by: Darren Baker [ ]
As a company Meng Model is a relative new comer to the world of plastic scale models. However, in a very short period of time they have manufactured and released a good number of armoured fighting vehicles. One of the latest such releases is the M4A3E2 Jumbo. My initial thought upon hearing about this model and receiving it, I was thinking what Meng Model could bring to the party that has not been done already by companies such as Tasca who built a formidable range of Sherman tanks. In the market place today Tasca kits are exceedingly hard to get hold of, and while some of their kits have been released by other companies, they are becoming increasingly expensive and hard to find. So letís take a look inside the box, and see if we are going to find, a model that takes the Tasca crown and places it upon Meng Model.
This offering from Meng Model is packaged in a cardboard tray, with a separate card lid. Inside you will find a large number of plastic bags containing the model parts, a bag of wire pins, a metal barrel, working Volute springs and a decal sheet. Packaged with the decal sheet is some metal cable and a photo etch fret. An examination of the contents leaves me with the impression that what we have here from Meng Model is something special.
The lower hull of this offering has a very high level of moulded on detail. I cannot say that all of the bolt detail has been replicated, but I am more than happy with what has been provided. The bow at the front of the vehicle that houses the gear box is provided as a separate part, including some nice casting detail to it such as the casting part number, and in addition to the numbers that are seen as raised numbers we get the nice texture as well. Details such as the towing hitches, are of a high level and workable as regards opening and closing the hitch. The exhaust and air intakes are multi part affairs that will result in a very appealing look even though not really seen on the finished model.
The suspension units of the Sherman are workable and that includes the Volute spring suspension, something that is a first for me and a welcome new highlight for those who like displaying models on uneven terrain. The detail in this area of the model is exceptional. The closed spoke face of the wheels is present, as is a manufacturing name that would be on the rubber portion of the wheel. The wheels remain turn able on the finished model. The wheels being able to turn, I would normally consider to be a toy like feature, but in this case it makes for ease of painting and accurate depiction if placed on an uneven surface. The tracks are provided with two options, one is individual links that have been moulded in two halves and glued together, when dry these are placed in a clear jig with separate end caps and metal pins that are supplied and inserted through holes in the side of the jig locking the links together. It is suggested by Meng that CA glue is added to each end of the metal pin after insertion. However, I am hoping that this will be unnecessary. For those who are deterred by individual tracks links rubber band tracks are also included in the box and have good detail present.
The upper hull of the model, has an additional front plate to represent the additional armour, and this requires that some holes are drilled and other details are sanded or cut off on the original. I am very pleased to see that Meng Model has clearly indentified what needs to be removed and the size of the holes that need to be drilled. This aspect of the model is possibly one of the best I have seen as regards to where and what as it removes the guess work that hangs in the air otherwise. The engine deck is a separate moulding, and I am pleased that when the upper hull is applied to the lower hull is supported by a separate bulk head.
The bow machine gun is well replicated and I rather like the front extended portion of the mud guards. The engine deck panels have been provided separately, which is a nice detail for those who want to add an engine details or such. Fuel caps are also provided separately, which is a detail I have come to appreciate due to the display options it provides the modeller. The tools that sit on the deck have been provided separately, but with moulded on clamp detail. I am pleased to see that photo etch has been kept to the minimum, as this will bring the model within the range of a greater number of modellers.
Details such as the tow cables have been provided with separate eye hitches and the wire that is provided in the kit, the length of cable that is required for the tow cable is mentioned in the instructions when using the wire in the kit. A multi part assembly has been provided for the timber mounting on the vehicle between the front mud guards. I personally donít like this aspect of the model and would replace this with a piece of wood cut to size as I think this would be far superior in look. Stowage is provided in the form of jerry cans, which have good detail as are ammunition boxes, although I would like to see a few more jerry cans offered, but you can source these separately. Stowage locations for items such as this are indicated, but you could always chose your own locations, or look for reference on line.
The turret of the model again has a very nice cast detail, a pleasing and accurate shape and a very nice representation of the gun mantlet. Access hatches can been assembled open or closed and have good detail on both faces. The periscopes have been provided in clear plastic and Meng have included details for painting these where required. The aerial mount is provided with two options, one that is up right or one that is tied down. Turret lifting points have been included where required, as have the guard details for the periscopes.
The main gun of the Jumbo has a very nice breach including the side mounted machine gun, and if you have the hatches open it means you can see that there is something in there to be seen. The barrel, for the Jumbo is provided in turned aluminium, however there is the additional option of a 75mm gun, but this is in two halves with a separate muzzle which is one of the few weak points in the offering. The turret machine gun, mounted at the rear is especially well detailed, with a separate cocking handle, ammunition boxes and barrel, plus a spare barrel is provided for it and mounted on the turret.
When it comes to finishing the model, Meng Model has provided four options:
37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armoured Division US Army Battle of the Bulge, Bastogne, Belgium, December 1944.
69th Tank Battalion, 6th Armoured Division, US Army Germany, Marchn1945.
2nd Squadron, 2nd African Hunter Regiment, 5th Armoured Division, Free France, Summer/Autumn 1944, France.
15th Tank Battalion, 6th Armoured Division, US Army, Germany, Spring 1945 (OSF Turret).
This offering from Meng Model is arguably the best I have seen from them. It will be very hard for anybody to improve upon the detail provided in this model, I also cannot think what else I would have liked to have seen included. And so the result with care, will be a truly stunning model of the Sherman Jumbo in 1/35th scale depending on ability of the modeller.