AFV Club
M36 US 90mm Tank Destroyer GMC

AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35058
Review by Terry Ashley

The M36 was built on the petrol engine M10A1 vehicle hulls which remained stateside for training while the diesel M10 saw extensive service in NW Europe and elsewhere. Armed with a M3 90mm gun the M36 used a newly designed turret with large rear overhang counterweight to balance the extra weight of the 90mm gun with the initial vehicles issued without a muzzle brake and a thread protector fitted to the muzzle before the later introduction of the large M26 style muzzle brake. Other versions were the M36B1 with the M36 turret on the M4A3 hull and from early 1945 the M36B2 using surplus M10 hulls as the supply of the M10A1 hulls ran out, but these didn’t see action during WWII but were used extensively in Korea and right up to the 90’s in Bosnia. These vehicles were most often fitted with turret roof armour and the later M3A1 90mm gun with a redesigned single baffle muzzle brake.

This kit from AFV Club has been a long time in the coming following the earlier M10/Achilles kits and the M36 from Academy earlier this year and now it is finally here we can see the fruits of this extended gestation.

Not wanting to pre-empt the result but the kit is unfortunately more like a genetic experiment gone wrong with it having the diesel engine deck of the M10/M4A2 and the rear hull plate a combination of the M10/M4A2 plate with M4A3 style exhausts added but the new turret has some very nice details included.

The kit has a number of sprues from the earlier M10/Achilles kits (B, C, E, F and modified D) with new sprues A and the turret shell for the M36 with a total of 437 parts in olive drab plastic. There is a further 6 in black vinyl, a set of full length vinyl T51 track, one sprue from the T48 individual track set (AF35038), plus a turned 90mm metal barrel and recoil spring with a length of twine for the tow rope.

Metal parts
AFV Club
AFV Club

Standard of moulding is very good overall with crisp clean details and a minimum of pin ejector marks but some of the mould seams are fairly prominent and will need careful cleaning but details such as weld seams and bolt head details are nicely rendered.

Lower Hull:
The lower tub has the sponson fillers included but is straight from the M10/Achilles kits and has the underside panel details for the diesel engine and not the correct layout for the petrol engine of the M36/M4A3 but the escape hatch has been moved to the correct side from that in the earlier hulls. There is an excellent shot of an overturned M36 in Allied-Axis Issue 12 page 70 that clearly shows the underside layout of the M36.
On the inside is the fighting compartment floor with nice tread plate pattern and rear compartment bulkhead as well as forward transmission bulkhead and gearbox that fits inside the nicely contoured later cast transmission cover which has a separate upper attachment bolt strip and subtle cast surface texture with fine casting numbers included. Added to the interior are the two crew seats with side mounted supports and the sponson mounted radio, driver’s instrument panel and separate 90mm rounds.

The rear hull plate is that from the M10 kit with just a pair of M10A1/M4A3 type exhausts and the louvered deflectors added and you will need to change the other details such as central hatch panel to the correct configuration.

The suspension again is straight from the earlier kits with the straight arm, raised roller bogies with pressed solid spoke road wheels which still have the hollow backs as do the solid spoke idler wheels. The bogies are okay but many photos show the raised roller arm type bogies on M36s and you many want to substitute these?
The assembled bogies are movable and have excellent details and are probably the nicest bogies available this side of the Tasca sets. The overly thick rubber sections of the road wheels are also still present and you may want to thin these down a little.

The drive sprockets are the open fancy type and while there are few photos of M36s with this type of sprocket the vast majority of M36 photos show the full simple plate type sprockets and again you may wish to source these elsewhere.

The track consists of vinyl ‘rubber band’ type T51 Rubber Block track which has quite nice details for this medium but strangely you are given a single sprue of individual links and end connectors for the T48 Rubber Chevron track from AFV Club set AF35038 to use as spare track mounted on the hull side racks.

AFV Club
AFV Club

Upper Hull:
This large moulding is again from the M10/Achilles kits and while it has separate crew hatches also has the incorrect engine deck layout of the diesel M10 and not the correct deck for the petrol M10A1/M36/M4A3. The engine deck doors are separate parts but again are the wrong
type for the M36 and I will refer you to my previous article on converting the M35 engine deck to the correct configuration which will also be needed here.

Other details on the hull are quite nice with separate crew hatches with separate hinges for good definition although there are a couple of small pin marks on the insides if shown open as well as separate periscopes and covers.

The head and tail lights are separate parts with respectively thin bush guards for plastic items as well separate lifting eyes, hull side grouser racks and spare track racks plus separate large bolt bushes on the front plate, note these were not fitted to the hull sides on the M36. Also included are the foul weather hood storage bracket and first aid kit fitted to the M36.

The upper rear hull plate is also a separate part and includes the folding barrel clamp and revised tool layout for the M36 with all the tools separate but with moulded on tool brackets.

As you would expect this is completely new with the turret shell in upper section and lower turret ring with these featuring very nice weld seams around the rear bustle and turret sides as well the correct contours for the bustle undersides. The engraved detail on the top of the bustle is very well done with screw heads and mounting brackets but there is some minor mould seams that will have to be removed from the rear corners of the bustle.

The interior is very well detailed with the partial turret ring and floor section that has the crew seats and all the main traverse and elevation controls as well as the main gun sight and other fittings for a very busy and well populated interior.

Added to this is the large multi part gun and breech which again is very nicely done with the metal barrel and recoil spring trapped between the two gun halves if you feel like playing with your gun later. The full length barrel is finely turned aluminium with a very well defined end thread protector and rifling in the barrel with many smaller detail parts added to the breech for another well detailed assembly. There is a small step at the last section of the barrel which isn't on the normal M3 90mm barrel which is smooth all the way along the barrel.
On checking all sources it appears to be a latter M3A1 barrel without the fume extractor was used as a basis for the measurements, this may also explain the incorrect engine deck if AFV Club used a post war vehicle as a basis for this kit.

The gun assembly fits between the turret side trunnions and held in place with separate mounting pins just like the real thing but you should attach the gun before fitting the lower turret ring which incidentally has no locating pins for a clean inside appearance but makes aligning the upper and lower turret parts a little tricky but you shouldn’t have any real problems.
The large mantlet matches available plans in width and contours but the raised bulge in the middle above the barrel looks a little too large but may not be noticeable on the finish kit and there are some mould seams along each end that will need careful cleaning up.

At the back are separate ammo racks plus intercom, electrical boxes and fire extinguisher on the turret walls to finish things off while on the outside are the upper grab rails and .50 cal pedestal and spare barrel clips on the bustle and a quite passable .50cal MG in plastic as well as a spare barrel to fit into the clips.

The decal sheet has makings mostly is white but with some dark olive drab stars to use as these were often over painting to reduce the “target” effect of the white stars.
Markings are provided for four M36s;

Decal Sheet
Image partially enhanced to show white markings
AFV Club

The new turret parts and the metal barrel are very well done with many nice details around the hull plus the nice suspension bogies but as mentioned AFV Club have again given us the M10/M4A2 style engine deck as they did with the M35 and clearly have not been listening. This is a real pity as many of the details in the kit are more finely rendered than those in the recent Academy M36 which did give you the correct engine deck layout.

As the kit is labelled WWII type and with only the early 90mm barrel there will be work needed to build a late M36B2 as these had the later large M26 type muzzle brake or the M3A1 90mm gun with revised single baffle muzzle brake and bore extractor on the barrel as well as fitted with roof armour, either way there will be some effort required to build an accurate M36 or M36B2.


The Sprues:

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M10 and M36 Tank
Destroyers 1942-53

New Vanguard No 57
Osprey Publishing
US Tank Detroyers
Walk Around

Squadron Signal Publications #5703
ISBN 0-89747-456-2
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.115
ISBN 83-7219-080-1
Wydawnictwo Militaria
Allied & Axis 12
Ampersand Publishing
Soft cover, 96 pages

Allied & Axis
US Tank Detroyers in action
Squadron Signal Publications No.2036
ISBN 0-89747-385-X
US Technical Manual
M36B1, M36B2 CD

Easy 1 Productions
Easy 1 Productions
US Tank Destroyers
of WWII photo CD

Enygma Graphics
Enygma Graphics
SHERMAN A History of the
American Medium Tank

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc

Thanks to my Credit Card and the quick delivery from Hobby Easy for the review kit.

Page Created November 21, 2005

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