by Rob Williams

First published in the March 2009 AMMS Brisbane newsletter

Recently, my wife and daughter took off for the day to attend a bridal expo at the RNA showgrounds. As I have much the same liking for such functions as for root canal work sans anaesthetic, I graciously declined to accompany them on the basis that they took my daughter’s Astra and left me ours.

Having been given the chance, I of course took the opportunity to visit Purple Bear. Mind you, I had been warned by Ken that there wasn’t much new in sight, but thought I’d have a look anyway. Surprise, surprise – between Ken’s visit and mine some DML stock had appeared, including:

I walked out with the US M4A1 DV Sherman (and a few other bits and pieces as well), hence this review.

Box top illustration is nice and clear, but with no indication of the artist, so it’s not Ron Volstad. Side and bottom of the box show the features of the kit including:

The instructions are of the exploded variety, and there are only 11 steps (compare this with the Panther G, which has 17), which should mean that this is a fairly quick and simple kit to build. Etched brass is minimal, mainly consisting of engine vent mesh, mudguards, headlight guards and tool straps. Clear parts are supplied for all the lights, periscopes, etc and a length of wire for the tow cable. Memo to DML – PLEASE provide the tow cable in copper, as it’s much easier to bend than steel. Decals are provided for two US M4A1s, one in Tunisia and one in Sicily (mmm – isn’t that interesting, and we have an Italian campaign theme comp on this year too . . . )

Road wheels and idlers are of the spoked variety, with only a very faint seam and sprue attachment points to clean up. The transmission cover is a new moulding which has a very subtle cast steel texture to it and separate ribs. Two different hull rear ends are provided, so you can show the engine bay doors open or closed, and there are also two different engine vent covers.

The cast upper hull has the same subtle cast texture as the transmission cover, which also continues onto the lower hull, which is festooned with rivets (and no, I don’t know if there’s the right number!) Sprue A is from the M4A2/A3 kits, and the only parts used from this sprue are the tools. Hull hatches and periscope covers are on a separate (and new) sprue with some very fine handles and other fiddly bits – you aren’t going to need too much wire for handles on this beast.

Last but not least is the turret, which is from the M4 Sherman, and includes no less than three different mantlets and a slide moulded barrel. When you are finished with this kit, about a third of the parts are going to be left for the spares box. There is no external M2 .50 calibre machine gun, and no spare track links (but then, having made several Sherman kits with those horrible three piece links, I have no shortage of those!)

Highly recommended.