Tasca 35021 – U.S. Assault Tank M4A3E2 Sherman “Jumbo”

Tasca is a Japanese manufacturer who specialise in Sherman variants as well as a few minor German armour offerings.  They aren’t a prolific manufacturer but what they make are generally condidered to be the best Sherman kits available, and deservedly so. This is one of their latest offerings and it is no exception. The M4A3E2 U.S. Assault Tank ( better known now by all as the Sherman ) “Jumbo” was a variant developed in June/July 1944 to assault bunkers ( hence “Assault Tank” ) and came with thicker armour. 1.5 inches of steel plate was added to the front glacis and hull sides while a new transmission cover also added extra protection ( 5.5 inches in total ) and a new T23 style turret came with six inch walls.

This kit comes in a large tray and lid type box that contains ten large sized, five medium sized, and four small sprues all moulded in dark green plastic. There are also two sprues of  clear parts, one clear vinyl sprue with polycaps, one photo-etch fret, a small section of fine black felt, a sheet of decals, and four lengths of track. Lastly of course there is also the instruction book and a sheet with the painting/marking guide. This kit contains a lot of parts, over 500 in total – and all that without individual link tracks.

The mouldings are all clean and crisp, the detail is sharp and there is a lot of it, with a lot of the smaller parts being very delicate, so this is a kit where one needs to be wary of the carpet monster and fat fingers when building it. Clean-up is minimal with absolutely zero flash and very faint mould seams - though faint as they are they’re there as they are on all injection moulded kits, but at least in this case removing them is very easy. Knock out marks are all in areas that won’t be seen, and many parts have been cleverly moulded in such a way as to minimize any form of manufacturing excess. An example being the jerry-cans which are moulded upright in one piece for the bottom and another for the top so as to have no seam around them.

The instructions come as a fold-out booklet that has a total of ten pages covering 20 construction steps, though many of the steps involve multiple assemblies so there is closer to thirty assembly stages. These use clear line diagram style drawings and in this kit, unlike in many of the earlier Tasca kits, the instructions are writen in both Japanese and English which does make life just that little bit easier.

The suspension is very finely detailed, made up from a lot of small, beautifully moulded parts to give the maximum ammount of detail including very finely detailed casting numbers and weld seams. This is where the felt is used to create the rubber blocks used in the Jumbo’s suspension to help deal with the added weight. The instructions also advise you to use two blocks at the front and three at the rear to help represent the Jumbo’s nose heavy look. This sort of attention to detail is what makes Tasca kits so damn good.

If you want to do so you can also  make the suspension to be workable once assembled. You also get the choice of different road wheels and drive sprockets ( open spoke wheels or big hub wheels, two types of idler wheel, and three different types of drive sprockets ), so you’ll have a lot of spare running gear to add to the spares bin.

The tracks are made up from four lengths of soft vinyl, two per side, representing the T48 Chevron type tracks. Due to the Jumbo’s increased weight it used tracks with an extention fitted to add width which were refered to as “duckbill” extensions due to their appearance, so that’s what Tasca have provided. Detail is very good right down to small gaps between the links which is not something you will usually see in vinyl tracks. Usually I wouldn’t bother with these sorts of tracks and would go with individual link ones like the Bronco sets or metal Friulmodel tracks, but these ones are actually very good as they are.

The hull tub is made up of seperate pieces rather than the usual single moulded piece with excellent bolt detail and a subtle rolled steel texture on the hull sides. A new differential housing is included to accurately represent the thicker version found on the Jumbo, and the rear deflector can be positioned open or closed. This is made up of some beautifully produced parts that give a very thin edge profile.

The upper hull is a single moulding with beautifully done weld seams, subtle texturing, and casting numbers, with separate panels provided for the additional front and side armour plates. A complete M3 machine gun is provided for the bow gun which has some excellent detail including a hollowed out muzzle. There are separate engine access panels though no engine if you wanted to position them open.

The driver’s and co-driver’s hatches are also separate parts with clear parts used for the periscopes. The rest of the hull detail as far as I can tell is correct, and you get the option of using photo-etched parts for the light guard covers though the ones provided in this kit are already very finely moulded and personally I can’t see the PE ones looking better.

The Turret is the correct T23 style with the commander’s cupola, oval loader’s hatch, and no pistol port. This has a very nice cast texture, though it lacks the prominent casting numbers located on the sides and on the top above the mantlet, though as these ones varied from vehicle to vehicle they are probably best added yourself anyway to get the correct numbers.

You also get an unusual option ( for kits other than Tasca ones ) with the commander’s cupola as it is provided as both an OD plastic part or a clear part with both sprues the same otherwise. This allows you to use the clear part and paint all but the vision blocks allowing them to remain clear. The rest of the turret, like the hull, is a host of small, finely detailed parts from the internal hatch springs to the D80030 cradle and ammo box assembly ( all you need to add is the retaining pin chains ).

The cupola, like the turret itself, is also missing the casting numbers around the rim and on the hatch cover ( and if you’re really anal the gunner’s periscope cover and the MG pintel as well – Shermans had a LOT of casting numbers ). One other small omission is that although you’re shown how to make a hatch handle for the outside of the cupola hatch from 0.3mm wire no wire for this is included.

The gun is moulded as two halves rather than being a single slide moulded piece so this is probably the one part I’d recommend changing for an AM metal one with rifling. Tasca have included the correct angular mantlet for the T23 turret, and this includes the prominent weld join around the circumference. You actually get a choice of three gun barrels to use, the 75mm which was on the original Jumbos, the standard 76mm which many of them were upgraded to in early 1945, and the late style 76mm with the threaded end cap at the muzzle.

Also included are four U.S. jerrycans and a very nicely done Browning M2HB .50 cal Machine Gun. The .50cal MG is the one of the ones from the set that Tasca also sell separately ( see its own review HERE ) and is a small kit all in itself, including hollowed out muzzle and hollow cooling jacket. It includes the correct .50 cal WWII type ammo tin, optional barrels, and can be mounted on its pintel mount or stowed on the rear of the turret in a purpose built rack.

Decals are provided for four vehicles – 33rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armoured Division, Houfallize Belgium, 1945 : 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armoured Division, Belgium, January 1945 : 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armoured Division, Koln ( Cologne ), March 1945 : 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armoured Division, Alzey Germany, March 1945.

Conclusion. This is a superb kit and can be built straight from the box into a very nice model. The level of detail surpasses any rivals, eclipsing the old Tamiya version. So if you’re looking to build a good model of the Sherman “Jumbo” then I firmly believe this is kit for you. It’s not the cheapest kit around, Tasca kits never are ( though they are holding their price where DML’s are coming up to meet them ), but the end result is well worth the money spent. Tasca kits take the quality and complexity of Bronco and DML and combine it with the ease of assembly and clear instructions of Tamiya. Very highly recommended.

Click images to enlarge ( opens in new window )