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Hi guys, Over 10 months, I built these vehicles for a diorama about El Alamein based on a well-known photo which fascinated me. A big project with a lot of variety and challenges including making two Academy Honeys look different. Stug III is from Dragon with PE set added. Dingo is Miniart, 10HP is Tamiya, Panzer III is RFM Full interior. Hope you find these of interest. Edit - Added full diorama scene. Full scene until I figure out more about GIMP Stug III Ausf D Sonderverband 288 Two Honeys No 1 No 2 Daimler Dingo 10HP for AFPU Panzer III
This is the 1/35 Academy M3A1 Stuart "Honey" in the correct 'Caunter' scheme (not the incorrect 'blue' scheme that Academy showed). Custom mixed Tamiya acrylics using Mike Starmer's formulas, RAC insignia painted, kit unit decals. Lots of small details added, all tie downs replaced with brass wire, latches and hinges added to stowage boxes, rack for water cans scratch built, tow cable from fine solder, etc. Last two photos are with Dragons Valentine tank, another Desert warrior. Thanks for looking, Colin
I'm working on Academy's M3A1 Stuart 'Honey". I've just finished the base painting using Mike Starmer's Tamiya mix, so I thought I'd share. Lots to do yet but I found it interesting how the silver grey disappears in black and white photos, makes it very hard to get the scheme exactly right!
M3A1 Stuart Light Tank 1:35 Academy The M3 Stuart was designed before the US went to war, based upon the experiences of the British, which led to the US brass deciding that their M2 light tank was obsolete. While the radial engine M3 was an improvement over the M2, it suffered from an underpowered main gun at only 37mm, which although it was improved later in the war, the crews had to suffer with it for some considerable time. The British troops in Africa used it first against the superior tanks of the Afrika Korps, and faired badly, suffering from the lack of range of the Stuart in the wide open spaces of the African desert. It was fast and manoeuvrable however, and a British comment that she was a "honey" to drive led to one of its nicknames during the war. The M3A1 was an improved version that deleted the sponson mounted machine guns, and some of these used more conventional diesel engines, which gave the crew more room inside. It also had a new turret with a basket for the turret crew to stand in, and no cupola for the commander, but added a gun stabilisation system that helped with vertical alignment with targets while the tank was on the move. In British service is was known as the Stuart III and with the diesel engine version was designated the IV. It was outclassed by Axis armour in Europe and was relegated to infantry support and recce roles, whereas it was more successful in the Pacific theatre against the lightly armoured Japanese tanks in the jungle, where medium and heavy tanks could soon flounder in the mud. It continued to be used to the end of the war by the Allies in the Pacific area, although Russia, another user of the Stuart disliked it intensely and refused to take the upgraded M5 design that followed the M3A3. Variants were used well into the 60s, and Brazil even built their own version with redesigned upper hull and sporting a 90mm gun. Paraguay still had a few of its ancient original stock of 12 beyond the turn of the millennium, which is astonishing, considering the age of the machine. The Kit This is a re-release of an older kit from Academy, that is rumoured to be a "copy" of the earlier Tamiya kit, copying some of its faults, but improving others. I understand that the turret is slightly undersize, as are the roadwheels, but all of these are fixable with some effort. AFV Club have a replacement suspension/roadwheel pack available that is patterned to the Tamiya kit, and Bronco do a track pack that will fit the more accurate wheelset. Leaving those issues aside, it is a nicely moulded kit, especially for its age, and beneath the box lid are five sprues of green styrene, upper hull, lower hull and turret in the same styrene, plus four sprues of individual track links, two "rubber-band" style track sets, a short length of man-made fibre rope/cord, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with separate painting and decaling page. The boxtop painting shows a Stuart passing by some knocked-out German armour, but it is sporting the sponson guns that were removed in the M3A1, but thankfully there are optional parts with square covers instead of the guns. I believe that circular covers were also fitted, and some were built without the holes in the plates at all. Check your references before you get there! Construction starts with the suspension units, which have two wheels each, with a total of four units, two each side. The suspension fits to the top of the wheel sponsons, and here the yoke that links the wheel swing-arms to the suspension springs are a little narrow, as are the wheels themselves, if I'm right in my assumptions. The drive sprocket at the front attaches to a flush final drive housing, and the rear idler wheel trails behind the vehicle on a suspension arm with simplified track tensioner assembly. The Stuart was unusual in having a ground level idler wheel, and its narrow tracks gave it a high ground pressure value, which made it poor in deep snow, which may have coloured the Russians' judgement somewhat. Three return rollers fit to the top of the track run, and a length of the sponson roof is moulded into the hull lower, preventing the see-through look that dogged the Tamiya kit. A reasonable interior is included with the kit, including crew seats, ammo storage, the prominent central drive-shaft hump that separated the crew from eachother, driver controls and extra ammo boxes for the coax and bow mounted machine guns. At this stage the attention switches to the upper hull, where you'll choose to discard the sponson mounted machine guns in favour of the blanking plate equipped panels. The upper half of the glacis plate is added in the shape of a T, with the two vision panels as separate pieces, which are able to be positioned open or closed at your whim. A further flap folds down to afford the driver a better view, and the front light cluster is added to each fender along with their protective cage. The bow-mounted M2 machine gun is slid through from the inside and secured with a small circular mantlet, and the rear deck is given exhaust and filler cap details, plus rear mud-flaps and the angled and riveted rear panel. This kit represents the petrol engined variant with the radial engine, but if you wanted to include the later curved rear panel, it isn't too difficult to replace with some curved styrene sheet, but you'll need some aftermarket screw heads to replicate the fasteners they used on the later, removable panel. The supplied pioneer tools fix to the steepest angle of the rear panel, although the attachment points are a little clunky, but that's to be expected even on modern kits. The tracks cater for both viewpoints on track types. If you like the rubber-band style, you've got a pair of 'em. If you want the more realistic individual links, you've got four sprues of black parts, and a fair bit of work ahead of you. The main part of the track, including the rubber outer track-pad is moulded as one part, with two pins sticking out of either side. Onto these, you attach the track ends which incorporate the guide-horns, which means that you'll need to be clever when you fabricate them, or you'll end up with a bit of a mess of gluey parts, or a stiff length of individual track links. If you use liquid glue to assemble a length of track, and wrap it around the roadwheels while it is still soft, but starting to bind, you can leave it to set up overnight, held in place by tape or clamps to get the correct shape and minimal sag exhibited by the real thing. The flexible track is simply attached by putting the twin pins though the holes at the other end of the length, and melting the pins to a flat rivet. Historically, these joints aren't particularly sturdy, so be gentle with them when wrangling them onto the vehicle. The turret is next, and its puny 37mm gun is represented by a single part with a short hollow section attached to the muzzle end to give it the correct look. The barrel looks a little oval/square depending on the light, so I'd give consideration to replacing the end with a turned alternative, or resign yourself to a little bit of reprofiling. The mount for the gun also holds the M2 derivative coaxial machine gun, but the arch-like ammo feed and box aren't provided in the kit. The turret cage is detailed with a pair of seats for the commander and gunner, and the floor has moulded in tread-plate patterning. The upper turret is completed with the two upper hatches, plus three vision ports, commander's rotating periscope and gunner's fixed periscope. The rear mount for the anti-aircraft gun that was often occupied by the redundant bow-mounted machine gun attaches to the back of the turret, and has another M2 machine gun with ammo box to mount onto it. The turret top is mated to the turret ring and basket, with the mantlet slipped over the gun and glued in place. To counter the aforementioned short range, the Stuarts were sometimes fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks strapped onto the sides of the engine deck behind the turret in US service. These are supplied in halves with end-caps, and have small blocks attached to the deck to hold them in place. A scrap diagram and photo of the finished model show the correct positioning, which is useful. Markings As with the majority of Allied armour the only colour is olive drab, but the national markings chosen for the decal sheet add a little colour that will lift the otherwise bland expanses of green. You can model one of five options from the box, as follows: US Army 3rd Platoon, Company C, 1st Armoured Battalion, 1st Armoured Division, Ynusia, December 1942 - Yellow star on turret, US flag and "Tiger USA" on each sponson. USMC 3rd Marine Tank Battalion, Bouganville, November 1943 - red box with white 3 on turret, reclining nude and "Painintheass" on each sponson. USMC 3rd Marine Tank Battalion, Bouganville, November 1943 - white box with red 5 on turret, reclining semi-nude and "The Pay Off" on each sponson. Soviet Army unit & location unidentified 1943 - Russian star on turret, and US serials overpainted with Russian patriotic slogan on the sponsons. Soviet Army unit unidentified, Woronez, summer 1942 - US serials overpainted with Russian unit codes on the sponsons. Decals are printed in Korea and are in good register, with a thin carrier film. There is a slight stepping evident in the Russian star under magnification, and a tiny fleck of red in one of the white stripes of the US flag, but nothing that would be more than a minor touch-up with some white paint, or a slice of unused white decal. Conclusion It's an old kit of an interesting and under-represented light tank, and although it has its well documented issues, it will build up into a nice model. If accuracy bothers you, you'll need to do some extra work, and it's down to you whether you want to, but at around half the price of the other offering, it looks more appealing. Review sample courtesy of