The Academy M18 kit (#1375) has been around for a few years now and includes interior details of forward transmission/gearbox and turret interior with gun breech, turret basket and most of the basic equipment and will build quite easily into a respectable model from the box.
There are a number of dimensional issues which are not that easy to fix; most
notably around the rear hull with the curvature of the upper rear panel being
far too sharp, the rear full width intake grills being too shallow, the engine
deck contours have the centre raised section too narrow and the two fuel filler
caps are spaced too wide apart as well as the forward intake grills too narrow
and the engine deck is slightly too long which means the turret ring is a little
too far forward resulting in the front crew hatches being slightly over 1mm
too short to fit onto the reduced space as the overall hull length is okay.
There are a few issues with the running gear such as the lightening holes on the drive sprockets and idler wheels only being on the outside rims as well as the road wheel hub bolts being undersized.
On the turret the rear bustle is too shallow by a 2mm and too wide at the top by about 1.5mm meaning the side bustle angles are slightly off and the contours around the base could do with a little attention as the weld seam should be about 1.5mm above the lip, not flush as in the kit.
But at the end of the day there is very little one can do about these issues without a major rebuild so unless you feel inclined then just ignore some or all of them and move on with the kit.
For this new M18 Super Hellcat kit you get the full M18 kit as well as the two M36 turret sprues (O and P) from the M36 which means there are quite a few parts left over as the M36 sprues also include the engine deck, rear hull panels and exhaust deflectors as well as the glacis with machine gun opening and the two 90mm guns (only the large double baffle muzzle brake used) and along with the M18 turret the spares box gets quite a boost.
I will give a brief rundown on the M18 kit for those who may not have encountered this over the years.
The moulding quality is quite good with a minimum of pin marks to contend with and included nice crisp details on most parts.
This is a conventional tub with bottom, sides, front plate and sponson covers included with a separate rear panel and includes fittings for motorization but the final drive housings cover the side openings with screw hole underneath if you wish to fill this?
The axles are all separate parts with separate shock absorbers on the stations
one, two, four and five with all the wheels held in place with poly caps trapped
between the inner and out wheel halves. The drive sprockets have a solid inner
rim with the outer rim split in two with the inner disc and outer tooth disc
that when fitted together include the round lightening holes around the rim.
There holes should also be on the inner rim and you can either drill these
or just not worry.
The rear idlers are similar with the solid inner rim and two part outer rim to give the oval lightening holes but again these should be on the inner rim and the holes are also slightly undersized so you may want to enlarge these a little for a better appearance.
The hub bolts on the wheels are a little undersized and the hub contours not too flat but apart from finding replacement wheels there is little you can do about this.
The angle at the top of the rear panel as mentioned is too sharp and should be more rounded and a bit of work would be required to rectify this as the side panel extensions should also extend down further conforming to the rear panel curve and added to the rear plate are the towing hooks, tail lights and tools which have moulded on tool brackets.
On the inside is the lower floor with tread plate and panel details and the rear engine compartment firewall while at the front is the gearbox and transmission in multiple parts that gives the basic structure quite nicely along with the crew seats but no driver’s foot pedals or instrument panel is included.
Moulded on top of the sponsons are four 76mm rounds that are best cut off as they don’t apply with this model.
This is one large moulding with cut-outs for the turret ring and front crew hatches but has a number of issues as mentioned above but again there is little you can do about these without a major rebuild but does include nice surface details such as raised weld seams and finely rendered mesh on the rear intake grills.
The two part crew hatches have separate periscopes and inner detail without any pin marks to contend with plus separate grab handles plus inside hull latch details but are a little too short as mentioned above.
At the front are the head lights and siren with separate bush guards which are moulded quite thin with just minor mould seams to be removed as well as the two bolted side panels and right side intakes.
The side mounted tools include moulded on brackets as well as the full suite of front and rear fenders which have nice panel details and should be fitted for the Super Hellcat.
These are full length vinyl joined together with pins you melt weld with a small hot screwdriver tip with the detail on the links a little flat but should be okay if you didn’t want to use an aftermarket track set.
This is moulded in upper and lower halves with a separate half turret basket with tread plate pattern and central traverse motor included but there are some pin ejector marks around the turret ring which will need careful removal so as not to damage the bolt head details also there.
The upper turret has nice weld seam detail as well as flush screws, tie downs and other detail on top of the bustle and equally nice screw bolts along the top of the mantlet.
The execution of the weld seam along the turret sides is well done as it is moulded just above the join of the upper and lower turret halves and as the fit is very good the join virtually ‘disappears’ into the weld seam when fitted together but there is a minor mould seam around the turret bustle that will need careful removal.
The large mantlet includes the two lifting eyes with subtle cast texture on the surface and as mentioned there is a choice of three different barrel configurations depending on what vehicle you are building. There are two barrels included as mentioned but only the large double baffle muzzle break should be used with the Super Hellcat project and the turret top cover panels still included are also not used here.
The top mantlet plate is a separate part but does have some pin ejector marks to be removed due to it being moulded “backwards” on the sprue, which is with the detail facing what is the back of most other parts on the sprue.
On the interior is a three part breech with separate two part breech block
and sight plus some other details such as the seats and ready round racks in
the rear bustle, there is scope to add additional details here but the basics
You have a choice of nice .50cal or .30cal MG for the pintle mount on the rear turret roof although the .50cal was the normal fit.
The fit of the M36 turret to the M18 hull should be perfect as they both had the 69inch turret ring in real life but the inner diameter of the M18 turret ring is slightly larger than the inner diameter of the M36 kit meaning that the M36 turret fit is a little sloppy and the small fillets designed to hold the turret in place can slip out if not careful but unless you plan on playing with the model after assembly this shouldn’t be an issue.
An additional sprue has a selection of .30cal and.50cal ammo boxes, some jerry cans, additional solid spoke road wheels, spare track links and a number of small sections with moulded on bolt heads, lettering etc which you can cut off and use as required.
A small decal sheet is included with the markings carried on the single pilot model while at Aberdeen as well as side drawings showing the dark green cam scheme added to the vehicle.
This is very simple conversion combining the M18 and M36 kits to give very different look to the M18 but with only one vehicle produced it doesn’t give you much freedom with the finish unless you want to build a “what if?” type model.
Recommended for a different looking M18
Tank Destroyer 1943-97
New Vanguard No 97
|US Tank Detroyers
Squadron Signal Publications #5703
|US Tank Detroyers
Squadron Signal Publications No.2036
|Toadman's Tank Picture CDs M18
GMC and M39 AUV Walkaround CD
||M18 GMC Hellcat
Museum Ordnance Special Number 17
Darlington Productions, Inc.
|STUART A History of the American Light Tank
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-462-2
The Photo Journal of the Second World War No.4
The publishers of MMIR
|US Tank Destroyers
of WWII photo CD
|US Technical Manual
M36B1, M36B2 CD
Easy 1 Productions
|M10 and M36 Tank
New Vanguard No 57
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.115
The Photo Journal of the Second World War No.12
The publishers of MMIR
Thanks to for
the review kit
Contact Academy Europe: email@example.com
The main question is where to buy the Academy Europe kits as they appear to be only available in mainland Europe.
The following online shops have the kits listed, but let me stress this is in no way an endorsement or recommendation as I have had no experience or feedback on their service levels, they are listed for your information only.
They all have Engish pages available on the sites.
Mol Plastic Modelbouw VOF
Note: I have had a number of e-mails from reliable people who say their dealings with Mol Plastic has been very good with prompt service.
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Page created October 28, 2006