by: Dave D. [ ]
The M4A4, or Sherman V as designated by the British and Commonwealth forces, was another variant of the venerable Sherman series of Medium tanks. Built by Chrysler and designed around the Chrysler A57 Multibank 30 cylinder engine which was essentially five Chrysler engines assembled together, the Sherman V could generate 425 horsepower at 2850 RPM. Because of the size of the engine the hull had to be lengthened by 11 inches which made the tank somewhat larger than the standard M4 series of Shermans of the time, but did give it reduced ground pressure versus those tanks. The Multibank engine allowed it to reach maximum speeds of 25 miles/hour.
Rejected by the U.S. army for overseas service due in part to the complexity of the engine and potential reliability and serviceability issues that could be experienced in the field, Chrysler embarked upon a program to improve the reliability of the engine by partially re-designing it (i.e. the original engine had 5 belt driven water pumps which were replaced by a single gear driven model which supported the entire engine) while also improving its serviceability by developing an intensive training program for maintenance personal. Given these improvements the British and her Commonwealth partners adopted the Sherman V as the mainstay of their armoured forces for primary use in North West Europe where the tank ultimately proved to be as reliable as other Shermans in U.S. service. Chrysler produced 7,499 M4A4 Sherman Vís before switching production to the M4 (105) and M4A3(W) series of Shermans in the latter half of 1943.
The Tasca M4A4 Sherman V is another kit in a series of Shermans from this manufacturer that has garnered a strong reputation for quality and accuracy amongst the armour modeling community. The sprues of the kit are packaged in individual bags and stapled shut. Some sprues, such as the road wheels, are packaged together in one bag. The box itself is sturdy and all the contents fit nicely in it. There are no additional pictures of the model on the back of the box.
The kit, I must say, bolsters the companyís excellent reputation as it is very well designed with clear instructions. The kit offers a lot of options for the modeller and they are quite accurate. The first option one is given is a choice between stamped or open spoke road wheels. Either is acceptable for this tank and both were often seen on the same tank in the field. Tasca also provides the rivets for the stamped solid face road wheels which are included on the associated sprues. Other options include a tow bar for the rear hull and smoke candle box often seen on Sherman Vís but not always.
Moving on to the upper hull what I found really neat was the driverís and radio man hatches which were highly detailed. They are so good they rival some resin equivalents and this is an example of Tasca thinking ahead by realizing that some modellers would want to have the hatches open to display figures. Other hull options are house boat fittings which were used just prior to D-Day in which a canvas cover and shell were fitted to the tank to make it look like a truck. Two types of Co-Ax MG covers are also provided, one with snaps for fastening the canvas cover and one without.
For the turret there is the option of two mantlets for the 75mm gun, the early style M34 gun mantlet with narrow rotor shield and the later M34A1 with telescopic sight which entered production in March 1943 and would have been included on the later batches of Sherman Vís produced by Chrysler. Other optional armament included is Tascaís excellent Browning .50 Cal MG with D69820 cradle. Tasca even got the smaller D68375 ammo box correct as this was the one that was often used with the aforementioned cradle. Additionally, Tasca offers a nice touch by offering optional smoke dischargers that are mounted on the side of the turret as well as a sun compass base which is to say itís that tabby thing that is square on the bottom and round on the top that is mounted just forward of the commanders cupola.
Additionally, Tasca gives you some biscuit cans to go with the tank as optional stowage as well as the standard blanket and tool box bins often seen on North West Europe Sherman Vís. Also included is a commander figure which is a nice touch as Tamiya is the only other manufacturer I am aware of that currently offers a crew figure as part of their kits.
For the photo etch sheet that comes with the kit you get optional periscope guards which can be used in place of the kit styrene ones. The Tasca guards are the thinnest I have seen in styrene but I would still opt for the photo etch ones if only that they are thinner and a bit more accurate.
Tank tracks on armour kits are often a topic of discussion and there are number of suppliers out there providing aftermarket tracks for Shermans. However, I think in this case the Tasca sectioned tracks (if I can call them this) are fine as each run comes in 2 pieces and have a high level of detail. For this kit I would stay with the kit tracks which can be tensioned with the rear idler mount.
In terms of downsides, Tasca does not give you a tow cable for the kit though they do provide the tow cable heads. They seem to do this on all their kits which I find odd. If you wish to add these, which I think is a must, you will have to purchase an aftermarket tow cable.
The barrel as well comes in two pieces and has to be glued together. I donít know about you but I am not an expert at making seam lines invisible in a relatively short period of time. If youíre not comfortable doing this step then I would recommend a turned metal barrel. They are not expensive for Shermans and improve the look of the tank, not to mention a much quicker option.
Having had been very pleased with my recent experience of building a Tasca Sherman I must say that this particular tank should also be a very enjoyable experience for me and I am sure for any modeler. The kit provides options no other kits of a similar nature provide. All are accurate for this version of the Sherman. From a pricing standpoint this kit is priced comparably with other high end model kits in the market but really represents the gold standard when it comes to Sherman armour. The bonus figure that is included in the kit is a real plus, unfortunately Tasca has done away with the crew figure on some of their new kits which I feel is a shame.
All in all if you want to build an accurate representation of the M4A4 Sherman V that some say practically falls together look no further than Tasca.