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Tamiya M4A3E8 “Easy Eight” Sherman

RELATED TOPICS: TANKS100 | REVIEW | ARMOR | TANKS | MILITARY
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Let’s get this out of the way: This kit should not be confused with Tamiya’s reboxed Asuka M4A3E8 kit released in 2014. Instead, this is an easy-to-build model of the late-war Sherman that shares a few parts with Tamiya’s M51; most of the parts beyond the suspension bogies are new.

Typical of Tamiya, the engineering and documentation make for a straightforward project that quickly produces a good-looking replica of the ultimate World War II Sherman. The trade-off is some simplified details, such as solid-molded hatch handles and open-backed springs in the suspension.

Separate sides, floor, rear plate, and transmission cover come together in the lower hull and fit perfectly. The cover features an understated  cast texture, a detail carried over to the turret. Detailed instructions are augmented by alignment drawings.

Molded slots and ridges allow the idler shafts (parts L20) to be attached in one of several positions. My reticence to lock them into place as indicated in Step 6 proved unfounded; the track tension was perfect.

Tamiya’s approach to the exhaust deflector impressed me. The four individual curved vanes fall neatly together with the ends, and the whole assembly drops into place and remains movable. Very sharp!

The idlers and drive sprockets sandwich polycaps and can turn on their axles. The bogies are simple to build and provide solid support for the model, but would require major surgery to articulate. I added the volute springs and center parts but left the road wheels off for painting. The hollow springs are open on the back, but you have to look hard to see that on the model.

The upper and lower hull are held together with a clip and polycap. The fenders are molded with sponson blocking plates so no daylight is visible through the vehicle’s body.

The driver and machine gunner hatches are separate and have interior detail, including periscopes. They can be posed open, but there’s no interior. Optional parts can be used to support figures from Tamiya’s U.S. Tank Crew Set (No. 35347, sold separately).

Individual tools detail the hull. The 22 fender support brackets have different ends, so pay attention when installing them.

The turret halves fit pretty well, but a little sanding was needed. I stippled the surroundings with liquid cement and a stiff brush to restore lost casting texture.

A minor mold seam in need of sanding mars the single-piece main gun barrel. It slots positively into the three-piece muzzle brake and mantlet. I was concerned that the unique attachment of the main gun and turret would leave it loose, but it’s strong.

I closed the loader’s hatch but left the commander’s cupola off for painting.

After airbrushing the model with Tamiya acrylics, I applied the decals. The marking options are a tad uninspired, either all white stars, or white stars with blacked-out turret markings. No individual ID numbers are included.

I added the road wheels to the bogies and mounted the bogies to the hull. The latter connections are very firm and lock the bogies in place.

The vinyl tracks replicate the T66 cast-metal links used on early Easy Eights; they fit neatly on the suspension. I used liquid cement to join the ends; a little extra cement encouraged the tracks to settle naturally around the sprockets and idlers.

The individual visors for the cupola dropped into place before the ring was attached to the turret. Molding them this way makes painting a snap.

A commander — or at least a guy from the waist up — fits neatly into the hatch and tops off a great build.

I had a blast building Tamiya’s M4A3E8. There are 1/35 scale Easy Eights with more-refined details, but terrific engineering and foolproof assembly make this one a ton of fun to build.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2016 issue.

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