M-10 3" Tank Destroyer
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
The mantra of the theme of "Field of Dreams" is "build it, and he will come." The scratchbuilders' mantra always seems to be "build it, and someone will make a kit of it".
I seriously hoped for this back in 1994 when I did up a pair of WWII US tank destroyers, an M10 3" Gun Motor Carriage (GMC) and an M36 90mm GMC. When Tamiya announced an M10, I felt "Great! Here comes a new kit to match their German reworkings!" But as the game show host always says, "BZZT! Wrong!" They simply re-released their obsolete and awful kits from the early days.
There was some wariness among those of us who fancy US armor when AFV Club announced this kit in late 1998 as in the works. Some speculated that it would be a re-worked Academy M10 kit with some ROC fittings added. The wait is now over, and to my personal delight, the kit is a masterpiece of the mold maker's art and TOTALLY new from the ground up!
Before I start foaming at the mouth over how good this kit really is, first the "bad news". The kit has a number of minor sink holes in some parts, but most are easily remedied with putty. There are a number of ejection pin marks on the parts, but all are of the "proud" variety and in places where they are fairly easy to remove and correct. Considering the complexity of the molding used in this kit, one has to accept the fact that you don't get a one piece lower hull and upper hull without some fancy multipart molds which need pins to ensure a clean "pull" of the parts. The only minor error I noted is, and this based on the research I did on my conversion in ‘94 and not all-consuming, is that the model comes with the correct "lace" type drivers, solid cast road wheels, but the wrong solid-cast idler rather than the "spoke" idler which appears to have been most common on the prototypes. Also, while the kit provides new road wheels of what appears to be the correct width (what a concept!) they are hollow-backed, which some modelers find objectionable.
N ow for the good news. This kit is absolutely AMAZING with the amount of detail it provides, and the quality of the molding. It matched up very well with the old Ordnance Museum plans for the M10A1 (GAA powered late model; this is the twin GMC diesel version, the M10). The hull consists of exactly four parts: lower hull with complete fender liners and sponsons intact, a separate rear panel, a separate transmission cover, and a one-piece upper hull with separate rear panel, both of which have the lower angled panels and fenders in place. A separate engine deck grille is included to permit access later for those who wish to put an engine in this model (Note: The Tank Workshop makes an M4A2 power pack which is apropos for this model).
The model comes with a relatively complete interior forward of the firewall, but due to the inability to see inside, has left out the drivers' controls, but includes the transmission itself. The drivers' hatches each consist of six parts, and moreover, are operating when installed.
The suspension is brand new, and not a copy of previous efforts by Tamiya or Italeri. Each bogie, which is the intermediate "flat-topped" idler variety, consists of eleven styrene parts and a vinyl spring assembly, which the directions indicate make it operate correctly. This feature may not be well received, but the springs appear no worse than on any other Sherman kit on the market today. The part diagram casting numbers, D47526, can be read on each bogie and are nicely done.
Most popular with many modelers will be the tracks. The kit comes with T49 "three bar steel cleat" style tracks, but they are vinyl components and very, very nicely done. There are zero injection pin marks on them, and only a few "teats" left over from the molding process. The connectors are in the right place, and one can even see daylight between the links. AFV Club claims they are cementable tracks, but that is something which I have not tried yet. The quality of this set raises the bar once again on the other companies.
The outside of the upper hull includes all of the applique armor "bosses" for mounting as separate parts, and I note that there are tiny circles for locating in the upper hull and turret sides. This is objectionable to some, but makes placement sure and easy (I had to do it with a template on the conversions, which is not recommended!) You even have a choice - bosses with the "keeper" bolts in place, or bolts removed. Grouser racks are included, and a total of 26 individual grousers are included with the kit.
The turret is the mid-production one with the V-shaped back and wedge-shaped counterweights. Details are similar to the one in the M18 kit, included the "recoiling" gun with spring. However, due to the negative comments on the M18's pudgey brass barrel, this model includes a machined aluminum one like the M59 155mm and M102 105mm artillery kits. The shape is less bulged than the M18's gun, but the 3" gun was more bulged out than the similar M1 76m gun series and this looks fairly accurate.
The kit comes with the correct cardboard tubes for the below-the-turret ring ammunition, but does not include any 3"/76mm rounds for the turret ready rack. AFV Club suggests the model use the brass set (AF 35018) which they developed for their M18 kit. Likewise, for modelers who do not want the T49 track, they recommend their single link T51 flat rubber pad set (AF 35026).
Markings and painting instructions are included for six different vehicles: the well-known "Pistol-Packin' Mama" from the Tank Destroyer School at Camp Hood, TX, 1943, with the big "Crunchin' Kitty" painted on the back of the turret; 634th TD Battalion, Germany, 1944; ROC Army, Jinmen Island 1958; French 2nd Armored Division, France 1944; another French 2nd Armored Division vehicle, 1945; and an unidentified French vehicle from 1945. Decals are passable, but my example was missing the Cross of Lorraine device on the 2nd DB insignia. I recommend picking up one of Steve Zaloga's books on US Tank Destroyers (the Tanks Illustrated No. 19 one is out of print, but the one from Concord, no. 7005, is still available.)
Overall, this is a good model and really one which has been needed for a long, long time. Box art, mostly cartoons, would tend to indicate that we can expect to see an Achilles and an M36, as well as perhaps the M35 gun tractor, in the future on this chassis.
Thanks once again to the indomitable Shirley Lin of Hobbyfan for the review samples. This time, you made my day!
Cookie Sewell AMPS
Review Copyright © 2000 by Cookie