by: Jan Etal [ ]
One company of M4A2 Sherman medium tanks was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division for Operation Galvanic from the I Marine Amphibious Corps. In total, 14 tanks deployed from Noumea in early November 1943, on board the new dock landing ship Ashland (LSD 1). Each 34-ton, diesel-powered Sherman featured a gyro-stablized 75mm gun and three machine guns. The Shermans joined Wave 5 of the ship-to-shore assault. The tanks negotiated the gauntlet of Japanese fire without incident, but five were lost when they plunged into unseen shell craters in the turbid water. Ashore, the Marines' lack of operating experience with medium tanks proved costly to the survivors. Local commanders simply ordered the vehicles inland to attack targets of opportunity unsupported. All but two were soon knocked out of action.
The Dragon kit number 7305 M4A2 Tarawa Sherman represents one of these deployed tanks.
The kit contains five sprues of parts moulded in typical Dragon grey styrene. A total of 127 parts are located on these sprues, but only 91 are actually used for the Tarawa Sherman. Also included are separately bagged upper and lower hulls, a pair of DS-100 tracks, a small 14 piece PE fret and a sheet of Cartograph decals. The decals are provided for seven different vehicles, six from company C of the I Marine Amphibious Corps, tank battalion and one from company D.
As with other Armor Pro kits you will not be disappointed when you open the box. The detail on some of the parts is approaching the level of being breath taking. An example of this is the casting like textures on the main bogie components even to the point of having the cast part or serial numbers present. The turret and other components also have appropriate textures imparted to them during the moulding process.
For the most part, ejector pin marks are limited and appear in locations that will not be seen after assembly. Flash is minimal and seam lines from the moulding process are generally light. The odd finer parts exhibited some warping that can easily be rectified by submersion in hot water followed by some minor bending. In some cases the attachment points (gates) for some of the smaller parts are a little on the thick side. These parts will require a fair amount of care when removing them from the sprue.
The instructions are typical of recent dragon kits, with exploded view drawings and arrows showing parts placement.
Construction is broken down into seven steps as follows:
Step 1 involves the assembly of the six main bogie units involving four parts for each.
Step 2 is attaching the completed bogies to the lower hull, adding the drive sprockets, rear idlers, transmission housing and rear lower hull plate.
Step 3 has numerous small parts added to the upper hull front and the lower hull rear. These include but are not limited to headlights, headlight guards, hull hatches and their components as well as towing eyes and other detail pieces.
Step 4 adds further hull detail pieces such as tools and tail lights.
Step 5 is the construction of the turret and begins with the lower and upper turret pieces being joined. Details such as the main hatch components, periscopes and the like are also added.
Step 6 comprises adding the final detail pieces to the turret.
Step 7 involves the attachment of the tracks to the suspension, placement of the turret on the hull and gluing the upper and lower hull together.
Having built a previous Dragon Sherman I cannot foresee any major difficulties in constructing this kit. I have read that some Dragon M4A2 kits have some fit issues when assembling the VVSS suspension components, but nothing stood out from examining the spues. This appears to be a very serviceable kit and will be an interesting addition to any small scale builders’ collection.