Review - Heiser 2338 (M4) & 2340 (M4A3)

The following Review - Heiser 2338 (M4) & 2340 (M4A3)
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Heiser’s Models, Inc.

Kit No. 2338, M4 Sherman (Mid-Production Tank with 75mm Gun Turret); 79 parts in light olive styrene
Kit No. 2340, M4A3 Sherman (Early Production Tank with 75mm Gun Turret); 79 parts in light olive styrene
Advantages: Best game in town in this scale; modeler gets to call the options; fine scale tools and fittings
Disadvantages: Puts the modeler back in modeling in some cases; some glitches (see comments below)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all small-scale Shermaholics and wargamers
For years, the only game in town for HO scale armor – and those modelers or wargamers who wanted “fleets” of tanks pretty much were consigned here – was ROCO from Salzburg, Austria. Their first kits were 1/100 scale, but later models grew into full HO scale and made things much easier, plus much nicer. Also, ROCO’s founder’s boyhood friend opened Trident, a white-metal HO military kit manufacturer, which later began to produce plastic injected models as well. A few other manufacturers got into the same venue, most prominently Preiser of Germany.
A few attempts were made to produce HO kits or fully assembled models by other companies, but most either failed or were bought out by ROCO. Such was the case with the Petner Panzers T-72M kit, and the Russian Premo line is now totally marketed by ROCO. Now a new player has stepped up, Heiser’s Models, Inc. of California.
The packet states that Heiser’s is going to concentrate on armored vehicles of the 1930s to 1950s, which is an overlooked area in this scale. Most of the ROCO kits start in the 1943-44 time frame, and only the Premo kits of the early Soviet tanks cover the earlier era.
These two kits are essentially identical except for the upper hull of the Sherman tank being modeled. The M4 has the proper solid deck and notched rear panel, and the M4A3 the grilles and “tail” to the rear panel. However, both kits apparently have the later shallow angle rear to the turret without loader’s hatch. Also the rear plate is the same for both kits – one which appears to have either an early set of M4 mufflers or round air cleaners. This is partially wrong for the M4 mid-production and totally wrong for the A3.
The hull comes in six parts – belly pan with sponsons (are you listening, Tamiya???!), hull, transmission cover, rear plate, and two ROCO-type unitary track runs. The idlers are the “straight” top type with lift blocks. Track is T51 smooth rubber type, but that is basically a fact of molding single-piece track runs without an astronomically complex mold. Heiser’s has their logo on the outside of the bottom of the hull, but it is easy to clean up. The kit was apparently molded in Taiwan by a company called HSI for Heiser’s.
The modeler has a choice of either the M34 or M34A1 gun mount and shield, as well as a ton of minor details. Included with the latter is a choice of either M2 .50 caliber or M1917A4 .30 caliber machine guns, “split” hatch or vision cupola, tool sets and optional layouts, one German and one US jerry cans, and lift rings, lights, etc. None of the light guards are modeled, but then again, there are no “lumps” to shave off.
While some modelers may grouse at the errors, Heiser’s provides a very detailed double-sided instruction sheet and a set of plans of the version of the model into which the kit builds. They have a very nice explanation of why the kits are set up the way they are. For wargamers, the tank can be slapped together in a few minutes to serve its purpose and fragile items left off the model to make it more “playable”. For modelers, the details are provided but the modeler will have to come up with the missing “bits” on his own. Case in point is the loader’s hatch, which Heiser’s recommends sanding very thin before installing. Heiser’s also provides resin or white metal parts with their other kits, noting a resin three-piece transmission cover with the early M4A1 kit and white metal tracks with early style bogies. They also have a resin hull for the M4A2. 
  
Overall, these are nice little kits, and considerably better than the 35-year-old ROCO M4 model.
Copyright 2009 - Cookie Sewell
(Available at www.fidelismodels.com)