M4A3E8 Sherman “Easy Eight” (Korean War)
Reviewed by Al Bowie
The culmination of the production series of Sherman was the M4A3 HVSS 76mm or as it is commonly known the “Easy Eight”. This variant started to appear in the front lines in early 1945 and was the culmination of three years of combat use and user input to a versatile design. This along with the M4A1 was the variant kept in service post war and the subject of Tasca’s latest Sherman release.
The kit represents the final configuration of the M4A3 76mm HVSS that served post war and made up the initial mainstay of the US armoured forces during the Korean war where it served with distinction and quite a measure of success against the North Korean T 34 85’s. Like the real thing the Tasca example includes all the late features such as the torsion bar hinges on the engine access grills and the late type exhaust deflector of this tank which is a first in this scale.
Once again, Tasca has produced a Sherman Masterpiece by taking the time to identify the differences in the variants and not just repackaging their earlier excellent M4A3 76mm HVSS with a different track as a Korean War variant. The kit is essentially the earlier release but with the addition of Sprue “Q” which has the post war additions in the form of the modified Mantlet and Cover, the two part louvered Exhaust grill, first Aid kit, Tank Telephone and the Torsion bar engine access hatch hinges. The other “new Sprues in this kit are for the T80 double pin track which was common (but not exclusive) to the Korean war Shermans. Tasca offer the usual four pieces of vinyl track run however the modeller will have to attach the outer styrene face representing the cast metal block along with individual hollow guide teeth which are superbly moulded with their locking nut and the access hole in the top. This will be time consuming but will give an ultra realistic finish and prevent the usual problem of vinyl tracks in their “curving” around the idler and sprocket.
Construction commences with the track runs which will take some time. The cast transmission housing is next with its multi part tow shackle mounts which are provided separately (four parts each). Nicely recess positions are provided so that the end result looks like they are welded to the hull like the real thing. The lower hull is Tasca’s usual multi-piece affair however the design of this poses no problems and the construction is easy. Take care not to cement parts M12 (Idler Axle stubs) into M6 as these function like the real thing on an elliptical plane allowing for track tensioning. Following on is the HVSS suspension and these are not articulated like Tasca’s previous VVSS suspension units. This is interesting as DML’s latest HVSS units are. Each Bogie unit is made up 19 parts including the road wheels. This section of production finishes with the Return rollers and mounts.
Hull construction is quite straight forward with the hull added to the lower hull and transmission assembly. The engineering is spot on in this area with perfect fit. The drivers hatches have separately supplied Clear styrene periscopes and covers although protective guards are not supplied and the hatch handle are not supplied but the instructions recommend ).3mm Brass be folded using the plan included for these. PE fenders are provided as well as moulded ones and the gun crutch can be assembled open or closed. The rear hull is straightforward as well with the option of PE or Moulded Light guards. The correct Hatch rests are provided along with the Torsion bar hinges. Note that two bolts from part O7 need to be removed. The pioneer tools are Tasca’s usual with no PE straps. The Suspension and tracks are fitted next which prove to be no problem and I recommend the use of the moveable elliptical idler to tension the track then secure this with glue. The sand shields are provided in plastic and are commendably thin. The Rear ahull fittings are similar to those in the earlier kit but reflect the post war fittings such as the Tank telephone and the lack of Spare track mounts either side of the folding stowage rack with the gun cleaning rods. The multipart louvered exhaust grill is a stunning moulding and includes the locking braces.
The turret comes next and the only real differences here are the mantlet and cover. The mantlet has the welded locating strips moulded on and the cover is made up of a lower, upper and two side panels which will need a bit of filler to blend together. The commanders cupola is moulded in clear styrene with a separate upper rotatable hatch assembly. The loaders hatch has inner pads and latches and is supplied with a handle. A separate locking latch is provided should you wish to display this open. The gun tube is again provided as a two part affair with a three part muzzle break. It would be nice if tasca would consider turned barrels instead of these thin two part affairs. The turret is finished off with the superb Tasca M2 50 cal which can be fitted to the commanders mount or stowed on the rear of the turret.
The marking options to me are fairly colourful by Sherman standards with two Korean War examples being provided. The first has been offerd before on the original DML Korean War E8 which is C Company 89 TB 25 ID Han River 1951. It has the Red and White Sharks mouth and eyes and “Rices Red Devils” on the turret. The second Example is “Skeeter hawk of the 64 TB 3 ID han River Feb 51 with A Tigers head on a Blue square with White diagonals.
This kit continues to keep with the high standards that Tasca have set themselves and is by far the best late M4A3 HVSS 76mm yet kitted in plastic. It is not without criticism however and I feel the old fashioned two piece barrel lets it down along with the lack of PE for the tools and the lack of handles for the Drivers hatches. These are very minor issues along with the lack of articulated suspension a usual hallmark of Tasca Shermans. Tasca have again done their homework and having compared this kit to the DML version it is just ahead (In fairness the newer DML M4A3 HVSS 76mm depicts a WW2 vehicle). An excellent late production M4A3 76mm HVSS Sherman production can be built from this kit and by using Aftermarket decals a string of colourful Korean war Shermans can soon grace the modeller’s shelves.
Very highly recommended and well worth the price.
Thanks to Tasca for the sample
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