Airfix 1/76 M4 Sherman Mk. I (A01303V) Build Review

I intend to go for a quick build pretty much OOB, but there are a couple of things I do want to do. The main gun provided with the kit just looks silly – it’s much too thin and I want to replace it. There are also two odd humps on the rear hull where the lifting rings should be – I’ll replace these things with something that looks a little more like the original.

I start with the gun. A piece of circular sprue of an appropriate diameter is cut, lightly tapered and drilled and I use this to replace the wimpy kit version. Not perfect, but an improvement.

I then start to assemble the hull. Fit isn’t great here – the hull sides seem to be slightly warped and even after using tape while the glue sets there are gaps between the hull sides and the front of the transmission cover at the front. A little filler is needed here. I also replace the humps on the hull rear with a couple of plastic-card plates and half-rings.

Assembling the cupola and hatches is a little tricky because location for the hatches isn’t great. It takes a bit of fiddling to get something without large gaps.

The lower hull sides are sanded to remove the sink-marks and part numbers. Then everything gets a coat of MIG Jiminez olive green. As has happened before with this paint, the result is a slightly glossy finish that’s darker than I was aiming for, but as I’ll be using a couple of coats of matt clear varnish, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  

Then, I paint the roadwheel tyres, a fairly easy job because the rubber tyres are proud of the wheel centres. Assembling the suspension is tricky, mainly due to fit issues. In ten of the twelve roadwheels, the hole in the centre was too small to allow the wheels to be fitted over the spindles on the bogies. I had to drill them out with a 1mm drill. There are also ridges and moulding imperfections on the spindles that attach the bogies to the hull sides – these have to carefully trimmed to get the bogies to fit. Even the sprockets don’t fit well – on one side the fit was fine but on the other, the spindle of the sprocket was too large to fit in the hole in the hull side – I had to drill out the hole with a 2mm drill.

Once the suspension was done, I added some highlights on the hull, suspension and turret then used a final thinned coat of olive green to blend everything in.

Then the decals were applied using Vallejo decal fix and decal softener – I’m going for British 4th Armoured Brigade markings. After that, everything gets a coat of matt, clear varnish which reduces the shine and lightens the overall colour.

Then, the tracks. The T-41 tracks fitted to some Shermans, which is what I think these are supposed to be, comprised thick rubber blocks with steel bars inside fitted between metal retainers and end-pieces. I used black and grey for the blocks and gunmetal for the retainers and end pieces to try to replicate this.

Finally, I used Abteilung Oils Faded Green as a wash to make everything look a bit grubby and to give some detail to the hull, suspension bogies and turret. I also painted the tools on the rear hull – not an easy job as they are not very well defined. Then it got a radio antenna and a final coat of matt varnish and I added the tracks – these are the usual pain to join, but they are a good length and fit well over the sprockets, idlers and roadwheels. This is the end result.

After Action Report

Overall, this looks OK, but it has some problems that make it difficult to recommend. Most experienced modellers are going to want something that is more accurate to a particular model of Sherman and that has sharper mouldings. However, even as a cheap beginner’s kit, this has some drawbacks. Notably, ten of the twelve roadwheels just didn’t fit on the spindles on the bogies – I think that would be a massive frustration for a young modeller.

Other than the fit issues, this is a quick and simple build, and sometimes, that’s rather nice. The main gun provided with the kit is horrible, but it isn’t difficult to replace. Perhaps the best thing is to simply accept this as what it is; a kit from nearly sixty years ago when standards and expectations for small-scale models were lower. What you’ll end up with is a piece of Airfix nostalgia rather than an exemplary Sherman kit. If you are willing to accept that, or perhaps to use this as the basis for building something better, then this is inexpensive way to while-away a few hours.

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Airfix 1/76 M4 Sherman Mk. I (A01303V) In-Box Review and History

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