5/10

The Sprues:

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Detail images
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See the Sherman Subject Page for additional reviews of Sherman related kits and accessories.

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books
ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special.
Ampersand Publishing
M4/M4A1 Sherman
Tankograd Technical Manual
Series - No 6002
Technical Manual CD-ROM
TM9-731A M4 & M4A1

Easy 1 Productions #T002
Easy 1
The New Breed Part 1
North Africa Colour and Markings Series.
ISBN 83-86209-09-7
M4 Sherman
Wydawnictwo Militaria 13
ISBN 83-86209-09-7

Thanks to Tasca Modellismo Co.,Ltd. for the review kits.

Page created September 19, 2008