Zvezda M4A2 Sherman Review
Prototype: The medium American main battle tank M4 went into series production in February 1942 and, with a quantity of around 50,000 units, is considered the most widely built western tank of the Second World War. In the context of mass production with simultaneous standardization of the components, it was possible to keep the manufacturing costs comparatively low. He got his nickname Sherman from the British who were able to distinguish the US version from the English version with the name Lee.
The first combat operation came in the second battle of El Alamein in Egypt, in which the relatively robust, weakly armed, and weakly armored vehicle was able to hold its own. But this is primarily due to the fact that on the German or Italian side at this point in time there were also only light or medium tanks facing each other.
As early as 1943, the Sherman could no longer keep up with the newly developed heavy German tanks in battle. However, this was offset by its clear numerical superiority as well as ease of repair and maintenance. The motorization took place only in the version M4A2 with two diesel engines of the type General Motors 6-71 which together generated an output of 375 hp. This version also had water containers attached to the ammunition stowage spaces (wet stowage), which should significantly reduce the high risk of fires in the fighting area after hits.
The majority of this version was delivered to the Soviet Union as part of the lend-lease contract, but the combination of extremely low outside temperatures and diesel engines turned out to be less than ideal.
Kit: The Russian company Zvezda is primarily known for kits for German and Russian tanks and is now adding an American vehicle to its range with the Lend-Lease Sherman. In the past, big companies like Dragon and Tamiya usually had the “nose ahead” in terms of attention to detail and accuracy of fit, but the gap to the competition has decreased significantly in recent years.
The M4A2 kit is offered in a flap box made of thin cardboard, in which you will find a very stable inner box. It contains a total of nine cast branches, eight of which are made of light gray plastic and one of transparent material.
At this point, I want to anticipate that the “Shermaniacs” are pretty enthusiastic about this kit. Although various kits of the Sherman have been offered by Tamiya, Dragon, and Academy for years, Zvezda seems to have succeeded for the first time in offering the Lend-Lease version with all relevant parts in one kit. With the other companies, it was previously only possible to obtain a correct version by combining different kits. That deserves the first praise.
If you take a closer look at the individual parts, you can see that Zvezda has reached another huge leap forward in terms of detailing. The smallest details are presented very clearly and coherently. You can now find cast numbers on the tower and parts of the drive. It is not possible to depict the wheels with a spring function, but the parts reproduce the original in an absolutely convincing manner.
A third plus point is the pre-bent tow rope. Here you don’t have to try to laboriously adapt the plastic part to the vehicle contours, because Zvezda has already done this for the model maker in advance. If you want, you can certainly achieve improvements by replacing it with a rope made of copper wire, but this is not absolutely necessary.
The armored chains of type T-49 are shown in segments, with individual chain parts only having to be installed in the areas of the drive and idler wheels.
I also find it very nice that corresponding glasses made of transparent material are included for all lamps and that the corresponding protective bars are comparatively thin.
It is also worth mentioning the presence of armor plates welded onto the side of this type. Their exact positioning is clearly shown in the construction plan with the help of corresponding drawings. The only weak point of the kit from my point of view is the too-smooth surface of the tower and the gear cover. You absolutely have to remedy this by applying putty / Mr. Surfacer in order to correctly represent the rather rough surface structure.
Construction plan/painting: The construction plan consists of a six-page leaflet in DIN A4, on which you are guided through the construction project in 18 construction stages. The reference to the color palette of Tamiya can already be found in the construction plan as color information.
Four different versions with corresponding decals are available for the representation of the Zvezda M4A2 Sherman:
- Sherman No 152, Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps, Belarus, 1944,
- Sherman No 203, Soviet 244th Tank Regiment, Yalta, 1944,
- Sherman No 8392, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 1943,
- Sherman No C40, 2nd Tank Bat. US Marines, Mariana Islands, 1944.
Conclusion: An absolutely convincing kit that can easily keep up with the strong competition. Unreservedly recommendable.
Available in many stores and online at amazon.com