Photo etched set for Sherman III / M4A2, M4 Mortar Carrier and Sunflowers
Voyager Model, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Al Bowie
One such producer of these is Voyager Models of China whose Photo etched (PE) products appear almost simultaneously with new kit releases. These sets provide replacement for various items in kits such as fenders, brackets, bins, tie loops, dashboards etc. When Brett asked me if I would like to review these sets I jumped at the chance as I had yet to take the PE challenge and had a few of the kits they were made for.
I found the Brass(?) quite soft and very thin so care needs to be taken not to overfold any folds thus resulting in a shear along the fold. The thinness aids in the bending and the parts do not possess any overt “spring” I have found in some other PE pieces.
The Sherman III/M4A2 sets are quite detailed and extensive with three sets covering different items of the Kit.
Sherman III/M4A2 Sets
PEA 101 is intended for DML kit 6313 the Sherman III and Has a complex Turret Stowage bin which can be made to function as the real thing (with a serious amount of patience and a magnifying glass! It also gives a “Flimsy Rack for the fender , British Antenna Guard and Side Rails which feature prominently on British 8th Army Shermans and AFVs. These were actually Rails to support a Canvas disguise in the shape of a truck body to fool enemy recon. Whilst the DML kit supplies the rails and rack as PE parts they are incomplete without hull mounting brackets. This set has the most complex construction in the shape of the Crusader Stowage bin with its working hinges and latches. The latch is made up of 4 minute parts with difficult bends, the lid and lower are complex 1 piece parts which require folding to shape. The curves are made simpler by multiple scorings closely spaced over the radius of the required curve. By slowly bending each part of the way a good curve is achieved.
The edges can be joined with Superglue or as I did with Solder. I found the best way to do this was to fold the item and hold the edge together with Tamiya masking tape. I then applied Bakers Soldering fluid with an “0” brush and allowing capillary action to draw the flux along the join. I then “tinned the tip with a drop of solder and applied the tip to the outside of the join. The flux drew the solder along the join quite well (after a bit of practice on some scrap PE). Cleanup is done with flux remover and a fine file. I used heatsink clamps (Small alligator like clips) between ends so that the applied heat didn’t “spring” the other end. but with patience will result in a stunning and working stowage bin. Unfortunately my dexterity and patience was not up to bending the three hinges but I did persist and get one done by pinning one end in my new Etchmate 3C and pushing a dressmakers pin down on the PE along the fold groove and then rolling the piece around the pin and finishing off with needle nose pliers. I recommend Terry Ashley’s great article on this subject on PMMS for tips on their construction. The end piece will provide a bin which can be dented and depicted like the real thing in an open position. If you are not up to the hinges and latches you can use the kit parts.
The rack was quite simple to assemble and is easily soldered. The side racks offer no problems with simple bends however I recommend the use of an Etch tool in their construction.
This set, despite being labelled as being for the Sherman III is quite useable in detailed British Sherman II’s, Crusaders, valentines etc as they all used the Rails, Flimsy Racks and in the case of the Crusader and Sherman II , the turret bin. I highly recommend this set for anyone modelling a North African campaign 8th Army Sherman or Crusader.
PE 35135 offers a set of Sandshileds for an M4A2 which are made up like the real thing with separate fenders, side skirts and rear fenders. I have made the DML fenders and found these more detailed and complete. The set eve nprovide fine rod and PE nuts to make the Bolts that join the various assemblies for those that require a real challenge. These are minute and go through the joiner plates like the real thing. The DML kit also supplies the fenders but these are not complete assemblies, lacking the joining plates for the individual panels. A set of mounting strip is also included. Copper Rod is included to be glued along the bottom of the skirts to represent the rolled edge of the real thing. This will be difficult to glue on keeping alignment with the edge but will add to the realism if done correctly. This set could also be used with the DML M4A2 with welded Hoods (Tarawa). For a Commonwealth vehicle in NA, Italy or NWE (Nth West Europe). They could also be used on M4 or M4A1 kits with a little modification. Recommended
The box art of PE 3519 is extremely mis;eading and it is doubtful that it would pass Australian Consumer Law. This set unlike the others comes in a small box and depicts Skirts, Rails and Turret details on a DML kit on the box top The kit does not actually contain any of this however. What it does contain are all the myriad of small detail parts for a Sherman III such as Commanders direct fire Vane Sight, Turret Spotlight, hatch latches, periscope guards, 30 Cal brrel jackets, Stowage tie loops, Hatch details, MG stowage clips etc. it even has a horseshoe for the turret. It could be used on any mid to late model 75mm Sherman Turret and probably possesses features that post date the example it is intended for.
The hull features are amazing and include the raised lettering around the various fuel and water filler caps, Extinguisher handles, Rear light faces, Light guards, Tool Stowage straps and brackets and a late war British First Aid box. It also includes Track racks, Hull hatch details, resin Siren and Taillight. The gem of this lot are the hatch springs which are real working springs. A set of PE Skids is included to replace the over thich kit parts and PE nuts for these are included.
The set has parts applicable to M4 and M4A4 hulls included. Most of the fittings are for a later war model Sherman II and are not really applicable to Desert Sherman’s although the set is perfect for detailing Brit Sherman’s from NWE. This set is quite detailed and is useable for both US and Commonwealth Sherman’s – Recommended despite the misleading Box top (although the rear of the box has a list of contents.
PE 35166 M4 Mortar Carrier
This set is very complete and offers the ability to really go to town with the DML M4 Mortar Carrier (in itself a very detailed kit). The set offers new PE doors with all the interior and exterior details; these have four working hinges a piece which are made of three parts. They will be museum quality once assembled and really look like the real thing. A new louvered armour radiator cover is supplied five parts. A replacement Windscreen cover with working vision ports and hinges is included. They have even supplied windscreen wipers! A pair of jerry can holders and resin jerry cans is included. A lovely PE dash with sandwiched film instruments is included providing a superbly detailed piece in that even includes glove box keys! Fender supports, brackets and Bonnet latches make up the parts for the front of the vehicle. Hinged Covers for the Ammo bins are provided, again with working hinges. New rear fender steps are included with detailed and complex stowage brackets; Door handles etc for the hull rear. Hinges are provided for the rear door.
Detail parts are included for the front winch roller and the engine Fan and alternator cover. Hinged lids for the Ammo bins are provided, again working with working latches. An antenna mount and stowage box mounts are included.
The kits 30 Cal MGs have a a makeover from PE parts including the mounts, Ammo cans, Ammo, Sights and jacket covers. The mounts are from PE with supplied rod for the locking pins. Chain for the mortar legs rounds out this highly detailed and complete set. Recommend for the advanced modeller. This will certainly be popular with the AMS (Advanced Modelling Syndrome) afflicted modellers.
PEA 102 81mm Ammunition Stowage for M4 Mortar Carrier
Just when you though there was no detail left to add to the M4 Mortar carrier along comes this set which is the Ammo and Stowage for the 81 mm mortar in the M4 HT. The PE fret does not look as daunting as the M4 set however it will require a lot of patience to assemble this set. This set is the Ammo stowage bins and they are assembled like the real thing with the individual dividers being glued in place to make up the individual compartments. Each box has three “shelves with four dividers each and another four dividers. This is “wrapped by a box and the two ends added. The set provides two of these which are placed on the floor of the vehicle rear. A similar set with four shelves of five dividers is provided for the hull locker and finally the two rear floor bins have one shelve with three dividers a side. Two of these are provided. To round out the set plastic rod is provided as the ammo canisters with PE end caps. Enough caps are provided to make 28 canisters.
This set will require patience but will result in a very life like set of ammo stowage bins. There is a lot of folding and gluing to be done and I do not believe soldering will be an option with this set due to the small size between shelves and dividers. I would recommend superglue and a slower setting one at that.
TE 025 & 026 Sunflowers Big & Small
These are interesting sets and offer multi part PE sunflowers in various sizes. Each set has parts to assemble 14 Sunflowers with the large ones being 5.5cm ( 2”) tall and the small ones being 4.5cm ( 1 ¾ “) tall. Each set has two different sized Plant heads each made up of four layers of discs with leaves around the circumference. The stalk leaves will requiring bending and shaping to avoid the 1 dimensional look as will the leaves around the plant heads. The end result is quite a nice little plant and if you need sunflowers for a dio these are a good source. I soldered mine but would recommend Superglue as a suitable alternative. Recommended.
These sets offer fantastic detail that can really add something to a model and giving it the edge over others. Having said that, with the exception of the Sunflowers, these are not for beginners and offer a great challenge to the modeller. They will challenge your eyesight, patience and dexterity but the end result will give you something to be really proud of.
Thanks to Voyager Model for the samples
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Text by Al Bowie