Hobby Boss
U.S.M3A1 White Scout Car Late Production
Hobby Boss 1:35th Scale Kit No. 82452
Review by Terry Ashley

Hobby Boss
The M3A1 Scout Car, sometimes referred to as the White Scout Car due to the manufacturer “White Motor Company” was produced from 1940 to 1944 with over 20,000 vehicles built before being superseded in US service by the M8 Greyhound.

It was powered by a Hercules JXD, 320 cu in (5200cc) inline 6-cylinder gasoline engine producing 110 hp (82 kW) with 4 wheel drive for a top speed of 55mph (89km/h) and was protected by 6-13mm face hardened armour plates.

The crew consisted of a Driver and up to seven others with six seats in the rear compartment and mountings for an M2 cal.50 HBMG and two M1917A1 or M1919A4 cal.30 MGs on a skate rail around the inside of the rear compartment.

The M3A1 was also supplied via lend-lease to allies such as Britain and Commonwealth countries as well as the Soviet Union, Belgian, Czechoslovak, Polish and Free French Forces.

The late production version differed from the earlier production vehicles in a number of ways, mostly minor with the overall vehicle dimensions and features remaining the same. The most significant visual updates include;

  1. The use of the non-directional combat tyres and standard combat rims.
  2. The inclusion of a small blackout driving light on the left side of the radiator housing.
  3. The relocation of the exhaust pipe to exit from just in front of the right rear wheel.
  4. The addition of Jerry can racks on the hull sides in front of the crew doors.
  5. The inclusion of a lube order pocket (often called a map case) on the inside of the right crew door.
  6. Revised armoured visors on the driver’s armoured cover.
  7. Revised internal weapons skate ring mountings, most noticeable at the back of the compartment.
  8. The weapons fit was upgraded to the later style M2 cal.50 MG with perforated barrel support and later pedestal mounting and the M1919A4 cal.30 air cooled MG.
  9. The use of various radio sets such as the BC 654A, SCR 528 or SCR 506 mounted at various locations in the rear compartment. 
  10. Some other minor updates on the instrument panel.
The kit:
Following on from the M3A1 Early Production (kit #82451) Hobby Boss have now released this later production type, as this kit already had some of the later features (wheels) and parts for the later version included the new kit is exactly the same with the inclusion of two small sprues for the updated driver’s armour panel, doors cal.30 MGs and the Jerry Cans. As such most of the review and images below are from the early kit review with updates where required for the new and revised parts.

The kit represents the later production Scout Car easily distinguished by the jerry can racks on the engine compartment sides as well as other smaller details and consists of 278 parts in light beige plastic, 4 in clear plastic with 15 etched parts plus the decal and instructions sheets.

As mentioned the new and updated parts provide the later style driver’s armoured panel, new crew doors and US Style Jerry Cans with etched brass racks and separate hull mounting brackets. The kit already has the later combat rim/non-direction tyres and black-out driving light included and while you get two new M1919A4 cal.30 air cooled MGs the kit still includes the early style M2 cal.50 HBMG with the elongated holes in the barrel support and the early style ammo box and mounting. This means you will have to find a replacement later style M2 cal.50 MG to depict the standard later production vehicle.

Unfortunately a few of the other updates are missed altogether, the exhaust pipe still exits out the back, you can carefully heat the kit pipe and bend to exit in front of front of the right rear wheel as should be. But most significantly the weapons skate ring supports have not been updated and still represent the early style supports; this will take a fair bit of work to modify the parts to correctly represent the later style supports.

No radio sets are included with the kit so these would have to be salvaged from wherever; there are some nice aftermarket US radio sets available from various manufacturers that should fit the bill.

Etched and clear parts
Hobby Boss
Hobby Boss

The standard of moulding is good with very little flash and just a bare minimum of pin marks, the most notable being on the inside of the driver’s compartment bulkhead and rear plate where there are some quite large pin marks to be removed.

Detail on the parts is good overall with bolt, rivet and panel detail on the hull parts and on the wheel hubs although it is a little basic in places such as the engine and suspension but otherwise perfectly acceptable.

Dimensionally the kit measures out very well against the extrapolated 1:48 plans in the Hunnicutt Armored Car book with measurements for the hull length, width, height and wheel sizes being well within acceptable tolerances for printing etc. individual measurements for side panel segments, hood and skate rail widths and lengths also being spot on give or take a fraction.

The only areas of mention are nit picks such as the rear hull wheel well being about 1mm too shallow and the front mounted roller being about 1mm too wide both of which are not really that noticeable on the final model and not really worth the worry.

Speaking of the tyres these have subtle bulging included, not as pronounced as we have seen elsewhere but have a small flattened area with subtle bulging of the sidewalls, someone forgot to inflate them to the correct operating pressures obviously as there isn’t any bulging on these WW2 cross ply tyres when inflated correctly, but let’s not start up all that again.

The other issue when kit wheels include bulging is you end up with every wheel on every model having the same detail orientation, the rims have the air valves included and due to the bulging the valve is positioned at 2 o’clock on every wheel, this maybe not be that noticeable at first but gives a very unnatural uniform look to the wheels.

The chassis is moulded in one piece that includes the front fenders and side foot plates and apart from the mould seams along the sides is a quite clean moulding; it’s a good idea to attach the separate front bumper section (part C8) to the chassis first off to give some rigidity to the forward section of the chassis.

The kit provides a full Hercules JXD engine although this is fairly basic with just the engine block that does have a nicely done head with spark plug detail plus the intake and exhaust manifolds and a few additional engine accessories. The front fan is in etched brass but items conspicuous but their absence is the large air cleaner and the front radiator and as usual adding extra details and wiring will enhance the appearance if you plan on displaying the engine on the finished model?

 There is a full drive train provided although again some details are a little basic such as the large leaf springs and mountings but overall it gives a good appearance when assembled.

The front and rear suspension/differential/axle assemblies fit together well and have solid locating points on the chassis and are joined to the central transfer case with drive shafts with separate universal joints for a nice appearance and again these all fit together without problems.

The lower transfer case guard (part D36) is on the thick side and will need to be trimmed on one side to fit over the transfer case and the exhaust pipe just sits on the chassis and doesn’t start or end anywhere but as this isn’t seen after assembly probably isn’t an issue.

Trimming on the transfer case guard
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The wheels are the correct later standard combat rim and non-directional tyre that assemble quite easily but you have to take note of the different part numbers for the front and rear wheel hubs as there are locating notches on the inside of the rims to ensure the “correct” alignment due to the tyre bulging.

The front wheels are fixed in the neutral position and the steering rod and arm are a little on the thick side, also the connecting steering rod (part F5) was slightly too wide and needed trimming to fit between the front wheels, test fitting will determine the amount to be trimmed.

Added to the front is the ditch roller and side support frames with outer bumper sections and the fit was good overall but you must ensure the roller is aligned correctly in relation to the chassis.

The floor of the fighting compartment is a single moulding with tread plate texturing included and added to this a central bulkhead, this has a few shallow pin marks on one side that are easily removed.

The six rear crew seats are in four parts each and are quite nice with no assembly issues and these fit to the compartment floor by way of the locating lugs, plus the centrally mounted aerial post.

The two large wheel well storage lockets have to be glued as snug as possible to the floor section so the outer edges of the lockers are flush with the floor sides, this will effect the fit of the side panels later if not done right here.

The driver’s compartment is nicely fitted out with the two 4 part seats, separate gear shift levers and etched parts for the front louver lever and bracket. The separate accelerator pedal is provided as are the brake and clutch pedals attached to the separate engine compartment firewall added to the front of the floor pan.

The full width instrument panel has raised detail as well as decals provided for the dial faces and data placards for nice detail, with the steering wheel added to the back of the panel before fitting to the kit later in the assembly.

Added to the insides of the two side body panels are the 14 skate ring supports but as you will find out later these are located too low on the panels to mate properly with the skate ring if fitted as indicated and it’s best to leave these off until all the body panels have been attached.

Jumping ahead a little is the large weapons skate ring mounted on the inside of the body panels so you should complete the body assembly outlined below and we’ll return to the skate ring later.

Body Panels/Exterior:
The detail on the side and rear body panels is nicely done with fine rivet detail and some engraved panel lines and just some pin marks on the inside of the rear panel to deal with, all the tie down cleats are moulded solid and replacing these with thin wire will enhance the detail further.

There is a fair few parts shown in the instructions added to the real panel before fitting the panel to the floor pan but as there is some minor trimming needed for the best fit of the body panels it’s best to leave all these off until later. These items include the bumper supports and U shaped bumper bar as well as stowed machine gun ground tripods again with nicely defined details.

There are locating lugs around the outer edges of the body pan that fit into locating holes on the insides of the body panels but it best to trim these lugs a little shorter to allow the panels to sit snugly to the floor pan.

You should also test fit the panels before gluing as I needed to trim the floor pan edges a little for a precise fit of the rear corners, the panel joins are bevelled so when fitting properly there are no gaps requiring filler so this test/trimming is essential as the last thing you want to do is sand filler with all those rivets about the place.

But with the minor trimming of the body pan (not side panels) as mentioned the fit was as intended and didn’t require any filler, you will recall earlier I mentioned the wheel well lockers needed to be glued flush with the side of the floor pan as this also affects the fit if the side panels if they are not perfectly flush with the sides of the floor pan.

Sorry to go on about this a bit but if you do the hard yards getting the fit right of these parts along the way the final result will be far less painful and as can be seen from the build images the fit is excellent if due care is taken but there is scope for real pain if not careful, anyway enough as I think you get the picture?

Once the side panels have been fitted to the floor pan this assembly can be fitted to the lower chassis frame and the fit here is perfect with the body staying in place without glue such is the good fit but of course you would glue it to the chassis.

The front armoured radiator is in one piece with four separate louvers that are designed to be movable when trapped in place by the rear radiator panel but conspicuous by its absence is the radiator itself. This means if the louvers are shown open you can see straight through into the engine compartment so it’s best to glue the louvers in the closed position.

You should fit the radiator assembly and engine compartment side panels to the lower chassis in the same operation to ensure they all align correctly and thankfully there was no trimming needed here as with the rear body join.

The instructions show to fit the instrument panel between the two side panels next but I found it better to fit the top T shaped panel first to ensure the proper alignment of the side panels and radiator assembly. Once these panels are securely in place the instrument panel can then be added as I need to trim the locating lugs inside the side panels for the best fit.

Next comes the fitting of the engine hood doors and crew doors and all of these can be shown open if you wish to show off the interior details, there is an issue with the thickness of the hood doors as these are way too thick to represent the panels in the open position. The fit of the hood panels in the closed position was perfect and didn’t require any trimming so this may be the best option and wait for the inevitable AM etched hood doors if you want to show these open in a diorama setting.

The kit includes new crew doors with revised details including the lube order pocket inside the right door but again the doors did need some trimming to fit and test fitting is essential as is cutting just very small amounts and re-test the fit instead of one large cut only to find you have trimmed off too much plastic.

Both doors needed trimming mostly along the rear edge as did the folding top section accordingly but nothing too excessive. The front windscreen has the clear “glass” sections added on the inside and separate wiper blades on the outside and you may want to leave these off until after painting to allow easier masking of the clear parts.

The folding front driver’s armour panel has the revised later style vision ports and can be fitted open or closed as desired along with numerous smaller details added to the outside of the body once the main panels have been fitted such as the separate hood T latches, the right side storage box, pioneer tools with moulded on brackets and straps on both sides of the body.

The lights are a bit of a fix with the main headlights with clear ‘glass’ only requiring the electric lead added with the bush guards that do have rather thick over scale mesh and replacing this with thin wire (or sprue) will improve the look considerably. The instructions show four (two each side) small blackout lights fitted to the bush guards but there should only be two (one each side).

There is also a larger black out driving light mounted on the left side of the radiator housing as well as the new jerry cans and racks. The jerry cans are the US production style with just the embossed cross but no other embossing; this would vary depending on the manufacturer and varied widely. The cans have separate filler caps and grab handles that assemble easily but the etched racks are another story.

The racks are in four etched parts, the base, front and back sections and the strap. The rack parts are quite thick brass and you should use the plastic jerry can as a former when bending these to shape, annealing the parts by running through a candle flame (or similar) will help. The front and rear sections of the rack have four small tabs that are meant to bend inwards as supports for the brass base plate but these just get in the way and I found it easier to remove these completely and glue the brass rack parts directly to the plastic cans with cyanoacrylate unless you want to display the rack without the can fitted? The brass strap can then be glued in place; this needed to be trimmed slightly at the back as it’s about 3mm too long.

The separate plastic rack mountings are well done and far better than the usual solid chunk of plastic that passes for the racks on other similar US vehicles, you will need the cut away a few of the moulded on screw heads to fit the mountings which isn’t a problem.

Back to the skate ring, this is made up of three parts, the central ring with front and rear mounting plates attached and the top and bottom sections that form the lip sections for supporting the weapons pintle mounts.

As mentioned this is still the early style skate ring with solid perforated plates between the skate ring and rear body panel and the supports are quire different (simplified) on the later ring with a series of U shaped brackets leaving the remaining space open. A fair bit of work will be needed to modify the ring and mountings to properly depict the later configuration.

The early style skate ring support and images of the actual late support that should be in the kit.
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The fit of the skate parts though is good but I enlarge the locating holes a little on the central ring for a better fit of the top and bottom sections with the ring fitting snugly inside the rear body and front windscreen but the side fit was a little different.

As mentioned above the position of the mounting brackets (parts E3) don’t align with the skate ring if fitted as indicated and it’s best to dry fit the ring into the hull and the snug fit front and back will help considerably with this.

You should then mark the correct positions of the mounting brackets so they align between the upper and lower lips of the slate ring then remove the ring and glue the brackets in the new positions. Once dry you can then refit the skate ring, you may have to flex out the side panels slightly to fit the ring over the brackets but the ring will stay snugly in place without gluing if you wish?

Still included in the kit is the early M2HB cal.50 MG with elongated holes in the barrel support plus the initial D36960 Cradle, Pintle and ammunition box assembly, the detail on cradle is ‘chunky’ to say the least with it being a block of plastic instead of the open frame with cross members as it should be.

Typically the later production M3A1s were refitted with the later style M2 cal.50 MG with perforated barrel support and later pedestal mounting and updating the kit gun with a later style M2 cal.50 MG to depict the standard later production vehicle would be appropriate. Interestingly the box art shows the later style cal.50 MG that should be in the kit.

The cal.50 is also a little chunky with heavy detail on the barrel changing handle, receiver and rear firing handles and the barrel is a little short but does have the correct size bore hole included.

There are also two later  M1919A4 cal.30 air cooled MGs fitted to a two part cradle with ammo box attached, detail on the MGs is quite good and features drilled out bore hole although the barrel would look better if replaced with any of the available aftermarket metal barrels.

Both the cal.30 and cal.50 MGs are mounted on multi-part M30 carriages made up of seven parts each and build into nice looking mountings, the assembly of the carriage is straightforward but you should let the glue dry completely before attaching to the skate ring and these can be located anywhere around the skate ring as that is what it’s designed for, to easily slide the MG mounting to wherever the threat is.

These are the usual exploded view drawings that are well laid out and easy to follow overall as there aren’t any real areas of concern during the assembly, but the usual care is needed to avoid any problems.

The small decal sheet has markings included for three vehicles on full colour sheets with 5 view illustrations showing the paint schemes and decal locations. No info of the vehicles is given with all being in overall Olive Drab with markings for 1 US Vehicle, 1 Russian vehicle and 1 Free French vehicle.

Option 1:
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Option 2:
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Option 3:
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As with the early production vehicle this is a nicely done kit of the later M3A1 Scout Car being dimensionally accurate with good detail if a little basic in some areas, there are a couple of issues such as the exhaust pipe location and most notably the weapons skate ring supports and M2 cal.50 MG that need to be updated to correctly depict the later SC in the kit.

The overall fit of parts is good but a little trimming is needed with some body panel fit but nothing excessive and easily dealt with and there is scope for adding additional detail as with any kit.

This kit is again a vast improvement over the ancient Peerless Max kit and all its descendants which has been the only game in town till now with kit now being the weapons of choice for the M3A1 Scout Car.

Rating 8/10

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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Build images
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Sprue Detail Images

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Armored Car
A History of American
Wheeled Combat Vehicles

R.P Hunnicutt
ISBN 0-89141-777-X
M3A1 Scout Car
Walk Around

Squadron Signal Publications
David Doyle
Squadron Signal
Allied & Axis 12
Ampersand Publishing
Soft cover, 96 pages
Allied & Axis

Thanks to my credit card for the review kit.

Page created July 28, 2011

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