The kit consists of 274 parts nicely moulded in light tan plastic; the quality of the mouldings is excellent as we have seen from recent releases. There is a further 425 parts for the individual track links, a short length of twine, a set of vinyl tracks and the decal sheet.
The lower hull tub has the side sponson bottoms included to eliminate the "hollow" look when the hull top is attached. The details on the tub are again excellent with a separate rear plate. The suspension is nicely detailed with multi-part suspension units with the large rear unit having a separate round end plate as it should be.
There are open road wheels, drive sprocket and idler wheels as well as solid wheels and drive sprockets included on the sprues, obviously only the open wheels and drive sprockets are used on this version with the others included for additional kits. The M5 and M8HMC were often seen with the solid wheels so this is a good indication of what is to come from Academy.
On closer inspection of the kit road wheels it appears Academy haven't quite got the wheels right.
Take a closer look at the wheels here.
There is a well appointed interior provided with floor, rear bulkhead, ammo bins and centre drive train and gearbox assemblies but no final drive transmission at the front. Additionally there are the driver's gear levers and seats provided as well as the hull .30cal MG.The Upper Hull:
The front armour section of the side sponsons are also separate for good detail definition and the square plates used by the British to cover the MG mounts are also provided. Contrary to the box top art you only get the early square bolted plates and not the diamond welded plates, although it's no problem to cut off the bolts and glue them at upright angle and simulating weld seems for the later covers.
Full side fenders are provided along with the supports for the canvas "lorry" decoy sometimes fitted. Other hull details include the usual lights with guards on the front fenders although the guards are moulded very thick and would do with either a lot of thinning or replaced with etched parts (not in kit). The top engine intake with screen is a separate part as are the fuel filler caps and all tools and larger grab handles, plus the two small lifting 'eyes' on the rear hull. Additional equipment is given in the form of British type storage boxs and water cans (with separate handles) on the rear fenders as well as the large box carried on the rear engine deck of these particular M3s. The two exhausts are also separate parts to finish of what is a well detailed upper hull assembly.
The turret is the welded plate type with raised cupola, the turret walls could do with additional weld seams added as these aren't on the moulding, the front plate also has very prominent bolts that could do with reducing in size.
The turret interior is well appointed with a very nice 37mm gun assembly (as good as that in the Tamiya M8) with full co-axial .30cal MG plus seats.
Also provided is a turret basket but this was not fitted to the early M3s only from the M3A1 onwards, so this is best left out for this model. Other exterior parts is a nicely moulded gun mantlet, external MG mounts and two British style smoke generators on the side wall, the support on the roof for the open commander hatch is also provided.
The tracks are a choice of continuous length vinyl tracks which have nice details including the end connectors in the right place between the pads or separate track links. Strangely the individual links have no sink marks in the pads while there is some on the vinyl tracks.
The tracks are assembled in the same manner as the AFV Club M3 tracks released some time back, but the pads on the Academy tracks are noticeably larger than with the AFV Club tracks. The choice of which tracks you use is up to you but the individual ones do offer better definition but obviously take a lot longer to assemble.
Also provided is the additional equipment sprue from the M10 kits which includes a .50cal MG and many tools and bits for the M10 and M4 Sherman not used here with only a couple of the tools used on this kit, more bits for the spares box.
The decal sheet which is well printed with good colour definition provides markings for four M3s. Two from the 8th King's Irish Hussars, 7th Armoured Division which was the first British unit to receive the "Honey", one with markings for the US 80th Armored Regiment, The Task Force Schools, Fort Knox Kentucky in June 1943 and one captured and used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines in May 1943.
In all this is an excellent little kit with very nice details included and we can only wait to see what others come in this series, as mentioned there are bits for the M5 and M8HMC suspension included on the sprues and it all looks very promising for the future.
Page created 12 June 2002
Updated 15 June 2002