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21Sep/170

Rubicon Models M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

Rubicon Models released the M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman in Q1/17, as an replacement for one of their first kits, the M4A3 Sherman. The kit got an overhaul with new options and variants included, giving you the options to build an early or late production of the M4A3 or the Easy Eight with broader tracks.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman


The Sherman was the most build tank of World War 2 and the M4A3 was issued to be a major overhaul to improve the Sherman design. Of the roughly 50,000 build Shermans, around 4,600 were build as M4A3 76mm (incl. both variants of VVSS and HVSS) that can be build from this kit. It covers the T23 turret with wet stowage and the 76mm gun with and without muzzle break. The 75mm and 105mm versions, that were part of the original M4A3 (RM280012) Rubicon kit got dropped in this variant (but will return as part of the Sherman M4A2 or MKIII kit). The M4A3 was powered by a Ford GAA V8 engine and began to replace other Sherman types in service in 1944. This final version of the Sherman was used after World War 2 until the Korean War and was used with modifications beyond that by the Israely army.

The price is set around 20 GBP / 25 EUR for the 1:56 / 28mm scale hard plastic kit and covers as mentioned parts to build either the M4A3 (early or late version) or the M4A3E8, with the options between VVSS and HVSS suspension.

This kit covers 4 sprues, a multipage instruction leaflet and a decal sheet.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

This kit is a complete re-do and shares no sprues with the older kit, and it even got bigger with an additional sprue for all the parts (three sets of tracks). Casting is properly done. The dark grey plastic of Rubicon might still have some remaining release agent left, so it might be a good advice to give it a light scrub with luke warm soap water and a brush prior to priming (this is an advice, that is rather familiar in model building). Currently they try out other colours for their plastic, so the upcoming releases will become a lighter plastic.

It is worth mentioning, that Rubicon uses a different type of hard plastic, it is a ABS plastic, that might not properly work with your plastic glue. I use Revell Contacta Professional and it works for me, but others suggest the use of products like Tamiya ABS Cement.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman
Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman
Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman
Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

Starting with the turret, the choice is set between an early and late version of the T23 turret. As I already have 3 regular shermans by Rubicon, in this review I'll build a M4A3E8 and thus using the late production T23 turret. Rubicon provides two version of the pintle mounted M2 HMG, a modeller version and a overdrawn gamer version with thickened gun barrel.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

The upper chassis is the same for both variants, but you can choose between the VVSS (Vertical Volute Spring System) and broader HVSS (Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension) fenders. You have the option to to keep the hull hatches open or closed.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

If you went wit the M4A3 with VVSS suspension, you can choose between the narrow T48 tracks and medium sized T54E1 with duckbill extenders. For the E8 with HVSS there is only the broad T80 tracks to choose from.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

With the next step, #7 in the instructions, you have two options for the differential covers. Both of them are single piece casts, but one with small and one with large hatches. It is important to keep an eye on the parts A02 and A10, as they look very similar and can easily be mixed up. In the first picture the backpart of the engine bay is missing, part B08, I added it in a later step to the tank.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

As usual, I added lead to the hull, to increase the weight of the plastic kit. If you want to field the M4A3E8 in post-war settings, you even have the upgraded exhaust system as an optional part.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

Now the E8 is almost done, only a few optional parts missing. There are spare track sections for the sides, and two different versions of back covers, one shelf for stowage and one for tools. As well as the well known optional hedge cutter for the front. If you want to go further, I suggest the Allied Stowage #1.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

And a comparison shot, from the left to the right, Rubicon M4A3E8, the old Rubicon M4A3 (76), Warlord Games Sherman V and Warlord/Italeri M4 Sherman. Both Warlord Shermans carry the 75mm gun and turret. The old Rubicon M4A3 carries the early T23 turret with 76mm gun.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

And now M4A3E8 vs. M4A3, with HVSS vs. VVSS. The additional stowage is from infantry kits as well as Tamiya accessoires.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

Last but not least, the different angle shots.

Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman Rubicon Models - M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman

Conclusion
The updated kit got some minor tweaks and of course the new E8 parts. In direct comparison, the first Sherman kit Rubicon released covered more options, as you got the M4A3 with two very different turrets and three guns (75, 76 and 105mm). As the Sherman is / will be redone in general, these options will return along with new options in the updated kits.

There will be in addition to this 280042 M4A3 / M4A3E8 Sherman, in Q2/17 280054 M4A2(76)W Sherman and 280055 M4A2 Sherman / Sherman III, and in pre-production the M4 Sherman and M4 Hybrid. So quite the broad range to choose from, and with the product codes 54 and 55 back, you will have the solid back bone of the Shermans at hand.

Casting is crisp and clean. Good amount of details and decent choice of optional parts. And the price of around 20 GBP or 25 Euro is reasonable. Rubicon even included a tank commander, but here is still room for improvement as the miniatures are still a bit blurry compared to the vehicles from their range. Beside that, the E8 is currently the only one available as a plastic kit and cheaper than the competition (24 GBP for Warlord Games, 25 GBP for Blitzkrieg Miniatures). I enjoyed the build, as it was structured and easy to follow. And for me personally, if I have the choice between plastic and resin, I'll go for the plastic kit as it is gives you more options for converting and less trouble while building.

Link: Rubicon Models

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