History:  The M4A1 Sherman was standardized in December of 1941 and started production in February of 1942.   It was distinctive due to its rounded cast upper hull, but was otherwise mechanically similar to the M4.

In early 1944, the T.23 type turret with a 76mm gun found its way onto Sherman productions lines, and by the end of the year, the HVSS suspension was adopted.   The HVSS, or "Easy 8" suspension was noted for its better ride, longer track life and the ability to change individual road wheels.

HVSS Shermans were produced until April of 1945, and although M4A3E8 Shermans saw combat in WWII, the M4A1E8 was apparently never used in combat by U.S. forces.   They were used for training after the war by the U.S. and by several allied nations, including France.   This model depicts a post-war training vehicle, or perhaps a test vehicle lingering at Aberdeen.

The Kit:  This is a full resin kit by a French company called AL.BY, and is one of the nicest resin kits I have ever seen.   There were actually a lot of parts, with very few bubbles.   The only mis-cast parts were the drive sprocket, which were out of round and made it troublesome to get the tracks to fit correctly.

The kit tracks were nicely cast into sections, however the castings of the HVSS suspension and the lower hull, with the final drive and boogie mounts were great.   Some minor adjustments had to be made to the hull top and bottom in a couple of places to get them to fit together, but this was no big deal.   The tools on the rear deck are beautiful, even though they were cast on the hull.   They are a highlight of this kit.

The turret is a gem.   As with the rest of kit, the detail is excellent.   All the hatches are separate parts and are detailed inside and out.   The detail on the inside of the hatch was so nice that I wanted to leave one open, but with no interior, I opted to close them all.

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The instruction sheet was a one-page exploded view, which was adequate, with part location basically not a problem.   Overall, the fit of this kit was pretty good, and when you consider it was resin, that makes it more impressive.   The only additions I made to the kit were 5 MV lenses and a resin wooden crate on the back shelf.

Finish and Markings:  The kit was primed/pre-shaded with Model Master enamel burnt umber, and painted olive drab with lightened highlights.   This was sealed with Humbrol gloss coat, and then washed with acrylics.   This was followed with a layer of Humbrol dull coat, and then dry-brushing with oils, and finishing with another layer of dull coat.   The stars are Archer dry transfers, and the numerals are from the spares box.

U.S. Military Tracked Vehicles, Fred Crismon, Motorbooks International, 1992
The Encyclopedia of Tank and Armored Fighting Vehicles, C.F. Foss, Amber Books, 2002

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