The recently released line of 1/48th scale AFV's released by Hobby Boss was met with praise, especially the T-34 variants. Although priced very competitively, the kits still included a small PE fret, but like all injection moulded kits, they can benefit from the addition of photo etch parts to replace some kit parts to impart a more in-scale appearance. This set from Eduard is specifically intended for use with the Hobby Boss 1/48 M4A3, kit number 84803. Eduard have also released a separate PE set for the Hobby Boss M4, kit number 84802.
The set consists of five sides of instructions and two reasonably sized frets of photo etch. As is usual with Eduard instructions, they are uncluttered and clearly indicate exactly what needs to be removed, filled or replaced.The first improvement offered is for the engine inspection hatch on the rear wall of the hull, and this just consists of a new grab handle, which would be better made from wire in any case. Next the towing pintle assembly is replaced, and if anything this is probably a little under scale, mad as it is from just one thickness of photo etch, although the Eduard part is better detailed. The front mudguards are replaced with photo etch, which is better scale wise, and will also allow the modeller to impart damage should he choose to do so.
All hatches are given the full treatment with periscope surrounds, grab handles, periscope guards, locking hasps, and periscope housing, so are fairly extensively reworked!
The engine intake grill is replaced, and this is built from 'slats' with slots, and having used this system recently for the grid steps on Eduard's BR52 set, I can say that it's really easy to build and looks good when complete. There are also new sidewall pieces for this area with improved detail.
Moving to the front of the vehicle, we are offered new brush guards for the headlights, which I don't fully understand, since these are included as photo etch in the Hobby Boss kit, and these don't really offer any improvement. A number of other fixtures and fittings on the glacis are also replaced or supplied by Eduard, and there is even a new cooling jacket for the machine gun, but some skill in firstly, rolling it to the correct diameter, and then soldering it, will be required to use it. Although it would look good if used, I suspect it's one of those parts that would remain on the fret. All the on vehicle tools receive new tool clamps, but this will mean you have to remove the moulded on ones off the tools supplied, so it may be easier to try and source a set of tools without the moulded on clamps.
A set of rear extended mud flaps are supplied by Eduard if you're modelling a late variant, although obviously, check your references for the specific vehicle you're modelling. There are also spare track link brackets supplied, which look quite complicated, but having built these in 1/35th scale, they actually work quite well and look good when installed, although again, removing the moulded on ones can be difficult to do cleanly, and so using spare links from the spares box, if you have any, might be the way to go. The strip for the sand shields is supplied and can be fitted if necessary, as well as a complete box assembly for the rear of the engine deck to hold the barrel cleaning rods. This is quite a complicated little assembly too, involving hinges, brackets, handles and straps etc.
The turret .30 Cal is extensively reworked, with a complete replacement for the mounting bracket, ammunition box, and a belt is also supplied, although............as you've guessed, the mount would have to be carefully removed from the .30 cal supplied by Hobby Boss, so yes, again the easier way to go would be to try and source one from somewhere else, and it won't be easy, since most modeller's don't have a huge amount of 1/48 spares in their spares box.
Using the .50 Cal would be easier, since there is less moulded on to it that you have to remove before installing the Eduard parts. Just the handle and sight basically, although you do get a new perforated jacket for the .50 cal, this just sits over the plastic part. Again a full ammunition box, feed and belt is supplied, and when painted up should look good although a little 'flat' perhaps?
Although this set offers real improvements over the kit supplied parts, it's difficult to install, not least because most modellers would choose to replace parts that need to have moulded on things removed, and this is difficult in this scale because of the scarcity of replacement parts! Added to this is that the Eduard set doesn't address the shortcomings inherent in the Hobby Boss kit to begin with, although if you're going to build the kit with these shortcomings, then you might as well improve what you can. Recommended with reservations.
At first glance, what looks like a nice set from Eduard will probably prove difficult to use, simply because of the necessity of removing so much plastic from the Hobby Boss kit it's meant for.