Academy 1/35 M3A1 Stuart
|PRICE:||$32.00 from Korea|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The M3 Stuart, officially Light Tank, M3, was an American light tank of World War II. An improved version entered service as M5. It was supplied to British and other Commonwealth forces under lend-lease prior to the entry of the U.S. into the war. Thereafter, it was used by U.S. and Allied forces until the end of the war.
The British service name "Stuart" came from the American Civil War Confederate general J. E. B. Stuart and was used for both the M3 and the derivative M5 Light Tank. In U.S. use, the tanks were officially known as "Light Tank M3" and "Light Tank M5".
Stuarts were the first American-crewed tanks in World War II to engage the enemy in tank versus tank combat. While its 37mm main armament proved totally inadequate against most German tanks, it did prove to be useful as infantry support. It was also quite effective in the Pacific where it was up against similar Japanese armor and its smaller size was quite useful on island and jungle terrain.
Academy originally released the M3A as the 'Honey' back many years ago. This kit has held up well over the years and I did not see any sort of mold issues while going over the parts. One nice thing about this kit is that it comes with both individual link block treat tracks and the one-piece vinyl tracks. This should prove to be a real benefit for those who are not fond of individual links. There are some detail differences depending on the markings option you choose so you do need to keep in mind which one you want to do prior to starting.
As most airplane kits start with the cockpit, so it is that this one begins with the suspension. These piees are built up and then placed on the lower hull. This kit has a somewhat complete interior to it, so that is the next item to be constructed. Those who build their kits buttoned up can skip several construction steps, though I would keep the floor for rigidity.
Then on to the upper hull. An option here is to have the 'cheek' machine guns installed or blanking plates put over the openings. Then work goes on with the various bits that fit atop the upper hull. This includes lights, antenna mounts, engine intakes, forward hatches and various parts that go with the exhaust/muffler system. Once that is done, the tracks of your choices are installed and the upper hull attached to the lower.
Assembly then moves onto the turret. You get a fairly nicely detailed inner turret so you may want to pose the turret hatches open to show your work. Otherwise, like the interior, you can leave off a lot of parts if you want everything closed. Last items are the turret machine gun and additional fuel tanks.
Instructions are well done and provides some construction color info. There are five markings options, all are on overall olive drab. you get one Army tank from Tunisia in late 1942, two USMC tanks in Bougainville in late 1943 and two Soviet tanks from 1942/43. Decals are nicely printed, but Academy decals don't have the best reputation so keep that in mind.
This is a very nice looking armor kit. It is a nice size that won't overwhelm your display space. It is detailed enough to satisfy most builders and offers the room to add in as much aftermarket as you might wish.
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