to the upper hull brings a few challengesor what I like to think of as "skill
of the most significant problem with the Academy kit is that it includes the later
style of engine deck that is more appropriate to the very first or very late M7s.
When the initial batch of M7s was produced, it was discovered there was a buildup
of gas vapors in the engine compartment. The solution was to cut two triangular
holes in the deck, cover them with screens, and then protect the screens with
welded plates on "stilts." In the field, these plates typically supported
a shelf on which the seven-man crew's gear and vehicle equipment was piled high.
This often obscured the screens and protective plates. If you want to bypass this
step and are more interested in look than accuracy, the Resicast equipment set
is designed to sit right on the engine deck.
cutting the deck is a pretty simple affair for most modelers. I eyeballed the
locations, and, using the Eduard photoetch screens as my size guide, I scribed
the outlines so that they were tad smaller than the screens that would cover them.
I used my Dremel to drill out the plastic, and the hobby knife and files took
care of the rest of the job. I painted the rear deck and the undersides of the
plates before gluing them onto the deck.
also filled in the location points for the fittings on the deck as I was going
to use photoetch rather than the thicker kit parts. I added extended handles and
p/e chains to the armored gas caps.
two large top-opening stowage boxes on the hips of the deck were one of those
changes introduced during the intermediate M7 production run. I opted to scratchbuild
the earlier side-opening version, with one of the bins opened. This was a simple
matter of using two pieces of plastic card and some makeshift hinges for outer
side. The latches came from the Eduard set.
wanted to use Eduard's rear and front fenders. Unfortunately, the rear is designed
in such a way as to easily accept the kit fenders only, as you can see by the
gaps where the sponsons and back plates should meet. Because of the way the parts
are offset, the raised position of the sand shield strip, and the sponsons not
being truly perpendicular to the hull sides, I took the path of least resistance
and used the kit's fenders on the back side. Evergreen stock gave the outer edges
obscure little detail seen only on the early and intermediate Priests: Mounted
on the back hull wall just above the engine access doors was a curved plate of
thin metal that either served as a deflector or protector for the fishtail exhausts.
I snipped the thin metal cup for a cheap votive candle, bent it to shape, and
glued it in place between the air cleaners. It's barely visible, but it's one
of those personal satisfaction things.
the kit does have some subtle weld beads on the corners where the sides join the
front armor, as well as some of plates that make up the front armor, many of these
welds were of different widths and some more prominent than others. I used Archer
Fine Transfers surface weld details to make these more dimensional and add the
many missing welds, particularly to the back hull joints. Because these simulated
welds are made of resin, their flexibility is limited before they break. Since
they are set onto the model just like decals, I used hot water to make them a
little more flexible to accommodate the curve of the pulpit.
pulpit, by the way, came from another Italeri kit. I had dropped the Academy part
on the floor, and in trying to get up to find it, I rolled my my chair right over
photoetch for the fittings for the lights and brush guards, and added wiring.
Wiring was also added to the rear lights (make sure you remove the long pegs off
the backs of the rear lights; this error is a carryover from the Italeri kit).
added a couple Resicast modified pieces for the front grouser boxes. Some complaints
were voiced about Academy repeating the Italeri "error" of loading up
these boxes with spare tracks rather than grousers. Actually, tracks are seen
in these stowage boxes with surprising frequency, as is other equipment.
everything I place, I masked off the interior and prepared for the final round
of painting and weathering.
and Lower Hull
Upper Hull Exterior
Assembly, Painting, and Weathering