M4A2E8(76) Sherman "Emcha"
in Soviet Service

Trumpeter Kit #7225
MR Models M4A2 Conversion Kit #7251

Review by Stephen Brezinski sbrez(at)suscom-maine(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

A Wee Bit of History for the Modeler
Near the conclusion of WW2, according to Armor Photogallery #16, 183 M4A2(76) Sherman tanks equipped with the Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS) bogies (a.k.a M4A2E8) were delivered to the Soviet Union. The new suspension, known as the E8 suspension, offered a better ride and wider track for better floatation over soft ground. These M4A2E8 were delivered too late to see action against Germany but were delivered through Siberia and were used in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria against Japan. I understand that Emcha is the Soviet nickname for the Sherman and translates to "M4".

The M4A2E8 looked very similar to the M4A3E8 (Easy Eight) used by the US Army but was equipped with twin diesel engines. The diesel engines necessitated a different engine deck with smaller ventilation grate, and external mufflers often covered by an exhaust deflector. The only other users of the M4A2E8 Sherman I understand were the US Army for training and then by the Canadian Army after WW2. There could have been other users as well.


The Kits
Though the Dragon (DML) kit #7302 offered the best hull and HVSS bogies available at this time I opted for the lower hull and HVSS bogies from the Trumpeter M4A3E8 kit #7225. Why use the 2nd-best Trumpeter kit? Because the Trumpeter kit was still a decent kit and I just hate to tear apart a nicer kit like the DML M4A3E8 model just for parts. Of course, a big question before we can get very far is whether the resin MR upper hull will mate with the Trumpeter lower hull? For a good in-the-box preview of the Trumpeter kit please go to http://www.172shermans.com/kitreviews/Trumpeter/M4A3E8prev.htm

The MR Model kit MR-7251 is a conversion kit that is designed to be used with the venerable ESCI (Italeri) M4A1 Sherman kit with VVSS bogies. At the time it was released the MR conversion kit was one of few M4A2(76) tank kits available in small scale and is a very, very good one. The conversion kit comes with about 40 parts: most in cast resin, 12 are in cast white metal, and with one turned aluminum gun barrel. Producing an M4A2E8 with HVSS we won’t need the sprocket and VVSS roadwheels supplied with the kit. For a good in-the-box preview of the MR conversion kit please go to http://www.172shermans.com/kitreviews/MrModels/M4A2-76prev.htm


Assembling The Hull

Like the Dragon kit, Trumpeter supplies us with a nice slide-molded, styrene plastic one-piece lower hull (the gray colored parts above), while ESCI and UM make this lower hull from about four separate parts. The rear M4A2 hull plate from the resin MR kit has been trimmed and sanded to fit the Trumpeter hull. The two strips representing the underside of the sponsons have been trimmed back at the front sides and rear to make it fit into MR’s upper hull. It fit remarkably well.

Behind the hull rear are the M4A2 mufflers and exhaust pipes still attached to its resin pour plug. Two Trumpeter HVSS suspension bogies are included here in the photo. Trumpeter supplies with their M4A3E8 kit multi-part suspension bogies, and three-part simplified wargaming suspension bogies.

At right is the one-piece cast resin M4A2 ‘big-hatch’ hull; the late Sherman upper hull that would be fitted with the long 76-mm gun armed T23 turret. On the rear plate is some of the resin pour plug that still needs to be sanded down smooth. This MR hull is the finest M4A2 hull I have yet found, the detail and accuracy is superb. The only things missing from the MR hull are the two grouser compartment covers: the oval plates on the rear engine deck corners, behind the lifting rings…small ooops.

This photo shows a test fit of the MR upper hull to the Trumpeter lower hull. The small gap above the differential cover bolts will be fixed when glued in using perhaps a little putty. This is a good view of the big-hatch hull with the 47 degree glacis slope and the larger driver’s hatches set diagonal to the glacis. On the bow is the late style wedge shape (sharp nose) differential cover.

At this point the missing grouser covers have been added from a UM kit etched brass set. The track tension wrench has been attached on the engine deck based on scale plans.

When I wrapped the Trumpeter band track around the Trumpeter sprocket I found that the track was so flexible that the track dimpled in, i.e. became concave. I've noticed this with Trumpeter Sherman kits with the VVSS track as well. To fix this, thick styrene strips were glued on the inside of the sprocket to support the center of the track.

At this point the fender (mudguards) have been cut off the Trumpeter kit M4A3E8 hull and glued onto the MR hull. The etched-brass braces from the UM M4A3E8 kit used here are superior to the braces molded into the Trumpeter mudguards. The 76-mm M1 gun barrel is an extra from a DML kit. On the side of the turret the pistol port is modeled open, I like that; MR has the only kit I know that offers the pistol port open on the T23 turret.

The wire like thing sticking out is a tow cable fabricated from string from a tea bag and stiffened with white (Elmers) glue and tow cable ends from a Dragon kit. Since the commander's cupola hatch is open some detail was added to the hatch underside.

Good view of the engine deck with the grouser covers and mudguard braces taken from a UM Sherman kit.

We are missing a few steps in the painting process here; all paints are Model Master acrylics. A dusty tan color has been airbrushed onto the lower hull and suspension; tanks operating in a dry European summer could get quite a coat of dust. The roadwheel face was painted Poly S Grimy Black color and then the suspension was given a brown oil wash. The dark splotchy appearance will be blended in later.
The upper hull and turret were first painted in a brown-olive color then after a day or two drying I gave it a black oil pin wash in crevices, recesses and around fittings. After a week to allow the oil wash to dry a light coating of olive green was sprayed on.


The markings are a best guess and are rub on from Archer Transfers. Photos of Soviet Shermans in Manchuria, 1945 are rare.

DISASTER STRIKES! What I typically do is attach the two ends of the band track, glue the track into the sprocket teeth and then stretch it back over the roadwheels and idler. Alas, when I did this I found the track to be several links short, it stretched, but then ripped apart, DAMN! Strange track this is; it is also oddly resistant to super glue (cyanoacrylate glue); the glue would eventually hold but the track could be gently pulled away from the wheels breaking the super glue’s adhesion. It was important that I use this style of Sherman type T-66 HVSS track as it is the type I think most likely to be delivered to the Soviets in 1945.

DISASTER PART 2. For the second run of track I thought, hoped, I could gently stretch the track till it was long enough to safely attach to the suspension. We can see the results sitting on the table: it ripped too! All was not lost though, gluing the track to the wheels I found some extra links of about the same width and thickness that I could use on the bottom run and not be too visible.

For the display base I found a sample piece of Formica counter top material that I painted with water based paint and I then glued on Static Grass to represent late summer grassland of Manchuria in 1945.

Here we jump ahead to the completed M4A2E8 mounted on its display base. Weathering is done with a fine mist of thinned acrylic paint and pastel and pigment powders. Highlighting is with Tamiya Weathering Master which is essentially woman's cake makeup and applied with a foam applicator.
There is a small gap between the fifth roadwheel back and the track indicating the super glue did not hold and the track separated; odd track material this is.

Space has been left on the base on the Sherman's right for an eventual Japanese Type 97 tank to portray a diorama for the Soviet conquest of Manchuria in August 1945.

The tank's stern showing some stowage included in the MR kit and a wood box. The tow cable is facsimilated from teabag string and end shackles come from a Dragon M4 kit.


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Article Last Updated: 11 November 2012 Back to Home Page