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16
Dynamite! 1/6 Sherman Build Story

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Introducing the kit
Back in 2009 I acquired in a trade a partial 1/6th scale fiberglass M4 Sherman tank kit from the now defunct Viper model company. The kit consisted of lower and upper hull, turret, and gun mantlet. No tracks, running gear, or detail parts were included.

As originally sold this would have been a complete kit; Viper released these partially built and painted all fiberglass resin kits to the market back in late winter / early spring 2003. At that time they were the first affordable mass produced 1/6th scale Sherman tanks on sale. Unfortunately due to the models being fabricated from an eggshell fiberglass resin material they were very fragile and prone to damage. Another issue with the material was that the models were also very heavy (around 80lbs when complete). This heavy weight along with the humpty dumpty durability was a bad combination and these models soon became very unpopular. Having produced around 500 units Viper soon closed up shop after their release of an ill-fated late Tiger I model.

The kit itself was basically a scaled up version of the Tamiya 1/35th early M4 Sherman. The 1/6th scale kit inherited its Tamiya counterpart’s missing sponsons, the short lower hull walls, side skirts, and basic detail layout, including the exact layout for the crew accessories. Images and illustrations from the Tamiya instructions were also borrowed and used to create a basic assembly and markings placement sheet.

When the Viper 1/6th scale kit was released it came with a box full of pre painted crew equipment that was to be mounted to the tank’s surface. 1/4inch holes were factory drilled into the model’s surface to allow the equipment to be attached via pegs. Because of this the tank’s surface looks like it was used as a range target and was full of holes.

The supplied running gear was very basic, but also one of the model’s many Achilles’ heels. The sprocket was intended to be the early style sprocket with the open faced tooth ring, but it was cast very thick, and the open spokes were reduced to mere indentations. The tank’s VVSS suspension was non-functional (as with the Tamiya), with rotating early open spoke type wheels. The problem was that since the non-working suspension was cast in the same brittle material as the body, whenever the model was on uneven terrain, all of the weight was focused on the suspension’s delicate static swing arm, resulting in the unit breaking.

The supplied tracks were intended to be the T49 rubber chevron type, and were separate workable links made of injection molded ABS plastic. Unfortunately the track’s design was wrong, having the track’s guide teeth molded onto the track pad instead of the edge, in a manner resembling the 1970s vintage Tamiya M10 or M36 kits. The biggest problem with the tracks was that their ABS material was also extremely brittle and would break under the slightest stress. Along with the fragility, once damaged, the material was almost impossible to repair as it would not glue easily.

The rest of the molded details were also very basic in appearance. Some of the built in or molded on details included head lights, tail lights, air filters, fire extinguisher control box, air blower covers, tools, lift rings, hatches, and appliqué armor plates.

Needless to say, after building two of these kits when they were first released, I saw several areas for improvement which would enhance the model’s appearance and durability. Fast forward several years, and I was able to put my ideas to the test when I obtained another of the kits.

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About the Author

About John (armourguy)
FROM: PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES


Comments

Another fantastic build! well done man. Where do you store all those tanks when your done? Private collection or you sell some? Gary
MAY 02, 2012 - 06:36 PM
I like your mods for this, very useful for anyone who's invested in one of these. I'm glad I never did, but I sure love seeing your work on here John
MAY 03, 2012 - 03:01 PM
Thanks Guys, I enjoy typing up these articles. Gary, all of the models that I build and post belong to my personal collection and are never sold. I'm typing up my next article now. Once compete I will send it off to submission. John
MAY 06, 2012 - 01:54 AM
Great work as always John I just wish I had the time, space, and money to give this scale a crack.
MAY 13, 2012 - 05:57 AM