At the present time I have learnt to look forward to Zvezda releases if they are new products by Zvezda that is. Sometimes they re-box kits from someone else and they do not live up to the expectation of people like me who has come to appreciate Zvezda’s own work. This offering of a M4A3 (76)W Sherman is an updated and modified release of Sherman from Zvezda last year and as such can be considered a new moulding. The Sherman tank saw so many changes over its life that it is near impossible to accurately identify a Sherman due to changes being made throughout their service life. The M4A3 (76)W Sherman is one of the late war offerings with a larger gun for tackling German armour and Wet storage for the ammunition to help prevent vehicle fires when hit; the wet storage did work to a degree, but due to tanks being loaded up with more ammunition than intended the added protection was of minimum use.
This offering from Zvezda is packed in a flip top cardboard tray which is then further protected by a card end opening container. Inside there are two sealed plastic bags containing the sprues for the model and a Ziploc bag containing the decals and clear parts. Lastly there a fold out instruction sheet and a separate painting guide. I will say I do not like seeing anything plastic related packed with the decals due to the damage that could result. A look over the mouldings raises no concerns beyond the need for some texture to the plates and the plastic is on the very smooth side judging by the glossy appearance.
I will start with a look at the turret as that is where the instructions begin and where the first of the options are. The roof of the turret offers the small oval loaders hatch as seen on later Sherman’s of this type from memory or the round hatch seen on earlier vehicles. Depending on which top you decide to use there are two turret sides on the loaders side to accommodate the slightly different profile. This option results in a joint down the rear of the turret that will need to be hidden due to it being cast and a texture added with Mr Surfacer or Mr Filler being my products of choice. There are a number of parts that need to be added to the turret and Zvezda has included an aerial which I like to see.
The 50cal air defence machine gun is mounted on the loaders hatch ring or a pole mount to the rear and between the hatches depending on the option you have made for finishing the kit; the detail provided is good but could be further improved via the use of aftermarket additions. The main gun barrel is unfortunately moulded in two halves and so clean up will be required, but due to the smooth tapered nature should not prove difficult to sand. The muzzle end is an option of a smooth version seen earlier as a rule or a muzzle brake usually seen later. The muzzle brake in my opinion should be only used on an M4A3E8, but you may know differently. Something else I like in this offering is that the searchlight has a clear lens as do the periscopes which have a nicely moulded cage protecting them.
The lower hull is a multi-part assembly with a central shaped brace to provide alignment for the side panels. The approach taken has allowed a very pleasing level of moulded on detail without the need for lots of annoying tiny parts. The rear exhaust panel appears accurate to me and has been designed in a way that keeps it easy to assemble and use. The front transmission housing is the correct one piece casting used on all M4A3 types. The one thing these type of areas will benefit from is the addition of casting marks that the aftermarket already provide in photo etch format.
The drive sprockets offered give you two options of the flat type or vented type; I believe the vented type were a later addition with the toothed ring obviously being a separate part. The bogies on this offering are the Vertical Volute Spring Suspension units (VVSS) for short. The road wheels retain the ability to be turned and this will aid when it comes to painting. I was also very pleased to see good rib detail present on both faces of these wheels representing the stamping well. It is my understanding that it was not uncommon for more than one wheel type to be in use and so you could add a vented wheel for a different look. The stamped wheel pattern on the idler wheel has also been well replicated on both faces. The tracks are supplied as link and length offerings which is 3rd in my run down of preferences (1st workable, 2nd individual and last rubber band tracks), as with most things in life this boils down to preference. T54E1 tracks are replicated in this release and so a metal link rather than rubber. The ends of the pins should be hollow for the addition of grousers if required but this detail is missing.
The upper hull is as the lower hull a multi-part offering with the front glacis plate, engine deck and rear panel being additions to the main moulding. Weld beading is present but I suspect some will want it to be more pronounced. You are offered two styles of glacis plate with the differences being the location of the loops, these are either inboard or outboard. I have tried to confirm which is the best option and have concluded that for an M4A3 the inboard loops are the most accurate as the outboard seem to be present on the M4A3E8 versions. The engine deck has an option of two panels before the rear and despite my best efforts I failed to find out what was what here.
The tie down loops and handles have been provided as separate mouldings and so none of the flat details that need to be removed and replaced. The light guards have been well tackled in all area with the lights at the front all having clear lenses provided. The periscopes mounted in the hull hatches are nicely done again having clear lenses provided. A dislike I have is that the tow cable is a moulded part and I would have preferred to see end loops with some cable provided, This is one part I will change before all others. The tools have moulded on clamp details, but I am happy with what has been provided.
This offering from Zvezda of a 1/35th M4A3 Sherman is a good release with a nice selection of parts to allow a build with a good number of options. I do not like the moulded tow cable, but that is not exactly the end of the world. For the modeller who builds from the box this kit offers a good model which could be used to produce a good number of Sherman tanks unrelated to the two finishing options provided. The modeller who likes to add aftermarket parts has a lot of scope, but nothing that absolutely must be replaced.