"This inbox review is of Dragon Models 1/72 scale "dio in a box", a combination LCM Landing Craft, with Sherman tank, accessories, landing crew, and a base, all in one box."
In February of 1941, the U.S. military conducted its last combined force exercise. Flex 7, before the United States entered the war. One of the issues that Flex 7 exposed was the lack of an adequate tank lighter for the Marine Corps. Many designs had been produced and tried since 1913, but Flex 7 showed the Marines still had far to go to land a well equipped fighting force on a hostile beach.
General Holland Smith, having little faith in the Navy’s Bureau of Construction and Repair (BCR), sent a delegation to Higgins industries in New Orleans, LA to solve the USMC’s tank lighter problem. In May of 1941, after seeing the new Higgins designed LCVP, the Navy’s Landing Boat Development Board (LBB) asked Higgins to design a 45 ft tank lighter design and to have this design on paper when a group of military representatives would be in New Orleans to evaluate the new LCVP. Sixty one hours later, Higgins Industries had not only designed but produced its first tank lighter.
On May 25, 1942, the Navy’s designed tank lighter went head to head with Higgins’ design. During the test, the Navy’s design was overwhelmed by the seas and had to return to safe harbor. The Higgins design passed with flying colors. May 26, 1942, the Bureau of Ships notified all yards building bureau designed lighters to switch to the Higgins design. The LCM was born.
Displacement: 52,000 lbs light, 104,000 lbs fully loaded
Length: 50 ft
Beam: 14 ft
Draft: 3 ft forward and 4 ft aft
Propulsion: either 2 100 hp Kermath gasoline engines or 225 hp Gray Marine diesels; 2 propellers
Speed: 8 kts fully loaded (diesel powered)
Range: 140 miles at full speed (fully loaded), 850 miles at 6 kts.
Complement: 1 coxswain and two gunners
Armament: 2 × 0.5 in. (12.7 mm) guns
The medium tank M4 was based on the medium tank M3, and the Sherman shared many components with the Lee. The M4 utilized the M3's suspension, lower hull, and power train.
Known to the British as Sherman II, the M4A1's cast upper hull gave it distinctive rounded edges. This makes it the easiest of Sherman tanks to identify.
Other identifying features of M4A1, which it shares with M4, are the rear of the tank and engine access panels. There are twin engine access doors in the rear hull and air cleaners at the top corners of these doors. M4A1 had twin square muffler tailpipes at the top of the rear hull above the air cleaners, a steel-covered air intake behind the turret, and solid engine access doors in the rear deck behind the turret.
Early Shermans--cast and welded hull--were built with twin fixed .30cal M1919A4 machine guns in the hull which were operated by the driver. These could be locked at any elevation between 8° and -6°. The driver's machine guns were eliminated on March 6, 1942. Also seen on early tanks were spoked idler and road wheels, three-piece differential and final drive housing, two fuel shutoff valves on the rear deck, removable headlights, vision slots for the drivers in the glacis plate, and the siren was placed on the left front fender or under a bracket just offset to the left of the glacis centerline.
On tanks with dry ammunition stowage, one-inch thick applique armor was welded over the sponson ammunition racks and to the turret on the right of the gun mount where interior armor had been ground away to make room for the gunner's controls. Heavy-duty suspension bogies, with the return roller on the rear of the bogie instead of on top like earlier bogies, were introduced by summer 1942. The new bogies had 8" (20cm) diameter springs, 1" (2.5cm) larger than the springs of the earlier type. Originally, there was only one turret hatch (the commander's) in the 75mm gun turret, but a small oval hatch was introduced for the loader in December 1943.
Retrofit kits were developed for tanks built before the loader's hatch was designed. A cupola for the tank commander later replaced his circular split hatch. The main gun in the first M4A1s built was the 75mm M2, which was shorter than the M3 and needed double counterweights on the end of the barrel to be compatible with the tank's gyrostabilizer.
This kit combines Dragon Models previous D-Day LCM(3) with its up coming M4A1 Sherman with pe wading trunks. Once again, Dragon has given the modeler a lot of bang for the buck. Here, we have a diorama in a box.
The kit comes to you in a standard lidded box with a painting of the LCM(3) off loading the M4A1 Sherman while four infantry men assault the beach. Inside the box you will find instructions, a color painting guide, bags of sprues, two PE frets, decals, and molded plastic base.
Inside the Box...
Sprue A :Located here is the cargo well, the rear weather deck plate, cargo well bulkheads bow ramp and the armored coxswain position.
Sprue B: Located here are the bulkhead braces and details, davits, life preservers, bow ramp details weather deck details and .50 cal machine guns, pedestals and armor plate.
Sprue C: Located here are all the necessary parts to build three of the Rommel designed beach obstacles.
Sprue D: Located here are all the weapons necessary to equip the four infantry figures.
Sprue E: Finds the three LCM(3) crew members and the four infantry figures molded in soft plastic.
Packed separately is the waterline hull section.
Sprue A : Located is the turret, main gun and mantlet, hatches and hull details.
Sprue B: Located here are more hull details, travel lock and the tank’s 50 cal machine gun.
Sprue C: Located here are the bogey wheels and supports, drive sprockets, and other running gear details.
Sprue E: Finds the upper hull and more hull details.
Packed separately is the lower hull.
The kit includes 2 PE frets, one set of armor plating for the LCM’s .50 cal machine guns. The other fret of PE is the deep wading trunks for the Sherman tank.
The decals provided include hull markings for two different LCMs, on of which was present at the landings at Normandy, the other used in the PTO at Iwo Jima. Also included is the National.
Also included is a set of the Dragon one piece DS tracks for the M4A1. These tracks can be glued together using regular model glue and accept paint very well.
Lastly is the clear plastic base to build the diorama. Molded into the base is waves and the beach along with a recess for the waterline hull and the bow ramp.
Included in the kit one sprue with seven molded plastic figures. These are very nicely done but are molded in the dreaded soft plastic that Dragon tried several years ago. Careful preparation will be need to allow the paint to adhere.
The instructions are 4 pages of step by step assembly that followed a logical sequence. A full color painting guide is provided showing the LCM(3) in its Normandy and Iwo Jima markings. Also listed is the painting guide for the Sherman.
This kit is nicely molded and is highly detailed. With the level of detail achieved on the Sherman kit, this model can easily be displayed on its own. While the LCM and the Sherman are well cast and detailed, this kit does suffer two drawbacks that will hamper the execution of the recommended diorama.
First up is the figures. Had Dragon molded these in styrene instead of soft plastic, it would have saved the modeler a lot of aggravation. Past experiences with this soft plastic show that it is difficult to work with and is almost impossible to paint without a considerable amount of trial and error.
I recommend that after cleaning the parts, use the newer Krylon Fusion paint for plastic to prime the figures and then try not to handle the figures too much to prevent the paint from flaking off.
The second draw back is that as packaged, the modeler is unable to build a historically accurate diorama for neither Normandy or Iwo Jima. At Normandy, tanks were landed using the LCT (landing craft tank) while the LCMs were used to land massive amounts of assault troops and smaller vehicles. If you desire to build an Iwo Jima LCM, you will need to replace the infantry with Marines, make major changes to the landing craft crew to represent light weight summer uniforms instead of the heavier uniforms used in the English Channel and you will need to substitute a M4A3 for the M4A1. While the historical accuracy is a major drawback, it is a common mistake made by every model manufacturer who has produced the LCM. The only real option here is to model the D-Day LCM and place the infantry leaving the landing craft and move the Sherman off to the side wading in on it’s own.
Highs: This kit is nicely molded and is highly detailed. With the level of detail achieved on the Sherman kit, this model can easily be displayed on its own.Lows: See "Final Thoughts" above...Verdict: While the LCM and the Sherman are well cast and detailed, this kit suffers major drawbacks that will hamper the execution of the recommended diorama.
About Kenny Loup (gator) FROM: LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES
I was the kid that his dad would say "Hey, there's a war movie on." and come running. As a kid, I dived head first into military history. We would always have to stop at the USS Alabama on our way to Florida. I also got to visit the Seawolf Park and the Alamo on vacation, too. All things I want ...