by: Pat McGrath [ ]
IntroductionThis is a first look at the Tasca 1/35 British Army Sherman 2 Direct Vision Type (El Alamein 1942) Kit. Tasca sent it to me in the box for the Firefly as the box wasn’t ready. My review kit lacked the decal sheet and the instructions though I do have a color photocopy of the decals and a computer printout of the instructions, but no painting guide.
Kit contentsThe kit comes on 13 crisply produced orange sprues together with two green plastic sprues for the Jerricans and two for the M2 Machine Gun. There is a sheet of foam rubber and a sprue of clear poly caps supplied for the suspension. There are two clear plastic sprues containing headlight lenses and periscopes.
A small PE fret with a grill for the engine deck and grouser covers, tie downs and bolts with wing nuts for the air filters is included. The Grills for the grouser covers are not used but are handy to have for any old Shermans in the stash though.
For the most part the sprues are the same as in Tasca’s M4A1 mid production Sherman. So we get the same 8 piece lower hull, a choice of early round or square air cleaners, 12 parts for the early three piece transmission. This might seem complicated but my experience of Tasca Shermans is that they go together like a dream and the multiple part assembly adds to the detail.
We do get a new re-contoured Direct Vision upper hull. Having viewed it from all angles it looks as if Tasca have captured the shape very well. The direct vision slots come as inserts which you place from beneath when detailing the upper hull.
These early Shermans didn’t have a sand shield strip, instead they had little blocks with bolt holes welded along the length of the tank just under the sponsons to which the sand shields were bolted and these are reproduced here though without the holes. The instructions say to remove them but for tanks with damaged or missing sand shields they could be left in place.
The sand shields themselves are on a new sprue that has everything that makes this an El Alamein Sherman. As well as the sand shields, it contains the water can rack and water cans, British aerial mounts and the “Sunshield” brackets and rails. This sprue also contains the early flared gun barrel in two halves, the British Crusader style stowage box, the early grouser covers and the DV slots and covers. The grouser covers (C30, C31) are of a style I’m not familiar with. I had thought the early covers were triangular in section and made from flat sheet whereas these have a curved upper surface, but a quick look through my references showed that both types were used.
The suspension is an all new tooled M3 style with two options for the bogies. One option has a strengthening the ridge running across the front, the other option doesn’t. Each bogie is made up of 16 pieces, by my count, including the wheels and the foam inserts that make the suspension semi workable. Only one type of wheels is included – the open spoked type appropriate to the time frame for these Shermans. The suspension is on self contained sprues and will be released separately by Tasca in November.
The upper hull details are very cleanly cast and the head and tail light guards are thin enough not to need etched replacements. The tools are also nicely cast but lack any detail on the clasps and they also need straps and buckles added. The fuel and water caps have their retaining pins in place. The fuel tank filler caps are moulded in detail on the hull so the caps can be positioned open.
The turret is the same as the mid production non DV kit with plenty of detail. As mentioned there is a new two piece plastic gun barrel with the flared end appropriate to the early Sherman. The shell ejection/pistol port is detailed on the inside and can be positioned open. Included in the kit is a new early Machine gun mount for the 50 Cal Machine gun which also comes with the early ammo box.
The tracks are the T51 Rubber Block style in four lengths of brown vinyl. These glue together with ordinary styrene cement and don’t have any of the problems associated with stiffer vinyl tracks
A note about the instructions; these come in typical exploded diagram form, what text there is for the most part in Japanese, although there are some notes in English. If you take your time and dry fit as you go you should have no problems. Where a misunderstanding is possible Tasca have included B/W photos of relevant areas of the Sherman. There are a couple of small things to watch out for such as filling the placement holes on the forward hatches where the springs go on the later version.
The decals are for three tanks; 'CRICKLADE' a Tank of the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, Syria April 1943. The other markings are for the 9th Lancers, El Alamein October 1942(Box top Art) and the 3rd Hussars at Alamein. The Royal Wiltshire and the 3rd Hussars tank were part of the 2nd New Zealand Div and should, I think, carry the fern leaf sign which is not included in the decals.
We also get a British Figure dressed in Overalls and a Beret. The figure breakdown is: a one piece torso and legs with separate head and arms. The detail is quite good and we also get a separate open top holster and ear phone covers and a microphone. There were some cooling lines on the torso of the figure which is a pity.
ConclusionThis is a superb kit terrifically engineered which modelers have been asking for for a long time. Tasca kits may be a bit more expensive but in my experience you get what you pay for. As I said at the top this is a first look review, I will go into more depth later but I wanted to let people know what was in the box and have a good look at the sprues.
A bonus with this kit is that because many of the sprues are from a previous kit some parts are redundant and will make a nice addition to any spares box.
Click here for additional images for this review.