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M18 Hellcat GMC Tank Destroyer 1:35 Airfix (A1371)


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M18 Hellcat GMC Tank Destroyer

1:35 Airfix (A1371)




The M18 Hellcat or  the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 (Catchy Govt name) was an American developed Tank Destroyer which saw service in WWII and Korea. These vehicles were not armoured like a tank and thus were quite fast. The M18s claim to fame was being the fastest armoured vehicle of its time, it could reach 60mph on the road and 26mph cross country..  It also did not lack a punch due to its 76mm gun. The M18 also had a higher kill/loss ratio than any other American tank or tank destroyer. In contrast to other tank destroyers which used the Sherman chassis the M18 was designed from the ground up so it was smaller, lighter, and offered greater comfort for the crew. It did use the same engine and driver train though as the sherman. A crew  of five, consisted of a commander, gunner, loader, driver, and assistant driver. 45 rounds of main gun ammo were carried; 9 ready use in the turret and 18 in each side sponson, A 50 cal M2 was provided for additional defense, though often supplemented by crew with additional machine guns.  Many were sold post war overseas and some are still reported as being in service. A number of Venezuelan examples being modernised in the 1990s. 



The Kit 

Here Airfix are re-boxing the Academy kit for its home distribution market. This is a good kit which arrives on 7 sprues of green plastic, the lower hull, some polycaps, rubber tracks, and 2 sprues of link & length tracks. Construction starts with the transmission which goes on the floor pate between the two drivers seats. The rear floor plate then has the rear bulkhead fitted and both of the floor plates can then be installed in the lower hull. Some main gun rounds then go onto the side sponsons. At the rear of the hull the back plate goes on and tools are fitted to it.  We then move onto the suspension components. Drive axle boxes are fitted at the front with idler wheels to the rear. Return rollers are fitted along with the arms for the main wheels. All of these wheels (which are each 2 part) can then go on. 








This now completes the lower hull apart from the tracks. Here there are the conventional rubber bad tracks as well as a set of link and length plastic ones. 




We now move to the upper hull. Hatches are added along with a variety of fittings and tools. The drivers hatches can be open or closed. The top hull is then fitted to the lower one. Front an rear mudguards/side guards are supplied and can be fitted, though these are not fitted in a lot of photographs. It is possible the crews removed them to stop debris build up (something still seen on modern tanks) or they could have been ripped off. Evidence would suggest the former though.





We now move to the turret. The main gun breech and recoil mechanism is built up. To the turret ring various fittings are added along with the seats for the crew. The two halves of the turret an then go together and be fitted to the ring. Rear radio boxes are added along the partial covers. The breech then slides in. At the front the mantle is fitted (both a canvas covered, and not covered mantle are provided depending on which is needed, best to check your references on this one). The gun can then be added. Here both a normal end, and a muzzle brake are supplied again with the modeller needing to check their references for which to fit.  The copula for the 50 cal, and then the gun itself can be fitted. In order to make the vehicle look busy there are some ammo boxes, jerry cans and machine gun ammo boxes supplied. Thread is supplied for the tow rope. 










The sheet is from Airfix gives markings for two vehicles;


  • #22 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion, US 5th Army, Italy 1945
  • "Nance" 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, US 3rd Army, Germany April 1945.







Its good to see these available in the red boxes, and the hope is the income for Airfix will result in some nice new tool kits from them. Recommended. 




Review sample courtesy of 

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