Tasca US Assault Tank M4A3E2 Sherman "Jumbo"
review by Sean Lynch
The M4A3E2 Assault tank arose from the need for US forces in Northwest Europe to have a heavily armored tank to attack the strong German defences as the Allied forces approached Germany from the West. The hope of having a heavier tank specific for this role didn't materialize in time, so the decision was made to upgrade the tanks on hand, in particular the common M4A3 Sherman. The hull sides and front glacis received an extra 1 1/2" of rolled steel plate, a new differential cover 5 1/2" thick was installed, and a new turret with 6 "sides and rear, 1 " thick roof and a gun shield 7 " thick were added. The increased weight decreased speed, and often "duckbills" were added to the track to increase floatation. Originally the standard 75mm gun was used, but in spring of 1945 many of the "Jumbos" were upgunned with the 76mm main gun. In total 254 of the Jumbo's were built and served well, taking punishment other tanks couldn't.
The Jumbo has been a popular subject for years. However, to build an accurate one required lots of kit bashing, aftermarket parts and scratchbuilding. Luckily, Tasca has now built a very accurate rendition of the Jumbo. Everything needed comes in one box with clear directions and is very straightforward to build. In addition, this kit contains common sprues from other Tasca Sherman releases, so the modeler gets many options for items such as road wheels and ends up with alot of extras for the spares box.
Looking through the photos, the amount of detail on the parts can be seen. Next question is, how does it go together? The Answer is easily, quickly and with virtually no fit issues. Each step will be shown. Additional comments will be made as necessary.
Step 1: Track Assembly
The tracks come in 4 sections per side. Each end was glued together with Tamiya Thin Cement with no problems noticed.
Step 2: Drive Sprocket and idler Wheel Assembly
Step 3: Differential Cover Assembly
The cast texture of the nose is excellent
Step 4: Suspension Arm Assembly
There are a few types of roadwheels included in the kit. I decided on the large hub type. If you are going to follow the painting guide with the kit, then care needs to be taken when choosing the roadwheel to match the vehicle you are depicting (the same can be said if you are working from a photo of a particular Jumbo).
Step 5: Suspension Assembly
Since the suspension arms are separate pieces, they can be allowed to move freely on the completed suspension. Not only does this allow for fun while playing with the tank on the carpet, it also allows for ease in modeling the suspension in an articulated manner if desired. If you want to keep everything level, the arms can be glued in place. A foam rubber sheet is supplied by Tasca. You will need to cut it into pieces (4.5mm by 11mm). These act as spacers in the bogies. Since the Jumbo was very heavy toward the front, it did bow forward a bit. To accomodate this look, Tasca has the modeler put 2 of the foam rubber pieces in the front bogies and 3 in each of the middle and rear bogies. Be sure to follow the directions on this step carefully. Note the detail in the bogies, just very nice work all around.
Step 6: Lower Hull Assembly
The lower hull goes together in several pieces. I had no trouble in lining them up and getting them square. The rear exhaust deflector is built in this step. The deflector can be modeled open or closed and really captures the look of the real thing.
Step 7 Hull Top Assembly
I did find that the drain holes for the fuel guards needed to be drilled out.
Step 8: Hull Top Assembly continued
The additional armor is added to the hull. Some care is needed to make sure all parts are lined up.
Step 9: Drivers Hatch Assembly The brush gaurds for the periscopes as well as the tail lights are PE included with the kit. The were very easy to work with and were removed from the fret easily
Step 10: Hull Upper Part Installation
Step 11: Engine Deck Installation
Step12: Hull right Side Installation
Step 13: VVSS Suspension
This step has you attach the bogies, idler and drive sprocket and tracks. No picture was taken.
Step 14: Sand Shield Mounting Assembly
Step 15: Rear Panel Attachments
Step 16: Gun Assembly
Tasca provides the modeler with 3 choices of gun, the 75mm, 76mm without threading and barrel cap or the 76mm with threading and gun cap. In addition, you must remove the gun mount (part F18) lifting hooks and replace them with lifting hooks specific to the Jumbo.
Steps 17 and 18: Cupola Assembly and Turret Parts Assembly
Tasca provides a clear cupola or a green solid colored cupola. Tasca does have you create grab handles for the hatches from brass rod, though I found some plastic ones from the spares box. The turret halves fit well, but still some very minor filling is needed. The sanding removed a portion of the excellent cast texture, so Tamiya Grey putty was stipled on the turret to bring back the cast texture. The welds that were made to hold the turret roof in place are very nicely done.
All around photos of the completed turret can be seen in the following section's photos.
Each of the 254 Jumbos had it's own unique number cast onto the sides of the turret. This feature is not on the model. This actually makes sense as each one is unique, so to put a random number on the kit part that a modeler would probably have to remove would be counter productive. The cast number of the turret can easily be added using the various numbers on the sprues, from PE sets or surface detail sets. Casting numbers are also absent from the cupola hatch, vent cover and other spots on the turret. Again these can easily be added if desired.
The casting numbers I used were from Archer Fine Transfers.
Step 19: M2 Machine Gun Assembly
Simply put, this is the best M2 in plastic and rivals metal M2's. This can be modeled in the stowed position, has handle or no handle options for the barrel, and the receiver can be modeled opened.
Step 20: Assembling the Rear Turret
Step 21 Completion
Some very nice fuel/water cans and one ammo can are provided with the kit.
This is the kit that fans of the Jumbo have been waiting for! Overall, the details are outstanding. The fit of the parts is spot on. The kit builds very fast (I was able to get it done in about 15 hours). The only surprise was that some of the casting numbers on the turret weren't captured, but as discussed this actually may be a good thing. The additional parts included in the box are a welcomed addition to the spares box.
I can't say it enough, go out and buy this kit, you won't be disappointed!
Painting and Finish
Painting was done by first priming the model with Tamiya Grey Surface primer. All paints used for the Jumbo were from Tamiya. A base coat of NATO Black was applied to give depth and cover the primer. Next, olive drab was applied, leaving the recesses of the black base coat showing through. For lightening the olive drab, I used a thinned coat of JDGF Olive Drab that was misted into the center of the panel. A very thin application of RedBrown/NATO Black was used for post shading. This was followed by a black brown oil wash. At this point, a filter from MIG of Brown for Dark green was airbrushed on to tie all the previous layers together.
The decals were from the kit were applied. The kit decals are on thin carrier film and are trimmed up very close to the subject of each decal, especially the stars which required no trimming. Outstanding decals from this kit. A satin varnish was then applied, after that, a light brushing with black oil and enamel was applied to high wear areas. MIG pigments (predominantly Russian Earth with some Fresh Mud) were applied and the Jumbo was done. The Alpine figure was painted with Vallejo paints.
*note the figure is from Alpine and is not included in the kit
for anyone who enjoys building tank models
Thanks to Tasca for the review sample