by: Talal Mashtoub [ ]
The M4A3E8 commonly known as the “Easy Eight” is a faster and up gunned variant of the M4 Sherman produced in the later part of the Second World War from March 1944 to April 1945. The Ford GAA 4-stroke V8 engine and HVSS suspension provided the Easy Eight with better range and mobility compared to its earlier M4 counterparts but what really set the Easy Eight apart was it was fitted with the same 76mm gun used on the M10 tank destroyer. The Easy Eight performed admirably on the battle field in the final months of World War 2 and that success carried over into Korean War where it again served with distinction when called into battle.
The Korean War Easy Eight is Tamiya’s first update to their M4A3E8 Sherman (Kit# 35346) which was released back in 2015. This new kit features the Easy Eight in service during the Korean War, more specifically with the 89th Tank Battalion’s C Company “Rice’s Red Devils”. Though it is not mentioned anywhere aside from a small portion of the backdrop on the box art the kit does include as bonus Tamiya’s GAZ67B field car (Kit# 35021).
Inside the Box
The box art on this kit is stunning and does well to showcase the signature devil motif of this model. The contents of the box include the following:
• 7 green styrene sprues for the M4A3E8 model
• 2 black styrene sprues for the GAZ67B bonus model
• Separately molded upper hull
• Separately molded turret
• 2 clear styrene sprues (1 for each of the models)
• Poly caps
• Brown string for the tow cable
• “Rubber band” tracks
• Decal sheet
• Build instructions booklet
• Color printed booklet with background information and color guides.
All but 3 of the sprues are carried over from the 2015 kit. The changes mainly address the updated engine deck, updated M2 Browning machine gun, and other minor changes. The tracks are updated from the T66 to the T80 type and are made of a material that takes well to plastic cement. The build instructions are printed on a booklet that includes 28 steps for building the M4A3E8 and 7 steps for building the GAZ67B. The GAZ67B sprues definitely show their age when compared to the M4A3E8, the molds are from 1973 and the very heavy mold lines on the parts which lack quite a bit of detail.
There is only one decal sheet provided and it is only for markings for the M4A3E8 kit which has 2 options:
• “Rice’s Red Devils” C Company, 89th Tank Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, Han River Basin, 1951
(Devil motif: Olive drab base with a devil’s face painted over a red glacis plate)
• C Company, 70th Heavy Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, near Chilgok, September 1950.
(Olive drab base with white stars markings)
The kit begins with the assembly of the lower hull which is broken down into several parts. All of the pieces are nicely molded and snap together very well. The differential cover has several small pieces that must be aligned a certain way to create the towing points but the illustrations do a good job of explaining this.
The next set of steps consists of assembling the rear panel of the lower hull. One of the pieces that goes into the rear panel (L40) has some visible ejector pin marks that I ended up cleaning, however I later discovered that it will not be visible at all so you can save some time by avoiding that cleaning. The rest of the steps involve adding a few more parts to the rear panel and then attaching it to the lower hull. In step 6 you attach the idler shafts to the lower hull and they must be oriented in a specific direction. The parts fit together like gears and the illustration shows you how they should be aligned.
Steps 7 through 12 wrap up the assembly of the lower hull and they primarily include the assembly of the running gear which includes the road wheels, return rollers, drive sprocket, and suspension bogeys. The road wheels all had a heavy mold seam down the middle that needed to be filled down. The suspension bogeys have some ejector pin marks on their back side that is not really visible when then the wheels are installed and they are in a hard to reach area to clean. The running gear parts are very nicely molded and made up of as few as parts as possible when compared with other manufacturers. I left all the parts off the model in these steps to simply the painting process.
This step is pretty straight forward as it primarily covers assembling the sponsons to the upper hull. I made a mistake here because the instructions ask you to drill two holes on the side of the upper however those holes are only used by the 70th battalion tank and not the 89th battalion red devil tank that I wanted to build.
In these next steps you assemble the rest of the components and accessories of the upper hull. The parts fit together very well here and the mounting points are very clear. I opted to leave the rear rack off because the barrel cleaning rods get attached to the back side of the rack before the rack gets attached to the hull which will be very difficult to paint. Keep in mind that there are two kinds of travel locks, one for each of the variants and that parts S8 and S10 go on only one the variants as well.
Steps 18 & 19
In step 18 you attach the upper hull to the lower hull, the way this kit is constructed creates a very tight fit between the two halves even without the use of plastic cement which allows you to disassemble it later on in case you need to. Step 19 has you building the exhaust deflectors which follow a particular build sequence, the instructions do well to illustrate this.
The next set of steps revolve around the assembly of the turret. The kit does include figures so if you opt to not use them and have the hatches closed you can forgo adding the supports that figures will be mounted on to. The gun barrel is molded out of 1 piece with a very minor seam line and there are clear parts provided for the vision ports of the commander’s cupola. Step 25 has you attaching the turret to the upper attaching the cable. Do not attach the part of the tow cable that goes on the front part yet as you need to have devil decal placed before you do this.
The last few steps include the assembly of the figures, the machine gun, and stowage accessories. The figures included are the commander and loader, they are very nice for styrene figures and only include the torso and arms. The M2 Browning machine gun is the nicest I have seen on a Tamiya offering, this is not the same one used on their previous Easy Eight model and has a lot more detail.
I have built quite a few Tamiya kits but this one is by far the most impressive and enjoyable one I have built. The level of detail is incredible as well as the accuracy and fit. The devil motif was what made the kit stand out for me and the decals provided are easy to apply. Though this kit doesn’t have any photo etch or metal cables and other goodies we have been accustomed to seeing with other manufactures it honestly doesn’t need it. There was only about 300 pieces in total to put the model together and it easily be assembled over a weekend. The added bonus of the GAZ67B is a nice touch but honestly they should have given it a facelift, I don’t see many people finding value in it because of how old and crude it is.