Tamiya 1/35 T82 SPG
KIT #: 97
PRICE: $10 SRP for the base kit
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Dale Rannals
NOTES: Conversion using Tamiya M5A1 Stuart


 Development of the T82 started in December 1943. The vehicle was put on trials in August 1944, but was never mass-produced, nor saw service.  The T82 was built by the Heil Company to a specific Ordinance Department requirement for a small, M5A1-based lightweight self-propelled howitzer for Pacific jungle operations. To keep the weight to a minimum the turret was eliminated and the howitzer mounted in the front glacis  The M3 105mm howitzer’s traverse  was limited to a few degrees each side and elevation was +30° to -5.  The 30 pound projectile could be fired about 5 miles and 58 rounds could be carried. Two pilot models were built but the project was abandoned in May 1945.


Motivation comes from strange places sometimes.  Well, a lot of times actually.  In this case it came from a computer game I’ve been playing for well over a year now.  The game is called World of Tanks.  It is a free online game where you and 29 random other people, divided into two teams, battle for supremacy on various 1km x 1km maps.  Well, one of the tanks you can drive is the T82, in this case categorized as an U.S. Tank Destroyer.  The Little Rolling Death Buggy soon became an all-out favorite of mine, so much so that while perusing the closet trying to decide what to build next, my gaze fell upon an old 1/35 Tamiya M5A1 Stuart kit that I picked up somewhere for almost $10.  I inspected the plastic and looked at photos of the T82 and realized a kit bash was in the making.

The Tamiya kit is old, dating somewhere in the 1970’s.  My kit was molded in a hard dark green plastic, on which there was very little flash on any of the parts.  I don’t know if this is a testament to the molds or if this is an early boxing.  Two lengths of vinyl tracks are included, these being the heat-squish together type that are impervious to any known cement. 

 So, yes, the Tamiya kit is old. It was the only game in town until the arrival of a much more modern and detailed offering by AFV a few years back.  It still makes up into a fine model that will look like a M5 Stuart to most, however, it has some dimensional issues.  Namely, it is too short.  Apparently Tamiya sought to reduce cost by using a common lower hull between their M3 and M5 Stuart kits.  This makes the M5 kinda squished.

However, the short hull didn’t bother me in the least. You see, I did not have a whole lot to go on to make a T82.  I had a couple of photos I found on the Internet and the 3D model from the World of Tanks game (which may sound silly, but the developers of this game continually strive to get the details right).  So, I knew I was going to need do a lot of assuming on this build.  But I was more worried about getting the general shape and character of the little tank than pure dimensional accuracy anyway.  Sometimes not having a lot of reference data can make things easier.


I started this build out by assembling the parts common to the M5, ie: the drive train/lower hull.  The twin wheel bogies are neat little assemblies and are fairly well detailed considering their age. I left the road wheels free to turn to facilitate painting later on.  The idler wheels lack detail on the spring housing, so I found a circular doo-dad from the spares bin to busy things up a bit.

I then turned my attention to the upper hull. I carefully cut out the rear deck and glued in its place a similar sized piece of Evergreen sheet.  This rear deck was in an elevated box on the T82.  But I was now going to need some dimensions to make this box the right height and also to make the upper hull.  Off to the computer I went.  I loaded up World of Tanks (WoT) and brought up the T82 3D model.  I maneuvered this so I was looking at its side and then I hit the print-screen button to save this as an image.  Then, I shut down WoT, loaded up my image editor of choice (Gimp … its free and very powerful), and brought up the picture I just captured.    I then re-sized the picture of the T82 to the same length of the M5’s hull and printed out several copies.  This gave me some templates from which to work. Not NASA precision for sure, but it should be accurate enough for me to get the “look” right.  I measured the rear deck height off the template and cut a strip of Evergreen sheet the same.  Using this I boxed in the rear deck piece and glued it atop the blank plate I glued into the hull previously.  Good so far.  At this point the trusty razor saw came out and I cut the middle of the upper hull away, from forward of the rear deck to just aft of the fenders/ lower glacis.  The front part of the fenders was also cut away.  With most of the upper hull gone it was time to fabricate a new one.

I cut out a side armor template from one of the prints and transferred this to some thin Evergreen sheet, twice.  Once I had both cut out from the sheet, I sanded them stacked together to ensure they would be the same dimensionally.  Using these and the width of the M5 hull I was able to cut out a front armor piece (I use the word “armor” here lightly, as “lightweight SPG” translates into “no armor”).  I made a jig out of my sons Legos to assemble the new hull parts together, and keeping it in the jig I added the top corner pieces and boxed in the cannon cut-out to give it some needed strength.  This was then mated to the rear deck and the sides sanded smooth.  After I added the Hedgerow cutter and front glacis plate to the lower hull, I glued on the top and boxed in the interior.

I now had a fairly complete hull and it was time to add some detail.  The driver’s vision port was a combination of a couple tank hatches from the parts bin and a few bits of Evergreen plastic.  The MG mount was made from plastic tube and sheet. The .50 HMG, from the kit, was placed on top.  The cannon travel brace was made from plastic strip and a small bit of brass U-channel, and a rear storage box and some internal boxes was made from Evergreen sheet.  I made a very simple driver’s seat and threw a resin radio (from a 1/48 aircraft) up in the front corner to sufficiently busy up the area. The bows for the weather cover were made from copper electrical wire, bent around another sophisticated jig (Model Master paint bottle) and glued into place.

Well, now I had pretty much everything except one.  I still needed to find or make a cannon.  I had a few spare cannons from the bin, some 88mm cannon barrels from Tiger kits.  Unfortunately they were too small…. Remember this little guy was going to carry a big stick.  I ended up using aluminum tubing for the barrel and mated this to a much-shortened breech from a Tiger II kit.  The mount came from various bits from the spares bin.  Again, not accurate at all for an M3 105mm cannon, but it at least looks the part.  Plopped it in place and then added some braces on the cabin floor.


Painting was quite easy ….. Olive Drab overall.  I added a bit of Italian Brown to the Model Master Olive Drab and sprayed it on everything.  Once this was dry I painted the rubber portion of the road wheels and then laid a thin black wash on everything to pop out the details.  Over this I added brown and red brown washes, a bit thicker, to show the dirt.  Decals came from the decal dungeon just for the fact that the kit decals were not in good shape.  The tracks were painted a very dark gray and added the same washes to them, just more liberally.  I lightly dry-brushed them with Testors Steel to show some wear and placed them on the tank.


This was fun, pure and simple.  I’m never one to worry too much about spot-on accuracy, but starting out with the dimensionally-challenged Tamiya hull and not really having much to work with actually helped make this a no-stress build.  (Even if I totally screwed everything up I would only be out a $10 kit.)  But I 'm quite happy with the outcome.  It sure looks like a T82 to me.

Editor's note: I lightened up most of the images as they were a bit dark. This was done to better show all the nice detail.

The Internet

World of Tanks online game

Dale Rannals

August 2012

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page