Sherman Kit Comparison Dragon Tamiya Tasca

Typically, Dragon uses etched metal for their front fenders.  The design of these fenders is consistent with those supplied by various aftermarket manufactures such as Aber or Eduard.  What makes these fenders more attractive than their styrene counterpart is their realistic cross section.  The negative for many modelers is that they are more difficult to use than a plastic fender.  This is especially true when compared with a Tamiya kit, where the fenders are cast in place on the upper hull.

Before constructing the photo etch fenders, it is necessary to address an issue found in several of the Dragon 47° hulls.  Some of these hulls have an incorrect cutout designed to mount the front fender, Fig. 1.  I suspect an unwitting designer noticed the step between the fender and the sand shield strip and didn’t understand that the strip was welded on lower than the edge of the actual hull.  In any case, the cutout needs to be filled.  I begin by cementing in some .060” styrene strip, Fig. 2.  The ruler helps keep things straight.

I reduce the outside excess with a file, Fig. 3.  The masking tape protects the hull sides from the file.  I clamp blocks to the side of the hull to act as a guide for my file when reducing the top surface of the styrene addition, Fig. 4.  A little double sided tape between the block and the hull keeps the block from slipping.

Dragon remedied their error with the Normandy kit.  Figures 5a and 5b compare the before and after with the newer Normandy hull.  Figure 6 illustrates the completed addition ready for the photo etch fender.

Begin construction of the fenders by removing the fender from the photo etch fret.  It helps to begin with a flat piece so if you see some warpage, gently tweak it back to where it belongs.  Make the initial 90° bend between the fender side and top.  The objective now is to roll the curve in the top of the fender to correspond to the curve of the fender side.  This is best done by rolling the fender top over decreasing size tubing.  I use a series of brass tubing beginning with 9/16”, Fig. 7.  You want to avoid starting out too small as you will have a tendency to crease the metal rather than roll it.  The process is very simply rolling the fender over the tubing, Fig. 8.  Here you are applying firm pressure over the upper surface as you roll the tubing.  Repeat the process with diminishing sized tubing until you achieve the proper curve.   Once you have the correct curve, recheck your initial bend to insure that you still have 90° before soldering.

I find that the easiest, fastest, and strongest way to complete the fender is with solder.  Soldering should not be mysterious and can be best understood when you understand heat transfer and the principle that solder will flow to the heated object.  You don’t need any exotic soldering iron for this project.  In fact, too small of an iron will not work nearly as well.  My solder of choice is a 50/50 lead/tin solder and a good acid flux like Nokorode, Fig. 9.  Only a small amount of solder is needed so I use a blade and shave-off a few small pieces, Fig. 10.

I use a small hand vise to hold the fender.  I apply a small amount of flux to the area where I want the solder to flow and then place several pieces of solder in the area, Fig. 11.  The iron is heated and applied to the outside corner of the fender, Fig.  12.  Move the iron along the joint.  The solder will melt and flow to the heated fender surface following the movement of the iron.

The finished solder joint, Fig. 13.  You can easily clean off the flux with a little alcohol or lacquer thinner.  Before cementing the fender to place, dry fit and check the clearance around the final drive cover.  An easy method to hold the fender in place during cemetation is to wedge a piece of sanding sponge or foam between two pieces of sheet styrene.  The fender is then slipped in place against the under surface of the sponson, Fig. 14.  A little drop of thin cyanocacrylate is applied to the upper joint between the fender and sponson.  The foam and styrene can then be removed and the joint reinforce from underneath.

I use .010” x .060” styrene strip to add the portion of the fender that rests on the differential.  A simple way to make sure that both fenders are mounted at the same angle is to use a spacer, Fig 15.  Here I just use several items on top of each other to create the right height.  A little drop of cyanoacrylate between the fender and the styrene strip secure the fender.  The inside stiffener was also added with .010” styrene, Fig. 16.

Cementing photoetched sherman fenders
Finished Dragon Photoectched fender