The Formations M4 DV Hull was designed for use with the Tamiya M4 or DML M4A1 75mm as donor kits. Alternatively you could assemble this with a variety of Formations AM parts.
The M4 DV hull depicts an early production model. These were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Plant. Although an early production type, many of the vehicles were remanufactured with the DV slots welded up and appliqué armour added with examples seen in both Italy and NWE. The M4 DV was also used by the British in Normandy and these vehicles are often misidentified because of the additional armour welded over the DV slots.
Baldwin continued to build Direct Vision hulls through to the end of the M4 production at their facility. Later tanks can be seen with later one piece transmission covers and later suspension units. In building any conversion it is recommended that you consult your references as to finish as there are many possibilities with this set.
I don’t consider myself any kind of Sherman expert so I will tell you what you get and what I think of the quality of the items that come with the set. I have built one of the Formations conversions before in the form of the M4A1 DV and found it to be excellent to work with. I have no doubt this one will be the same.
The set comes packed in the standard Formations packaging, a large zip bag containing 5 further zip bags of parts along with a 2 page A4 sheet showing the build instructions on one side, and outlining the history of the tank which is a nice addition. All the parts are cast in a light cream resin, and appear to be free from any air bubbles or serious defects. The parts are all numbered to correspond with the build diagram, so assembly should be straight forward.
The upper hull is excellently cast showing the weld seems and detail where you would expect to see them. The fillers in the turret ring, engine deck and front hatches are quite thick, but as such should help prevent any warping in the hull, and will need to be removed and the openings cleaned up, but this should not be a major job with a sharp X-acto blade or razor saw. When cleaning up the engine deck be careful not to cut away the two edges that will support the engine deck.
As far as I can tell this is an excellent part, cast to the highest of standards and giving a 1st class representation of the M4 DV Hull.
Separate drivers hatched, periscopes and associated fittings are provided along with the DV port covers. All these parts have good, sharp and clear detail, and providing you add some crew should be fine to be modelled open or if you choose no crew then in the closed position.
The drivers hatches provided are the early type without the support spring.
The engine deck looks nicely cast and there should be no need to remove the casting block, as this should drop into the hole in the upper hull. As normal, test fit everything first to make sure you have a good fit. You get a good selection of standard Sherman parts, fuel caps, 2 MG barrels, front and rear fenders, lifting hooks and eyes and rear tail lights along with a coil of brass wire.
In short you should have everything you need to make a good representation of the Early M4 DV Gun Tank. As regards fitting to the donor vehicle, depending on what donor kit you use you may have to do some slight trimming, but if you’ve bought this kit then that is something you would expect to have to deal with on any conversion set. Normal precautions apply when working with resin.
For an alternative and more expert view on the set, see Terry Ashley’s review on PMMS.
There are no etched covers for the air (grouser) intake boxes, but apart from that I think you should have everything you need to build a 1st class vehicle. The casting is excellent, you have sufficient variety of generic parts and, providing you refer to your references and take your time, this conversion should be well within the capabilities of most builders.