US M8 Light Armored Car "Greyhound"
S u m m a r y
|Contents:||218 parts (209 in olive drab plastic, eight in black vinyl, one length of nylon string);|
|Price:||Varies from US$22 - US$30|
|Advantages:||Best kit ever of this subject, reasonably good value|
|Recommendation:||For all wheeled armor fans and those
with particular interest in small armies or the US in WWII and Korea
F i r s t L o o k
For a long time, many armored car fans have complained about the lack a good kit of one of the most common US made vehicles of the WWII period -- the Ford-designed M8 6 x 6 "light" armored car. Over 30 years ago, Tamiya (back when kits were marketed as "Tamiya Mokei") had one which was pretty crude, as it was motorized with four wheel drive provided by rubber bands and pulleys. This was supplanted in the mid 1970s by a better effort from Monogram, but that kit was in 1/32 scale and suffered from "soft" details and some problems. From England, Accurate Armour released both an M8 and an M20 Utility Car in resin which were very nice, but also over $100 each. Last winter, things perked up when both Tamiya and Italeri announced M8 armored cars for release in 1998.
Tamiya won the battle, and unless the Italeri kit is as good or sells for less than $15
retail, it will probably suffer badly in comparison.
Tamiya did not scrimp on the moldings for this kit, and the effort is incredibly impressive. Fans of the use of etched brass will be hard pressed to find things to replace on this kit, as it has some of the finest molding that I personally have seen in years. Some of the interior details are missing or skimped on, such as the interior of the driver's compartment, but the section is so far down and hard to see that Tamiya can be excused in this area. The parts layout, with the upper hull center section, floor and turret components on a single sprue, indicate that yes, Tamiya should be following this kit up with an M20 kit in the next year.
Due to the layout of the kit, the more enterprising modelers will even be able to make the various AA prototypes which the vehicle chassis was used for as well, with a minimal amount of "invasive surgery". The access to the engine compartment also means the after-market boys have a made-to-order opening for engine bay details on this kit. Also, although the directions do not indicate this, the fenders (parts C-5, C-6, C-13, and C-14) can be left off to give the "hot rod" look which gained popularity with crews after it was discovered how awkward the fenders made cleaning and accessing the suspension in combat.
Since they were very thin metal, other than Panzerfaust there were few things they could stop, so their removal meant little to the survival of the vehicle.
Tamiyas kit also provides the options for both the pintle machine gun mount and
the hip ring.
The kit includes one sprue of unique parts, one for general hull parts, two for wheels and drive line, and a separate eight piece .50 M2HB, which if offered alone, will be worth the cost. One figure is included of a commander peering through binoculars; while not wild about the pose, he is of the same standard as the latest Tamiya figures and very well done. Four well done decal sets are included: one for the 4th Armored Division's 25th Cavalry Recon Squadron, one for the 7th Armored Division's 87th Reconnaissance Battalion, one for the 5th DB Free French Forces's 1st REC 5th Squadron, and one for the very well-known "Colbert" from the 2nd Armored Division's 82th Reconnaissance Battalion, one of the few pictures of an M8 in action. The decals have been noted by some modelers as being a bit thick; while this is true, it is in part due to the fact that six colors were required on the overlay, but all are very sharp and very complete.
For other than US fans, this kit is a really unique one, and it is a shame that few people other than Archer Fine Transfers are working on after-market sheets for armored vehicle kits.
Simple to maintain, reliable in operation, and having more than enough firepower for
close engagements with infantry and very light armored vehicles, the M8 was one of the
more common vehicles provided by postwar Military Assistance Programs. Records are
incomplete due to wars and transfers, but the M8 was known to have been in the service at
one time or another since 1943 of the following countries: Benin, Brazil, Cambodia,
Cameroon, Colombia, France, Guatemala, Laos, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Niger, Paraguay,
Peru, Republic of China (Taiwan), Republic of Korea, Senegal, Togo, Republic of Viet Nam,
Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. In Brazil, the M8 was the direct ancestor of the Brazlian EE-9
Cascavel and EE-11 Urutu 6 x 6 armored car families.
Note: I have received a number of questions as to how to paint the interior of the M8 kit. The Tamiya box side drawing is the most accurate one, as it provides the most reasonable scheme which matches all of the written material on paint. All interior surfaces are painted a gloss white (which should be flattened for use in a model) with all components or areas which may reasonably be visible from the outside inside the turret, hatch covers, and inside the drivers' compartment "humps" should be painted AN319 olive drab, as with the rest of the vehicle. Some crews apparently did paint the floors OD to avoid overhead detection, but this does not appear to be a factory instruction.
All in all, one of the best efforts from Tamiya, and a sure contender for AMPS Plastic Kit of the Year.
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