Product Review - Tasca M4A4 Sherman Firefly

by Rob Williams

First published in the August 2009 AMMS Brisbane newsletter

At QMHE this year, I had the opportunity to purchase one of these kits, and having read only good reviews of the kit, decided to see if the reviews were correct. The kit comes in a box similar in size to most Sherman based kits, but that’s about where the similarity ends.

The box art for the most part is written in Japanese, as are the instructions with the exception of a few words here and there, but the instructions are also very clear (a point DML might like to note). However, there were a few areas where I was scratching my head, and a few more comments in English would probably be a good idea. One good point in the instructions is that any changes which need to be made for whichever of the four variants is being modelled are called out along the way.

The plastic used is an olive drab colour, very similar to the plastic Tamiya use for their Allied kits, and is somewhat softer than DML’s. One point of note is the sprue attachment points, which for the most part are very few in number, and generally of about 0.5mm or less in thickness, making parts cleanup a breeze.

As is usual for most tank kits, construction commences with the suspension, which, like most Sherman suspensions, is fiddly. I didn’t bother using the rubber pads provided in the kit, which are intended to mimic the action of the springs, as I normally display my tank kits on a level base anyway. The track skids are some of the thinnest I have ever seen, and although I had some Aber ones available, stuck with the plastic kit items.

The hull is made up of eight pieces, which fit together absolutely perfectly, and the result is quite rigid. One point to note is the holes which have to be drilled in the rear panel for bits on the back of the tank. On the rear panel, assembly is fairy conventional, and the assembly instructions are exceptionally clear. At the front, the transmission cover is complete with a very fine casting texture, and the two bolted flanges are of two pieces each, just as in real life (about time a kit manufacturer woke up to that!)

When it came to fitting the upper hull to the lower, the fit was the best I have ever seen on a Sherman kit, with no gaps anywhere. The hatches and other bits on the upper hull are all very well detailed, with clear periscopes and head pads for the inside of the hatches. Of course, you won’t need this for the co-driver’s hatch, as unless you’re modelling a re-arming scene, the hatch would be closed. The brush guards for the headlights and tail lights are commendably thin and not worth replacing with brass items – they are among the thinnest I have seen in plastic.

One of my few criticisms is that the 17 pounder barrel is in two pieces, which was the usual nightmare to clean up and remove the seam. However, on the other hand, the outside handles for the driver’s and co-driver’s hatches are drawn as being made out of wire, with exact dimensions given – first time I’ve ever seen that in a kit.

Another first is that the kit provides the arm which holds open the loader’s hatch, and the sockets on each headlight guard which held the cap for the wiring socket when the lights were stowed inside. The tracks are provided in a vinyl type material, in two lengths for each side, with very little cleanup required. One last thought – the instructions would have you add 12 tiny (about 0.2mm each) rivets to each of the 12 roadwheels after cutting them off the sprue. That’s 144 rivets, and after losing two out of the first three, I decided that my wheels would be muddy.

All in all, an excellent kit – the other reviewers of this kit were quite correct when they claimed that Tasca has raised the art of modelling Sherman tanks to a new height.