British Tank Destroyer "Achilles"
Academy 1:35 Scale Kit No.1392
Review by Terry Ashley
They served in North West Europe and Italy in WW2 and remained in British service well into the 1950s first with Royal Artillery units and later with some Royal Armoured Corps regiments, and they also remained in Canadian use for some time as well as being in Belgian use into the 1950s and as late as the 1970s in Denmark.
The name "Achilles" has stuck to this vehicle but I can only find a few references to this being used, most original official documents and handbooks refer to them as "M10 17pdr" or M10C" with slight variations.
Two engine decks, two radios (British and US) and a number of parts applicable to Sherman gun tanks (Hull .30cal MG and other bits and pieces) which will obviously follow as well as a US M10, good stuff for allied and Sherman fans.
Let's have a closer look.
Opening the box you are confronted with 577 parts (yes 577) crisply moulded in light tan plastic on 9 sprues plus the upper and lower hull.
The suspension is straight from the M12 kit featuring bogies with intermediate raised roller plus alternate open or solid spoked road wheels (with inside detail) and alternate simple plate and revised fancy drive sprockets.
The lower hull features the escape hatch on the right side, literally speaking
with detail on the inside and underside of the hull bottom.
There are alternate transmission covers as mentioned, circular profile and the late with the more pointed profile.
A lower floor has complete transmission and driver's controls included as per the M12 kit. The fighting compartment has a raised floor and well detailed rear firewall.
Other details include the radio, instrument panel and a full load of ammo canisters for the side sponsons.
The rear hull has, as mentioned a full engine compartment including the side walls, sponson fuel tanks and rear hull plate with the intake screens. Along with this you get a separate engine deck as well as the one moulded in with the upper hull. The upper hull has separate engine doors with detail on "both" sides while the extra engine deck is the complete deck with cut-outs for the doors. Either we are going to see and engine in future kits or Academy are giving you a head start for the resin Sherman engines already on the market and probably more to come? You also get alternate tow shackles for the rear (British and US).
The upper hull has the separate engine doors as mentioned plus separate driver's compartment doors which in turn feature separate periscopes. All the fuel filler caps are also separate as are the bolt heads on the front armour plate (the "Achilles" didn't have these on the sides). There are many other small parts for the hull including lights and guards (commendably thin) as well as pioneer tools.
Moving to the turret we have nicely moulded turret sides, rear and front sections. The late style turret counter weights have NO sink holes to spoil the subtle surface texture on the parts. The front plate features the triangular strengthening strip along the top (it almost seems like Academy have noted all the errors pointed out on the AFV Club M10 and ensured they are all included in this kit?).
The lower hull has the turret race which includes the traverse teeth and bolt heads on the upper part, very nice. The "Achilles" mantlet has a large circular collar for the 17pdr gun, this appears a little underdone on the kit, the edges are slightly rounded instead of sharp and the prominent weld seams are missing, nothing really that can't be fixed? The shape of the mantlet looks good with rounded edges.
The interior is very busy, as on the real thing it is dominated by the huge
17pdr breech, this is extremely well detailed in the kit with separate breech
block and many small fittings. Also included are the transport supports that
attach the breech to the front turret roof during transport. The barrel is in
the usual two halves with separate muzzle break (two parts) and separate counter
weights (two parts).
There are ready rounds in packs of three for the rear plate plus 5 separate rounds to use anywhere. Crew seats and other fittings complete the comprehensive turret interior.
One feature I really like is the inclusion of moulded numbers and letters, bolt heads and latches which you can cut off with a sharp scalpel and positioned for casting numbers on the hull and turret as well as adding detail anywhere it is needed, it may take some care to remove and fit these but the end result would be impressive. A great idea!
There are many extra bits of storage and alternate parts on 2 of the sprues, one labels "M10 GMC" and the other "Sherman Series", more hints of things to come.
Markings are sparse and only two vehicles are included, one from Italy in 1944 and Holland in May 1945. No 'allied' stars are included, the reason is simple they didn't have any on the real things.
The tracks are rubber band type and feature the T56E1 steel chevron pattern, the detail is quite good for this type of track.
In all this is an excellent kit of the M10 17pdr. Allied fans are in for a real feast as this series continues.
This use of mix and match does give some spare parts, for example a completed model will only need one set of road wheels, sprockets and idlers and several smaller parts will not be needed and there are two styles of cast nose armour which both appeared on original vehicles. The vehicle depicted has the later "duckbill" style turret with vertical rear face and smooth hull sides without the characteristic mounting bosses for extra armour. Looking at photos, duckbill turreted M10's with and without these fittings were converted, so there was some variation in the final appearance of vehicles. While my kit has not been built it is not possible to comment on fit of parts, major components like the hull do compare well with published plans.
The main drawback with the kit is that it is in effect an M10 with a 17-pdr in the turret. Many minor changes were made to M10's in British service, some of the tools on the rear hull were moved to the engine deck area and extra items were fitted, these are not included but could soon be added. Turret interior fittings do not match the official Stowage Diagrams, and while the radio in the co-drivers position is a British No 19 and not an American set the ammunition stowage in the hull is depicted as being in the fibreboard tubes, a style used on M10 but 17 pounder vehicles carried their rounds bare. Spare track links are included complete with British-style racks but without any indication that they should be fitted on the nose armour.
There are some good points to this kit, for example there are parts to depict the numbers and letters cast into the cast parts though no details are given as to what suitable combinations should be and it will need a lot of care to shave them from the sprues. Two 6-link lengths of track are provided on one sprue but marked not for use, while two spare roadwheels of the late-type dished pattern are also included. British and American jerricans each with a mounting rack are also there. A length of thin cord is provided for use as a tow rope with plastic eyes. No crew figures are provided, and while the fighting compartment is detailed and the engine deck top doors can be fixed open and even have inside face detail there is no engine just fuel tanks in the rear compartment.
Decals are very spartan, depicting two vehicles seen in books. The one for Italy October 1944 appeared in the old-series Vanguard on Allied Tank Destroyers in 1979 and more recently in the Wydawnictwo Militaria No 115 on the M10/M36. The latter books states it is for 93rd Anti-Tank Regiment which seems accurate, although the vehicles in the plates in both books are M10 with the earlier vee-shaped turret the 93rd should also have had 17-pdr vehicles at this time and that book has photos of both types. Only enough decals for are provided for either the front or the rear of the vehicle and not both, while the arm-of-service marking is shown with a rounded lower edge when it should be straight.
Second set of decals appear in Concord 7005 "US Tank Destroyers in Combat 1941-1945" by Steve Zaloga and depict a vehicle of 4th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, Netherlands, May 1945. This unit was part of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division and I suspect would have had the divisional emblem and an arm-of-service marking as well as the individual vehicle markings provided. As usual, anyone wanting to depict a specific vehicle will have to find photos, use the wheel, nose and other parts suitable for their subject and maybe even change the tracks.
|SHERMAN A History of the
American Medium Tank
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
|Modeler's Guide to the
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.115
|Allied & Axis
Soft cover, 96 pages
Sqd/Sgnl Pub. #5703
|US Tank Detroyers in
Sqd/Sgnl Pub. No.2036
|US Technical Manual
M36B1, M36B2 CD
Easy 1 Productions
|US Tank Destroyers
of WWII photo CD
and M36 Tank
New Vanguard No 57