Sunday, September 11, 2011

Building the Plastic Soldier Company M-4A1 Sherman Tank in 15mm 1/100

     This time around we are looking at the M-4A1 76mm wet stowage Sherman tank. Once I had recovered from the alarming color of the plastic I set to work. I always start a model by putting the suspension together as this is often the most time-consuming bit (less so on these smaller scale kits than on1/72 and 1/48 scale kits) and I like to get the fiddly stuff done first. Two things that I noticed were these; PSC doesn't number the parts (it would be easy to do lads, these molds are cut by CNC driven robots who wouldn't mind adding numbers on the sprues) and the level of thinking that goes into crafting the design is let down by the rudimentary effort at instructions. Having dealt with the side-specific track assemblies on the PZ-IV and the T-34 I was on the look-out for similar issues with this kit. The first bit to pay attention to is the front drive sprockets, as in the PZ-IV kit they are made to only fit one way (so that the teeth are positioned correctly in relation to the tracks).

     The tracks are also side-specific and directionally specific as well. The tracks are molded with the guide teeth on the outer edge on the portion that rides over the idler wheel at the rear of the suspension unit and no teeth at all where it passes over the drice sprocket. This means that you not only have to be sure to get the top-run of track the right way round but you also need to be sure it is on the correct side of the tank. This is helped in a small way by the fact that there is a definite direction to US tracks (which is molded in good detail on this model), In the long run be sure to test-fit everything before gluing to ensure that you have it right-way-round. Click on the pioture for a closer veiw,

     Here you can see the track on the rear idler wheel with the guide teeth on the outside of the wheel;

     Similar attention must be paid to the lower track run as it is designed the same way, both side-specific and directionally specific.

   With those considerations out of the way the track assemblies go together easily and fit very well.

     The one-piece cast tranmission housing fits onto the front of the lower hull and then the suspension assemblies are attached.

      The upper hull and turret are next, the cast hull has excellent detail and fits onto the lower hull cleanly with almost no gaps of any sort. 

     This kit capture the bulky look of the 76mm gun turret very well it is nicely detailed and fit together with very few gaps.

      The model provides both a British and a US tank commander figure, it also allows you to assemble the hatches open or closed. Fit and finish is superb throughout and the detail is crisp and delicate.

     I must admit that I would have preferred a one-piece hatch to use for the closed position instead of trying to fit the tiny two-peice hatch bits in place with my bratwurst-sized fingers. Once I got them in place they fit just fine, there was some swearing involved when I dropped the tiny half of a hatch on the floor.

     In the end it all went together just fine, and produces a very good looking model.

     When these plastic kits first came out I predicted that they would change the face of 15mm wargaming, if I were manufacturing models in resin or lead for the wargaming market I would be shaking in my boots. At about $5.00US these are superb models at a tiny price. If they could upgrade the instructions and throw in a sheet of decals they would nigh unto perfect.

     Very Highly Recommended,   John

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