Build & Review: Dragon #7271 1/72 M4A3(76)W VVSS Sherman

The Kit

I was fishing around for something to fill up a space on my ISM South Pacific dio. I’d picked this kit up as part of a bundle deal and it had sat in my stash for a while. It’s not the right period for the South Pacific campaign but it was the only Sherman I had to hand with time running out for the build.

This is one of Dragons 1/72 Armour Pro series which means they’ve taken a bit of extra care and provided some extras; PE & a tow cable. The parts are perfectly cast with zero flash in my box. Some of the pieces are very delicate so be careful. I broke the machine gun handle getting it off the sprue and it was beyond my skill to repair it 🙁

The Build

I followed the simple Dragon instruction sequence starting with the wheels. . Everything fitted perfectly.

As everything was going together so smoothly, I decided to have a crack at the PE. Firstly, there’s replacement front fenders. I sawed of the plastic ones with a razor saw. Just take your time and follow the line of the hull. I tidied underneath with an xacto blade.

I used a Master Tools™ PE bending tool for the straight bends and gently with my fingertips for the curves. I wasn’t too worried about the fenders looking beaten up, they’re fenders after all.

I used a cocktail stick to shape the replacement headlight covers.

Everything was attached with “Loctite Super Glue Precision Max” applied with the shaped tip of a cocktail stick. This was my first try with this glue and it performed excellently. Just viscous enough to cling to a cocktail stick so you don’t carry too much and swamp the joints.

By far the most complicated bit of PE is the rear stowage shelf. I wasn’t too worried about screwing it up as the plastic parts in the kit were pretty good. I missed out a few fiddly straps that would never be seen, but with a bit of patience and swearing under my breath, I had a shelf!

I was surprised there was no PE for the turret, but to my old eyes, the detail on the plastic kit’s roof is excellent:

And that’s the build. The tracks are one piece soft rubber/plastic. So there’s nothing to build. They slide under the sides and over the drive wheels with no problems at all.

Having admired all the lovely detail while building I was itching to get some paint on it.

The Paint

I started with my usual Poundland grey primer which looks a lot darker on this photo than it actually is. I then hit it with a black preshade, aiming for all the nooks and crannies and places where the sun don’t shine…

I let that dry and then applied a basecoat of Tamiya Olive Drab, avoiding recesses and trying to pick out individual panels. My airbrush was playing silly buggers for a while but eventually settled down.

I was a bit worried my intended dark brown wash would darken it too much so I went back over the panels and raised areas with a lightened down base coat.

Along the sides of the vehicle, I applied the paint using vertical strokes of the airbrush, this has the effect of building up subtle 1/72 scale streaking along the vertical panels. It looks a lot better after the oil wash but you’ll just have to trust me 😉

I picked out the tires with Tamiya rubber black and picked out the tools and accessories with Lifecolor Weathered wood and Tamiya gun metal.

All the decal options were out of period for the South Pacific so I just grabbed the ones I liked the look of and added them in obvious places. No one will notice, a Sherman’s a Sherman, right? 😉

I glossed under where the decals sat to help prevent silvering.

Next I gave the prominent edges a chipping with Vallejo Black Brown applied with a ripped up sponge. I started heavy at the bottom and lightened up towards the turret.

I chipped the storage shelf as that’s likely to see a lot of wear.

And around the hatches too. There’s another, fresher layer of chipping to come later on.

Happy with the base coat I sealed it with Vallejo Gloss applied in a few light coats. I has a tendency to go milky if you apply it too thickly.

Next I mixed up some black and dark brown oil paint with odourless thinners. I left it quite thick but still thin enough to creep along the panel lines.

And waited for it dry… (I keep meaning to by some oil accelerator!)

… and cleaned off the oil from places I didn’t like with thinners and a cotton bud. I dragged a damp brush down the sides to encourage streaking.

And waited for it to dry…

Once it had dried I sealed it with a matt coat of Vallejo varnish ready for further weathering.

I flat black coated the tracks and picked out the teeth with gun metal. They were attached with super glue. I wish I’d stretched them a little first but I can hide the join with mud and dust on the dio.

Next, I gave it fresh scratches and chips using a graphite pencil. It’s really easy to go mad here. A little in the obvious places is enough.

It hard to photograph graphite but it suddenly give the model ‘weight’ – it looks like it’s made of metal. It’s like magic. It’s my favourite part of an armour build 🙂

There were a few last bits (the turret mounted machine gun) and some dust weathering once I place it on the dio but I’m calling it done for now.

I took it outside the next morning before work to take some daylight shots. It was a bit overcast but light enough to get a feel for it.

The shovel is so delicate I pulled it off while painting so be careful.

And a shot where I tried to catch the graphite. It kindov works…

And the sun peaked through the clouds just enough to give me this shot.

I painted up the machine gun and gave it a graphite rub (ooer). Gutted about the handles, but I’ll keep my eye open for a replacement.

Here’s a sneak peak of the piece on the dio (build log here – it’s a long one)

An excellent kit with just enough PE in the right places to lift it above the herd. It has me keen to try some others from the Armour Pro series now!

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