Italeri have now released their kit of the T17E1 Staghound Armoured Car Mk.I Late Production which follows the Bronco Models kit of the same vehicle (kit #CB35011) from earlier this year.
The kit is entirely new from Italeri with the only thing in common with the Bronco kit being it is of the same vehicle and has the same name, all else is Italeri’s own work.
The Staghound was a heavy 4x4 armoured car of US design for the British Army, coming into service during 1943 and while given the US designation M6 was not used by US forces during WWII. It also served with a number of Allied forces during WWII such as Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand and a well as seeing extensive post war service with Australia, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, India, Israel, Lebanon, Netherlands, Rhodesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa Sudan and several Latin American countries such as Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua remaining in service well into the 80’s in some cases.
It was powered by two Chevrolet 270 CID engines mounted side by side in the rear of the vehicle with the gearboxes driving through reduction gears to a central transfer box and was armed with the 37mm M6 main gun and three Cal.30 machine guns, one on the front hull, the co-axial turret gun and top mounted for AA use as well being fitted with the standard British No.19 radio set in the turret bustle.
This represents the late production type with the most noticeable difference from the earlier types being the deletion of the turret side vision ports plus other small differences. It should also be noted there are a number of minor detail differences between late production turrets and the kit turret represents one of the versions as well as minor hull differences also noted during research and it’s best to refer to references for the particular vehicle being modelled, I will make comment on some of these minor variations during the review to hopefully help out?
Dimensionally the kit matches well to the 1:48 plans in the Hunnicut Armored Car book blown up to 1:35 scale with all dimensions being within acceptable tolerances given the thicker lines on the plans when enlarged. There are a couple of minor issues such as the barrel for the M6 37mm main gun lacks the contour of the real barrel and is best replaced and the kit only has the US aerial mounts but not the British aerials for the No.19 radio set carried.
The box which opens at the end and is not a conventional top opening box contains 202 parts in olive drab plastic, 2 in clear sheet plus an etched fret with 32 parts and a metal 37mm barrel, a length of cotton twine and the decal and instruction sheets.
Also included as with other recent Italeri kits is a small booklet with some excellent reference photos and details of the Staghound that will be invaluable while building the kit especially if you have limited references on hand.
This has some B&W wartime photos of Staghounds as well as illustrations from the service manual plus the many full colour walk around shots of a museum Staghound.
It’s interesting that the Staghound photographed appears to have the 37mm gun tube replaced by a piece of pipe as is often the case with Museum vehicles and this could be the reason the kit barrel has no taper like it should do.
Standard of moulding is good overall with very few pin marks but there is a bit of flash about the place that will have to be removed but it’s quite fine and easy to deal with when present. Some of the mating surfaces also need to be smoothed for a better kit and test fitting before gluing is essential but any problems can be quickly dealt with using normal modelling skills.
The surface details are very well done with some nice weld seams and the cast texturing on the turret parts in particular looks quite convincing as well as many very finely moulded parts that will need care during cleanup and assembly with the etched parts are also cleanly etched with the usual bending lines where required.
This is made up of a single lower tub with the floor plate and the two sides to which is added the lower rear and front panels and three separate top panels. These are the front glacis, the central deck with driver’s periscopes and turret ring plus the forward part of the engine deck with open grills. There is some flash between the grills that will need removing but once the grill cover plate is added not much can bee seen of these in any case.
The rear engine deck and upper rear plate is the final panel and this has additional separate engine compartment doors, although they are not designed to be opened as there is nothing inside to see but having them separate will make showing off a resin engine quite easy. These doors needed a bit of trimming for a good fit, but nothing to get too excited over.
The hull side have separate entry hatches and the Driver’s visors are also separate allowing them to be shown open or closed with the three upper periscopes fixed in the forward facing position with just the tops of the periscopes but this should be adequate for most situations.
The suspension is fairly simple but is also nicely detailed in parts with the large axles/differentials in two halves with just a small join seam to content with and on the front axle there are the two wheel hubs with steering linkage and support rods. This is not designed to be steerable and due to the robust attachment of the brake drums to the axles making the wheels steerable would be a major undertaking, but not impossible for those wanting to go this far.
The four leaf springs are in one piece each with sizable mould seams down the middle but this will be mostly hidden by the wheels after assembly if you didn’t want to remove these and the front springs have additional etched bolt brackets for the lower attachments and while this adds a little extra details the bolt heads are a little undersized and replacing with larger items will improve this further.
Once the axles and leaf springs are added to the lower hull along with the 2 drive shafts and numerous smaller suspension mounting parts added to the hull sides there are a number of additional suspension linkages to add between the axles and the hull sides. All these fitted without any problems if a little tedious but the detail definition once assembled is excellent.
The large wheels are moulded in two plastic halves in the conventional manner with separate hub caps with the correct detail for the front and rear wheels and also have offset inner locating pins that ensure the tread pattern on the tyres lines up correctly which is a nice touch, just watch the orientation of the pins when fitting the wheels together as they only go one way. The actual tread pattern is fairly simple on these military tyres and is nicely rendered along with the fine sidewall embossing and just adding the tyre valve would finish off the wheels nicely. Just watch as the hub detail is different front and back so make sure you fit them correctly which the instructions show.
The two side entry hatches have detail on the insides and are free of any pin or sink marks if you wanted to show these open which will show off the turret basket which we’ll talk more of later.
Added to the hull sides are the large storage boxes/fuel tank supports with the fuel tanks made up of four parts with just a small join seam to remove and the tank attachments and linkages are very nicely detailed. The two fuel tank straps are provided as etched parts with fine plastic linkages either end and while these will need care to fit the finished item matches the real straps very well. Also included are the fuel line linkages at the back of the fuel drums as well as those at the top behind the tanks for excellent attention to detail resulting in very detailed tank assemblies.
There are numerous other smaller fittings in the hull sides such as the tail lights and guards and all the tools which have fine etched securing straps provided for more nice detail definition as well as the 4 large fenders with very fine rear view mirror stalks on the front that will need extreme care removing from the sprues.
On the rear lower plate are the tow shackles and inner support brackets while on the upper rear plate are the large offset exhaust mufflers with separate armoured outlets which are made up of 5 parts each with again just fine join seams on the mufflers to remove before fitting along with the large storage box between the mufflers supplied as an etched part with perforated bottom plate.
Moving to the front we have the glacis which has the separate machine gun coaming but remember to open up the locating holes in the glacis to fit this. You only get the outer Cal.30 barrel held on place by the outer mounting cap but the detail on the barrel is quite basic and replacing this with one of the available aftermarket metal barrels with improve the look considerably.
The other Cal.30 machine guns included in the kit are also quite basic in detail and again could do with replacements and I have replaced these with the new ABER Cal.30 metal barrels (from set #35 L-62) as detailed below.
The fit of the MG coaming to the glacis is perfect with basic weld seam detail around the edges of the coaming and also added to the glacis are the two head lights that come with etched bush guards. Included on sprue A is a small jig for bending the etched guards to the right shape which is very handy as getting the correct bend otherwise would have been an adventure for sure. This jig is shown in the instructions but the images don’t show the correct contours for the guards and checking references will show the correct shape.
The twine provided has plastic end sections and the glacis mountings have additional etched parts to enhance the detail.
Again the fit of the glacis to the main hull is good but some minor trimming may be needed and test fitting will determine this. Fitted to the top of the glacis are the separate vision port covers which can be shown open if you wish and there are also inner clear sheet for the windshields and etched frames with windscreen wipers if showing the visors open.
The top driver’s compartment panel has excellent contours and weld seams around the three periscopes but as mentioned these are fixed in place with just to tops of the periscopes provided and the hull top plate has nice surface detail around the turret ring with the fine intake grills on the engine deck. The engine access hatch hinges are all small separate parts as are the other fittings on the doors with some in etched metal and the pioneer equipment has the etched tie downs as mentioned.
The main turret has the upper shell with separate bustle underside and lower turret ring with the turret contours matching well to the plans and photos with the subtle cast surface texturing and roof casting numbers on the turret parts well done as it is on the gun mounting and gun shield to give a very good appearance to the assembled turret.
As mentioned above there are a number of turret variations with side contours around the Commander’s hatch being angled as with the kit or vertical on others as well as round mounting plate in the centre of the turret roof above the gun mounting on some turrets? The aerial mounting (part 8c) is also located further out towards the edge of the turret on some turrets. I mention these differences not because they need altering but to advise that if you are looking at pictures of a Staghound turret which is different to the kit turret it’s not because the kit is wrong but that there are variations in the actual turret details.
Other details of note on the turret is the small bulge included on the left cheek as it should be but this extends a little too far towards the bottom of the turret wall and there are fine weld lines under the left and right lifting eyes which should be there so don’t be tempted to remove these. Also the join line between the lower bustle and the main turret should also be left as there is again a weld seam on the real turret corresponding to the join but enhancing this with stretched sprue or the like will enhance the weld better.
The separate crew hatches have excellent detail on both sides of the hatches with again no pin marks on the insides to contend with. Other details added to the turret roof are the searchlight with clear lens and the aerial mounting and AA Cal.30 mounting post on the rear.
On the inside is the No.19 radio set that fits inside the turret bustle if you want to leave the top hatches open but as mentioned the aerial is the US type and not the twin British No.19 aerials as they should be.
The M6 37mm main gun is complete with just 2 part breech and gun guards for inside the turret as well as the barrel with a choice of plastic or metal but these lack the taper of the outer gun tube but are straight in profile and replacing this is the only real option to portray the barrel taper correctly. For this instance I have used the Griffon Model M6 37mm barrel (set #LB35007) as this has the correct barrel taper but there is other options available also.
The main gun mounting plate has well defined screw detail and nice cast texturing with basic inner gun mountings that are held in place to the back of the gun mounting plate by small brackets allowing the gun to elevate but there is not inner detail for the left gun sight just the outer shield with an open aperture that let’s you see into the turret insides.
The co-axial Cal.30 MG fits to the side of the 37mm gun making lining this up through the gun mounting and shield quite easy. I again choose to replace the .30cal barrel with the metal ABER barrel for better definition but this again is up to the individual.
The other Cal.30 provided is for the roof mounting and this again is rather basic especially the barrel and replacing this like the other guns with a metal barrel will greatly improve the look. The gun cradle and the ammo box support are both in etched metal to give a finer appearance and there is a couple of Cal.30 ammo boxes provided.
The small outer gun shield also has subtle cast texturing and very fine casting numbers but when fitting this over the gun assembly it didn’t slide far enough back and some minor trimming may be needed to get the sit right.
The other main feature of the turret is the provision of the inside turret basket made up of two curved sides, the lower floor plus the seats and lower traverse motor and the basket attaches to the bottom of the turret ring.
The sides of the basket have small indentions for the holes in the real thing and drilling all these holes will improve the look considerable if you are going to show the side doors open, this will be quite tedious but the final look will be greatly enhanced.
Fitting the lower turret ring is quite easy with two small notches that fit into the recesses in the hull top allowing the turret to rotate after fitting.
One interesting feature with the turret is the provision of three additional casting number blocks for the turret roof. This requires you to cut out the roof square with the original casting numbers and insert the new squares for the new casting numbers. While this is a nice idea the execution will create a lot of work for very little gain as you will have to blend in the new squares into the turret roof while not damaging the small numbers or the cast texturing. As the numbers are basically the same with just one small difference in each number group most will stick with the original numbers on the roof as they come.
Finally there are a few storage items provided to add to the model as required, these include two curved tarp rolls to go on top of the fenders and a couple of US style Jerry Cans with separate handles and filler caps but there are no racks on the vehicle for these.
These are not the usual exploded view line drawings but are the dreaded photo sequences that have photos of the actual kit parts with the parts positioned but these are quite confusing in some areas as different detail in shown in different photos. Also the instruction sequences seem to jump all over the place with the 10 steps on the hull, the next 5 on the turret and then back to the hull again meaning you end up jumping back and forward a bit, especially when assembling the hull.
You will have to study the sequences carefully to make sure things go where they should as some of the photos also show the right parts in one photo and the wrong parts in the next, this doesn’t happen a lot but you have to be on the look out.
A couple of examples are the co-axial MG on the M6 gun mounting where one photo shows this with the firing handle cut off as it should while the next photo shows the handle back on again. There is an etched bracket on the side of the gun mounting which I firstly bent into the bend lines which is the normal practice, but when fitting the part the photos showed it bent the other way around. So I bent them back the other way only to find the next photo sequence had it back the other way again, I gave up and left it off as you can’t see it anyway once the gun is inside the turret.
Also the photos don’t show the correct contours for the head light guards which could be miss-leading if you don’t check references for the correct shape of the guards.
In short I personally would prefer traditional exploded line drawings as these are generally easier to follow.
You get a single decal sheet with colourful markings for 5 Staghounds which covers users from 1944 to the late 50’s for a good selection of markings.
These are listed on the B&W instructions as well as having three view colour illustrations in the reference manual provided to help out with the painting and decal placement.The markings provided are:
Overall this is an excellent kit of the Staghound AC with excellent surface texturing and details especially on the turret with the rough finish adding greatly to the overall good appearance of the finished kit. Some of the details are on the basic side like the fixed periscopes and the M6 37mm gun barrel as mentioned will need replacing as will the Cal.30 MGs for a better appearance.
The fit of the parts overall is good but some areas will require a bit of trimming for a better fit and the usual test fitting before gluing will highlight these.
The lack of British aerials for the No.19 radio is a little frustrating but the inclusion of the turret basket is a nice touch if you want to show the hatches open.
Overall this will build into a nice model of the late Staghound but as with any kit there is roof for additional detailing to make it even better.
Highly Recommended 8/10
Model Detail Photo Monograph No.29
Published by Rossagraph
A History of American
Wheeled Combat Vehicles
Thanks to my Credit Card and for the review kit.